Saturday, December 31, 2016

the truth about Mary, leads us to the full truth about Jesus.

Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God. January 1st, 2017

Today we celebrate that Holy day given to us by the Second Vatican Council- the solemnity of Mary, “Mother of God.” It is her most privilege title and the very best way to address her. Mary as “Mother of God,” is also one of her oldest titles. The Church at the Council of Ephesus first officially proclaimed it in 431. At that council, the Church declared her as “Theotokos,” which is Greek for the “God-bearer,” another way of saying the “Mother of God.” But this official declaration wasn’t the beginning of the belief of this truth of our faith, for even while Jesus was alive, to those who the Father revealed Jesus as God in the flesh, knew that she who gave birth to Jesus, was then truly the Mother of God.

With this in mind, we discover that the name- “Mother of God,” is more than just a declaration about Mary; it is really a declaration that declares and protects the truth about Who is Jesus Christ. He is truly divine while at the same time truly human. The Church has always protected the truth about Mary, because it protects and leads us to the truth about Jesus.

Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ who was at the same time truly God and truly Man. The one who gives birth is mother to the one birthed; and so because Mary gave birth to Jesus who was and is God become man, she is then truly “Mother of God.” Our mother who gave birth to us did not create us; and so, by declaring Mary as Mother of God we don’t mean she was the creator of Jesus (for Jesus wasn’t created-He is the Eternal God), but that she gave birth to Him in time.

Mary was not a god who gave birth to a god. Mary is not a god or a goddess herself. She is a limited created human being who was given the high honor of supplying a human nature, that is, a body, blood and soul along with a human intellect and will, to the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity-the Eternal Word. Through her Jesus became true man, all the while remaining true God.

It is important to make a distinction here. Mary is not the mother of the human person of Jesus Christ, but Mary is the mother of the Divine Person Jesus Christ. Jesus is not human person but a divine person with both a human nature and a divine nature. Mary then did not give birth to just the human nature of Christ and not to the Divine nature, but she gave birth to the whole Person of Jesus Christ (you cannot separate the natures of Christ, because both make up the one divine person of Jesus Christ). Mary is therefore truly the Mother of God. This is the glorious truth we celebrate today, the first day of the year.

When one denies the truth about the Mary as Mother of God, one inevitably denies the truth about who Jesus Christ truly is. If the truth about the Mother of God, is not upheld we misunderstand the very nature of Christ and we do not know Him as He is. We then can end up saying and believing untrue things about Him, like: “He didn’t know He was divine;” or, “that there were two persons in Jesus, one Human and one divine;” or, “that Jesus was a human person”…These errors and those like them lead to a mistaken belief that Jesus was really just a good and nice guy, just a nice do-gooder, just a prophet, just a creature like us.

Yes, the truth about Mary, leads us to the full truth about Jesus. He is more than just prophet, He IS God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, without beginning or end. He, though equal to the Father, was sent by the Father, to come down to earth as one of us, as a true man, though without sin, all the while remaining what He was before-True God; and as the Almighty and Living God, He can make demands on our life. And we for our part have duty in justice as well as in love, to believe, adore, hope and trust Him; and so in love, obey Him and follow Him in and through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded on the Apostles.

So this is why we publicly praise Mary as the Mother of God, and why at this time so closely after the important festival of Christmas and on the very first day of the New Year. To celebrate at Christmas is perfectly natural. When we visit a newborn babe, we of course inquire about the baby’s health, weight and the like. Then we always want to know about the health of the mother. We have looked for a week at the baby in the crib. It is now perfectly reasonable to look at the Mother, the Mother of the infant Jesus…for if we know about her, if we know her and draw closer to her we will know better her son; and to know someone is too love them and to love them is to draw closer to them.

And to celebrate on the first day of the eye is practical. On this first day of 2017 we wish one another a Happy New Year. This means we hope and pray that our friends and loved ones will have a blessed and holy year, that they will try to know Christ more clearly, love Him more warmly, and serve Him more faithfully, just as His Mother did. To do this nothing will help us more than the inspiration and help of that same Mother. Jesus loved and honored her. He wants us to love and honor her also. The disciples are to do what the master does; we honor Mary because Jesus honored her first.

I remember a very touching story about motherhood that I heard a few years ago that happened during a devastating earthquake in Iran that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Four days after the devastating earthquake the rescue crews had lost hope of finding any more survivors. Then a miracle happened, they found a young girl of 12 still alive. She was unconscious and had a broken leg, nevertheless she was found alive. She was found alive because she was wrapped in the arms of her mother who was killed by falling debris. The mother’s protective embrace actually saved the Child.

The Mother of God too, wraps in her arms those children who turn to her for protection. She not only protects them from physical harm but even more importantly she protects her children from spiritual arm. She is truly the Mother of God and the mother of the children of God. (If Jesus is the head of the Church and we are His body, Mary gave birth both to the head as well as to the body of Christ, and so she is truly our Mother). And she is a good mother who safely leads us to her divine Son, the divine Son she gave to the world in His birth and the divine Son she allowed to die on the Cross-for our salvation (this is the meaning of the Brown Scapular, to wear it in order to be embraced in the protection of the mantle of our Heavenly Mother, and to ask her to help us at the Holy Mass in order to offer ourselves in love, completely to Him Who is Love).

