Sunday, June 24, 2012

St. John the Baptist and the "Fortnight for Freedom?"

Today we celebrate a Solemnity, the birth of St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist is the last of the great prophets of the Old Testament and the first of the New Testament. Ands so, His birth marks the end of the Old and the beginning of the New. John the Baptist is the first one to preach to the world in order to evangelize the world to Christ; he is the first to point to Jesus as the promised Messiah.

In the midst of this “Fortnight of Freedom,” we can turn to St. John the Baptist to help us in our current struggle for our Religious Freedom. St. John reminds us that in our struggles on this earth we must always turn to what is essential. St. John teaches us the essentials. He begins with the core of the Revelation of Jesus; and this begins the first of three ways St. John can help us all to save our freedoms, save our nation, and even more importantly to save souls, our own and others.

The message of John’s preaching is really quite simple as it begins with the essential message of the Gospel, “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Even though simple, it had great effect. As a result, many came to him to receive his baptism by an act of repentance; that is, by changing their life from bad to good, from good to better, and from better to best.

Our Lord, when he begins His (public) apostolic ministry, begins by preaching just as John the Baptist did (saying): “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” This shows how Jesus not only respected John, but that this message of the need of repentance and conversion is one willed by God; it is the same message at all the valid Marian Apparition sites from LaSalette Lourdes; from Fatima to Akita and summed up in the Divine Mercy Revelations to St. Faustina. It is in fact, the very essence of the Gospel—Repent and believe; believe what? Believe the truth…What is the truth? Jesus is the truth and His teachings, which come to us through the teachings of the Catholic Church; this is the truth that alone can save us.

Repentance begins with us, the faithful, not with those out there, not with those who are attack our freedoms and our Holy Mother Church. To become one with Christ, we, WE, you and I, have a great need to repent more fully. Repentance means to conform our lives more fully to Christ, to give our lives more completely to Christ to become one with Him by living His Will which is the will of His Heavenly Father.

This begins with learning our faith more deeply so we can live it more authentically, more fully. None of us can say we know and understand our faith well enough; and none of us for sure can say we live it well enough. We also have to be prepared to give an account of our faith in Christ and in His Holy Catholic Church to those who would challenge us. This necessarily requires us to know and deeply understand, not just memorize the Scriptures and our Catechism. Perhaps we need to read, study, and meditate more frequently on the Scriptures and attend the many Bible studies and educational opportunities here in our parish; they are many. Educated Catholics are evangelical Catholics.

And this brings us to the second way St. John can help us in our day. We are called to repent and believe in the Gospel not only for ourselves but for others. As John is the one who “prepares the way of the Lord,” we are to do the same. In other words we are called to be evangelizers to the entire world...

Today, in light of our current threats, we especially see the need for what is a “new” evangelization. Pope Paul VI wrote an Apostolic Exhortation on this in 1975 and said the Church exists to evangelize. Pope Paul wrote, “ ...the Gospel message is not an optional contribution of the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved. This message is indeed necessary. It is unique. It cannot be replaced. It does not permit either indifference, syncretism or accommodation. It is a question of people’s salvation.”
Pope John Paul II as well, called the entire Church to this “new” evangelization—He called not only the priests and religious, but also each and every one of the faithful to be evangelical. Often this can rub some Catholics a little wrong, as they do not think we are called to this; after all were Catholic, not Evangelical.

Pope Paul VI wrote, “The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself.” We first are evangelical by our own inner conversions, our own believing in the Good News of Jesus- He comes to forgive us our sins and bring us a new, personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Each one of us is then sent to preach the Gospel. However, as Pope Paul wrote, the Evangelizers are sent “To preach not their own selves or their personal ideas” but the Gospel received from the Church. Not personal opinions, for we must decrease and He must increase, but the truths of the Gospel found in its fullness in the teachings of the Catholic Church founded directly by Christ Himself on the Rock of Peter. And we must preach this truth in two ways; by what we say, but most importantly again by the way we act, for St. John prepared the way for the Lord by his life more than by his words.

