Saturday, February 27, 2010

We must never forget that He is up here on this altar just as truly as He was on Mt. Tabor.

Homily for Second Sunday of Lent- Luke 9:28b-36

Even though we are still at the beginning of Lent, the Church gives us the true account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It should seem odd to have this passage at the beginning of Lent because we have a Gospel that seems to point to the end of Lent. Instead of Jesus preaching a message of repentance, turning away from sin, the Church gives us the Transfiguration. Why is this?

Well, it is always easier to start a journey (esp. a difficult journey) when we know clearly where we are going. Before Jesus was to enter Jerusalem for His passion and death, He took Peter, James and John up a mountain. The Father desired to strengthen them and to show them the end of the journey that they were about to start. The end was the resurrection and ascension-Jesus risen from the dead and glorified at the Right Hand of the Father.

The Transfiguration was a pre-figuration of the power and glory of the resurrection. It was an epiphany, a manifestation of Jesus divinity, of His divine power shinning though his human body. Jesus humanity was, in a sense, a veil that covered His Divinity. Remember, when Jesus walked visibly on earth, He would have look like an ordinary person, only through the eyes of faith could you have seen that He not merely a man, but was Divine, was God. At the transfiguration, however, the disciples got a peek of the Divine Nature of Jesus shinning through the human body; the veil was move aside slightly and a sliver of his infinite power and Glory was revealed.

The disciples were about to enter into the Passion of the Christ. The disciples’ faith and trust in Jesus were going to be tested in the crucible of suffering. They would be struggling especially in their hearts, as they would see their master suffer and die. They struggled to believe and to hope. They struggled to love. They struggled to stay awake just one hour in prayer with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. They struggled with betrayal, especially Peter. The Father knew this struggle was going to take place in the hearts of Jesus’ apostles; He desired them to be strengthened prior to the horrible events of the Passion of the Christ with a vision of the victory that would take place. The Transfiguration was a glimpse of heaven, a sneak peak at heaven, in order to banish from the disciples’ souls the scandal of the cross.

Our Lord in His Divine Mercy allowed Peter, James, and John to enjoy for a very short time the contemplation of the happiness that lasts forever, so as to enable them to bear adversity with greater fortitude, so as to see adversity as a way to holiness, as a way to grow closer to Jesus, to become more like Him. You would think they would have written volumes about what they saw, but they didn’t because there are no words, because “eye has not seen, hear has not heard…” But, there is no doubt that the memory of those moments beside Our Lord on the mountain helped those apostles, not only during Jesus Passion and death, but later as well through many difficult moments in their lives. In the midst of struggles, pain and suffering, they remembered what they saw on that mountain and it helped them not to give up, but to keep going. They remembered what they saw on that mountain, the end that they would share in if they but remained faithful--they would share not only in the resurrection, but in the very glory and divinity of Jesus Christ.

Like the disciples we too struggle not only in lent but in our lives, like them we too struggle to faithfully follow our Lord during difficult and trying times. We battle with sin everyday; we struggle to convert, to conform our lives to Christ Jesus, especially when we are given a share in His passion and suffering. In our day, we may struggle more than ever to believe in Jesus and the Church’s teachings and to live them. We struggle like the apostles to spend just one hour in prayer with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We struggle with hope when the cross gets heavy or life doesn’t make sense. We struggle to forgive that person who has hurt us. We struggle to love as we should in a world that does not always love in return. And we struggle to Love God and grow closer to Him through our proper worship of Him. Our Lord uses Lent, just like He uses all of the crosses and difficulties in our life in order to remind us that we just can’t go it alone, we like the apostles need, absolutely need the help of the power of his divinity which comes to us through his humanity, truly present to us in the Holy Eucharist.

Jesus desires to be with us right in the midst of all our daily struggles, daily crosses; He knows how weak we really are. He has given to us His transfiguration to remind us He is God and as such He alone as the power to help us in this life. Just as he helped the disciples to face the trials of their lives, Jesus will come with all of his divinity, and His transforming power to help us and strengthen us. He will come with his divine love and be with us in our own struggles and crosses. He will help us not only to bear our crosses but give us the grace to use them to grow in holiness, to use them to grow closer to Him and even to use them to conform us to Him more fully.

