Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mary and Joseph lead our families to deeper faith, adoration, trust and intimate love for your Divine Son Jesus really and truly present, physically, corporally, in the flesh in the Holy Eucharist; so that, our families may one day enter into the Holy Eucharist unveiled in the Holy Family of Heaven—the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, along with all the angels and saints. Amen.

The Solemnity of the Holy Family. Sunday December 28th, 2014

Merry Christmas! Yes, we are or still should be, celebrating Christmas, Christmas is far from over! The Solemn celebration of Christmas ends with the Baptism of the Lord. Today, within the Octave of Christmas, eight days of solemn celebration, we celebrate family, and the Holy family in particular. The Holy family is the model and image of what our families should strive to be. Now before you begin thinking that this is unreasonable, impracticable or impossible, let us take a closer look at the Holy Family; God doesn’t give us a model to follow without providing the means to imitate it in our own lives and family.

In the thirty hidden years of Nazareth we discover that the Holy Family was in a sense an Ordinary family. There was nothing out of the “ordinary” in the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family even had turmoil, as seen in the flight to Egypt, and when Joseph and Mary “lost” Jesus for three days.

Mary, even though the Mother of God, lived her life as a traditional Jewish homemaker providing for the needs of her family. She loved Joseph, She was submissive to her husband in the true sense of that word. She sacrificed and worked hard to make her house a home. Most of all, she loved Jesus with her whole heart, and so loved God above all things, in words and most importantantly in deeds. She was the most faithful disciple of the Lord.

Joseph was an ordinary skilled labor who provided for his family. Jesus was known as the son of this carpenter. Joseph loved his wife as he loved his own body, and so lived a manly life of chastity. Most importantly, St Joseph, was the spiritual provider, “head” of the family. He loved God above all; and in his home and in his work, Joseph served the Lord. And so, as he held and cradled Jesus the son of God in His arms, St Joseph also held the Child Jesus close, intimately, to His Heart (this is a hint to the relationship all fathers should have to Jesus, they need to receive in Him and hold Him closed to their heart…true men are men of Christ for Christ was the True- the Full Man).

For His part, Jesus, lived like any other inhabitant of Nazareth, working the same trade as St. Joseph and earning his living by the sweat of his brow. He worked hard and even became tired…imagine! God became tired! Speaking of Jesus’ life at Nazareth the Gospel sums it up by telling us, “He was obedient to Joseph and Mary.” Even though He was God in the flesh, Jesus lived as an obedient child, obedient to the fourth Commandment, to honor thy Father and Mother, thus showing his love for his parents on earth. Jesus has given the perfect example of how all children should treat their parents, and of how all spiritual children should treat their spiritual fathers in Christ.

So even though having lived an ordinary life, what are the great secrets of the Holy Families’ hidden life at Nazareth? Secrets we can discover to help us to imitate their true and happy family life. Secrets we can follow in our own lives with the Holy Families help.

First, is the secret of its silence. Nazareth was a place of peaceful rest from the noise of the outside world. It was a womb so to speak, where the members of the family could grow in love for one another and in love for God. Our families should be the same; they should be a place of peace, of place of respite from the noise and clamor of the outside world that is always trying to distract our attention from the things that really matter—love of God and love of family. Frequently, we need as a families to shut the T.V. off, turn the internet off, and put the cell phones and Ipads away and spent quality time in each other’s company before the Lord.

In this, we discover the secret that Nazareth was the perfect place for the rearing of Children. Nazareth as we have said is the perfect model of what family life should be. Jesus, Mary and Joseph loved another, they always deferred to one another out of loved, putting the needs of the other before their own. It was a mutual submissiveness for the good of the family. We need the grace to to the same. In our family life, we should always ask ourselves in: “Is what I am thinking, saying and doing, is what I want, truly for the good of the family and for the salvation of souls.” By the way, what I say for our families goes equally as well for our parish families and why we need to be part of and take an active part in Parish family life.

The family should be a community of true love and sharing, a place for perfecting all of the human virtues such as patience, kindness, responsibility, magnanimity, honesty, respect and trust to name but a few. And on of the most important virtue, the virtue of forgiveness. This is the basic holy and enduring function of family in society, to be unit or cell of love in the wider community, a “Domestic Church.”

The family is, in fact, known as the seedbed of the virtues because it is in the family that they can grow the most. However, this doesn’t mean it’s easy to practice the virtues in the family. In fact, as we all know, the family is where it is actually the hardest to practice the virtues; it takes tremendous effort, self-control and self-denial, and patience and so grace. But remember, where it is the hardest to practice the virtues, that is where they can grow the most. I like the saying of Blessed Matt Talbot, “When in company guard your tongue; when alone guard your thoughts, and when in the family Guard your temper.”

And finally, the Holy Family’s secret was that it was centered not just around the life of a child and the activities of the child, but around and on the life of the Child who was God-Jesus. Mary and Joseph loved Jesus more than anything, and so they loved God more than anything. Their love for one another had in fact, it’s very source in Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus was the center of their family. And so the Holy Family was a family of prayer, a family that drew its life blood from Jesus- who was God and was truly present in the flesh, bodily and physically in their midst.

Like the Holy Family, the source of the love between the members of our families must be Jesus and His Sacred Heart; that is, if we are truly to be enabled to love another as we ought as we truly desire; it is impossible otherwise. The Sacred Heart of Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist, is the very source of the love we absolutely need in order to love one another in our families.

Our families like the Holy Family then need to love Jesus and draw close to His Loving Heart more than anything, and so love God more than anything. So, like the Holy Family, spending time in our homes with Jesus in prayer be at the center of our family life. And spending time with Jesus in the temple, in the house of God must be the most important event in our family. Prayer in the True Presence of Jesus and His Sacred Heart in the Holy Eucharist, must be at the heart of our family life…And so, as families we need to work hard at making the most important event in our family participating actively, fully, consciously and fruitfully in the most perfect of all prayers--the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (and attending the Sacrament of Confession as a family in order to be made worthy to attend the Holy Mass with pure souls).

It is at the Holy Mass that we too just like the Holy Family have Jesus, Emanuel, truly in our midst…not just spiritually but corporally physically present in the Holy Eucharist…no less present to us than to the Mary and Joseph. It is at the Holy Mass, that we can give our heart fully to the Christ Child in order to receive His Heart fully at Holy Communion. Faith in the Holy Eucharist as Jesus truly Present in His human body still with us, trusting that He is there and that He love us more than we can imagine is exactly how we keep Jesus, and His Love for us, at the center and the focus of our entire family life.

Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Let us not lose hope for joy and peace and greater unity and love in our families. Let us ask, the entire Holy Family to help us imitate their love and their holiness. Jesus, Mary and Joseph we love you. Jesus, Mary and Joseph help our families to be holy, peaceful, loving families like your own. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, save the souls of the members of our families. Mary and Joseph lead our families to deeper faith, adoration, trust and intimate love for your Divine Son Jesus really and truly present, physically, corporally, in the flesh in the Holy Eucharist; so that, our families may one day enter into the Holy Eucharist unveiled in the Holy Family of Heaven—the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, along with all the angels and saints. Amen.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Our Lady of the New Advent, through your intercession obtain for us the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us to open the gates of hearts fully at this Holy Mass in order that the Heart of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, may come fully in, in order to heal us, free us, save us. Amen.

John 1; 6-28 Third Sunday in Advent. Gaudete Sunday. December 13, 2014

We rejoice and are glad as we await the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is what we proclaim today as we celebrate this Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudate Sunday. We await Jesus coming just like His herald, John the Baptist. John himself shows us the way to Christ and how to wait with patient, but joyful expectant hope…with excitement.

During the first century in Israel, the Romans controlled the entire political and religious life. Many people at the time of John were looking for political answers to their oppression by the Romans. Now, most of us have never had to live under foreign occupation in this country so it’s hard to image how terrible it must have been for the Israelites. So we can understand their questions. “Who would ever come to free them, who could possibly grant them liberty? The people who went out to see John the Baptist-had these same questions, “They asked John, “Are you the one, like Moses or David or Elijah that will lead a glorious and powerful army to victory over the Romans. Unfortunately, in their questions we see all too clearly that their hope was solely in human power, in human solutions, such as politics or even war.

John knew all too well the state of affairs in the country of Israel. Yet he saw hope not in human solutions, a political party or war, but in divine solutions. John saw the greatest enemy was the people’s own infidelity to the Lord. So, he preached boldly about the need for repentance, about turning from the real oppressor-sin. He knew that the real problem of the day was the hardness of people hearts, their refusal to give their total yes to God as shown by their following faithfully God’s commandments and teachings. John called them all to task, no exceptions; he called everyone even Kings and religious leaders to repentance.

But John not only preached repentance, he lived it. Listen to his humility in the responses he gave. “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Not worthily to unloosen his sandal strap.’ John saw who he was in relation to God, that he, himself was totally dependant on God for everything. “I am not the one, Jesus is the one.” John knew the truth, he knew he himself needed a savior; he knew he could not fix his own problems, he hoped in God alone--God alone can save.

John pointed the world to the One who would come and who alone could fix the world—Jesus is the one. He is the one who will bring Glad tidings to the lowly, healing to the sick & liberty to the captives. What glad tidings these are and they make up the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel. This Gospel is not just a message, not just a holy book, it is a Person, a Divine Person, Jesus Christ-who is still truly, physically present among us in the Holy Eucharist—Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the Message. He is THE friend to the lowly, the poor, the sick and oppressed. Jesus through His true presence in the Holy Eucharist will bring a victory, a victory much greater than any military victory over any enemy of this world.