This death of Christ is renewed today on this altar and every day at every Christ-Mass. If we want the world to keep Christ in Christmas, we Catholics need to first keep the Mass in Christ-Mass Let us ask the Mother of God to intercede for us, and obtain for the grace to make the Holy Mass more important in 2017; in fact, to make it the absolute center of our life and of our family life. As individuals and families, let us, especially by praying the rosary, ask our dear Blessed Mother to help us draw closer to the Holy Eucharist Who is Immanuel-God truly with us still. She will help us to keep our eyes always on Jesus, so that we will have a holy and Blessed New Year. Through this Holy Mass and through the maternal intercession of the Mother of God may God grant to you and your loved ones the grace and helps you need to make this a truly joyful year by adhering your lives more closely to our Blessed Savior. I wish you all a Blessed New Year!!! Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Over the last couple of weeks of Advent, we have been preparing for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. We have been told to stay a wake, not to fall asleep. In this we have discovered that Advent is the liturgical time, which reminds us that all of our life is an Advent, a time of joyful preparation for the coming of Jesus at the end of the world or the end of our life which ever comes first. But we have also been reminded that Jesus has already come, and even more than that He comes to us now at this Holy Mass and at every Holy Mass with and in His same body and blood that he was born with at Bethlehem. This great truth is not only the cause of our Joy, it is the very source of our hope…the source of all hope…We have hope because God is truly with us, in the flesh.

A few years ago I came across a very interesting true story about hope. A priest was once given the assignment of serving a woman’s prison where many of the inmates were in for life. He was told that these particular women were very tough, and so it would be hard to get much of a response from them. In fact, at his first meeting with them only two women showed up. So he knew he had to do something in order to get more of the inmates to come and hear the truth about God and the truth about themselves.

He devised a plan to invoke the curiosity of the inmates. So he said to the two women, I am going to ask you the following question, if you can’t give me the correct answer I’ll stop talking, leave and come back next week to see if you have the answer. He asked them, “What is the worst sin? One of them answered, “Murder.” No, the priest said and he left. The next week there were about twenty women present. They all gave various answers to the question, such as rape and even killing a baby. Again, the priest said, “No.” and left.

The following week the room was completely packed. Still none of them had the answer. This time however, the priest revealed to them the correct answer. The worst sin He said was the sin of despair, loss of hope. He went on to tell them that they had hope even if in their desperate situation; they had hope because they were daughters of God and because they had God as their Father. Without belief, without faith in this, they would be lost in despair. He then told them of the unconditional love of the Father and how we don’t have to earn His love; we just have to open our hearts to it and trust in it, place our hope in His goodness, and then with a contrite heart, ask for and receive His forgiveness and mercy.

Our only hope is God!!! This was the message of the priest to the woman inmates. We have so many troubles in this life, our world is in great, grevious trouble, and we see others in so much trouble. To have hope, we have to return to faith in God, not only believing that He exists, but returning to living our lives in complete fidelity to Him, to His Church, to His truth and obedience to His commands and teachings out of love for Him; in others words, living our lives in conformity to His Holy Will. Hope is impossible without this true faith.

This points us to an important fact. Our Catholic faith is not just about information we know; Christianity doesn’t just tell us facts, doctrines and truths. Our faith tells us that each one of us is personally willed by God and so loved by God. In fact, each one of us is so loved by God that he came to earth for us, become a man for us, was born for us, lived and even suffered and died for us; and finally, He truly rose from the dead for us. He did all of this for us so that He would move our hearts to trust and hope in Him, love Him so that we might enter into an eternity of perfect happiness with Him, in union with Him and His Father forever. Our faith gives us hope by showing our true goal, which is God Himself, thus, giving us a reason to live no matter the situation; and so those with hope have the abundance of life.

When we truly believe that God only allows what is best to happen those who love Him we have hope and this Hope does something to us, it changes us, redeems us, saves us. Hope like faith however, is not just something we have it is something we live. Our hope in God must be operative; it must be performative. In other words, What keeps us from hope is not the situations of our lives but rather how we respond to them. It’s not our defects or other people and their defects but it’s the way we respond to them that can keep us from hope. We can either rebel against God because of our circumstances and so become angry and despair, or resign to our fate with a woe is me attitude; Or instead we can accept our situation with the attitude that Our Father God knows best—that I am loved-I can be saved, that I can become united with God intimately- that God loves me definitively and so I hope in Him even when it seems hopeless. I will still trust in Him in every situation because I know through faith that He will only allow what is best for me so that I may reach my goal of eternal happiness with Him already here on earth.

We need to ask our Lord for the capacity to accept big things, little things, to accept others they way they are, to accept ourselves the way we are. Yes we need to keep struggling to become better, and call others to become better with the help of God’s grace, but we need to accept our weakness, and other’s weakness, in order that we can all rely on God more than on ourselves, to become better by accepting all circumstances by crying out, Jesus I adore you, I believe in You, Jesus I trust in You and I love you; I trust in Your love for me and I abandoned my self totally to you! Now, O My God, help me to adore, believe, trust in You and love You more.

The season of advent and Christmas can sometimes be the worst. It is so busy and our hearts and minds are so preoccupied. It is also the season of rampant depression for so many reasons, sadness, the loss of a loved one, life in a mess, unemployment, an illness, the state of affairs in our world and in our Church, Christmas away from those we love. All of this really shows us that we can’t place our hope and trust in ourselves, others, circumstances or things to bring us happiness. If we rely on these, we lose hope and then we get angry at God-why does He allow this to happen to me or to my loved ones.

We also can’t place our trust and hope in the world. Man continually tries to create a system to trust apart from God and we end up with the gulag of Communism and the Auschwitz of Nazism. We can’t put our trust in politics or political systems; we can’t put our trust in Government or science to save us.

In this season we have our family and friends and their love. This is good it helps to show us and lead us to the love of God. Yet, even those who are closest to us can and will let us down. Just like we can’t trust the world, so too, we can’t trust our love ones totally, because they are imperfect and weak just like us. So too, there is no perfect priest, no perfect bishop or pope; there is nobody who is perfect save One, The only One, Jesus Christ, our only Savior and our Lord and our God; HE ALONE IS OUR ONLY HOPE.

In these last couple of days before we celebrate Christmas we must turn ever more to the source of our true hope and so the source of our true joy, Jesus Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Holy Mass and our active, full, conscious and fruitful participation in it, is then cause of our hope. In our actual participation in it, the Mass becomes the cause of our hope because it makes truly present Jesus and His sacrifice of love that saved us, is saving us and will save us, if we place our hope in its Power to save us.

