Saturday, December 31, 2011

,,,because of Mary, heaven continues to come to earth.

Holy Mary, Mother of God. Sunday January 1st, 2012

I want to begin by wishing everyone a very blessed New Year. With this great feast of Mary, Mother of God, we come to the end of the Octave of Christmas; that eight days of solemn celebration of the Nativity of our Lord; eight days of intense joy, in which we renew our faith in the Incarnation.

This Solemn feast of our Lady is a relatively new solemnity, in which the Church desires to draws us more deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation of our Lord. In other words, the Church wants us to contemplate and consider what truly happen on that blessed night two thousand years ago we now call Christmas, and to do so in order to grow deeper in our knowledge of and our love for our God, in order to enter into a deep abiding union with Him.

Hopefully we know the catechism's answer of what happened that night: It was the Incarnation- when the invisible God became visible in the flesh, which He took from the Blessed Virgin Mary nine months earlier. Now the whole world can ‘see’ its God because He actually condescended from heaven to become one of us, physically born of the same Blessed Virgin Mary on Christmas Day. Now in Christ the fullness of deity resides in bodily form. But what did the birth of Jesus really do for us? Perhaps to answer this question we could quickly take a look at what the world was like before Jesus’ birth.

Well to sum it up in just one word, "Cruel,"; the world was cruel. The human person had no value; people were only valued only in so much as what they could produce. Woman were consider less than slaves, for the most part only consider the personal property of their husbands; property which could be discarded for any reason whatsoever. Babies, especially female babies were killed often by exposure because they were “inconvenient.” There was terrible, terrible immorality, dishonesty, and cruelty--everywhere. Although it’s hard to believe, conditions back then were much worse than they are now.

You see, back then there wasn’t much love for God because God in the hearts and minds of almost everyone, including the Jews, was so very far away. He was in His heavens light years away, infinitely distant. God, for average person, was a Divine Being who had to be pacified; God was an angry God who had to be made calm. So awesome was He (and His is awesome) that no one was even supposed to say His name.

The people back then did not have a personal intimate relationship with God; they didn’t even think such a thing was possible. One’s relationship with God was merely in the sense that if you were good, God would bless you; if you were not, He would not bless you. Proof of God’s favor was wealth and prosperity; proof of God’s disfavor was disease, economic poverty and political oppression. Unless you were wealthy and had power, you were in a bondage no better than a slave or even an animal for that matter; economically, for the most part, there wasn’t such thing as a middle class there where only the rich and poor.

And so most folks looked for the coming of the prophesied Messiah, the chosen and anointed one of God. But too often they only hoped in His coming so that when He came, He would grant them material prosperity, comfort, security, and so-called “freedom.” Most folks were looking only for a political Messiah-a “bread king,” one that would fill their bellies, their emotions, and free them to do what they wanted, not necessarily to do what they should.

Even more than all of what I just mention, there was something even more terrible and dark in the world at that time, even though most weren’t aware of it; there was something that was the cause of all the unhappiness, suffering and evil in the world. Because of it, souls lived in a bondage and poverty more terrible than any caused by an opposing earthly enemy or material or economic poverty. Souls before the birth of Jesus were in bondage with no hope for true freedom, they were held in slavery to sin, the most horrible evil on earth, the antithesis of love, and the actual cause of the separation and infinite distance between God and men; because of sin all men were enemies to God, separated from God who is Love Itself; they weren’t free to choose the Good, the Beautiful and the True, to choose Love.

And so, before Jesus, no one could make it to heaven at all; everyone, everyone, was consigned to death, eternal death. This is why, as the bible tells us, the Christ had to be named Jesus. The name of Jesus means “God saves”—in other words, “Savior.” The name was assigned by eternal decree; likewise the reason: “For it is he who will save his people from their sins.” Today’s Gospel carefully records Jesus being given His name, that Most blessed of all Names.

And so, Jesus has come to offer to all men the possibility to be free, free from sin and free from eternal death. And if that wasn’t enough, He as even made it possible for those who would repent and believe in the Gospel, not only to be free from sin, but to become adopted sons and daughters of God the Father; free to choose He who is Goodness, Beauty and Truth Itself, Who is Love Itself.

Think of it: Do we really realize our great dignity? The Son of God became a son of man, so that the sons of men could become sons of God, actual partakers in the Divine Nature of God Himself. How can we even begin to begin to appreciate what the birth of Christ as done for us, each one of us? WE are now free to love, truly, authentically, fully!!! Free to love God and our neighbor for love of God, and even to love ourselves properly.

And so this is why we celebrate this Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God; it is because of her that we are able to celebrate Christmas. It was by her fiat, her yes of consent freely given that we received Jesus the Savior, while we were still in our sins, as today’s second reading reminds us. Without her yes, which she was free to not give, none of us here would have any hope of reaching God, reaching heaven. She has made it possible for God to come us, so that it would be possible for us to go to God. If not for her, no matter how “good” we would be, there would be no hope for eternal salvation. Because of her, because of her sacrifice we now have hope. She has given God a baby, His own Son, to offer in sacrifice for our life! To keep this solemn feast then is to show her our immense gratitude and love to the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as to Jesus.

Yes, in some respects our world today doesn’t seem much different than it was before the coming of Christ—men’s hearts are still cruel, the human person is still in many cases, such as in abortion, not valued much; and there is still immorality, dishonesty, and cruelty—everywhere; sadly, even among members of the Church. Souls are still separated from God by sin. But the big difference is now we have hope. God is no longer distant, somewhere out there high in His heaven; now because of Christmas and because of Our Lady, He is close, infinitely close to each one of us; closer in fact than we are to ourselves.

Because of Our Blessed Mother we can be free from sin and even more, infinitely more, we can enter into a divine union with God even while we walk yet on earth; a deep intimate friendship which goes beyond what the mind can even imagine or words can describe. Heaven has come to earth because of Mary, our heavenly Mother.

But, because of Mary, heaven continues to come to earth. The Incarnation of God as man is not just something that occurred two thousand years ago…No, it occurs now in our midst at the Holy Mass. Christmas is something that we can experience in our lives now!

In just a short while God descends, condescends from heaven to be “reborn” on this sacred Altar. This is the Mystery of Faith, and it has the power, infinite power to renew us and to renew our world through us. But only if we believe, only if we come before the “newborn” child with faith, and believe, adore, hope and love Him truly present in the Holy Eucharist in the flesh, as a man, as God still among us.

Now at this beginning of this New Year as in everyday of our lives, while we still breathe, we can begin a new, through the grace of the Sacrament of Confession, we can leave sin behind and choose to live in the freedom of God’s beloved sons and daughters. Because of the Mother of God we not only have a model to imitate but a advocate a helper to be with us as we strive to become better, holier, by turning away from sin to a new more fuller life in Christ. In the Holy Eucharist God is with us…He has come to free us from the one thing that can separate us from Him; He has come to save us from our sins.

Our Blessed Mother is with us at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass, inspiring us to turn to the Eucharist in faith and “do whatever He tells us.” She will lead us to live more fully with her Son Jesus, who is God now with us. She will help us find Him and see Him, with the eyes of faith, both in the Holy Eucharist at every Mass, and in the depths of our souls were He longs and desires to become one with us, to actually share His Divinity and so His divine life within us, so great is His love for us.

Jesus chose to come into this world through Mary, and he continues to come into souls through holiness by grace which by divine decree comes only through her. And so obviously, we would all be well to turn to her for help as we make our New Year resolution to start anew in our growing in our love, our hope and our faith in Jesus our Lord and God in the Holy Eucharist. She will help us if we turn to her, to believe even when we don’t fully understand; to grow in prayer and so intimacy with Christ; to expand every ounce of our energy to bring Christ to others and of course to avoid sin and anything that might distract from her divine Son, to whom she points with confidence, hope and love.

Through Mary, heaven has comes to earth; through Mary, Heaven-Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, comes to dwell in each one of us!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

God continues to give us the gift of His Whole Self!

The Solemnity of Christmas December 25th, 2011

Christmas as arrived. With it we are invited to enter into the crib at Bethlehem; and there, with the Virgin Mother and St. Joseph, behold the God, who out of love for us, became a little helpless babe and gaze upon Him with faith, hope and love. For only love inspired by faith and hope can believe this wonder, the wonder of the Incarnation-the true and living God who became man, one of us, who remains one of us and who remains with us.

In this wonder, the wonder of a child, we discover that Christmas is for children, because Christmas is all about a Child, the newborn Christ-child. Christmas invites all of us to become children before the Crib looking in humility at our God made man with the all of the wonder of young Child at Christmas looking at the presents under the tree. In this case, however, we look at the greatest of all presents ever given to the children of men, Jesus, Our Emmanuel-The God who is still with us in the Holy Eucharist, truly present in all the tabernacles of the world.

In the light of the Holy Eucharist, who is Jesus, we discover that Christmas is so more than just an anniversary of the birth of the baby Jesus, who was God among us, God become one of us. It is this, but much much more. Because it was the birth of Jesus who was and is our God became man. And because Jesus, Our Lord and God is still in the flesh, is still a man, Christmas is an event that can occur now in our midst. God continues to give us the gift of His Whole Self in the present.

