Saturday, February 18, 2017

Matthew 5;38-48. Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 19th, 2017.

When we hear the demands of the Gospel it’s easy to become discouraged. Today’s Gospel is no different. The demands of Holiness, if not looked upon through the lens of love, can seem to be an insurmountable Mountain. We can see a person who appears to be very holy, and think to ourselves, “Oh I could never be like that. I am so far away from what they are.” From there we can say, “I might as well give up.

The fact however is, that there are as many paths to holiness as there are individual souls. One persons path is not another’s. God has tailered a personal path of holiness for each person, for you and for me. And what’s more, He will, through His Holy Church, provide the means for us to travel this personal path of holiness in order to reach that pinnacle of love which is intimate union with Him. There are no exemptions, everyone of us is called to perfection, for nothing is impossible for God.

Every one of us can become as holy as God wants us to be, provided we turn to Him in Love, and have recourse to the Divine Power of His Sacraments—the Sacraments of His Holy Church (I always tell my patients; “If us Catholics realize what we are dealing with in the Sacraments, we could change the world over night)-- the Sacraments of baptism, confirmation, freqent confession, along with the anointing of the sick for those who need it, the Sacrament of Marriage for the married, the Sacrament of Holy Orders for the priest, and especially the Holy Eucharist, which is the Most Blessed of all the Sacraments because it is literally Jesus Himself and His Sacred Heart living and beating full of love for us-for this reason we can say the Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of Holiness; it is the Power of Divine Love; it is the Sacrament of Love, for It is Love Himself.

Having said all of this let’s return to back to today’s Gospel. The demands of Jesus found here are some of the most difficult to carry out in all of the Scriptures. We can look to the lives of the saints to give us an example of how to live this Gospel, assisted with the grace of the Sacraments. Let’s look at the St. Therese of Lesiuex, for example.

St. Therese the little Flower had in her convent a certain sister whom she did not like and could not stand to be around. However, St. Therese prayed and begged God to grant to her the divine grace to love this annoying sister who was in a sense her “enemy.” Therese went to confession many times to ask forgiveness for her failures in kindness and in order to obtain the supernatural grace she needed to truly love this sister who was unlovable, at least to Therese. When receiving Jesus in Holy Communion she asked Jesus to make her heart like unto His own.

Through all of this, and through of lot of work and self-denial, Jesus granted St. Terese His divine grace to go beyond her feelings and emotions, so that she could choose to love this sister in small and simple ways. For example, Therese would thread the sewing needle for this sister; and in discussions about this sister, Therese always referred to this sister as being better than her.

As a result of Therese’s heroic kindness, assisted by the grace of the Sacraments, this annoying sister actually came to believe that St. Therese was her best friend. In fact, at one point the sister asked St. Therese, “Sister, what is it that attracts you so to me?” This belief of the sister, that she was St. Therese best friend, was the result of St. Therese’s human love being perfected and united to Christ’s own divine love in and through the Sacraments of the Church, and especially, through prayer before the Most Blessed of all Sacraments the Holy Eucharist—it wasn’t a lie or put-on, Therese truly came to love this sister as if she were Jesus Himself.

And so, the example of St. Therese and all of the saints along with all of our readings today offer us plenty to reflect upon in terms of proper Christian attitudes. They offer us a standard of forgiveness to which we may not be accustomed. They offer us a standard of ethical behavior that is opposite of what our society would have us practice.

We would not be surprised to hear Jesus tell us in our Gospel to love our neighbor, or to be charitable to those in need, or even to forgive those around us. But today Jesus says, "Love your enemies," "Do good to those who hate you;" "Bless those who curse you, Pray for those who mistreat you." These certainly are opposed to human nature and are not something that we feel comfortable with. Again, left alone our human nature tends toward aggression; it seeks to get revenge, or to get even. This begins early in childhood.

Even early on, if someone pushes us, our natural reaction and emotional response is to push back. In fact at times human nature tempts us past the point of getting even, to the point of wanting to get ahead. At times it even takes pleasure in hurting others. This is not God’s way however, that is not what Jesus taught, and Jesus makes this very, very clear when he says, "love your enemies." "Do good to those who hate you." Jesus is not talking about any ordinary kind of love here. He is talking about Christian love-Charity—a supernatural love.

Our Western culture tends to romanticize all love in terms of warm emotional feelings for another person or personal gratification. But true Christian charity is what Jesus calls all of His followers to live, it goes beyond feelings and emotions. Formally defined, Christian charity means to will the good of another, no matter what the circumstances. As Jesus put it, it means to act well towards even those who hate us, even to the point of not just praying for them but even suffering for them, suffering for them even to the point of dying for them—loving them with Jesus’ love.

