Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Church then is not like a School board in which one ‘elects’ leaders, then petitions and lobbies for these leaders to change policy

Pentecost Sunday May27th 2012

Today we celebrate the birth of the Church. As we heard in our first reading, it is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles in the upper room, after they had spent the previous nine days in prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit fulfills the promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles in order to lead them into all truth; and after receiving the Spirit of truth, that they might go forth and draw all men to Christ with this same truth.

The Apostles on this day are actually empowered by the Holy Spirit, to use the divine authority given to them from Christ Himself when He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. This divine authority that Jesus gives to these twelve and consequently to their successors, the bishops, enables them to go forth and carry on Christ’s mission. It is very important then to remember that this mission of the Apostles is always carried out in and through the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

A little while ago I reread an intriguing book entitled the “Ratzinger Report.” This book is a complete text of an interview with our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict, some 20 years ago when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. In this interview Cardinal Ratzinger points out many of the roots to the crises that the Church was facing during the time of the interview. The Church however, faces the same crises today and Ratzinger has again pointed out these roots in two more interviews published since he has been pope.

In the “Ratzinger Report, the then Cardinal Ratzinger points out very clearly the true nature of the Church, as the Mystical Body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. He says in our day there is a great misunderstanding of the nature of the Church, and that many, while not purposely denying what the Church really is, have lost the authentic Catholic understanding of the reality of “Church.”

The then Cardinal explained that many no longer believe or understand that the Church is a divine institution willed by the Lord himself. Many see the Church as just a human institution, one created by humans. And as a result, if it is seen merely as an instrument created by us, then we ourselves think can freely change and organize it according to the current attitude and opinions of the day-In other words, according to the current polls, according to what we want.

In this mistaken notion of what the Church really is, the Church becomes solely our Church instead of Christ’s Church. And the cry becomes, “We are the Church!” Ultimately, this mistaken notion fails to realize that we are merely members of the Body, in which Jesus is the head. In other words, the Church is not our church in the sense of which we can dispose of Her as we please. She is, rather, God’s Church, Christ’s Church and we belong to Her by His Divine Mercy and Grace.

This error about the nature of the Church has many consequences. In his interview, Ratzinger says one of the most gravest of all consequences is the decline of the authentic concept of ‘obedience’ to the Leaders that Christ has placed in authority of His Church on earth and to whom He has promised the Holy Spirit in order to lead them into all truth. These leaders are the hierarchy, the successors of the apostles, the Pope and the bishops in union with Him. The Cardinal states that too many think of obedience to these leaders of the Church, not as a true Christian virtue, but see it instead as a leftover of an authoritarian, dogmatic past, hence something to be overcome, something to get out from under.

I think it is important to be clear here about the fact that the Pope, the bishops, the priests and all of the faithful must submit themselves to Christ and to His teachings. A Pope or Bishop or priest may not alter or change any of the teachings of Jesus given to the apostles and passed along in the unchanging teachings of the Church. When we read about scandals in the Church these days, when a Bishop or priest has been unfaithful, we must realize that their sins cannot alter the teachings of Christ nor the nature of the Church. Sin is sin no matter who commits them. Christ has placed His teaching authority above the personalities of man and beyond the changes in times and cultural traditions. The teachings of the Church are timeless because they are divine in origins- they come from God, and are needed in order for us to return to the God in heaven from Whom we came.

If the Church is in fact “our church,” if we alone are the church, if her structures are not willed by Christ, then it is no longer possible to conceive of the existence of a hierarchy as a service to the baptized established by the Lord Himself. Once the authority of this hierarchy, authority given by Christ and the Holy Spirit is denied, then the Church becomes merely a political structure in which the consensus of the majority of the members of the dictates policy and belief. But this could never be the nature of the true Church of which Jesus has promised the gates of hell will not prevail against.

In this interview as a cardinal and in recent interviews as the Supreme Pontiff, our Holy Father Benedict, rightly points out that the Church of Christ is not a political party, not an association, not a club. Her deep and permanent nature and structure is not democratic but hierarchical. And this hierarchy, made of bishops who share their power, Christ’s power, with priests, this hierarchy is provided to lift us up to union with God Himself by providing the members of the Church the life giving waters of the grace of the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments of the Church.

