Saturday, February 25, 2012

Let us this Lent turn ever more fully to the Blessed Mother for her motherly help and Protection before it is too late.

Mark: 1: 12-15 First Sunday of Lent February 26th, 2012

So Lent is upon us. The season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is here. Lent is a time in which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us to the desert, which is away from the distractions of the world, in order to hear the small still voice of the Lord. The desert is primarily interior, in the depths of our soul. Our Lenten prayer is meant to turn our minds and hearts to the Lord to better hear Him speaking in our life.

Lent is to be a season of intense conversion for each one of us. It is a time of turning away from sin, turning away from the lies of this world and a turning more fully to God and to His truth. Lent is a privilege time of listing to the voice of the Lord, the truth of His mouth, and then turning to Him with our whole heart by repenting and then with the help of his grace struggling to live the truth, that is living our lives more deeply in union with Him and His Holy Will.

The discipline of Lent and our struggle to carry it out, is meant to be an aid to help us convert more deeply in order to worship our Lord more sincerely and adore Him more perfectly so we can partake and experience more fully the Joy of Easter in a few months, and the eternal Easter to come, the joy which is our union with God.

But in this struggle we also discover that the devil will come, as he came to Christ, in order to temp us. What does he temp us with? He tempts us to take the easy way out; He tempts us to forgo the struggle to die to self in order to live for Christ alone. He tempts us with the world with its pleasures and its empty promises.

Just like he did to Christ, just like he did to the people in the time of Noah, the devil tempts us to look to the world alone such as in politics for solutions to our problems, he tempts us to turn to the world alone and the things of the world to fulfill the deepest longings our hearts. He tempts us to want only an earthly “messiah,” a king, a president, or some other world leader, one that promises to bring us peace and prosperity in this world and so give us paradise in this world.

Blinded by our earthly “savior” we then failed to turn to the only One that can save us, the one only true Messiah, the one only Savior of the world—Jesus Christ. By putting our hope in an earthly “messiah” we fail to turn to Jesus alone in order to receive his forgiveness of our sins and His Divine Mercy. And, it is the Divine Mercy of God that enables us, empowers us to imitate Jesus’ own perfect worship and adoration of the Father. And then without Divine Mercy we cannot live this adoration out by our obedience to God and His commandments in our daily life. And so without Divine Mercy we cannot love of God and love of neighbor for love of God.

Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for our salvation not so that we can live in an earthly “paradise” which is nothing but pipe dream anyway; He did so that we could live in a heavenly paradise; beginning on earth in the Kingdom of God, which subsists fully in the Catholic Church, and finally completely in the Kingdom of God in heaven. All “earthly messiahs” no matter how eloquently they talk, no matter how much they talk about freedom are in the end only interested in obtaining power in order to control those who they think are the dumb stupid masses, all of us. God on the contrary is interested in our true freedom, our freedom to be able to worship correctly and so become one with Him in Love.

In Lent, then we should examine our priorities- what do we value most? Is it our relationship with Jesus? Or do other “things” of the world get in the way or better yet distract us from the one thing that matters most, our faith in, trust for and love of Jesus Christ? Are we living according to Christ’s way or are we living according to our way and at the same time trying convincing ourselves that we are living Christ’s way? Are we trying, like many, to redefine religion, religious worship, belief and practice according to what we want, according to what is comfortable or meaningful to us?

In our first reading, we heard about the covenant God made with Noah after the flood. Noah and his family were the only ones to escape the great flood. Noah headed the warnings, because His heart was focus on the one thing that mattered—His relationship with God. Noah always kept his families attention firmly fixed to it’s primarily responsibility; that is, it’s prayer and worship of God and living according to His law of love. Noah turned to God in love and God repaid Noah’s trust by saving Noah and his family from the deluge. Because he was attuned to God and God’s way, Noah heard the voice of the Lord and so headed the “signs of the time.”

Noah and his family were righteous; they had converted themselves to God and His ways and so they able to heed the warnings God sent them and were saved. The others put it off, they were too preoccupied with the distractions of the world; they were blinded and so prevented from heeding the warnings and were drowned. They placed their trust in the world and the world overcame them.

The people of Noah’s day were not unlike the people of our day. We are told that they were, marrying, buying and building houses right up to the day of the flood, oblivious to the disaster that was about to befall them, so distracted they were, so blinded by the things and cares of this world.

In our very day, our Blessed Mother in many of her apparitions around the world has made the comparison between our age and the age before the flood. She has warned us that people today are living like folks did in the time of Noah, oblivious to the danger they have put themselves in; oblivious to the destruction that will befall on them. They have put the things of this world before God Himself; they have placed their trust, not in God, but in the leaders in the “messiahs” of this world to save them. Our heavenly Mother is reminding us that there is no salvation apart from God and His only Son Jesus Christ and the Church Jesus Founded.

