Saturday, August 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Last we spoke of the importance of prayer; especially contemplative prayer—sitting, like Mary, at the feet of Jesus, looking lovingly at His face and silently listening attentively to every word He speaks. The readings today continue with the importance of prayer in our lives. Prayer is literally the breath of our soul. In our first reading we hear Abraham, praying and interceding to God about the fate of Sodom, whose people were guilty of accepting the grave sin of sodomy. And in the Gospel, we read Jesus teaching the apostles (and us) how to pray…for we know not how to pray as we ought. And so Jesus gives them (and us) the “Our Father.”

All these readings remind us that we must approach God as our Father, better yet, as our daddy. We are to speak to Him humbly, as a child speaks to its daddy whom the child loves with his whole heart; we are to speak to Him with the simplicity of a child that trusts that the Father always hears him and will answer him in a way and time that is best for the child; and finally, speak to Him with the purity of a child that respects the father so much that the child would never do anything to intentionally to offend the father but only strive to please the father. …”

Purity and childlikeness helps us to make sure that we never say the “Our Father,” or any other prayer to God, without the realization that it is God the Almighty that we are speaking to, the Creator of heaven and earth. Intimacy and reverence must always go together in addressing our prayer to God. He is the source and Creator of everything we are and have, even our existence—(God for Himself, does not just exist He is existence Itself. And it is He who willed us into existence, and it is His love that keeps us in existence (if you ever wonder if God loves you, grab you arm and see if you still exist…if you do He loves you!!!). And so our prayer must be reverent and said from the heart to a all holy Father who Loves us so much.

Because God love us so much, Jesus instructs us that our prayer to the Father should also be a trusting prayer, one that realizes that the Father already knows what we need even before we ask, and so will only give us the good things we need; however, not necessarily the things we want. Along with the Father giving us only the good things that we need, He will also give it in a way, and at a time which is best for us. He answers all prayers, but according to His Holy Will, not to our own, for He alone knows what is best for us.

For our prayer to be heard we must then humble, “for every one that exalted himself will be humbled and he that humble himself shall be exalted.” So we must also never approach God with the heart of the Pharisee but always with the humble heart of the publican…saying, “O God a humble heart of Lord you will not despise”…so be merciful to me a miserable sinner, have mercy on all mankind for all are sinners in equal need of Your mercy.” In this we recognize that any good in us is not of ourselves; nor is it given to us because of what we done…it is from the Mercy and goodness of God.

This brings up another point Jesus that teaches about prayer, and that is, for God to listen to our prayer we must, must first be reconciled with Him, with His Church and with our neighbor. We do this primarily by regularly receiving forgiveness for our sins in the Sacrament of Confession, honestly admitting those areas in our lives that are not lived in righteousness; in other words, that are not lived according to God’s teachings, which come to us through the Church. Always remembering we will only be forgiven to the extent we forgive others. As the Our Father says, to receive forgiveness, we must forgive others who have sinned against us—we must show mercy to receive mercy.

Along with the grace of confession, we can’t live lives of righteousness—being right with God and neighbor, without the grace that comes from prayer before the Holy Eucharist—the Holy Eucharist is our Strength and our Salvation. We just can’t go to the Father in prayer except through the Son and the Son is the Holy Eucharist. If we are going to be counted among the ten righteous needed to spare our modern age from God’s promised chastisements then we must spend more time humbly, trustfully and with childlike purity in adoration of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist begging God’s pardon and mercy on us and on our sinful world. This grace and mercy can transform us into other Christ so that everything we do, everything no matter how small becomes a prayer, a sacrifice, and act of penance, in order to merit grace for the conversion and salvation of souls.

Thankfully there are many people throughout the world today, both religious and lay faithful alike, who make weekly, even daily Holy Hours before the Blessed Sacrament. "Thank God, there are those who pray each and every day with the faith of Abraham from the heart. It could be their persevering prayer before for the tabernacle that as so far saved our sinful world from God's divine justice. They are the modern day Abraham's dialoging with God, imploring His mercy and forgiveness for the sins of the modern cities of our world.

