Saturday, February 22, 2014

Holy Mary, Mother of Charity, Mother of all God’s children, Our Heavenly Mother, we give thee our hearts, present them to your Divine Son at this Holy Mass…. pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen!

Mark 5; 38-48 Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 23, 2014

When we hear the demands of the Gospel it’s easy to become discouraged. Today’s Gospel is no different. The demands of Holiness, if not looked upon through the lens of love, seem to be an insurmountable Mountain. We can see a person who appears to be very holy, and think to ourselves, “Oh I could never be like that. I am so far away from what they are.” From there we can say, “I might as well give up.

The fact however is, that there are as many paths to holiness as there are individual souls. One persons path is not another’s. God has tailored a personal path of holiness for each person, for you and for me. And what’s more He will, through His Holy Church, provide the means for us to travel this personal path of holiness in order to reach that pinnacle of love, which is an intimate union with Him. There are no exemptions—nothing is impossible for God. Every one of us can become as holy as God wants us to be, provided we turn to Him In Love, and have recourse to the divine power of His Sacraments—the Sacraments of His Church; the Sacraments of Marriage for the married, the Sacrament of Holy Orders for the priest, and for everyone, the Sacraments of baptism, confirmation, confession, anointing of the sick for those who need it, and especially the Holy Eucharist which is the Most Blessed of all the Sacraments because it is literally Jesus Himself and His Sacred Heart living and beating, full of love for us.

Having said all of this let’s return to back to today’s Gospel. The demands of Jesus found here are some of the most difficult to carry out in all of the Scriptures. And so, in light of today’s Gospel we must ask, “how can we love our enemies, or do good to those who persecute us, or forgive those who don’t seek our forgiveness.”

Let us look at the lives of the saints to give us an example of how we can live this Gospel on a daily basis. Let’s look at the St. Therese of Lesieux. St. Therese the Little Flower had in her convent a certain sister whom she did not like and could not stand to be around. However, St. Therese prayed and begged God, to open her heart to His Divine Grace to love this annoying sister who was in a sense her “enemy.” Therese went to confession many times to ask forgiveness for her failures in kindness and in order to obtain the supernatural grace she needed to truly love this sister who was unlovable. When receiving Jesus in Holy Communion she asked Jesus to make her heart like His.

Through this, Jesus granted St. Therese His divine grace to go beyond her feelings and emotions, in order to choose to love this sister in small and simple ways. For example, Therese would thread the sewing needle for this sister; and in discussions about this sister, Therese always referred to this sister as being better than her. As a result of Therese’s heroic kindness, assisted by the grace of the Sacraments, this annoying sister actually came to believe that St. Therese was her best friend. In fact at one point the sister asked St. Therese, Sister what is that attracted you so to me? This belief of the sister, that she was St. Therese best friend, was the result of St. Therese’s human love being perfected and united to Christ own divine love in and through the Sacraments of the Church and especially prayer before the Most Blessed of all Sacraments the Holy Eucharist. It wasn’t an act, for her part Therese did grow to love this sister not only as her best friend but as her “other self.”

And so, the example of St. Therese and all of the saints along with all of our readings today offer us plenty to reflect upon in terms of proper Christian attitudes. They offer us a standard of forgiveness to which we may not be accustomed. They offer us a standard of ethical behavior that is opposite of what our society would have us practice. We would not be surprised to hear Jesus tell us in our Gospel to love our neighbor, or to be charitable to those in need, or even to forgive those around us. But today Jesus says, "Love your enemies," "Do good to those who hate you;" "Bless those who curse you, Pray for those who mistreat you." These certainly are opposed to human nature and are not something that we feel comfortable with. Again, left alone our human nature tends toward aggression; it seeks to get revenge, or to get even. This begins early in childhood. If someone pushes us, our natural reaction and emotional response is to push back. In fact at times our fallen human nature tempts us past the point of getting even, to the point of wanting to get ahead. At times it can even takes pleasure in hurting others.