How often man has placed his trust in other “messiahs” to save him: Nero, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler. There has been a claimant to the office of “messiah” in every age, the self proclaimed “savior” who will save us from economic woe and disaster. Who will be the next false “messiah” that men will turn to instead of Christ to “save” them. Is that “messiah” already here as some have even proclaimed? Is he already the leader of one of our earthly governments? .

The temptation is always the same; it’s a temptation to give into the pleasures of the world alone to satisfy, to feed the hunger of the human heart; it’s the temptation to conform one’s life to the ways of the world; it’s the temptation to place one’s faith in the power of this world to save us; it’s the temptation to turn to a “messiah” of this world to straighten things out and to save us instead of turning to Jesus as the only true “Messiah.” For there is no salvation in any other name; there is no peace in this world apart from Jesus; there is no true stability, economic or otherwise apart from God’s ways.

You’d think after two centuries of trying, us humans would have learned this lesson by now. But yet we continue to reject God and His ways and place our trust in human beings who we think can deliver us. Yes, we need politics and we need political leaders, but not political leaders who place themselves above God and God’s laws and Commandments, or political leaders who through smooth speech promise us a “paradise” on earth without suffering or self-sacrifice, without dying self in love, without reverence to God. Beware of the smooth tongue leader who promises to give things for free; there is nothing good in this world that doesn’t have to be worked for; better yet, sacrificed for.

On the contrary, the greatest leaders in this world have been those who fear the Lord and struggled to walk in His ways. And any attempt of trying to build a world of peace without God, a world of peace apart from God’s truth and way, and apart from His Cross, is to invite, unless we repent, a disaster upon us greater than the deluge itself.
This was by the way the very message and warning of the Blessed Mother in her appearance to a nun in a convent in Akita, Japan on October 13, 1973. She said ". . . if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never seen before; and it will happen if men do not repent.

The Blessed Mother then ask that the Rosary be prayed for the Pope, the bishops and the priests and said, "The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. She said, “The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars will be sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

Sister Agnes Sasagwa the visionary of Akita, explained what our Lady wanted from us: You must become repentant. Start praying to God with good pure hearts. Convert to God and turn your lives over to Him. It is important to become a Christian and to know the mercy of God. God wants us to amend our lives. The world is so corrupt and egocentric. God loves us so deeply he is trying to save us from the chastisements through Our Ladies messages. Only prayer will accomplish the road of spreading the message

The message of Akita Japan was declared reliable and worthy of belief by both the local bishop and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the then Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Divine Faith and now Pope Benedict the Sixteenth. The message is not one of despair but of Hope given to us from a loving Father who does not want our destruction that would be the result of our own doing. For our sake and the sake of future generations He will purify the world, its up to us whether it is by fire or by grace.

Another message of our times comes to us through a vision of St. John Bosco. He was a priest who gave his life to help underprivileged children. In the vision, John Bosco saw how we and our families can be spiritual safe. He saw a huge ship passing through incredible stormy seas…at the helm, steering this mighty ship was the Holy Father, the pope. The were other smaller row boats, around the ship being tossed about by the fierce waves, some where sinking, others had been broken into, all were in danger…

The Holy Father however, was steering the ship into the safe harbor that lie between two great columns rising out of the tempest seas and leading the Ship to safe port. On top of the larger column was the Holy Eucharist, and on the other was the Blessed Virgin Mary. The great ship was of course the true church which contained the fullest of the Truth because she was founded by the Truth Jesus Christ, who still was with Her in and through the Sacraments, especially the most Blessed of all Sacrament the Holy Eucharist which is His incarnate bodily present in the world.

IN the end, the Message is always the same. Not until us Catholic turn to the Holy Eucharist with greater faith, hope and love, and with holy fear adore Jesus truly present there begging for His mercy upon us and on the whole world, and begging Him for the grace of conversion for us and for the whole world, not until we do this with ever greater believe, trust, and love, will the current instability be over come and peace restore in our world.
Let us this Lent turn ever more fully to the Blessed Mother for her motherly help and Protection before it is too late. Let us read the signs of the times. Our Blessed Mother loves each one of us, and she will lead us to her Son Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. She will help us to adore the Godhead hidden there so that we will grow in a deeper intimacy and union of love with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and become instruments of our Lady, her remnant working with her for the Conversion and salvation of souls and ushering in the triumph of her Immaculate heart and the era of peace promised to us at Fatima.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Complacency and the struggle for Charity

Sunday, February 19th. Homily for the Extraordinary Form.

