Saturday, October 30, 2010

But now you and I know the truth...Ite missa est....let us go and live it....

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Priesthood Sunday. October 31st, 2010

This Weekend we celebrate Priesthood Sunday. Today should be a time of refection for each one of us of the profound gift of the Priesthood, in order to thank God for and to grow in a deeper understand of the awesome mystery of the Priesthood. Without the priesthood, you or I, nor anyone could get to heaven. This is the faith of the True Church of Jesus Christ. Those who don't believe or don't understand this, really don't believe or understand Jesus Christ as High Priest, who is the only way to the Father.

And so, what we really celebrate this weekend is the priesthood of Jesus Christ, as the one and only mediator between the Father and man. Jesus is the great High Priest, who at his place at the right of the father, constantly intercedes for mankind and each one us. He is the High Priest who constantly offers Himself a new for the salvation of mankind, in order to lead all men back to the Father from Whom they came.

Before the priesthood of Jesus there were many priesthoods in the world; different pagan priesthoods and of course, the Jewish priesthood. One thing that all the priesthoods in the history of the world have in common, is they all offer sacrifice. The very definition of a priest is one who offers sacrifice.

But in order to offer sacrifice, there of course has to be a victim. In pagan priesthoods, this victim could be anything from a goat to cow, and yes even a human being. In the Jewish priesthood it was a ram, a lamb, or a bull, among other things.

But Jesus' priesthood was of course different from any priesthood that came before. First of all, Jesus was not just one who offers a sacrifice of any victim; no, Jesus was the very first priest who offered Himself as the victim. He was the first priest/victim in the history of the world. He was the one who offered himself as the sacrificial victim; he was the sacrificial lamb.

He who was the offerer and the offeree, was not only true man, but true God. And so, Jesus offered Himself to the Father in the perfect sacrifice of adoration and praise to the Father, for the salvation of the whole world. He was the sacrificial victim who shed his blood for you and for all. Jesus, the Great High Priest, suffered once and for all, pouring out his blood, giving up his life, for all of us. So we know Jesus died to save us, but we don't always grasp or understand the way Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary saves us.

Jesus died on Calvary so that He could rise again from the dead and then He ascended into heaven. When Jesus ascended into heaven, as the great High priest, he began the Heaven liturgy through which he constantly offers himself before the Father on our behalf. But in order to be saved, we must also take part in that heaven liturgy, even while we are still on earth. In order for that to happen, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost to begin His visible Church on earth and to give her, through the priesthood he established on earth, the power to offer the earthly liturgy.

During the earthly liturgy, at the epiclesis (when the priest holds his hands over the gifts of bread) Jesus again, at the words of the priest, sends down his Holy Spirit in a new Pentecost in order to join the early liturgy to the heavenly liturgy (this is why the bell rings). And through the same spirit working in the priest, and at the priest's words, "this is my body, this is my blood", the risen body and blood of Jesus present at the right hand of the Father, now by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes present as well on the altar. The ordinary bread and wine, by the divine power of God working through the priesthood, becomes transformed through transubstantiation into the same Jesus in His body, blood, soul and divinity.

Now this is the most amazing part; Jesus presence at the right and of the father and His presence on the altar at this point, are the very same presence, for at this point we are truly in heaven, adoring the very same Jesus that all of the angels and saints adore. The heavenly liturgy and the earthly liturgy become one.

On earth present as well, are all the graces for the salvation of the world, that Jesus won at his crucifixion. And He wishes to send these grace out into the world to bring all the lost sheep, all souls, into this same heavenly/earthly liturgy so that he can not only save them but unite them to himself, and so to the Father in the unity of their Holy Spirit of Love.

However, and this is very important, Jesus has ordained that these graces will not go out into the world but through his mystical body, the Church and her members; that is, each one of us. Jesus wants to save the world through us, the members of His Church. However, in order for you to take these grace out into the world, to renew it and save it, you must take an full, active, conscious and fruitful participation in the Liturgy , the holy Mass, the heavenly liturgy and earthly liturgy united. How do you do this?

By baptism you too have been given a share in the priest hood of Jesus Christ, not in the same way as an ordained priest. But, like Jesus, your baptismal priesthood is also a victim hood. You are to share in the priesthood/victimhood of Jesus. At your baptism, you have been given the power to offer yourself to God as a spiritual sacrifice, at Mass, along with the whole Body of Christ to the Father for His honor and glory and for the salvation and sanctification of men. How do you do this?

Through an interior act of your will, on the altar of your heart, you surrender and offer yourself to God....Then interiorly you place yourself on the paten to be offered to the heavenly Father. And then the Holy Spirit, as he transforms the bread and the wine at the words of the priest, also transforms you into other Christs--this is known as divinization, where you and God become united in love. This union is what your heart truly longs for and every human heart longs for, to be united to perfect Love, and perfect Love is God himself.

But for this to happen, each of us must become like the grains of wheat which had died in order to be made into the altar bread, and like the grapes that were crushed to be into the altar wine. If the grains of wheat didn't die to be made into the bread, and the grapes weren't crushed to be made into the wine, then they could not at the consecration be change into Jesus' body, blood soul and divinity.

In the same way, if you and I don't die to self and surrender ourselves totally to God in a sacrifice of love, we can't be transformed into his other self in order to take his saving grace, his saving love, his saving life out into the world. The grain of wheat and the grape are not destroyed, but they are transformed into the Body and blood of Christ as food for the soul....same too with us, in sacrificing ourselves to God, we are not destroyed but are transformed into his body and blood as food for our dying world.