Let us look up to him through the tears of everyday burdens and pains. Jesus showed the brightness, the joy, the hope, the power of His inner God-ness and goodness in the Transfiguration, so that every heart in the world could take courage and realize He is the Savior, the Healer, in every sense of the word. He showed himself bright and powerful to encourage you and me in the sufferings of our own lives and to give us the trust and hope that these sufferings can become the very means to transform us into saints. We too can look upon His transfigured and glorified body in the Holy Eucharist; this glimpse of His glory through the eyes of faith, will also help us, just as it help the disciples, to make it through life, remaining faithful to Jesus to the end.

When we look at the Holy Eucharist we look at our end, our Goal which is Jesus. And so, we have to look upon the Crucified Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist, lifted up for our salvation; if we do not we will not see the end of our journey, and so lose hope in the difficulties of the journey. We have to look upon the crucified Jesus truly present in the Eucharist so that we will not give up in our struggle to become holier this Lent and during our lives. In faith, if we become little, we too can see Jesus' power and glory, His divinity shining through the little white host.

It is the Holy Mass that makes the transfigured Jesus present to us, it is the holy Mass that makes the divinity of Jesus and His divine power present to us, because the Mass makes the Humanity of Jesus present, His body, blood, soul and divinity. Let us look up to Jesus in all the glory and power of his transfigured Body here in the Holy Mass. We must never forget that He is up here on this altar just as truly as He was on Mt. Tabor.

This lent let us open our hearts to be converted, that Jesus might transform us, so that we might grow in holiness. Lent is a time a dying to self, but only so that Jesus can live anew in us. This is the goal of lent, that we might be transformed, so that the transfigured Jesus might shine through our human nature for the world to see, so that other may see Him through our holiness of live and thus be led to Jesus, the source of hope.

It is the desire of the Father to do this- to really transform us- to begin the work here on earth that will fully manifest itself in heaven. Let us place our faith and confidence in Christ, who desires this for us. Let us also look to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for in her life we see this transformation. Her life was filled with the daily struggles of all of us and through her suffering, she became the source of hope for all of us. May she accompany us especially this Lent and help this time to be a time of deeper surrender to the transforming power of the sacraments.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In the temptations of Christ we discover that Jesus has allowed Himself to be tempted for our sakes.

1st Sunday in Lent. February 21st, 2010

Lent is our time to imitate our Blessed Lord and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the desert. But why the desert ? Time in the desert signifies a time away from our normal cares, a turning away from the distractions of the world and worldly things which do not last, and a turning more fully toward that which last forever, the one thing in which we can truly trust--the eternal God and His unfathomable love for us.

In the Old Testament, God called Israelites out of Egypt, which represents the spirit of the world, and calls them into the desert. Why?, so that apart from the distractions of Egypt, and all of its idols and false worship, He could teach them again to recognize the sovereign rights of their True God; in order, that they could offer Him proper worship and adoration; not for God's sake but for their own.

In their struggles and hunger they would see their complete dependency on God and then turn to worshipping Him and adoring Him alone and doing so according to His dictates. He for His part would reveal His great Love for them. He would provide for their every need, give them water from the rock of salvation, feed them with bread from heaven and lead them to the promise land flowing with milk and honey; but most of all He would take them to Himself; He would be their God and they would be His people; He would share Himself totally to Him and make them one with Him lavishing them with His divine Love, that for which they truly hungered and thirsted; He would give them life.

Like the Israelites, God calls us too, out into the desert. In the desert, filled with silence, we too can hear the small, still voice of God speaking to us, teaching us, revealing His love to us. Apart from the distractions and noise of this world, we can come face to face with God in prayer, the God who draws near to us. It is then that we are able to honestly recognize the Creator’s sovereign rights over us. He is our Creator, the source of our existence and the loving and caring Father to whom we are called to return. We are poor creatures, completely dependent on Him and so need to reach out to Him by worshiping and adoring Him, and doing so properly. We must have an attitude of poverty, because the truth is we are absolutely nothing, have nothing without God; but with Him, we have everything.

The more we come to this realization of the sovereign rights of God over us, the more we see the many ways we have replaced our dependency on God with our idols, that is, those things that we have put in the place of God and so have worshiped and adored instead of him. True religion always, if it is true, consists in adoring God. It is our supreme duty to do so; it is a matter of justice. But this duty, is duty of love, better yet a response of love that comes from the fact that God has first loved us, he has created us and wants us to return to him.