That is not God’s way however, that is not what Jesus taught, and Jesus makes this very, very clear when he says, "love your enemies." "Do good to those who hate you." Jesus is not talking about any ordinary kind of love here. He is talking about Christian love-Charity. Our Western culture tends to romanticize all love in terms of warm emotional feelings for another person or personal gratification. But true Christian charity is what Jesus calls all of His followers to live, it goes beyond feelings and emotions.

Formally defined, Christian charity means to will the good of another, no matter what the circumstances. As Jesus put it, it means to act well towards even those who hate us, even to the point of praying for them. To act well towards those who hate us is not a natural human response. Like St. Therese, we will not have emotional feelings for the person who wrongs us, however, through an act of our will, assisted by God’s grace, our attitude can be one in which we truly want the best for our persecutor to the point that we ask God to bless them. (St. Stephen the first martyr blessed those who were about to stone Him; and in doing so, probably earned the grace of conversion for Saul who was leading the stoning…Saul of course later became St. Paul.)

In a little over a week, we begin Lent. Lent calls us to surrender those things from deep within ourselves that keep us from completely and without reservation following Christ, loving him above all things, so that we may love our neighbor and even our enemies as ourselves. Ultimately, Lent is not so much about giving up chocolate or coffee (which will probably just make us grumpy and irritable anyway) but is really about giving up un-Christian attitudes or un-Christian dispositions. Lent is about repentance and a change of heart. But most importantly, Lent leads us to the crucifixion, the ultimate act of self-denial and selfless love for the other.

By his passion and cross, Jesus teaches us something even more radically than just loving your friends; he teaches us what it really means to live with a divine love, to live with charity that is to lay down your life not only for your friends, but for your enemies as well. Jesus went willingly, laying down His entirety for all us when we were still at enmity (enemies) with God. It is one thing for a soldier to die for his countrymen; but it's something else entirely to think of even a common man dying for those who hate and wish to kill him

Since we earlier spoke of St. Therese the Little Flower I thought I would end with a beautiful letter from her to her mother superior, which very eloquently speaks of true Charity:

“This year, dear Mother, God has given me the grace to understand what charity is; I understood it before, it is true, but in an imperfect way. I had never fathomed the meaning of these words of Jesus; “the second commandment is LIKE the first: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I applied myself especially to loving God, and it is in loving Him that I understood my love was not to be expressed only in words, for: “It is not those who says: ‘Lord, Lord! Who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father in heaven.” Jesus has revealed this will several times or I should say on almost every page of His Gospel. But at the Last Supper, when He knew the hearts of His disciples were burning with a more ardent love for Him who had just given Himself to them in the unspeakable mystery of His Eucharist, this sweet Savior wished to give them a new commandment. He said to them with inexpressionable tenderness: “A new commandment I give you that you love one another: THAT AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, YOU ALSO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. By this will all men know that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.”

When St. Therese looked at the lives of the saints, such as her patron saint, St. Theresa of Avila, Therese thought to herself she could never climb the mountain of holiness such as these giants of holiness did. And so, in her great littleness she thought of an idea. Since she was so little and couldn’t climb that high, she would take an elevator to the summit in order to be united with Jesus in love. The elevator became known as her “Little Way.”

Her “Little Way,” was merely the Gospel message, that Jesus doesn’t demand great things of us, but only little things done with great love. Holiness merely consists of being faithful to Jesus in the everyday ordinary duties and events everyday life, both our physical duties as a wife and mother, father and husband, son and daughter, as an employee and student, or what ever occupation we are in at the moment; and as well especially, our faithfulness to our daily spiritual duties, such as daily prayer like the Holy Rosary and the morning offering. Holiness consists as well, as St. Therese taught us, in loving one another by putting up with all the shortcomings of each other and showing mercy to one another in our families (and by the way in our parish families as well). By doing all of these things in a spirit of love and penance, assisted by the grace of the Sacraments and prayer, especially prayer in front of the Holy Eucharist, offering all we do to Jesus through Mary in union with St. Joseph, anyone, anyone, including you and me, can most definitely attain the highest levels of holiness, which is the highest levels of love and happiness. And through our holiness of life we can become great instruments of mercy and love for the conversion of our world, and so the conversion and the salvation of countless souls.