Again, to act well towards those who hate us is not a natural human response. Like St. Therese, we will not have good emotional feelings for the person who wrongs us--if someone puches us in the gut it hurts, of course. However, through an act of our will, assisted by God’s grace, our attitude can be one in which we truly want the best for our persecutor to the point that we ask God to bless them. It doesn’t mean we don’t protect and defend ourselves and others, or that we become a welcome mat for others to step on us; it does mean that even to those who mistreat us, we know that Jesus died for them as well as for us and so we ultimately we are about the business of their conversion and salvation.

St. Stephen the first martyr blessed those who were about to stone Him. And in doing so, he earned the grace of conversion for Saul who was leading the stoning…Saul of course later became St. Paul.) Thousands of Christians in our own time, like St. Stephen, are being persecuted by the enemies of our Holy Mother Church. These modern day martyrs too are dying, not only for their witness to Jesus Christ, but are dying for the very ones who are killing them, their enemies. May we too, love like them, love our enemies, and so be children of our Heavenly Father, perfect in Love, perfect in Charity.

Since we earlier spoke of St. Therese the Little Flower I thought I would end with a beautiful letter from her to her mother superior, which very eloquently speaks of true Charity:

“This year, dear Mother, God has given me the grace to understand what charity is; I understood it before, it is true, but in an imperfect way. I had never fathomed the meaning of these words of Jesus; “the second commandment is LIKE the first: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I applied myself especially to loving God, and it is in loving Him that I understood my love was not to be expressed only in words, for: “It is not those who says: ‘Lord, Lord! Who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father in heaven.” Jesus has revealed this will several times or I should say on almost every page of His Gospel. But at the Last Supper, when He knew the hearts of His disciples were burning with a more ardent love for Him who had just given Himself to them in the unspeakable mystery of His Eucharist, this sweet Savior wished to give them a new commandment. He said to them with inexpressionable tenderness: “A new commandment I give you that you love one another: THAT AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, YOU ALSO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. By this will all men know that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.”



Sunday, February 5, 2017

we Catholic Christians are called to be salt and light to the world; we are called to give the hungry of the world some of our bread

Matthew 5; 13-16. Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time. February 5th, 2017

Today’s Gospel follows on the heels of last week’s Jesus teaching of the Beatitudes. It reminds us that living the beatitudes is not just for our own spiritual well-being, but for the well-being of other souls as well. Other soul's eternal well-being actually depends whether you and I live the Beatitudes.

Every single Christian is called to strive for holiness by living the Beatitudes in order to be a witness to the whole world of God’s truth and so His Divine Love and Mercy. In other words, by our lives of holiness we are called to seek not only our own salvation but also the salvation of others. As one Jesuit priest put it, “Either we seek the salvation of others or we will not be saved ourselves.”

We are to be witnesses throughout the earth by living the beatitudes in order to lead others to God so that they may to Him in order to be saved and so enter with us into an eternal union of love with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is living our lives for love of God, and for love of neighbor for love of God, consists primarily in working to save our neighbor, even to the point of giving our lives if necessary for the sake of their salvation.

Today, Jesus teaches us this great truth by using the images of salt and light. In the old days, as my mom as told me many times, there were no refrigerators, or freezers, the only way meat was kept from spoiling was to store it in salt. Salt preserves food from spoiling; it also brings out the flavor of food and makes its more pleasant.

The world then is only kept from spoiling by us Christian Catholics being the salt of the earth. If we live our Catholic faith authentically, then we live the Beatitudes and as a result, we give flavor to life in this world. We remind the world and it’s inhabitants of the true meaning and goal of man’s existence. Man has been created by God, for God—Man has been created for Beatitude—which is life lived with, in and for the Most Blessed Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The world is indeed God’s good creation; it sprung forth from the Eternal Word of God, and through that same Word it is redeemed and called to return back to the Father God, from which it came. This Eternal Word is Christ the Head. But we are His Body, the Church. And it is through the members of the Church, His Mystical Body on Earth, that Jesus continues His redeeming work. Jesus could do it without us, but nonetheless, He has divinely ordained that His grace and Mercy only goes forth from His Sacred Heart, through the Members of His Mystical Body the Church, that is through you and me—we are the salt, that is if we are in the state of grace.

Jesus reminds us however that salt can lose it taste; it other words, if we fail to grow in holiness, if we fail to be witnesses to the world to what is Good, True and Beautiful, then what are we good for, but to thrown out and trampled under foot. And so, if it is possible for us to lose our flavor, our Divine Grace, and to be thrown out, how then to we guard from losing our taste, the taste of holiness? And as well, how can we keep from hiding our light under a bushel basket? How can we give the hungry bread to eat? How can you and truly be the salt and light for our world?