At Holy Mass, not only at Christmas, but at every Holy Mass, God continues to become man on this Altar and all the altars of the world….He continues to come down from heaven in order to be “born” on our altar during Holy Mass. But we for our part must become as little children to open ourselves to the believe in this wonder…it isn’t a fairy tail, it isn’t a myth….it is the truth above all truths, the reality above all realities…it is where the hope and fears of all the world are met in Jesus tonight, who becomes truly present to us, not only in spirit but in the flesh as God among us.

In this mystery of faith, God offers us 'today,' now, to me, to you, to each one of us, the possibility of acknowledging and receiving him like the shepherds in Bethlehem, so that He might be born in our lives and renew them, illumine them, transform them by his grace, by his presence." (Pope Benedict )

I want now to speak here especially to the children among us. Dear Children you can see that we here have a very special new statue that was donated to us by some very special friends of our parish family. It is statue of Jesus as a little Child. Isn’t He wonderful! Ask your parents to bring you up next to the crib after Holy Mass, in order to see him closer, and to see him in the crib as well.

In fact, if you compare this statue of the little child Jesus, you can see that he resembles the baby Jesus in the crib in this way. See that His hands are open up just like the baby Jesus our crib. His hands are open because he wants to embrace you. He loves you so very much. Jesus is calling to all of you…He wants you to know that He is your very truest and dearest friend, and He will always listen to you if you call to Him in prayer.

Notice I have place the child Jesus over the tabernacle. In the tabernacle the child Jesus really and truly dwells. The tabernacle is like the crib at Bethlehem. Yet, Jesus is really there. And Jesus waits there with his arms open, with his heart open for the little children to come unto him in faith in order to be loved by Him. He offers you all of his love; He offers you, dear children, His heart.

Respond generously to the Lord Who calls you to be friends with Him. I promise you, He will never let you down." (Pope Benedict).

"Dear children, my friends. "I would like to ask you for one thing. As you answer this beautiful invitation from Jesus, take it to your friends and tell them. “Look, I have responded to Jesus’ call to me, and I am happy because I found a great Friend that I meet in prayer and that I can visit at any time, because He is truly present on earth with us in the Holy Eucharist, dwelling in the tabernacle and on the Altar at Holy Mass. I can hear Him speak to me in my heart and in the readings at Holy Mass…I can even receive Him into my heart and soul at Holy Communion.

My dear Children, my Christmas wish for you is that, you would come often to Church to embrace by Jesus who is holding His arms out to you as He offers you His Sacred Heart. And you would say to Jesus, “Dear Jesus, my dearest friend, come into my life and I will listen to you always.”

Finally, dear children, be sure to visit me after Holy Mass for I have a very special Christmas gift for you. Never forget that Jesus loves you so very much.

And now to all of God’s children both young and Old. In light of the mystery of Christmas, which is a mystery of God’s love, and now that all preparations have been made and we celebrate Christmas with our loved ones, now that the presents have been purchased and we share to joy of giving to those we love, have we overlooked one the most important aspect of Christmas? Have we prepared properly and given the present to the one who loves us the most-Jesus? It is His Birthday after all. Have we given to the Christ Child the one present that He desires this Christmas?

And that Present the Jesus wants most this Christmas is the gift of our self. Jesus wants us to give Him our heart for Christmas, our whole heart, and all of its love. Jesus wants us to give Him the gift of our lives, of all we are, all we do, and all we have.

Christmas is all about children. Let us not disappoint any child this Christmas. Most especially, let us not disappoint the Christ-Child who is God with us in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar; and who comes to meet us this night, at this Holy Mass with arms open to embrace us, and Who holds out His Divine and Human heart for a present for us to embrace.

This Christmas, let us give Jesus the Present of ourselves, the present of our humble and contrite heart; let us give ourselves to Jesus totally, not just in words but through our worship and adoration of Him, not only at Christmas but every Sunday at Christ’s Mass, and by worshiping and adoring Him with our very lives in all that we think, say or do.

On behalf Fr. William, the parish staff and myself, I wish you and yours a very Merry, Blessed and Grace filled Christmas. And may the Christ Child who is calling to you, bless you and your family abundantly during this joyous season!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Forever and Ever...!!!

4th Sunday in Advent. December 18th, 2011

Have you ever noticed when you listen to the readings on Sunday how many times the word forever is mentioned? It’s not only mentioned in the readings, but it is also mentioned at every prayer the priest prays at every single Mass, including this Sunday. I know our very own Fr. William even ends every homily with, “forever and ever.

As we continue with our joyful and penitential preparations for Advent, perhaps we can ask ourselves, “Do we take forever and ever for granted and gloss over its meaning for us? As a young teenager my mother once asked me when I was being particularly nasty with her, “Do you ever think of eternity son?” My glib answer was to tell her that I didn’t, since I didn’t have the time.” But how true her words were and still are. Eternity is forever and ever. It’s not that life is too short, it is that eternity is so long…forever and ever.

This Sunday as we almost complete the Advent Season and approach Christmas, let us all contemplate the eternal God who existed from all eternity and entered into our time and space and was born in a small stable at Bethlehem; and continues to reborn to us on the stable of our sacred altars and to remain with us in littleness in the Bethlehem of our Tabernacles. Whether we like it or not we too are going to exist forever and ever, with Him or without Him. It boggles the mind never ever, ever, never an end, but forever. I not sure we think of this enough…am not sure we take our eternal salvation seriously enough; so many distractions by things so much less important than forever.

The Christmas season is almost upon us and it is the one time when millions more than usual at least, think about the birth of Jesus. But why did He, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, why did He, the eternal God, become one of us? And in light of this questions, “What is the purpose of our lives?...Why do we exist…what or Who have we been made for…?” It is important to ponder all of this, since where we shall exist forever and how we shall exist forever and ever depends on our answer now, while we live in time and can still choose.

In the Gospel today, Mary’s response is a total ‘yes’ to God’s plan. Fiat, let it be done to me according to Your Will. Now, because of her ‘yes’ we can also freely choose to become and live as actual adopted sons and daughters of the God who chose to become one of us, in order to, not only save us, but to save us for Himself. And so, only those who decide to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, not only with words, but like Mary with their lives, will know the real meaning of Christmas; for millions others it is just another occasion to party and feast and to accumulate more material possessions, living their lives, not only like there is no tomorrow, but like there is no eternity. Yes, they can fool themselves with the concept that there is no heaven, or with the the false idea which believes that every goes to heaven any way, thinking to themselves after all I am good person, it’s the rest of the world that as to change. But is forever worth risking with such glib and incredible indifference.

This Sunday really listen to the words forever and ever. Ponder and pray about them; ask God to grant you the grace to change your heart in light of them. May you will never forget them now and each time you attend Mass; and may these words cause you to change your life for the better and even change your final destiny.

In light of forever and ever… let us turn to the Virgin Mary and ask her for her fervent love in our hearts so we too can receive our savior Jesus and as a result, be submissive to His Holy Will in our lives. When we receive Holy Communion, by our Amen we should be saying, ““Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum… Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.” Let me die to my self, to my will and let Jesus Christ be reborn in my very being so I can live with Him, Mary, Joseph and all of the angel and saints forever and ever and ever…Amen.

“Forever and ever…”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

QUAERITUR: How to get Gregorian chant and a TLM in the parish.

QUAERITUR: How to get Gregorian chant and a TLM in the parish.

"I am not the one. Jesus is the One!"

Gaudete Sunday. Third Sunday in Advent. December 11th, 2011

We rejoice and are glad as we await the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is what we proclaim today as we celebrate this Third Sunday of Advent. The rose colored vestment symbolizes this great joy-Gaudete! We await Jesus coming just like His herald, John the Baptist. John shows us the way to Christ and how to wait with patient, but joyful hope.

In order to really understand today’s Gospel, we have to remember that during the first century in Israel, the Romans controlled the entire political and religious life of the people. And so, many people at the time of John were looking for political answers to this great oppression by the Romans. Now we have never had to live under foreign occupation in this country so it’s hard to image how terrible it must have been for the Israelites. In light of their great hardships, they asked; “Who would ever come to free them, who could possibly grant them liberty? They were a people whose hope was almost gone; the only hope they had left was in the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah.

These were the people who went out to see John the Baptist and so, “They asked John, “Are you the one, like Moses or David or Elijah that will lead a glorious and powerful army to victory over the Romans? Unfortunately, in their questions we see all too clearly that what little hope they had left, was placed solely in human power and solutions, such as politics and war. In other words, they trusted in man alone to save man; their hope was in a human Messiah, not a divine one. No wonder their hope was so weak.

John knew all too well the state of affairs in the country of Israel. Yet he saw hope not in human solutions, like politics and war, but in divine solutions. John saw the greatest enemy was not Roman’s, but was the people’s own infidelity to the Lord. He preached boldly about the need for repentance, about turning from the real oppressor-sin. He knew that the real problem of the day was the hardness of people hearts, their refusal to give their total yes to God as shown by their refusal to following God’s commandments and teachings and so offer true worship to the Lord. And so, John called them all to task, no exceptions; he called everyone, even Kings, to repentance-to turn away from the real cause of all the unhappiness, suffering, and even war in the world, which is sin, and to turn back in fidelity to the true and living God, the worship of Who, alone could give them true happiness and peace.