At the Holy Mass, in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus’ birth two thousand years ago becomes present to us, and so Jesus is born on the altar before us, lives before us, suffers before us, dies before us, and resurrects before us, actually, truly and really. Jesus becomes fully present before us in the Holy Eucharist as true God and true Man. At the Mass as well His second coming becomes present; at the Mass we are at once at the beginning of the world and at the end of the world. At the Mass our goal, which is heaven becomes present on earth as well. And at the Mass, our hope can be increase, when we receive, worthily, Jesus the source of our hope; if we but open to the doors to our hearts, minds and soul so that He can enter and mount His throne, ruling over our lives and changing us into His image and likeness. Then we ourselves can become living tabernacles of Christ and hope for the world, for we can take Jesus newly born in us, out into our daily lives and share with others the joy and the hope that is within us.

In our Gospel today, Joseph gives us the secret of Christmas. He lets Mary into his home. And by doing so He lets the Divine Child into her home as well. So to with us, if we want to let Jesus into our homes, into our hearts, then we must let more fully Mary into our homes and into our hearts. And she brings with her divine son Jesus. Mary, Mother of God, by your faithful yes to God’s Will you brought forth hope into the world-Jesus your Son; help us to open the door to our homes, to our hearts and welcome you in, and so welcome Him in. Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Solemnity of Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King. November 19th, 2016

The past few weeks, our readings have been about the end times. And the ultimate end of these readings, and the ultimate end of everything for that matter, is the sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ. And so, this week’s Solemnity of Christ the King brings the Church’s “Liturgical time” or Liturgical year, to a close.

Over the past months of time we have celebrated the mysteries of the life of the Lord. Pope St. John Paul II taught that, “While the feast of the Epiphany, Easter, and the Ascension all relate to Christ as King and Lord of the Universe, the Church has desired to have this great feast to be a special remembrance to modern man, modern man who seems somewhat indifferent to truth and his supernatural destiny, that his earthly life, all earthly kingdoms, and all time, will end in front of the Kings of kings.”

So on this special feast day, we now contemplate Christ in his glorified state as King of all creation and as King our souls. This feast day serves as a reminder to us that the Lord should truly reign in our life and over every aspect of it. The Lord Jesus needs to be sovereign over our hearts and minds, by being present in our families, among our friends, neighbors, and with our colleagues at work.

Christ’s kingship in our daily lives should be a witness against those who would reduce religion to a set of negative statements or to some kind of “pick and choose” Catholicism. Many would like to limit Christ’s sovereignty to just a corner of their lives and make their faith solely a private affair, claiming that they can’t take their faith in Christ out into personal relationships or out into the public and so political sphere. Contrastingly, this feast day is a call to each of us that we must affirm with our words and especially with our deeds, that we aspire to make Christ the King, reign indeed, over all hearts, both our own and other’s as well.

When we think of a sovereign, we can easily think of an absolute monarch or dictator, who commands without question. We are reminded about the crimes against humanity, the many injustices that these types of tyrants have committed and we can immediately think that sovereignty is a bad thing. Certainly, the foundation of our own country was against a sovereign; and in fact, this week we will celebrate thanksgiving and the blessings of freedom in our country. Jesus is a sovereign, it is true, but not in the way of earthly tyrants, for He has come to serve and not to be served.

Jesus established a kingdom of divine love and truth, whose demands go much farther than mere justice to mercy. Love demands that we give our all, without ever counting the cost. Mercy demands that we put the other before ourselves. This is difficult of course, because it means that we must give up our own self importance and self will and ascent to Jesus’ truth and His Will in order to open our hearts to receive His Divine Love. And Mercy demands that we share this Love and so this Truth with others.

The call to make Jesus our sovereign King can then make us hesitate. In fact, this call goes against our modern society. We live in a society that has dethroned God that no longer sees Him as Almighty (for an almighty God has a claim on our lives, a claim which demands absolute obedience to His Will and to His truth). But our world is one that has all but abandoned God, has especially abandoned Jesus Christ as King, maybe not in word, but in deed. If anything at all, it pays Jesus lip service.

It is a world that, not only no longer searches for the truth, it has abandoned any notion of absolute truth. For modern society based on radical individualism, truth has been replaced with feelings, emotions, and opinions; it is all about one’s personal “feelings” or one’s personal opinions. Deep within our society is a hatred for the very notion of kingship, of serving Christ the King by serving others; in stead it is, “I want to be king; I want to be served, I want to define truth.” It is no longer about obedience to the Holy Will of God, it is now about the “will of the people,” about our own will over and above the Holy Will of God and others. It is the kingdom of man without any reference to the Kingdom of God (a good definition of Atheistic Communism).

Jesus, however, manifests to us the Will of His Heavenly Father by obediently accepting death, even death on a cross. Hence, the cross is Jesus’ throne, the crown of thorns His royal diadem. While all those at the foot of the cross expected Christ to show a spectacular demonstration of His Royal claims by coming down off the cross, Jesus instead shows forth his divine authority by commanding the forgiveness of sins, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do. While Jesus in His sacrifice atones for all of the sins committed by mankind, He chooses to manifest the greatest act of sovereignty the world as ever seen by being concerned with just one man, and a criminal at that. “Jesus remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you today you will be with me in paradise. In this Jesus shows, not just strict justice, but Divine Mercy!

And so, the most important question one must ask on this Feast of Christ the King is not whether He does or does not reign in the world, but does He or does He not reign in me; not if His royalty is recognized by states and governments, but is it recognized and lived by me. 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: Is it Christ or another? To live "for the Lord," means to live in view of Him, to live solely for love of Him, for His glory and honor, and for the spreading of His Kingdom on earth, which subsists fully in the Holy Catholic Church.