The Liturgy is the work of Jesus Christ, the high priest and head of His mystical body. But His mystical body includes each member of the Church including all of us. The Liturgy is the offering of the whole Christ to the Father, both head and body. Each member, if they interiorly offer themselves to the Father as members of the body of Christ, united to the sacrifice of the head-Jesus, become more and more living active vital member of Jesus body, filled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then sends out these active members of His body to take his love and healing power into the world. Filled with the Spirit of Jesus, it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me. As living active members of the body of Christ, everything we do, we do with Jesus, in Jesus, and through Jesus; better yet, everything we do Jesus does in us, with us and through us. Jesus renews, transforms and saves the world through our lives of holiness. People no longer see us, but Christ and His love alive in us. This is the mission of each one of us...ite missa est...Go on your mission!

This is the great mystery we celebrate on this priesthood Sunday, and through it, you and I literally have the power to save the world. But we can only enter into the mystery, experience it's divine power and be transformed by its divine love, if we enter into it with faith, with trust in Jesus words to us, and with love for him and through him, with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

We are call to be co-redeemers with Christ, members of His Mystical Body on earth, living our lives not for ourselves, but for the salvation of the world. If our world is dying, if it is going to hell in a hand basket, it is because not enough Catholics know the truth about the priesthood of Jesus Christ; and so are not allowing themselves to be transformed at Holy Mass into living active members of the body of Christ in the likeness of the head-Jesus, in order to take His saving and healing love out into the world. But now you and I know the truth...Ite missa est....let us go and live it....

Our Lady Mother of all priests, mother of the Mystical Body of Christ help us offer ourselves at this Holy Mass in order to begin to share already in the Joys of heaven and share that joy with our ever increasing joyless world, for our salvation and for the salvation of the whole world. Amen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Don't worry about the dirt on your neighbor's porch, you have enough to sweep off on your own."

For the past couple of weeks, the Church has given us readings about prayer, and today is no exception. Last week, we were encouraged to persevere in our prayer; recall the story of the widow and the unjust judge. Today, Jesus teaches an essential disposition of prayer- that of humility... to accept the truth about ourselves in light of God's truth.

In the Gospel of St. Luke we hear Jesus speaking to a group of folks, who convinced of their own self-righteousness, despise everyone else. The Pharisees thought they were righteous, and everyone else, especially Jesus and his disciples, were not. How would we translate that to our own day?

There was a priest who had given a moving homily on the Gospel we just heard, about the proud Pharisee and the humble publican. Everybody it seems was impressed, especially one man, who had developed a decided dislike for the Pharisee or anybody who would brag: “God, I thank thee that I am not like other men.” Right after Mass, this man shook hands with his pastor and told him: “Good sermon, Father.” Then he added: “Thank God, I’m not like that Pharisee.”

Unfortunately of course, this man was doing the very same thing the Pharisee was doing in the Gospel. It was clear in his comments to the priest, that this man was blind to the fact that he was committing the exact same sin of the Pharisee; the sin of pride; the sin of considering himself better than someone else; the sin of refusing to change his life according to the truth, that is the refusal to see his own sinfulness in light of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church in order to repent and convert his own life. This reveals something else about the self-righteous.

A person who hasn't dealt with his own sins, also becomes fixated on the real or imagined sins of others and constantly points them out...thank God I am not like the rest of humanity....He expects perfection in everyone else, but not for himself. He even begins to project his own sins onto other people to keep himself from looking at his own imperfect life. And then, when a person in his life fails to live up to the impossible standard of perfection he sets for them, he resents them for it. He ends up of with a long list of grudges. When a person doesn't deal with his sins, his life gets caught up in trying to control others and this leads to anger, resentment and even revenge. (Be careful of those who talk angrily about the faults of others!)

My mom's mom had a great saying, "Don't worry about the dirt on your neighbor's porch, you have enough to sweep off on your own." The truth is clear, we are all sinners. The great saints of the Church, such as St. Francis of Assisi, knew they were sinners. In fact, the closer they drew to Christ, the more they realized in His light how sinful they were. The opposite is true, if we fail to realize that we are sinners.

We have to be careful because there is a little Pharisee that lives in each one of us trying to justify our faults and failings; and at the same time, always wanting to point out the real or supposed faults and failures of others. And then wanting to react strongly against anyone, anyone, who would show us, through their words or through their holiness of life, the truth about our own real sins, faults and failures. Jesus showed the Pharisees the truth about their sins; they didn't want to see them and so they projected their sin on Jesus, falsely accused him, and in the end killed him. The same happens every day, even in our parishes and families, in the end the falsely accused may not be killed, but their good name is.

Jesus for his part, does not want to condemn anyone for sin. He wants to give us, through His Spirit, the confidence to face the hard facts- that we are indeed miserable sinners. But He doesn't do this so we will see our desperate need for His infinite mercy, and open ourselves to it by our repentance and conversion of heart.

God knows all our sins, from every omission to every thought and deed. Yet, he desires to forgives us and make us better. The publican knew this- “have mercy on me a sinner.” He believed God was merciful and would pardon his sins, if he beg for God's mercy. He didn't have time to look at the sins of the Pharisees; in fact, and this is the other part of all of this, I am sure, the publican, in the recognition of his sinfulness and in light of God's mercy, realized his great need to beg for God's mercy, not only for himself, but for all of his fellow sinners..."have mercy on us and on the whole world!"