As a result, in our effort to return to Him, we must necessarily deny ourselves of those things that have taken us from a deeper relationship with Him. We must deny our self of those things we have loved before Him and so have worshiped before Him; especially, our love of comfort, power and sinful amusements. Our inordinate attachment to these prevents us from offering proper worship and adoration of God.
And so in order to help rid ourselves of these inordinate attachments, we are asked in Lent to take on a spirit of penance and repentance, this leads us to self-denial; in other words, to the cross. We deny ourselves by giving up comforts and delights, such as abstinence from meat or other food or drink. This sacrificing and denying of ourselves leads us to discover that nothing, nothing on this earth can fulfill our dependency and our longing for God. Think about the things people give up for love- things like meals, sleep; we sacrifice because we want to be closer to the one we love.

During this time of Lent when we begin to discipline ourselves so we can convert and draw closer to our God, it is then that we will experience many temptations from satan. The devil always promises more than he can give. He doesn't want our happiness, anything he tempts us with is a miserable deception. In order to test us, the devil takes advantage of our own ambitions, our desire to be the center of attention and to seek ourselves in everything we do or plan. This self-centerness is at the heart of wanting material things so much that we end up turning to them before God and so worshiping them; we give God lip service if even at all. Material things then cease to be good because then separate us from God and from our fellow man; we then fail to serve God and our neighbor for love of God, and end up only serving ourselves and these leads to our destruction. But Jesus tells us that we should seek only His glory. He tells us, "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.

Ultimately God, allows these temptations from the devil to help purify us, to make us holy, to detach ourselves from the things of the earth, to lead us where He is and by the route He wants us to take, so as to make us happy (even in a life which may not be comfortable); He allows them in order to help us to grow in Christian maturity and understanding, and to become more effective in our apostolic work for the salvation of souls. He allows temptations above all to make us humble, very humble.

It is then very clear why we need to spend these forty days in the desert very close to our blessed Lord, fasting with Him, praying with Him and giving alms, three things which weaken the power of Satan over us. And above all, we need to stay close to Him by make use of the Sacraments, especially Holy Mass and confession, in order so that we have the grace and the power to persevere in the battle and so share in Jesus’ victory over the devil and his temptations. Additionally, as well, we need to take in the Lenten devotions offered to us, like walking with Jesus along the way of His via dolorosa, His way to Calvary in the Stations of the Cross on Fridays; also, by experiencing all the Holy week Masses and services, like Holy Thursday and Good Friday. And especially, by spending time in adoration where we can really experience the silence of the desert but above experience the bodily presence of Jesus alongside us in our struggles.

In the temptations of Christ we discover that Jesus has allowed Himself to be tempted for our sakes. He was tempted as one of us, having laid aside His divine power. Christ, true God and true man, made Himself like us in all things except sin and voluntarily underwent temptation. He was tempted in order to give us an example and a model of what we are to do when we too are tempted by satan and to give us hope that we too can share in His victory. St. John Vinney, the Cure of Ars, said, “How fortunate we are, how lucky to have a God as model. Are we poor? We have a God who is born in a stable, who lies in a manger. Are we despised? We have a God who led the way, who was crowned with thorns, dressed in a filthy red cloak and treated as a madman. Are tormented by pain and suffering? Before our eyes we have a God covered with wounds, dying in unimaginable pain. Are we being persecuted? How can we dare complain when we have a God who is being put to death by executioners? Finally, are we being tempted by the demon? We have a lovable Redeemer; he also was tempted by the demon and was twice taken up by the hellish spirit: therefore, no matter what sufferings, pains or temptations we are experiencing, we always have, everywhere, our God leading the way for us and assuring us of victory as long as we genuinely desire it.”

This lent let us ask Our Lady for help to enter into lent more deeply. Let us ask her to help us avoid the temptation of Satan, a temptation that puts personal pleasure first, and does away with personal guilt and sin and the need for redemption, satisfaction, expiation, mortification and penance for our sin. A temptation that says that essence of love is personal gratification and not sacrifice, that of laying down one’s life for a friend. Our Lady can teach us how to adore Jesus; all we need to do is to ask her. Let us pray, that the Blessed Mother, who while adoring Jesus on the Cross was given John as her son and by this gift was given to all of us as her sons and daughters as well, that she may help us to enter the desert this lent and there learn how to adore the unseen God from whom we came and to whom we are called as his little children to return. Amen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent is a time of honesty, a time to admit we can do better—become better; that is, if we care to make an effort.