Let us pray: Jesus at this Holy Mass and through all of Your incredible Sacraments, we beg of you for the grace we need to live what you have asked of us—you ask us to love those whom humanly speaking we do not love and to love one another by putting up with all the shortcomings of each other and showing mercy to one another. Let us all know that Holiness is for all of us and that you yourself will accompany us along the path of Holiness and provide for what we lack, provided that we turn to you for help in daily prayer and especially through the Sacraments of Your Holy Church. Please give us your own love, your own Sacred Heart at Holy Communion, so that we may love--with true charity--not only our friends, but our enemies as well. Help us desire to become great saints, that is, great friends of yours and so great friends of one another. Holy Mary, Mother of Charity, Mother of all God’s children, Our Heavenly Mother, we give thee our hearts, present them to your Divine Son at this Holy Mass…. pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Holy Mary mother of Truth Himself, Mother of Truth’s Church, Help of Christians pray for us poor sinners who have recourse to thee; keep us always in the Truth! Amen.

Matthew 5, 17-37 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. February 16th, 2014

Today in our Holy Gospel, Jesus tells us that He has not come to take away or change any of the doctrines or truths that are found in the Old Testament of the Bible. In fact, He tells us that He has come instead to restore those doctrines that the people have discarded through their ignorance; or in some cases, through their sin and arrogance; He has come to perfect others and elevate others to Higher moral level—restore, perfect and elevate, but not change!

We see all of this very clearly in today’s Gospel when he takes the moral teachings as found in the Ten Commandments explains them in depth, and then elevates them to an even higher level, thus demanding even more from His disciples that those disciples of Moses. For example, “You shall not kill,” remains but is now elevated and perfected to whoever is even angry with his brother is liable to judgment. “You shall not commit adultery,” is not only restored but is now elevated and perfected to if you even lust at a women (or a man) in your heart you are guilty. The Ten Commandments and the law remain, and in Jesus, who is God Himself, they are now elevated to the greater demands of authentic and true love.

I can remember getting into a discussion once with a Catholic who considered himself a more open-minded Christian. In the lively discussion that ensued, I mentioned this, that moral right and wrongs of the Old Testament are still in effect. He argued that Jesus came to do away with the Law and even the Ten Commandments, freeing us from such legalism; that Jesus instituted the new law of freedom and love…in which we are not to be judgmental and intolerant, but instead are to be open to everyone and tolerant of all people’s truths and opinions. I reminded my friend of the passage from today’s Gospel and Jesus’ strong words. And I reminded Him the fact that the truth never changes because it comes from God who never changes.

This mistaken idea of truth being subjective, of the truth changing is very prevalent. Another place we see it is with to the teachings of the Church, that the Church’s teaching themselves change and are therefore not objective but subjective. And example of this is how some view the nature of the teachings of the Church before Vatican II and after. There are some in the Church that mistakenly believe that what the Church taught before that great meeting of the bishops in 1965, was actually changed by the bishops; and as result, they believe that the Church now teaches different truths, different doctrines than before the Council.

I also hear this wrong idea (that the Church’s teachings can change) when I hear it said "It's just a matter of time before our current Holy Father Francis changes the Church’s teaching on Marriage and allows for marriage between members of the same sex." This is of course obviously wrong because the Pope, or any other bishop or priest for that matter, can’t change any of the Church’s teachings because they are truths that come not from man, but from God Himself-from Jesus who was and is God come to earth as one of us and who said that He Himself is the Truth. And so, what was true yesterday is true today and will still be true tomorrow. And as Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict taught and as Pope Francis is taught and is still teaching, the Church before Vatican II is the same as the Church today, and the Church of tomorrow will be the same as today, this goes for her teachings as well. The popes can’t teach otherwise!