When we pray we can ask God to help us to have this humble-truthful attitude, saying like the publican, "have mercy on me a sinner!" Jesus knows our sins and our fear of facing them. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to show us how God's see us, not how we see ourselves. As we become aware of our sins, the Holy Spirit also tells us how much He desires to heal the damage sin has cause our hearts. He also points out how own sins have hurt all of the members of the mystical body of Christ, the Church. And so, the Holy Spirit through us, wishes to heal that damage as well, in order to reconcile us to God and to one another, especially in our families and parish family!

We need to be humble, but as we all know, being humble is so hard for us. Jesus offers us so much help, but we need to us it. First He gives us the help of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is one the most humble acts we as humans can do, that is why it can be hard for us.

To go before the priest acting in the person of Christ, or I should say, Christ acting in the person of the priest, is very humbling, that’s one of the reasons why we need to do it. The Pharisee would have never been humble enough to go to confession. He would have thought that with all his good and righteous deeds, like regular community outreach, church attendance, tithing and fasting he didn’t need to confess his sins to Jesus, much less to Jesus’ representative, the priest. This can also happen to us; by thinking that with all of our many good deeds we no longer need confession.

Most people don’t decide one day they are never going to confession anymore. They just put it on the backburner, thinking they are righteous enough and before you know it, months turn into years. And even for those who still go to confession a sense of pharisaical self-righteousness can easily creep into their confessions and hold them back from being totally truthful to the priest. It’s like the person who said, “Father I stole a piece of paper.” What was on the piece of paper, asks the priest. “Well just some 5’s and 0’s and a picture of president Ulysses S. Grant.” And as a result of their self-righteousness they only see the real or imagined sins of others and not their own...even the leads to, "why do I have to go to confession?" In the end, I guarantee you that the tax collector would have been the first in line to go to confession, and confess his sins fully and truthfully.

To go along with confession, the Sacrament of God's mercy, forgiveness and healing, is the Holy Eucharist. One always leads a person to the other. The reality of the Holy Eucharist is the greatest of all helps to teach us humility. Jesus humbled himself to become a man and more deeply humbles himself when he becomes our food in His great gift of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus, the Word incarnate, humbles himself to be present fully in the Eucharist- his body, blood, soul and divinity. This is the greatest act of humility the world has seen or will ever see!

If Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords can humble himself to become our food, we should have the same confidence and trust to open our hearts in humility to Him. We do this both by kneeling before Him in the person of the priest in the Sacrament of confession and by kneeling in adoration before his true substantial presence in the Holy Eucharist. His grace received through confession and through the reception and adoration of the Eucharist is our help to truly receive the gift of humility, and to strengthen and heal our communion of love with God and one another.

The more we adore Him in the Eucharist the more His light reveals to us our true self, the more then we see that we are sinners in need of his forgiveness and mercy. Yet at the same time, the more we see His love for us; and as a result, the more we fall madly in love with His divine presence. The more as well, we see our connection with our brothers and sisters and Christ in our Church family throughout the world, and the Church family in our midst, the parish family, and our great need and responsibility to love them, sacrifice for them and pray for the healing of the damage our sin as cause the unity of the whole body of Christ, the Church, including St. Patrick's parish family.

Let us ask Jesus as we receive Him worthily today, to give us His gift of humility and prayer. Let us receive Him in Communion not only for ourselves but for our entire parish family, for the strengthening of the communion of love between all of its members in the Mystical Body of Christ. Domine non sum dignus intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea. That is, “O Lord I am not worthy to receive you under my roof, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.”

And finally, let us turn to the Blessed Mother. We can't even pray the Hail Mary truthfully, if we don't recognize or sinfulness. For how can we say, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners", if we don't see the truth that we are sinners in need of her prayer?.....Holy Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of our Parish family, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen. God Bless you all!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Prayer however, is not a question of what we say or feel, but of love; it is a choice to love and be with the one we love; it is a matter of the heart

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 17th, 2010

Last week we spoke of the four purposes of prayer. To remember those four purposes of prayer we used the word ACTS, standing for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. We spoke about how we are to bring ACTS into our personal prayer, and especially our prayer at the Holy Mass before the Holy Eucharist.

Today we again hear about prayer; Souls who have always been close to the Lord constantly speak to us of the primary importance of prayer in the Christian life. And so, in our Gospel, Jesus speaks to us about the need to pray constantly and to persevere in our prayer in order to maintain our faith and grow in our love for our Heavenly Father.

To make His point, Jesus uses the image of a widow in great need; she persistently bothers the unjust judge who because of her constant supplication finally gives into her request. Jesus makes a contrast here between the judge and our Heavenly Father; if even this unjust Judge will grant the widow’s request because of her perseverance, how much more will Our Father in heaven who loves us grant our requests when we persevere in our prayer to Him. The lesson is of course this, because prayer is that action which put us into direct Contact with the living God we must pray always, without ceasing or becoming weary. But what does it mean to pray always and how do we do it?