Homily for Ash Wednesday

“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.” “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Our readings today call us to this time of repentance- a forty day call to conversion to prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration of Easter.
I remember as child giving up sweets during Lent. I made the sacrifice, in fact I was quite proud about my success; but as I think back, my success didn’t really change me much. I didn’t save the money I would have spent on candy and given to the St. Vincent de Paul Society nor did I take extra time to prayer in order to grow closer to God. I can’t really say I ever really got anything out of Lent- it was just a time where I didn’t eat candy and got ashes and then went on with my same sinful selfish habits. I don’t think this is the type of Lent we are called to. Lent must be about more than just receiving ashes and then going on living our lives just like before; to be quite frank we might as well not waste our time. Receiving of the Ashes just becomes more a superstition, or a good luck charm; I got the ashes and so I am okay with God.
The ashes signify of course that our time in this world is very, very short, the comes death, judgment, heaven or hell. And so, the Lent our Lord calls us to today, is one of conversion, which is a change of heart. Our hearts need to turn back to God in love and our lives must change to reflect that love. We might not think we are so bad; after all we can say, "I try to go to Mass every week. Maybe I don’t make it but after all I’m a good person." The problem is, is that God doesn’t want us only to be good, He wants us to love Him; not like we love chocolate or coffee or anything else in this world, but to love Him fully completely, more than anything else in this world and to show that love by becoming a better Christian.
Lent is a time of honesty, a time to admit we can do better—become better; that is, if we care to make an effort. It is a time for reflection and self-examination, a time to admit our sinfulness, and make a commitment to do something about it. Lent is time snap out of our indifference and lukewarmness and admit truthfully that none of us love God enough…but from this point on we are going to ask God to increase our love by helping us to have a deeper conversion of heart in order to live our lives more deeply in union with Him.
Lent is also a time of hopefulness, of looking forward to the joy of Easter; not only to Christ victory over death, but our own victory over selfishness, self-centeredness, egotism and sin, which is always a failure to Love God and neighbor for love of Him. Lent is time to say yes, even though it is going to cost us some effort, we can, with the help of God grace, love Him more and love our neighbor more for love of Him. And so, today is the first day we, in a deeper way, put God and His will first, in order to show Him we love Him.
And so, instead of giving up candy or coffee maybe we can do the following:
*If we are not already doing so, devote time each day to talk to God in
Intimate prayer: every morning and evening for sure.
*If we already pray, increase the time we converse with God.
*Pray together with the family- even it be for five minutes; or better
yet pray the rosary together as a family.
*Make a firm committment to attend Mass every single Sunday if you
don't always do so; if you do always do so, make a committment to
attend daily Mass during Lent either at 8am or 5:30pm Mon-Thurs
and Saturday or 5pm on Fridays.
*Give up that television show, which probably isn’t really good to
watch anyway and instead read a good spiritual book one that will enrich my knowledge and love of our Lord and of His One, Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church.
*Come to Holy Hour and adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on
Thursday nights or Saturday nights; consider signing up to cover an
hour during the Saturday all night Holy Hour each week during Lent.
*Make a commitment to come to Friday night Stations of the Cross
with your whole family.
*Work on acts of charity; Such as:
Devote more time or money or both to help the work of the
Parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.
*Work on my patience and kindness to others such as drivers I
meet on the word and especially members of members of my
family and to drivers I meet on the road.
*Give alms by beginning or increasing my yearly financial
gift to the Church and to the poor.
*And finally, For sure, spend quality time making a good examination
of conscience in order to make a good confession so that you heart
will pure, and so a pleasing offering to the Lord.