The sacraments, in other words, exist because of the hierarchy which gets its power through apostolic succession and the laying on of the hands. Here again, authority is not based on the majority of votes or the will of the people, but on the authority of Christ himself, with which He willed to pass on to men who were to be his representatives until his definitive return at the end of time. He literally gave them His own authority and power to preach the truth, to forgive sins, to change bread and wine into Jesus Himself, and to sanctify all men through power of the sacraments-and the sacraments are, of course, the essential way of encountering Jesus. So, far from this power and authority, being oppressive and restrictive, it actually provides us with the most intimate and personal encounters with Jesus that are possible, that of the encounter with Christ in the Sacraments, and especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament, which is Jesus Himself. If not for the Priesthood, a real encounter with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist through the power of the Holy Spirit would not be possible.

The Church then is not like a School board in which one ‘elects’ leaders, then petitions and lobbies for these leaders to change policy; and if these leaders don’t listen to the majority opinion they get “voted” out. The Church, while it has some of these visible human dimensions to it, transcends the merely visible elements of Her structure--at Her heart She is a divine institution created by Christ, which operates by the power of the Holy Spirit. The leaders of the Church, the spiritual fathers of the Church, the bishops and priests, are not “elected” into office but instead are called into office by their ordination into the priesthood of Jesus Christ; and they don’t preside, they aren’t presidents but rather personal representatives of Christ who operate in His stead in persona Christi et capitis—in the Person of Christ the Head. Hence they can only give the policy, the truth that they received from Christ himself, Who is the Head of the Church. If they give anything else they abuse their authority and damage is done to all the members, which make up the body of the Church; but their abuse of authority does not negate the legitimacy of their authority which comes from Christ.

All this being said then, when one watches the news networks or hears theologians or others which call for or hope that a new pope will change policy, will change church teaching, one quickly realizes how they haven’t a clue to the true nature of the True Church. These misguided individuals only see the Church as a political organization, instead of a divine organization will by God, One that is empowered by the Holy Spirit to lead all men to an intimate and personal encounter with the risen Christ and so to salvation.

The Church is our true Mother on earth, She is the Mystical Body on Church; Her Soul is the Holy Spirit Himself, Her Head is Christ and Her heart is the presence of His human nature in the Holy Eucharist. Her members, birthed by the womb of Her baptism become by the power of the Holy Spirit beloved Sons and Daughters of the almighty Father; they are sealed in this grace by the Holy Spirit through Confirmation in order to receive the power to live as such. By the same divine power of the Holy Spirit, they are fed and nourished by the Holy Eucharist the risen body and blood of Christ, cleansed by the sacrament of Confession, healed by the Anointing of the sick; they produce more beloved children for the Father through the Sacrament of marriage; and all the above is possible through the same Holy Spirit working through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

How wonderful is Our Holy Mother Church! Let us through the Power of the Holy Spirit, love her and defend her, be obedient to her by being obedient to her hierarchy, pray for her and even lay down our life for Her, so that through Her maternal care we may be one with the Father through the Son in the unity and love of the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit; come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Your well beloved spouse (x3). Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

And you and I are called to be Apostles of the Holy Eucharist.

DeKalb Deanery Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Pro-life. May 22, 2012

I want to begin by not only thanking you all for all that you do in the defense of life but for all you do in the offense for life. Being here at this Holy Mass and participating in it with full, active, conscience and fruitful participation is much more of an offensive move than a defense one…And if we fully participate by fully offering our lives fully and sacrificially in love in union with Christ’s own sacrifice of love to the Father on this altar, it is the strongest act for life we can possibly do… for as you know the Holy Mass is primarily the work of He who is Life itself, Jesus Christ the great High Priest who becomes man on this altar and lays down and offers his life anew so that we may have life and have it to the full.

In preparing for this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Pro-Life I decided to listen again to a particular talk by Fr. Hardon, who was, as many of you know, the spiritual director for Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Father’s cause for canonization has been opened as well. Fr. Hardon has been an important part of my priesthood. In fact, he indirectly, through His tapes and prayers, helped to get me through seminary. But he also directly prayed for me as he was dying.
The talk of Father’s that I am speaking of is entitled:

There is No Stopping Abortion Without the Eucharist

The talk is part of a twelve-part conference on the Blessed Sacrament, a conference which is the best I have ever heard in my life. Listening to it the first time change my faith on the Holy Eucharist. I wish I could afford to give a copy of the entire conference to every one of my parishioners.