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

Jesus side is the winning side, the battle as already been won! If we are truly on His side, we will be victorious as well. But Jesus will lead us primarily to a spiritual victory just like His. Jesus will not necessarily take all our troubles away, we still have to, like Him, suffer and die, but He will give us His own Power in order, not only to prevail and to persevere, but to do so with Joy and peace. If we are with Jesus, no power in this world can defeat us; not death, not even the devil himself can take away our victory, our goal, which is heaven and a share in the eternal life and family of God.

Along with His victory, Jesus brings with Him as well the power to heal the broken hearted, He saves by healing. The heart in the bible always stands for the whole person, the very core of the person, all that we have and are. Jesus has the power to heal our heart, but we have to give it to Him, better yet, to freely offer it to Him so that He can heal it. We try to offer our heart fully at Holy Mass, no strings attached. To lift up our heart, means to offer it fully to the one who is the King of hearts in order to make Him the Lord of our life and become one with Him in Love.

When God is not the Lord of our heart, our heart becomes broken, shattered, divided. When God is not number One in our life, over and above all else, the very organizing principal of life is missing. Our life becomes divided, shattered, we run to and fro, following this impulse and that impulse, but never finding peace or meaning in our lives. We try this self help program, we listen to this guru on T.V. and then that one, we try to grab this created thing, this new technological marvel or that one, but never do we ever find fulfillment or peace, not to mention joy. Jesus is our only meaning in this life.

Jesus heals the broken hearted by coming to live in our hearts but only if we open the gates to them. O come Emmanuel, come live in our heart. This is the very mission of the Church to heal broken hearts by the power of Jesus resurrection which comes to us in and through the Sacraments. We too live in a broken hearted world, one which is marked with conflict- wars, divisions, and a general disregard for God and the things of God. We too want to see the solutions to all of our problems apart from God. We too think we can save ourselves; we can solve all of our problems and we don’t want to conform our lives to God’s truth in order to do it. Yet, this is so far from the truth. We are helpless and cannot save ourselves nor solve all of our problems apart from God and His truth.

Jesus victory brings with it as well the power to bring liberty to the captives. But again, Jesus freedom is not a physical freedom from the problems or powers of this world, but it is a true freedom, the freedom from sin. Israel wanted freedom from the worldly power of the Romans, Jesus showed them that their captivity to the Romans was really a result of their sin. Sin is the ultimate slavery. Sin is addictive. It is very addictive, very oppressive and there are many in our day, that are captive to its power. O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Ransom captive, Israel. Israel, is a symbol here of our souls captive to sin.

We know that we so much want to do good, and to live the life God calls us to live. But there is a war inside of us, a war in which we know the good to do, that which God wants us to do, but many times we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to do it. Pride, anger, lust, sloth, envy, avarice, gluttony, these deadly sins have us in their grip, they can hold us for ransom and keep us from doing God’s Holy Will. The Good News is Jesus comes to give liberty to the captives, liberty to us, to free us from these sins & to win the battle that wages within us. And how does He do it. HE does it by giving to us a share in His own redemptive work. HE gives us a mission to help others held ransom.

This is our mission, our apostolate. He wants us to get off ourselves, off our self-centeredness, to let go of our petty obsessions and bring the Good news of His coming in the Holy Eucharist, of His Divine Power in the Holy Eucharist to others. Jesus gives each of us our own mission to take His divine love out into the daily world in which we live, to love others for love of Him. He says to each of us, “Show others my love so that I can heal them, free them, save them thru you. “Take what you received at this Holy Mass, namely, the Eucharist, which is my Heart, my Divine Love, my whole self and go out into the world and live for God alone and love others with my own Love alive in your heart. Do it for love of me.

Let us pray. St. John the Baptist, through your intercession, help us to have your same attitude, help us to have a humble submission to God and to live for Him alone. Help us with our lives to point out to others, the true Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The one alone who has the power to free, to heal, and to save. Our Lady of the New Advent, through your intercession obtain for us the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us to open the gates of hearts fully at this Holy Mass in order that the Heart of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, may come fully in, in order to heal us, free us, save us. Amen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

let us at this Mass turn to Our Lady of the New Advent to help us in our struggle to live, not only during this time of Advent, but always with our eyes focus primarily on Christ, and not on the things of this earth.

1st Sunday in Advent. Matthew 13;33-37. November 30th, 2014

Happy New Year! Today begins the Church’s New Year and a new Liturgical Year. Like January 1st, it can be a time of new beginnings, a time of new resolutions…but resolutions that with the help of the Holy Spirit we can really and truly keep. Today can be the beginning of a new and deeper relationship with Jesus, a day to resolve to make more fully Jesus and His coming through His Holy Church the most important thing in our life.

There are in this life and in this world so many other seemingly more important concerns and so many other attractions, or should I say distractions, that can take our minds and hearts off of Jesus and His coming. Advent then, should be a wakeup call for each of us to remember that in our short journey of life; Jesus is the one thing that we cannot live without. His coming should always, always be our main concern. He should always be our main attraction. Anything that takes our eyes off of Jesus is a really a distraction. Our attention should always be on Jesus, because He is the end and the goal and we must never presume to be ready for His coming.

Advent, as with all time in this life, is primarily for preparing our souls for the coming of Jesus Advent really has a three-fold character: First it is a period of preparation for the coming of Our Savior by remembering and celebrating liturgically His birth in Bethlehem; second, it is a joyful and expectant preparation for His Second Coming at the end of the world or at the end or our lives whichever comes first. And third, it is a diligent and urgent preparation for Jesus’ coming again in the flesh at this Holy Mass, so that He can come more deeply, more intimately into our souls and become one with us in love as a fruit of Holy Communion.

As a result, Advent is sort of like a mini-Lent during which time we try to get our spiritual house in order for the coming of Christ. It is a time for self-reflection when we look deep into ourselves and try to identify and repent and confess, in a good sacramental confession, those sinful things, attitudes and behaviors that are keeping us from a deeper intimacy with God and love of our neighbor for love of God. Then, freed from sin we will be filled with joyful hopeful expectation and be ready to meet the Lord when He finally arrives or should I say when we arrive and stand before Him. Our whole existence is really only about this one thing, preparing our self so that we may see God as our trip on this earth comes to its end, and this end is a lot closer than it was yesterday. This could be the very last Advent of our lives-there are some here who may not be here next year.

We have to work hard and struggled hard at our spiritual life; that is, preparing our self in order to grow in our life of intimacy with Jesus in the depths of our soul. We should work harder at this than anything else. Our gift buying for others is good, preparing materially for Christmas is good (if we don’t over do it and spend beyond our means), decorating our house is good, but our spiritual preparation is better and most important, preparing the house of our soul for our Divine Guest is paramount.

When this Christmas arrives our Lord should find us with everything in order. In other words, we should already have struggled to grow in our intimacy with Christ before Christmas arrives; he should already dwell more intensely in the tabernacle of our souls, we should be more deeply united with Him. This is the true reason for Advent, preparation for the comings of Christ-liturgically, at the end the world and at Holy Mass in the Holy Eucharist.

Advent is a really a time of great hope. Even though we celebrate liturgical the preparation for Jesus’ coming at Christmas, we must always remember that Jesus our hope, has already come in the flesh. In the Sacrament of Confession; He has provided us with His strength with His grace to be able to become better, to remove those distractions in our lives, namely our sins, that are keeping us from a deeper relationship with Him. And, we must also remember that Jesus, Who is our hope, comes to us as well at every Holy Mass in Person and with His grace.

In reality, every Mass is Christ Mass, and with it comes the Holy Eucharist which is Jesus coming now to us here and now. He is the source of grace, the source of love that can, without a doubt, empower us to keep our “New Church Year resolutions” and enable us to live lives of holiness and love, which are lives lived in union with Jesus-Jesus living alive in us as his living tabernacles of love. And so, we can never be prepared for Jesus’ second coming if we have not celebrated his first coming by acknowledge His true presence and His self-emptying Sacrifice, still among us in the Holy Eucharist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For this reason intimate prayer and fruitful communion with the Holy Eucharist who is God among us, is our only hope, our only salvation and the only hope and salvation of the world; the Eucharist is our Hope and our Joy for it is Jesus still among us in the flesh. For this reason the Eucharist is the only way linking heaven and earth. “Ego sum via—I am the way.”

“Jesus Christ the very Jesus who was alive yesterday for his Apostles and the people who sought him out; this same Jesus lives today for us, and will live forever. Yet, at times, we poor men fail to recognize his ever-present features, because our eyes are tired and our vision clouded. Now, as we begin this time of (Advent, this time of) prayer close to the tabernacle, ask him, like the blind man in the Gospel did, Domine, ut videam! Lord, that I may see! Enlighten my intelligence and let Christ's words penetrate deep into my mind. Strengthen his life in my soul so that I may be transformed in readiness for eternal Glory."
St. Josemaria Escriva
Friends of God, no. 127

So, let us at this Mass turn to Our Lady of the New Advent to help us in our struggle to live, not only during this time of Advent, but always with our eyes focus primarily on Christ, and not on the things of this earth. Let us ask her to obtain for us the grace to purify and open our hearts, which far too often have been darkened by gluttony and drunkenness and the cares of this life. With her help and the help of St. Joseph, if we ask them, it will be easy for us to dispose our souls in such a way that the arrival of Jesus will not find us distracted by other “things” which have little or no importance in the light of the coming of God. Through the intercession of Mary and Joseph, may we obtain the grace to be firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that at the end of our journey in this life when we stand before Him face to face, He may welcome us into the eternal Christmas, with Him and all the Saints and Angels forever-our true goal, the very reason for our existence.. Jesus have mercy, Mary and Joseph pray for us. Amen

Saturday, November 22, 2014

May our Heavenly Queen obtain for us the grace of final perseverance so that she herself may be by our side pleading our cause when the King, comes again in all His glory to judge the living and the dead. Amen.