The truth is for us a solid supporting pillar in our lives and in our world; it is an unshakeable column, and we for our part cannot give way to it even in little things…even though we might be tempted and inclined to comprise it in order not to hurt people or create division, or to be seen as intolerant of others. It was the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who has been declared a Venerable Servant of God the first step to Canonization, Bishop Sheen said that, “there is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused (today) as the subject of tolerance and intolerance…” Sheen went on to say, “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons…We must be tolerant to the erring (person),” he said, “because ignorance may have led them astray; but we must be intolerant to the error, because Truth is not our making, but God's.” Another similar saying of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is that "Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right." This quote is very closely connected to the saying of the great St. Augustine, “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”

One of the reasons why Jesus founded the Catholic Church on the twelve Apostles, who were the first bishops and priests, was to preserve faithfully throughout all time and pass down faithfully to all generations that truth He came to give us in order that we could conform our lives to it and be truly free and so be saved. The whole body of teachings or doctrines of Jesus is known as the Deposit of Faith and it is the source of all saving truth and moral discipline. It a treasure that each generation receives authentically from the Church that Jesus Himself founded for this very purpose. It is the truth that sets men free! Free for what? Free to love God and neighbor fully and authentically!

Through the successors of the Apostles, who are the pope and the bishops in union with the pope (and only the bishops in union with the pope), the Catholic Church keeps the Deposit of Faith faithfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the Church alone has the authority from Christ Himself (who is God) to authentically interpret it. With the Holy Spirit safeguarding the purity of all the teachings of Jesus, we can be sure that what the Church teaches is really what Jesus who was God come to earth really taught for our good and for our salvation. These are the truths of Our Beautiful Catholic Faith, and they have always and everywhere been taught authentically by the Catholic Church the Sacrament of salvation, founded by God Himself for this very reason.

To keep the truths of our faith in their fullness is essential to our salvation and the salvation of mankind, not to mention essential to our happiness. Again because they come from God Himself, Jesus, they cannot ever be changed; nor can their ever be introduced any “new” truths. As one writer put it, “What truth is there that can save other than the truth of Christ? What new truth could be of interest, even if it sprang from the wisest of men, if it led us away from the teaching of the Master? Who would dare to interpret, alter or accommodate the divine Word to suit his own whims (or opinions)? That is why Our Lord warns us today that, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”

We as faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus and as faithful sons and daughters of the Church He founded to proclaim the truth that sets men free, we must never compromise on any of the truths our Catholic faith, not even in little areas. If we do we actually become guilty of the very intolerance that we may be trying to avoid, we become guilty of the intolerance of the truth itself, guilty of the intolerance of not letting the truth be proclaimed by our very lives…in this we fail to proclaim the Gospel with our lives.

We must never forget that proclaiming the truth to others is often the greatest good we can do for those who surround us. It is the greatest act of charity because there is no true charity, no true love without the truth; in other words, it is impossible to love without the truth. And what’s more is that, “whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And one final thought closely connected to all of this, is that we must always hate the error and the sin but love the one in error and love the one in sin, even to the point of laying down our lives for him or her in imitation of the love of the Master…who never tolerated sin and error but always tolerated the errant and sinner, tolerated them even to the cross, even while on the cross...

At this Holy Mass let us ask through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother for the grace to let our ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,' and our ‘No’ mean ‘No,’ for anything more is from the evil one.” Let us ask her to help us to believe in the fullness of the Gospel truth as taught by the Catholic Church; and even more, to live this truth out faithfully in our lives in order to proclaim by our lives the truth that saves and sets men free for Love. Let us ask as well for the grace to let go of anything we have against our brother or against the teachings of the Church so that we can be reconciled with our brother and with the Church and so be reconciled with Jesus in order to offer our gift at His altar worthily. Let us ask that the gift of our whole heart, our whole life, offered through the Immaculate Heart of Our Blessed Mother and by the living paten of her hands, may be worthy and acceptable to the Lord God Almighty. Holy Mary mother of Truth Himself, Mother of Truth’s Church, Help of Christians pray for us poor sinners who have recourse to thee; keep us always in the Truth! Amen.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

let us make our offering with and through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, Auxilium Christianorum--help of Christians...Amen.

Matthew 5; 13-16. Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Sunday February 9th, 2014

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast day of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast took the place of the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary time and the Gospel for the Presentation took the place of the normal Gospel on the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Now, the Gospel for the Forth Sunday in ordinary time is normally Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for there is the Kingdom of Heaven….Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
It’s important to note this change in the Gospel last week because the Gospel this week and over the next few weeks are tied in with the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes are in fact, the very conditions that Jesus lays down for entering the Kingdom of Heaven. In the Beatitudes, Jesus demands in love that we live what we believe if we are to be happy, better yet, blessed. Jesus takes the “Thou Shall Nots” of the Ten Commandments and turns them into the “Thou shall do these things in order to be truly happy.” The Beatitudes reminds us then that love consists not just in avoiding sin, but most especially in doing acts of love in order to show forth our love of God and love of neighbor for love of God. In other words, “love is shown by deeds not by sweet words.”

Today Gospel follows then on the heal of Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes. The Gospel today teaches us that living the beatitudes is not just for our own spiritual well being, but for the well being of other souls as well. Every single Christian is called to strive for holiness by living the beatitudes in order to be a witness to the whole world to God’s truth and love. By our lives of holiness we are called to seek not only our own salvation but also the salvation of others. As one Jesuit priest put it, “Either we seek the salvation of others or we will not be saved ourselves.” This is our vocation to cooperate with Jesus in love in the salvation of souls.

Vatican II, reiterating the ancient teachings of the Church, called this vocation of ours of using our life to seek the salvation and the sanctification of others, the apostolate. I wonder if this beautiful teaching of Vatican II has been lost because of our modern day emphasis on ministry. There is a ministry for almost every thing, but according to Vatican II, ministry is not the primary role of the laity, but the Apostolate is.

We are to be witnesses throughout the earth by living the beatitudes that is living lives of holiness in order to lead others to God so that they may be saved and so enter into a eternal union of love with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the apostolate; living our lives for love of God and love of neighbor, and love of neighbor consist primarily in working to save our neighbor, even given our lives for the sake of their salvation if necessary. “Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it, shall preserve it.”

Today, Jesus teaches us this by using the images of salt and light. In the old days, as my mom as told me many times, there were no refrigerators, or freezers, the only way meat was kept from spoiling was to store it in salt. Salt preserves food from spoiling; it also brings out the flavor of food and makes its more pleasant. So too, with the world. The world is only kept from spoiling by us Christian Catholics being the salt of the earth, by having the light and the life of Christ alive in our souls.

The holiness of Christians also gives flavor to life in this world, for we, if we live our Catholic faith authentically, remind the world and it’s inhabitants of meaning and goal of man’s existence. Man has been created by God for God. The world is God’s good creation; it sprung forth from the Word of God, and through that same Word it is redeemed and called to return back to the God from which it came. We, you and me, are called to save the world through our holiness of life, witnessing to the world the truth of God and taking the light and life of Christ out into its darkness. We are to help in leading the world back to God, by bringing His grace out into the world. We are to do this in love, in Charity even if we are persecuted for it.

Jesus today however, also reminds us that salt can lose it taste; it other words we are called to be salt to the world by our lives of holiness but if we fail to become holy we loose our taste, that is we fail to be witnesses to the world. What good are we then, but to thrown out and trampled under foot. And so, if it is possible for us to lose our flavor, our Divine Grace, and to be thrown out, how then to we guard from losing our taste, the taste of holiness. How can we be truly light for our world? How can we give the hungry bread to eat?

It is by the Holy Eucharist received and adored with faith weekly, and if possible even daily, that keeps the salt from losing it taste; It is the holy Eucharist approached with faith that it is the Living God truly present in the flesh, in His Resurrected Body and Blood, soul and Divinity, with His Heart beating with Love for each and every soul. It is by approaching Jesus-the God-Man in the Holy Eucharist with great Faith, trust, love, devotion and reverence, that helps our light shine before Men, for our light is Jesus, He who is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is our daily bread, better yet our super-substantial bread, the Bread of Life by which we can feed the world. The world is hungry for the Eucharist, starving for the Eucharist—those who hunger for the love Eucharist are the poorest of the poor and we are to give them some bread ourselves…in other words we are to take the Love of the Eucharist to them and feed them.