The whole conference is an incredibly powerful message of life for it deals with the truth about Life Itself, better yet, it deals with Life Himself who is still physically present on this earth in his humanity in the Holy Eucharist. Faith in this “Mystery of our Faith” is key to winning the fight for life, not only physical life, the life of the unborn, but even more importantly the eternal life of countless souls, which can only be saved through us Catholics’ deep active living faith in the Holy Eucharist.

The particular talk of the conference on the Holy Eucharist and Abortion contains an important message that all of us in the pro-life moment should review again and again. Yes, we all know it already. But it is such and essential message for the cause of life that it needs to repeated.

Father began his talk on Abortion and the Eucharist with the following question, “What possible connection is there between murder and Jesus Christ and the Blessed Sacrament.” And “What do we mean by combining those words.” Father said, “We mean that the world wide mania of killing innocent unborn children is literally (and I mean literally) the work of the evil spirit. As Christ made so clear that the devil not only was a murderer from the beginning he is the principle agent behind every willful killing of innocent people. Especially behind what once civilized nations have now legalized by civil law.

Father went on to point out the responsibility that we Roman Catholics have throughout the world have to stop the global homicide which is plaguing most of the nations in the twentieth century. He said that “Over the years he told one audience after another, one of the main reasons for the world wide homicide millions of innocent unborn children is because Catholics are not living up to practicing their faith.

It was Catholic living their faith in those early centuries that brought the universal acceptance of abortion in the Roman Empire to an end. The early Christians believed that abortion is murder, and no murderer can reach heaven unless he or she repents. But what the early Christians also believed was that abortion is a result of the two sins of pride and lust. At root pride is self love. Even to the hatred of anyone who stands in my way. The virtue contrary to selfish pride is the Christian virtue of humble charity.

Along with selfish pride is unchastity. Unchastity is the co-cause of the worldwide murder of over 65 million unborn children every year.
In His talk Father pointed out very clearly that unless the practice of charity and chastity is restored not only is there no stopping of abortion this crime will only increase in intensity, and the number of innocent victims beyond all human calculation.

Father Hardon was truly a Master Teacher. When you look at our current world and the lack of chastity and the amount of selfish pride we begin to see just how much we need divine intervention and how our human efforts alone can not stem the tide. In light of this, Father said that us Professed Catholics must become channels of extraordinary grace to the modern world. And that we will become channels of grace to others in the measure, of our own reception of grace through the Holy Eucharist as the sacrament sacrifice of the mass, as the Communion sacrament of Holy Communion and as the presence sacrament of Christ’s Real Presence now on earth in the Holy Eucharist.

We are only channels of grace to others in the measure that we are possessed of God’s grace ourselves. And why is this important? Because there is no stopping abortion without an ocean of grace from Jesus Christ. No way will human means stop abortion. “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Ephesians 6

Grace is that Divine power which enables human beings to do what is humanly impossible. We need grace to rise above our fallen human nature and live a holy life in order to attain heaven. We need grace to be able to cope with and over come the present evils of this world so that we our selves will not be overcome by the devil and the other fallen spirits. As Father said, “Either our human nature is elevated by divine grace or it becomes the inevitable victim of the wiles and wickedness of the evil spirit.

In his pivotal talk Father went on to point out the three main source of grace for us and for our world: Prayer, especially prayer before the Holy Eucharist, the sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament and confession and the connection between the two and the practice of virtue. These sources of obtaining grace are not only for us, but for obtaining grace for others, especially for those who are complicit in the culture of death.

The first source is of course prayer, but not just any prayer, prayer that is offered from the heart and with faith. For the power of our prayer depends on our faith. Prayer said with faith can work miracles. No doubt. We must Pray in faith and in trust and Jesus divine power to change hearts of stone into hearts of selfish love for the unborn.