But are there enough souls praying before the Eucharist? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, there just weren't enough people--ten--reaching out to God. (If we compare the population of Sodom and Gomorrah with the United States, in ratio, we would need 300,000 righteous people). And so, will you and I also be one of them that will on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament, reaching out to the Father through the Son on behalf of others, so that our world may be converted and so souls be saved?

In prayer, speak to the Father today from your heart. Beg his mercy for our fallen cities and country while the Father is still preserving in his mercy, beg His mercy for yourself and others. Persistence prayer to Our Father God will begin to end the persistent sin and un-forgiveness in our world and in our own life, it will bring us and other to an intimate union with Our Father who art in Heaven.

Let us at this Mass and every Mass, as we offer ourselves along with Jesus in loving sacrifice to the Father, ask our Blessed Mother to help us make this offering fully and completely, better yet let us make this offering through her Immaculate Heart so that she herself can place it in the Sacred Heart of her Son…Surely He will accept it from her hands! Let us ask her to obtain for us the grace to live this offering so that every thing we do in our daily lives can become a sacrifice, an act of penance, for love of God Our Father and for love of neighbor.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus at the home of Lazarus, where his two sisters are doing apparently very different actions. It would seem a very familiar scene in any household especially at the holidays- one person is stuck doing all of the work, while others sit and visit and do nothing to help. In our account, Martha for her part does what is customary; she is so absorbed in making sure everything is perfect- actively attending to so many details- is there enough bread? Have we prepared enough meat? (On and on).

Mary, on the other hand, it would seem, sits passively in silence doing nothing at the master’s feet. Mary is not helping Martha with all the chores. Now, out of justice, we might think that Jesus should say to her- “Mary please help your sister-Martha, she is anxious and worried about so many things;” but he does not. Jesus instead turns to her sister and says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”

After we recover from our natural shock from Jesus apparent failure to act in justice, we have to consider what all of this means. For the Fathers of the Church this passage has been seen as showing the two essential aspects of Christian life-prayer and service; Mary representing prayer; and Martha-service to others. Now often, these two aspects are seen in opposition to one another; however, nothing can be further from the case; they are intricately bound.

Every Christian, even the most recluse hermit, even the pope, must live these two aspects of the Christian life- prayer and service; both are needed to authentically follow the Master. Now most of us understand the need for service. But the prayer dimension, and in particular the silent contemplative prayer type, is often put in second place or even omitted in our world today (not to mentioned mocked). For many, prayer, especially silent contemplative prayer is seen as being merely passive-doing nothing, accomplishing nothing. But the fact is, we can only live lives of faithful service to our brothers and sisters when we first come to Jesus in prayer, listen and seek a loving Union with the Creator. Contemplative prayer then is primary; it is the best part. We must first come before we go, we must first be filled with God’s love before we can share that love with others. IN the gospels, before Jesus ever said go to His disciples, He first said come, come to me.

Why is that prayer, and again especially contemplative prayer, which could be defined as sitting silently at the feet of Jesus in order to listen to His words, why is prayer so undervalued in our world today and dare I say in our Church today? Why has it become secondary to so call active service, or even omitted. I believe one of the main reasons prayer is undervalued or left out of the Christian life is time. We all have such packed calendars. Modern technology may make the organization of our packed calendars easier, but all we have accomplished is to just put more things into our day. We become absorbed by the clock. We have a clock on our wrist, on our cell phone, Blackberry, or IPhone. Clocks are everywhere to remind us that time is short, so we must get busy, busy, busy. As we sit in the traffic jams, we are scheduling and checking email, multitasking, and yes, texting. We are frustrated because we are late to a meeting-(the person in the other vehicle can be seen not as a human being but merely as an obstacle getting in our way). We have to finish everything in order to pick up the children from school and get them to soccer practice and then on to their music lesson. Somewhere in there, we’ll try to grab some fast food and chow it down as we drive. We have been trained to think that we only have a good day when we accomplish a great deal. I think this is a pretty accurate description of our hectic life these days.