To pray always means living in a personal, constant union with God. It doesn’t mean spending all day in church, and it certainly doesn’t mean neglecting our daily duties of life in order to pray. No, praying always is simply fulfilling our daily duties with our mind and heart centered on God and on our love for Him and His love for us. Your work, everything you do, no matter how insignificant is done for love of God and offered to God in love; Your life becomes a living prayer. This begins with a morning offering, offering all our thoughts, words and actions to God with a prayer such as: all for the Sacred and Eucharist heart of Jesus, all through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, all in union with St. Joseph. The key here is that as we offer our daily activities we do so with a desire to show our love for God who loves us beyond our imagining.

You see, prayer can never be about calculating the time we spend, or checking it off our list of things to do. Does a mother ask how often she should love her child or a friend how often he should love a friend? Does a Mother ever see it has a burden to talk to her child, or friend to talk to his friend, the one he loves. St. Augustine says that the essence of prayer is desire. And so, if the desire for God is constant, so also is prayer, but if there is no interior desire, then you can howl as much as you want – to God you are mute.

In the Gospels, Jesus himself gives us the example of praying always. Prayer was the connecting thread of his whole life. His mind was always on His Father, everything He did was done for love of His Father. So intimate was and is this conversation and relationship, that Jesus and his Father are one. Jesus example of prayer tells us something else very important about praying always. We pray to become like God, one with God.

Of Jesus, it is said that he prayed during the day, in the evening, early in the morning, and sometimes he passed the whole night in prayer. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we can pray from the heart if we do not set aside every day, fixed times for prayer, times when we are free from every other distraction. Part of our ceaseless prayer are those specific schedule times of our day, which should be devoted to contemplation and private prayer; It is during these times that we come to know God’s will for us and are strengthened to perform our daily duties in a way that is pleasing to Our Lord.

Prayer should be the first act of our day and the last of act of our day, along with times in between to pray as well, including before and after meals. Also an essential part of our scheduled daily prayer must be the prayer of the Holy Rosary. The three little shepherds (at Fatima) understood the value of the Rosary as a call to prayer and an easy way of responding to Jesus’ call to us to pray always. Sister Lucia, one of the children of Fatima wrote, “Those who say the Rosary daily are like children who, every day, manage to find a few moments just to be with their father, to keep him company, to show him their gratitude, to do some service for him, to receive his advice and his blessing. It is an exchange of love, the love of the father for the child and the child for the father; it is a mutual giving.

The Rosary leads us to another essential part of how we pray always. In the Rosary, Our Mother leads us by the hand to a deep intimate loving encounter with her Son, Jesus. In the Rosary, we contemplate the mysteries of Jesus through the eyes of His Mother and our Mother; through her we learn to imitate the life of her Son. And so, the Rosary is really a Eucharistic prayer; if it is prayed correctly and with love and devotion it leads us to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Love and devotion for the Eucharist are an essential part of praying always.

And so it is essential for our prayer that we set aside, as the Church as always done, a special day dedicated to worship, prayer and study, yes studying our faith is part of prayer. This special day is of course Sunday; it was previously known as the Lord's day, because it was suppose to be a day set aside for the Lord; by the way not just one hour, but the whole day.

All of us know, unfortunately what has happened to Sunday’s in our society. Just one example is sports. Sports while good for diversion and relaxation have often become something that poisons Sunday when they replace our privilege time with God at Holy Mass. Again, the whole day of Sunday should really be set aside for God, especially as families; that is families united together praying and focusing on the things of God to grow closer as family to God.

The early Church did this; Sunday began with Mass, continued with catechism, learning about God, time for resting, recreation and relaxation with God, and then ended with Evening prayer. Every family did this to grow closer to God and one another. By the way, this is why we have Family and Children Holy hour, to bring children and whole families to a privileged time outside of Mass to be with the one we love, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. I want to begin in the future, after the Holy Hour, to restore the Sung Sunday Evening pray in our Church.

If we are to pray always from the heart, we must do whatever we can so that this day, Sunday, can return to being, as God intended, a day of serene joy that strengthens our communion with God, and through Him, with each other, in the family, and with emphasis, "the parish family." Out of this will flow a renewal of our whole society. We will never straighten out our Society with restoring Sunday as the Lord's day; again the whole day.

It is at particularly at Mass we can ask our Eucharistic Lord to send us His Spirit to help us pray always, for we do not know how to pray as we ought. Prayer is an act of love, and like love it takes great effort. We truly need the Holy Spirit's help. Because we have a fallen human nature we are so weak and so easily become weary, we so often want to take the easy way out when prayer is a struggle, when we don’t feel anything or we don’t seem to get anything out of it. The devil too, gives us senseless reasons the enemy for abandoning our prayer, ‘I have no time’ – when we are constantly wasting it. ‘This not for me.’ ‘My heart is dry…’ and on and on.

Prayer however, is not a question of what we say or feel, but of love; it is a choice to love and be with the one we love; it is a matter of the heart; the whole person. The great effort is worth it. Many of our difficulties and obstacles in prayer will disappear if we just pause throughout our daily activities to consider that we are always in the presence of a God who loves us more than we love ourselves. He is at our side as much as with the ones who heard and spoke to him in today’s Gospel; in fact He is closer. He never leaves us and longs to enter into intimate conversation with us, not just once in while, but always.

What is really the ultimate goal of prayer? It is union with God, to be one with God, united to Him in perfect Love. How many think of prayer like this. The object of Love is to united to the object of our Love, forever. By loving the One who loves us, we become united to Him. Prayer leads us to contemplation of God which means to become more and more one with Him.