I think that one of the grave effects of concupiscence that you and I face is the tendency to take the great gifts that God has given us for granted. We can take for granted our health, those whom we love and who loved us. We can take our freedom for granted, especially our freedom to practice our faith; and in light of this, we can take for granted the great gift of the Holy Eucharist.

However, this tendency of ours of taken things for granted, again stemming from concupiscence, can actually become a way for us to become better, a way for us to grow in love or in the Charity St. Paul spoke about. This is why, I believe, God didn’t allow the grace of our baptism to take away concupiscence and its desire for sin. He wanted to allow us to have to struggle for that which is Good, True and Beautiful; and surely in the process, in light of our great weakness and blindness, come to realize more deeply our need for His help in that struggle.

Because everything that is good, true and beautiful is worth any amount of effort to posses and to be possessed by. The struggle can actually make us appreciated these things more; and I would even say the struggle makes our love for them grow. This is especially true for good, true and beautiful Love. To love is a struggle in and of itself. If it is to authentic love that is. It is a struggle to love others more than oneself. It is a struggle to Love God first and foremost above all else, and then to love your neighbor for love of God. And yes, it is a struggle sometime to love oneself; and even to accept the fact that God loves you. Yes love is difficult, extremely difficult, but it is worth the effort, worth the struggle.

There is that line from that Christian song which says, “They will know that we are Christians by our love…by our love.” Could you imagine if all Christians really lived that love, lived that love inspired by faith and hope. Could you imagine what would happen to our world? It would be literally transformed by love.

In fact, our world can be and will only be transformed when us Christians really start living with the love for which we have been called, by the love which has called us….the Love of God Himself. The world has to often been trying over the centuries to build the kingdom of man by politics alone without out reference to the Kingdom of God. It hasn’t worked, and it will never work. You’d think we humans would have figured this out by now.

History shows so clearly every time a country or a civilization advances to a certain level it collapses and falls into nothing; the primary reason always being a failure to follow or continue to follow the Creator’s laws and Commandments which are written on the human heart. This failure results in the breakdown of the moral fiber, the breakdown of the family structure; all leading to such things as infanticide; and finally, an invasion which begins from within before any invasion occurs from without.

When we look at our modern civilization, which was founded on Christianity and its tenants and truths, its way of living, we see sadly these very same things happening, the rampant spread of immorality, the families being torn apart, even the family being redefined; infanticide through artificial contraception and other abortifacients and of course abortion; and the invasion from within as we see atheistic Marxism taking over our country from within. I forget what leader in Russian said, “we will take over American eventually without firing a shot.”

All of this should not be the case, because us Christians have been given something that the others have not. WE have been given the great gift of the truth faith; the great gift of the True Church; the great gift of the priesthood which brings us the life giving, awesome, power of the Sacraments, which put us in touch, put us in the presence of Love Himself. We have been given the greatest gift, the greatest gift the world has ever seen, The Holy Eucharist who Is LOVE HIMSELF, better yet, He who is Charity…Deus Caritas est…God is Charity..The Eucharist is God…the Eucharist is Charity.

How complacent us modern Catholic Christians have become, so much we have taken for granted. And lets admit it, we all guilty in one way or another, to one degree or another. Yes, most Catholics don’t even attend Holy Mass; but for those of us who do we can sometimes fall into complaining about the most mundane things...”Mass is too long, the priest is not dynamic enough, He does this or that in Latin it should be in English; or He does that in English and it should be in Latin; the songs are too traditional, the songs are to liberal…yatta yatta yatta.

Last week a priest friend of mine was present at a talk given by Matthew Kelly. Kelly was speaking about those Catholics who say they don’t get anything out of Holy Mass.” What Matthew said in reply goes not only for those who say this, but it is good advice for all of us.

Matthew Kelley said the problem is not with the Holy Mass it is with us, with you and with Me…At every Mass God speaks to us, at every Holy Mass God wants to give us a personal message…Perhaps He wants to do this through the readings or the homily; maybe in one of the collects or one of the other prayers of the Mass; maybe through one of the songs. Matthew Kelley said that he takes a journal to Mass and listens for carefully and attentively for the Message that God wants to give Him. And then He jots this Message down that He gets at every Mass. Good Ideal. I know when I was on the other side of the pews, I began to realize the same thing. And many times God spoke to me during what I thought was a boring or poor homily, or he spoke to me through a monotone priest.

You know it’s been said, that one thing that will definitely snap Christians out of their complacency is a good old fashion persecution. Well, I guess we will see, because it persecution has come. Let us wake now from our slumber; let us repent from our sins, especially our sins of complacency and indifference; let us repent from our lack of effort and struggle; let us repent from our lack of love. It is time for us to put away childish things.