Consequently then, The reign of Christ extends so far as there are men and women who understand themselves to be children of God, who are nourished by Him through His Holy Catholic Church and her great Sacraments, children who live only for Him; and as a result, want others to share in this Family of God under the Kingship of Christ and His sweet yoke.

However, it must be clear that, the reign of Christ extends only as far as there are those who realize it is only in being obedient to the Holy Church, to Her leaders and to Her divine teachings, that one is truly obedient to Christ the King.
Holy Mother Church gives us this feast at the end of the Church year, and this end of the Church’s year should be a type of spiritual death for all of us, a death to sin and selfishness, a death to our self will, and a rising to a new beginning, a new life in Christ and in His Holy Will. And just as natural death brings with it the prospect of seeing and standing before Jesus Christ our sovereign king, the end of this Church year brings us this opportunity to stand before Christ the king who is truly, physically, substantially present in the Holy Eucharist and allow Him to renew His divine Kingship over us…This is the Eucharist Reign of Christ the King. (As an aside: the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart as promised by Our Lady of Fatima will be the conversion of the world to true faith in the Holy Eucharist; and so, it will be the coming of the Eucharistic Reign of Christ on earth (conversion of Islam, Judaism and al faiths to the Holy Eucharist as Sacrament of Sacrifice, Sacrament of true Presence and Sacrament of Communion). This will begin a time of great peace on earth, peace that the world had not yet experienced).

Let us pray, “Jesus our Sovereign King, so many times we have been thieves by stealing your sovereignty over our lives. You always grant more than we could ever ask or imagine. The good thief only asked you to remember him but instead You granted Him paradise. So in your infinite mercy, King Jesus, “Remember us when you come into your kingdom. Holy Mary, mother of the King of kings, Queen of heaven and earth, and our Mother and our Queen, Pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen. May God bless you and Viva el Christo Rey…Long live Christ the King!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

It is the way we live our faith each day that is most important.

As we see the leaves of the trees fall and feel the cold weather coming, we are reminded that we are beginning to wind down another year. We see starting already ads and displays for Christmas, even though Advent is still a few weeks away. The Church, in choosing the readings for this time of the coming of the ending of the year, is helping us to look towards the coming of the end of our life, and so, the four last things of our life -Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell.

Our death is that moment that each one of us will stand before the Jesus when He comes again as Judge of the living and the dead, as Judge of our own life. We, of course, will speak much more of the Second coming of Christ during the Advent season, but we are being prepared for this focus with our readings today.

Holy Mother the Church, like a good Mother, wants us to realize that nothing, nothing in this life is more important than our faith in Jesus Christ. And nothing is more important than living our life in faithfulness to Him, and friendship with Him as a preparation to meet Him face to face. Now is the time of mercy, but soon will come the time of Judgment. Jesus comes to us now in the Sacraments as Divine Mercy, but at the end of our life He will come as Divine Judge.

To emphasize the importance of our faith in Jesus and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, this same Holy Church—who is our Mother, this same Church in our first reading, gives us the incredible, moving and true story of another mother who realized the importance of faith. She was willing to see all seven of her sons killed before her eyes rather than see them deny their faith. She like a good mother loved her sons enough to know that their eternal salvation was more important than life in this world or anything this world as to offer. Holy Mother the Church knows this as well.

The modern popes have reminded us that martyrdom, dying in witness for our Catholic Faith in fidelity to Jesus and His Catholic Church is always a distinct possibility for the true believer in any age and in every age. Our pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI said once that, “The possibility (to be martyr) does not seem to be immediate (to us), however, how we should be prepared to die for Christ.”

Sometimes we dismiss this idea for our times, perhaps because it has been so easy for us to practice our faith in the past. How many of us here have had to risk our life or imprisonment in order to make it to Sunday Mass, for example? How many of us have lost all of our possessions for being Catholic? How many of us have seen a member of our family or a brother or sister in Christ killed before our eyes.

The fact is, however, more Catholics today are suffering and dying for their faith than ever before in history, just look at the Middle East…thousand dying for their Catholic Faith. Mothers and fathers seeing even their young children-babies, die for the faith, just like the mother in our first reading. Our age, which will definitely go down in history as the “Age of Martyrs.”

In speaking about the distinct possibility of Martyrdom we Catholics face, Benedict emphasized that it is the way we live our faith each day that is most important.

It is the way we live our faith each day that is most important. This is the point that Jesus is trying to teach us in our Gospel today. Jesus corrects the Scribes and Pharisees because they failed to see how important is the way that one lives one life here and now with regards to how and where one spends eternity. The question regarding marriage in the afterlife was asked to Jesus; “Who of the seven husbands would the one woman belong to?” Jesus tells them that they missed the main point. And the main point is: the way we live today in our life of faith will be the way we will live life forever. In other words, how we live today and every day will determine how we will live in the next.

On a daily basis, we may not be brought before magistrates to witness to our faith (although that might becoming sooner than we may think) but we are called to witness to the truth by living our Catholic Faith. This means of course much more than just coming to Holy Mass. It means this of course, but it also means conforming our lives more and more to the all of the Teachings of the Catholic Church; teachings that come not from man, not from the pope, bishops or priests, but that come from God Himself. The teachings of the Catholic Church are the teachings of God.

One such example of how we live our catholic Faith, that is relevant in this election week, is by how we vote and our responsibility to vote ethically. We live our Catholic faith by the way we vote. I recently read an article by a priest who is a prolific thinker and author. In speaking about the upcoming election he said:

It is incorrect to say that the coming election poses a choice between two evils. For ethical and aesthetic reasons, there may be some bad in certain candidates, but badness consists in doing bad things. Evil is different: it is the deliberate destruction of truth, virtue and holiness. While one may pragmatically vote for a flawed candidate, one may not vote for anyone who advocates and enables unmitigatedly evil acts, and that includes abortion. “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it'" (Evangelium Vitae, 73).