But the most powerful prayer in the world is Eucharistic prayer. Prayer during the Sacrifice of the Mass. Prayer after receiving Holy Communion, and prayer to our risen savior in His real but hidden presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus as God is of course, present everywhere. But he is not present everywhere in His human nature. Is Human nature is present for us only in the Holy Eucharist. And the most efficacious prayer is praying in the presence of Jesus Human nature.

When we pray before Jesus in the Eucharist, as Father Hardon taught, “we believe…it is the same Jesus now glorified who stilled the storm at sea and raised the dead Lazareth back to life. We believe it is the same Jesus who performed wonders during His visible stay in Palestine. Christ wants to do the same in our day, provided we have the faith. To convert selfish wills, dare I say it? Wills possessed by the devil to stop murdering children.

Father made a point that what needs to be emphasized is the close relationship between these two sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharist. Remission of sins in confession is one of the necessary conditions for being in the state of grace when receiving Holy Communion. Otherwise Holy Communion becomes an unholy sacrilege. Moreover, the more sinless we are especially assured by the Sacrament of Penance the more grace we possess and thereby become more effective channels of grace to other people.

Third source of grace - The practice of virtue. We merit grace by cooperating with the graces we receive. It is the practice of virtue, and lets hear it, the practice of virtue benefits not only the one who performs the good work but also (and hear the adverb) always, always every good work that I perform in the state of grace always obtains grace for others. And the adverb is always.

How important is the Holy Eucharist for the practice of virtue. It is indispensable. Of course we need to obtain grace from the practice of virtue. Grace for ourselves and grace for others, but watch it, the measure and degree of this grace depends on our own union with God. And there is no more effective way of becoming united with God than through receiving the living God who took on human flesh from His mother Mary.

A person is only as holy as he or she is living an Eucharistic life. Saintly people of channels of extraordinary grace for others. Can anyone doubt that the plague of abortion will (I do not say be stopped) but even reduced, except by abortioners and abortionists receiving a flood of Divine Grace through the sanctity of apostles of the Holy Eucharist. And you and I are called to be Apostles of the Holy Eucharist.

Again the thesis of Fr. Hardon’s essential talk, “There is No Stopping Abortion Without the Eucharist.” The Eucharist is the principle source of all grace. And so, there is no stopping abortion except through the devoted faith of professed Catholics who are apostles of the Blessed Sacrament. Our frequency of assisting at Holy Mass, our devotion and reverence in attending Mass even daily Mass, our efforts to stomp out liturgical abuses, frequency and fervor in receiving Holy Communion made pure by frequent confession, and on being completely detached from everything that could weaken our love for God. Our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament through Eucharistic Adoration (but hear it) and Eucharistic petition. All of these are divinely provided means of not just stopping abortion, but also we shall be cultivating a respect for human life such as the world has never known.

As Father Hardon said, “Ours is the most murderous century in human history. As believing lovers of the Holy Eucharist we are to make the next century the most self-giving and self-sacrificing century since Jesus offered His first Mass. Which is as we know began at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday night and ended on Calvary on the first Good Friday.

At the end of Mass I wish to bring Jesus out for exposition and benediction (it won’t take long and its so important) and before Him pray a prayer which Father ended His talk with the following prayer.

Jesus Christ really present in the Holy Eucharist
You want to convert the millions who are behind the worldwide homicide in our day.
You want to convert these murderers. You want to use us as the channels of your grace.
Give us dear Jesus, a deep, deep faith in your Real Presence and a total detachment to
everything in this world so that we may love you our God become man with all our hearts
by faith here on earth and face-to-face in that eternal Easter Sunday for which we were made.
Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Mary Mother of God - Pray for us.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Copyright © 1996 Inter Mirifica

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Because of the ascension of Jesus in His human nature, man now has a place in God Himself

The Solemnity of the Ascension Sunday May 20th, 2012

Out of all the Major Feast days that we celebrated throughout the year, today’s feast is probably the most misunderstood. Many misunderstand this feast day as the day that Jesus Christ left earth and ascended to heaven and so we are waiting around for Him to come back some day at the end of the world. Still others reject the idea of a three storied universe consisting of hell, earth and Heaven and so they reject the idea of our Lord ascending in a heaven above the clouds; after all we have been above the clouds and there isn’t a heaven there.