We have the temptation as well, to bring this busyness into our spiritual life. We are rushed for time, so when we look at where time will be spent in the presence of our God in intimate prayer, we say to ourselves, “I Only have a couple of minutes to pray today- I’ll try to get some more time later, but today, I need to accomplish something.” The ‘more time later’ however, never seems to come, and eventually we become too busy for even a couple of minutes, prayer can be omitted altogether. And if we do find time for prayer, our minds can be filled with so many anxious concerns that our prayer life too, becomes just a matter of getting things done instead of a matter of intimate love with the divine Lover-Jesus—we can end up saying many things but never really sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words; we do all the talking.

And so what are we to do? The fact is we can never really be too busy for prayer, never too busy to sit at the feet of Jesus and look at His face, never to busy to sit silently as well in order to hear his voice. So first, our minds have to undergo a conversion about time. Love never counts time when together, only when apart, for those in love can’t wait to be together again and when they are together they never want time to end. Time spend with Jesus is not wasted time. Time with our Lord is the most loving and indeed most effective and active way of living the Christian life; it is far from sitting before Jesus doing nothing—being with our beloved is never doing nothing. It is a matter of being, not doing; to sit in the presence of the one we love and attempting to united ourselves with them in love; yes, speaking to them but at times saying nothing just staring into their eyes. This, THIS is the most active activity—contemplative activity.

Second, we must make changes in our calendar. Personal prayer should be a scheduled event in our day, we should add it to our smart phone’s calendars. Our day should start firstly with prayer on our knees, even before we get dress and then we should end our day with a prayer. In between, we need to schedule time for prayer, perhaps a rosary walk, stopping into the church a few minutes, even attending daily Mass. We need to be still too whenever we can and know that He is God and listen to Him.

We also need to practice the awareness that God is with us all day long even as we work, play and relax; we should pause before each new activity of the day and place ourselves in the presence of God, that is realize that God is presence with us as we fulfill faithfully our daily tasks offering them to Him in love through the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our ordinary daily tasks then become a prayer in of themselves, they then bear great spiritual fruit in our lives and in our world—they become a way to the Lord for us and for others, instead of getting in the way.

Next, speaking of the Holy Mass, we need to make Holy Mass the most important event of our lives, revolving our lives around it, not the Mass around our lives. In other words we need to put the Mass always first. To help us we should consider putting in extra time for Mass on Sunday- arrive early in order to properly prepare for Mass and spend a few minutes afterwards in Thanksgiving to God for being giving the awesome privilege and blessing to even have been able to be present at Mass, not to even mention receiving God Himself into our body and soul.

At Holy Mass we also must be careful not to be too much of a Martha, having to “do” something. The highest form of activity at Mass again is not doing something or even saying something, but in being… sitting at the feet of Jesus and silently allowing ourselves to bask in the rays of His love for us. We accept the offering of His love and then we try with the Virgin Mary’s help to offer our love in return. Holy Mass should be about the action between two hearts who are growing in love with one another-who seek union with one another; our heart and Jesus’ heart; cor ad cor loquitur--heart speaks silently to heart. We should look into His eyes by staring at the Eucharist and know that He too is looking into our eyes with unfathomable love.

By our loving unrushed presence at Mass we are like Martha and Mary welcoming into our home-Jesus, who is truly on the altar and in the Tabernacle. When we are before the Holy Eucharist we are literally, not figuratively, but literally at the feet of Jesus. (To help us better realize the infinite value of the Mass and the Eucharist, we could also come before the tabernacle outside of Holy Mass to sit at the feet of Jesus, to experience His loving Gaze and be filled with His Love and Mercy and in the silence hear His voice in our hearts. In doing this, we are choosing the better part.