This is the goal of the most perfect of all prayers, Holy Mass; the goal is Union with God, to be united with God in perfect love; this is known as divinization--we become like the object of our love. And so, for Holy Mass to be effective in our lives, we must, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, offer ourselves to the one we Love, God. To love we must surrender ourselves along with Jesus offering to the Father who out of His love for us, gives us everything, even Himself, through the Spirit, in the gift of His Son; all in order that we may one forever in the love and unity of the Triune God.

Let us turn to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary to help us to pray always.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue -------
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things -------
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels' wings
Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me -------for you know.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue -------
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

To be truly thankful, we must in thanksgiving offer ourselves at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass to the Father who has offered to us His everything

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 10th, 2010

We just heard in our Gospel Acclamation preceding the Gospel the following words, “In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” This verse is taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians and it sums up nicely one of the themes of our readings today: our need as creatures to give our Creator profound thanks.

Giving thanks to God is one of the purposes of prayer; it is however, only one of the four traditional purposes of prayer; the other three being adoration, contrition and supplication. Jesus in our Gospel is very much offended that only one of the ten lepers healed returns to give him thanks; Jesus makes a point by saying that this one is a not even a Jew, but a Samaritan?

This Samaritan Leper actually fulfills all the four purposes of prayer; first he along with the other nine voices his supplication before Jesus, “Jesus, Master! Take pity on us.” Because leprosy was seen as a punishment for sins, included implicitly in the supplication is contrition of heart, “take pity on us sinners.” In his return to thank Jesus however, only the Samaritan leper fulfills the other two purposes of prayer, Adoration and thanksgiving. The leper falls on his knees in adoration before Jesus who is God present before him, and there the healed leper praises God in profound adoration and thanksgiving.

In our prayer we must imitate this leper, not only in our thanks to God but also by carrying out the other three purposes of prayer; other wise our thanking God is empty. Our prayer must contain all four aspects, adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication, preferably in that order. When we pray to God our prayer must contain all four; we cannot always be asking for things, we must adore first, then say we’re sorry, and next thank God for all He as already given us, and then lastly, beg Him for what we need according to His Holy Will; notice, asking come last, not first.

This four-fold purpose of prayer also gives us a key to praying the most perfect of all prayers, the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is the most perfect of prayers because it is the prayer of Jesus’ the Great High Priest and His self-offering to the Father for our sake and for our salvation. We just can't pray as we ought, and so at Mass, Jesus Himself comes down from heaven and prays for us, with us, even in us, if we let Him. As the head of His Mystical Body the Church, He offers Himself anew, for our sake, in a perfect act of adoration for the remissions of our sins, and in doing so offers perfect thanksgiving as our mediator before the Father.

In this, Jesus adores the Father in Spirit and in Truth so we as His Mystical Body, if we are united to our Head, can do so as well. And so at Mass if we are going to participate in the Eucharist actually and fully, we must bring each one of these four purposes of prayer to our prayer at Mass. By the way, there is a really easy way to remember these four purposes of prayer and in the proper order, just remember the word A.C.T.S.—ADORATION, CONTRITION, THANKSGIVING and SUPPLICATION. ACTS, is what we creatures must do as we pray, especially when we pray at Mass; and even more importantly, as we pray the Mass.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

First adoration. The fact that God is our Creator and we are his creatures is the motive for the first and primary purpose of all prayer, especially praying the Mass. King Naaman in our first reading acknowledges that there is “no God in all the earth” but the true God of Israel; and the Samaritan who returns to give thanks to Jesus falls down in worship at Our Lord’s feet.

The Holy Mass makes truly present, Jesus who is God among us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. If at the name of Jesus every knee should bend what about at the very person of Jesus. The Eucharist is the very person of Jesus and in adoration we should fall on our knees, probably even our faces before Him. Before Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharistic, we should imitate the leper and bow down in worship before our Lord and our God, literally offering ourselves in a loving oblation of thanksgiving to the Father who has given us His everything in the Holy Eucharist, which is His Son Jesus, the fullness of the Father’s riches.

Next is the prayer of Contrition. Contritely falling on our knees before the God of all Mercies is a prerequisite for our prayers to be heard by God; it is likewise the prerequisite for both our individual prayer and our prayer at the Holy Mass. At each Mass we should call to mind our sins and cry out to our Lord, “I confess to Almighty God…that I have sinned, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault… which is another way of saying, “God, be merciful to me a poor sinner!” We are in God’s spiritual presence always, but at Holy Mass we are before Jesus Crucified, where we can like the leper literally fall on our knees in heartfelt contrition before Him hanging on the cross for our sins.

The third part of our acts at Mass is T, for Thanksgiving. As people of faith we come together in order to give God Thanksgiving because we realize and acknowledge that God is first of all our Omnipotent Creator who has brought us and the entire universe into being; moreover he sustains everything in being. Think about it, if God stopped thinking about us even for an iota of a second we would ceased to exist. Everything we are and have is a gift from God. And if that wasn’t enough God sent His only Son to suffer and die for our sins so that we might be saved, and even more, through the Holy Spirit sent by this Son, come to share in God’s own divine life…Divinized, that is come to share in God’s own Divinity…image! In faith, we must then constantly give thanks to God because we realize that all that we are and all that we have is a gift from him and that any good we do is because of His grace; we are beloved sons and daughters of the Father.