In order to clarify these misunderstandings we have to try to understand what in biblical language “lifted up” or “taken up” into heaven means, even though we can never totally grasp it meaning on this earth. In the Old Testament, To be lifted up, or taken up has to do with enthronement of a King. This surely helps us in our understanding. Jesus’ being lifted up or taken up as to do with His enthronement as the King of kings. The Father brings Jesus to himself; but not as a kind of journey into the sky, but by exalting Jesus in His human nature and giving Him kingship over all the earth. Jesus, the crucified and risen man is now truly Lord over all God’s creation. Surely as the second Person of the Blessed Trinity Jesus was always exalted, but now He is exalted as well in His human nature as a man.

But what about the cloud? The gospel mentions a cloud takes Him from sight. The cloud doesn’t mean a cumulus nimbus or some other type of cloud but is here actually a sign of God’s closeness to his people. When the Israelites left Egypt the sign of God’s closeness to them, his protection over them was the pillar of cloud that lead them through the desert; the cloud descended over the meeting tent and upon Mount Sinai again signify God was “closed” to His people, actually among them.

The cloud then means as well that Jesus is still with His people but at the same time his majesty and power is veiled from us; in other words, we cannot bring Him down to our level and make Him fit our ideas, we can’t manipulate Jesus, God. Jesus is still very close to us, closer to us than we are to ourselves, but yet as God, He remains beyond our reach. He must come to us, to our level and lift us up, we cannot in our pride lift ourselves to His level or ascend to Him.

By the way, this is why in the Sacred Liturgy we must return to the use of veils when dealing with the worship of God and His mysteries, especially the mystery of His true presence among us. Veils can come in many forms; like a chalice veil, or the veil of language, such as Latin or with words said in a whisper…some words are too holy to be said aloud. It’s actually good then that we don’t understand every word of the Mass, because we can never understand the Mystery of the Mass totally. The veil can also be the position of the priest, such as when the priest offers Mass standing in the “ad orientem, ad Deum” position; standing toward God and not facing the people, but instead facing God because he, the priest, is speaking to the face of God on behalf of the people.

Veils, like the cloud that took Jesus from sight, remind us that we can’t pull God down to our level of understanding, but that we must depend on Him to elevate our understanding of Him; they remind us that we can never totally grasp God, and we can never totally grasp the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or the Holy Eucharist. The veil prevents us from profaning the Mysteries of God by looking upon them with secular eyes, that is looking at them and treating them as ordinary realities instead of sacred realities…The veil reminds us that God remains beyond our “sight” and so cannot be manipulated by us; He is the Creator and we are His creatures and we must approach Him with Holy fear, with our “sandals removed.” Again this applies in special way with regards to the Holy Mass…We must not try to bring the Sacred Liturgy down to our level, we must let it raise up us to the level of God. Isn’t this what happened so many times to the Sacred Liturgy after Vatican II (and is still happening); we tried to bring the Liturgy down to our level; we removed the veils, not just the chalice veil but the veils such as the Latin, the veil of silence and of lower tone of voice, the veil of the position of the priest, and even the veil which allowed only consecrated hands to touch the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Vessels and enter the Sacred space of the sanctuary… in all of this, we tried to bring God and the worship of Him down to our level, instead of allowing God lift us up by worshiping Him in the Sacred Liturgy according to His dictates.

Back to the Ascension. So what is then the real meaning of Christ’s ascension into heaven? The ascension means and points to the truth that in Christ, all of human nature, the human nature that we all share, has through Christ, entered into the inner life of God in a way it never had before, in a way it could never have before. By Christ’s ascension, Man has now found an everlasting place in God. In other words, heaven is not a place somewhere above the clouds or at the edge of the universe, but it is something much greater…heaven means that because of the ascension of Jesus in His human nature, man now has a place in God Himself; heaven is to be one with God, sharing in His Divine Life.

Because Jesus, who was God eternally, became one of us, took on the fullness of human nature, suffered and died as one of, rose from the dead and then ascended to the Father making his human nature one with the Father, now all of us, who share His human nature, can have the possibility to enter into God and become one with God. Heaven again is not a place; heaven is a Person…Jesus Himself is what we call heaven. We can then only, only enter into heaven to the extent that we encounter Jesus and enter into Him. In this sense, as Pope Benedict once said, “in this sense, “ascension into heaven” can be something that we can experience in our everyday lives.