 At one party’s convention, the name of God was excluded from its platform and a woman who boasted of having aborted her child was applauded. It is a grave sin, requiring sacramental confession and penance, to become an accomplice in objective evil by voting for anyone who encourages it, for that imperils the nation and destroys the soul.

By the way, the priest went on to rightly say:

“It is also the duty of the clergy to make this clear and not to shrink, under the pretense of charity, from explaining the Church's censures. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are dangerous, but worse are wolves in shepherd’s clothing. While the evils foreseen eight years ago were realized, worse would come if those affronts to human dignity were endorsed again. In the most adverse prospect, God forbid, there might not be another free election, and soon Catholics would arrive at shuttered churches and vacant altars. The illusion of indifference cannot long be perpetuated by lame jokes and synthetic laughter at banquets, for there is handwriting on the wall.” (Fr. George Rutler, Pastor of the Church of St. Michael, from his weekly Column of October 30, 2016)

Today the Church as a mother, as our Holy Mother, is even more concerned about the eternal salvation of Her sons and daughters than the mother in our first readings; She wants us to realize what this life is really all about. In fact, Holy Mother Church’s prime consideration, the reason for her very existence and for everything she does, is for the Salvation of Souls (Cannon 1752). Today she is reminding us that the most important thing in this life is our beautiful Catholic faith and our living it out each day faithfully in love, in charity so that we may reach heaven and help others reach it as well.

Like any mother, the Church doesn’t want to instill in us fear. She doesn’t remind us about the last things, Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell in order to instill fear in us; fear doesn’t lead to authentic freedom and so fear doesn’t lead to true love. Faith is not about fear, but about responsibility and love. Our Holy Mother want us to realize that what is needed is responsibility and accountability shown in our concern for our salvation and the salvation of the souls of our neighbor whoever they may be (even if they be our enemy).

Soon it will be night, and we will be questioned about our love. Love is shown not in sweet words, nor in lofty thoughts, not in warm fuzzy feelings or emotional highs. No, love is shown by deeds; Love is shown by how you and I live our Beautiful Catholic faith on a daily basis.

The level of our love with which we die, will be the level of our love for all eternity. If our love is great, then our love in heaven will be great. If our love is cold here on earth, it will be cold in the next, cold not in heaven, but cold by being separated from heaven; that is, separated for ever from the God who is Love (Deus Caritas est—God is Charity 1 Jn 4:8).

It is love of Christ alone, which give the martyrs the strength to face cruel deaths; it is this love that will be lived forever provided we begin to live it more intensely today. And this love can be lived only to the extent we live out our Beautiful Catholic faith on a daily basis. The source of this love is the Holy Eucharist, because the Holy Eucharist is Love incarnate, Jesus the One who truly loves us beyond our imaginings. It is the Holy Eucharist that gives us the strength to live the Church’s teachings, it is the Holy Eucharist that gives us the strength to witness our faith even unto death. Holy Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Mother of the Church, Mother of the Martyrs, be today ever more our Mother. Holy Mary, pray for our beloved country, pray for our parish, pray for our families, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

we can say without qualification that, “God is constantly with us”; He never leaves us and longs to enter into intimate conversation with us, not just once in while, but always.

Luke 18; 1-8. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. October 16th, 2016

In our readings, the Holy Spirit speaks to us today about the need to pray constantly and to preserve in our prayers in order to maintain our Faith, our hope and to grow in our love of our loving Father God. We are told of Moses and how as long as his hands were held up in supplication toward our God, things went well in the heat of the battle.

In our Gospel, Jesus uses the image of a widow in great need; she persistently bothers the unjust judge who because of her constant supplication finally gives into her request. Jesus makes a contrast here between the judge and our Heavenly Father; if even this unjust Judge will grant the widow’s request because of her perseverance, how much more will the Just Judge, Our Father in heaven who loves us, grant our requests when we persevere in our prayer to Him. The lesson is of course this, we must pray constantly, without ceasing or becoming weary trusting always that God hears and answers every one our prayers, even when it seems He is delaying doing so.

At the end of our Gospel today, Jesus questions whether He will find any faith on earth when He returns in glory. Without faith, hope and love we cannot make it to heaven. And there is a direct connection between the level of our faith, hope and love and the amount we pray. This is so because the source of these supernatural virtues is of course God Himself. Prayer is that action which put us into direct Contact with the living God. And by the greatest act of prayer, our adoration, we acknowledge our awareness that God is the Source of our being and hence we acknowledge at the same time in humility that every thing we need depends on him (we are like the widow really in great need, whether we know it or not).

God has allowed difficulties in our lives for this very reason. When we are in times of need, especially great need, we realize much more deeply, than when everything is going well, that we need God and his grace to help us in these trying times. The more we turn trustingly to him and petition Him with our prayer the more we see more clearly that his is a trustworthy God, always reading to answer those who but call out to him with constant prayer.

Saint Paul instructed echoing our Lords words in today Gospel, “pray without ceasing.” (1 THess. 5:17) But how does one pray without ceasing? What does the Holy Spirit mean by “pray without ceasing?” Let’s take a look at some ways we can pray ceaselessly.

Ceaseless prayer is simply living in a personal, constant union with God. It doesn’t mean spending all day in church, and it certainly doesn’t mean neglecting our daily duties of life in order to pray. No, ceaseless prayer is fulfilling our duties with out mind and heart centered on God and on our love for Him and His love for us; in this our daily duties, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, become themselves a prayer offered to God.

Ceaseless prayer has to do with the desire of our heart. It’s not about calculating the time of prayer; does a mother ask how often she should love her child, or a friend how often he should love a friend? St. Augustine says that the essence of prayer is desire. If the desire for God is constant, so also is prayer, but if there is no interior desire, then you can howl as much as you want – to God you are mute.