It is by the Holy Eucharist, and only by the Holy Eucharist, received and adored with faith weekly, and if possible even daily, that gives flavor to our lives and that keep the salt from losing it taste. It is the holy Eucharist approached with love and devotion that helps our light shine before Men, for our Light is Jesus, He who is the Eucharist—He alone is the light of the world and our lives must shine forth His life.

The Eucharist is our daily bread, better yet our super-substantial bread, the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself. Only by feeding on Him in faith, trust and love, can we then truly feed the world by leading them to this Bread of whomever eats shall not die but live forever. The world is hungry for the Eucharist, starving for the Eucharist. And as Jesus said before He gave His teaching on the Eucharist in John Chapter 6, when the thousand gathered around Him and the disciples were hungry… “Give them something to eat yourselves…”

The Father’s of the Church wrote that Faithful Catholics who participate fully, actively and consciously in weekly Mass, and receive the Holy Eucharist worthily and in the state of Grace are the anima Mundi, that is, the “soul of the world:” It is them that feed the world! In other words, the “Father’s of the Church taught that, “the world would die in its sins if not for Catholic Christians with the life of Christ, Christ Himself-the Holy Eucharist, alive in their souls.” This life is called charity and we are to share it with the entire world in order that it too might be saved in and through our lives—this is the source of our Beatitude, the strength we need to live the Beatitudes—and this is how we are enabled, empowered to let our light shine before men, the light of Christ.

What I am about to say is not easy to say. As I just said, we Catholic Christians are called to be salt and light to the world; we are called to give the hungry of the world some of our bread. If our world is falling into darkness, the problem is not with Governments, politicians, the economy, the terrorists, or some other great power in this world; no, the problem lies with us Catholics. We have lost our taste, and who can restore it? Only Jesus, Jesus Truly Present In the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar can; Jesus who truly continues to offer Himself on the Sacred Altar of every Mass, while at the same looking for those who will give themselves to Him, offer themselves totally to Him, in order that He can transformed them into His other selves and so live again in them, using them to continue his saving work out in the world by leading souls back to the God from Whom they came, who loves them beyond all telling and who bids them to return to their Father’s House, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

Let us Pray:

Dear blessed Mother at this Holy Mass we offer to Your Immaculate Heart, our heart—totally and completely, please take it and placed it into the Sacred Heart of your Divine Son which is about to become Truly Present in the Holy Eucharist. Help us to receive more fruitfully this same Sacred Heart at Holy Communion, so that by your Divine Spouse—the Holy Spirit, we might be more and more transformed into instruments of God Mercy and Love, for the sake of the whole word, transforming the darkness into light and helping to bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Amen.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Beatitudes are a promise of salvation that extends, not to just to particular kinds of persons, such as the poor or rich, but to everyone whose religious dispositions of heart and moral conduct meet these great demands of Jesus.

Matthew 5; 1-12. Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. January 29th, 2017.
Today in our Holy Gospel we hear the teaching of the Beatitudes from our Blessed Lord. The Beatitudes are the very conditions Jesus lays down for entering the Kingdom of heaven. The Beatitudes take the negatives commands of the Ten Commandments-“Thou shall nots,” and they elevate and present these demands of Jesus on his followers in a positive way, “Blessed are they who do these things.” For the fullness of love of God consist not merely avoiding things, like sin but in doing things, in backing up our words of love with deeds of love.

The Beatitudes are a promise of salvation that extends, not to just to particular kinds of persons, such as the poor or rich, but to everyone whose religious dispositions of heart and moral conduct meet these great demands of Jesus. In other words, salvation is promised to all of those who are poor in spirit, who are meek, who mourn, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, are merciful, pure in heart, are peacemakers and those who suffer in their search for holiness. And so these differing demands of the Beatitudes cover everyone, no matter what their position in life might be, every one who wants to be a true disciple of Christ and inherit His promise of Salvation, which is union with God forever.

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of our youth gathered in Washington D.C. for annual the March for Life. The March for Life is an event that I wish all of you could experience. This event and others like it, remind us how our love for Jesus must move us to protect, defend and witness publicly to the dignity and the sanctity of the life of every human person from conception until natural death. And how we must beg our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist for the graces desperately needed for the reconversion of our country and our world. Only when more Catholics do these acts of love before the Holy Eucharist will we be able to defeat the Culture of Death, and turn it into a culture of life, a culture at peace, where we are all truly blessed.

Perhaps, we can better understand the Beatitudes if we compare them to that corresponding “spirit of the world,” that places it self in opposition to the Spirit of Christ. Included in this “spirit of opposition,” is those attitudes of individuals which lead to the “culture of death,” which is sadly so prevalent in our world today.

1) Where Christ advocates poverty-being poor in spirit, the opposing spirit of the world and it’s culture of death in the world despises the poor. Here we are speaking not just despising the physically poor but also and especially the spiritually poor. Our world currently canonizes those who are rich and famous, movie stars, politicians and sports figures, no matter how they live their lives. Our world seeks not to be poor it spirit, but instead seeks the richness of power—power to control others.