One final point on the T of thanksgiving. What intensity of thanksgiving we should give that we can actually receive this Jesus at Holy Communion. We must, must spend that time after receiving Jesus to kneel at our pew thanking the Father and the Son for such an awesome, incredible gift, to be able to receive our Lord and God into our bodies and souls. Not to do so would be a great sin; to leave Mass early without taking this time for thanksgiving after communion, at least not without a very serious reason, would show a total lack of graciousness, much like the other nine lepers. To really show our thankfulness we could also stay for just a couple of minutes after Mass as a way of giving thanks for the blessing of even being able to be at Mass in the first place... “Blessed are we who have been called to the Wedding feast of the Lamb.”

And finally, the last purpose of prayer at Mass is Supplication, the S, of ACTS. Supplication is also known as petition. The ten lepers all cried out to Jesus: “Have pity on us?” Knowing that God is All-Good, All-Loving and All-Powerful, we can call upon Him with confidence to assist us, our loved ones and the whole world in our many needs. In the Our Father at Mass we ask for all that we could possibly need from a Father who already knows what we need, and so will give us, if we ask, only those good things we need, not necessarily those things we want.
And what is our basic need?

Our basic need is to beg that, God’s Will be done on earth as it is in heaven; in this we ask for God’s grace and strength, given to us through Jesus in the Eucharist, to deny our own will, sacrificing it on the altar in order to live on earth as the saints and angels do in heaven. To deny our will and live the Will of God, this is true freedom. If we don’t learn to live God’s will here on earth, how do we expect to live it forever in eternity?

The Holy Mass is the ultimate prayer for us creatures; it is the best way for us to give Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication to our God. Too many Catholics have lost the fullness of the faith and so have failed to realize what we have really been given in the Holy Eucharist; so how can they be thankful?. So many don’t even partake in the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving, and so fail to give proper thanksgiving to God by keeping holy the Sabbath day, the day set aside for our worship of the one True God. If we really believed in the Holy Eucharist, we would crawl on our hands and knees for miles to get to Holy Mass, and even more, even if it meant our martyrdom.

Only one leper, and a non-Jew Samaritan at that, returned to give thanks to God for His goodness, we as Catholics cannot be like the nine other Jews and fail to give our God thanks for the great gift of the Holy Mass and for the great gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist—God among us. If we fail to give thanks, then the kingdom of God will be taken away from us and given to others who will be more appreciative than we. God loves us, but He will not force His love on anyone. Only those who humble themselves in adoration before Him with contrite and thankful hearts and do not take His greatest of all gifts, His Son in the Holy Eucharist, for granted, only those will enter into an eternal union of joy with Him, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

To be truly thankful, we must in thanksgiving offer ourselves at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass to the Father who has offered to us His everything through the gift of His Son; this is the true meaning of Eucharist. Mass is the Wedding of all weddings. Here God through Jesus the Bridegroom says, "I Do" when through the priest, Jesus again offers His Body and Blood in sacrifice on the altar for the sake of His bride the Church, each one of us. Then he wishes to consummates this vow of His, by giving us the gift of Himself, His flesh and blood at Communion.

If our communion is to bear fruit by it being a consummation of our soul with Gods, then we too must give Him our "I do" that is the gift of our complete selfs to Him in return. How" By giving Jesus a complete gift of ourselves by an act of our will, interiorly placing ourselves on the paten to be offered with Him in a sacrifice of praise and adoration to the Father of Mercies.

If we fail to give God the gift of ourselves, in thanksgiving for the gift of His complete self to us, then we become like a bride at a wedding who says, "I do" at her wedding, but interiorly doesn't want to give herself to her husband completely and totally for life, and so really means, "I don't." This marriage is never validly consummated because she failed to truly love her spouse by giving the gift of herself to Him.

Let us ask our Lady, to place our hearts on the paten at this Holy Mass, to help us cut any strings the may be attached which prevent us from offering it fully to God in order to be wedded to Him. Let us ask her to obtain for us the grace to live our self-offering and our union with God in all of the actions of our daily lives; then we will show by our lives that we are truly thankful.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the reason we have a culture of death, is that so many have forgotten or can't find the source of this living water of Christ's love.

Homily for the Rockford Diocese Monthly Mass for Pro-life.

"Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nation" (Rev. 22:1-2)

Our First reading is the final vision of St. John, while exiled on the Island of Patmos. It is a vision of the indiscernible energy of the Most Blessed Trinity at the heart of the Messianic Jerusalem.
What is the Messianic Jerusalem? It is the Church of the last time. The Church which we are now living in.

This vision of St. John describes this energy of the inner love and life of the Blessed Trinity as a river of life flowing out into all of creation, both in the act of creating it and in the act of renewing, purifying it, and bringing it back to Himself.

This mysterious river of life is an outpouring of the love shared by the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity; it is the power of the fullness of life; it gives existence and offers eternal life, which is union with God forever.
From the beginning of time, this river of life flowed from the hidden depths of the bosom of Eternal Father through His only begotten Son. All was created through the Son, by Son and for the Son, by the power of the Spirit of life.

And so, this river is a river of life, but a life that does not come from man ;it is a river of love but a love that does not originate in the heart of man. It comes from God Himself, from the depths of His profound Love which is His very Being.
The prophet Ezekiel, describes this river as a torrent that would sweep a person away if he entered into it. Ezekiel, tells us that it's source was somewhere under the threshold of the temple, hidden from view. It fact, it would have remained hidden forever from us, if Jesus had not come to earth to show us the source.