But John not only preached repentance, he lived it. John saw who he was in relation to God; he saw that he, himself was totally dependant on God for everything. “I am not the one, Jesus is the one.” John knew the truth, he knew he needed a savior, he knew he could not fix his own problems, he knew man could not and can never save man; and so he hoped in God alone--God alone can save.

And so, John pointed the world to the One who would come and who alone could fix the world—Jesus is the One. He is the one who will bring Glad tidings to the lowly, healing to the sick & liberty to the captives,. What glad tidings these are, and they make up the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel. This Gospel is not just a message, not just a holy book, the Gospel is a Person, a Divine Person, Jesus Christ—He is the Message! He is THE friend to the lowly, the poor in spirit, the sick and the oppressed, especially those who are sick, oppressed and in slavery to sin. Jesus will bring a victory, a victory much greater than any military victory over any enemy of this world.

Jesus shows us His definitive victory. One of the greatest military powers the world has ever seen threw everything that it had at him, even their greatest torture--crucifixion. The power of hell itself, threw everything it had at Him, even its greatest torture, the very power of death itself. And Jesus in return showed them and us an even greater power, the very power of God Himself. And because Jesus was God, it was His own power; and He used it to defeat the power of hell itself by His glorious resurrection. The Resurrection show us definitively that God’s power can swallow up anything the power of this world has to offer, anything the power of hell as to offer…especially the power of sin and death. This is indeed THE GOOD NEWS for us, for you and for me.

Jesus side is the winning side, the battle as already been won. But now the battle needs to be fought in each soul, inside each of us. If we are on His side, we will be victorious as well. But, we have to always keep in mind that the victory Jesus will lead us to will be primarily to a spiritual victory, like His. Jesus will not necessarily take all our troubles away, we still have to, like Him, suffer and die, but He will give us His own Divine Power in order to, not only to prevail and to persevere over our self will, over sin, but to do so with Joy and peace even amidst great sufferings. If we are with Jesus, no power in this world can defeat us; not even the devil himself; not even one of our greatest enemy, which is ourselves, can take away our hope in finally being victorious over our sins. With Jesus, and only with Jesus, we will reach the reward for all the victorious, union with God Himself and life forever with Him in heaven.

We live in a broken hearted world, one that is marked with conflict- wars, divisions, and a general disregard for God and the things of God. We want to see the solutions to all of our problems apart from God. It’s too easy fall into the trap of thinking that we can save ourselves; that we can solve all of our problems without conforming our lives to God’s truth and will in order to do it. Yet, this is so far from the truth. We are helpless and cannot save ourselves nor solve all of our problems apart from God and His truth. Politics can’t save us; only God can save; and He does so in the Person of Jesus Christ the Son of God who has become one of us in order to save us.

Jesus alone is the Answer…and Jesus comes to us through the Sacraments. It is only through the Sacraments, that the power of Jesus’ victory flows in order to brings liberty to the captives, captive to sin, which is all of us. The Sacraments alone have to power to set us free, to heals us, to save us. The Sacraments have the power to restore our fallen world; for the Sacraments have the power of God Himself…in fact one of the Sacraments is called the Most Blessed of all Sacraments because It is God Himself, in the flesh, in Person with all of His divine power and glory. And so this Sacrament of all Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist is alone the Answer because it is Jesus, and as I said, Jesus Alone is the Answer.

But we can only, access this Power of all powers through faith, by believing, adoring, trusting and loving, and begging pardon for those, including our own lack of faith, who do not believe, adore, hope and love. We will never, never, overcome our current woes, not to mention prevent our world from sliding more into chaos, into hell, until more Catholics come with strong and living faith, before the Holy Eucharist, having first been purified by worthy Sacramental confessions, and there in front of the very Person of God’s Divine Mercy, Jesus, present in the fullness of His Humanity and the fullness of His divinity, beg the Eternal Father for mercy on us and upon our whole world.

Gaudete! Let us rejoice, we have a God who has come, and who comes again in through the Sacraments in order to offer us His saving and healing power, the power of His Humanity and Divine Love. Let us have hope…for Hope has a name, and that name is Jesus, and through faith, we process this Hope in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the God who heals, frees and saves those who come to Worship Him and adore Him.

Let us pray. St. John the Baptist, through your intercession, help us to have your same attitude, help us to have a humble submission to God and to live for Him alone. Help us to see that the cause of all, all, unhappiness, suffering and unrest in the world, even war, the cause of all man’s problems, is not great opposing military, or great power in the world, but the cause is our own infidelity to the Lord, that is doing our own thing, in other words, sin. John show us that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus--the Lamb of God, the One alone who has the power to free, to heal, and to save. Help us to be like you, faithful to the Lord even to our last breath, so that by our lives and even by our death, we too may point out to others, the true Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world-Jesus truly Present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Our Lady of the New Advent, through your intercession obtain for us the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us to open the gates of hearts fully at this Holy Mass in order that the Heart of Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist, may come fully in, and make us one with Him and through Him, one with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, December 8, 2011



The Immaculate Conception

In 1854, Pope Pius IX's solemn declaration, Ineffabilis Deus, clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. In proclaiming the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a dogma of the Church, the pope expressed precisely and clearly that Mary was conceived free from the stain of original sin. This privilege of Mary derives from God's having chosen her as Mother of the Savior; thus she received the benefits of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.

This great gift to Mary, an ordinary human being just like us, was fitting because she was destined to be Mother of God. The purity and holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a model for all Christians. But not just a model, she is the also the hope for all Christians. She is the hope because through her we can have access to Christ in a otherwise inaccessible manner. Through her, by the "overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, we can become, like her, though divine grace, worthy dwelling places of her Son.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says of the Immaculate Conception of Mary:
490. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role". The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace.

491. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1844:
"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of
almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all
stain of original sin." (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854.)

492. The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son." The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love."

493. The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia) and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature". By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

The immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary has its origins in today's Gospel. The Archangel Gabriel said to Mary in greeting: Hail, Full of Grace. This name given to Mary- Full of Grace- is a title to her and shows us that God HImself calls her Full of Grace.

Full of Grace means all of the merits and graces gained by her Son, Jesus Christ as he died upon the cross- were given to Mary at the moment of her conception in the womb of Saint Anne. (you may want to say a few words about devotion to her.)

The Fullness of Grace given to Mary as a gift were never lost or diminished in her life- until she was Assumed into heaven. The grace of Christ was fully given to her throughout her life. Mediating on the mysteries of the Rosary helps us to see this.

For us, we must know because of the Blessed Virgin, there is available to us this same fullness of grace. We are sinners and are in great need of grace. Our Lady helps us obtain the grace we need to be faithful disciples of Christ.

We need help with our daily struggles and crosses. We too often try to limit our Lord in answering our prayers. Like the Virgin, we must follow the way of the cross. However, we tend to draw back and naturally are not wanting to do this. Life, however, takes over- the circumstances which we have no control over, cause us to suffer, to struggle and sometimes to loose hope. Todays feast should revive our hope, for there is unlimited grace in Christ.

But even more; God prepared a worthy dwelling place for his Son in the Immaculate Conception; God too, by grace and holiness, wants to prepare a worthy dwelling place in us for the Son in the Spirit. We for our part must, like the Virgin, give Him our yes, our fiat! This of course is not a one time thing; our fiat is given each time we choose right over wrong, truth over error; the Church’s teachings over the teachings of the world; virtue over sin; in other words; each time we choose God’s Holy will over our own selfish will; each time we for love of God put the needs of others before our own.

While this seems like an impossible task; what is impossible for men is possible for God through the intercession of the Virgin. If we turn to her in greater love and devotion, she will help us to draw closer to her Son, Jesus; through her powerful intercession, through her fiat her yes, the Holy Spirit will come and rebirth the Son of God in us through holiness. And then although not conceived Immaculate, we will live Immaculate and die Immaculate; in other words, we will be saints, one with God, God dwelling in us; God going out to the world, in us, through us, and with us.

Come Holy Spirit Come, Come by means of the powerful intercession of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy well-beloved spouse. (3x) amen. Immaculate Conception, Mediatrix of All Grace, Co-redemptrix, pray for us poor sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homily for Mark 13:33-37
First Sunday of Advent 2011-12

Today we begin the season of Advent and this one is particularly special for us as we begin to use the new translation of the Mass. Over the next few weeks we are all in the process of learning the new prayers. It may be a struggle for us, as all of us are used to say the same things for Mass for the past forty years. Yet, I invite you to take a new look at the prayers of the Mass and in particular, when you hear something new, take a moment to reflect on it and the new language. There will be many, as the opening collects, prayers over the gifts and post communion prayers are all changed. Just think for the next three years you will hear something new at Mass each week.

We can begin with the opening collect from today’s Mass. Our prayer said that we “resolve to RUN forth to MEET Christ, with righteous deeds at his coming.” Our time of advent is this- to RUN to meet Christ. It is a great way to look at our advent preparations. Think of how much running around you will do between this weekend and Christmas. Perhaps you ran this weekend to the store for gifts. But the verb run is one that is active. We just do not want to run to the store, but run to meet Christ.