Today we celebrate the end of the liturgical year with the Feast of Jesus Christ our sovereign Lord and King. So it is most fitting that we read of the great last judgment of Christ on humanity. This Gospel passage from St. Matthew has inspired many great works of art-like Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine chapel. In that image, Christ has his arms raised, inviting the beloved to his right side and casting those who reject Him, to the left. When I saw this painting for the first time in person, it invoked in me an awesome sense of the majesty of Christ; He is truly the King of kings, even if there are some who don’t want to believe it. But at the end of the world all-willing and unwilling-will acknowledge Him as King and Lord.

The focus of readings for the last few weeks has actually been the Last Judgment. They remind us of the Four Last things…death, judgment, then heaven or hell. These last things should wake us up and remind us just how important our relationship to Jesus is, not only with regards to our final goal and destination that is our happiness in the next life, but also with regards to our happiness in this life. In fact, we can never and will never find meaning in our lives apart from Jesus Christ the King.

More than any other, the fundamental question on the heart of every human being is, ‘Why am I here? What is it that I’m really looking for in this life?” In fact, Jesus himself many times in the Gospels asks this same question to those with whom he came in contact. “What is it you want?” When people met Christ, they very quickly realized that they were having an encounter with someone who was corresponding to the deepest needs of their heart.

For us today with this Feast (and at this Holy Mass), Jesus answers His own question, “What is you want?”, by saying that, “Everything you are looking for, everything you seek, even the very meaning of your existence can be found only in…Me! What you really want and desire is me and my love for you, for I am the God who is Love. Only when you allow me to reign completely over your lives, only when you totally give me yourself in love and take the sweet yoke of my truth and the light burden of my rule over you and your life through my Church, only then will you find what you are looking for and begin to fulfill your deepest longings and desires. If you keep trying to quench your thirst for me with things of this world, even with human loves, you will only be thirsty and unfulfilled.”

When Pope Pius XI instituted this great feast day on December 11, 1925, he was saying this same thing not only to individuals, but also to all peoples and all nations of the world. Pius XI said that the manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and His holy law out of their lives; that Jesus and His truth no longer had a place in private affairs or in politics. Pius warned that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of Our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ and that Kingdom subsists fully in His, One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church because it contains the Holy Eucharist, Who is the King in the flesh still on earth.

Allow me to read a quote from this beautiful letter of Pope Pius:

If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth—he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." Oh, what happiness would be ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! "Then at length…will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."

The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of love. He is not a tyrant or a despot; He will not impose His Will on His subjects--that is on us. He is a King who has come to serve, not to be served. And we must do the same in imitation of Him.

We must serve Christ by serving His Catholic Church and others for love of Him. If fact this is how we would show our love for Him. In order to manifest the Kingdom of God in this world more fully, we must love others for love of Jesus; we must give of ourselves, yes, we must even sacrifice ourselves for the Church and for love of others. Of course what better modern day example could I use to illustrate better this service and love of others for love of Christ, than the example of St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta?

Mother loved the Church and others not just for their own sakes, but because in faith she saw Jesus in them. How many times she quoted Jesus, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these you do unto me!” Jesus loves them, so she would love them for Jesus. And Jesus for His part, through the power of the Sacraments, would give her the strength and courage to love them with His own love alive in her heart and mind.

Mother observed that the poorest ones were ones who had no love, that is those who did not know or who were indifferent to the sweet yoke and reign of the King of all hearts. In this, Mother’s love went beyond those who were just materially poor. Yes, she would love them as well, but more importantly she would also feed those who were utterly starving for the love of Christ; and these as she said, were many times very rich, materially speaking. She once said that the United States was so much poorer than the slums of Calcutta, because so many in the U.S., as rich as they were, were very poor spiritually speaking because they did not know the love of Jesus and show that love by taking upon themselves the sweet yoke of that love by serving Him in obedience to His Catholic Church and Her teachings. And this is the primary meaning of today’s Gospel. When Jesus comes again in Glory, He will question us individually about our love; that is, about our love for God, a love that is carried out by our love for the Church and for our neighbor shown in our service to the Church and our neighbor.

Jesus will ask us in the Last Judgment about this- how have we loved Him? In other words, Did we show our love for Jesus by not only feeding those who are physically hungry, but most of all by feeding those who are spiritually hungry, hungry for Christ in the Holy Eucharist and for the food of His truth… Did we show our love for Jesus, not only by giving water to the thirsty, but giving the love of Christ alive in us to those who thirst for it… Did we show our love for Jesus, not only by visiting those who are imprisoned, but by visiting with our admonition, those who are slaves to their sins?… Did we show our love for Jesus, not only by caring for those who are physically ill but by showing our care for those who are spiritually ill through their ignorance, by giving them the medicine of God’s truth, the teachings of His Church?… and not only by welcoming the stranger, but by welcoming back those who have offended us by offering them our forgiveness and mercy and leading those who have separated themselves from God and His Church to the Sacrament of Confession and so to Jesus the King in the Holy Eucharist?…and finally, not only by praying for the bodily dead, but by praying for the spiritually dead through mortal sin, offering our suffering and doing penance for them and offering Holy Mass for them?

Mother Theresa lived her service to the King caring for the poor in these ways just mentioned. But, where did she receive the power to do so? She received it from Jesus her King, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. She said so many times, “My sisters and I could never do what I do without the Eucharist, both receiving Jesus at Mass and adoring Him outside of Mass.” As Jesus once said, “For without Me you can do nothing.” In other words, without the Holy Eucharist, believing, adoring, hoping and loving Jesus present there we can do nothing. Pius XI said the same thing when He instituted this feast day of Christ the King, he said the faithful would grow in the love for Christ and receive the power to bring His reign over the earth, through love, when the faithful of every diocese, district nation and of the whole world, would be given every opportunity to come together to venerate and adore Christ the King hidden under the sacramental species. …By public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, and by solemn processions, men united in paying homage to Christ whom the Father has given for their king.

Pope Pius went on to say, Christ must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ found in the teachings of His Holy Catholic Church, which is the fullness of His Kingdom on earth. Jesus must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God (and His Church). He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls. Pius ended with:

“It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren, that those who are outside of the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith, may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God's kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom.”

I would propose to each one of us that the most important question each one of us must ask ourselves on this great feast of Christ the King, is not whether Christ does or does not reign in the world, but does He or does He not reign in me? We should ask not if His royalty is recognized by states and governments, but is it recognized and lived by me? In other words, is Jesus Christ truly King and Lord of my life? Who reigns in me, who sets the objectives and establishes the priorities in my life: Christ or another? Is it really Jesus that I serve? Do I serve and Love Him by serving and loving His Kingdom on Earth, the Holy Catholic Church. May our Heavenly Queen obtain for us the grace of final perseverance so that she herself may be by our side pleading our cause when the King, comes again in all His glory to judge the living and the dead. Amen.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, Mother of our Parish, Mother of the Holy Eucharist, pray for us, lead us to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and help us to fall madly in love with Him there! Amen.

Dedication of St. John Lateran. November 9th, 2014

Today we celebrate the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome which was erected by the Emperor Constantine. This feast has been celebrated since the twelfth century, first only in Rome but later it was extended to the whole Latin Church as a way to honor this church, which is called the “Mother Church Of All Christendom.” The feast was expanded as sign of devotion and of unity with the Chair of Peter, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote in the first century, “presides over the whole assembly of charity.” Many think that St. Peter’s basilica is the cathedral church, or “seat” of the Pope, but it is not. The Cathedral Church of the Pope, our Holy Father Francis and all popes is St. John Lateran.

As we celebrated this great feast day, which falls on Sunday this year, let us take a look at the physical church building here in South Beloit—St. Peter’s Church. Today let’s take a tour around it and let it speak to us. The church building is meant to be an Icon. An Icon is a window into heaven, to show us the Truth which us ultimately Jesus Himself. You are all familiar with an Icon that is a painting, but the church building too is meant to be an Icon. And if it is build according to liturgical norms, it can teach us many things about our Catholic Faith and about who we are as a family of faith, about who you are as a family, the family of St. Peter’s Parish; This church building can help us pear into heaven; in fact it is here where heaven and earth meet along with the myriads of angels and saints in heaven; it is truly the place of Jacob’s ladder.

Let’s begin by looking at the world parish; what does it mean? The word parish comes from two Greek words, oikos meaning home and para meaning near. It means literally near our house or near our home. It is our family home; it is our home, the heart of our parish territory. We are the sheep within the territory of this parish home. This building is the home of the Shepherd of the Sheep of His flock, Jesus. And He dwells within this building, as within all Catholic Churches, in a way that He dwells nowhere else on earth, but only in heaven; it is truly the House of the Lord. The places within this church building can teach us this and many more things about our family and our role and responsibility in it.