2) Blessed are the meek. Where Christ praises gentleness always seeking the good of others by serving instead of being served, the world belittles meekness and extols those who succeed; those who succeed by using or removing anyone, even through murder, that stand in their way; by destroying the goodness in others and using people merely as means to get what they want. The cry of the “spirit of the world is not Servium, but instead Non-Servium! I will not serve Christ, I will not serve Him by serving others; I wish instead for others to serve me!

3) Blessed are those who mourn:--Where Christ encourages mourning and sorrow for our sin which leads us to penance as a way to at least try to atone for sin in order to show God we are sorry.-- the world instead revels in pleasure, comfort and the noise of empty laughter. The world here refuses to see the suffering in this world, and even war, as a consequence of sin and so it refuses to repent of its crimes, seeking forgiveness and so God’s mercy and the grace to amend one’s life and so return to God.

4). Where Christ promises true Joy only to those who seek justice and peace by seeking holiness, that is to those who accept the truth and strive to conform their lives to it, instead the world and it’s culture of death offers satisfaction in the enjoyment and pleasure of sin and so living one’s life in accordance to errors and lies.

5) Where Christ bids us forgive and show mercy to those who have offended us, to forgive just has the Heavenly Father does to our offenses when we ask for forgiveness; the world for it’s part will not let go of the past, it seeks vengeance, and its law courts are filled with demands for retribution. It wants license to do what it wills, but it is quick to condemn those who fall.

6) Where Christ blesses those who are pure of heart and promises that they alone shall see God, the world scoffs at chastity, makes a mockery of purity and makes a god of sexually immorality. It seeks not the purity of righteous life in Christ but the impurity of the anti-christ.

7) Where Christ tells the peaceful that they shall be rewarded, the world teaches just the opposite in constant rebellion, disobedience, violence and massive preparation for war. It seeks peace, not in the will of God but in the will of the people, which really means the will of the one who controls the people.

8). Where Christ teaches the incredible doctrine of accepting persecution and resignation to God’s Holy Will. The world dreads nothing more than criticism, rejection and loss of human respect; it seeks acceptance by society and by one’s peers and what ever leads to it as the moral norm without any concern for what God thinks and for God’s Holy Law.

In all of this we come to understand that striving with the help of God’s grace to live the Beatitudes is the only way to sanctity, and true happiness and the fullness of life. The Beatitudes are Jesus’ promise that there will be no obstacle to happiness and joy for those who truly seek to follow Him; to follow Him not just in sweet words, but most especially in deeds. He says to us, even if men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account, instead of sorrow, rejoice and be glad, your reward will be great in heaven.

Just as nothing on earth can give us the happiness that every man seeks, if we are united to God nothing can rob us of it. Our happiness and our fulfillment come from God alone, the God who became man to share in our human existence, to share in both the happy and sad moments of our life, to even share in our suffering and our death. The Second Vatican Council put it this way, “Oh you who feel the weight of the cross bear more heavily on you! You who are poor and forsaken, you who mourn, who are persecuted for the cause of justice, you who pass silently by, who suffer pain unknown to others, take heart---You are the best loved in God’s kingdom, the kingdom of hope, of goodness and of life. You are brothers of the suffering Christ, and together with him, if you wish, you can save the world.” (Second Vatican Council, Message to Humanity. To the poor, to the sick, to all those who suffer. 6)

When in our search for happiness we men attempt to follow other ways, other than those willed by God—other than those marked out by the master, we instead find only loneliness and sadness. In other words, apart from God and His ways, there is no lasting happiness, but only loneness and death, the source of our current culture of death. Contrastingly, those who trust in God and humbly pray to Him especially during times of despair and anguish move His divine heart to compassion—God then accompanies them in every instant of their lives.

Even in times of great distress, natural disasters and wars, the person that turns to God’s ways and walks humbly in His paths of righteousness, discovers the loving face of God before him. Before God’s continence this man joyfully discover that God never abandons those who love Him, but guarantees that, notwithstanding trials and tribulations, in the end good always triumphs over evil, life over death; in other words all things work out for the best, for those who love God.

Let us turn to our dear Heavenly Mother for help…

Holy Mary, Mother of the beatitudes, at the end of our life, we will be judged on our love. Pray for us so that we may be blessed in the eyes of your Son and receive the reward of eternal life. Help us in faith to see the source of our eternal happiness and so our Eternal Beatitude is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. You told us at Fatima that by coming with faith on bended knee before this God hidden in the little with host, and adoring and loving Him there we could bring peace upon the earth. So help us dear Lady, to live your Message of Fatima, which is the message of the Gospel, all the days of our life, and so turn our culture of death into a culture of life by praying for the conversion of poor sinners everywhere, those in our own homes and in our own families, most especially that sinner who looks at us each morning in the mirror. Amen.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Today we are again reminded, that Jesus continues to take away the sins of the world, our sins, yours and mine...

