Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit, that intimate Divine Guest of our soul, to come and help us with all of his gifts

John 20: 19-23. Pentecost Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Today we celebrate the birth of the Church. It is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the Twelve Apostles in the upper room; but not before they had spent the previous nine days in intense prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary. In that upper room, the Holy Spirit first came upon the Virgin, and then from her proceeded to fall upon the twelve. The Holy Spirit first came upon the Virgin for she is His spouse, as Jesus was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel today, we read of the apparition of Jesus on Easter day. The disciples were locked in the upper room for fear of the hostile people who had just crucified their master. The twelve were full of anxiety and outright fear; and it was a real fear, they weren’t being paranoid, for people were truly out to kill them.

A similar fear is experienced by many who desire to give themselves to Christ fully and unreservedly; however, it can be fear that stems not just from the prospect of dying for Jesus physically, but of dying totally to self for love of Him, of offering Him everything, for fear He just might take it. This is fear that originates from an imperfect love—for perfect love cast out all fear!

Perfect love never counts the cost, it never fears to give the one it loves the gift of its whole self, especially the gift of its whole self to Jesus…“ for no greater love has a man than this, for him to lay down his life for his Friend…”, the greatest of which is Jesus.

Knowing their fear then, knowing their imperfect love, Jesus’ first words to Twelve were of peace, “peace be with you” or simply in Hebrew, Shalom!” This is the peace that Christ alone can give, a peace that goes beyond the peace of this world. It is a peace that emanates not from the absence of conflict or even the absence of suffering, but from the secret depths of the Pierced Heart of Jesus. Then Jesus tells them, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then Jesus makes an interesting gesture, He breathes on them, and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” I would like to concentrate today on this profound gesture of Jesus- breathing on the apostles; and then his words, “receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus first breaths on His apostles. It is a curious gesture, but indeed significant. Breathing is absolutely necessary for human life- it is most fundamental. Until the invention of artificial respirators, when a person stopped breathing, they died. Breathing, therefore, means life, no breath means death.

Before Jesus breathed on the apostles, they in a sense were dead. They hadn’t believed the words of Jesus about his passion, death, and resurrection. They were full of sorrow over their betrayal of Jesus--over their great weakness, they were afraid of the cost and demands of love of Jesus; their love was in sense very much in need of “life support.” And so Jesus, the Divine Physician, breaths life into them, the true Life that comes from the Divine Respirator—the Holy Spirit; He Who is the Perfect Love between the Father and the Son. The Love between the Father and the Son, the total gift of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father, is so perfect it is another Divine Person.

Today at this Holy Mass, Jesus again comes to us, no less as He did to the Twelve in the upper room. By the power of the Holy Spirit first coming upon the person of the priest, Jesus comes again in order to lay down His life anew for love of us. He comes again truly present in His resurrected and glorified body in the Holy Eucharist which also contains His Pierced Sacred Heart from which all grace and mercy flow, from which flows the Living Water which, if we drink of it deeply, gives us Life and through us gives life to the world.

We receive the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist at Holy Communion but we can drink in the living water flowing from it only if we have first received Jesus’ peace through the forgiveness of our sins before His representative the priest to whom Jesus alone has given the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, when he said, to the apostles the first priests, receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, whose sins you retain are retained. And we drink deeply of the living water only to the extent we have first offered on this altar the complete gift of ourself in a loving sacrifice of adoration to the Father through the Son.

After having received Him thus, Jesus stays with us for only a little while in an intimacy that even the angels cannot comprehend. But before He leaves us in His Sacramental presence, “for it is better for us that He goes,” He desires to breathe on us anew the Holy Spirit, the advocate.

The Holy Spirit brings with Him, His sevenfold gifts, of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Holy Fear of the Lord along with His sevenfold Gifts. With these gifts from on High, the Holy Spirit takes away all our fear by perfecting us in Divine Love. This perfecting us in divine love is no less than the Holy Spirit conceiving in our souls Jesus, in the order of divine grace, making us into other “Christs” so that we might not to just imitate the life of Christ, but live the life Christ, thus becoming His witness throughout all the whole world, taking Jesus and his love out into the world and leading many souls along with us into the intmacy of a divine union with God, the Father, and the Son, in the unity and love of the Holy Ghost, thus living out Jesus promise, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit, that intimate Divine Guest of our soul, to come and help us with all of his gifts. How we need these gifts so very much, for we are so very weak and afraid. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, to help us be always docile to the Spirit’s Divine inspirations, putting them into action in our life. Veni Creator Spiritus! (Come) Holy Spirit! I ask you for the gift of Wisdom to better know You and your Divine perfections; for the gift of Understanding to clearly discern the spirit of the mysteries of the holy Faith; for the gift of Counsel that I may live according to the principles of this Faith; for the gift of Knowledge that I may look for counsel in You and that I may always find it in You; for the gift of Fortitude that no fear or earthly preoccupations would ever separate me from You; for the gift of Piety that I may always serve Your Majesty with a filial love; for the gift of the Fear of the Lord that I may dread sin, which offends you, O my God. Amen.