The Fact is, is that Jesus has come down from heaven in order to run to meet us. God runs to embrace us. But we for our part must run to meet him. We can all picture two lovers running toward each other to embrace. This is what we must do with Jesus, Run to embrace the God who runs to embrace us. How do we run to meet Christ?

We run with our righteous deeds. This means more than just being good. One way we can run to Christ with righteous deeds is by beginning this Advent to be more faithful to our daily Prayer. Prayer is one of the main ways we can run to embrace Christ who comes to us.

Secondly we can run to meet Christ by studying our faith this advent, learning more about our God who loves us so much He runs to us from heaven in order to embrace us on earth. He comes in order to takes us back with Him to be one with the Father as He is one with the Father. To know God is to love God, to discover His love for us and to return that love by allowing our intellect to inform our will to chose God in all things and to do His will and not our own. Love always sacrifices the will for the will of the other.

Another way we can run to meet Christ is through the Sacraments. Our sins weigh us down and inhibit us from running to Christ who runs to us. Our sins make us tumble and fall. Advent itself, is a penitential season, a time to look at ourselves and resolve to repent and reform our lives.

And finally the best way to run to meet Christ is through the Sacred Liturgy. In fact, here at Holy Mass is where God literally comes from heaven and runs to meet us in the Holy Eucharist. But we can’t just sit here, we must lift up our hearts and run to embrace Him..this is really what it means to take an active and full part in the Holy Mass. We begin by studying more about the Mass. All of the prayers that we say at Holy Mass are now better, fuller, more accurate and more theologically rich, they are a treasure house of grace for us. We can read these prayers before we even come to Mass and mediate on them and pray them.
The “Magnificat” is a wonderful resource here. New daily missals will be coming. Or we can go online to the bishops website.
Advent is a time for new beginnings. Surely this Advent is a unique time in history, an unprecedented time of grace for us. Ten years from now the liturgical landscape is going to be much different. I don’t know if the numbers of those attending Holy Mass is going to rise, but I do know that those who are attending will be stronger, holier, Catholics. They will know and understand the liturgy better, they will truly be participating in the liturgy more fully, actively, consciously, and this will bear great fruit in their lives and in the world.

The Eucharist is literally the Lord running to embrace you…He is coming….He is running to meet us at this and every Holy Mass. Let us rise and go to meet the Lord, through adoration. Let us rise and run to meet the Lord…May our Lady, mother of the New Advent run with us to meet the Lord, to embrace Him to become one with Him in the unfathomable intimacy of Divine Love. Amen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 16th, 2011

Today’s Gospel brings out the darkness of the hearts of those who opposed Jesus’ intrusion into their lives—they were religious in appearance but in their hearts they sought to live a life far apart from God—they refused to give to God what belonged to Him, namely their lives, their hearts and wills; in other words they refuse to adore Him, they refused to accept Him and his teachings and open their lives to His Divine Grace in order to begin to conform their lives in obedience to His Truth and His Will.

And so to justify themselves, these so-called religious tried to trap Jesus in catch 22. They pose a very clever question. If Jesus would answer “that the tax should be paid, the Pharisees would accuse Him to the people of collaborating with the Romans. Because the people saw paying taxes as nothing less than financing Rome’s continual domination of the nation of Israel, the people would then turn against Jesus and no longer follow Him. If Jesus would answer, “not to pay the taxes,” then the ill-willed Herodians would have grounds to turn Jesus over to the Romans and have Him arrested for His opposition to the state, for his trying to stir up rebellion among the people.

In response, Jesus gives His enemies a very clever and profound answer, an answer which goes far beyond their twisted expectations. He doesn’t just give them a yes or no answer, He gives them the true perspective—“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. In other words, Jesus teaches them and us the proper relationship between church and state, and of our obligation to support both the Church and the state. Jesus puts back into order what was out of order. First and foremost, Jesus taught the Herodians and all those who were listening, that God is first, and so God alone is the determiner of truth, not man, collectively or individually.

Today, Jesus continues to teach us that the state does not enjoy absolute power and dominion. Yes it has its own sphere of dominion, but it is limited. As a consequence, the rights of the state cannot usurp the rights of God, and go against the rights of the human person created in the image and likeness of God.
God has revealed to man what is right and wrong; He has even written it on the heart of man. And so, no man is free to decide for himself what is right or wrong; to call virtue vice and vice virtue; to reject the truth about sin as an offense against God and against man. The government for its part is called to uphold this proper order between Creator and creature; to uphold the rights of God.

And so, the laws of the state, if they are to be just, can never contradict the Laws of God. Instead, the principles of God and the sacredness of human life, should be the guiding light for the enactment of the laws of state. By the way, the political debate should be the means, the method we use to ensure God’s law is respected and human life is protected; and this is why we are obliged to promote the truth and fight unjust laws-laws which go against the common good of all. Like paying taxes, this is a duty we Christians owe to the state.

The notion that we Christians should not and may not participate in the public forum and make our voices known is to exclude God Himself from the public square. Ultimately, it is man literally ignoring the existence of God, at its heart this is what communism and secularism does. In the words of the Second Vatican it is a practical atheism.

When man tries to create a society devoid of God and his truth and laws, the collapse of the society is inevitable, but not before a great increase of evil, tyranny and the resulting catastrophic suffering and death. One would think we have enough examples from history to prove this point. If we Catholics don’t do everything we can to end this current trend of Godlessness and its resulting holocaust against human life by our own turning more from sin, repenting, and turning more to God through intense prayer and penance, then the very least of our worries will be the economy, I can assure you.

With regard to taxes, giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, Christians have a duty to give to the state whatever material and personal services they are able in order to support the common good. But the state then has the corresponding responsibility to enact laws and govern with the greatest respect for the common good of all people including, and most especially, the most vulnerable, those that cannot protect themselves. This obligation of the state includes the protection of human life from the moment of conception to natural death, the defense of the family and consequently, the protection of marriage as an in-dissolvable union between one man and one woman as define by God and by natural law as a means to bring new life into the world to adore God, the protection of religious liberty and the rights of parents, not the state, to be the primary educators of their children.

So we must support the state so it can fulfill its earthly natural purpose or end--which is domestic peace and harmony; but even more so, Jesus points out today as well, our higher obligation to support the Church so that it may carry out its supernatural purpose or end: which is to bring about eternal peace and harmony-better known as the kingdom of God, that kingdom for which man was created and for which he is to be saved. Politics alone cannot save society or man. According to the Code of Cannon Law, which is the internal law of the Church, the law necessary for her to exist as a visible society, and the law that every single Catholic is obliged in conscience to obey in order to show their love for Jesus, according to Canon law:

“Christ’s faithful have the obligation to provide for the temporal needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity and for the worthy support of the ministers.” (code of Canon Law n. 222).

However, this duty of ours goes far beyond just the gift of treasure or tax to the support of Christ’s Church. We must also support the Church with our time and talent, and most especially support it spiritually. We must always remember that the collection at the offertory only represents our offering of ourselves to the Father in union with Christ’s Sacrifice on the Altar. This is why the priest says, “Pray brethren that our sacrifice, mine and yours, may be acceptable to God our Father.” We are not asking the Father to accept the Sacrifice of the Mass, that is Jesus’ sacrifice, of course that’s acceptable. We are asking Him to accept our individual sacrifice, not just our money but more importantly ourselves, all that we have and are, especially our will. WE are to offer our lives for the love of God and for the mission of the Church (including the church in our midst-St. Patrick’s parish family. Love of God must be shown by our love for our parish family and support of it’s mission) and what is the mission of the church? The evangelization of the world to the truth of the Gospel message for the spread of the Kingdom of God and for the conversion and salvation of souls for Christ..

This points out very clearly what Christ does not mean by this verse, “give to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” Christ doesn’t, does not, mean that we relegate our service to God, that is our faith to the private sphere. Christ did not intend to relegate religion to a private affair only carried out in the temple, but not in daily life in the world, as if the world could somehow develop apart from God’s law and Christian law and morality. Of course, that is an illusion; as we have said, the world trying to go along without God’s law is doomed to failure and collapse—God is God, he pervades the entire world—it is His and without Him it cannot exist. Religion is the necessary element that forms the consciences of its citizens and brings about the “creation of an ethical consensus in society” (Pope Benedict). Religion is the conscience of a country and faithful Catholics are it’s soul, it fact they are the anima mundi—the soul of the world!

Every Christian, each one of us is called and challenged to be light and salt in the middle of the world. We are all called to love God, have an intimate and loving prayer with Him through prayer, study, and the Sacraments. And because of this love, we are call to go live our mission; to take the truth about God and man, and the truth about God’s love for man, out into the public arena, to all our neighbors. We are called to live as children of God in order to bring his light, his truth and his way into the halls of our schools, of our governments, our jobs as well as in the living rooms of our friends, and yes, a resounding yes, into the voting booth.