And it is the Holy Mass that makes this experience possible for us. Because the holy Mass makes Jesus present to us in His human nature in the Holy Eucharist, we can be raised up to God. Jesus is closed to us at Holy Mass; He is with us in His human nature as a man in His body; yet, Jesus remains veiled from our sight. So we can only approach Him, and see Him through the eyes of faith. Nonetheless, at the Holy Mass Heaven truly become present to us in the Person of Jesus, who becomes truly present to us in His human nature, which is exalted, raised up to the right hand of the Father. At Holy Mass before us He is lifted up anew and draws us to Himself through Holy Communion so we, with Him, through Him and in Him, can also be lifted up to God and become one with God in our human nature as well.

But for this to happen, we must imitate Jesus. Before He was lifted up to God, Jesus was as a man first lifted up on the cross. Jesus as a man was exalted to the right hand of the Father because he was humble and obedient even to death, death on the cross. In His total self-abasement, He was lifted up and now becomes the way for all who follow Him to be lifted up with Him in glory. We too then must humbly surrender ourselves and offer ourselves in obedience shown by our own sacrifice of love before the Lord in order to be lift up…who ever humbles himself will be exalted. We cannot lift ourselves up in our pride to God, for whoever exalts Himself will be humbled. This is why we must be on our knees before the Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist, we must be on our knees to show forth our humility, our self abnegation, self emptying before the Lord, especially as we receive Him…this is why we must be made pure by frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confesssion…Oh Lord I am not worthy…

What hope that the ascension brings to us…what joy it should instill in our hearts. God is still with us because Jesus is still with us in His human nature in the Holy Eucharist. And so the Eucharist is the way for us to enter into God… God has a place for us in Himself….God has a place for you and me in Himself…. The Eucharist is our hope because the Eucharist is our “Heaven.” Heaven is not out there somewhere, or up their some where…Heaven is right here in our midst because Jesus is right here in our midst, how exciting and awesome is that!!!!.

At this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass, in our communion with Jesus, if we approach with faith, humbly on our knees in adoration, trusting in his love for us, and loving Him above all other creatures, giving our selves to him in love, then we too through Him will be “exalted” “lifted up” and become one with God…better know as Heaven. And this oneness with God can begin to happen right now at this Holy Mass and every Holiness Mass that we approach humbly, reverently, with pure hearts, minds and souls, and with faith, hope and love, pouring our self out in love to the God who poured out and continues to pour out Himself in love to Us... Holy Mary, cause of our Joy, pray for us!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

And what son or daughter who truly loves their mother, would not be willing to be faithful to her, and protect and defend their mother,

Our readings today speak to us of God’s greatest commandment, the commandment to love. To love not as the world understands it, but to love as God understands it. In other words, our readings speak to us the fullness of love.

In order to truly love we are called to:
Listen to God by listening to His Holy Word which comes to us unadulterated through the teachings of His Catholic Church. In light of this Word of God, we are called to show our love for God by conforming our lives more and more to this truth, which is His truth, He who is Truth Itself. And, finally, in imitation of Christ, who is the Word of God, Truth Incarnated, we are called to care for the needs of others, their material needs, but most of all their spiritual needs, caring for them even to the point of laying down our lives for their good, for the eternal life of another whether he be friend or foe.

All of this is, in a unique way, the very vocation of motherhood: Listening, conforming her life to another, and
Caring for the needs of others even to the point of Laying down her life for another.

A mother’s love is first seen even before a woman becomes a mother. A husband and wife’s mutual desire to with the help of God, cooperate with God, procreate with God and so conceive a child, who is a new unique, individual, unrepeatable person, distinct from both the Father and the Mother even before the child is born. This openness to God as shown in their openness to life, in itself demonstrates their fatherly and motherly love. And their love for one another expressed in mutually gift of self to each other, extends to the child they lovingly desire to not only conceive but to rear and so lead to the Father’s love.

Not much is stronger than a mother’s love for her child.
 Our mothers, together with our fathers, are the ones who first teach us about love and how to respond to those in need. But mothers in particular are an example of someone who really lives for the sake of another, her child. She does this most especially by her solicitousness for not only the child’s physical life, but most importantly by her consuming occupation for his or her spiritual and eternal life.

