Saturday, August 31, 2013

Today, let us ever more, turn to the Virgin to help us to be truly humble.

The readings today speak to us about a very important virtue-the virtue of humility. It seems humility is not a very popular thing these days. In fact, I wonder if many view humility more as a vice, that is as a type of weakness; in other words, the more humble we are, the more others will take advantage of us.

Now, while it’s true there are many in our world trying to take advantage of us, true humility is not this. Humility is not being a floor mat allowing others to walk all over us; Humility is not a weakness. No, humility is a strength. One priest summed up Humility in this way, "Humility is being aware of your self worth but not your self importance" One saint said, the most important things in the spiritual life are number 1-humility; number 2-humility; and number 3-humility.

Humility is of course, the virtue that opposes pride in our hearts. Humility comes first and foremost with our correct relationship with God and then flows out to our correct relationship with others. It is knowing the truth about ourself and about God. Humility recognizes that God is our Creator and Lord, and we not only depend on Him, but we must, if we are to be happy, obey Him by obeying His human representatives and His Teachings and Laws.

Perhaps to better understand humility we can compare it with its opposite vice, Pride. While humility is the truth, pride is a lie. Pride is disobedience to God, to His teachings and Laws, and disobedience to those He has placed in authority over us. Pride makes us think ourselves above God, that we know better than God; and this mindset is carried out in personal actions that oppose Him and His Church.

In pride, we then place ourselves above the teachings of Jesus, which He gives to us through the Church that He personally founded in order to proclaim His truth in all of its fullness. Pride then denies the fact that Jesus gave the Catholic Church His own authority so that the Church’s teachings would indeed be His own teachings. Without the Church the “prideful self" then becomes the sole determinant of the truth. Then each person, not God, decides what’s true. In the end all of this is an act of pride, because it’s a lie. This in fact, was the essence of the temptation in the garden when the devil told the first humans, “you will know the difference between good and evil; that is, you yourselves will be able to choose for yourself what is true and what is false, what is good and evil. This is the same temptation the devil still uses against us. Pride leads to disobedience to the truth, so disobedience to God.

Humility, however, recognizes the truth that God is the only one who determines truth and He has revealed it to us in its fullness through His Son Jesus Christ who is Himself the Truth; that He personally founded the Catholic Church on the apostles with Peter as their head to be His audible voice throughout the ages; that Jesus gave the truth to the twelve and the authority to teach it. Humility recognizes the truth that Guided by the Holy Spirit they would be led into all truth, thus passing the fullness of Jesus teachings down through the centuries through their successors, the pope and the Bishops in union with Him.

Humility recognizes the teachings of the Church come from God, not from man, and so man is not free to pick and chose, or change them. Is it prideful for us to question them? No; as long as we don’t question them in the way of denial, but in the way of humbly trying to understand them more deeply, to understand why and how they are true in order that we can live them obediently in our life and so be happy both in this life and in the life to come.

Another manifestation or type of pride is the opposite of the above; it is when we judge ourselves to be below the dignity that God has given to us as His beloved child. This pride is called false humility and it leads us to give up in the struggle to love and follow God by obeying His commands, His human representatives and His teachings. Here again we play God, because just as we are not to judge where another’s soul stands before God, so too we are also not to judge where our own soul is before God. This type of pride can come out like this, “how could God ever love me, I did this terrible thing and he could never forgive me.” or “The teachings of the Church are too hard, so why even try.” With false humility we look at our weakness more than we look to God for strength to over come our weakness and so it is pride.

Here in contrast, Humility recognizes that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God in our thoughts and in our words, in what we have done and what we have failed to do; that we are all indeed too weak on our own power to live God’s commands; but indeed, we are still loved by God more than we can imagine. Humility recognizes that God desires to forgive us of any or our failure to live the truth—our sins, if we but truthfully and sorrowfully and humbly ask for His forgiveness by confessing them before His personal representative in the Sacrament of confession along with making a firm purpose of amendment to sin no more. God is always ready to give us the strength we need to humbly follow Him if we but, in humility call upon His name through prayer and the Sacraments of His Church, the source of grace for us.

Speaking of confession. I want to share with you a very special story, which I think is a very good example of humility. Two religious brothers were in Rome once to meet personally with the then pope, John Paul II; they were walking the streets waiting for the time of their own personal meeting with his holiness, when they happened upon a homeless man. After talking with this man and sharing with a holy card with him the man revealed to them that he was actually an ex-priest who left the priesthood and was now homeless. The brothers quite saddened by this priest’s plight left the man and met with the Holy Father. They immediately share with him the fact that they had met this homeless priest.