Jesus himself gave us the example of unceasing prayer. Of him, it is said that he prayed during the day, in the evening, early in the morning, and sometimes he passed the whole night in prayer. Prayer was the connecting thread of his whole life. In his humanity Jesus shows us definitively that pray consists in love for the Father.

But Christ’s example tells us something else important. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we can pray always, that we can make prayer a kind of respiration of the soul in the midst of daily activity, if we do not set aside fixed times for prayer, times when we are free from every other preoccupation. And so, part of our ceaseless prayer are those specific times of our day which should be devoted to contemplation and private prayer; It is during these times that we come to know God’s will for us and are strengthened to perform our daily duties in a way that is pleasing to Our Lord, as well as being redemptive for ourselves and others.

Prayer then should be the first act of our day and the last of act of our day, along with times in between to pray as well, especially before and after meals, even in public. Also an essential part of our scheduled daily prayer is the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Pope John Paul II wrote, “The Rosary, in its own particular way, is part of this varied panorama of ‘ceaseless’ prayer. On Thursday we celebrated the 99th anniversary of the last apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal. There the Mother of God asked us to pray the rosary daily. The three little shepherds (at Fatima) understood the value of the Rosary as a call to prayer and an easy way of responding to Jesus’ call to us to pray always. Sister Lucia, one of the visionary of Fatima wrote,

“Those who say the Rosary daily are like children who, every day, manage to find a few moments just to be with their father, to keep him company, to show him their gratitude, to do some service for him, to receive his advice and his blessing. It is an exchange of love, the love of the father for the child and the child for the father; it is a mutual giving.”

In the Rosary, Our Mother leads us by the hand to a deep intimate loving encounter with her Son, Jesus. And so, the Rosary is really a Eucharist prayer; if it is prayed correctly and with love and devotion it leads us to Jesus in the Eucharist, and the Holy Eucharist is the most essential part of our ceaseless prayer. And so in our prayer of the Holy Rosary, we discover that ceaseless prayer is absolutely impossible without the Holy Mass.

And so it is essential for our prayer that we set aside, as the Church as always done, a special day dedicated to worship and prayer: Sunday. In light of our present day persecutions, we modern Christians should take our inspiration from the words that, in 305, St. Saturnius and his fellow martyrs addressed to the Roman judge who had them arrested for participating in the Sunday Mass: “The Christian cannot live without the Sunday Eucharist. Do you not know that the Christian exists for the Eucharist and the Eucharist for the Christian?

We have to end by saying that daily prayer is hard, praying without ceasing takes effort and the devil tries to keep us from it, especially our prayer at Holy Mass. John Henry Newman, the great convert from Anglicanism, says: “Nothing is more difficult than to be disciplined and regular” in our prayer life. It is easy to be religious in fits and starts…at times we “feel” spiritual, but to be regular at prayer is a trial, he says because we are so weak and inconstant. Newman stresses that Satan “perceives well that daily private prayer is the very emblem and safeguard of true devotion to God.” and of maintaining us in a course of good conduct, of holiness of life. That is precisely why the Devil will use any and every means to prevent us from praying regularly.

Perhaps, we can take a lesson from St. John Vianney; The Cure of Ars (Doctor of souls) taught: it is not surprising the devil does everything in his power to get us to lessen the time of our personal dialogue with the Lord or to do it poorly. Look at the senseless set of reasons the enemy gives you for abandoning your prayer. ‘I have no time’ – when you are constantly wasting it. ‘This not for me.’ ‘My heart is dry…’ Prayer, St John Vianney says, is not a question of what you say or feel, but of love. And you love when you try hard to say something to the Lord, even though you might not actually say anything.” And when you love you want to be with the one you love constantly.

Many of our difficulties in prayer disappear when we pause to consider that we are in the presence of God. He is at our side as much as with the ones who heard and spoke to him in today’s Gospel. In fact we can say without qualification that, “God is constantly with us”; He never leaves us and longs to enter into intimate conversation with us, not just once in while, but always. Let us turn to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary to help us to pray. “Lovely Lady dressed in blue teach us how to pray, for God was just your little boy tell us what to say.” Amen.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

In our first reading today, we heard the words of the prophet Habakkuk, “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” But you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” These lines from Sacred Scripture seem to be written for our own day.

In these our times, we are experiencing violence on a level never seen before in the history of the world, never seen before! We see increasing terror attacks. And shootings are in the headlines every day; 19 homicides already this year here in Rockford surpassing all of last year; in Chicago, last years total number of shooting homicides, 509 was surpassed already as of September 1st. Currently it stands at 565 dead.

It is clear that our world is descending more and more into a world of incredible violence and misery, producing so much ruin and leaving so many victims in misery. It is clear to see that the life and dignity of the human person is no longer respected, but is now easily discarded, the result, as Pope Francis said, of a “throw away society.”

On this Pro-life Sunday, we acknowledge all of those who have worked so hard to end the threats against life, even through it seems the threats grow stronger and even more violent. Those who truly understand the importance of the Prolife movement know that the escalation of violence in our society will only continue to increase until the life and the dignity of ALL human persons is upheld and protected; this is especially true with regards to the life of the unborn person. Violent begets violence and there is nothing more violent than abortion (the dismemberment and the ripping out of unborn baby from its mother’s womb); not to mention, the great wounds and scars it causes to lives of the women and men who participate in it, albeit sometimes desperately.

In light of the ever-increasing violent threats against life, it is easy to become discouraged, easy to lose hope that things will ever change. Our efforts to defend and promote the life and the dignity of every human person can seem to be having no effect. We, like Habakkuk, can want to cry out to God, “Violence, but You do not intervene!”

Today, God doesn’t want us to become discourage by our seemingly lack of success in the pro-life movement, for we see in the readings of today’s Holy Mass the unstoppable power of Faith, Hope and Charity. The prophet Habakkuk, who was so despairing, receives a wonderful vision from God- faith is not without hope. “For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” In the end, it is not just that Love will triumph, but that the Love of Jesus will triumph over our culture of violence, over our culture of death!

In this month of pro-life activities, we are reminded as Pope Francis once said, “always have hope in Christ!” Our hope in Christ points, not only of physical life, but to spiritual life as well – to our life in Christ that has the power to transform us; and through us, to transform our culture and world. It is the power, the power of Divine Love, to heal and to save lives, not just earthly lives but more importantly eternal life-souls for all eternity.

By opening our own hearts more fully to His love and mercy, we let Christ dwell in us more powerfully, and we see then more deeply the intricate and unique beauty of each person, made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the most Precious Blood of Jesus who is God Himself. And through our holiness of life, through our faithful discipleship, others will come to see more deeply this perennial truth as well. They will see the sacredness of every human life, no exceptions.

And so God will surely act, but we need to do our part, for it is God’s desire that we become his faithful disciples. And faithful disciples are those who are His faithful witnesses to the truth about the value and worth of each and every human person no matter their particular situation. And so today, we need to, in an ever-deeper way, ask Our Loving God what He wants from each one of us in order for life to become sacred again in our land.

Allow me to offer some suggestions:
To start with, we can make an effort to come to know our faith better in order to give a more effective witness of our Christian life. We need to know our faith better in order to live it and so witness to it. Too often, we can only think about nourishing our emotions and feelings and fail to do the hard work of continuing to form our intelligence and our conscience by the Teachings of the Church, which are literally the Truth that comes from God. Learning the truth is hard work, and it isn’t always enjoyable, yet, it is vital for us in order to be effective and to bring the light of Christ to the world and to the poor souls who have been affected by it’s darkness.

Better understanding of our faith helps us to defend its unchanging truth and live it more fully in our lives. Our words testifying to the value of all human life do no good if we are not living our lives in witness to this value. This witness is shown in our own marriages and families by our openness and generosity in the number of children we bring into the world, by our practice of the Church’s moral teaching with regards to the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act, by our refusal to use artificial contraception which divides these two essential elements of God’s plan for sex, and by using Natural Family Planning only in cases of serious reason. We have to always keep these two aspects, unitive and procreative, intact. And so, we also show our openness by our refusal to use In-vitro Fertilization, surrogate mothering and other practices, such as homosexual acts and so-called homosexual “marriage” which also go against God’s natural and moral law. The teachings of the Catholic Church give an absolute clear defense of life, but they must, if we are to have life, they must be believed and understood, celebrated, and with the help of God’s grace, lived in our daily lives as a witness to their truthfulness and life-giving-ness. In this we become faithful witnesses to Life!!!

The second thing we can do is to offer acts of atonement and reparation for all crimes against the human person, those just mentioned, as well as for poverty, false accusation and for all forms of murder and violence. We can offer everything we do each day to Jesus in love for Him and for souls. We can make spiritual acts of reparation every day, little acts of love we perform each day to try and repair the damage done by all sins, especially ones so heinous as crimes against the human person.
We can offer our daily sufferings, big or small, in atonement for those who commit the sins against life, crimes that cry out for vengeance before the Almighty God.

This brings up another suggestion on how we can carry out God’s will for us to be effective witnesses to life. And this is by humble heartfelt prayer, especially before He who is Life Itself, Who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. This type of prayer is essential. It is in our personal time in faith before our Eucharistic Lord that He Himself nourishes and renews our faith and hope, so we can “always hope in Christ;” and it is before Him that we can beg Him who is the Fount of Life and Unfathomable Mercy to envelope the whole world and open Himself out upon us.

Before Jesus truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament, we can beg our Lord for the conversion of all those who desire to destroy life, destroying themselves and our world in the process. It is there that we can bring all that we are and have and offer them to God in supplication for what we need and desire. It is also before Jesus in the tabernacle that we can obtain grace, the grace of conversion to change our sinful world steeped in a culture of death. There we can open our hearts to the Divine Mercy of God in Person, and become instruments of that mercy to others so they too can see the unique beauty of each person; in this, we can be used
to transform our culture to a culture of life.

Before the living Jesus, hidden in the little white host, we can as well call down graces and mercy upon all of those who have been involved in crimes against life in order to shower them with the love of God and the Mercy of God so they can seek the forgiveness of God through their sincere repentance. When was the last time you and your family prayed on hour before Jesus in the tabernacle asking, begging, for an end to the crimes against life in order to destroy our culture and death and turn it into a culture of life?

God in His divine providence has allowed us to be alive at this place in human history, where human persons are thrown away at will. He offers us an opportunity to show Him our faithfulness and love by doing all that we can to end all the crimes against life most especially through our spiritual acts of prayer. This Friday October 7th, is the feast of “Our Lady of the Rosary.” The original title of this feast day was, “Our Lady of Victory.”

The feast of Our Lady of Victory, celebrated the Holy Roman Empire’s great and miraculous naval victory over the vastly superior fleet of the Ottoman Empire. It was one of the most spectacular conflicts in naval history. In this battle known as the Battle of Lepanto, the Christian fleet of the Holy Roman Empire was outnumbered three to one by the Ottoman Empire’s mighty navy; it should have been a complete slaughter. Had the Christians lost they would have lost control of the Mediterranean, and the Turk’s boast that he would make a mosque out of Saint Peter’s Basilica—as his forebears had done with Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia—could have become a definite reality; the stakes couldn’t not have been higher.