And finally the third way the Baptist can help us; if we are to repent and believe in the Gospel so that we can prepare the way for the Lord and so bring about the new evangelization, St. John again shows us the way by pointing out to us, THE WAY And THE Truth, by pointing out to us the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world… John reminds us that Jesus, the true Lamb is not an ideal for us to strive to attain, He is a person, a Divine Person who is in our midst on earth in His human body still; He is a Person for us to obtain and be obtained by.

And so, St. John says to us today, “Behold the Lamb of God truly present in the Holy Eucharist!” Behold means to first believe, then adore so that we can hope and love the Godhead truly present there. This is why we held forty hours devotion this fortnight of freedom.” There is nothing more powerful than for true believers to come in faith on their knees before the Holy Eucharist. How proud I am of this parish family for filling up the hours and making our forty-hour devotion of the Holy Eucharist a great success.

If our own personal conversion to the Gospel can only come through adoration of the Holy Eucharist, so too then the Conversion of America can only come through our adoration of the living God truly present there. All the grace we need for our conversion, our families conversion and the conversion of our beloved country has its source in the Holy Eucharist. We need to be Apostles of the Holy Eucharist!!!

The message of John the Baptist and Jesus, the message of the Gospel continues, and in every age of the Church men and women have continued to proclaim this message and apply it in their lives; their lives have become living Gospels for the world to see. And so St. John the Baptist’s message is directed today especially for those within the Church, not only for the luke-warm but even for us who take our faith seriously, we are called to become even better so that we can be used as was John; we are called to be evangelizers to the world...How much, not only our world, but our Church needs new “John the Baptists,” needs us to be new “St. John the Baptists.” How modern day threats to religious freedom shouldn’t bring us down, but instead inspire us to do more to bring the light, life and so the living giving truth of Christ and His Church to others around us.

In our Mass today, may we all accept more deeply the commission of our Lord to be evangelists, like John the Baptist. We are all call to point to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Pope Benedict said that Evangelization is the best service that Christians can offer to heal the wounds of society. To establish a fully reconciled society it is necessary to begin with Christ, the only one able to definitively offer this grace to human beings." And our Lord’s grace is with us through the Sacraments because it is His desire that no soul be lost.

The enemies of our faith, the enemies of Christ want to relegate our faith in Christ to the private sphere. They will allow, for now, for us to worship in private, but they are becoming ever more insistence that we can not proclaim Christ to the world. But this is an impossibility for the true believers whom with the Spirit that animated St. John the Baptist, must cry out to all peoples and all nations, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; Repent for the Kingdom of God is at Hand!!!”

May we be strengthened and nourished in the Holy Eucharist we receive in faith, because the Holy Eucharist is Jesus the True and Living God. Let us today through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Adorers of the Eucharist, pray for an increase of living faith to see more clearly the Lamb of God in the Holy Eucharist and give our lives and our complete selves totally to Him in an act of adoration and of love. Amen.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

We need, all of us, desperately need to become Apostles of the Holy Eucharist…for our country needs us to do so if it is to survive!

This Sunday the Church solemnly celebrates the feast of the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist has been a central and constant teaching of the Church since the time of the Apostles. And for over 1500 years all Christians were united in belief in the Real Presence, which is known as Mysterium Fidei--THE Mystery of our Faith!

The mystery of the truth that we celebrate today is that Jesus makes it possible that we can experience Him, not only in a picture, or in our mind as a memory, or even only in His Spiritual presence, but Jesus makes it possible that we can experience Him literally in the flesh, along with His blood, and His human heart and soul. Jesus promised He would remain with us until the end of the world' and He keeps that promise by being truly present in all the tabernacles of the world.

We simply believe in the Real Presence because Jesus has said it to be so. We can’t figure out the true bodily presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist or do a scientific analysis to determine the mechanics behind this great mystery; in fact, all our senses fail us before the reality of the Holy Eucharist; we must, in faith, simply take Jesus at His word. Or otherwise we call Him a liar. After all He is God, and as God He can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Because in the Real Presence Jesus is still on earth in His Human body, we too, through faith, can encounter the God made Man as did those privilege souls who were alive when Jesus visibly walked on the face of the earth. However, we are more privilege than they for we can encounter Him in an even deeper way by actually receiving His body and blood, by actually receiving His very Person into our own body and our soul. Through this Holy Communion we can become literally “wedded” to God Himself become one flesh with Him; we can then become united in love to the Father, Holy Spirit in the Son…this is why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist is also known as the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb."