The Holy Father commanded them to immediately go back into the streets, find this man and bring him back to him. They obediently did as they were told and brought this homeless man to the Holy Father. The Holy Father spoke to this man ever so lovingly, ascertaining that he was indeed an ex-priest.
The Holy Father then told the two religious brothers to wait, while he took this priest into another room to talk to him in private. The Holy Father took the man into the room and reached into a pocket of his white cassock and pulled from it a purple stole. He then place the purple stole around…. ……the neck of the homeless priest and knelt down before him; and then while on is knees, the Holy Father said to this downtrodden priest, “bless me father for I have sinned.” And then in a moving display of humility and obedience to the divine authority of the priesthood the Holy father, John Paul the second, the vicar of Christ on earth, proceeded to give his confession to this priest of God, who although homeless still maintained his dignity as a child of God, and priest of the Most High, Jesus Christ. Once a priest, always a priest.

The Holy Father showed us, by example, true humility. In fact, one of the greatest acts of humility we ourselves can perform is when we go to confession in obedience to Jesus command to confess our sins to a priest. There the priest who is acting with the authority and in the person of almighty God, we can, humbly on our knees, truthfully confess our sins, confess that in our pride there have been times when we have been disobedient to His teachings, the teachings of His Church and disobedient to those he as place in authority over us. We can confess the many times we have failed to give the glory to Him for all our gifts and so steal His glory for our own. In our humility we will then be able to accept His infinite mercy and forgiveness and with the help of His grace amend our lives by living in obedience to His truth ever more, so that we may be united to Him more fully in love.

The truth is, is that Pride in all of us can be very strong. And just when we think we are not prideful, it is then that pride can be the most powerful in us. Humility is the only antidote to pride. Humility is truth, it is being truthful about ourselves, not only about those things we do wrong, our sins, but also in what we do good through God’s grace. Again, Humility is the truth about God and about ourselves...that there is a God and we are not definitely not Him!

Humility is actually an internal choice we make in the silence of our hearts by falling down and adoring God. In the act of adoration, by the help of His grace, we choose to bow ourselves humbly under the hand of the Creator, we choose to submit our wills to His, we choose to die to our self, which is to our self-will, our self-reliance and to our own ideas and opinions; we submit ourselves to God's truth in humility. We are his and we acknowledge our complete dependence upon him. In other words, God helps, not those who help themselves, but only those who realize they absolutely need God’s help and so take the posture of a beggar before Him; but a beggar who is loved infinitely by Him.

In Adoration we bow our hearts, minds, and yes even our bodies, bowing and kneeling before the majesty of the Almighty, all Powerful, and ever-living God. Then, in this position of humility, we offer to God everything we are and everything we have, and entrust it to Our Heavenly Father to take care of it all for us…what could be better than this?

The deeper our adoration of God, the more we realize the truth of our complete dependence on God, the more deeply we grow in our relationship with God & so the more deeply we grow in humility. He who exalts himself shall be humbled, he who humbles himself shall be exalted. In humility we open our hearts more fully to His truth and so live in humble obedience to His Church, to her teachings and to her representatives, all with the help of God’s grace.

Today, let us ever more, turn to the Virgin to help us to be truly humble. We pray for an increase in the virtue of Humility when ever we meditate on the First Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation. We see there the humility of Our Lady when she gives her fiat, her yes to God. But even more we see the humility of our God when He condescends Himself to come down from heaven in order to be Conceived in the womb of the Virgin and become man.
In His divine Humility Jesus the God-Man is still with us in the Holy Eucharist. Are we too prideful to kneel before His true Presence? If at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend, what about before the very person of Jesus? Through Mary may we like her strive to imitate the divine humility of her Son. Amen.

Let us end with a prayer from Cardinal Merry del Val who wrote one the best prayers we can offer to help us in our humility. The prayer is called the Litany of humility. Let us kneel down and pray it together…

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated,
deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should. Amen.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Love itself still among us beating within a human heart…Truth itself in the flesh; truth is a matter of love!!!

Luke 13, 22-30 Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 25th, 2013.