This river is the outpouring of the created love of each person of the Holy Trinity,
a love that brought all of creation into existence; a love that brought and brings each human person into existence.

But in this river of life, there is also a current of God's energy, of God's great tenderness which attracts us, which calls us to itself in order to swept up into it in order to be carried away, back to the heart of God. The current of this river; ebbs and flows; it goes forth from the heart of Father, and then flows back again. By it God brings us forth, and by it He wishes to bring us back again to Himself.

This river of life, brings forth the energy of God's creative power; it is His love for the world, His Divine Word, His whole self poured out for his creation, especially man. He has in fact placed in man a desire, a thirst to can only be quench by drinking from this river of love, by allowing oneself to be swept away by it, but not to be destroyed, but gain to be taken up back to its source which is God.

For those who drink from this river of life, they become the trees that bear great fruit...the fruit of holiness, the fruit of divine life; fruit for the entire world-the fruit of holiness and joy, truth and life, justice and peace.

It is this living water that Jesus speaks of to the woman beside the well. She is a image of so many who have tried to quench their thirst with the "waters" of this world. She as in other words, looked for love in all the wrong places; she has in fact give up on love; which is the same as saying giving up on life. Jesus says he thirsts....not for water, but for her love. He wants her life; He wants her. He says to her, if only you knew who it was that was asking you for a drink, you would ask him for a drink of the living water.

She is the one who is really thirsty; and Jesus love is the living water which flows forth from the Father and gives the abundance of life to all who find its source and drink fully from it.

Using these beautiful and mystical images of these two beautiful reading, tonight I want to purpose to you that the reason we have a culture of death, is that so many have forgotten or can't find the source of this living water of Christ's love. Many in fact have abandoned the fountain of living water and have dug for themselves wells, cracked wells that can hold water. Men thirst and so look for water everywhere and anywhere they think they can find it. They try to dig their own wells, that give only water that never quenches their thirst.

Many others know the source but have forgotten how to drink from it.
It is beside the true well that Christ waits for us. He wishes to fill us with His living waters, which again is the water of his love, of his life. He is the very source of this living water. It flows forth from His pierce heart, gushes forth as water and blood; the river of love and life for the world.

In Jesus, God the Father has poured out his love, Himself, for men; both at the moment of creation and at the moment of the Crucifixion. At the crucifixion the Father, through the Son offers each of us His all, and He wishes to draw us, lift us up to himself; to become one with Him sharing in the union of His and His Son's love for one another. This is the true river of life. Separated from this river we have only death.

And so, how do we have contact with this river of life and drink from it. We do so through the Sacred Liturgy, offered according to the mind and intent of the Church, with reverence, love, devotion and entered into with great faith. It is the source of living water because it allows us to enter into to mystery of the life, death, resurrection and accession of our Lord, to experience the saving and healing power of them; and as a result, to have intimate contact with He who is the Living Water--Our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the Sacred Liturgy, which includes all the Sacraments, the Divine office, but especially at their source the Holy Mass, the Father through Son again pours out the river of His love for each one of us. For our part, do we recognize our great need for it, our thirst, in order to allow ourselves to be filled and swept away in the mystery of what is really happening at Mass; or do we merely stand by the side of the river, failing to enter in fully?

Maybe we enter into our ankles, maybe to our knees, or even our waist. But this is not enough, be not afraid, we must dive into the deep which is Christ. At the Liturgy Jesus comes to the well, and offers Himself to us; we for our part must offer ourselves to Him, so that we can feast on the river of His love, which really means on Him. Jesus is the river of life flowing from the bosom of the Father for the life of the world; and He is the way back to the Father who calls us to Himself.

By the way, this is what Vatican II meant by it's desire to lead the faithful to an active, full, participation in the Liturgy. But Vatican II didn't just say a active and full participation; no, it said and active, fully, conscious and fruitful participation. Vatican II took this phrase from Pope Pius X who first said it in 1903. He was at the beginning of a great Liturgical Movement, that wished to renew the Liturgy in the hearts and minds of the faithful so that they could partake fully of its power to transform and unite them to the God who is Love and who is Life.

He and others asked, if we have the source of living waters for the world, the Sacred Liturgy, why is the world falling into moral decay. The only answer was that the faithful, were not fully drinking from the well of the Liturgy, of the Living Waters. In other words, they weren't attending or if attending, they allowing themselves, for whatever reason, to filled with the life of Christ, in order to be transformed by the life of Christ, so they could become holy, to be come one with God (divinized). And then in their Holiness, take Christ united to them, and His love and life now alive in them, out into the world in order for Christ to renew it and transform it through them.

Is it any different today? The evil in the world is increasing, the culture of death is still with us, great storm clouds are gathering. The answer is the same, we have the source of living waters for the world; It is the Sacred Liturgy. This water flows out from the Sacraments, but in order to get out into the world, it must flow through us. We must drink deeply from the well, in order to allow the living water, which flows from the Father, through the Son, to allow it to flow through us out into the world, transforming it through our holiness of life. This is the only way our culture death will be converted into a culture of life. Without this, all of our efforts to transform our world become just a useless form of activism. It is not that we need to become solitary mystics separated from the world, but that our work out in the world needs to become the work Jesus alive in us.