Today's feast, called in Latin Corpus Christi, was inaugurated in the 13th century because of a miracle of the Holy Eucharist at Orvietto in Italy. While the priest was consecrating the bread it dripped real visible blood on to the altar linen. As a result, St. Thomas Aquinas was commissioned to write the songs that we sing on this great feast day; the Pange Lingua and the Salutaris. Each year in Orvietto, on the feast of Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession and preceded by this same miraculous cloth still bearing the stain of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

People may ask why don't we have such miracles in our churches now? But we do, we have the greatest of all miracles, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At every Holy Mass the bread and wine are transformed, literally change into real the real flesh and blood of Jesus; but this miracle normally can only be seen through the eyes of faith, but is nonetheless real.

Through the miracle of Transubstantiation Jesus Himself becomes present among us again in his resurrected Body and Blood, along with His Soul and Divinity. And in this Real Presence Jesus remains physically on earth for us. And He not only becomes our heavenly food, but He becomes the way for us to adore the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit in order that we can become one with God in love. And in this union the Holy Eucharist becomes the way for the Divine Mercy of God to flow out to the whole world.

But this Divine Mercy can only flow out from the Holy Eucharist through the hearts of those who truly believe; that is, through the hearts of those who have faith and live this faith out by humbly adoring the Holy Eucharist as the true and living God. Though adoration and worthy reception of Jesus the faithful become one with Jesus and become His instruments of His mercy. Through our belief, adoration, hope and love of the Real Presence of Jesus, we are to become Apostles of the Holy Eucharist in order to become channels of grace and mercy for the conversion and salvation of the entire world.

Faith tells us with certainty that Jesus is really present for you and for me in every Catholic Church where Holy Mass is validly celebrated; and He remains really present in the tabernacle even after Holy Mass for us to come and adore Him and so experience Him and His love for us. The more we spend time with Him outside of Holy Mass the more we are enable to celebrate the Mass well, in Spirit and in truth, and so the more we can get out of the Mass. Our holy Father Benedict said at his corpus christi homily, "For to really communicate with another person I must get to know him, I must be able to be in silence close to him, to hear him and to look at him with love. "True love and true friendship always live of the reciprocity of looks, of intense, eloquent silences full of respect and veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal not a superficial way. And, unfortunately, if this personal dimension is lacking, even Holy Communion itself within holy Mass can become, on our part, a superficial gesture," (Corpus Christi homily) because our hearts and minds aren't in it.

So the question for us today is, “will you and I in faith, be there really present for Jesus; will you and I spend time with Him; will you and I keep Him company and adore, trust and love Him in the Holy Eucharist. Can we not watch just one hour with Him in prayer at least once per week? If we really believe that He is truly present on our altars or in our tabernacles we will come and spend time with Him whenever and however much we can. It's a matter of love His for us and ours for Him.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and He waits in the tabernacle as a prisoner of love for those who would, in love, come and adore Him and adore the Father through Him in the Holy Spirit. Let us worship Him and pray to Him on behalf of all those who neither do not believe, or believe and ignore and so do not love. Let us receive Him in Holy Communion with faith, reverence, purity and love; let us never receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin, or as if it were merely some kind of special bread. And as we receive Him, let us offer ourselves fully to Him in love, in response to Him offering His total self to us in the Holy Eucharist so that we may become “Apostles of the Holy Eucharist.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus allows His first followers to leave Him when they cannot accept that He would give them His flesh as real food and His blood as real drink.  Millions today have also walked away from this Truth—the Mystery of Faith.  Today is our chance, however, to express our faith, our hope and trust, our love for Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Today, as believing Catholics, and as Free Americans, we celebrate this feast day. Because we are free we can with faith in His Real Presence, take Jesus in procession out into our streets. Currently as you know our religious freedom is punder ferocious assault. We cant be naive; there can come a day when we wont be able to practice our faith in public. Go and see the movie “For the Greater Glory” now in theaters if you want to see what can happen even in our country, what is already starting to happen…this is no exaggeration; it is deadly, eternally serious. We need to pray for our freedom, but even more we need to pray for the conversion of our great nation.

