Saturday, November 28, 2015

our world raises and falls dependent on our faith in the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And our life, and our family life, rises and falls dependent upon our own personal faith in the physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the events, spoken about in today’s Gospel will come about from a lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist as the true and living God among us in the flesh.

Luke 21. First Sunday in Advent. November 29th, 2015

This weekend we begin the first week of advent. Advent is a privilege time of preparation in the Church, and in the hearts of her faithful members. Advent is actually, a penitential season; it is like a mini lent. In this time of advent, we should ask God to purify our hearts of our sinfulness and selfishness and fill them more fully with His Divine Grace. Advent should be a wake up call, a call for deeper repentance, a time for turning away more fully from our sins and our fears, leaving our anxieties behind and turning back in love more fully toward Christ and deeper trust in him. Advent for this reason is a time of great joy and great hope, great hope that God in His Divine mercy never abandons us, but is always ready to come to us again and again provide we turn to Him in repentance of our sins and sinfulness.

So if advent is a time of great hope, why is Jesus speaking about the terrible events in today’s Gospel-“…earths nations in agony…men dying of fear as they await the menaces of the world, and even the powers of heaven being shaken.” It would seems these words, far from increasing hope in Jesus’ coming, would fill anyone listening to them--including us, with great fear and great anxiety. Isn’t Jesus coming suppose to be about great joy and peace, but here instead, it seems it is about fear and anxiety. How is one supposed to get into the Christmas spirit after all this? Let’s look closer into this passage and its meaning for us today.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is pointing out to his disciples that when they see these terrible events he speaks about, they are not to become anxious or worried but are to raise their heads because their salvation is near at hand. Jesus is basically saying to them, “Keep your eyes focused on me, the one thing that matters and you will not become anxious or fearful for I will give you strength. Only those who fail to look up at me and keep their eyes on me will fall into despair and anxiety in the coming events, which will be caused not Me, but by men turning aways from Me.” Jesus is warning the disciples, saying “if you fail to pray to me and keep close to me, you will not have the strength to avoid the sinfulness of the world, and the destruction that will eventually follow as a result.”

Now how about us today? Jesus’ words to his disciples are just as valid for us, today, as it was for them. Our world is filled with much that takes our focus away from the most important thing, Jesus Christ and our salvation. In fact, maybe more so than in the times of the disciples. We all have so many cares in our lives, especially in these holiday seasons.

For instance, we had to work and worry to try to make Thanksgiving turn out perfect. And if that wasn’t enough anxiety, now we have to get ready for Christmas, which takes even more work and creates more anxiety. Any one who spent any time shopping this weekend knows there is a lot of tension out there, especially for those who were at the stores at 5:30 Friday morning. Now why shopping for the holiday or working to make sure the holidays turn or perfect, isn’t wrong in and of itself, should this be our main or only focus? Is this really keeping our heads up, and concentrating on what’s is most important?

All of this, including the craziness in our world day, the uncertainty of the economy and the ever looming possibility of another terrorist attack, this is all enough to cause anyone a lot of anxiety and out right fear. Some of you may be facing great personal difficulties, like a loss of a job or an illness with yourself or some one close. So in light of all of this, how can advent be at time of hope for us, a time for deeper trust in God?

Well, Advent can only be a time of hope if we take Jesus’ advice in today’s Gospel and put our advent preparations before all else, working harder at putting things back into proper order in order to make our relationship with Christ more first and foremost, so keeping our eyes fixed on Him. This begins by Making our Advent truly a time of by repentance, a time of staying more awake and keeping our heads up and focused more intently on Christ and on His Holy Catholic Church.
How do we do these things practically Speaking?

Well first we can make use of the frequent times of confessions during this advent season. If you haven’t been to confession for a while, I guarantee you life is filled with anxiety needlessly. Come to confession this advent season and your anxiety and fear will be lessened and you will find the peace your looking for. In confession you will also find the strength and grace needed to renew you prayer life in which you will receive the strength to handle the cares in you life.