John 1;29-34. Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. January 15th, 2017.

This past Monday the Church celebrated the Feast day of, “The Baptism of the Lord.” With this feast came the close of the Liturgical Season of Christmas. In today’s Gospel we hear describe that event when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan.

Before Jesus is baptized however, we hear the words of John the Baptist as he points out the Person of Jesus. They are the same words that we hear repeated at every single Holy Mass. As the priest holds up Jesus, newly born on the altar at the words of the consecration by the power of the Holy Spirit, the priest echoes these words of the St John, “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.”

Because we hear it so often we can easily lose the meaning and the truth behind these marvelous words. At Christmas, and at every Christ-Mass, Jesus comes again, in the flesh, in order to take away not only the sins of the world, but our sins—yours and mind. With out this taking away of sins, the world would be totally without hope, and you and I would be lost.

This is the true meaning of Christmas, that the almighty and all powerful God, the very God who made everything out of nothing, who fashioned the galaxies and their stars, Who continues to hold everything in existence—including us, the Mighty God before whose holiness we are totally unworthy to approach, this same God, in His unfathomable love for us, came to us not as an unapproachable frightening Deity, but as an approachable little babe. And even more, in the Holy Eucharist this same God—Immanuel (God still with us through the Sacraments), continues to come to us as one of us. And He comes to us not as a divine judge in order to justly condemn us for our sins, but as the Divine Mercy of the Father in order to forgive us, heal us, save us; to take away our sins and take us to Himself.

This is the deeper meaning behind the incredible words of today’s Gospel…”Jesus takes away our sins.” He doesn’t, as wrongly said Martin Luther and so many other theologians after him, just cover our sins with His righteousness as “snow covers over a pile of dung.” No, it is much more than that. Jesus takes our sins away, and by doing so, creates a new creature. Not only is the outer sinful man covered over, but his inner being is renewed, redeemed, sanctified, recreated, reborn and made holy—thus restoring the likeness of God in the person and elevating and uniting the nature of the person to the Divine Nature of God Himself.

The baptism of Jesus then points to our own baptism. At our baptism not only were our sins taken away but we were rebirthed, becoming literally the adopted sons and daughters of God Himself. At our baptism we began, to literally share in the Divine Nature, the Nature of God Himself—we began to not only to be able to worthily approach God, but to actually become one with Him in a union of Love. Imagine, God makes us one with Himself.

As I visit the sick here at the hospital, I love to use Holy Water. I usually begin with a Holy Water Joke like, “How do Catholic’s make holy water? We boil the hell out of it!....But then after, and seriously, I ask the question. Why does Holy Water work? Why does the devil hate it?

Holy Water works because of our faith in our baptism. And the devil hates it, because when it is used in faith (it must be used in faith, it is not magic) it reminds the devil of our baptism. Before the devil fell, he was the highest of all angels. In someway God revealed to satan and the other angels that He—God, was going to take us humans and literally share with us God’s own nature, making us adopted sons and daughters of God, who would then become truly Our Father who art in Heaven. To satan this was impossible to accept; it was too beneath God to even think such a thing, much less bring it about. Thus satan rejected the very mercy of God and so rejected the Fatherhood of God.

Well satan was right in a sense; “it is way beneath God to be Our Father, and to send us His own Son by Nature to take on our nature in order die for us in order to take away our sins. And it is even more, way, way more beneath God (what a understatement) to make us through baptism of water and the Holy Spirit, His own adopted children, sharing with us His Divine Nature. But in His Love and Mercy He nevertheless does so as a totally unmerited gift. This is why Holy Water burns the devil; He suffers because of who we are…And who are we? We are the sons and daughters of the Almighty God Himself!!!

Sadly for some religions they too reject this notion of God as our Father and we as his beloved Children. Not only do they reject it as impossible and to far beneath the majesty of God, but some even consider such a notion as blasphemous. For them, God is not Father but our Master, and we are not His beloved children, but His slaves. But contrarily, Jesus has come to reveal to us the truth about God and the truth about us. He has come not to call us slaves, but friends (cf. Jn 15;15…and to tell us, that God is our Father (cf. Mt. 23;9) and we, through our baptism and the faith it brings, become His beloved children.

And so, the frequent use of holy water with faith should remind us of our baptism, and our baptismal promises—when we (or our parents on our behalf), rejected satan and all of his empty promises, so as to live as the children of God (cf. Baptismal Rite). If we really knew what it meant for us to be children of God we would surely die of joy. Again, it is the incredible gift of our baptism that makes this possible.