Let us beg God for His forgiveness and His Divine Mercy, let us beg Him for the help of His grace to be open to the grace that He offers us at this and every Holy Mass. God in fact doesn’t just want to fill us with His grace, He wants to fill us with His Love, known has Charity; He wants to transform us by it. God wants to transform us into His other selfs so that we can take this love known has Charity out into the world and transform it by our lives of holiness. And it needs to be transformed as never before…

We have the power to transform the world at our disposal, even at this late hour; it is the power of the Holy Mass, which is the power of Charity. Again the problem isn’t with the Holy Mass…Every single Holy Mass has the power to save the whole world; infinite Charity. The problem is with the faithful, beginning with you and me…for it is only by us Catholics that God’s love can be taken out into the world….If we have not charity we are as nothing…..

We are loved by a Great and awesome God who longs to forgive us and draw us to Himself. Let us open ourselves more and more to our this love by offering ourselves more fully to God at this Mass through the Blessed Virgin Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit. With Her help and intercession we can truly. “Go and live the Gospel with our lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The leprosy of Sin prevents from adoring God in Spirit and in Truth.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today we hear of the healing of the man with leprosy. Leprosy was one of the most disfiguring, disgusting and debilitating diseases in the history of the world. It literally involved a rotting away of the flesh and the extremities, all as the affected person watches in agony until eventually death comes. As bad as all of this was, there were however, even worse aspects of leprosy. Leprosy was not only a death sentence, but a prison sentence, in that it separated the one affected not only from the larger society but from his loved ones, from his friends and families as well. Imagine going through a debilitating and terminal disease…now image doing it alone.

Because of leprosy’s effect of separating its victims not only from a support system but from those he cared about the most-family, over the last few years this Gospel has been used to point out the marginalized and outcast of our society. Many priests, speaking from a social gospel aspect, pointed out that Jesus, like he did with this leper, always welcomed the outcast and dregs of society; and so in imitation of Jesus we should do so as well. There is of course nothing wrong with this understanding; it’s a message of tolerance; the Catholic Church in fact came up with the idea of tolerance; it’s expressed in the following way, “Hate the sin, love the sinner, but love him by calling him to repentance.

Unfortunately, many of those who call for tolerance have redefine tolerance; they have redefined it to mean tolerance of sin. In other words, we are just supposed to by tolerant to those who say, that we must not only put up with their sinful lifestyle and look the other way, but that we must accept it and even endorse it. And if we refuse, then we will become the outcast of society, the criminals of society. (This by the way is one of the dangers of socialism as we discussed last week; begin by kicking God out of society, you can then redefine what is good and evil, what is virtue and what is vice. Ultimately, is all about the power of the few over the many, all disguised under “care for the poor”).

God never tolerates sin and we can never tolerate sin either. Sin is evil; it is devastating to the happiness of man. In fact, leprosy, that horribly disfiguring and separating disease, has been used by the fathers of the Church to symbolize the devastating effects of sin. Sin does to the soul, what leprosy does to the body. Venial sin begins to damage the soul, making it stink in a spiritual sense; and if it isn’t checked, sin can lead to the even death of the soul, through serious sin or mortal sin. Serious sin,--mortal sin, kills the soul.

Sin kills the soul because it separates the soul from God and from His Church which is the Sacrament of salvation. How does Sin do this, How does it separated us from God and His Church? Many would answer this question by saying that when we sin, we break the law of God and so he punishes us. But this answer really isn’t satisfactory. Sin separates us from God and His Church by actually making the soul incapable of worshiping God properly; and so, incapable of receiving fully not only God’s grace, but God himself. Sin is so against God’s nature that nothing unclean can enter into union with Him; God is charity and sin is the very opposite of charity. Perhaps to better understand this, we need again to look at our comparison of leprosy to sin.

Leprosy in the time of Jesus frightened people, just as terrible and contagious diseases frighten us today. But even more than this, and this is the worst aspect of leprosy, leprosy rendered somebody unclean, that is ritually unclean. What does ritually unclean mean? It means they were prevented from engaging in the act of worship in the temple. It’s not coincidental by the way, that the person who examined the person for leprosy to determined if they were unclean was a priest. Why the priest? Well he was the one who was given the charge to monitor the worship of the people to make sure their worship corresponded to the dictates of God. In other words, the priest had to make sure that the people were worshiping God the way God by His very nature has to be worship. God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. And so, it was the priest, according to the law given by God in the book of Leviticus, who was to determine who could and couldn’t participate in temple worship.