And from Confession, we can spend quality time with Jesus truly present in the tabernacle. Faith in His true presence in the Holy Eucharist is the antidote to despair and the source of our Hope. In fact, our world raises and falls dependent on our faith in the Physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And our life, and our family life, rises and falls dependent upon our own personal faith in the physical Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the events, spoken about in today’s Gospel will come about from a lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist as the true and living God among us in the flesh.

And finally, practically speaking, if we are not already doing so, we can make recourse to the beautiful sacramentals of the Holy Rosary and the Brown Scapular. These sacramentals when used and worn with faith provide us with the grace to be more open to the Sacraments. They in a special way ask our the Virgin Mary, Our mother, not only to protect us, but to help us to give our cares, our hearts, our everything, with great trust totally to Jesus through her. And so, the Rosary and the Scapular especially help us to participate fully and actively at the Holy Mass so we can interiorly place our heart more fully on the paten as an loving offering to the Father in union with the offering of Jesus on the altar for our salvation-this is how as today’s psalm says, “we lift up our soul to the Lord.”

If we use this time of Advent as a grace time of preparation, I promise we will have a peace that the world cannot give, peace that can only be found by keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ, the one thing that truly matters. This Advent is truly a privilege time of hope, a time that the Church reminds us, that only by keeping our eyes on Christ can we avoid despair as our world falls around us. Advent reminds us that Jesus Christ is truly Emmanuel-God with us, and fear and anxiety are useless. God will give us the grace to keep our heads up and look at Christ if we but turn our hearts to Him, and His Church and Her Sacraments, more fully this Advent season. In the end, even though our world may fall around us, Christ will never abandoned us if we love Him and place our trust in Him, He will give us true hope and that incredible peace that only he can give.

Let us together ask our Blessed Mother to help us to prepare our hearts this advent and to keep our eyes always focused on her Son, no matter what the world throws at us. Let us ask her to help us, beginning at this Holy Mass, for the grace to make this advent the best on of our lives, one of putting Jesus Christ and our relationship with him first in lives, in order that he may come into the crib of our hearts just as he came into that crib in the stable of Bethlehem 2000yrs ago. Our Lady of the New Advent pray for us. Amen. God bless you.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

For those who don't heed Advent's call to conversion before the sudden unforeseen end arrives, sadly, the advent of their lives will end in a life never truly lived, a live ending with dread, ending with the death of hope.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. November 15th, 2015

Today is really the last “regular” Sunday of the liturgical year, as next week we will conclude the Church’s liturgical year with the Solemnity of Christ the King and then we begin Advent. The First Sunday in Advent is the official beginning of the Church’s New Year.

Advent itself, is meant to be a time of hopeful and joyful preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ first coming into the world at Christmas. However, when we begin advent in just a few weeks, you will notice that all of the Gospels, like today’s, far from joyful, take on an almost ominous theme, or one might even say, a gloomy frightening theme. This seems out of place, if you thing about it, I mean if in Advent we are preparing for such a joyful Feast as Christmas why the apparent gloom and doom. I think the answer to this questions lies in the fact that Advent isn’t meant to be just a preparation for Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s first coming, but it is much more. At a deeper level, it is really meant to be a preparation for Jesus’ coming again at the end of the world or the end of our lives which ever comes first. So explains the end of the world theme in our readings today and until Christmas.

In reality then, the end of the Church’s year also signifies the end of the world and the looking forward to Jesus second coming. So in these last weeks, before Advent, the Church already begins to emphasize the coming of Jesus in Glory, and the End Times. This reminds us that just as the Church’s year comes to a close, so too will our life someday come to a close.