Jesus is our shepherd and His role of chief Shepherd of the flock is symbolized by this Chair, the Pastor’s Chair. Just as in St. John Lateran the Cathedral of the Pope, there is the Cathrada the word from which we get the word Cathedral from. Cathrada literally means the chair of authority and power on which sits the King; in this case, Jesus. When the priest, the human shepherd to whom Christ as given the care of His Sheep, sits in this chair by taking on the office of pastor, he stands for Jesus. When the priest is commissioned as the Pastor of the parish, one of the parts of his installation ceremony is for Him to be installed in this chair by the bishop or his representative, usually the vicar forane or dean of the deanery. The Pastor is then given the power, authority and the grace to teach, sanctify and govern Christ’s people, in Christ name, in Christ’s stead.

The Chair, which stands for the mind of Christ and symbolizes His three-fold office of priest, prophet and king, is situated in the sanctuary. The sanctuary itself stands for the head of Christ. The whole Church building in fact symbolizes the body of Christ and is usually build in a cruciform to represent the crucified Christ.

The Sanctuary is the head of the building because it is where Jesus the Head makes present for us Liturgy, that is, His Work of the redemption and sanctification of souls, of His mystical body. Through the Holy Spirit working through the person of the priest, Jesus makes present for us, His once and for all offering of Himself on Calvary to the Father. Jesus is the Head we are His Body. We as his body are called to unite ourselves to Him by offering ourselves in union with His offering so that through Him, with Him and in Him we can become more and more united to God.

In the sanctuary, along with chair representing the mind of Christ, we have the ambo, which represents the mouth of Christ. From it we hear His voice as the Scriptures, the Word of God is proclaimed. The Ambo is where God speaks to us. The preaching that takes place at the ambo is the Holy Spirit interpreting for us the Scriptures through the teachings of the Church and her prophet, the priest. In fact, we can only understand the Scriptures to the extent that Jesus enlightens our minds to their meaning; and he does this, through the teaching and preaching of his One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

In the sanctuary, as we hear the voice of Jesus in the Liturgy of the word, that word leads us to, points us to the fact that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and, continues to dwell among us as the Word again becomes flesh on the Sacred Altar and offers himself as priest/victim. On the Altar at the words of Jesus spoken through the priest at the consecration, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus once again descends from heaven and becomes flesh—we are literally present at the incarnation when God becomes man, one of us—God with us. On the Altar as well becomes present anew his passion and His once and for all Sacrifice of love for us on Calvary. So too on the altar, becomes present his resurrection from the dead and so His resurrected and living body in the Holy Eucharist; the Holy Eucharist is not His dead body but his living and glorified body as it is in Heaven-in fact where the Body of Jesus is there is heaven—hence Holy Mass is heaven on earth.

The crucifix shows us the climax of the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which is the death of Jesus on the Cross. This occurs during the two-fold consecration at Holy Mass, which is then the climax of the Holy Mass. By this death which he really experienced and which He makes present for us anew, he is able to give us himself fully in the Holy Communion, body, blood, soul and divinity. Jesus died not just to save us, but to save us by giving Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. He died in order to give us His entire self, body, blood soul and divinity. If we believe, adore, hope and love Him in the Holy Eucharist, receiving Him worthily, that is in the state of grace, we are saved by this Holy Communion with Him, becoming one with Him and one with the Father through Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said, When you look at the Last Supper and the Crucifix see how much Jesus loved us; when you look at the tabernacle you see how much Jesus loves us-present tense.

This brings us to the next point. We have spoken now of the head of Jesus, imaged by the sanctuary and the mind of Jesus imaged by the chair, but what about the heart of Christ? The heart of Christ is imaged by the tabernacle; but it contains not a image but the very Heart of Christ in the flesh, His Sacred Heart pierced, but now alive and beating for love of us in the Holy Eucharist…this presence of burning love for us is symbolized by the sanctuary candle which burns night and day for us to see, just as does Jesus love for us in the Holy Eucharist.

The Sacred Heart Statue, the image of Jesus Love in the back of Church gives us a visual representation of Jesus Sacred heart in the Eucharist (just as the Divine Mercy is an image of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist). It is there too that we have the place of Jesus’ mercy, the confessional. It is in confession that we can truly experience God’s infinite Mercy through the forgiveness of our sins in the Sacrament of confession. Confession opens us up to receive more fully the love of Father and Jesus given to us in the Holy Eucharist. This love is the Holy Spirit Whose work it is to make us into images of Jesus; living tabernacles in order to take Jesus, and His light and love into our dark and starving world.

From the head, the sanctuary, you have the neck of Jesus, which is the communion rail (sadly which many churches are missing--not this one thanks be to God). The communion rail was in fact never supposed to be removed in the first place. The communion rail as neck also is that symbolic dividing line between the sanctuary, which symbolizes the head of Jesus and the nave, which symbolizes the body of Jesus. In the nave sits on the pews, the true mystical body of Christ-all of you, you who are called to be living stones. The communion rail reminds and teaches the body that they are not the head; Jesus is the head of His Church and we must allow Him to rule fully over the body, over our individual hearts, minds and bodies. We must adore God the Father with the mind and in union with the head, Jesus. If not, we become a headless monster instead of a living body come to full statue in Christ Jesus.

The nave of this Church also represents the ark on which we are saved. Just like Noah and his family were saved by being on the ark, we too are saved by being in Jesus’ One true Church (some churches have rafters which symbolize the ribs of the ark). Jesus’ Catholic Church is our refuge of safety in the storms of this life; it is the bark of Peter that brings us safely home to heave. The stations of the cross on the walls of the nave help us to mediate on Christ’s passion, suffering and death, so as to carry our own cross and so travel in imitation of Jesus in our own passion and death toward the Resurrection, when we will share in Jesus’ own victory over sin and death.

To help us along the way of the cross, which is the path of holiness, we also have our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her image here, as Our Lady of Fatima. At Fatima she came holding the rosary and the Scapular to remind us that she is praying for us, and that in the rosary we can pray with her to her Son and so chain the devil up in our lives, our families and the word. The Scapular is the sign of our consecration to Jesus through her. In this total consecration, she obtains for us the grace to keep our eyes always on Jesus in adoration, and to offer ourselves fully to Him at the Holy Mass; and then to live out this “Fiat” of our in our daily lives. She is at the right of the tabernacle because she is at the right of Jesus throne in heaven, the Queen Mother, interceding to Him on our behalf if we ask her as her little children.

We also have the statue of St. Joseph, the Guardian and protector of the Church, the guardian of the
Church family, and our parish family. He can be the guardian of your family as well…do you have an image of him in your homes? Better yet an image of the entire Holy Family. He is also know as “Terror of demons,” and Patron of the Dying. I believe it has been nothing less that a demonic attack on devotion to him that so many of our beautiful songs to honor him are no longer found in so many of our hymnals or no longer sung in our churches regularly. Good St. Joseph Pray for us.

Also in our Church is St. Michael is the warrior. He reminds us of the invisible but very real world of spirits. There are the good angels who are with us, one of which is our guardian angel always at our side to light, to guard, to rule and to guide. But so too, Michael reminds us that the devil, here at his feet, and all the other fallen angels are real too, and they prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. We need the help of the angels to defeat satan and all the evil spirits and so overcome their deceptions, lies and empty promises. Again here in this place all of the angels are present at Holy Mass.

In our church we have the baptismal fount, from which new members are birthed into the family of God and our parish family become adopted sons and daughters of God. When we use the Holy Water in the founts coming into Church, we are reminded of our own baptism and that this is our true home and that we are God’s beloved children. When fail in our faithfulness to our baptismal vows by sinning and so separate ourselves not only from Jesus but from His Church and so our parish family, the confessional in the back reconciles with God and the Church family.

The bells in the bell tower ring over the entire town to remind us to come to come to this Church our home often, every Sunday, even every day in order to experience Jesus and His love us in the Sacraments, especially the Most Blessed of all Sacraments the Holy Eucharist. If it is a real bell it is a sacramental. Every time it rings graces go out over the entire parish boundaries in order to bless all souls and call them to true worship of God.

In the vestibule of the Church is the picture of your patron--St. Peter sinking on the sea but upheld by Jesus. Peter is the Rock on Which Jesus build His Church. And so, Peter and His successors the popes, as holder of the keys are the Sweet Vicars of Christ on earth and their Cathedral is again St. John Lateran.

I hoped you enjoy this tour of the church building of your parish…which is primarily Jesus’ parish, for He is the Head. You are so blessed to be called and invited to be part of this Parish family, the Family of St. Peter’s. All of us are all part of the larger family of the Universal Church and of the parish, and we all need each other and have a responsibility to each other—there can be no loners in the Body of Christ…one cell cut off from the bodies quickly dies. And so, your parish family needs you and you need your parish family. St. Peter’s parish family should always be a “Family of families helping one another get to heaven”:…by helping one another fall in love with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, believing, adoring and hoping in Him truly present there. Holy Mary, Mother of the Church, Mother of our Parish, Mother of the Holy Eucharist, pray for us, lead us to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and help us to fall madly in love with Him there! Amen.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our Lady visit the souls of our loved one that are in purgatory, bring them refreshment and peace; and if it be God’s Holy Will, at the Consecration at this Holy Mass, carry them into the joys of heaven which you and all of the saints enjoy forever. Mother of Jesus, who is Life Itself, visit and bring refreshment to the Holy Souls in purgatory this day, especially those members of our family, friends and associates.

The Feast of all Souls. Sunday November 2nd, 2014.