Come Holy Spirit come by means of the powerful intercession of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy well-beloved spouse. (3x). Amen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The ascensions of Jesus was necessary at the level of love.

Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Blessed Lord
May 13, 2018

These past seven weeks of Easter have been a time for us to enter into the secrets of the Heart of Jesus. We have listened to Jesus words given to us by St. John, words which communicate the truths of our beautiful Catholic faith, truths which revealed to us the very secrets of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity-God. Jesus has revealed to us that God is Love and God has created us to share in that love--to share in God’s own nature. And this brings us to the secret of love, which is the Ascension.

The ascensions of Jesus was necessary at the level of love. Love by its very nature moves toward unity. Think about this in your own life—when you love someone, really love them for their sake not your own, you want to be one with them, so much so, you desire to be of one heart and mind. This is symbolized in marriage between a man and a woman; they express their desire for oneness the night of their wedding in the marital act in which the two become one flesh. In the light of love, we can then begin to understand why the humanity of Jesus at the Ascension, necessarily moved toward oneness with the Father, toward the right hand of the Father in Glory.

Jesus, as Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, was, is and always will be at the right Hand of the Father, that is equal to the Father in Majesty. But now, the human nature, the body and blood that Jesus took from the Virgin Mary, along with His human soul, is now present as well at the right hand of the Father. Because of the ascension of Jesus’ human nature, a nature He shares with all men, now gives all human nature, including you and me, the possibility of sharing intimately and eternally in this perfect unity of Love between Jesus and the Father. Christ, still bearing the marks of his passion, which brought about our redemption, has gone before us to prepare a place for us, so that where He is, we may also be.

If we truly love God, we too necessarily will move to union with Him, necessarily will move to return to the Father. Love for Christ then, desire for Christ, who is the only way to the Father, is the greatest good anyone could ever desire. We all should desire that which is the greatest Good, namely Christ; He is our true End. A person who does not to love Him and desire unity-friendship with Him is missing out on the One thing that matters. As the great orator and radio and television star, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen taught, this is why the saints, far from being the abnormal persons that the world likes to portray them, were actually the most normal and content people the world has ever seen. Why? Because he said, normalcy works for a goal, a purpose, and a end. Abnormalcy looks for an escape mechanism, excuses or rationalizations in order to avoid discovering our true human end, which is Christ.

Bishop Sheen said, A normal person sets for himself a target, goals for this life, his vocation what he has been created for, his vocation in this life. But there is more beyond this. Suppose his vocation is to become a doctor, and then to get married, and then to have children and then to give money to his children and then. The normal person sees that there is an end to “and then, ” Sheen said. He knows that He has been created for something, someone beyond just the goals of this life. He realizes in the end that the goals in this life are really just meant to obtain our ultimate, “and then” which is heaven.

The abnormal person is just the opposite. The abnormal person is locked up inside of himself, within his ego, said the bishop. He is like an egg that has never been hatched; he refuses to submit to a certain amount of divine incubation in order to arrive at a different life than he has, so he has to escape from reality—this is how he spends his time. If he wants to go from Chicago to New York, he is not concern about getting to New York but with giving excuses about why he doesn’t go to New York. In other words, he has lost his goal, his end, his destiny and he refuses to look at the roadmap and take the necessary actions to get there. He goes in circles

Our society too has become abnormal. It has lost its true end, its true purpose. Many either don’t realize or know they are created by God, for God or they just aren’t concerned. Some want to go to God, but they don’t want to look at the map and make the necessary changes and actions in their life to get there. In other words, they refuse to submit to the divine roadmap, which is the Will of God and His Commandments. They become like ships without a port, lost at sea, adrift—yet they desire never to found, desire never to reach the port but only to stay forever on the ship.