How the gift of our baptism should then leads us to desire to live our lives more fully as children of God. How we should have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of confession for post-baptismal sin. How we should dread mortal sin, which is the one the thing that we can do that overturns the miracle of our baptism and separates us from the love of the Father. And if we should fall into mortal sin, how we should not hesitate to run to Christ, Who is the Divine Mercy of the Father in Person; Christ, Who in the sacrament of Confession, working through the person of the priest, is able to restore the grace of our baptism along with offering us those special helps and healings in order to sin no more and so no longer offend our Beloved Father in Heaven. It is in confession by the way, that we allow the Father, through Jesus working through the sacred priesthood, to love us more.

Today we are again reminded, that Jesus continues to take away the sins of the world, our sins, yours and mine, but only if we permit Him to do so. And we do this by accepting His Mercy through the repentance and confession of our sins. Then we can offer more and more fully, beginning at this Holy Mass, our complete self in love to the Father, through the Son, becoming one with them in the love and the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. Holy Mary Mother of God and Mother of the sons and daughters of God—Our Mother, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

the truth about Mary, leads us to the full truth about Jesus.

Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God. January 1st, 2017

Today we celebrate that Holy day given to us by the Second Vatican Council- the solemnity of Mary, “Mother of God.” It is her most privilege title and the very best way to address her. Mary as “Mother of God,” is also one of her oldest titles. The Church at the Council of Ephesus first officially proclaimed it in 431. At that council, the Church declared her as “Theotokos,” which is Greek for the “God-bearer,” another way of saying the “Mother of God.” But this official declaration wasn’t the beginning of the belief of this truth of our faith, for even while Jesus was alive, to those who the Father revealed Jesus as God in the flesh, knew that she who gave birth to Jesus, was then truly the Mother of God.

With this in mind, we discover that the name- “Mother of God,” is more than just a declaration about Mary; it is really a declaration that declares and protects the truth about Who is Jesus Christ. He is truly divine while at the same time truly human. The Church has always protected the truth about Mary, because it protects and leads us to the truth about Jesus.

Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ who was at the same time truly God and truly Man. The one who gives birth is mother to the one birthed; and so because Mary gave birth to Jesus who was and is God become man, she is then truly “Mother of God.” Our mother who gave birth to us did not create us; and so, by declaring Mary as Mother of God we don’t mean she was the creator of Jesus (for Jesus wasn’t created-He is the Eternal God), but that she gave birth to Him in time.

Mary was not a god who gave birth to a god. Mary is not a god or a goddess herself. She is a limited created human being who was given the high honor of supplying a human nature, that is, a body, blood and soul along with a human intellect and will, to the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity-the Eternal Word. Through her Jesus became true man, all the while remaining true God.

It is important to make a distinction here. Mary is not the mother of the human person of Jesus Christ, but Mary is the mother of the Divine Person Jesus Christ. Jesus is not human person but a divine person with both a human nature and a divine nature. Mary then did not give birth to just the human nature of Christ and not to the Divine nature, but she gave birth to the whole Person of Jesus Christ (you cannot separate the natures of Christ, because both make up the one divine person of Jesus Christ). Mary is therefore truly the Mother of God. This is the glorious truth we celebrate today, the first day of the year.

When one denies the truth about the Mary as Mother of God, one inevitably denies the truth about who Jesus Christ truly is. If the truth about the Mother of God, is not upheld we misunderstand the very nature of Christ and we do not know Him as He is. We then can end up saying and believing untrue things about Him, like: “He didn’t know He was divine;” or, “that there were two persons in Jesus, one Human and one divine;” or, “that Jesus was a human person”…These errors and those like them lead to a mistaken belief that Jesus was really just a good and nice guy, just a nice do-gooder, just a prophet, just a creature like us.

Yes, the truth about Mary, leads us to the full truth about Jesus. He is more than just prophet, He IS God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, without beginning or end. He, though equal to the Father, was sent by the Father, to come down to earth as one of us, as a true man, though without sin, all the while remaining what He was before-True God; and as the Almighty and Living God, He can make demands on our life. And we for our part have duty in justice as well as in love, to believe, adore, hope and trust Him; and so in love, obey Him and follow Him in and through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded on the Apostles.

So this is why we publicly praise Mary as the Mother of God, and why at this time so closely after the important festival of Christmas and on the very first day of the New Year. To celebrate at Christmas is perfectly natural. When we visit a newborn babe, we of course inquire about the baby’s health, weight and the like. Then we always want to know about the health of the mother. We have looked for a week at the baby in the crib. It is now perfectly reasonable to look at the Mother, the Mother of the infant Jesus…for if we know about her, if we know her and draw closer to her we will know better her son; and to know someone is too love them and to love them is to draw closer to them.