Ite missa est!!!, Not the Mass is ended go in peace, but go forth, fulfill your mission, take what you have received in the Holy Eucharist, namely Jesus, the God who is Love, and through Him, with Him and in Him, transform the world in which you live and work, transform it through Love. By our holiness of life, and with God’s love in us, we can transform the world, we can make it more humane, more human, changing our current culture of death into a culture of light and life, then and only then will we have peace and security.

Us Catholics truly do have the answer for our modern age’s terrible moral and religious void and consequently its spiritual darkness, which is the very source of its current woes. Let us with the help of the blessed Virgin Mary mother of all nations, give unto God what belongs to God, our obedience to his truth in love and our entire life and everything in it for His honor and glory. Let us ask her to help us to pray in order to make reparation for the exclusion of God and His truth from our society. Ultimately to give to God what is God's means to give Him ourselves, for we are His and to Him we belong and are called to return; may we indeed be counted among those he has chosen and be instruments of salvations for others as well. Amen.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Our love of God is to actually first to receive His love and mercy.

Homily for Matthew 22: 34-40 Thirtieth Sunday (Extra-Ordinary Form).

In our Gospel today, we continue with more testing of Jesus by the chief priests and elders. Their intentions are of course not pure. They don’t care about the truth, they are just trying to trip Jesus up…get something they can use against him. As we heard last week, Jesus silenced them regarding the question about healing on the Sabbath.

Today, Jesus is asked which of the 613 laws are most important. It would seem to be a fairly hard question. Out of the 613, if I ignore one, how will that affect the others? Often, such as last week, Jesus does not answer the question directly. Jesus is very clever; he usually turns the question back on the chief priest and elders. He does this however, not just to trip them up but to answer the question in way that would lead those who are open to His grace closer to God; in other words, to lead them closer to Himself.

Today however, Jesus does answers the question directly: What is the greatest commandment? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Love God and love neighbor. We hear something we hear so often, and yet we find it so hard to do. Jesus says something so simple and we really want to love God and love our neighbor, but we really struggle; especially we want to love our family fully, yet it seems the more we try the more we fail. We have to ask ourselves why we fail; why can we love the way we ought or the way we want?

I think we often can accuse ourselves of a lack of effort as the reason for your failure to love:

-we have not loved God with all our mind- we have failed to diligently study our faith by reading the Scriptures or the Catechism or other resources for our faith.

-We have failed to love God with our whole heart: we have not put enough effort in our prayer live. We have failed in prayer by failing to make it a priority in our lives; perhaps this is because of our busy schedules or the children or we become so distracted in our prayers that it seems futile or we just don’t “feel” like it.

-We have failed to love God with all our strength because we have put our own will before His. We have put our comfort before really doing what God wants us to do.

I would like to suggest perhaps something you might not think. Perhaps we have failed to love God because we have not placed first things first. If Jesus says we have to love God, what does Scripture say about loving God? “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” Our love of God is to actually first to receive His love and mercy. This is what Jesus is trying to do with his hearers today…He is trying to lead them to Himself, to recognize in faith His divinity so that they can adore Him and open themselves to His Divine Love and Mercy.

The fact that we fail to love Him and fail to love our neighbors is because we are not full of His love, but full of our own self-love. The more we open ourselves to the love of God the more his love overcomes our selfish love, purifies us for love, and strengthens us to, for love. We just cannot love our neighbor, especially our family members, unless we first open ourselves to God’s love and mercy in our own lives. But we can love God and Neighbor, if we allow God to love us first. We do this most fully by our adoration of God.

The first Commandment is really first and foremost a commandment to adore God. Adoration places us as humble creature before God recognizing our complete and absolute dependency on God our Loving Creator. Adoration places us in contact with this Creator God who is Love Itself. We adore God not for God’s sake, but for our own. Adoration opens us to God’s love in our lives and in our families.

Our adoration of God can occur any time, but primarily it must occur before God incarnate truly present in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the God who is Love become Man before us in order that we can be in the presence of He who is Love. Jesus, as I said wants to lead us to Himself. In His True Presence we can experience Love of God is way like no other, we can receive His mercy in order open ourselves up more fully to His love. And by opening ourselves to His love we can offer ourselves to Him in order to become one with Him. This oneness can then occur sacramentally as we literally receive our Love in Holy Communion.

Adoration of God in the Holy Eucharist is not always easy especially for us moderns who have to be “doing” something. And so, just being present before the Holy Eucharist in silent adoration can seem like we are wasting our time. However nothing can be further from the case, time spend before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament can be the most active time we can spend on this earth…Heart speaking to Heart, Love making us one with Himself, us allowing Him do to so, so that we can love Him and love our neighbor, our friends, parishioners and family members as we ought as we desire; even more so we can love them for Jesus, with Jesus’ love.

Let us ask make a new priority in our prayer-Jesus today, just like in our Gospel wants to lead us who are open, more and more to His divinity by leading us more and more to His Humanity in the Holy Eucharist. Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother may we be given the grace to be open to God’s love in our lives, especially during our adoration the God-Man Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. May the Adoration of Jesus truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar be the priority of our lives and the lives of our families, including our parish family as well. Amen.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This week in place of my regular homily I am reading the following statement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities United States Conference of Catholic Bishops September 26, 2011
This October the Catholic Church throughout the United States will observe Respect Life Month, an annual tradition now in its fortieth year.

Beginning on October 2, 2011—Respect Life Sunday—Catholics across the nation will join together to witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.

In countless liturgies and events we will give thanks to God for the gift of human life, and pray for his guidance and blessings on our efforts to defend the most vulnerable members of the human family.

We will voice our opposition to the injustice and cruelty of abortion on behalf of those victims whose voices have been silenced. At the same time, we will remind the living victims of abortion—the mothers and fathers who grieve the loss of an irreplaceable child—that God’s mercy is greater than any human sin, and that healing and peace can be theirs through the sacrament of reconciliation and the Church’s Project Rachel Ministry.

The theme chosen for this year’s Respect Life Program is I came so that all might have life and have it to the full. In this brief explanation of his mission (cf. John 10:10), Jesus refers both to our hope of eternal life, to be restored through his death and resurrection, and to our life in this world.

By following Jesus’ new Commandment of unselfish love, our lives can be richly fulfilling, and marked by joy and peace. In contrast, treating others as either means or obstacles to one’s self- serving goals, while never learning to love generously, is an impoverished way to live.

Viewing life as a “zero sum” game, in which advancing one’s interests requires putting aside the needs of others, can lead to callous unconcern for anyone who is especially weak, defenseless, and in need of our help. The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a “burden” on our medical system, the allegedly “excess” embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live—each today is at risk of being dismissed as a “life unworthy of life.”

Jesus’ promise of “life to the full” is especially poignant today, when our culture and sometimes our government promote values inimical to the happiness and true good of individuals and society. We face increasing attempts to expunge God and religious discourse from public life. This promotes the dangerous proposition that human beings enjoy no special status by virtue of their God-given humanity. Some now even seek to eliminate religiously motivated people and organizations from public programs, by forcing them to violate their moral and religious convictions or stop serving the needy.

The same forces, aided by advertising and entertainment media, promote a selfish and demeaning view of human sexuality, by extolling the alleged good of sexual activity without love or commitment. This view of sex as “free” of commitment or consequences has no place for openness to new life. Hence contraceptives are promoted even to young teens as though they were essential to women’s well-being, and abortion defended as the “necessary” back-up plan when contraceptives fail. And fail they do. Studies report that most women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Again and again, studies show that increasing access to contraception fails to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

Both these trends—a distorted view of sexuality and a disdain for the role of religion—are exhibited by the Department of Health and Human Services’ recent decision on the “preventive services” to be mandated in virtually all private health plans under the new health care law. The Department ruled that such mandated services will include surgical sterilization and all FDA- approved contraceptive drugs and devices—including the abortifacient drug “Ella,” a close analogue to the abortion pill RU-486.

The decision is wrong on many levels. Preventive services are aimed at preventing diseases (e.g., by vaccinations) or detecting them early to aid prompt treatment (e.g., screening for diabetes or cancer). But pregnancy is not a disease. It is the normal, healthy state by which each of us came into the world. Far from preventing disease, contraceptives can have serious health consequences of their own, for example, increasing the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as AIDS, increasing the risk of breast cancer from excess estrogen, and of blood clots that can lead to stroke from synthetic progestin. Mandating such coverage shows neither respect for women’s health or freedom, nor respect for the consciences of those who do not want to take part in such problematic initiatives.

The “religious employer” exemption offered by the Department is so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. Catholic institutions providing health care and other services to the needy could be forced to fire their non-Catholic employees and cease serving the poor and vulnerable of other faiths—or stop providing health coverage at all. It has been said that Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.

All these misguided efforts to foster false values among our youth, to silence the voice of moral truth in the public domain, and to deprive believers of their constitutionally-protected right to live according to their religious convictions, must be resisted by education, public advocacy, and above all by prayer.

The founders of our nation understood that religion and morality are essential to the survival of a freedom-loving society. John Adams expressed this conviction, stating: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

Catholics must not shrink from the obligation to assert the values and principles we hold essential to the common good, beginning with the right to life of every human being and the right of every woman and man to express and live by his or her religious beliefs and well-formed conscience.