Our society’s loss of its true purpose, its true end is shown in many abnormal ways. Our society has many escape mechanism and rationalizations to avoid the truth. One of the symptoms of this loss of an end, is our love for excessive speed. A lot of people don’t know where they are going, but they certainly are in a hurry to get there. Another symptom is the rise of suicide, especially among the young, but not only among them. Suicide is at a level never before seen the annual of human history—is is epidemic. Life with out an end is hopeless. So many people have an unconscious or half-conscious desire to end life because it is without purpose, without meaning. Surely this is also what is behind the push for physician-assisted suicide. We moderns try to fill in this loss of desire for our True End, our desire for God, with immoral sex, alcohol and drug abuse, materialism or just plain death.

Additionally, Many people throw themselves into their jobs or business in an abnormal way. This is where many people are today, they have become slaves to efficiency. They look upon the other and are looked upon only in relation to how well they can perform and produce, how well they can make money and be an asset to the economically minded business world. This is not a true human end.

People are alone today, they are losing hope. They are working, working. Where are we humans going? Who is going to give to us and our society an end-a true human end? Is it a true human end to just earn money? Of course not, but yet that’s the only end that so many want to achieve.
The great Greek philosopher Aristotle said that the goal that People are the most seeking after on earth is Human glory or fame-to be somebody. He said to reach it you need two wings, money and power. When you have money you have power. And with both you can reach human glory and that is what people are aiming at if they don’t know Christ their true end. But this is totally abnormal. The world must leave this notion of efficiency, this perpetual pace, this crazy pace going nowhere, there is no end.

There is no end because quantitatively I spend a lot of time working. But qualitatively where is my life going, what is the end. The end gives the quality if the end is human. But money cannot give any quality to my life. Power cannot give any quality to my life. Human glory is vain=it is passing I can die today- Sic transit gloria mundi-so passes the glory of the world. So, all this false trinity of power, money, and fame condemns human beings to nothingness, we want to discover the true Trinity through Christ. through the Son and the Holy Spirit to go to the Father, yet there is so much in our society today that is an oppressing power that prevents us from discovering our true Father (our true end). But all is not hopeless!

The truth of the Ascension that we celebrate today renews our hope because it again gives us our true End. It points us to our true purpose in this life, which is to love God, to love our neighbor for love of God and after giving ourselves totally in a sacrifice of love, for love, to return to Love--God Himself, for God is Love.

But because our Christian Hope is not just a, “I hope so,” or a, maybe someday,” friends of Jesus, that is those who keep His Commandments can begin to possess now, already while still in the valley of tears, that for which they hope. It is the Holy Mass that makes it possible to us.
At the Holy Mass God continues to love us first, through His Son in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the Holy Eucharist is the Risen and Ascended Lord sitting at the Right Hand of the Father in Glory; the Holy Eucharist is our true End because it is Jesus in His Human Nature, risen and ascended, and so when we are before the Holy Eucharist we are already in Heaven. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus fulfills His promise of hope, “Behold I am with you even until the end of the world!” The Holy Eucharist is our only way to the Father because it is the door to heaven because it is Jesus, who is our heaven.

At Holy Communion Jesus continues to draw near to us in love by offering us His complete self on this altar. This love necessarily demands a response on our part, will we rise up and draw near to Him our true End by offering Him our complete self, all we possess, all our love so He can take us to where HE is, One with the Father, in the unity and love of the Holy Spirit. Let us the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Hope to help us. Let us pray:

Prayer to Our Lady of Hope

O Mary, my Mother, I kneel before you with a heavy heart. The burden of my sins oppresses me. The knowledge of my weakness discourages me. I am beset by fears and temptations of every sort. Yet I am so attached to the things of this world that instead of longing for Heaven I am filled with dread at the thought of death.
O Mother of Mercy, have pity on me in my distress. You are all-powerful with your Divine Son. He can refuse no request of your Immaculate Heart. Show yourself a true Mother to me by being my advocate before His throne. O Refuge of Sinners and Hope of the Hopeless, to whom shall I turn if not you?
Obtain for me, then, O Mother of Hope, the grace of true sorrow for my sins, the gift of perfect resignation to God's Holy Will, and the courage to take up my cross and follow Jesus. Above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life's darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Savior, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.