And so, I hope you see the connection. Sin, like leprosy in the Old Testament times and the time of Jesus not only separate its victim from the community and his family, it separated him from the family of God and from that families’ worship in the temple of the true and living God. Remember, Jesus came to find those who would worship God in spirit and in truth. The point is, is that we are saved by correct worship and adoration of God. It’s not that God needs our worship, but it we who need to worship Him..Worship is our going to Him who first came to us, to love Him who first loved us. But we must worship according to God’s notion, carrying out the first commandment which is ultimately a commandment to adore. Sin prevents us from proper worship of God. Sin either keeps us from worshiping God altogether, or even if we come into the Church if we do so with un-repented sin on our soul we cannot possibly enter into the type of worship that God by His very nature demands. In the end, we end up worshiping according to our own whims.

One of the primary reasons why Jesus came to earth was to gather the children of Israel, who had been scattered by sin, by disobedience, in other words, who had been scattered through their failure to adore God. Jesus came to teach the people not only how to adore God, but to purify them of their sinfulness so they would be able to do so properly. Jesus came to heal Israel, not only of their sin but of their improper and disordered worship. Yes some failed to worship altogether, but many more made their worship of God more about themselves--they worshiped God according to their own dictates, their own rules, their own liturgy--the result was more sin and the eventual division and disintegration of the family and society.

This correction of the worship of Israel is shown in Jesus cleansing the temple, in order to make it again properly the place to worship God. This cleansing of the temple also symbolizes that Jesus desired as well to cleanse the temples of men’s heart in order that through their proper worship of God they would become a living dwelling place of God, one not made by human hands.

The leper today is all of those who have wondered away from right worship of God, those who are no longer willing or able to worship of God. Hundreds of thousands, million of Catholics have wondered away from the worship of God and so no longer worship Him at Sunday Mass. The leper is also those who although may be present at Mass, do so with sin on their soul which leads them to worship God incorrectly or improperly.

The more we properly worship God at the Mass, by adoring Son in the Holy Eucharist and the Father through the Son, by the Holy Spirit, the more our entire life becomes ordered to God’s will and the more we become one with God, on earth as it is in heaven. Then the more our lives become full of meaning and joy; the more we adore God through our adoration of Him the more we become the person we want to be, the person we are meant to be, the person we were created to be. And when we worship God correctly, then we become like the God we worship, He who is the God who is love. We then find ourselves, who we are; worship is nothing that God needs, it is at the core of everything we need.

There’s on other aspect of our healing and of our being able to return to proper worship of God at Holy Mass. And that is once we worship and adore God as individuals we as a parish family become properly ordered and united in love. We become a saving force for the communities in which we live and work. And the more we are united in our worship and adoration, the more we can lead the nations to same worship. Israel healed of its sin and taught to worship God aright, by their adoration of God, was to lead all the nations to worship God; all nations would become united as a human family united in God’s love. We are the fulfillment of Israel called to worship God on His Holy Mountain which is the Holy Mass in order to obtain the grace of conversion for the whole world. Jesus instituted the Eucharist to bring all nations into the family of God by their proper worship of God through the Holy Mass.

Why is our world, our country, seemingly falling apart, it’s because there is not enough of those… not enough Catholics who are willing to worship God in spirit and in truth; millions have substituted the worship of God for false worship; either the worship of idols or they have made up their own way of worshipping God so they can be entertained and made to feel good (sadly even within the Church through liturgical abuse). St. Augustine said, that we can uncover the nation of a society very easily by asking one simple question, What do the people in this society worship? The culture of Augustine time was Rome, a society which survived much longer than our American society. Augustine said, Rome had fallen precisely because it worshiped the wrong gods. Their gods were vain, petty and violent and the people became vain, petty and violent; we become like the god we worship and so we need to worship the true God and worship according to his rules not our own. Their society worshiped money, comfort, entertainment at the same time they killed their young.

Our failure as creatures, especially us Catholic creatures, to worship the Creator properly in Spirit and in Truth is the root cause of all of man’s current struggles; it has been the cause of all man’s suffering and sorrow, and even wars from the beginning. It is the ultimate cause of our current economic and social ills. When the creature refuses to adore the Creator or refuses to adore Him in the proper way, the only result can be a separation of the creator from his Creator resulting in hell on earth and in the life to come unless the creator turns back to adoring his maker.