As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us last year in one of his Ad Limina addresses to visiting bishops, “a society can be built only by tirelessly respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person.” That common nature transcends all accidental differences of age, race, strength, or conditions of dependency, preparing us to be one human family under God.

During this Respect Life Month, as we celebrate God’s great gift of life, let us pray and reflect on how each of us might renew our commitment and witness to “respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person,” thereby shoring up the foundations of a society sorely in need of this guidance.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

God's ways are not our ways!

Matthew 20, 1-16 Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Sept. 18th, 2011

Today in our first reading God, through the prophet Isaiah, invites us sinners to gaze at the sky and see how far it is above the earth. In our day, we would probable say it this way, “look up and see how infinite far are the reaches of the universe, how vast it’s space.” Isaiah here is pointing out the reality that even vaster than the reaches of the universe, God’s ways are above our ways. So much so is this true, that we are unable to grasp the infinite ways of God who continually invites us and all sinners, no matter how big, to receive His forgiveness and His unearned, infinite, merciful love. Today’s psalm goes on to tells us that God is near to all who call upon Him.

In light of last week’s Gospel in which God our Lord commands us to forgive “always,” even those who most terribly trespass against us-sin against us, we can easily agree with Isaiah. This past Sunday, I heard a newscaster interviewing a priest about 9-11. He began by reading last Sunday’s Gospel’s on forgiveness and then asking the priest, “does this mean I have to forgiven even the men who killed all those innocent people when they flew those planes into the World Trade Center?” The answer is of course, “Yes! Even them.” So far are God’s ways above ours.

This past week as well we celebrated the feast of the “Exultation of the Holy Cross.” This feast points out to us that God’s ways are definitely not ours. We have a God who became man in order to die to forgive the worst sins, to save the most harden and evil sinner. Although the most innocent of all men, He allowed himself to suffer the most horrible torture and death by these same sinners, crying out to the Father, “forgive them for they know not what they do!” Here, Jesus, was not just speaking of those who tortured and killed him, but of all sinners throughout the ages, including you and me, whom he would die for in order to offer the possibility of salvation, of eternal life.

I think this is the way to understand the parable in this week’s Gospel, which is by the way, I think, one of the hardest parables to accept. This parable seems to goes against our sense of justice, our sense of fairness! But when you look at it in terms of salvation it makes perfect sense. The “day” that the parable speaks about is really the day of a lifetime. Origen, one of the Father’s of the Church, said, “For the whole of this present life may be called one day, long to us, short compared to the existence of God.” To us life seems so long, but it is really just a “day” in the eyes of the Lord.

Our Lord desires that all men be saved, and so his patience is directed toward salvation. As long as one lives, God offers His Divine Mercy and love to the soul; and so even though the soul comes to Christ late in life, God will still draw near and take the soul to Himself. Every soul is precious in the eyes of the Lord.

With all that being said, this parable is also a warning for those of us in the Church already. Jesus is saying to us, “You have received the great privileged of having come into the Church already. In later days others will come in, but you must not claim a special honor and a special place because you came before them. Again, all men, no matter when they come, are equally precious to God.” Here Jesus is warning those who think that because they have been members of the Church for a long time, the Church practically belongs to them and they can dictate its policy. All the members of the Church are then supposed to bow down to what they want or think, to their own personal likes or dislikes… This points out another deeper warning.
While we have to be in the vineyard, that is, in the Church in order to be with Jesus, we also have to toil in the vineyard, producing the fruit of leading souls to God. We can’t be idle within the vineyard. Here’s what Pope Benedict said about this parable:

It is clear that that denarius {used in this parable} represents eternal life, a gift that God reserves for everyone. Indeed, precisely those who are considered "last," if they will accept it, become "first," while the "first" can run the risk of becoming "last." The first message of this parable is in the fact itself that the owner does not tolerate, so to speak, unemployment: He wants everyone to work in his vineyard. And in reality, being called itself is already the first recompense: Being able to work in the Lord's vineyard, putting yourself at his service, cooperating in his project, constitutes in itself an inestimable reward, which repays all toil.

The Holy Father goes on to say:

But this is understood only by those who love the Lord and his Kingdom. Those who, instead, work solely for the pay will never recognize the value of this priceless treasure (Pope Benedict’s Angelus Message September 21, 2008).

To work for “pay” only, that is what we are going to get out of it, leads to seeing God’s great generosity of bringing souls into the vineyard and giving them the same pay and friendship with Him only as unjust or unfair. If we are practicing stewardship, that is, giving of ourselves, our time, talent and treasure for the Kingdom of God and its work of saving souls, far from being jealous of new comers we will welcome them as members of the family, members whom we ourselves have worked hard to bring in, in order to join in the labor for other souls. It goes without saying then how much faithful stewardship has to do with the very essence of what it means to be Christ’s “faithful stewards.” Not to practice stewardship will ultimately lead us to becoming last in the Kingdom, not matter when we came in, and we will lose our eternal reward.

This advent the New Missal to be used in the English Speaking world will be implemented. One of the Changes will be with the words of consecration said over the wine in order to change it into the precious Body and Blood of Jesus. Now the priest says, “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the New and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins will be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.” The new translation will be, “This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for the many. Do this in memory of me.” Beside the obvious change from cup to chalice…(one drink many things from a cup…coffee, tea, etc, but the precious Blood of Jesus Christ is drunk from a chalice) besides this obvious change there is another…the change from saying, “shed for you and for all” to “shed for you and for the many.” (in the Latin it has always been for the many or “multis” in the original Latin).

This change in the English translation more fully brings out the fact, that while Christ died for all, not all will accept his gratuitous infinite gift of salvation, only the “many” will….the others will remain idle either within the vineyard or with out. In the end justice will be fully served and we will receive our recompense for what we have done or fail to do. Only those who come into the Kingdom and work and sacrifice themselves in the vineyard for love of God and for love and for the salvation of souls out of love for Him will share in the fruit of the final harvest. And that fruit is eternal life, unbelievable happiness immersed in the eternal Family of God, in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all the angels and saints.

The Virgin Mary is the perfect vine in the Lord's vineyard. From her there grew the blessed fruit of divine love: Jesus, Our Savior. May she help us to respond always and with joy to the Lord's call, and to find our happiness in the possibility of toiling for the Kingdom of Heaven. (The end of Pope Benedict’s Angelus Message September 21, 2008"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

To forgive is divine.

Matthew 18, 21-35. Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary time. Sept 11, 2011

The Book of Sirach, from which our first reading was taken, must have been one of Jesus’ favorite books of Scripture because He often talked about the moral teachings that are included in it. The Book of Sirach was, in fact, written about 200 years before Jesus was born; and ever since that time it has frequently been used for moral teaching and for its insights into human nature, or I should say fallen human nature.

In today’s reading we hear the author of the book, a man named, Jesus Ben Sirach, writing, "Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail." Sirach, then goes on to argue that one who has been faulted must forgive if he is to really keep the commandments; especially the highest of all Commandments-to Love God above all and then to love your neighbor for love of God.

In our gospel, Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive the sins committed against him. Peter asks, "As many as seven times?" I don’t know about you but (in our society) seven times seems kind of high; we have a very vengeful society-just look at our movies. As the bad guy is getting his, by the good guy who is dealing out vengeance more than justice, how many of us haven’t egged the “good guy” on, and in our minds hoped that vengeance would be served? In our hearts we may have even cried out, “kill the creep.”

But, what does Jesus tell Peter? (Pause) We must forgive seventy-seven times, which literally means we must never stop forgiving—or as it means in the original Hebrew, we must forgive always. It seems to me that if we take what Jesus tells us seriously, we truly must have a change of heart. To forgive as Jesus instructs us, commands us, we must we truly become serious followers of Christ, and as St. Paul tells us, "live no longer for ourselves but for Christ." We must become so imbued, so filled with the Holy Spirit that forgiveness becomes part of our nature, part of who we are.

All of us have been sinned against, trespassed against. To live in the real world is to be abused or to be betrayed, to not be respected or to not be listened to, to be cheated and lied to, to be pushed around, to be used and to be insulted, sadly, even by those in our families or in our parish family; us priests or not exempted.

But what do we do with the pain of abuse that is thrown at us? Do we hold the pain in our hearts and, as Sirach says, "hug wrath and anger tight?" Are we resentful to those who have hurt us? In our spare time do we think of ways to get back at those who have hurt us…vengeance? Do we close our hearts to them and act as if they don’t exist? Do we wait for them to come crawling back to us, groveling back to us? Or, do we have some other way to justify our un-forgiveness, and so avoid forgiveness, hang on to the resentment and "hold tight to our wrath and anger?" (Pause) Or, instead do we follow Jesus’ commandment to not hate our neighbor and instead act as Jesus does; forgiving even when the person who is to be forgiven does not, by any worldly standard (or our own standard), either deserve or maybe even care to be forgiven?

Because forgiveness is a divine attribute, it is not an overstatement to say, “that to forgive someone who has really hurt us is divine”- to forgive is divine. In order to forgive as Christ asks us, to forgive as Christ forgives, we need the help and grace of God. How incredibly much God as forgiven each one of us (no exceptions). In light of this truth, St Jose Maria Escriva, said, “Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you.”