Mary, our Hope, have pity on us.
Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

John 15; 9-17, Sixth Sunday in Easter. May 6, 2018

It is has been said that the whole of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, can be explained in the following words—“It is all about love!” And so it is! Yet, in our day “love” is a very broad notion. And because it is used so broadly, and one could say in many cases so carelessly (for example, I love ice cream, I love flowers, I love fishing), the word “love,” seems to have become devoid of its deeper meaning. Yet, each one of us and every human being has been created by Love—for Love. We can truly say, “Love is our only happiness!”

Today Gospel from St. John, along with the second reading from the First Epistle, also from John, reminds us what love really is, and what is the deepest meaning of the expression, “to love.” We are told that, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as expiation for our sins. In this we discover that Christ’s love for Christians is a reflection of the love that the divine Persons have for one another and for all men (Navarre bible, commentary on John pg 196).

This profound truth, “that God Loves you,” is the source of Christian Joy, but it is also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part. This response should take the form of a fervent desire to do God’s Holy Will in everything, that is, to keep His Commandments in imitation of Jesus Christ, who always did the Will of His Father (pg 197). Therefore, those who keep the Commandments of God, are Friends of Jesus--friends of God Himself. They are no longer slaves, but instead beloved sons and daughters of God Himself, Children who love others as Jesus has first loved them.

In light of this profound truth what does this love look like in action? And how do we respond to this love and put it into action in our own lives? To answer these questions, we first examine the actions of Christ, and then the actions of the saints.
How has Christ loved us? We look to the crucifix to see. He has loved us to the very end! He has loved us by sacrificing His own life for our sake, so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. He has become an expiation for our sins, to free us from sin and the result of sin, which is death, all so that we could have the possibility of entering into an eternal union with Love Itself—The Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Jesus’ whole life on earth was in a sense a crucifixion that merely culminated on the cross. He, who was true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father, took on the nature of the very creatures He created—he became true man while setting aside the power of His divinity. He became like us in all things but sin. And He lived His entire life on this earth entirely for us, so much so, that there was not one ounce of selfishness, self-interest or self-seeking in anything He ever did. His entire life, every action no matter how seemingly insignificant, was carried out in a spirit of total dedication for each one of us, carried out in loving sacrifice of Himself for you and for me, and for all men.

By His entire life, Jesus, showed us what the greatest of all love is, for a man to lay down his life for his friends. And because of His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus continues to show us this love by sacrificing Himself anew at the Holy Mass and in the gift of the Holy Eucharist, in which He offers and gives Himself totally to us as the Food of Love.

Also, to discover love we look to the actions, the lives of the Saints. The closest friends of Jesus—the saints, show us that it is possible for each one of us to live the life of Jesus in our own lives, to love as Jesus commands, to love like Him for Love of God and love of neighbor for love of God. The martyrs immediately come to mind here, those men, woman and even children who gave their live for love of Jesus and for His Church and Her members. Take for instance Father Maximillian Kolbe, who in a Nazi concentration camp voluntarily stepped forward to take the place of a fellow inmate-a husband and father who was about to be starved to death.

Taking the place of the husband in the starvation bunker, Father Kolbe lead the other condemned prisoners in joyful songs and praise to God as each one of them slowly and agonizingly died. Father Kolbe the last to be still alive, and his captured being perturbed with his joy and failure to die, was finally injected in the neck with acid, his dead body being thrown in one of the ovens of Auschwitz to be incinerated (we don’t have any first class relics (bones) of Kolbe).

Also, one thinks of the martyrs like St. Isaac Jogues, and the other North American Martyrs, who gave their lives to bring Christ, His Church and His Gospel of truth and love, to the Americas. Father Jogues, friend of the Huron Indians was eventually captured by their enemies the Iroquois. He was tortured by first flaying strips of his skin off, then by having his priestly sacred digits, thumb and forefinger, cut off so that he couldn’t celebrate Holy Mass. As they cut off His fingers he began to praise God out loud in front of his tormentors until one of the men suffering with him told him to stop because the Iroquois were known to make their victims eat the parts that were cut off.

Father Jogues later escaped and was able to flee to France to recuperate. He was offered a life of retirement by his superiors but refused. For love of Christ and neighbor he wanted to go back to the Indians who Christ loved and who Jogues loved, not only for the Huron but also for the Iroquois from who Christ die for as well. Shortly after arriving, as he walked out of a tent, Fr. Jogues was bludgeoned over the head by the same Iroquois, thus giving His life in love and as a witness to Love.