The more you and I make time for Jesus by intimate prayer in our daily lives, the more we make time for Jesus by coming into His true physical presence in the Holy Eucharist at Holy Mass and whenever we can, at least one hour a week outside of Holy Mass, the more we are able to experience his tangible presence in our lives and in our everyday relationships, the more we experience his Divine love acting in our world. By being in His presence we experience the power of His Divine Love and receive the bliss that it promises and then the more we become transformed and empowered to in service share more fully that bliss with those in the world around us. Contemplative prayer must always be primary in our life. Jesus will reward the generosity of our time spend with Him in love, just has he rewarded Martha and Mary’s time with Him, by later raising their brother Lazarus from the dead. Jesus can never be outdone in generosity.

As we finish this time of prayer, let us ask the Blessed Virgin to grant us the diligence of Martha as well as the awareness of the true presence of God of Mary. Let us daily as individuals and families pray her Holy Rosary. The Rosary is a Eucharistic Prayer. In it we ask the Blessed Mother to help us in our busy and hectic lives make time to pray and to sit silently at the feet of Her Son in contemplative prayer. The Rosary is a prayer to lead us to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus in order to allow the Power of Its Love to be active in our daily lives and in our World; This is the greatest service we can perform. Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Pray for us. Amen.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Holy Mother of God, true and faithful mother, Mother of the Church and so mother of all the disciple of Christ, Pray for us; help us leave behind whatever our hearts are set on beside Jesus and cling to Him alone.

Luke 10; 1-12,17-20 Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 3rd, 2016

Today we continue our readings from St. Luke’s Gospel on discipleship. Last week, Jesus told us that the cost of being a disciple is high; we must give up everything to follow Him. Recall that Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead,” and “no one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” The disciples of Jesus left everything to follow Him; they left their families, their jobs, their possessions and even their comfort zone to follow him, but in doing so they found that peace that the world cannot give.

Today, we hear Jesus sent out his disciples on a mission. Jesus gives them great authority- to preach, to teach, to heal and even to expel demons in Jesus own name. They are to go with nothing extra. We heard that they took no moneybag, no sack, and no extra sandals into a hostile world; they were like lambs amongst wolves. The disciples are to depend on Jesus literally for everything. This may seem to be rather extreme for us; but as we heard in the Gospel, the results were amazing, and the disciples rejoice because they had seen the divine power of God working through them in their human weakness and emptiness.

You might be thinking, if this is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, I don’t think I want anything to do it. After all, we certainly cannot give up everything-our homes, our jobs, and all of our possessions to follow Jesus. And being sent without any supplies? Think of how we pack for a trip- of course we pack and prepare for every possible contingency. When we travel, we have to make sure we have extra money or least have all of our credit cards ready. So, how in the world can we possibly live this message of discipleship in our day?

To get over our fear, we first start by realizing that Jesus is indeed calling each one of us to be His disciples in order to send us forth to preach the Good News, that is, the Gospel with our lives. With His help received through daily prayer, we slowly detach ourselves from those things that interiorly, that is within our hearts, that we have place before Him, those things that are keeping us from growing in deeper intimacy Him. Our heartfelt desire to begin to live totally attached to Jesus, then grows and grows.

It is not that we all must physically get rid of all that we possess, but that we must free our hearts from of all that we have placed before Jesus. We no longer live just to obtain things, but now we live to obtain the One thing we can't live without, the Creator of all things, Jesus and His Love. With this freedom, we can more and more abandoned ourselves trustingly into His loving arms and into His Holy Will.

Here we must mention a couple of things that our hearts cling to even more than physical things, and which prevents us from attaching ourselves more fully to Jesus, and these things are sin and error. We must, in our hearts and in our lives detach ourselves from sin and accept the truth no matter how difficult. Sin and error make us fearful to give ourselves totally to Jesus. Sin and error make us count the cost, only thinking of what we must give up instead of what we gain—Jesus Christ and all things beside. Sin and error make us think we lose something of ourselves when answer Jesus call and forsake all to follow Him.

In order to let go of our sin and error, we reach out for Jesus' divine help, which comes to us through Holy Mother Church. She is Jerusalem mention in our first reading today. It is in her arms that we are comforted with the fullness of truth. It is from her that we can receive the spiritual “milk” we need to grow in love and in strength to be faithful and effective disciples of the Lord. We receive this “milk” first of all by our full, active, conscious and fruitful participation in the Sacred Liturgy; that is the Holy Mass and the other Sacraments.