This past Friday thousands of believers rallied in our cities for our religious freedom and to protest the HHS Mandate. Hopefully as many believers will participate in Corpus Christi processions around the country as well. For what good does it do us to rally for religious freedom if we aren't willing to practice our faith in public; and what a public act of faith it is to take our Eucharistic Lord out into our streets. They want us, at least for now, to worship The Eucharist behind these walls, but they surely don't want us to declare our faith in the Holy Eucharist publicly by a Eucharistic procession. But we must take Jesus to the streets for their conversion and the conversion of our communities and our country.

As Fr John Hardon said, We can say and say with complete security; the single most powerful means on earth for the conversion of America is for Catholic Americans to mobilize a crusade of intense and constant prayer before the Holy Eucharist for the conversion of our nation. We need, all of us, desperately need to become Apostles of the Holy Eucharist…for our country needs us to do so if it is to survive and if our families are to survive!

It all begins with our own faith, hope and love of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist; but to increase our faith, hope and love we need to come on bended knee whenever and as often as we can before Jesus’ Eucharistic presence and adore Him as the true and living God among us hidden in the little white Host. Let be ever more aware that Jesus is constantly in our midst and with us. His true presence is a concrete, close presence among our homes; it is as a “beating Heart” (of our families, our parish), of our city, of our country? As a result, this Sacrament of the Charity of Christ, of the love of Christ must permeate the whole of our daily life. ” (cf. Pope Benedict homily on corpus Christi 2012). What Holy Father is saying is that The Holy Eucharist must become our heart.

Holy Mary Mother of the Eucharist who is Jesus, through your powerful intercession, obtain for us the grace of an increase of Faith in, Hope in and Love for Your Divine Son—Jesus, who is still on earth truly present in the Holy Eucharist—The Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar! Help us to adore Him so that we might become lovers of the Eucharist Lord, Apostles of the Holy Eucharist and so channels of Divine Grace and Divine Mercy for the conversion and salvation of our nation and of souls. Amen!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"you become like the God who you worship."

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. June 3rd. 2012

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is the central mystery of our faith. And this mystery (of the Trinity) goes to the very heart of the Christian life because it is the mystery of God Himself. He is the Eternal Creator and the sustainer; He is the source of all that is and He holds everything in existence.

No one could have ever figured out that God was a Trinity of persons. Therefore, because God wanted us to know this and Him, He sent His only Son into time as a man to reveal to His apostles, and through them to us, What and Who He really is. And whats more, infinitely more, is that not only have we come from this Trinity, we are called to return and enjoy His Divine Life not in in the life to come but already while we are still breathing, to be partakers in the divine life.

Jesus reveals to us that God is not a solitary being, He is an eternal Family of Divine Persons so perfectly united to each other in love, that they are one. As St. Athanasius said, "Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's is still a third. But the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty co-eternal"

This simple passage from Antanasius is difficult to understand. It shows us that the Trinity is most likely the hardest mystery in our faith to attempt to comprehend; in fact, we will never be able to totally comprehend it, but that doesn't mean we can't understand it all. In other words, while we will never completely understand thenTrinity in its fullness here on earth, we can understand it somewhat, get a sliver of a glimpse of It through faith, but we can do so only with God’s help, help known as Divine Grace. By His Divine Grace we can humbly accept the Trinity by faith and in faith we (can) even enter into and so begin to live by this Mystery of Mysteries.

With this being said, its easy to see why we Catholics can’t just say that the Trinity is a mystery and leave it at that. We must try (((again with the help of God’s Divine Grace))) to understand it more deeply; because, how we understand God, affects who we are, what we do and who we become as human beings. For the saying is true, "you become like the God who you worship."

If someone misunderstands God and worships Him as a solitary being who is harsh, as a master who is just waiting to strike down the first sinner he sees with a lightening bolt from heaven, a god who is devoid of any mercy whatsoever, then this person will become like that idea of God. He will become a person who is vengeful and merciless.

If on the other hand, a person sees God only as merciful and not a God who is also just, then that person will do whatever he pleases, because for him, there are no ramifications for his actions.