You can see, skipping Mass or not making it the most important part of our lives, is more than just not doing what were suppose to; it is not doing what we must as God’s children, is not doing what we must if we truly love our God. The Holy Mass is the source and summit of our Christian life; it is the Sacrament of our Salvation for it makes present the way, the only way back to the God from which we came.
All of the great saints of the Church knew that the answer to the ills in society lie in the people of God adoring Him through proper worship. The Holy Mass is this proper worship of God, is the perfect worship of God because it is the worship of the Son given to the Father. Here at Mass we can come before the Lord Jesus who comes again to us through the Holy Eucharist; Here, He gives us the truth, both in His Word and in His body, because he is the Truth, and here he gives us the Holy Spirit; he does this all in and through the Sacred Priesthood. The truth and the Holy Spirit, both are needed to adore our God not only at Sunday Mass, but to adore him in spirit and in truth in our daily lives, in all that we think, say or do.

But, for us to worship properly at Mass in order that the fruit of the Mass goes out into the world through us, then we must first meet Jesus in the sacrament of confession where he can heal us. In the Sacrament of God’s mercy we can make the words of the Leper our own, “lord if you will it you can make me clean. And he says to us through his priest, “I do will it, be made clean.” He then makes us whole and enables us to with full and actual participation to enter into the worship of God in the Holy Mass, there adoring Him in Spirit and in Truth; obtaining the gift of our salvation and the salvation of the whole world.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Woe is me, if I do not preach the Gospel!

February 5th, 2012 Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s second reading we hear St Paul speak of his grave obligation to preach the Gospel to the People of God. This Gospel is the Truth that Jesus Christ gave to the twelve apostles, and to St. Paul as well. St Paul humbly admits that his charge, to preach the teaching of Christ--the teachings and doctrines of the Church, is not something that He boasts about, because it is an obligation placed on Him by Christ Himself. And so, St. Paul rightly realizes that He must give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth or woe to him if he does not do so.

In the Gospels, Jesus himself tells us that his own mission is to preach, to spread the Good News. Jesus’ Father actually sent Him for this very purpose. Jesus then picked the twelve, the first priests and bishops to take what they learned from Jesus’ preaching and turn around and preach it to others. The twelve were commissioned to make the truth about God and man known to the whole world through preaching.

It’s clear that preaching is the very method selected by God to bring about the salvation He desired for man. So the apostles obviously took very seriously the duty to give the truth their people needed; even if the people did not always want to hear it; and many times, sadly, they didn’t want to hear it. St. Paul says to Timothy, who himself was a bishop and priest, “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and teaching.”

St. Paul knew that an authentic and living faith comes only from hearing the pure truth. He tells Timothy that preaching is not about making people feel good or for entertainment, but to convince the people of the truth and necessities of the teachings of the Church for their eternal salvation; it is for rebuking them by telling them about the reality of sin and the need for every one of them to repent because sin keeps them from experiencing God fully. And finally, preaching exists to exhort the people to amend their lives, to do better and to live more and more fully according to the truth; and so, according to the teachings of the Church (which are the greatest certainty of truth there is in this world, because they come from Truth Himself); and living these truths with the help of God’s grace in order to begin to experience heaven on earth; and then, with the love of God alive in their hearts, going out and sharing that love with all they meet in the world.

This is why they Church identifies preaching the Gospel as one of the main tasks of Bishops and priests. St. Pope Pius X went so far as saying that “for a priest there is no duty more grave, or obligation more binding than preaching the truth as found in the teachings of the Church and to do so in order to dispel ignorance and lies.” Vatican II reiterated this duty by saying that “the People of God is formed into God’s true family by the Word of the living God which is given to them and sought by them from the mouth of priests.”

Nobody can be saved unless they first believe and nobody can believe unless they first hear the truth and hear it in its purity and fullness; so the first task of the priest is to preach the truth unadulterated and in its fullness to all men. And so not only is the priest gravely sinning if he does not preach the teachings of the Church fully and correctly, he also is not showing love to his people-a priest who does not preach the truth, does not love his people, no matter how nice he may be--Period.

The priest’s preaching should always imitate Jesus’ preaching. But remember Jesus preaching was not just limited to words, he backed up his teaching with authority. And His authority came not only from the fact that His was God, but because he backed what he said with His integrity of life. In other words Jesus’ actions, His life, bore witness to the truth of His words.

The words of Jesus were also attested to by His mighty deeds, which brought healing and salvation to the people He touched, if they were open, like the woman in our Gospel today. All of the encounters in the Gospels with the Person of Jesus, brought more than just the experience of mighty works, they were more importantly real, intimate encounters with the Living God, with the True and Living God that these people found in the very person of Jesus Christ.

This is the real goal of all preaching. Preaching is meant to convince, rebuke and exhort us, but only in order to draw us into the same healing encounter with Jesus as the woman sick with a fever had and those others had who were ill or possessed by demons. The fact is, is that we are all in need of healing. There doesn’t have to be disease or systemic evil in our lives for us to have a great need of the healing power of Christ. Our need for the touch of Jesus in our lives can be from the burdens of our sins or just from the burdens of every day life.