In her healing Sacraments, of confession, the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Anointing we are freed from sin, healed, saved and raised up. With her teachings we are given the truth that frees us and sets us free. But again, we for our part must repent and convert our lives. This means we do the hard work of changing those actions in our lives that are not in accord with God’s divine Will. When we more and more conform ourselves to the teachings of His Holy Catholic Church, living them out in our daily lives with the help of the grace of the Sacraments, then we are given peace and can share that peace with others.

Let us turn to Our Lady for help. Holy Mother of God, true and faithful mother, Mother of the Church and so mother of all the disciple of Christ, Pray for us; help us leave behind whatever our hearts are set on beside Jesus and cling to Him alone. Help us at this Holy Mass to boast only in the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ by abandoning ourselves and our lives into the Arms our Heavenly Father, exulting with Holy Mother Church by sacrificing all we have and are on this altar of sacrifice so that we may receive more fully Jesus, your Son in the Holy Eucharist and so be transformed bearing the marks of Jesus on our own bodies for the world to see. Then we will be Jesus' faithful disciples, instruments of His Love and Mercy bringing His peace into the world, into our families, all for His Glory and for the salvation souls. God Bless you all, and have a Happy and safe Fourth of July!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Grace is costly; how much so, just look at a crucifix.

Luke 9;51-62. Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. June 26th, 2016

Today’s readings have the theme of discipleship. To be a disciple means that we follow a master or someone who teaches us a skill, a trade or a knowledge that we ourselves do not have. In our first reading, Elijah calls Elisha to follow him as a disciple. Although Elisha desires to settle his affairs first, Elijah demands that he come immediately. It would seem here that Elijah was being harsh. This was not the case however; Elijah was really testing Elisha to see if he really desired to become his disciple. And so, when Elijah saw Elisha’s heart, a heart desiring to be led, Elijah waited for Elisha.

In our Gospel, Jesus also calls people, in fact all people, to follow him. Just as Elijah demanded an immediate response, so too does Jesus. Jesus also tests the “would be” disciples to know their hearts; he knows the hearts of those He called in the Gospel. He knows that their hearts were “divided.” It wasn’t just a matter of returning to bury a father or say goodbye to a family, it was a matter of their wanting to follow the Lord later, when it was more convenient to them. The father of the one who said, “let me first go and bury my father,” was still very much alive. So what was really meant was, when my Father dies in ten or twenty years then I will follow you…!

Jesus desires us as well to be his disciples, but it would seem the price is very high. Jesus makes no bones about the commitment necessary to follow Him faithfully. Jesus assures us that discipleship will present its challenges and that it will require a great commitment. But it is a commitment in which Jesus never forces anyone to follow him. In the end the choice is our; it is a free choice. Jesus for His part however, wants no divided hearts, only our whole heart.

And so, when we stop to count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus we realize that the cost is indeed high-it is everything, everything we have, are and possess. We must spiritually detach ourselves from everything and everybody to be Jesus’ disciple-we must live our lives for Him alone. Everything we do, must be done for love of Jesus. Even when we serve others, it must be done primarily for love of Jesus.

During World War II, a German Protestant minister, Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote a book on this cost of discipleship; the book was entitled, “Cheap Grace; the cost of discipleship.” Bonheoffer said that to be a disciple of Jesus meant that everything in your life must be centered on Jesus, and lived for Jesus alone, and that this commitment in the end would cost you everything. He condemned the notion of “Cheap Grace” and preached the truth about “Costly Grace.” To quote Bonheoffer in his own words, “cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

Discipleship did indeed cost Bonheoffer everything, as he was killed in a Nazi concentration camp for his faith, for his discipleship. Perhaps the Lord might not be calling us to give up our very life as a martyr (although in our day it seems to be a very real possibility), but Jesus does ask us to intentionally (that is from our heart) give up our lives to him today completely, fully and without reserve, without looking back—for love is always the complete gift of self to the other with nothing held back.