When we realize how incredibly much God has forgiven each one of us our trespasses, how can we but not forgive those who have trespassed against us. I remember someone confessing to me that they had committed a sin equal to murder; and then later on saying that they could not forgive one of their loved ones who had wrong them. The forgiveness of our brother becomes easier to the extant that we realize how grievous our own personal sins really are, how much they offend God and hurt our neighbor and ourselves. We need to realize how much an act of Mercy it is for God to forgive our own sins, for the one who has been forgiven much, and realizes how much they have forgiven, loves much, and so is also very forgiving to others.

One of the things that becomes apparent when looking at cases in both the medical field and psychological field is that the root cause of many illnesses could be directly attributed to a lack of forgiveness. A common example is a daughter or a son who refused to forgive the failings of a mother or a father and who for decades held on to their resentment or hatred for their parent. Holding on to anger, often unconsciously manifests itself in depression, anxiety disorder or even some physical illness. The same can be said of refusing to forgive ones brother, sister or spouse, or dare I say even one’s priest, for some real or imagined slight. (I say imagined slight, because if we have not dealt with the sin in our lives, we can project that sin onto others around us, seeing in them the sin that is in our own heart even though they may not be guilty of it all.) Both anger and un-forgiveness is like a cancer that eats away the soul and destroys its peace. This spiritual cancer can even manifest itself in physical cancer.

To forgive is to live in freedom as children made in the image and likeness of God. Forgiveness is freeing both to the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. I want to insert true story here about a Nazi Commander. He shot and killed the entire family of a woman in front of her husband; he killed her mother, father, sisters and brothers. Her husband never told her who it was who killed them. One day the Nazi commander came into the store that this lady and her husband owned. Her husband was working at the counter and of course notice the commander right away. The man began to tell this Nazi about the forgiveness and mercy of God. The commander mocked him: “You Christians and your mercy and forgiveness, what is mercy and forgiveness?” The husband said, “I will show you.” He called his wife down from the upstairs and said to her; “Honey this is the man that killed your entire family.” She immediately walked up to the commander and gave him a hug and said in his ear. “I FORGIVE YOU!” The commander immediately fell to his knees sobbing and converted right there on the spot. And so, we see that forgiveness not only leads us closer in our relationship with God, but with one another. And remarkably, our forgiveness of the other has the power to move them closer to God and to us as well. Forgiveness has the power to save.

But how can we forgive a grievous sin against us? First, as I said before, to forgive, especially very hurtful offenses, takes the grace and help of God. If you need to forgive someone, realizing that it is to your advantage to do so, beg Christ to give you the gift of forgiveness. And, then, keep begging until he gives you the grace to be able to do so from the heart.

Second, to forgive does not mean that we forget about what was done to us, or try and somehow say it was okay or was nothing. If the act against us was wrong, it was wrong—Call a spade a spade. “What you did was wrong, and you deserve to be punished, but I forgive you any way.”

Third, we need to remember that we don’t need to “feel like it” in order to forgive. To forgive is an act of our will. In order to be able to forgive does not mean the feelings of un-forgiveness, anger or even hatred need to disappear first. To forgive is not a feeling; it is, like love, a choice. We can, with God’s grace, rise above our feelings of un-forgiveness, vengeance and anger. I choose to forgive this person, because Christ commands me to, because Christ has forgiven me for even greater offenses. And so I chose to love this person because Christ has loved me, died for me and He loves this person as well and died for them also.

Today when we receive Christ in Holy Communion, let us all think of someone who has hurt us and for whom we may hold resentment or anger. Ask Christ, who becomes one with you during Holy Communion, to give you the grace to truly to forgive them, to let the anger and hatred go. And by the way, if you refuse to forgive someone, please don’t receive our Lord in Holy Communion; it will do you more harm than good. Let us pray: Jesus you have told us, ‘if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’ Jesus, in light of all that you have forgiven me, in light of your love for me, I choose to forgive, please help me to forgive completely from my heart. Our Lady of Divine Mercy pray for us.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We are our brother's keeper!!!

Today’s scripture readings have an underlying message that we may at first miss. The message is this, “we really are our brother’s keeper”. Cain’s infamous answer to our Lord’s question in the Book of Genesis comes to mind here, “Cain where is your brother?” And Cain’s reply, “Am I, my brother’s keeper?” Remember, Cain had killed his brother, Abel, out of jealously. Let’s use this story to look at our commitment to one another more closely.

Abel, for his part, had worshiped the Lord with full, active, and conscious participation, that is with full heart, mind, soul and strength. Abel’s offering of his earthly treasure really reflected the reality of his inner offering. In other words, Abel really offered himself, humbly and completely, to the Lord in loving thanksgiving for all that the Lord had given to him (which was everything). And the Lord for His part accepted Abel’s true act of worship and love, done for love of God and by the way love of neighbor.

Cain, on the other hand, merely fulfilled the prescription of the Law, but his heart and mind was not in it. He merely showed up for Sunday Mass, if you will, in order to fulfill an external observation of the law but he did not offer himself in love to his Creator who loved him so much.

As a result, Cain’s offering was rejected because it wasn’t done in love; that is, it didn’t reflect the offering of himself—love always gives the gift of self to the one loved. And so, Cain refused to truly love God and worship God fully, and as result he refused to truly love his neighbor, which in this case was his brother, Abel.

Cain’s refusal to love God with his whole heart, soul and mind actually led to him to despise his brother Abel, who did, so much so that Cain killed Abel. This story shows us the connection between the love and proper worship of God and love of neighbor, especially love of neighbor within our Christian Community. We are to worship God not only as individuals but also together as community. Our act of adoration with Jesus while being our most intimate and personal act is at the same time also our most communal act. It is the most important act we do as a community together because we worship our God as a community. In fact, our individual worship is bound to the act of worship of our entire community.

We must love God above all and then we must love our brother and sister and care for them, to love them more than self in order to show our love for God; this is the perfection of love. If we do not care for our brother as our other self, then we, in a sense, perpetuate the rotten fruit of Cain’s selfishness and murdering act of his brother. And so, are we our brother’s keeper? Our Blessed Lord’s answer to Cain and to us today is a definitive and thunderous YES!

Our Lord in our readings points out our binding personal responsibility to our brothers and sisters, if we are to love Him and worship Him fully and properly. We are bound to one another by Charity, St. Paul reminded the early Roman Church in today’s second reading. This clearly means that we do have a responsibility toward the Christian community and to those individuals who make it up. This is an aspect of our faith that many Christians today, I think, don’t realize. It can never be just about “me and Jesus.” We live our faithfulness and our relationship to Jesus within a community, again I like family better; we live our relationship with Jesus within a family of believers or we don’t live it at all.

No one of us can say I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love outside a family of faith. Just as a child without a family to raise him never reaches maturity and in fact, becomes developmentally and mentally stunted, so too the believer who tries to believe without the family of faith becomes spiritually disabled, never able to reach that maturity that is God’s call for each individual in Christ Jesus. This all brings up something that I have spoken about many times. That is our need and our great responsibility to the parish family as our family of faith.

It is not true Christian living when we do not make our relationship with our parish family and integral part of our relationship with Christ. In fact, we cannot have a true authentic relationship with Christ without an active, actual and full participation in the entire life of the parish family. Not to do so would be spiritually immaturity; it would render our soul incapable of ever coming to the mature love God calls us to. Just as we receive love and learn to love in our individual families so to, and in an even more deeper way, we receive love and learn to love in our parish family; you just can’t have one without the other if you are to love as God commands, that is as He has loved us with His own love alive with in our hearts, minds and souls.

As a parish family we are indeed one another’s keepers; we have a grave responsibility to one another; a responsibility of perfect love and charity. Our eternal salvation, and I am not exaggeration here one bit, our eternal salvation depends, absolutely on whether or not we are faithful to this responsibility. The parish is more than just the place where one shows up to grab the morsel and then runs; in fact, the first person to do that was named Judas. This is not being bound together in love, in Charity.

Our parish is the family in which we have a responsibility to actively partake in the life of this family by our presence, our commitment, and by our fidelity and faithfulness to the parish and to its individuals. Love begins in the family, and is perfected in the “Family of families,” the parish family. Our individual lives and our individual family lives should then revolve around the parish family’s life, not the other way around, for it is from her that we receive the graces we need to become holy and thus to live lives of authentic Christian witness to others in order to live and help others live in the freedom and joy of children of God. We cannot make it without the parish family; we need it and we need one another in order to be happy in this life and in the life to come.

All of this teaches us that the Parish family life can never be placed on the periphery of our own lives; that is, off to the side. And so, it is a sign of Christian immaturity, an immaturity of love, when members of a parish family do not get to know one another; yes, first by worshiping God with one another every Sunday at Holy Mass, but also by getting to know one other while partaking in parish events and activities.

It’s a sign of Christian immaturity when we don’t correct one another in love, support one another, help one another and yes, forgive one another.

It’s a sign of Christian immaturity when we don’t pray for one another, fast for one another and even offer our sufferings and our whole selves for one another.