But where, where do we today experience this healing and saving encounter with Jesus? Good preaching gives us, leads us to the true answer! The Sacraments of the Church, especially the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary--the Holy Mass!!! It is there that we hear not only His powerful words of salvation, but we, through faith, can literally and personally encounter God in the flesh and experience the power of His healing touch.

The Sacraments actually effect or carry out the saving words of Jesus. In the Sacraments it Jesus Himself who reaches out in order to touch our feverish bodies, cooling them and calming them, if we but have faith. In the Sacraments it is Jesus Himself who releases us from the power of satan; it is Jesus who releases us from the burdens of our sins; and it is Jesus Himself who helps us to carry the heavy burdens of life…

The longer I am a priest the more I see the incredible awesome power of God in the Sacraments, the Sacraments that I have been given the great privilege of administering to souls. I have seen their awesome power not only to heal and to save, but to do so by bringing souls who believe into an incredible mysterious but very real encounter with Jesus the Son of the Living God.
However, even before I was ordained I have witness the awesome power of the Sacraments in my own life, with regard to my late wife, and my own ongoing conversion and growth in my relationship and friendship with Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit.

Let us daily pray for all priests that they may always have the courage to preach the truth of the Gospel in all of its fullness not only in their words, but with their lives as well. Preaching the truth leads to salvation and salvation comes to us through the Sacraments, because the Sacraments are intimate encounters with Jesus Christ the Living God, the One who heals and the One who saves-they are real encounters with the very power and love of God Himself.

May we who have had the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to us go, to Sacraments in faith in order to be healed more fully, but even more in order to have a deeper intimate encounter with Jesus Christ and begin to live heaven on earth filled with His love. May we then be impelled to share that love with others by preaching them the truth of the Gospel with our lives.

Let us not be reluctant prophets with regards to life!

“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed. When the people of Nineveh believed God, they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small put on sackcloth.” “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The theme for our readings today is clear- the message is for each one of us- we must repent and believe in the Gospel. God, in fact, has always reached out through the prophets to preach repentance.

The prophets for their part however, were usually very reluctant at first; for, noooo body likes to be a prophet-prophets get beat up, or worse! Look at Jonah. God chose the reluctant Jonah to preach repentance to Nineveh. The people of Nineveh were actually Jonah’s enemies; so obviously, he didn’t want them to be spared, and that is why he went the opposite way, at least before the great fish ate him and then spit him out on the right path

When the people of Nineveh heard Jonah’s message, faith was enkindled in their hearts and they believed, and with great urgency repented. Today this Gospel reading from St. Mark has the same message with the same urgency. John the Baptist preaches repentance and Jesus starts his public ministry with the same message, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” As soon as the first disciples hear this message, they immediately turn away from their old ways and follow Jesus. Repentance is the very condition needed to begin to have a right relationship with God in order to reach heaven and be saved.

Too often when we hear repentance I think we think of something negative. In our minds we finish the phrase, “repent…” with you filthy sinners. Then we begin to feel guilty and maybe feel like we are nothing but rotten sinners. But this is not the right way to look at repentance; we should see repentance as something positive. When we repent, it is true we need to acknowledge the fact that we are all sinners, you, me, all of us. We also need to humbly and truthfully admit there are things in our life that we need to change, actions that we are doing that we should not be doing as children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit.

But we have to see repentance as more than just walking away from sin, but see it as walking toward something much greater something more exciting than sin. And that is a right relationship with an almighty, all-powerful, & all loving God--the source of our joy & eternal happiness. Then we actually desire to share that joy and happiness with others both by our words and actions, so that they too may repent and be saved and spend eternity with this incredible and awesome God.

Repentance starts with our hearts. Our hearts need to have the attitude that we are indeed sinners in need of a savior. Only when we see our need can we be open to receive the love and mercy of God- it is not something earned by our own power or by being good enough. This by the way, is the desire of every good priest, not to stand at the pulpit and make his people feel like miserable rotten sinners, but instead to make them recognize their need to repent in order to be filled with the forgiveness and love of God and reach salvation-The priest too knows that he too is in need of repentance. Only those who know they are sick, know they need a doctor. The Holy Spirit convicts us all, even priest, through homilies. But the Holy Spirit does so only so that we will repent and turn to the mercy and forgiveness of our loving Father.