Last week we heard Jesus say, “Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of his Church will sadly cause division, even in our families, between those who accept them and those who don’t. Again, it is not Jesus or the truth of the Gospel that is at fault of course or the person that proclaims them, but at fault is the rejection of the truth in the hearts and the minds of some men. The Gospel last week taught us that in the end, only those who open their hearts and wills to the truth of God and of His Holy Church will have the peace that leads to unity; only the truth and its acceptance in our hearts and our living it out with our wills in our lives, no matter how difficult, with the help of God’s grace of course, only this will bring us the unity and peace, not to mention, the happiness we all desire.

And so that is why Jesus follows last week’s words with this week’s teaching, the teaching of the Narrow way; which again seems very divisive. He tells us to strive to enter through the narrow gate, many will try to enter and will not succeed.” He says, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!” “Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth…” Jesus’ words seem like so many swords to our modern age of so-called “tolerance.” But here again, because he loves us so very much, Jesus speaks the truth, the hard truth and yes, the sometimes-divisive truth, the truth that even sometimes tears inside of us.

And so, when hearing the tough truths of the Gospel, we can have the tendency to want to soften them, to remove those things that seem to us to be divisive, those things we don’t like or that we think others won’t like—to take the easy way—to just go along, to get along. It’s easy for us to think that in order to bring people together in peace and unity we should just drop those teachings of the Church, which seem to lead to division and a lack of peace.

Over the last forty years, this false notion of preserving the peace and unity by trying to drop controversial teachings has been seen in many areas. One such area has been in the Ecumenical dialogue trying to reunite Christian communities and Churches. After many early successes in the ecumenical dialogue after Vatican II, the “spirit of the age” has sadly rendered this dialogue for the most part uninspiring and unfruitful. Why? One commentator said its because too many Christians, especially Catholics, involved in the discussions are afraid of offending, “Better to get along;” As a result, much of the effort has been spent in trying to reach the goal of “getting along”.

Now, it’s good for us to want to get along, of course, however, the trouble is when getting along is the main goal instead of truth, many of our significance differences are ironed over and ignored and the fullness of the truth is set aside. The truth is, is that many of our separated brothers and sisters have frankly abandoned the full truth of the Gospel for a political correctness, teaching incorrectly for example, that abortion and artificial contraception are morally permissible or that traditional marriage should be abandoned and divorce and remarriage should be allowed. In the end, the attempt to try to “cover up” these errors under the umbrella of “getting along,” does nothing but lead to a false sense of unity and peace; in the end, it actually creates more division.

A few years ago there was an important instruction that came out from Rome regarding certain defects in other Christians communities. Afterwards, commentators in the news and some Christians condemned the then Pope Benedict for being divisive and for hurting the efforts to “get along” with other Christians. However the Holy Father, far from condemning the other Christian communities, was merely stating the truth; that as Catholics we believe that the fullness of the truth that Jesus Christ came to bring into the world for our salvation subsists fully only in the Catholic Church. He was not saying that other Christians are evil or that they have no truth or that there is no way they can get into heaven; he was saying however, that they are missing some of the vital truth that Jesus Christ came to give in order for us to enter into life. We have to remember that the popes are the universal spiritual fathers of all souls on earth, Catholic or not; like a good parent the pope speaks the truth in love that the children need to be happy both in this life and in the life to come. No true happiness without the truth and discipline in that truth.

To help understand even more, let’s look at one of the essential truths the other Christians faiths are missing. And it is really the main truth or teaching that divides us—this is the true teaching of the Holy Eucharist. Only the Catholic Church and the orthodox churches claim to have the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus; all the other Christian communities believe the Eucharist is merely symbolic or spiritual, or a commingling of bread and body, but not the true flesh of Jesus and the fullness of His human nature. The Catholic Church however, believes that the Eucharist is not symbolic or spiritual, but that it is truly Jesus Christ still physically present on earth in the flesh, in His resurrected and glorified human body, that after the consecration there is no bread, no wine, but only Jesus.

Even if other Christians claim to believe in the Eucharist in this way, according to Catholic teaching it would not be possible for them to have the true Eucharist. Why? Because they don’t possess apostolic succession. Only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have, and can claim to have, apostolic succession.
Apostolic succession means this, that the divine power to confect the Holy Eucharist, to change bread and wine into Jesus Himself, was given only to the twelve apostles at the Last Supper when Jesus laid His hands on them and ordained them as priests and bishops, commanding them to, “do this in commemoration of me.” This divine power to make present the sacrifice of Calvary and the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity was then passed on to the apostles’ successors, the bishops (and through them to priests), also by the Laying on of the hands, known as ordination. Only the Catholic Church and orthodox churches have kept intact Apostolic Succession, and so only they have transmitted through out the centuries that same divine power that Jesus gave to his apostles; that is why we are the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

Why is this truth so important for unity and salvation, not to mention for our daily lives? Because the only way we can reach the Father is through the Son, and particularly through the human nature of the Son, that is through His Human Body, Blood and Soul. Jesus Human nature is the bridge, the only bridge, which spans the infinite gulf between God and man. The Eucharist is this Human Body, Blood, and Soul of Jesus, united to His divinity. And so, only through the Eucharist can anyone, anyone possibly be saved, “Unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you will not have life within you.”

So if anyone is to be saved, he or she can be saved only through the Eucharist. If no one is saved apart from Jesus, and the Eucharist is Jesus, then no one is saved apart from the Eucharist (“For there is no other name under the heavens and the earth through which men can be saved”). In fact, all the grace that comes from the Father comes through the Son, and any prayers from us also return to the Father through the Son, and the Eucharist is the Son in His fullness. So if someone is to be saved who is not a Catholic, the grace He needs for salvation only comes through the merits of the Holy Sacrifice the Mass, which makes present the Holy Eucharist by the power of Jesus Christ given to the priest by the laying on of the hands of the bishop, successor of the apostles; Grace then flows out into the world only through the hearts of those who believe truly and participate actually, fully, consciously and so fruitfully in the Holy Eucharist.

You see the truth matters, especially the truth of the Eucharist. How can we as Catholics say that other Christians communities who do not have the Eucharist are not defective; how can we in order to “just get along,” say they are not missing something vital to their life and Happiness. Only through an honest and straightforward dialogue with other Christian communities about our differences can we ever hope to have peace and unity. Even more, if we love other Christians and people of other non-Christian faiths, and people in our own family who have left the faith, how can we not want them to have the Eucharist, which is not only necessary for salvation, but which, WHO is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh still among us, Love itself still among us beating within a human heart…Truth itself in the flesh; truth is a matter of love!!!

Faith in the teaching of the Eucharist is part of the narrow way, but according to Jesus, it is the only way to enter into life because it is Him—When Jesus first gave the teaching of the Holy Eucharist as recorded in the Gospel of St. John, the crowds found His words impossible to accept-“how can he give us his body to eat or his blood to drink?” Many walked away, but that did not keep Jesus from, in love, proclaiming the truth needed for them and for us to reach heaven.

As our Gospel of the last two weeks have taught us, only by the truth and its acceptance in our hearts, especially the truth of the Holy Eucharist, and living our lives in conformity to the truth, only then, will we ever have true unity and peace, within our families, in our parish and with all the other faiths as well, not to mention in our world. Peace is not just the absence of conflict, peace only comes by proclaiming the truth and by struggling to accept, live and proclaim it against all evil, against all error, no matter what the cost, even to the cross.

Recently Our Holy Father said to the youth of world at World Youth Day, “don’t water-down the faith! God back to your dioceses and stir things up.” The media reported this as a call for the youth to oppose the Church and her teachings and oppose bishops and priests. But what the Holy Father was really saying to the youth, is for them and for all of us not to be content with a watered down faith; that if we open ourself up to the fullness of the truth of Gospels contained in the teachings of the Church we will stir things up, we will upset the “peace.” By living the truth in our lives we will upset others, not just in society but even in the Church, who are not living the truth; we will upset even those priests and bishops that aren’t speaking the fullness of the truth anymore for fear of upsetting the people and stirring things up.” But ultimately acceptance of the truth will lead to peace and unity amongst Christians, in our dioceses, our parishes our families and in our world.

Let us turn to our Lady for help. Holy Mary Mother of all Christians and of all people and nations, pray for us lead us closer to your Son who is the truth, and to adore Him as the True God bodily present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Help us to be faithful to the truth even to the cross in order to spread His love and mercy throughout our world. Amen.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Let us ask in today’s Mass, for our Blessed Mother to obtain for us from the Holy Spirit the gift of Holy fear to move us to a stronger love for and trust in Jesus, in order not to be afraid to put out into the deep of God's Love.

Luke 12, 32-48. August 11, 2013 Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

We continue today with the same theme that we heard in the Gospel readings of last few weeks; namely, prayer and its urgency for our lives. Remember, last week a man approached Jesus to settle an argument over the inheritance of his father. And Jesus pointed out what was most important- an intimate relationship with God; nothing is more important than possessing and being possess by God Who is Love Itself. And so, Jesus makes it even clearer to us in our Gospel today- “sell all your belongings- for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Then, Jesus tells a couple of parables to emphasize this sense of urgency.

One of the main truths of our existence is that we are only here on earth in order to learn how to love. And not just any love, but to learn how to love as God loves, so that we might be intimately united with Him here on earth and forever with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. Life is very short, and so more than anyone or anything else, is our heart set on the One thing that matters…that is, on Jesus and on an intimate, self-sacrificing relationship of love with Him, and through Him, with the Most Blessed Trinity? Is our heart set on God alone or is it divided among many things?

Jesus knows us well, and so today He starts His words to His disciples and to us with “Be not afraid!” There is a great temptation- to withdraw from God because we are inordinately afraid, afraid of the unknown, afraid of the future and what it might hold for us, afraid of what an all out sacrificial love of God may cost us. And so today Jesus, again, is asking us a very important question - are we ready? Have we really taken the time to examine our readiness? Are we truly, truly ready to meet Him when we die? Do we love Him enough to want to, even right now, spend an eternity intimately united with Him and with the Father and the Holy Spirit? If He came to us tonight or even at this Holy Mass, would we really want and even desire to go with Him?

Sadly, most souls today, I think, live their lives in denial of the reality of death, either from fear, presumption or just plain indifference. As a result, they fail to take seriously the most important four last things, that is: death, judgment, heaven and hell. Some even naively and ignorantly believe that everyone goes to heaven, even though there are many who do not love Jesus with their whole heart, soul, mind and all of their strength and do not spend anytime whatsoever contemplating the in-dwelling Trinity presence within their soul.

But, how can anyone possibly expect to spend forever intimately united with Jesus, and His Father in a marital embrace of Love (the Holy Spirit), if they have not have not striven to have an intimate relationship with Him here on earth. And so, isn’t it because so many are not ready to meet Jesus, because they fail to love Him fully, that they have to deny the reality of death or to believe that everybody goes to heaven regardless; even though, Jesus Himself says otherwise?

So then how do we know that we are ready? Well, Jesus gives us clues to the answer of this question in the first part of the Gospel today. Jesus tells us we should not be afraid, for fear is actually a sign that we are not ready. We heard these words of Jesus repeated by our last Holy Father John Paul II, immediately after he was elected Pope—“Be not afraid!” Blessed John Paul knew then and we too know now that we truly live in a world filled with fear.

We have so much to fear in our day and with good reason. Everything from crime and great violence, to serious economic woes and terrorist attacks blanket the newspapers and television. And we hear of so many young people dying, even children being murdered. What will happen next? This fear touches our lives very deeply, whether we want to admit it or not—“what will happen to our families, to our children?” And so, it is very easy to fall into despair, overwhelmed by feeling afraid; or worse, just to turn it all out and go into denial. It is true that we need to be cautious because of the very real dangers we face, yet we cannot have the dread of this fear dominate and control our lives and take our trust in God away or have it cause us to go off and bury our head in the sand.

It can be the same way, when we hear the seriousness of the words of Jesus spoken directly to each one of us today, serious words, words warning us to be ready to meet him. Upon hearing these words, unless we are totally indifferent, we can become even more fearful. We fear not being ready to meet Christ--We fear the judgment day. While this can sometimes lead to an irrational fear, fear of Judgment is normally a good thing because it can knock souls out of their complacency and turn them back to God saying, “I am sorry because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell.” A good fear of judgment John Paul II writes:

is a sincere and reverential feeling that a person experiences before the tremendous majesty of God, especially when he reflects upon his own infidelity and the danger of being "found wanting" (Dan 5:27) at the eternal judgment which no one can escape. The believer goes and places himself before God with a "contrite spirit" and a "humbled heart" (cf. Ps 50 [51] :19), knowing well that he must await his own salvation "with fear and trembling.”

Jesus however desires us to even rise above this type of reverential fear of God and His divine Judgment. He wants us to fear, not so much hell, but instead fear offending the Father because we love Him even more than we love ourselves…”I am sorry most of all because by my sins I have crucified you my loving savior and offended Thy (the Father’s), infinite mercy.”

Jesus desires our salvation because he loves us so much, he wants us to fear hell; yes, but only, only because it would be an eternity away from intimacy with Him and His Father in the Love of the Holy Spirit—the eternal union for which we have been created. Jesus wants us to know that united with Him in Love we have nothing to fear in this life or in the life to come, for nothing can separate from the love of Christ.

Without Jesus however, sin and fear dominates and controls our lives, but again with Jesus there is no fear only love; without Jesus indifference invades our daily lives and makes our hearts cold; but with Jesus, we do all things, no matter how great or small, with our set hearts on fire for Love of God and love of neighbor for love of Him. It is for this very reason Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist, which is the fullness of the Kingdom the Father is please to give us. The Eucharist is the Blessed Sacrament of “Be Not Afraid!!!”

In the Eucharist Jesus our Lord and God in His Human nature is intimately with us to ease our fears by helping us to grow in our love for Him, for His Church and for our neighbor. By our faithful prayer in front of the Eucharistic Jesus we fall ever more deeply in love with Him and learn to trust in Him fully. We become prepared for anything this world has to offer, even death, for we become filled with God’s own love. We then no longer live lives of indifference or lives of dreadful fear; but instead, live lives of Holy zeal and Holy fear in which we love our God so much, that we never, never purposely chose anything, anything that displeases him but only that which He desires. In this way our very lives become a prayer of love offered to God, not only are we prepared and unafraid, but the Kingdom is ours, for tfe Father is pleased to give It to us because where our treasure is, there will our heart be.

Our Lady, Mother of the Holy Eucharist, help us to pray. Give us more fully the Heart of Your Eucharistic Son. Amen.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Dominic. He died in 1221 at the age of fity one. St. Dominic is of course the founder of the Dominican Order.

St. Dominic was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi. These two great saints preaching saved many souls and encourage many souls to love God and His Catholic Church above all else.

During the time of these great saints the Church face two great struggles. The Church was at the same time for the most part very rich materially speaking, and very poor intellectually and spiritually speaking. That is so many in the Church were not only very attached to material possessions but even more so had placed their trust in the powers of this world to save them. While at the same time, they were woefully ignorant of the teachings of the Church, and so did not live those teachings in their daily lives in order to merit salvation-they were starving to death spiritually.

And so God raised up two great saints to help the Church of the day, Dominic the great intellectual and preacher of the truths of the faith and Francis the poor friar who called the Church to simplicity of life, trust in God before all else and love of Him above all else. Neumann

I think its important here to state that even though both saints had their own particular charism, both saints, like have all saints, cared for the materially poor; but at the same time, saw that the poorest of the poor were actually those who don’t know the love of God, and His teachings, the teachings of His Church and so don’t place adoration and worship as the primary action of their lives. And these could be both rich or poor materially speaking.

I think one could argue that the crisis of the Church in Dominic’s age and Francis age is very much the same in our age. Our Church, that is her members, so many are very materially rich and spiritually poor. Yes, again so many have much materially speaking, but even more so have placed their trust in the riches of this world to save them…so many have place more of their trust in politics to save our world than in God to save it and us.

And one could argue that we are living in time in which so many Catholics are woefully ignorant of the basic truths of our faith and so of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The good news is that we too have been given not just two great saintly people to help us as in past, but many saintly people to help us in our current crisis…
such as two of the great intellectuals of all times; Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict, who like Dominic have taught us, with a clarity never seen before, the teachings and truths of our Catholic Faith and of the Gospels which are the same thing; These two have called us through their teachings to grow intellectually in the truths of our Beautiful Catholic faith.

And we have been given as well saintly figures such as Blessed Theresa of Calcutta and now Pope Francis who have called us and call us to spiritual poverty, not just a simplicity of life and a detachment from so many material possessions but to a poverty which places our trust in God to save us and our world and returns to making the adoration and worship of Him the one thing that matters most in our lives.

As I said last week during a homily here, St. Francis is many times misinterpreted as the saint who condemned the rich and called all poor people saints. I reminded those listening that St. Francis was the one who call on us to gild our altars with Gold and to use the finest linens available in the Sacred liturgy because by it we show the importance of the worship of God in our lives the primacy of adoration of God over service of the poor. And so we live the first Commandment in proper of God first, love of others next but for love of Him.

So to it seems the same misinterpretation is being made with regards to Pope Francis. He is the Pope of the poor materially speaking who is calling the Church to be stripped of its riches especially with regards to the items it uses in Her liturgical celebrations and stripped of her teachings that go against the modern mentality. .

It seems, this is especially being done by the press who are trying to make Francis into a pope who is going against all of the teachings of the Church. I was recently given an article which purported to give ten quotes of Pope Francis which gave proof of this. Just one of the quotes was the following which proves he focuses on the poor more so than Benedict…who because he wore a golden and jewel encrusted cross compared to Francis’s simple wooden one wasn’t as humble or mindful of the poor…anyway the quote;
"Many people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions. "
"Yet if we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, we make of our possessions a false god. How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can! But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death."

Interestly the article later pointed out that this quote (and the others in the article) wasn’t even made by Pope Francis but actually by Pope Benedict; hence the article actually disproved the assertion that Francis is poor minded and Benedict was the rich minded.

Again, all saintly people, if they are truly saintly, care for the poor materially speaking but all saintly people, saints, also point out that the greatest poverty in our world is ignorance of the truths of our faith which lead to salvation; and the poorest of the poor are then those who don’t know God loves them….and again, these can be very rich or they can be very poor materially speaking.

We must care for those who are materially speaking poor, yes…but even more so, if our world is going to change for the better we must do as both Dominic and Francis did as did Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcatta, as did Benedict and as is doing Pope Francis we must especially feed intellectually and spiritually those who are ignorant of the truths of our faith which are needed for salvation and we must instill in them the primary necessity of our divine service of the worship of God, if our service to the poor is going to bear the fruit of not just a longer life in this world but the fruit of eternal life in the world to come.

All of these saints and all other saints as well have one other thing in common, their love and devotion to the mother of God. They knew that by it we could convert and so save our world by leading souls away from love and trust in the “riches of this world,” to love and trust in the greatest of riches which is the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ, truly and physically present in the Holy Eucharist the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
It was the Mother of God herself who gave the powerful Eucharistic prayer of the Most Holy Rosary to St Dominic. “God has never,” said St. Dominic, “refused me what I asked;” and he has left us the Rosary, the we may learn, with Mary’s help, to pray easily and simply in the same holy trust.”

Saturday, August 3, 2013

If we ask her, the Blessed Virgin will help us to place our hearts often next to the tabernacle, which is under the cross.

Homily for Luke 12:13-21 Eighteenth Sunday

Today the Holy Spirit wants to knock us out of our complacency, to wake us up, so to speak. In the words that He inspired, we hear that all things in this world are vanity. The wise man writing in our first reading, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is confronting the evils of this life- in particular suffering and death. And they makes no sense to him. He has long observed the undeniable truth that the good and the evil man will both face suffering and death-there is no escape for any of us. This is why in the end the writer can conclude that the pursuit of earthly things is vane. All is vanity.

Now what he is really trying to point out is that all the things of this earth, which take us away from an intimate relationship with God, are worthless, are so are vanity. After all, all the things in this world will have to be left behind including those people we love—so why do we strive to make this world our permanent dwelling especially when it can be such a vale of tears…in this life all must suffer both the good and the bad, all must die leaving behind everything. In this life all things are passing away except for love.

In this life then, we must strive for the higher things, the things of the Spirit of Love—seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Our earthly desires and passions will take us away from our heavenly calling if we seek to fill our desires and passions with created things instead of God. If we set our hearts on comfort and pleasure, not to mention sinful pleasure, they become the very obstacles which prevent us from reaching true happiness; in other words, they become obstacles to reaching God Who is our true happiness.

The truth is, our hearts are made for God alone and for His love. They are not made for things of this world, whether it be the riches of this world or the comfort and pleasures of this world. Only God can fulfill the deepest desires of the human heart. And so our hearts will never rest until they rest in God alone. Our hearts are made for Love alone…love is the only thing we can take with us when we leave this world.

And so, it is this wisdom of our first readings that Jesus in our Gospel today, uses in his advice to the man who approached him. The death of a father had just taken place and the two sons are arguing over, of all things, the inheritance-money, possessions. The reality of death confronts them, not only their father’s death but their own, (for whenever we face the death of a loved one, we also face the inevitability of our own death) and yet the one wants more of the inheritance than what he has received. And so, he appeals to Jesus to intervene on his behalf- after all it’s only fair…This is, of course, sadly, a familiar situation. How many families are torn apart by fighting over the inheritance after a funeral; and sometimes even before the body is cold?