And it is a sign of Christian and spiritual immaturity, an immortality of love, when members of the parish family do not support one another by sharing generously and sacrificially their time, talent and treasure to the parish family. It is not at all authentic faith and witness when we fail in stewardship; our very relationship with Jesus depends on our faithful stewardship. Sadly, there are many members of the family that don’t give a dime to the support of the family and don’t share their time and talent in any way. This is not being our brother and sister keeper.

And I have to add this; it is a sign of Christian immaturity when there is not fidelity to the parish family, when one runs off somewhere else because it is too difficult here or because they like an easier message somewhere else or because they don’t like someone here or because they don’t get their own way. Again we need each other’s full presence here, as we adore God together, helping one another to offer ourselves lovingly to the Lord.

Let us then be bound together by love, by charity; let us truly be one another’s keeper, concerned for one another’s well being, especially for one another’s spiritual well being and eternal salvation. Often I think about how difficult it is to have lost for a lifetime, someone I loved. But then I think how much more difficult, and unbelievable difficult to know what it is to lose a soul for all of eternity. And so I pray, as should you, that your or I never be a cause, in word or in deed of any soul turning away from God or not drawing near to God. And even more so, I pray that your and I would be able to lay down my life for the sake of my brothers and sisters, that is for you my dear parish family and all those souls who are depending on us for their eternal salvation.

We truly are responsible for the salvation of one another’s soul; we are our brother’s keeper; this cannot be a responsibility we take lightly. Our parish family must truly be a Family of families helping one another get to heaven and depending on one another to get to heaven!

At this holy Mass let us pray for the grace to love one another as God loved us by loving and adoring Him, offering ourselves totally as a sacrifice of love to our Father in union with Jesus’ sacrifice on this altar by the power of the Holy Spirit for the love of God and for the love and salvation of our brother and sister’s in our parish family, the family of St. Patrick’s…a family of love. Our Lady, Mother of our Parish family, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oh Lord You duped me, and I allowed myself to be duped!

Everyone who has truly tried to authentically live the Catholic faith has experience to some degree what Jeremiah did in today’s first reading. For proclaiming, authentically, God’s Word, Jeremiah experienced mockery, derision, ridicule and criticism. And he did so from the majority of those around him, especially (and this is important to note) from those within the household of God. Yet prophecy he must! To Jeremiah, God’s name, God’s truth and Will, was like a fire raging within his heart and mind; overcome with charitable zeal, that is love for God and love for neighbor, he simply had to speak out, no matter what.

To be a Christian is to be Jeremiah like; we are all by our baptism, called to be prophets. By prophet, I don’t mean we are called to see or foretell the future, but we are called, by our witness to show others the way to the good, the beautiful and the true. Which really means we are called to show others the face of Christ, Who is Goodness, Beauty and Truth itself. To do this we are to lead them to Christ’s Church, which alone proclaims and shows forth Christ fully and authentically.

Because of our baptism, St. Paul in today’s second reading, reminds us that we are all members of the royal priesthood of Christ; so we too must, like Christ, be willing, no matter the cost, to offer ourselves as living victims of sacrifice to our God. Not that we are to destroy ourselves or be destroyed, but that we are to forsake our selfish will for the Holy Will of God and for His Glory. Our of love, we are to give our life for God’s truth, (both by proclaiming it to the death if necessary, but also by dying to self and sin, in order to live the truth fully for all to see). Jesus in today’s Gospel, with the authority of God Himself, puts it plainly:

“If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps. Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Christ here shows us the only way to authentic happiness and freedom in this world, even though the world will never accept it; and that way is to accept the sweet yoke of Christ, which is His Truth, His Way and His Life all of which comes to us through His Church, through her Sacraments and through her teachings, which are not just to be believed but are to be experienced and lived in love.

And so, a true commitment to Christ—living one’s faith in the midst of a misunderstanding even mocking world—is our calling and really is our privilege. There is no higher calling than to be asked to walk in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we place our faith, hope and love, living within our own lives His life of self-oblation to the Will of the Father; setting aside our will for the Holy Will of the Father, for His glory and for the salvation of souls. Far from being a negative, this is the royal way of the cross, the narrow way that leads to authentic happiness, authentic freedom and the fullness of life--life in abundance. When we give our lives totally to God, far from losing our life we save it.

Yesterday we celebrated the feast day of St. Augustine, a man who before his conversion had fallen into great error and so into great sin, living a life far away from Christ and His truth and so His Church. Commentators have said that one of the principal errors that caused Augustine to go astray was the mistaken notion that a person can somehow follow Christ without faithfully following the Catholic Church. Augustine fell into the same error that many in our day have fallen into, thinking that they needed to leave the Catholic Church in order to find or adhere more fully to Christ.

After years of seeking the truth in all the wrong places, and so looking for love in all the wrong places, Augustine, through the grace that his mother constantly implored for him, became convinced that only in the Catholic Church was he to find truth and peace for His soul. He concluded that for faith to be sure, the divine authority of Christ found in Sacred Scripture and guaranteed by the Church was required. The Church and Jesus were one. To find fully the true Jesus and not one of our or some else’s own making, and to become one with Him, we must be one with the true Church.

True commitment to Christ means then, for us, commitment to His Church, founded, as we heard last week, on Peter the Rock and on the rest of the Apostles and their successors the bishops who are in union with the Holy Father. This Catholic Church is our Savior’s principal and universal sacrament in the world. It is here, and only here, that the fullness of truth and grace are found. It is here, and only here, that we, through the Sacraments, meet, hear, embrace, and are embraced by the living Jesus Christ in the fullness of His humanity and in the fullness of His divinity.

In the ancient Nicene Creed from the 3rd century, which we profess every Sunday, we describe and profess our Church as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.”

One, because she is the one and only Church founded personally by Jesus Himself; a living community, better yet, a living family, with one head, one shepherd appointed by Christ, the Bishop of Rome, who not only succeeds Peter but is the Sweet Vicar of Christ on earth;

Holy, not only because she is the perfect and spotless bride of Christ but because she and only she possesses the fount of all holiness--The Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist; Jesus’ real bodily Presence, as well as the other sacraments which spring forth from the Pierced Heart of the Eucharist…the Sacred Heart. In the Holy Eucharist we can go to Jesus just as did the Apostles and sit at His feet and adore Him; if we love Him we should want to be with Him in the Holy Eucharist when ever we can.

Catholic, because as we said a couple of weeks ago, she is the universal sacrament of salvation through which our Lord desires to save all men. And so, her mission is universal, she preaches the truth that all men need to attain salvation;

And she is Apostolic because it is the same community of the apostolic era; there is continuity between the early Church depicted in the Acts of the Apostles and our Church today. And so, the truths she teaches come to us from the twelve apostles themselves, through their successors, the Pope and the bishops in union with Him. And by the way where did the apostles get the truth? From the lips of Jesus Himself. And so ultimately, we believe the Church’s teaching because we believe Jesus, who is God among us, God who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Catholicism therefore is unique. There is ancient adage: “Love Christ, love the Church.” St. Cyprian wrote that, “One cannot have God for his father, if he does not have the Church for his mother.” St. Augustine argued that “to the extent that one loves the Church of Christ, one possesses the Holy Spirit.”

Too love Christ; listen to the Church. The Church speaks for Christ. Blessed John Paul II once said, “How could there be any authentic evangelizing, (that is leading souls to Christ and to His truth and so to salvation), if there were no ready and sincere reverence for the sacred magisterium, in clear awareness that by submitting to it the People of God are not accepting the word of man but the true word of God?”

To be a Catholic—to return to Jeremiah—to speak the truth, but especially to live the truth can be especially difficult today. Sometimes we feel like saying, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.” We can even say to ourselves, “I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more.” But then if we love Him, by loving His Church, if we turn to Him by converting more fully through our submission and obedience to His Church, accepting and living her teachings with the help of the grace of the Sacraments, then, then, we will say, “But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it, I must, must speak it and live it even if men in the world don’t want to hear it; because even if they don’t know it, they need it.”

Let us not be duped by men, even some priests, who tell us what we want to hear but not what we need to hear; let us instead turn to the voice of our Lord which becomes audible and infallible to us in the teachings of our Beautiful Catholic Faith; the faith of the apostles and the faith of all the saints. Let us want to be spend time with the One we love, Jesus truly present in His Church and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar which comes to us from His Church.

Let us pray; Jesus in our world today there are many false prophets who are proclaiming a message that sounds good to our ears but is detrimental and even deadly to our souls. Help us with your grace to hear your message, your truth, the fullness of which comes to us through the Catholic Church you founded. Help us to be open to the truth so that we may accept it with our intellect and embrace it with our wills, and so live according to the Will of the Father in order to inherit life and share that life with others. Jesus we want to be truly committed to you; only by our acceptance of your truth will we find a solution to problems of our present age; The answer does not lie in political and economic reform; for what does it profit us to gain the whole world and lose ourselves?” I know that to abandon the Church and her teachings is to abandon home, family and life, for it is really to abandon you. Help me to forsake all else in order to possess and be possessed by you and your love, that is all I need. Our Lady, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Truth and Mother of the Church, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen