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.