Yesterday, we celebrated the great solemnity of All Saints. All Saints, is of course the day that we celebrate with great joy those souls who have made it to heaven and so now enjoy the full and unveiled vision of the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist; they are the “Church Triumph.” Today we celebrate the “Solemnity of All Souls.” This day is a special day to remember those who have died and are yet waiting to enter joyfully into the vision of the saints, which is the vision of the face of God. They are undergoing a final “purge” if you will; a purge of the self-love along with any error that they did not fully rid themselves here on earth; they are the “Church suffering.” While they have the joy of knowing that they have been saved, they themselves know that they are still not ready to see God face to face.

While we could spend much time this morning trying to prove the existence of purgatory, we know with certainty from the infallible teachings of the Church and the testimony of all the Saints that Purgatory is indeed real. While many die in friendship with God, that is in the state of grace, many have not yet reach that perfection of love that Jesus in the Holy Eucharist demands, “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Justice of God demands that we must have perfect love and so no selfishness to enter into the Perfect Love, which is God Himself. As the Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Purgatory is where the Justice of God is tempered by the Mercy of God!” So thank God for Purgatory! After all, how many of us can say we have reached that perfection of truth, love and virtue that Jesus who is Truth, Love and Virtue demands? And so, many of the greatest saints have stated that the number of those who pass right from this life to heaven is very small. The mystic St. John of the Cross says, “Only a small number of souls achieve perfect love.” (And as we have said, perfect love is necessary to go straight to heaven). St. Teresa of Avila also had the experience that only a few will be able to avoid Purgatory. St. John Vianney said, “It is definite that only a few chosen ones do not go to Purgatory; and the suffering there that one must endure, exceeds our imagination.”

And so what a great responsibility we all have to pray for our associates, friends, and loved ones who have died. How much of a lack of love on our part it is to assume that they are in heaven when they may very well be in purgatory in great need of our prayers for them. We may be the only ones who pray for them. We must remember that souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves or help themselves; they depend totally on us. It has been revealed to some saints that the souls in purgatory who suffer the most are the ones who have been forgotten, because they themselves neglected to pray for the Holy Souls in purgatory.

We should never doubt that our prayers help the souls in purgatory and our loved ones in purgatory. Our prayers for them truly show our love for them and truly help them. In fact, praying for our loved ones, offering Masses for them is the very best way to continue to show our love for them on earth now that they have gone.

Where I grew up there is a Dominican convent nearby. I remember hearing a true story of a very holy nun there that had a great devotion to the Holy Souls. She spent her whole life praying, doing penance and offering suffering for them. At one point she began to doubt whether or not all her prayers and suffrage had done anything to help them. One day, after she had almost given up on her apostolate to the Holy Souls, she returned to her cell that evening, and there appearing before her on the wall of her cell were thousands upon thousands of faces. She then heard Our Blessed Lord say to her, “These are the souls that you have released from purgatory thus far. Please continue!” Needless to say she did!

How we need then to pray and to offer Masses for our loved ones in purgatory; that is if we truly love them (and we do!). It does nothing to degrade their memory to realize they may be there. They have made it; they are friends of God and will be in heaven someday. And if they happen to be in heaven then our prayers are not wasted because, as I have said, we still show them our love for them and they can actually use our prayers for helping us, and others, from their place in heaven.

The holy souls in purgatory, while they cannot pray for themselves, can if we ask them, pray for us. This is really, I believe, at the heart of why the devil doesn’t want people on earth to believe in purgatory and to pray for the souls there. Think about it, he can’t do anything to them; they are saved. But, satan knows that if we believe in purgatory we can ask the souls that are there to pray for us, and their prayers are powerful because they are truly Holy Souls; they are friends of God. And even more, when they enter into heaven and see the Holy Eucharist unveiled, which is to see the Face of God, in gratitude for our help, they will beseech the throne of God on our behalf. And so obviously the devil doesn’t want this to happen because even though he can’t touch them, he wants the ruin, the death of our soul and so surely doesn’t want them to help us.

Today let us pray for our loved ones, all our loved ones who have gone before us in the true faith. Let us have the hope that they are in heaven, but let us not play the Pope and canonize them. Let us instead pray for them and offer Masses for them whenever we can to show and continue our love for them here on earth. Let us visit the cemetery where their bodies, the former temples of the Holy Spirit, are buried. And at this Holy Mass let us pray for them because here at the Mass they are indeed present. We must never forget that we are never closer to those whom we love and have died and are with God than we are at the Holy Mass, for the Holy Mass is truly heaven on earth. All the Angel and saints are here, but so too are the Holy Souls in purgatory, although they don’t yet get to see the Holy Eucharist unveiled which is the face of God.

Let’s ask the Holy Souls to pray for us as well so that we may increase our love by our cooperation to God’s grace given to us in the Holy Eucharist, becoming perfected in love so that we ourselves won’t have to pass through purgatory. St. Therese the little flower taught, “God our Father loves us and surely doesn’t want us, after we leave this world, to have to pass through purgatory, He wants us in heaven with Him.” This should give us great confidence and trust in His Mercy and in His love. God really doesn’t want purgatory. We should never say, “I hope I make it to purgatory!” What cowardous, what mediocrity and lack of love; we should say instead, “When I die, I want to go straight to heaven to be with my Father who loves me, with Jesus, Mary and Joseph and with all the saints in heaven. And so, I as a member of the Church Militant on earth will, with the help of His grace, fight to live the life of love and of holiness to which He has called me.” Let each of us trust in the Father’s love for us and never take it for granted by sinning and living a life of mediocrity and indifference.

Let us pray; Our Lady visit the souls of our loved one that are in purgatory, bring them refreshment and peace; and if it be God’s Holy Will, at the Consecration at this Holy Mass, carry them into the joys of heaven which you and all of the saints enjoy forever. Mother of Jesus, who is Life Itself, visit and bring refreshment to the Holy Souls in purgatory this day, especially those members of our family, friends and associates. And dear Mother, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

This week we continue with the games of the Pharisees. Again they are trying to trap Jesus. One the favorite past times of the Pharisees, beside laying snares for Jesus, was to discuss among themselves which of the 613 commandments of the Jewish Law was the greatest. Today, we hear the Word of God in the flesh—Jesus, who is the author of all law, set the record straight. He points out the greatest; in fact, what lies at the very heart of the Law—LOVE.

The greatest Commandment is the first, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and soul.” And the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The great St. Augustine commenting on the relationship between the two greatest commandments said, “If your ever confused, everything in the bible, and all of the Church teachings points to these two laws, everything else is nothing but commentary.” Everything else our stewardship, the living out of our mission, our apostolate, everything else is contained in these two laws, why? Because God is Love itself.

We, as Christians, have heard these greatest of commandments many times before, but have we really thought about them deeply? There is actually a proper order in following them, for you see you can’t love one without first loving the other. You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t first love your God, that is love Him totally, absolutely, first and above all else. Then second you can’t love God if you hate your neighbor, any neighbor, period.

How does one understand these two laws and the order and relationship between them? What does it look like to live them correctly and with a proper balance? Well the best way is to understand them and see them lived correctly is as always to look at the lives of the saints. And in our day, we don’t have to just look to the saints of old to see the proper order and living out of the first and second commandment, we have so many contemporary examples available to us, for instance, Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

There is the example of Mother and a couple of her sisters coming across a poor man dying in the gutters along one of the streets of Calcutta. Now the gutters of the streets of Calcutta are actually the sewage system. And if it could be any worse, this man’s body was literally infested with worms and maggots. One could only image the stench and the repulsiveness of such a sight. Nevertheless, Mother and the sisters pick the man up, ignoring the stench, ignoring the sight, his dirty body soiling their pure white habits. They lovingly carried him back to the home where they cared for the poorest of the poor. There they cleansed this man and cared for his wounds picking out of his flesh the vermin that had infested it. And they did it which such care, as one observer noted; “that you would have sworn they were doing it to Christ Himself.” The man, shortly before He died, looked up at Mother and said, “Now I know that God exists, for no-one would have done what you did to me unless God was real and He and His love existed… With that he died in peace, not only with his body cared for, but his soul as well. Later a person said to Mother, “I wouldn’t have done what you did for a million dollars!” And Mother replied, “Neither would I, but I would do it for love of Christ.”

Mother, by her example, taught us the power we have as Catholic Christians to change hearts and souls when we love God before and above all else and then live that love by loving others as ourselves. She on many occasions gave us the practical secrets to living, not just a life of social work, but a life of true charity—loving others not just with human love, but with the divine love of Jesus, with Jesus, alive in one’s soul. On one occasion she said, “My sisters and I could never ever do what we do in the streets of Calcutta unless we begin every day with an hour of adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, followed by Holy Mass and the worthy reception of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. She also once said, “You will never see Christ in the face of the poor, unless you first see Him (through faith) in the Holy Eucharist. She also said once to one of her sister’s; “It doesn’t matter who you see in the face of the poor, but who they see in your eyes! Do they see Jesus and His love alive in you?!” Mother on so many occasions said the same things in different ways, giving us the secret to her great power and holiness and a proper understanding of the two greatest commandments.

The great error of our day is actually a confusion of the proper order of these two commandments. It is a very attractive error. Many think that true religion consists primarily in loving and serving one’s neighbor, but they are wrong. True religion consists primarily in serving, loving and adoring God, first in our Worship of Him during the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, offered worthily and correctly, and then, by following His commandments and the teachings of His Church with the help of His grace offered to us in the Sacred Liturgy; including of course, all the Sacraments of the Church. The Sacraments give us the power, God’s power, to love God greater and to show that love by loving our neighbor as ourselves with God’s love not just our own. If only us Catholics truly began to comprehend the power of the Sacraments we would change our current world overnight…but they must be received with faith.

This contemporary error of putting service of neighbor before the worship of God, is shown by those who think they are righteous and good because they give food to the poor and do good works but then don’t worship God according to the third commandment so that Jesus and His Divine Love is alive in them through grace; and so aren’t able to truly live out the commandments and teachings of Church in the state of grace, that is with, in and through Jesus and His love in them.
This same error of and inversion of the first two commandments was shown in past years by some making the emphasis of our Religious Ed programs consist in service projects to the poor, but failing to teach our children to adore and then to live the doctrines of the church along with the Commandments. Don’t get me wrong, we need to have our kids do service projects, but we need most importantly to first lead them to a deeper faith in the Holy Mass which is the proper worship of God, the Sacraments (especially the Most Blessed Sacrament), as well as give them the doctrines of our Church for they are the truth that gives freedom and life—we can’t truly love God or neighbor with the doctrines of the Church.

I once heard a prelate in the Church comment that there is a danger in the growth of adoration of the Eucharist in our day. He said that the danger is that of making faith just about Jesus and me. While it is true that our faith cannot be only about Jesus and me, the problem is not found in adoring Jesus during Holy Hours of adoration or during Mass. While it is possible for one to adore Jesus in Holy hour and to receive Him at Holy Mass and then not go out and love ones neighbor, it is impossible to love one neighbor correctly with charity without adoring Jesus during Mass or Holy Hours and receiving Him worthily. Grace has to be cooperated with yes, but it must first be received. We have to come in contact with the very source of Love before we can truly love; and God is the source of love for He is Love Itself.

The first commandment is not only a commandment to Love God but to love Him through Adoration. Adoration is coming before God in humility realizing that we are the creature and He is the Creator and everything, everything is a gift from Him. We are but poor with nothing to offer Him except ourselves, our wills. And even this we don’t know how to do, because we are so attached to ourselves and what we have, especially our wills and so we lack docility to God’s will. To adore we need God’s help. And here is where the Holy Mass comes in.

At the Holy Mass we are able to be present at the greatest and only perfect act of adoration and love the world has ever seen, that of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Sacrifice of the cross was (and is) really God adoring God, because it was (and is) Jesus adoring the Father. Because the Holy Mass, by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the gift of the Sacred Priesthood, makes present in time and space the same sacrifice of Calvary, we can more and more offer ourselves to the Father along with, in and through Jesus’ own sacrifice, thus practically carrying out the first commandment, to love God above all else. We are then empowered by receiving Jesus Divine power and Love, by receiving His own Sacred Heart in the Holy Eucharist to go out and love our neighbor as ourselves.

But the Holy Eucharist only has the power to transform us to the extent we die to self, to our will, purify and clean ourselves in the sacrament of confession and then offer ourselves to Father through, in and with Jesus in loving response to the Father’s love in the gift of His Son in the Holy Eucharist. The more we die to self, the more we offer ourselves in adoration with great faith, trust and love, the more we can take the love of Jesus, Jesus Himself, out to all we meet in our homes, schools and work. The more we then live a life or purity, that is a life of holiness, the more then we can be transformed into love at Holy Mass.

That great orator and priest, Archbishop Fulton Sheen once describe this adoration at Holy Mass when he said, At the Holy Mass we come to the foot of the cross now transplanted from Calvary onto the altar of our own church and there Jesus hanging on the cross looks out over all present and says, I can no longer suffer and die for the souls of mankind, will you give me your human nature so that I can continue the work of the salvation of souls, suffering and dying for them and loving them in and through you.”

“No greater love is than this, than a man who would lay down his life for his friends.” Only by growing and perfecting in love the self-offering of ourselves in adoration to the Father through Jesus during the Holy Mass can we imitate the saints and fulfill the greatest of all commandments, that of Loving God first and out of love for Him, loving our neighbor as our self. Only then will they, the poorest of the poor, that is those who do not know God loves them, only then will they see Jesus in our eyes and in our smile. Our Lady of adoration, Mother of the Holy Eucharist and our Mother, help us to adore the Father, in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ultimately to give to God what is God's means to give Him ourselves, for we are His and to Him we belong and are called to return; may we indeed be counted among those he has chosen and be instruments of salvations for others as well. Amen

Matthew 22, 15,21 Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 18th, 2014

Today’s Gospel brings out the darkness of the hearts of those who opposed Jesus’ intrusion into their lives—they were religious in appearance only, but in their hearts they sought to live a life far apart from God—they refused to give to God what belonged to Him, namely their lives, their hearts and wills; in other words they refuse to adore Him, they refused to accept Him and his teachings and open their lives to His Divine Grace in order to begin to conform their lives in obedience to His Truth and His Will. And so, in order to justify themselves and to trap Jesus, these so-called religious pose a very clever question to try to get Jesus either to oppose the rights of God or the rights of the state.

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

Today then, Jesus teaches us that the state does not enjoy absolute power and dominion, absolute separation from God and His Church. Yes it has its own sphere of dominion, but it is limited. As a consequence, the rights of the state cannot usurp the rights of God and of His Holy Catholic Church, nor go against the dignity and sacredness of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. The government is called to uphold the proper order between Creator and creature.

Yes, us Christians have a duty to give to the state whatever material and personal services we are able in order to support the common good. But the state then has the corresponding responsibility to enact laws and govern with the greatest respect for the common good of all people including, and most especially, the most vulnerable; that is, those that cannot protect themselves. This obligation of the state includes the protection of the life of the human person from the moment of conception to natural death, the defense of the family; and consequently, the protection of marriage as an in-dissolvable union between one man and one woman as define by God and by natural law as a means to bring new life into the world to adore God. The state must protect the rights of parents, not the state, to be the primary educators of their children. The obligation of the state extends as well to the protection of religious liberty, which is the freedom of the human person to worship his Creator God and follow God’s laws and the Teachings of His Church. And so, the laws of the state, if they are to be just, can never contradict the Laws of God. Instead, the principles of God and the sacredness of the human person and the life of the human person should be the guiding light for the enactment of the laws of state.

So we must support the state so it can fulfill its earthly natural purpose or end--which is domestic peace and harmony, and only when it has these ends in view; but even more so, Jesus points out today as well, our higher obligation to support the Church so that it may carry out its supernatural purpose or end: which is to bring about eternal peace and harmony-better known as the kingdom of God, that kingdom for which man was created and for which he is to be saved. Politics alone cannot save society or man;Politics is meant to serve the human person not define him or her.

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

By the way, the political debate should be the means, the method we use to ensure God’s law is respected and human life is protected; and this is why we are obliged to promote the truth and fight unjust laws-laws which go against the common good of all. Like paying taxes, this is a duty we Christians owe to the state. The notion that we Christians should not and may not participate in the public forum and make our voices known is to exclude God Himself from the public square, Ultimately, it is man literally ignoring the existence of God, at its heart this is what communism and secularism does. In the words of the Second Vatican it is a practical atheism. This includes as well, the ideal that we can not use the pulpit to call the state to task and remind it of its obligations to the human person and to God; this ideal of silencing the pulpit is evil, not to mention un-American.

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

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

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

By your humble words, “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” the Word became flesh and dwelt and continues to dwell among us in the Holy Eucharist…may your words become our own. Amen.

Matthew 22,1-14. Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 12th, 2014

The Holy Spirit in our first reading describes the intimacy to which God calls each one of us. It is as a great feast, a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy…The food that is prepared by the Lord for us however, is not just any food, but the food for which every human heart longs and desires; it is the only food that will ultimately satisfy the human heart. The great feast is really the Heavenly Wedding Feast for which all are invited but sadly in the end few respond.

What is the food the human heart longs for, the food that is served at the Heavenly Wedding Feast? It is the love of God; this is the only food that can satisfy. But we have to stop here before we go further. God does not have love; God does not possess love…God IS LOVE! As St. John tells us, Deus Caritas Est…God is LOVE! This means what the human heart ultimately longs for…every human heart…is God Himself. This brings up an important point that we can never hear enough.

God doesn’t just want to give us something, God wants to give us Some One…God wants to give us Himself, totally, and He is the God who is Love. In fact, God wants to actually wed our soul; He wants to make our souls one with Himself in the Wedding of all weddings, the wedding of the Bridegroom, Jesus who is God come to earth, to His bride, the Church, each one of us, the baptized.

Jesus, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity came to earth and continues to come to earth in order to wed our souls to His, our nature to His Nature. This is why He took an human nature, to be able to invite us to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb…This why He continues to take on a human nature in the Holy Eucharist so that at His wedding Feast the soul and God can become one…one in a union of love…one in a union with the God who is Love Itself. Imagine!, God wants to wed your soul…so much does He love you.

And so by your baptism you are called, invited, to this Wedding Feast that our Gospel today talks about. Where is this wedding Feast???…It is here at the Holy Mass. The Holy Mass is THE WEDDING, the wedding of all weddings; it is the Wedding feast of the Lamb where God wants, desires to wed you and take you to Himself. He is the source of everything, the source of your family, your possessions, your existence…and this God wants to give you something more than all of that, He wants to give you Himself.

The Holy Mass is the mountain of Holiness spoken about in our first reading, the meeting place of God and Man; it is heaven on earth, the Heavenly Wedding Feast on earth. It is where God continues to descend, to condescend to us by becoming one of us, in order to take us to Himself. The choice of all wines is His Precious blood to be poured out for us; the food is His body to be given up for us…By partaking of His flesh and blood, which is united to His soul and divinity, we can, through faith, enter into Comm—union with Him and through Him with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. But it goes without saying that we have to show up at the wedding in order to be wedded to God!