Although we may not be called to witness to love in this extraordinary way, we are all nonetheless called to that greatest of all loves—"for a man to lay down his life for his friends.” For us, this can be done by what is known as crucifixion by pinpricks; that is, by living our daily lives in total dedication to Christ, to His Church and to others. We do this through our faithfulness to the duties of our state in life—this includes for example, doing our jobs well; being obedient to our parents; treating others fairly, as we would like to be treated; standing up against and trying to correct injustices; and fulfilling our spiritual duties of daily prayer and study. Along with fulfilling our daily duties, living the Commandments and the teachings of the Church; setting aside what we “feel” is true and right, and instead accepting the truth that comes not from us, not from any man, but from God, the truth that ensures us the freedom to love. In all of these way and countless other little ways, we are witnesses to this truth of love, at our jobs, in our families or even during our times of play and entertainment. This may give us the opportunity to, like Christ and His saints, bear the ridicule of the godless in this world who have created their own truth and reality, and to bear it all for love of them, so that they too may not be lost but may become friends of Christ and so obtain eternal life and union with the God who is Love.

To illustrate this “ordinary witness,” I think of the example in this country of a seemingly ordinary life of St. Pierre Toussaint. He was a former slave who having obtained his freedom opened a hairdressing salon in Old Manhattan. Yet, coming to this salon in order to be close to this true friend of Christ the socially elite would gather, in order to hear Pierre’s wisdom and to receive his direction in their lives. After work, Pierre would not go home, but would spend the night nursing the sick and dying, feeding the hungry, counseling the confused, teaching the ignorant and admonishing sinners to repent of their sins and turn their lives more and more to Christ—their truest friend, by following His commandments. Totally dedicated to Christ and to others, Pierre Toussaint, hardly ever thought of Himself—He was a slave to Christ, a slave of Love for love, totally free from the worst bondage, the bondage of sin; he was indeed a true friend of Christ.

A life of laying down one’s life for the sake of one’s friends begins for us at the Holy Mass. Jesus is truly our dearest friend who has lay down His life for each one of us, and Who continues to lay down His life for us on this sacred altar. The only appropriate response on our part is to lay down our lives for Him.

We do this beginning at Holy Mass by laying down our heart, our lives, our everything on this altar for love of Jesus. Not to be outdone in generosity and love, Jesus leaves the altar and gives us His own Sacred Heart at Holy Communion in order for us to be able to love with. This is the fruit of the Resurrection, to be able to love the Father with the Heart of Christ beating alive in us. And with this same Heart of Christ in us, loving those to whom we come in contact with on a daily basis. Most of the time, as we have said, this is carried out in the ordinary acts, but ordinary acts which now become acts of divine love, for we are truly able to carry out Jesus’ command to, “love one other as He has loved us,” for it is Jesus Himself who loves others and serves others through us. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, to help us, like the saints, to dedicate our lives totally to Jesus and to live out this self- dedication by our faithfulness to all of the Commandments and to the Fathers Holy Will.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

But the devil will come. He will lie to us He will tempt us with the things of this world—to seek happiness in this world alone. He will tempt us with fear, tempt us with the fear of what it will cost to follow Jesus fully, tempt us with the fear of giving up, of offering up everything to Jesus.

Mark 1; 12-15. First Sunday in Lent. February 18th, 2018

“Repent and Believe in the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at Hand.” These words of our Blessed Lords that are found in today’s Gospel are at the very heart of our Lenten Observance. In fact, they are at the very heart of the entire Gospel.

Repent, that is turn away from those things that are keeping you from fully embracing Jesus, for He is the Kingdom of God Personified. Repent---turn away from sin and selfishness, from pride and error and turn to--embrace the Truth of the Gospel expounding fully in the Teachings of the Church. Live this Truth, so that give yourself more completely to Jesus—He who is the Truth, and be more perfectly and intimately united with Him in His Kingdom.

Repentance therefore, is more than just a turning away from Sin, it is even more than merely changing our lives for the better. Repentance is first a foremost a turning to Jesus more fully, giving ourselves and our lives to Him more completely, so as to live the Will of God already on earth as it is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is what is at the heart of our “giving up” something during Lent. We give up something we desire, some good, in order to increase our desire, our spiritual desire for the only One that is truly Good—Jesus. Jesus is the only One that can satisfy our true Hunger and thirst. And so, our fasting during Lent, is only successful if leads us closer to Jesus.