Today, Jesus reads this man’s heart- and finds there, not only greed, but a great lack of love. In the face of his suffering, this man thinks that more material goods will fill the great void of love that is in his heart. And so Jesus responds to the request by telling him a parable. “Where is your treasure?” Jesus asks. “What is you heart set on?” In other words, is it set on the things of this world…or on the things of heaven?… Are you too worried and anxious about obtaining more possessions to be even concerned about your eternal salvation?…are you more worried about obtaining money, than obtaining the greatest of all treasures, Jesus Himself…He who is the source of all Love; He who is in fact, Love Itself?

And so today Jesus, out of love for us, wants to join the Holy Spirit in “waking us.” Jesus want us to seriously reflect that this life is so very short and the next life is so very long; in fact, eternally long. In light of this truth, “are our hearts then really set on obtaining heaven, on obtaining Jesus who is our heaven? “...Are we really taking our conversion and salvation seriously enough? “Is an intimate loving relationship with Jesus THE top priority in our lives?

Jesus, because of His infinite love for us, is reminding us, along with the rich man, of our mortality and warning us against greed and the reliance on riches. He tells us that death will come quickly and maybe even unexpectedly. Death comes for us all sooner or later (sometimes sooner), then judgment, then heaven or hell; a eternity immerse in eternal love or eternity separated from eternal love.

In light of these perennial truths, “are we ready for death; even if it comes today? And even more, Do we truly long to be with Jesus, or are we just plain afraid or even worse indifferent? Fear and indifference come from a lack of love for Jesus…Are our hearts filled with Love for Jesus?

Let me share with you a true story I heard in order to bring this all into sharp focus. A priest I know once gave a homily on this very Gospel. In the homily, He asked the congregation. What if today was your last Mass? The last homily you heard? The last Holy Communion you received? How would you attend this Mass, how would you pay attention and listen? Would you open your heart fully to God’s love? The priest ended by saying, “Are you taking your salvation seriously enough?”

The priest told me that his homily was made very unforgettable when the ushers came forward at this very same Mass to take up the collection. As one of the ushers genuflected before the altar he suffered a massive heart attack, and right then and there dropped dead on the spot…. For him, it was his last Mass, his last homily, and he didn’t even get a chance to receive Jesus into his soul one last time... I am sure that nobody in church that day ever forgot that Gospel and homily.

And so let us ask ourselves the same question the priest asked at the end of his homily, “Are we taking our salvation seriously enough?” Are we really willing to risk living an eternity separated from the Love of our heavenly Father by taken it all for granted, by assuming we’ve already made it or thinking there is plenty of time?.... At this point in our lives, are our hearts really full of Love for our God?

And so today, Jesus again speaks to us of the great necessity of prayer especially prayer before His True presence in the Holy Eucharist in order to set our hearts on fire for love of God. One’s life does not consist of possessions, but in obtaining and possessing God (the one thing that Matters).” Prayer is that action which sets our heart obtaining God instead of obtaining more things of this world.

And the secret to prayer is Eucharistic Prayer because it is prayer before the Heart of Jesus. As a result, prayer before the Holy Eucharist puts our hearts in touch with the heart of Heavenly Father so that our lives will never losing meaning and become vain. Eucharistic Prayer is the most efficacious way to increase the amount of love in our hearts because it prayer asking to obtain Jesus who is Divine Love; it is prayer to obtain Jesus Who is the Love of the Father offered and made present for each one of us out of love for us.

And so, we must center our lives on Jesus truly physically present on the Altar in the tabernacle in order to live good Christian lives, holy lives in order to be ready when ever death comes for us. The Eucharist is the one thing that matters, because it is God still on Earth out of love for us. Today Jesus is teaching us that we don’t give to heaven merely by being good, we get to heaven by loving God over and above all things. We get to heaven by being madly in love with God our Creator and radically living that love out in all aspects of our daily lives, especially by loving one another for love of God and the source of this love for us is the Holy Eucharist.

Let us turn to the Mother of the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to help us never take our salvation for granted. May she help us stay close to her Son in the Eucharist so that we never become too attached to the things of this world but instead will become more and more attached to the Creator of the world. Then our lives will bear great fruit, the fruit of salvation for others and for ourselves. If we ask her, she will help us to place our hearts often next to the tabernacle, which is under the cross. (The cross shows us how much God loved us and the tabernacle show us how much God loves us now.)