We are told today that many who are invited never show up for the feast; but, we have to do even more than just show up…we have to come with ready to lift up our hearts to the Lord; that is, to offer them up to the Lord who offers His heart to us at Mass…The Holy Mass is an exchange of hearts, and exchange of persons, God gives us His Sacred Heart and we must open our hearts by offering our hearts to Him… How do we do this?

First our hearts have to be made worthy by the Lord Himself in the sacrament of Confession. We have to repent from our sins, confessing them in the sacrament of confession with a firm intention to leave sin behind in order become more fully one with God by following His Holy Will; and so His teachings and Commandments. Our hearts need to be cleansed and our souls dressed in the wedding garment of sanctifying grace, that is with the life of God restored, healed and alive in our souls from a good and honest sacramental confession. We have to come to the Wedding dress worthily. This includes our bodily dress, but most especially in soul. Our outward appearance should be a reflection of our inward appearance, the appearance of our soul before the Bridegroom, Christ. (We should bring Him as well the good works of our lives, and even our failures so He can transform them).

Second we have to realize that at the Wedding that is the Holy Mass, an exchange of hearts must take place. This is done just as it is done at a wedding, vows must take place (I spoke about his during the mini-Eucharistic conference I gave here at St. Peter’s last July). Just like at wedding between a man and woman, the couple exchanges holy and sacred vows…I do…that is I give myself totally to You for life by offering my life to you….These “I do” of the couples must be first and foremost an act of the will, in which each person intends to give the gift of Himself and Herself to one another. And they seal this intention with a Sacred Oath before God Himself and His Holy Church. Amen…so help me God to live this oath till death do us part…if one or more of the couple doesn’t say the words “I do” or doesn’t mean intentionally the words from the heart then the marriage is not valid and the two can not become truly one flesh at the consummation of the wedding vows which takes place in the marital act the night of the wedding.

So too with the Holy Mass…Holy vows must take place, an exchange of hearts, of persons giving of themselves totally in love to one another. God totally gives His “I do” by giving us Himself through the Sacred Heart of His Son in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the total gift of the Father to us because it is the gift of His Son, Jesus, who is everything that the Father is and possesses. But to receive this gift, we must in response to God’s “I do” give our “I do” that is the gift of our hearts, ourselves, all that we have and are to God. It only then that the consummation truly take place at the Marital act of the Holy Mass, Holy Communion.

We can only truly become one with God at Holy Communion to the extent that we give our “I do” to God…only to the extent we give the gift of our self in response to the gift of God’s entire self can we become “one flesh” with God through the reception of the flesh of God which we receive in Holy Communion. Only communion is far more intimate, unfathomably more intimate than the marital act between a husband and wife because in Holy Communion Jesus whole Body and all of His Blood comes into ours, along with whole Soul and His Divinity!!!

And finally, third, to actively, fully, consciously participate at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and so bear the fruit of Holiness that is oneness with God, we have to turn to the mother of the Bridegroom-Jesus. We have to turn to the Blessed Mother of God to help us to offer our hearts. Interiorly at every Mass, we should ask her to help us adore the Lord, which really means to make of our selves a living oblation of love to Him.

We turn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is already perfectly one with the Sacred Heart of Her Son, and we entrust the offering of our hearts, our whole being into her hands. We ask her to place our hearts on the paten. In fact her hands become the living paten on which our hearts are offered up to the Father by the Hands of Her Son who is working in the person of the priest. She then magnifies the offering of our hearts, our lives, our works, joys and sufferings, our everything, by her Holiness and makes them acceptable to Her Son. He then accepts our hearts and our offerings as if they where His Mother’s own. As the great High priest Jesus then presents them as an acceptable offering to His Father, God the Father almighty who accepts our offerings as if they were Jesus own offerings. Our Father God then takes us to himself and Makes us more and more images and instruments of His love and Mercy for others—images of His Son.

With our hearts acceptable to the Father they become worthy to receive the heart of His Son Jesus in Holy Communion because by the power of the Holy Spirit that are transformed into images of Jesus’ own Sacred Heart. The fruit of this worthy reception of the Heart of the Son, which is the Marital act of the Holy Mass, is oneness with Jesus and through Him with the Father. Jesus then begins to live anew in the world in us, through us and with us. Our works become Jesus works, our acts of selfless love no matter how small become Jesus’s own acts of love. Our lives then bear the fruit of love which is oneness with Love Himself and this love effects not only our own lives, and our family’s lives, but the lives or countless of other souls as well. This is the fruit, the fruit of small souls living holiness; that is, oneness with God. It is these souls who accept the invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb who will bring about our renewal of our families, our country and our world…they will be used by our Blessed Lord to bring a great renewal of the Church, and so of the world leading to an unprecedented era of peace through the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother.

Let us then end by turning to the blessed Mother for help. Dear Blessed Mother at this Holy Mass which is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, help us to give our “I do” to the Lord as did you. By your humble words, “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” the Word became flesh and dwelt and continues to dwell among us in the Holy Eucharist…may your words become our own. Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

This week is Respect-Life Sunday and it kicks off an entire month of support for the Pro-life moment. Our first reading and Gospel talk again about the vineyard of the Lord, and the fact that those to whom the vineyard was entrusted did not properly respond to the Lord or yield fruit for which he was looking. Instead they broke his covenant, creating a culture of death, by killing his prophets and eventually even his Son. Finally, they had the vineyard taken away from them for bearing no fruit, of the fruit of life. We too will all have to give an account of how we used what God has given us in the vineyard to produce good fruit. And at the end of our lives Jesus will question us about fruit of love. Did we use what we have primary for love of God and love of neighbor.

I believe included in this question of our love will be the question of pro-life. How even more so we will have to give an account of our efforts to support the Church’s work of protecting God’s greatest gift--the gift of life. Jesus will say to each one of us who lived in the current culture of death, “What did you do to defend life in my vineyard? I speak for myself but at this point in my life I will have to answer, “not enough Lord, not enough!” God has entrusted the life of every individual to his or her fellow human beings, brothers and sisters. We are to give of ourselves to each other in imitation of Christ who gave Himself totally to us. God asks us to bear fruits of life rather than to abuse our freedom with perversions of “choice” that end up taking life.

To work in the vineyard of the Lord means to stand for life and ‘to stand for’ means that we stand against whatever destroys life. And there is nothing in our society that destroys more human life than abortion—nothing at all, no crime, no disease, no natural disaster, no war. If you look at all the wars that we have ever fought in our nation’s entire history, you will see that we destroy more human lives by abortion in one year than we have destroyed by all the wars of our nation’s history put together. There’s an abortion in our country every 26 seconds, 3,300 a day.

The irony of this horror is that some promote this taking of human life under the slogan “freedom of choice”. But the women getting the abortions do not do so because of freedom of choice; they do so because they feel that there is no freedom and no choice. They feel trapped, abandoned, desperate, afraid…and sadly they feel that there is no one they can turn except the abortionist, who makes money, lots of money off their desperate situation.

The Church and the pro-life movement want to give you the “good news” that there are people ready to help, that there are better choices better than abortion. People are ready to provide help. Let us allow no one ever to feel that the only way to solve a problem is to have her child destroyed. As a country, as a people, we can do better than the destruction of 3300 children a day.

The sad thing is that so many who need this help don’t know it’s available. But that’s where we come in. Each of us can save someone’s life by spreading the Good News that there are alternatives to abortion. Over the next few weeks we are going share with you this and other information. Next week we will have in the bulletin, 55 practical suggestions of legal, peaceful, effective things that we can all do to help bring and end to abortion and help women in need. And at the top of this sheet you will find telephone numbers that can be called anytime of the day or night. There are children who are depending on us to do something. Children are alive today because churches just like ours learned what they could do and began to speak up when they had the chance by saying, “Don’t have an abortion…There’s help available!”

We also need to let people know that to oppose abortion does not mean to oppose those who have had them. To be pro-life means to be pro-woman. To love the baby does not mean we forget the mothers. We can love them both, protect them both, welcome and care for the both. We need to reach out to women who have had abortions. We need to let them know the doors of the church are open to you, the doors of God’s mercy is available to you. God is not and we are not against you; we’re on your side. There is a true case of a woman who had 24 abortions and even for her the doors of the Church are open. Open as well is Christ’s heart of divine Mercy!

It is also urgent that in our day we avoid being fooled by the slogans of our day, which are nothing more than lies. Some people talk about “safe and legal abortions” because they think that making it legal has made it safe and therefore to keep it safe and out of the back ally ways, we must keep it legal. This is a lie. First of all, safe for whom? It’s never safe for the child. The very purpose of the procedure is to destroy the child.

But what many people don’t realize about this lie is that it isn’t safe for the mother either. And that’s true not only because of the over 150 physical and emotional complications that can result from this procedure—But also, because legal abortion facilities in our country are the most unregulated surgical facilities in the nation. Women are injured, even killed and these things are being covered up; we are just not hearing about them. I personally have had many mothers share with me the pain and agony of their decision. They are devastated by the mistake they made. So often they struggle not with the fact that God can forgive them, they struggle instead to forgive themselves.