This Lent is meant to be a sober reminder of life itself. In a few moments, you will receive blessed ashes on your foreheads. This is more than just a sign of repentance; it is a source of the grace of conversion God desires to give us. We recall that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Our time here on earth is short and so it is urgent that we remove all those things that will keep us from heaven- all of those sinful patterns of our lives, and we remove them now. Time is short, someday which is really not all that far away, we will die and our bodies will turn to the dust from which we came; what will remain is our love for God or lack there of. May we entrust to the Virgin all of our desires to have a great season of Lent, filled with graces for our conversion ever closer to her Son.
Important Clarifications from Ecclesia Dei
by Gregor Kollmorgen
The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has recently answered some important questions regarding the application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum submitted by the moderator for the faithful attached to the Extraordinary Form of the diocese of Rzeszów, Poland. The answers, however, are applicable generally. The original questions (in German) and answers (in Italian), published by Nowy Ruch Liturgiczny are reproduced below. Here is an NLM summary; questions 2 and 3 have easily the biggest impact:

1. If there is no other possibility, because for instance in all churches of a diocese the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum are already being celebrated in the Ordinary Form, the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum may, in the same church in which they are already celebrated in the Ordinary Form, be additionally celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, if the local ordinary allows.

2. A Mass in the usus antiquior may replace a regularly scheduled Mass in the Ordinary Form. The question contextualizes that in many churches Sunday Masses are more or less scheduled continually, leaving free only very incovenient mid afternoon slots, but this is merely context, the question posed being general. The answer leaves the matter to the prudent judgement of the parish priest, and emphasises the right of a stable group to assist at Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

3. A parish priest may schedule a public Mass in the Extraordinary Form on his own accord (i.e. without the request of a group of faithful) for the benefit of the faithful including those unfamiliar with the usus antiquior. The response of the Commission here is identical to no. 2.

4. The calendar, readings or prefaces of the 1970 Missale Romanum may not be substituted for those of the 1962 Missale Romanum in Masses in the Extraordinary Form.

5. While the liturgical readings (Epistle and Gospel) themselves have to be read by
the priest (or deacon/subdeacon) as foreseen by the rubrics, a translation to the vernacular may afterwards be read also by a layman.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our giving up something during Lent is meant to make us realize we crave something much greater than this world can give us.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 14th, 2010