All of this brings up the today’s tragic date, the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. Roe vs. Wade decision has a lot to do with repentance. Many believers, as they learn more about the facts of abortion and Roe vs. Wade, think that our first spiritual duty in the face of abortion is to pray. But it is not. Our first duty is to repent. God does not simply tell us to stay away from the sin of abortion. He prohibits us from tolerating it and He calls us to become active in fighting it—to be modern day prophets if you will. It is in this area where we all need to repent. We as Americans are all in some way responsible for abortion-it cannot simply be blamed on others. We may not have any direct involvement in abortion but have we failed to witness to the truth of the dignity and worth of every human being born or unborn? So let us examine our conscience:

Have we done acts of penance in reparation for the sin of abortion such as fasting, offering up daily sufferings and crosses or making Holy Hours?

Have we supported the pro-life cause by our time, prayers and money? Have we put our vote were our faith is, and voted pro-life? (there is nothing more important than pro-life, not even the economy; in fact the real reason we are in the economic mess that we are is because we have killed 50million consumers and prevent countless millions to come into existence through artificial birth control).

When the issue of life comes up among our family, friends, and co-workers have we stood up in defense life?

We are the family of God and we are all to be prophets of the truth, like Jonah—we are to all take part in the spiritual battles for souls. For that is what is really most at stake in the abortion battle. And this, as I said begins with our own conversion, with our own recognition of our need for repentance and forgiveness.

But we cannot stop with the conversion of our heart with regards to abortion. The Church calls us to convert our minds as well. This is especially true in the case of abortion. In this battle we have to begin to educate ourselves about the key facts of this horrible holocaust in our world today. Not to educate ourselves is a sin of omission, which we also need to repent of. There is so much misinformation and lies believed by people today; some would like to keep their heads buried in the sand. But the Church has been very, very clear about the evilness of abortion. The Church has always seen the unborn child as a person, with the rights and dignity of any other human being.

There are many excellent websites available to help inform and educate your mind to the truth. One I would recommend is This web site will provide you with the facts about Roe vs. Wade, facts that will surprise you. Also you can visit to learn what you can do (both are in the bulletin). I would also recommend looking at the pictures of abortion. (Example of the holocaust and the German people being force to go into the concentration camps after they were liberated to see the truth of the evil that had occurred). Fr. Frank Provone has said, “Abortion will end when America sees the truth and the horror of abortion.” After viewing images of an abortion on Priestforlife website, one nineteen year old boy said:
"Out of all the video games I have played and all the movies I have ever seen, I have never seen anything more violent than the pictures of these aborted babies." Chris Daly Age: 19 Orlando, Florida

Also available on these websites are links to other web sites, such as one with 3-d and 4-d ultrasound pictures of unborn babies, pictures with incredible detail, one would say miraculous detail, of little babies in the womb. A doctor showed one lady contemplating an abortion the live image of her baby in her womb and the baby actually began to wave its hand at the mother, as if to say, “Hey mom. I am a person in here; don’t do this.” Another picture even shows the heart beating in a baby just four weeks old, another a baby yawning and one a baby jumping around like he is playing. There is just no way you can view these images and not believe it’s a person, a baby in the womb. Talk about being scientific. It’s not a matter of faith to believe that it is a child in the womb from the very beginning of conception; it is a matter of cold hard fact. One has to literally deny reality not to admit the truth.

The more we learn and the more we are informed the more we can repent. And the more we repent and ask for God’s forgiveness grace and mercy the more we are enabled to reflect the teachings of the Church about the dignity of human life, every human life in our personal and public behavior.

Repentance is our indeed our primary duty in the face of the brutality and horror of abortion, but let us also continue to pray, especially before the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the great tragedy of abortion, a tragedy that destroys lives, not only the lives of babies, but also of mothers and of fathers, and of souls. I invite you to join us here on Monday at noon for adoration of the Jesus during the tolling of the bells for 1 hour in memory of the 10’s of millions have babes who have lost their lives.

One other thing more needs to be said. I am sure everyone here knows someone, a man or a woman who has been involved in some way in the sin of abortion. We need to let them know that we don’t look at them as filthy rotten sinners, but has our brothers and sisters. We don’t hate them, we love them, we pray for them, and we want them to know that through repentance, forgiveness is possible. God is all merciful and Loving Father.
And not only will God in His infinite mercy forgive them, He will send His Holy Spirit to heal them and free them from the horrible burden of guilt they are carrying.

Let us not be reluctant prophets such as Jonah, but let us all be prophets of life, not only to save the lives of the unborn, but to save souls as well. Let us repent, stand up for the truth about life and take action in its defense. Holy Mary, Mother of life,
Mother of the Unborn, Our Lady of Guadalupe, through your powerful intercession help us to end abortion and all crimes against the dignity and sacredness of the human person. Amen.