The Church, in many ways, is also a true mother to us.
 She too is most concerned for Her children, for their material needs but must importantly for their spiritual needs. And so she teaches us, with the very words of her Divine Savior, how to truly love and so how to respond to another in authentic sacrificial love. From her we are taught to hear the word of God, and receive fully and authentically His teachings and commands in order to guide our steps in the truth and freedom of the children of God. And from her we receive the grace of the sacraments, grace without which we can never reach the level of love to which we are called and destined in order to be one with God, and others in a communion of love.

Today, in a special way, let us be grateful for our mothers, by birth or adoption, who nurtured us and supported us through life, but who most especially nurtured us by leading us to the bosom of our truest mother on earth, the Holy Catholic Church. Let us be thankful for all of those holy women in our life who while not our mother, nonetheless helped to spiritually birth us by their holiness of life and by their example of selfless love for others.

Let us especially be thankful for our Catholic Church who truly takes on the maternal role of guiding us through life. She is our Holy Mother, Who feeds and sustains, nurtures and teaches, and Who protects and defends her maternal offspring, all of those who are born in the womb of baptism and live their lives in faithfulness to Her and through Her in faithfulness to Christ.

Today, sadly there are government efforts to limit the Church’s capacity to be mother to all. Some, even some misguided members of the Church want us to stay out of society and not engage the culture. Some feel our teachings should be kept within the walls of the church. Some tell us that we have no right to hire or help others outside our faith unless we are willing to compromise our beliefs and teachings.

No matter what policy makers or government officials may try to enforce, the Church can never compromise in Her Divine missions to:
Listen to and proclaim the full teachings of Christ; and so, care for all those in need, most especially by giving them the truth they need to reach their eternal salvation. She can never compromise in Her Divine mission Defend those and the life of those who are the most defenseless, especially woman and children, born or unborn, rich or poor, sick or healthy, clean or unclean. And finally, no matter what policy makers or government officials may try to enforce, the Church and her members can never compromise in their mission to lay down their life for others, so that they may not only live, but have life and have to the full.

And what son or daughter who truly loves their mother, would not be willing to be faithful to her, and protect and defend their mother, even to the point of laying down their lives for her who in so many ways laid down her life for them…If this be the case for love of earthly mothers, how much more should it be the case for our true Mother on earth, the Church, we her sons and daughters who have been fed by her bosoms with the milk of her grace which flows to us in and through the sacraments of the Church, especially that greatest of all Sacraments the Holy Eucharist, in which our Holy Mother Church gives us the very flesh and blood of the Risen Christ for our food, gives us the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ the only Son of the Eternal Father.

How ungrateful, unfaithful sons and daughters we would be not to defend her when She is so ferociously attack, as She is being in our day; how villainess are those sons and daughters of Hers, who either participate outright in those attacks or sit idly by as She is trampled through the muck and mud of public opinion, exposed to the vileness of the media, the hatred of the pagans and the wickedness of those who claim to be her children but who have not only turn their backs on her but even attack her from with in.

As we honor our dear mothers, living or deceased let us today also honor our Holy Mother Church. As we commit to loving our birth mothers more, let us commit to loving more the Mother who has birth us into sharing the Divine Life of God Himself, and who desires to lead us into the fullness of this Divine Life when our pilgrimage here on earth is done. Let us commit with the strength and love which comes only from adoring Jesus in the Holy Eucharist to even lay down our life for Her sake and the sake of all souls for whose eternal lives She is ever solicitous.

And let us today thank and honor in a special way, that perfect image of Our Holy Mother Church, the Blessed Mother, who, by her powerful intercessions protects both the Church and all her children who call out to her in their great need. She is our heavenly Mother; let us recommend our earthly mothers to Her care, as well as all women born or unborn. Amen.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The promotion of the practice of stewardship is important for the mission of the Church and for the spiritual well-being of each individual Christian.