In just a few days, we will begin the Season of Lent. To prepare us, today we hear the great Sermon on the Plain in St. Luke’s Gospel, which is very similar to the Sermon on the Mount as found in St. Matthew’s Gospel. This great sermon is a true compendium of the main teachings of Jesus. It is in these sermons that Jesus lays out His unique teachings. Jesus takes the Ten Commandments of the Old Law and raises them up to never image level, a supernatural Level--Beatitude.
Jesus today calls us to true Happiness. But the key here is that it is a call to not merely earthly happiness, a happiness on the natural level, which we can reach if we obey and follow the Ten Commandments, but Jesus calls us to a out of this world happiness. This is a heavenly happiness, an infinite supernatural happiness which is not possible to attain by merely keeping the Commandments or by merely “being good".
In giving us the Beatitudes, Jesus seems to speak in a way that does not make sense. Jesus speaks in a paradox-they seem to contradict not only nature, but also Jesus own teaching. For example, would anyone naturally say that the poor are blessed, or the hungry blessed or those who morn blessed? We would, and rightly so, consider these people in need. Nor would we say naturally that people who are rich, who have plenty to eat or who are laughing, that these people are in grave difficulty. We are more inclined to envy those who have more than us and in fact we might even think that God has blessed them more than us.
The Beatitudes then go much deeper than the surface; Jesus is leading us from a merely material understanding of reality to a deeper spiritual understanding, from the natural level to the supernatural. St. Augustine points this out clearly by using the example of the rich man and Lazarus. Augustine points out that Lazarus was not holy because he lack for material goods, no was the rich man evil merely because He was rich. St Augustine is teaching us that Poverty of spirit does not consist in something purely external, having or not having material goods, but it consist in something that goes much deeper, affecting a person’s heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude toward God, in being devout, in having total faith, cling to and loving God above all else.
St Augustine reminds us that Lazarus goes to the Bosom of Abraham; and who was Abraham, a man who was on earth, a very materially rich person who had an abundance of money, a large family, flocks and land. Yet Abraham was poor because he was humble, He believed in God, and allowed that faith to permeate all he said and did and so was found acceptable to God; In other words, Abraham's heart belong to God alone and not to earthly riches even though he had them.
By telling us to be poor in spirit, Jesus is reminding us as well that we must recognize our poverty before the Lord. Without the Lord we are nothing, we have nothing. And so Jesus wants us to learn to be poor beggars before the Father, not in a derogatory way. Jesus wants us to see the truth of our situation, for indeed we are all truly poor beggars before the Lord, we have nothing that comes from us, we depend on the Father for everything, whether we want to admit it or not. The Father demands that we recognize our true poverty because it is only then that He can fill us, because we let Him, with the riches of His grace and love and so lead us to the true happiness known as Beatitude.
This is one of the main problems with our consumeristic, materialistic society; Consumerism has blinded many to no longer think that they are totally dependant on God; they are rich and fat with earthly goods, full with earthly comforts and laugh with earthly entertainment and pleasures, and so they are abandoning their faith in God and in His Catholic Church, that Church which through her Sacramental life gives us the grace we absolutely need to live a life of Beatitude. In this, they start to become rich in the bad sense, they cling to their own opinions, they create their own truth and even their own Church, they live by their own set of rules and values, refusing to submit their minds and wills to the truth, the truth that comes only from God and from His Church, the truth they need to reach Beatitude. In this, they cling to the things of this world and so their heart belongs to the world and not to God.
Through His Church, this Lent, the Father desires to give us all the Sacramental graces we need to follow the commandments, on a supernatural level, a level of perfection, in other words to live our life in Imitation of Christ, denying ourselves, losing our lives out of love for the salvation of souls, ours and others…For who ever loses his life for Christ sake, will find it and inherit eternal BEATITUDE. Jesus knows full well, and he wants us to know full well that we are unable to live the Beatitudes out in our lives on own. It is our own desire and our humbleness, that is the recognition of our poverty, our need for God’s help and grace, that really determines how much the Father will and can give us.
And how much does the Father want to give us, He wants to give us His everything, all of His riches, even a share in His Divinity. He offers us this at every Holy Mass, when He gives us a chance to receive His Divine Son in the Holy Eucharist who is the fullness of the Father’s wealth. But we must be poor in order to receive the benefits from this heavenly food, only those who are poor in heart can see that the Eucharist is God and so only these can receive Him worthily so that when their live on earth is over they may see the Eucharist unveiled, which is the fullness of Beatitude, and so is know as the Beatific vision, the Vision of Eternal Happiness.
Lent is so much more than just a time of giving up something. Our giving up something during Lent is meant to make us realize we crave something much greater than this world can give us. We crave Beatitude, which comes from deep intimate friendship with God which leads to union with Him. Lent is much more than just a time of turning away from sin; it is a time of turning toward the Lord, better yet a time of running toward Him and throwing ourselves into His loving embrace. Only then can we be truly happy in this live and in the life to come. Let us ask our dear Blessed Mother to help us have a "successful" Lent, not successful in the sense that we succeed in giving up Chocolate or coffee but that our Lenten disciplines lead us to a true change of heart, and change in which our heart leaves its attachments to what this world has to offer and instead attaches God Himself.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The key problem has always been and is the unfaithfulness and failure of Catholics to daily live out their faith with fidelity to the Church,

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time. Sunday, Feb. 7th, 2010