And to celebrate on the first day of the eye is practical. On this first day of 2017 we wish one another a Happy New Year. This means we hope and pray that our friends and loved ones will have a blessed and holy year, that they will try to know Christ more clearly, love Him more warmly, and serve Him more faithfully, just as His Mother did. To do this nothing will help us more than the inspiration and help of that same Mother. Jesus loved and honored her. He wants us to love and honor her also. The disciples are to do what the master does; we honor Mary because Jesus honored her first.

I remember a very touching story about motherhood that I heard a few years ago that happened during a devastating earthquake in Iran that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Four days after the devastating earthquake the rescue crews had lost hope of finding any more survivors. Then a miracle happened, they found a young girl of 12 still alive. She was unconscious and had a broken leg, nevertheless she was found alive. She was found alive because she was wrapped in the arms of her mother who was killed by falling debris. The mother’s protective embrace actually saved the Child.

The Mother of God too, wraps in her arms those children who turn to her for protection. She not only protects them from physical harm but even more importantly she protects her children from spiritual arm. She is truly the Mother of God and the mother of the children of God. (If Jesus is the head of the Church and we are His body, Mary gave birth both to the head as well as to the body of Christ, and so she is truly our Mother). And she is a good mother who safely leads us to her divine Son, the divine Son she gave to the world in His birth and the divine Son she allowed to die on the Cross-for our salvation (this is the meaning of the Brown Scapular, to wear it in order to be embraced in the protection of the mantle of our Heavenly Mother, and to ask her to help us at the Holy Mass in order to offer ourselves in love, completely to Him Who is Love).

This death of Christ is renewed today on this altar and every day at every Christ-Mass. If we want the world to keep Christ in Christmas, we Catholics need to first keep the Mass in Christ-Mass Let us ask the Mother of God to intercede for us, and obtain for the grace to make the Holy Mass more important in 2017; in fact, to make it the absolute center of our life and of our family life. As individuals and families, let us, especially by praying the rosary, ask our dear Blessed Mother to help us draw closer to the Holy Eucharist Who is Immanuel-God truly with us still. She will help us to keep our eyes always on Jesus, so that we will have a holy and Blessed New Year. Through this Holy Mass and through the maternal intercession of the Mother of God may God grant to you and your loved ones the grace and helps you need to make this a truly joyful year by adhering your lives more closely to our Blessed Savior. I wish you all a Blessed New Year!!! Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Over the last couple of weeks of Advent, we have been preparing for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. We have been told to stay a wake, not to fall asleep. In this we have discovered that Advent is the liturgical time, which reminds us that all of our life is an Advent, a time of joyful preparation for the coming of Jesus at the end of the world or the end of our life which ever comes first. But we have also been reminded that Jesus has already come, and even more than that He comes to us now at this Holy Mass and at every Holy Mass with and in His same body and blood that he was born with at Bethlehem. This great truth is not only the cause of our Joy, it is the very source of our hope…the source of all hope…We have hope because God is truly with us, in the flesh.

A few years ago I came across a very interesting true story about hope. A priest was once given the assignment of serving a woman’s prison where many of the inmates were in for life. He was told that these particular women were very tough, and so it would be hard to get much of a response from them. In fact, at his first meeting with them only two women showed up. So he knew he had to do something in order to get more of the inmates to come and hear the truth about God and the truth about themselves.

He devised a plan to invoke the curiosity of the inmates. So he said to the two women, I am going to ask you the following question, if you can’t give me the correct answer I’ll stop talking, leave and come back next week to see if you have the answer. He asked them, “What is the worst sin? One of them answered, “Murder.” No, the priest said and he left. The next week there were about twenty women present. They all gave various answers to the question, such as rape and even killing a baby. Again, the priest said, “No.” and left.

The following week the room was completely packed. Still none of them had the answer. This time however, the priest revealed to them the correct answer. The worst sin He said was the sin of despair, loss of hope. He went on to tell them that they had hope even if in their desperate situation; they had hope because they were daughters of God and because they had God as their Father. Without belief, without faith in this, they would be lost in despair. He then told them of the unconditional love of the Father and how we don’t have to earn His love; we just have to open our hearts to it and trust in it, place our hope in His goodness, and then with a contrite heart, ask for and receive His forgiveness and mercy.

Our only hope is God!!! This was the message of the priest to the woman inmates. We have so many troubles in this life, our world is in great, grevious trouble, and we see others in so much trouble. To have hope, we have to return to faith in God, not only believing that He exists, but returning to living our lives in complete fidelity to Him, to His Church, to His truth and obedience to His commands and teachings out of love for Him; in others words, living our lives in conformity to His Holy Will. Hope is impossible without this true faith.