Fifth Sunday in Easter May 6th, 2012 Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

As Jesus says, His is the vine and we are the branches. We remain attached to the vine by drinking of it’s sap; the life giving grace of Jesus' love which comes to us from a faithful, full, and active participation in the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist and Confession. The sap of God’s love nourishes us, keep us alive if we cooperated with it by struggling to live lives of friendship with Christ by remaining faithful to His commands; and by remaining faithful to His Mystical Body the Church by living our lives in union with Her and with her teachings which are the teachings of Christ.

But another way we are able to remain attached to the vine is by our good works; And one of the most important of our good works is directed to the work of the Holy Church. And so one of our most important good works is our faithful practice of stewardship. Stewardship is then in fact a way of life, Christian life. We give freely, generously and so sacrificially of our time, talent and treasure for the work of the Church which is the work of the Body of Christ in glorify God and working for the sanctification and salvation of souls. Our support is primarily on the parish level, but must also include the diocese Church as well.

Our Faithful stewardship truly has eternal consequences because by it we help the Save souls for an eternity of infinite Joy and happiness immersed in the Love of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our stewardship way of life literally and mystically impacts every Christian, and even every human person on the planet. The loving sacrificial gift of our time, talent and treasure is like a splash in a pond which radiates in all directions—The greater the sacrifice the greater the splash and so the greater the impact for good.

Quote on Stewardship from Pope Benedict:
"The promotion of the practice of stewardship is important for the mission of the Church and for the spiritual well-being of each individual Christian. Everyone benefits from the sacrificial gift one makes of his time, talent and treasure. Therefore, please accept my encouragement for your efforts and my prayers that your upcoming conference will be a stimulus to the practice of stewardship in the Church." 

This Sunday is Diocesan Appeal Sunday throughout the Diocese of Rockford. It’s that important time where Jesus asks each one of us to support the vital work of our Diocese Church family, vital work that each one of us depends for our spiritual well-being. (Show the Video)

*I want to begin this years appeal by thanking all of those who have supported our past appeals. I Recognize many have truly made sacrifices in support of last year and previous appeals: God will bless you for it, I am sure He already has..

*The bad news regarding last years appeal is that we fell short of reaching the amount that was targeted for our fair share of the diocese budget. So in our already tough economic year for our parish family, we will have to pay $2,245.00 out of our ordinary income; using monies which we need to provide our parish family with vital services. Its like having to pay into the IRS when you are already strapped with bills.

*These are truly very tough economic times and so many of you are hurting. I know some of you are doing all you can…know that the Lord knows this as well. God bless.

*The good news is that this years Diocesan appeal is $2,000 less that last year so this will help us reach our goal for this year.

*We truly need everyone’s help to reach our goal. And so I am appealing to all of you in the name of Jesus Christ to help us by doing what you can so our parish can reach our financial and moral obligation to our diocese family.
As your spiritual Father in Christ, I am asking everyone one to participate this year even if you can only give a little. If every one gave a little we would have a lot. If before the Lord, you truly can’t give, then pray for the success of this years appeal; offer rosaries or Holy Hours for its success.

Maybe you can’t give financially right now but you may be able to give in the future if circumstances change. If you are financially blessed, maybe you could consider giving more this year in order to help out others who are struggling. Whatever the case we truly need everyone’s participation in this years appeal so we don’t repeat this years short fall. Again, remember, If we fall short of the goal, the parish must make up the difference between the peoples' gifts and the amount of our parish tax. If any of us can still give to last years appeal to help make our shortfall so I don’t have to write a two thousand dollar check that would be awesome.

Our goal this year is $57390.00_ Again, if we all participate together, I know, even in these trouble times, we can make our goal and even surpass it as we have done in the past.

Remember with regards to this year’s appeal, 100% of any money that we collect over and above the amount we are accessed comes right back to us and it is not part of our taxed income for next year. This would be a great help in making up for our current budget deficient.

Again if you are a tithing family, we ask you today to pledge 1% of the biblical tithe of Ten percent of your annual income to this appeal. If that is too much of a stretch, try at least ½ of 1% for this year as a start toward the 1%. Some can do more, others less, and that is fine—we just ask you to do what you can; Think of how much God has blessed each one of us. Our faithful stewardship, to the diocese, as well as to the parish, is one essential way we show Him our thankfulness. God always, always rewards our generosity ten fold, He can never be outdone in generosity. Let’s us show Him now that we trust Him!