At the end of Lent, we can say, I succeeded in giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent, look how “good” I am. But can we say that being successful in giving up chocolate or coffee for Lent has changed me? Or did it just cause me to become grumpy with my family while I was trying to go without these things to prove how good I am. Will we be able to say, that our Lenten sacrifice has lead us to a deeper repentance from sin and to a turning more fully and offering our heart, our life and all that we are and have more trustfully and more completely to God, from Whom all good things come?

A truly successfully Lent then, as well as a truly successfully life with Christ, always begins and ends with Holy Mass. The Mass is that one place, like no other, where we can truly encounter the Kingdom of God in Person in the Holy Eucharist. It is here, where after we have repented of our sins and confessed them in the Sacrament of Confession before a priest, that we can turn more fully toward the Lord who comes to us in the Holy Eucharist, through His Passion, death and Resurrection. The Holy Eucharist is our Heavenly Food, because it is truly Jesus; therefore, the Holy Eucharist alone can satisfy our hungry heart.

But before we can grow in our desire for the Holy Eucharist and receive it more fruitfully-so it can transform us in to other Christs, we must, like in Lent, “give up” something--namely Ourselves and offer all we have on the altar with Jesus to the Father. We must give up everything, placing it on the Altar in a loving and trusting sacrifice to the Lord.

But we must not only give up to Him our whole heart and all that we have and possess, but we must also give up to Him our sins as well—we must place all our sins on the altar.

There too on that altar, we must place our failure to Love Him above all else, and give up to Him those areas of our lives that we love too much and are reluctant to offer up to Him right now, or are too scared to give up to Him because we are afraid He might take them from us in this life. We must give up to Him our petty grudges, our refusals to forgive, our cherished ways of doing things, our fixed perceptions of others, our stubborn refusal to change, or even to admit, those aspects of our lives that are displeasing to the Lord. We must give up to Him all of our fears as well, placing them on the paten at Holy Mass and totally surrendering ourselves in complete abandonment to His Holy Will; His Holy Will which is Love and Mercy Itself.

Speaking of fear. The Liturgical time of Lent reminds us that soon there won’t be anything to be scared of, because Easter is Coming. At Easter Jesus has conquered our fear. He has conquered sin and that greatest of all fears death; not just the fear of earthly death, but of eternal death, of eternal separation from God.

Jesus has triumph over the grave. And through the sacraments He has left us, we too can share in His victory; through the power of Holy Mass, which is the power of Divine Love, we too can conquer sin and so conquer fear and death. All provided we give up all to Jesus.

But the devil will come. He will lie to us He will tempt us with the things of this world—to seek happiness in this world alone. He will tempt us with fear, tempt us with the fear of what it will cost to follow Jesus fully, tempt us with the fear of giving up, of offering up everything to Jesus. To those who fall into his temptations and try to hang on only to the things of earth, afraid to lose their lives for Jesus, they will lose both earth and heaven and eternal life besides.

But for those who give up the things of this world, for those who give up their life to Jesus, they will gain heaven and earth, and eternal life besides, because they will obtain Jesus, and through Him, they will obtain the Father and the Holy Ghost and so the fulfillment of all their hopes and desires. And then all that they have given up to the Lord, all that they have entrust to His safe keeping, will be return to them a hundredth fold besides.

Let us turn to the virgin for help, she is our Lady of Perpetual help. She will help us to overcome the temptation of the devil. She will help us to overcome all of our fear. If you look at the image of our Lady of Perpetual help closely, you will notice that the sandal of the child Jesus in her lap is hanging on to Jesus foot only by a strap. You see, Jesus was out playing in the yard and two angels appeared holding the instruments of the passion—the cross, the nails, the crown of thorns. Little Jesus is so scared, and He runs so fast to His mother that his sandal slips off his foot and dangles as He jumps into the waiting outstretched arms of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Her arms are outstretched for us as well. Let us run to her as fast as did Jesus. There in her loving and safe embrace, let us ask her to help us overcome fear and through her Immaculate Heart, give up everything, EVERYTHING on this altar at this and at every Holy Mass, trusting it all to the Lord God from Whom it all came anyway. Let us ask the Mother of God, to help us to cut the strings, to undo the knots that bind us from loving Jesus above all things and living for Him alone. Our Lady of Perpetual Help; Our Lady undoer of knots, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

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

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 4th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. January 14th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 23, 2017

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

Fourth Sunday in Advent December 23rd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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