This points us to an important fact. Our Catholic faith is not just about information we know; Christianity doesn’t just tell us facts, doctrines and truths. Our faith tells us that each one of us is personally willed by God and so loved by God. In fact, each one of us is so loved by God that he came to earth for us, become a man for us, was born for us, lived and even suffered and died for us; and finally, He truly rose from the dead for us. He did all of this for us so that He would move our hearts to trust and hope in Him, love Him so that we might enter into an eternity of perfect happiness with Him, in union with Him and His Father forever. Our faith gives us hope by showing our true goal, which is God Himself, thus, giving us a reason to live no matter the situation; and so those with hope have the abundance of life.

When we truly believe that God only allows what is best to happen those who love Him we have hope and this Hope does something to us, it changes us, redeems us, saves us. Hope like faith however, is not just something we have it is something we live. Our hope in God must be operative; it must be performative. In other words, What keeps us from hope is not the situations of our lives but rather how we respond to them. It’s not our defects or other people and their defects but it’s the way we respond to them that can keep us from hope. We can either rebel against God because of our circumstances and so become angry and despair, or resign to our fate with a woe is me attitude; Or instead we can accept our situation with the attitude that Our Father God knows best—that I am loved-I can be saved, that I can become united with God intimately- that God loves me definitively and so I hope in Him even when it seems hopeless. I will still trust in Him in every situation because I know through faith that He will only allow what is best for me so that I may reach my goal of eternal happiness with Him already here on earth.

We need to ask our Lord for the capacity to accept big things, little things, to accept others they way they are, to accept ourselves the way we are. Yes we need to keep struggling to become better, and call others to become better with the help of God’s grace, but we need to accept our weakness, and other’s weakness, in order that we can all rely on God more than on ourselves, to become better by accepting all circumstances by crying out, Jesus I adore you, I believe in You, Jesus I trust in You and I love you; I trust in Your love for me and I abandoned my self totally to you! Now, O My God, help me to adore, believe, trust in You and love You more.

The season of advent and Christmas can sometimes be the worst. It is so busy and our hearts and minds are so preoccupied. It is also the season of rampant depression for so many reasons, sadness, the loss of a loved one, life in a mess, unemployment, an illness, the state of affairs in our world and in our Church, Christmas away from those we love. All of this really shows us that we can’t place our hope and trust in ourselves, others, circumstances or things to bring us happiness. If we rely on these, we lose hope and then we get angry at God-why does He allow this to happen to me or to my loved ones.

We also can’t place our trust and hope in the world. Man continually tries to create a system to trust apart from God and we end up with the gulag of Communism and the Auschwitz of Nazism. We can’t put our trust in politics or political systems; we can’t put our trust in Government or science to save us.

In this season we have our family and friends and their love. This is good it helps to show us and lead us to the love of God. Yet, even those who are closest to us can and will let us down. Just like we can’t trust the world, so too, we can’t trust our love ones totally, because they are imperfect and weak just like us. So too, there is no perfect priest, no perfect bishop or pope; there is nobody who is perfect save One, The only One, Jesus Christ, our only Savior and our Lord and our God; HE ALONE IS OUR ONLY HOPE.

In these last couple of days before we celebrate Christmas we must turn ever more to the source of our true hope and so the source of our true joy, Jesus Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Holy Mass and our active, full, conscious and fruitful participation in it, is then cause of our hope. In our actual participation in it, the Mass becomes the cause of our hope because it makes truly present Jesus and His sacrifice of love that saved us, is saving us and will save us, if we place our hope in its Power to save us.

At the Holy Mass, in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus’ birth two thousand years ago becomes present to us, and so Jesus is born on the altar before us, lives before us, suffers before us, dies before us, and resurrects before us, actually, truly and really. Jesus becomes fully present before us in the Holy Eucharist as true God and true Man. At the Mass as well His second coming becomes present; at the Mass we are at once at the beginning of the world and at the end of the world. At the Mass our goal, which is heaven becomes present on earth as well. And at the Mass, our hope can be increase, when we receive, worthily, Jesus the source of our hope; if we but open to the doors to our hearts, minds and soul so that He can enter and mount His throne, ruling over our lives and changing us into His image and likeness. Then we ourselves can become living tabernacles of Christ and hope for the world, for we can take Jesus newly born in us, out into our daily lives and share with others the joy and the hope that is within us.

In our Gospel today, Joseph gives us the secret of Christmas. He lets Mary into his home. And by doing so He lets the Divine Child into her home as well. So to with us, if we want to let Jesus into our homes, into our hearts, then we must let more fully Mary into our homes and into our hearts. And she brings with her divine son Jesus. Mary, Mother of God, by your faithful yes to God’s Will you brought forth hope into the world-Jesus your Son; help us to open the door to our homes, to our hearts and welcome you in, and so welcome Him in. Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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