We hear a lot of God’s Mercy in our day, but we hear very little about the need to repent of our sins in order to accept this Mercy. We hear very little about the need to be about being “just” toward our neighbor and very little about how we can’t be just without accepting and living the truth. As in Bonheoffer’s day, we hear a lot about “Cheap Grace” but very little about “Costly grace.” Grace is costly; how much so, just look at a crucifix. It may be free but it isn’t cheap! (the same can be said about mercy)

And so, to follow Jesus, to accept His mercy and to show His mercy to others we must give up many things. We must give up what we think, give up what we feel about things, we must give up “being right, “ and we must submit ourselves to He who is the Truth, Jesus.

We submit ourselves to Jesus by following His teachings as expressed through the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded to proclaim His truth in all of its fullness. This necessarily means we make changes in our lives and in our family in order to conform ourselves more closely to Christ--this requires daily change, which is the same as saying daily conversion, daily repentance a daily turning away from sin and turning more fully toward Jesus. And to follow Jesus, then we must give up not only our sins, but also our own will, our very self and commit ourselves to Him and His Holy Will (Thy Will be done).

Practically we do all of this by committing ourselves to pray intimately each day to the Master, Jesus, doing all we do for love of Jesus, and love of our neighbor for love of Jesus. Also, we commit ourselves to conform the way we worship at Holy Mass to the mind of the Church, which is the mind of Christ himself, (for it is Jesus who primarily offers the Holy Mass, not us). We must commit ourselves as well to receive the Sacraments more frequently, especially that of Confession. And we renew in ourselves a commitment to treat others with Justice and so with the dignity and respect they deserve as children of God; only in justice can we show mercy and we can only show mercy in justice with the truth, the truth that comes from God and is proclaimed fully and without error by His Catholic Church.

Just like in today’s gospel, over the next few Sundays, we will see different reactions of people in their call to discipleship of Jesus. Some drop everything and follow immediately and wholeheartedly while others find it much more challenging to respond to the invitation given. But regardless of people’s reaction to Him, Jesus invitation or call to follow him goes out to everyone regardless of their situation in life. It is personal call, to follow the master immediately and without reserve.

We know that as Christians, every one of us is called as well. It is call for which each one of us was created. Each one of us is called to a specific vocation or a unique path that will lead us to our fullest perfection in our life’s journey towards God’s kingdom-only by answering this call fully and completely will we have happiness, will we have peace. When we give ourselves fully to Jesus with great trust, we lose nothing of ourselves but gain everything besides. Jesus is calling us today; He may not repeat the call tomorrow; now is the acceptable time.

As the crucifixion of Jesus is re-present at this Holy Mass in a few moments, let us intentionally, that is in our hearts, renew our own discipleship and our own offering to Jesus as our Lord and our Master. During the Mass, we pray, “let us lift our hearts to the Lord; we lift them up to the Lord.” This is what we are being called to do. We are called to freely sacrifice our whole life for Jesus, in union with him- following him as he offers himself and makes present for us this offering on the cross for us. We are called to place our heart completely on the paten along with the host to be offered to God. We are called to adore and beg God for the grace to live this complete self-offering out in all the events of our daily lives. This offering entails change, radical change for each and every one of us if it is to lead to faithful discipleship and union with the Most Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Change is hard for all of us; let us, through the immaculate heart of Mary, ask Jesus for his free but costly divine grace to help us become closer disciples of His. The Virgin Mary, was the one disciple who never looked back, who was always faithful, who offered herself totally to God, in word and in deed even to the piercing of her own soul with a sword at the foot of the cross. Let us place our heart on the Paten at this and every Holy Mass through her hands. She will help us to cut any strings holding our hearts to this earth. Through her intercession she will help us to never look back and to live totally for Jesus as His faithful disciples. In this, through the Holy Spirit we will be transformed and He will renew the face of the earth. God Bless.