And what about the lie of the slogan “pro-choice.” The problem about this lie is that we don’t hear what the choice is. Is a particular choice right or wrong, good or bad, should it be allowed or prohibited? Doesn’t this slogan depend on what you’re choosing? Do I have the right to choose to steal from you, to abuse you, to kill you? Of course not—because my choices ends where your rights begin. And therefore the law protects (or should protect) your rights against my choice to harm you.
In abortion what is the choice? Some say it’s the choice whether to have or not have a child.

Certainly everyone one has a choice whether or not to have a child. We can all understand that there are circumstances in which some people should not have a child. But isn’t there a big difference between the choice of whether or not to have a child and the choice of whether or not to kill a child. When we talk about abortion, we are not talking about a child who might come into the world; we are talking about a child who is already in the world. Scientifically, life begins at the moment of conception and we were all embryos once, every one of us. So the question is not, “Should I bring a child into this world?” The question is, “May I throw a child out of the world?” And the answer is no!

Some people will say abortion isn’t my business. But as I said at the beginning, Love is our business, again when we face Jesus we will all be questioned about Love. Doesn’t love mean that when we can help another person in need or in danger we try to help them or at least speak up for them. If we witness a helpless child who is about to be run over by a car or is in danger of being abused by an adult, don’t we have a duty to intervene, a duty of love? What more helpless child is there than the child in danger of being aborted? He or she is the most helpless child in our world—is it not our business and duty to intervene?

In a short while we will offer ourselves at the Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ gives Himself away on the cross and, in the Holy Eucharist we find the meaning of love: I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person, I lay down my life for him. Isn’t it ironic that this is the perfect reversal of abortion and all crimes against life, which say instead, I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself? And isn’t it ironic, that the very same words that Jesus and His priests use to proclaim love, are used by the defenders of abortion: This is my body. Some say they control their bodies and so others must die; But Christ says, “This is my body given up for you in the Holy Eucharist, so that you may live.” Jesus gives His Body away, so others may live. This is my body, given up for you. In the power of these words, the culture of death will be transformed into the culture of life.

As we receive the fruit of these words, the Holy Eucharist-Jesus himself given up for us so that we may live, let us pray for openness to His power so that we may not be indifferent. Let us pray that we may have the grace to get actively involved in the effort to stop the killing of all children by not only abortion, but by all crimes against life. Holy Mary, Mother of Life, Mother of all mothers, and mother of the unborn, pray for us.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In our first reading today we hear from Ezekiel, one of the Old Testament Prophets who lived in the sixth century B.C. The word “prophet” refers to one who is chosen to speak for God, on God’s behalf. The prophet speaks the truth in words and in deeds in order to point the creature-man, back to his Creator. By his faithful witness, the prophet reminds man of his responsibility to respond to the Creator’s call, and then the prophet shows man how to respond and so how to find his way back to or to a fuller intimacy with God.
Responsibility was a recurring theme not only of Ezekiel, but also of all the Old Testament prophets. And so, is it not predicting the future that is the essential element of the prophet, but that of reminding man of his grave responsibility to God and of fulfilling that responsibility, by repenting; that is, by turning away from sin and back to God. Turning back to God entails being obedient to God’s Truth, to His Holy Word and to His Holy Church, and then struggling with the help of God’s grace in living that truth out in Charity-love, thus being obedient to God’s Holy Will. Simply put the true prophet shows the way to the Face of God by giving God’s people the truth…Hence, many times the prophet is not considered a nice guy…and is usually persecuted by some of those God has called to be His own.
Ezekiel’s message, as does the message today from St. Paul, focuses on this mystery of man’s responsibility. This same message of our first and second reading--responsibility, in fact personal responsibility, is also found as well in today’s Gospel: the parable of the two sons, asked by their father to perform a certain task, and the two sons’ differing replies or responses to their father’s request. In their differing responses, we discover the meaning of responsibility.
Responsibility comes from two words, “response” and “ability.” It literally means a capacity for replying to someone to whom a reply is due. For anyone with faith, for anyone who believes that man is God’s creature called to live with God forever, responsibility has to do with man’s reply to His Creator to Whom a reply is definitely due; in justice as well as in love. Responsibility as to do with God’s Holy Will for man, and man’s reply or response back to that Will as shown by man’s obedience, not only to God directly but also to the prophets that God sends.
In this loving response to God and His Will, we can discover, if we are of good will, that God’s will for us is not just a set of commands for command’s sake or rules for the sake of rules. No, God’s will for us is about a set or a body of directives all pointing to what is best for our welfare. It is a set of guiding principles and truths that actually point the individual to God, or better yet allow the individual the freedom to respond or reply to God’s initiative; for it was He who first called us; it was He who first loved us, not the other way around.
As you know, Christian responsibility is not always easy for the disciple of Jesus. Sometimes being responsible for right actions before God entails carrying a cross, even to the point of martyrdom if necessary. Such is thrust of today’s Second Reading, from St. Paul to the Philippians. Here we are reminded that Christian responsibility is a service to others, a suffering service, carried out in the footstep of the Suffering Servant Himself, Jesus of Nazareth. This is known as the martyrdom of love, were a man lays down his life for the sake of his friend, the first friend being, of course, Jesus-God Himself.
This martyrdom of love, while it can be expressed by the shedding of one’s blood, is mostly lived out fidelity to our ordinary daily duties, both materially and spiritually. Doing all, even the seemingly insignificant things, for the sake of and for the Love of God first, and then for neighbor for love of God; never living for one’s own sake but for the sake of and the good of the other. In this dying of self by dying to our self-will and selfishness in all things, do we alone find authentic freedom, authentic love and the fullness of life, for a martyrdom of love, leads us to the abundant life, life lived in union with God…..To he who is faithful in small things I will entrust larger ones…in this we discover we are all, by our baptism called to be prophets of God…
It’s important that we remember that we can only begin our grave responsibility to God (and neighbor) by our adoration of God—first things first!!! Adoration is the only proper reply that us creatures can give in response to God, in response to all that He has given to us, which is of course everything, even our very existence. We do not and cannot in any way fulfill our responsibility to God (and neighbor) without first adoring God…true religion is primarily about adoring and worshiping our Creator. This is why we must attend Mass which is the perfect act of Adoration because it is the adoration of God to God, Jesus to the Father on our behalf. If we don’t attend Mass we fail at the very deepest level in our responsibility to God. In fact, the Holy Mass is the primary source of “our ability” to give our response to God thus fulfilling our responsibility.
At Mass, through grace, we must trustingly offer to God in love, all that we are and all that we have. It is our responsibility, the responsibility of love, to do so, this is true adoration, a self-oblation before the Lord, not to be destroyed but to be assumed up into God’s love, becoming one with Him. In the Mass, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is re-presented to us; that is, made present for us today, here and now.
For our sake not for His, Jesus in obedience offers everything, his very life to the Father on the wood of the cross out of love for us; and then the Father through Jesus in the Holy Eucharist offers us His all, His everything to us by giving us the fullness of His Divine Son. We celebrated this, a couple of weeks ago at the feast of the Triumph of the cross. Jesus not only gives us the perfect example to imitate in order to carry out our responsibility, but also provides us with the wellspring of mercy and grace by giving us His very own Sacred Pierced Heart. And if we open our hearts and minds to It, To Him, by His gift of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed into living images of Jesus for the world, giving our all for the Glory of God and the salvation of souls, in this we begin to truly serve our fellow man and “feed” the poor.
We in the manner of Jesus on the cross, make His prayer our own at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer. The priest says, “The Lord be with you.” And you respond, “and also with you.” Then he says, “Lift up your hearts.” And you respond, “We lift them up to the Lord,” that is we offer them (Our hearts) to the Lord in adoration and in response to His great love for us. Finally, the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” You respond, “It is right and just to give him thanks and praise; in other words it our responsibility in justice and love to give Him thanks and praise by offering ourselves in love, giving our “I do” in response to His “I do”. With this prayer, we offer to God all that we are and all that we have—our whole heart, uniting ourselves to the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary which becomes truly present before us on the altar, responding to Father’s love by giving our all our very self back to Him through His Son, with His Son and in His Son, thus carrying out our primary responsibility to the Lord. This is the first, most profound and most personal act of adoration we can do; this is the primary source of the strength to love God and then to love our neighbor for love of Him.
We have all, at one time or the other been one of the two sons in the parable. Either we say we are disciples of God; that is, we say we will do what He demands; but instead, we do our own thing. Or we don’t do what we should, but hopefully repent and in the end do so. Today, let us be the third son not mentioned, the one who like Jesus, understands his great responsibility to his Father, and responds immediately by doing what is asked of Him. Love is always shown by deeds; that is, in loving obedience, doing the will of God, of following His Commandments and the Teachings of His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, without hesitation and without counting the cost. Adoration of God is our primary duty, and from it flows the grace, love and mercy to carry out our second; that is, to love our neighbor by serving him or her in and with the truth that comes from God and is given to us through His Catholic Church, and doing so with sanctifying grace, that is with, in and through Jesus and with His love alive in our hearts.
Today in the Holy Eucharist, God knocks at the door to our heart; let us discover that adoration is the key to unlock the door of our hearts to Christ; it is only through obedience to our responsibility that we can open our heart to Him. The Holy Eucharist is Jesus who longs come into our hearts, from Him alone we receive the capacity to be fill with His Love, which is His very Self. He alone is the source of our ability and capacity to “respond” in love to the call of our God, who is the God who is Love. To respond can only mean we offer our hearts in response to the God who offers us His Sacred Heart pierced for love of us and truly present and beating for love of us in the Holy Eucharist…Let us ask the Virgin to help us lift up our hearts; that is to, through her, offer them completely in love to the Lord…Amen.