The Father’s of the Church wrote that Faithful Catholics who participate fully, actively and consciously in weekly Mass, and receive the Holy Eucharist worthily and in the state of Grace are the “Anima Mundi,” that is, the “soul of the world.” In other words, the world would die in its sins if not for Catholic Christians with the life of Christ, Christ Himself alive in their souls. This life is called charity and we are to share it with the entire world in order that it might be saved.

When we take a full, active, conscious, fruitful part in the Eucharistic action, we allow the Holy Spirit to apply to us the salvation won for us on the cross by God the Son. When we share in the Eucharist, we cooperate in the continuing process of our salvation, which must continue during our whole lives if we are not only to be saved, but become one with God, not just in heaven but here already on earth. And in our union with God, we can produce the fruit of leading and helping others into this same union with God, a union of love, a union with Love Himself-for “God is love (1st John).”

When we pray the preface of the Eucharist, the priest, in Christ’s name, asks us to lift of our hearts, and we respond: “we lift them up to the Lord.” This means of course more than just standing up…it means we are to offer our hearts to the Lord…offer all that we are in a loving sacrifice to our God, who offers His heart, all He is and then gives Himself to us in Holy Communion. This is the sacrifice that we pray, yours and mine, to be acceptable to God our almighty Father. It is a wonderful gift of offering ourselves completely to God in, through and in union with Christ’s offering on the cross. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this unites us to Christ fully and we become his witnesses, just like the apostles and all of the saints. What an awesome calling we have been given; this is how and only how, we can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

It must be said that this awesome gift comes an awesome responsibility as well. It brings to light why every Catholic must attend Holy Mass every single Sunday and every single Holy Day of obligation, unless he is prevented from doing so by a serious reason, like an illness. To too, brings up the constant teaching of the Church that it is a very serious sin to deliberately miss Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation, it is actually a mortal sin because it is a complete failure in Charity. When Catholics miss Mass deliberately, they turn our backs on Christ and on the process of their redemption, they refuse to carry out Christ’s command to, “do this in commemoration of me”, and they refuse to receive him and his salvation and thus become salt that has lost its flavor. They can no longer feed the world by bringing it the light of Christ and His Divine Love, which is given to them in the Holy Eucharist if they open their hearts by offering their hearts to God.

The utter folly of what we do by willfully ignoring our Mass obligation is somewhat analogous to a deep-sea diver’s putting a crimp in his air line so that no air can come through to keep him alive. By a decision to miss Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation the operation of sanctifying grace is suspending in the life of a Catholic, the life of charity in their soul dies, and they can no longer bring the light of Christ to those we meet in our daily lives.

Even our good acts, become devoid of the power to lead others to Christ, because they become merely our own acts, devoid of Christ’s power to elevate them to acts of Charity. Our good human acts are only Charity when the life and light of Christ is alive in our souls. Thus to bring the light of Christ back alive in our souls after we have deliberately missed Mass, and for the sake of our eternal salvation, we must go to confession in true contrition as soon as possible and take the crimp out of air line, so to speak, allowing sanctifying grace again to flood our souls.

But we must do more than just attend Holy Mass we must participated it in with full hearts, minds and voices. We must enter into it sacred mysterious, experience them and allow ourselves to be transformed by them. To do this we must offer ourselves to the Father in union with the offering of Jesus being made truly present on the Sacred Altar by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the gift of the Sacred Priesthood. We must place ourselves on the paten next to the bread, that with we too might be transformed into the Body of Christ, for the sake of the whole world.