And so, as we begin Advent, a time of preparation, reflection, hope and anticipation for the coming of the Messiah at Christmas, we should ask ourselves if we have fully used the “advent of our life” as a preparation for the coming of Jesus at the close of our own life--are we really ready to meet Him if He should come for us sooner than we expect? And not only that, Do we actually look forward to the end of this life with hopeful joyful expectation, the hopeful joyful expectation of little pure child waiting for Christmas and Jesus’ birth-His first coming? Or do we instead dread the end with fear?

The message of today’s Gospel, as well as the message of the coming season of advent, is that fear doesn’t have to have the Last word when we hear, contemplate and think about the end-even our end. In the book of Daniel, from which is taken our first reading, we are told that St. Michael, who is like unto God, will be sent to protect—and so hope is given,- “the wise will shine brightly,” we are told. In the Gospel, Jesus says, “I will gather the elect from the four winds.” Salvation will come. Jesus will come and Divine Mercy will be victorious over all sin and suffering, even over death itself.

Jesus has overcome our deepest fears. He has come to give us His mercy by taking away our sins and freeing us from fear for love. The wise then, are those who repent more fully of their sins and turn to God in total trust and all out love. This reveal to us that ultimately, it is our sin that causes us to be afraid, to be afraid of the coming tribulation, to be afraid of dead and judgment and ultimately even to be afraid of God. The Message of advent then, whether it be, the liturgical time before Christmas or the advent of our lives, is that God has come to save us by through His Divine Mercy, which comes to us through repentance and the forgiveness of our sins; so let us not be afraid. But for our part, in order to receive his mercy and so receive this hope, we must repent more fully, confess our sins more completely and with the help of God's grace amend our life; that is, change ourselves for the better.

Pope Francis on Friday reminded us that it is repentance that is the key to God’s Mercy (Pope Francis address to the Guardini foundation, Rome Friday Nov. 13th, 2015) In fact, during this advent, Pope Francis will begin a whole year dedicated the message of God’s Divine Mercy beginning on Dec. 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and ending at the beginning of Advent next year. Now is truly the time of God’s Mercy…and so now is the acceptable time of repentance (turning away from sin) and deeper conversion (turning toward God).

This Advent is really then a time of a decisive decision, a time of great action, a time for radical change. Are we going to continue to worry, hiding from God by hiding from the reality of our sinfulness and so stay in the grip of fear, the fear of what the future might bring? Or, are we going to repent more deeply and receive God's mercy and forgiveness by making a good and sincere confession and so live in the freedom of God's sons and daughters, free from the fear of what the future will hold, free to trust Jesus completely.

For those who don't heed Advent's call to conversion before the sudden unforeseen end arrives, sadly, the advent of their lives will end in a life never truly lived, a live ending with dread, ending with the death of hope. However, for those that heed this hopeful call before the end times, the advent of their lives will end in the fulfillment of hope-- the joy of the eternal Christmas of heaven and the ending love it brings, union with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, along with Mary and Joseph and with all God’s friends—the angels and the saints.

This is the great message of hope that this last “Ordinary” Sunday of the Liturgical year and its readings brings to us. It is particularly relevant in our current situation, which seems like the beginning of the end (it is not…but it is the end of an era in the world). This time of distress in this life is short; and so, those who are faithful should not grieve over the hardships of this present time, for a life of blessedness awaits them.

Let us then repent with our whole heart, in order to save ourselves and to find life. Let us glorify the Father of Truth, who sent the Savior, and through Him revealed to us the truth and the heavenly life--to Him be glory throughout all ages, forever and ever. So that “When, as Pope Francis also recently said, “when we think about the end, the end of our life, the end of the world, every one of us will have our end; when we think about the end, with all our sins, with all our history, let’s think of the feast we will be given gratuitously and let’s raise our heads. Therefore, let there be not depression but hope.” (Morning Meditation
St. Martha Guest House. 27 November 2014.)

At the end of Holy Mass as we pray together that wonderful prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, let us do so that he would protect us and our family in the future tribulation. Hail Mary, Mother of our Hope, Pray for us, St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, come to our aid. Jesus I trust in you.