However, if one sees God as a Trinity, that is as a family of Divine Persons who so perfectly give themselves to one another that they are perfectly united in love as One, and in this unity of Divine Persons are the source of all human families, thence for this same person God becomes more approachable and more lovable and forgiving; and that same person will become more like this approachable lovable, merciful God and give the gift of himself in love for God and others.

In contemplating the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, it is important to understand as well that God is not like a family--God is the Family; and our families are called to be like God’s Family. To see God as family, is perhaps one of the best ways to try to understand the Most Blessed Trinity to the extent possible on this earth.
God has actually given us our human families on earth so that we might learn to live and love as the Trinity of Divine Person love and live amongst themselves? Our families, united in truth, in love and so in holiness are to revealed the mystery of the Blessed Trinity to the world. So it helps us to try to understand the Family of the Trinity by comparing it to human families, at least human families in the way that God intended.

So, try to think of the Father and the Son’s love for each other as being absolutely perfect. In this perfect divine love, the Father gives all He is and has to the Son, and in return the Son gives all He is and has back to the Father and this love between the two of them is so perfect, so self giving, that it is another person, a Divine Person-the Holy Spirit who is literally the love between the Father and the Son. And these three Persons are so totally united in perfect love that they are One in essence, One in being, yet three in Persons.

Now let us look at a man an woman who truly love one another. They so love each other that they desire to unite themselves together in sacred bond called marriage. In this love for one another they give of themselves totally, sacrificially to each other in a sacred and holy vow in which the two become one. This oneness is shown not only in words but by the two becoming one flesh on their wedding night in the physical intimacy of the marital act. In this sacred act which is suppose to represent or make visible their total gift of self to one another, the two literally become one in another person, a child which is the fruit of their love for one another. Now there are three persons, but still one family. And it is within this human family which mirrors Him, which mysteriously but actually reveals Him, that the Blessed Trinity desires that we learn to love as He does.

As Christians we know that it is through baptism that God invites us into His own Family which is Love. At Baptism we are baptized into the very mystery of the Holy Trinity. When the Church’s minister pours Holy water over the head, he does so in the name of the Trinity--that is in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is by the grace of baptism that we actually begin to share in the Divine inner family life of the Blessed Trinity.

But then if this Trinitarian love is to, not only survive, but grow to perfection, we for our part, must cooperate with this baptismal grace. We are called, each one of us, to participate and grow in that Trinitarian love first of all through our faithfulness to God, as lived bt our faithfulness to His commandments and by following the teachings of Jesus found in the Scriptures and in the teachings of the Church. In other words, we must live our belief and love for the Trinity. And through our love of the Trinity, assisted by the grace we receive in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and confession we are enabled to grow ever deeper in His love. We can then love God with our whole heart, mind, body, soul and strength and live this love by giving our self totally to God in return for His Love, and loving our neighbor for Love of God. We can then possess the hope of enjoying and sharing fully in the love and life of the Trinity in the eternity to come.

The Church places today’s Solemnity after Pentecost in order to show how much we need the help of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds ever deeper into the great mystery of the Blessed Trinity. We need His divine help and light to begin to begin to understand that God is a Divine Family of persons so totally united in love that they are one. Assisted by His divine power, the more we worship and adore this great mystery by adoring the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist the more we will learn to love in order to share in the love between the Divine Persons who make up this Divine Family. The Holy Eucharist is the way we can enter into more deeply the inner life of the Blessed Trinity by adoring the second Person present in His Humanity.

By adoring the whole Trinity by adoring the Holy Eucharist, we will receive the grace we need; then, we will be able to love one another as God loves us, our families will become holier and stronger families, families that are in love with most Blessed Trinity and as a result are in love with one another. They will reveal the love of God, the love of the Blessed Trinity to the world. This is why, even though I am exhausted on Sunday afternoons, why I make available on Sunday afternoons a Family and Children Holy Hour.

Our families will also become a way for the Church; they will become families united in love, whose members help one another get to heaven. And then as well our parish family, made up of these families will become more fully, a Family of families helping one another get to heaven, to heaven which is not a place but an immersion into the Blessed Trinity Himself, an immersion which we can more and more enjoy in this life and fully in the life to come.

Let us pray: O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest, the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit, help us to adore the Blessed Trinity by helping us to adore your Divine Son in the Holy Eucharist...O most Holy Trinity I adore Thee. I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Amen...