What I am about to say is not easy to say. We Catholic Christians are called to be salt and light to the world; we are called to give the hungry of the world some of our bread. If our world is falling into darkness, the problem is not with Governments, politicians, the economy, the terrorists, the radical Muslim, or some great power in this world; no, the problem lies with us Catholics. We have then lost our taste, and who can restore it? Only Jesus, Jesus Truly Present In the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, Jesus who truly continues to offer Himself on the Sacred Altar of every Mass, while at the same looking for those who will give themselves to Him so that He can use them to continue his saving work out in the world by leading souls back to the God who loves them.

As we approach the holy season of lent, let us ask our Lord for the grace to turn from sin and to draw ever closer to Jesus Christ, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Let us pray too for the grace to enter into the Holy Mass each and every Sunday with deep devotion and deep love, offering ourselves there, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the Father in union with Jesus’ offering on the altar of Sacrifice.. Let us realize the awesome gift we have been given by being able to attend Mass and to receive Jesus, the light of the world, every time we receive Holy Communion, so that we can truly be salt for the earth, and light for the world. And let us make our offering with and through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, help of Christians...Amen.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blessed Mother, You and Saint Joseph presented Jesus to the Heavenly Father through the hands of the temple priest, as we struggle to offer our hearts fully, totally, completely to the Heavenly Father through Jesus at this Holy Mass, please take our hearts and offer them yourself.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Feast of the Presentation. Sunday February 2, 2014

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas day, since the blessing and procession of candles is included in today's liturgy. The lighted blessed candles which are carried in procession on this feast day of the Presentation, and at every Holy Mass, are a sign of the divine splendor of Christ who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil.

Christ is the Light of the nations, and today He enters into His temple, which is the House of His Father: His presence purifies the temple made by human hands. The use of blessed candles at the Holy Mass and even reminds us that Jesus continues to penetrate the darkness of our present age by continuing to enter into the temple of the Holy Church. He enters into the Church today by becoming truly present in His resurrected and glorified body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. Through the Holy Eucharist He continues to pour out His life anew on the Altar of Salvation for the many.

In the Church’s liturgical calendar in use for 1500 years, which is still used in the 1962 missal of Bl. John XXIII in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity; in this ancient calendar, today actually marks the end of the Christmas season. "In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another 'epiphany' celebration, another manifestation of Jesus to the world, insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess.

“Mary comes with her husband, Joseph, to hand over the child Jesus to the Lord; yet, through the eyes of Simeon, we learn that something even greater is happening here. We learn that it is God himself who has handed over his only begotten Son to us. Today’s Presentation of the Lord is prelude to another, future presentation–to that presentation that will take place on Calvary, in our Lord’s sacrificial death on the cross, of which every Mass is a re-presentation” (Archbishop Thomas Wenski ). At the Holy Mass God’s love continues to be manifested to the World.

Interestingly, at the end of every Holy Mass up until 1970, immediately after the final blessing, the First Chapter of the Gospel of John was read aloud. This Gospel was read at the end of every Mass, to remind us before we are sent forth to preach the gospel with our lives, that we too, if we are faithful to the Gospel Truth, will share, in some way, the rejection that Christ Himself experienced.

The Gospel of John said, that although Jesus was sent into the world as the true light, the world for its part would not know Him; and if that wasn’t sad enough, John goes on to tell us that, Jesus came unto His own and His own would not receive Him. Or, as we hear said this way in today’s Gospel when Simeon reveals to Mary, “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many… and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

“Mary’s life – and our own lives – if we, like her, truly and faithfully follow Jesus to the end, will be lived under the sign of the cross. For in a fallen world, in a world that has turned its back on God, those who live “ad orientam,” that is, looking, in joyful expectation, towards the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, inevitably will encounter opposition and resistance. Such was the life of Christ – and such was the life of his mother who at Calvary shared in his sufferings; such is the life of the Church” (Archbishop Thomas Wenski). If they are faithful to Jesus and His teachings, the members of the Church who make a public stance, will like Jesus encounter opposition and resistance. It is not only the Pope, the Bishops and the priests who will encounter opposition and resistance, but as well all lay people who are courageous and stand up for the truth. And like Jesus, they will be rejected sadly sometimes even by their own.