In today’s readings, we hear the calling and the reaction of three different people, as they are called by our Lord to do His work. In the first reading, Isaiah, realizing his unworthiness in the presence of God says, "Woe to me, I am doomed." In the second reading, Paul says, I am the least of the Apostles. And in our Gospel, Peter says, depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man. Each of these three have been called for a special task. But each humbly recognizes their own incompetence and unworthiness to follow such a noble calling. But by trusting in our Lord’s call, each is lead to a life of holiness, and they become great saints.
One of the major themes of the Second Vatican Council was the universal call to holiness. The council Fathers wanted to remind the faithful that every single Christian is called to be holy, not only those consecrated to the religious life, or the saints who we can too easily picture as being somehow outside of the struggles of everyday life. The Holy Spirit was speaking to the Church and reminding us that all of us are called to be friends of Jesus and thus children of the heavenly Father. Those who answer this call of holiness are then called to participate in the preaching of the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Many times it is easy to think that the only ones who are called to a life of holiness are priests and religious, but the call goes out to every single ordinary person in their ordinary daily lives. Few there are who truly answer this call to its fullness. There are too few that live their lives in faithful submission and joyful obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is sanctity and it begins not with great feats but by being faithful in our ordinary daily routine, doing all with the grace of God and offering it all, especially our daily struggles and sufferings for love of Christ and the salvation of souls.
Sure there are many problems in the world and in the church, problems, which at times can seem insurmountable or without hope. But even with all the problems in the world today and the scandals in the Church, the world is starving for the message of salvation. The world today in which despair and hopelessness are so prevalent is actually extremely ripe for "the Good news."
The key problem is not and has never been the problems in the world and in the Church. The key problem has always been and is the unfaithfulness and failure of Catholics (clergy & laity alike) to daily live out their faith with fidelity to the Church, to her teachings and to her truths. They are too many who are either too afraid or are just plain indifferent. I believe that the unfaithfulness and infidelity of Catholic Christians is a greater threat to the world and the Church than any scandal or terrorist with any nuclear or dirty bomb.
Jesus calls every-one of us to be a witness to the joy and hope that our faith gives us. Where sin abounds Grace abounds more. So, we can be sure that there has never been a better time than right now, even amongst the scandals and failures of priests and bishops, for everyone of us to give a true, faithful, Christian witness in our jobs, in our marriages, in our homes, in our schools and with our friends. The fact that we take steps to learn our faith and to stand up for it with courage in the midst of so many troubles is a greater witness (of sanctity) than when we practice our faith when it is easy and times are good.
It is exactly at this time, that we must beg our Lord to, to send us out into the world to show people the love of God the Father and the message of the salvation of Jesus Christ. We must pray to Him to give us the courage to be faithful to Jesus Christ, even when we would rather shrink away and not let others know we are Catholic Christians. I know how hard this can be and I have failed many times myself to give a true witness. We can lack courage and fortitude. We are too often afraid of what men may think of us, instead of what an awesome and all Holy God thinks of us.
The problem is we often fail to see and understand the power of God. Peter didn’t see it at first either. However, Peter obediently did what the Lord commanded, he trusted Jesus and put out into the deep and thus was successful in obtaining a large catch. We must not be afraid to put out into the deep, out into the deep of Christ. Its funny, but in the Gospels, the only time we are told the disciples caught any fish at all, was when they were with the Jesus. Otherwise, they were poor unsuccessful fishermen-it makes you wonder how they survived. The more we seek within ourselves for the power to change the world, our lives and to bring others to Christ, the more we fail. Let us turn to the Lord and trust in him alone.
The world needs every one of us here; no one can take our place. Many people seem indifferent to religion because they are caught up in the net of materialism and secularism of our day. They think that no one has the right to preach the truth, truth to them is of their own design, their own concept. They hate a Church that claims to have moral authority. In reality, they are literally starving to death for the truth and for the God of truth. They are, longing for those who will make sacrifices by living their daily lives in fidelity to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Lord says, whom shall I send? Let us not be afraid of the price of the call, if we are humble he will sustain us. Let us not let our unworthiness keep us from answering the call. God will purify us like he did to Isaiah if we but humble ourselves before his holy throne. Let us not be too proud to fall on our knees, even on our faces before the Lord God Almighty.
If we like St Peter fall on our knees in humble adoration admitting to our Lord, Lord I am a sinful man." We need to bring this humility to Holy Mass, we need to begin again to sing communion songs like, "O Lord I am not worthy, that thou should come to me, but speak the word of comfort my spirit healed shall be." And we need again as God's people to fall on a knees as we receive Him in Holy Communion.
Heavenly Father at this Holy Mass we humble come before your throne into the awesome presence of your glory which fills this, your Holy Sanctuary. We truly and really join our voices with the seraphs present here as they, sing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of host. As we sing this song in union with all of the angels and saints at this Holy Mass, we like Isaiah cry out to you in our wretched state, as ones with unclean lips living among people with unclean lips. As the seraphs touch Isaiah’s lips with a live coal taken from the altar, let the real live coal, the Blessed Sacrament the true presence of Jesus, touch our lips at Holy Communion so that our sins may be taken away and our iniquity purged. Then we can answer you with all of our being, "here I am send me.’ Let me become a fisher of men, a fisher of souls, so that through your grace and power living in me, I can bring others to your Son Jesus Christ. Holy Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us. Amen