We need to do all things with him, through Him and in. All our work to promote, defend and protect life, to give life, eternal life, must be done with union with Jesus-the Living Water of the Father, the God who is life. And this source of this living water is only the Sacred Liturgy. Actively, fully, conciousely, fruitfully drinking form this well, we can live our lives in imitation of Christ, pouring them out in sacrificial love for God and for others for love of Him. And this is what Pope Benedict recently said, is our vocation and our identity as creatures created in the Image and Likeness of God.

Our identity and vocation, according to our Holy Father, is to love sacrificially for the other. In fact He said this is the Key to our entire existence. And then he reminded us that “our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride,” and that “pure and generous love is the fruit of a daily decision.” Every day, he reminded us, “we have to choose to love.” In our homes, schools, workplaces, and in public, if we constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others, if we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society. The liturgy is the source of the energy, the energy of the love and life of the Blessed Trinity, that we absolutely need, to daily make the choice to love.

Let us end, by doing that most pro-life action that we humans can do, that is fully, actively, consciously and fruitfully offering ourselves at this Holy Mass to the source of all Life--the Most Blessed Trinity. What this really means is to offer our hearts to the Blessed Virgin so that she will place them along with all that we have and are, on the paten, and along with sacrifice of the Priest, help us to offer offer ourselves and one another as the Mystical Body of Christ, to the Father in union with the Sacrifice of the Son through the Power and Love of the Holy Spirit. Then let us her to help us, as members of the messianic temple, the Church of the last times, take what we receive, the very Life of the Father--Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, alive in our bodies and our hearts, out into our dying world; and through our lives of holiness bring to others the Love of Jesus alive in us, thus transforming our culture of death, into a culture of life and love!!!...Amen!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 2nd, 2010

For my homily this week, I feel impelled to read the following article from the Chairman of the Committee on Pro-life activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I just feel it is very timely and very well done for this Respect life Sunday which begins the Respect Life Month of October. You can get a copy on the United States Catholic Conference of Bishop's website.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 27, 2010

During the Respect Life Month of October, Catholics across the United States will gather in prayer and thanksgiving, at charitable and educational events, and in public witness to the unique and priceless value of every human life, guided by the theme for this year’s Respect Life Program: “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” With each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.

With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions—due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child. Yet the loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.

For those the pro-life community could not reach and assist before they underwent an abortion, the Catholic Church throughout the United States offers compassionate, confidential counseling through its Project Rachel ministry. In contacting Project Rachel, no one need fear that they will encounter anything less than a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.

In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government. For example, Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins, with 67% opposing federal funding of abortion in health care in one recent poll. In early 2009, Catholics and others sent over 33 million postcards, and countless e-mails and letters to Members of Congress, urging them to “retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

Yet in March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums. Ensuring that health care reform will meet the urgent needs for which it has been proposed, and is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on rights of conscience, will be an urgent task in the coming year.

Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science, when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research—and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda. In a recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 57 percent of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor, using stem cells from cord blood, placentas, and other “adult” tissues; only 21 percent favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings. Yet the current Administration issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law.

At the other end of life, seriously ill patients are again under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Instead of addressing these patients’ real problems by providing love, support and relief of suffering, this agenda urges us to eliminate the patient as though he or she is the problem. Marching under the false banner of “compassion” and “choice,” it raises the fearsome prospect of a future in which the only “choice” cheerfully granted to our most vulnerable patients is a lethal overdose of drugs.

Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” While critics want to portray the Church’s witness as a narrow and negative ideology, it is just the opposite: A positive vision of the dignity of each and every human being without exception, each loved equally by God and so equally deserving of our love and our nation’s respect.

Because we are created in the image of God, who is Love, our identity and vocation is to love sacrificially for the sake of others. Pope Benedict XVI has called this “the key to [our] entire existence.” In a homily during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict reminded us that “our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride,” and that “pure and generous love is the fruit of a daily decision.” Every day, he reminded us, “we have to choose to love.” In our homes, schools, workplaces, and in public, if we constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others, if we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society.

Our efforts, of course, must always be undergirded with prayer—the silent space for personal daily prayer that allows us to hear God’s voice deep in our hearts, and communal prayer that asks God to transform our culture into one that welcomes every human person.

Recently Pope Benedict made an unprecedented request for such prayer, by asking that Catholic bishops throughout the world, and all parishes and religious communities, observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on the evening of Saturday, November 27, 2010. The U.S. bishops’ offices for pro-life activities and for divine worship will be working together to provide worship aids to assist pastors in planning these vigil services.

Speaking for the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See is to “thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,” and to “invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.”

May God bless all who work tirelessly to build a culture of respect for every human life, from conception to natural death.

Thank you Cardinal DiNardo! Let us end, by doing that most pro-life action that we humans can do, that is fully, actively, consciously and fruitfully offering ourselves at this Holy Mass to the source of all Life--the Most Blessed Trinity. Let us ask the Blessed Mary to place our hearts, all that we have and are, on the paten, and along with sacrifice of the Priest, "My Sacrifice and yours, offer ourselves and one another as the Mystical Body of Christ, to the Father in union with the Sacrifice of the Son through the Power and Love of the Holy Spirit. Then let us take what we receive, the very Life of the Father--Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, alive in our bodies and our hearts, out into our dying world; and through our lives of holiness bring to others the Love of Jesus alive in us, thus transforming our culture of death, into a culture of life and love!!!...Amen!