Let us take an example from our present day. Today, the witness of the Church on behalf of the dignity and right to life of the human person from the first moment of conception till natural death is itself a “sign that will be contradicted”; the witness of the church on the sacredness of Traditional marriage is itself a “sign that will be contradicted – So many of the Church’s other teachings are as well signs that will be contradicted. And anyone who proclaims these teachings will themselves become a, “sign that will be contradicted.” Look at our brave teenagers who march on Washington D.C. last week by the Hundreds of Thousands; Many of them were actually mocked as the walked together witnessing for Life; they were “living signs of contradiction.” You may have been criticized yourself for praying a rosary for life in public or standing up in a conversation over the water cooler about traditional marriage.

Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Matthew, “Blessed are you who are persecuted for righteousness sake and blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Today’s readings, very clearly state that the Church and her faithful members will share in the sufferings of Christ and in the rejection of Christ, even to the foot of the cross. “If any one serves me, he must follow of me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also…” But, in these very sufferings God will purify His Holy Church.

And so, God is allowing the Church in our day to experience her own passion, soon She will enter into Her own crucifixion—then a sword will pierce the hearts of her faithful members. But then the Church will rise to what Blessed John Paul the II called the “new Spring-time. It will be the most glorious age of the Church; her members, after being tried by fire, the fire of persecution, will reflect Christ own image in themselves. This is what lies at the heart of the prophecy we just heard from Malachi.

There is a story that helps to explain this prophecy of Malachi. It seems there was of a group of women religious studying the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three they came across this verse three which says, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot - then she thought again about the verse, that He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's the easy part -- when I see my image reflected in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire coming from your faithfulness to Jesus and to His Catholic Church and Her teachings, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep His hand on you and watch over you until He sees His image in you. This past week we celebrated the feast day of the conversion of St. Paul. Paul or Saul before his conversion persecuted the members of the early Church, especially he went after the early bishops and priest. Jesus for his part told Saul that by persecuting the Church’s ministers and members, Saul was actually persecuting Jesus himself. Saul saw that by attaching Christ’s faithful, He, Saul was attacking Christ Himself. Blinded by the penetrating light of Christ Himself and of the Truth who is Christ, Saul of course was converted and became the great apostle Paul. Paul went on to fearlessly suffer great persecutions for preaching the fullness of the Gospel of Christ, the fullness of the Truth; and sadly his greatest sufferings came from some within the household of God, the Church, from His own congregations-parishes.

May our lives as Catholics fearlessly reflect the light of Christ to all who meet us; and may that same light guide us, as it guided that righteous and devout man, Simeon, when we go forth from this life to meet Christ. If we remain faithful even to the shedding of blood, we will we hear Jesus say to us, “well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in small matters, I will place you over greater ones. Enter now into your rest.”

Let us pray: Blessed Mother, You and Saint Joseph presented Jesus to the Heavenly Father through the hands of the temple priest, as we struggle to offer our hearts fully, totally, completely to the Heavenly Father through Jesus at this Holy Mass, please take our hearts, consecrate and purify them and offer them yourself to the Sacred Heart. Place them as you placed Jesus, into the hands of the priest. Your hands became a living paten at the presentation may they become the same for use. Surely from your hands Jesus will accept our hearts, and see in love in us what He sees and loves in you in order to offer our hearts acceptable to His Heavenly Father.
At Holy Communion as Jesus is sent to us from the Father, help us to “lift up the gates” so that Jesus can enter the temple of our hearts, and purify them by bringing us His Holy Spirit in order to free us from sin and recreate in us Jesus’ image, His love and His Light, for the entire world to see. Simeon's joy will then be our joy today as in the Blessed Sacrament we behold what Simeon proclaimed at the Presentation: "My eyes have seen the salvation ... for all the peoples to see: a revealing light to the Gentiles, the glory of Your people." Blessed Mother may we like St. John who was helped by you, be faithful even to the foot of the cross, even to the piercing of our own souls. Amen.