The Dominican Pope, Pope St. Pius V, saw the seriousness of the situation clearly and so instructed all the Churches of Italy to pray the rosary as the battle began. Through the faithfulness of so many Christians praying the most powerful spiritual weapon of the Rosary, a miracle occurred which allowed the Christian fleet to win an absolutely impossible battle. The pope, correctly attributing the win to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory the following year, which would eventually be renamed the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Our present day battle for life, like the Battle of Lepanto, seems to be against invincible forces. This brings up my final suggestion: In our Pro-life efforts, let us invoke our Lady under her title, “Our Lady of Victory.” The Virgin Mary is described in one biblical verse, “as she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” If enough Catholic Christians would unite in prayer under the banner of our Lady, if the parish church families and individual families of our Country would together pray her Rosary, most especially before the Blessed Sacrament, we would quickly win this present day battle; which by the way, makes the Battle of Lepanto look like children playing in a swimming pool.

We like Pope St. Pius V, need to see clearly the seriousness of our modern day situation and like the faithful of Italy, act decisively with faith; the sakes could not be higher, literally million of souls hang in the balance. In this great modern day battle, which is the battle for life itself, our faithfulness and steadfastness will not decide the outcome of the battle, for battle for life will succeed, but our faithfulness will decide the outcome of the destiny of our country and the eternal destiny of millions and millions of souls.

In the end, the Blessed Mother has promised us that her Immaculate Heart will triumph over our culture of sin and death, and an era of peace will ensue. For the triumph of the Immaculate heart will be a triumph of love, a triumph of love brought about by those faithful sons of daughters of God who pray the rosary with devotion, and wear the brown scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel as a sign of their consecration, that is as a sign of our setting aside, of their hearts and their wills to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.

Like the prophet Daniel, let us, at this Holy Mass, cry out before the Lord, “We have sinned against you!” We may not be directly responsible for the crimes of our day, but here we can implore God Divine Mercy to forgive these sins by sending His graces of conversion on those who have committed them so that they may be reconciled with God and with the human race. “Eternal Father, I offer to Thee the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, along with the offering of my own heart, body, blood and soul on the paten at this Holy Mass, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.”


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Today, Jesus keeps on the theme of faithful discipleship. He tells us a very interesting parable about a dishonest steward. However the situation is not so cut and dry at it seems. Our Lord here isn’t condoning the steward’s behavior, which was obviously unjust and dishonest, but Jesus is emphasizing and praising the steward’s shrewdness and effort. In this parable, our Blessed Lord wants us to apply at least the same ingenuity and effort to serve Him as people put into their worldly affairs or in their attempts to attain some human ideal.

At times however, sadly we must admit, it seems too often as if the children of this world are more resolute in the pursuit of their goals than we Christians. All of us have become accustomed to seeing people make unbelievable sacrifices in order to improve their life-style or standard of living. At times we may even be shocked by the great lengths people will go to acquire more wealth, power or fame. In Charity, we Christians must be willing to put at least the same amount of zeal and effort into the service of God and neighbor, offering everything we do all for the glory of God, not our own. Only by this type of humble and dedicated service we will acquire salvation for ourselves and for our neighbor whoever he or she may be.

For their part, the children of the world live as if there existed only what is here below, and they single-mindedly focus their attention on obtaining what they think will make them happy in this world. They focus on acquiring the good things of this world more than on possessing and being possessed by the One Who is Goodness Itself and from Whom all good things come. And as result they fail to realize what is really important. And that is, our eternal destiny and whether we will spend it forever in heaven united with God in an intimate union of love or in hell separated from Him forever.

However, it is not just the children of the world that forget what is really important, even more scandalous, the children of God, us Christians too often forget. Because of this forgetting about what is really important, and the loss of charitable zealousness that results, Jesus says sadly, “… the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

For our part, the Lord wants us to make as our primary concern, our growth in intimacy and friendship with him, better known as holiness and sanctity. And then in sanctity and holiness, living our lives in order to lead others to Him and His love, in order that they may be not only saved but enter into a loving union with Him as well, now and for all eternity. We should have at least the same level of determination as that with which others engage in worldly concerns.

In fact, if you really think about, nothing on this earth is more important that Adoring and Worshiping God, in order to come to know Him more, love Him more so that we can serve Him in order to be truly happy in this life and forever in the life to come. Nothing is more important that being His faithful disciple in order not only to save our soul but also being used to save the souls of others, both those we love and those of our enemies. All of the things of this world, all of our talents, all that the Lord as given to us, should be used primarily for this.

God has given us all so many gifts and He waits patiently to see what we will do with them. Will we treat them as ends or will we use them as means. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” We have only one Lord. We must serve Him with all our heart, using all that He has given to us, whether it be our treasures, our talents or our time. We must direct everything toward Him: our work, our plans, our leisure, without holding anything back. Even the ordinary mundane duties of everyday life must be done for God alone, nothing is considered inconsequential.

The faithful Disciple is not one however, who lives with his head in the clouds, but the one who loves God and neighbor by struggling to be faithful in the little details of everyday life; it isn’t that He is perfect but that he is, with the help of God’s grace, striving for perfection…to be perfect as Your Heavenly Father is perfect. It is perfection of Love!!! Even little things if done for love of God become powerful and useful for our salvation and that of our neighbors; in fact, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” We must do everything primarily for God’s glory and for the salvation of souls—“Even in eating and drinking do everything for God’s glory.”

Our resolution to put God and His affairs first in our lives begins right here at Holy Mass. Coming to, and fully, actively and consciously participating in Holy Mass is a matter of grave Justice; it is recognition of what is owed to God as our Creator and sustainer. And what is owed to Him is our worship and adoration, our complete trust and love. Not to make Holy Mass, which is the greatest act of adoration of God (because Holy Mass is the Adoration of the Son to the Father on our behalf; it is God adoring God for our sakes)…not make Holy Mass the most important event in our life is to fail in justice toward our God. Not to offer ourselves at Holy Mass to God in response to the offering of Himself to us, is to fail not only in justice, but also to fail in our love for Him; for love is always and exchange of persons. Our love and participation at Holy Mass is therefore the greatest act of Charity we can perform; and only from the Mass then can we truly act in Charity to others.

In justice and in love for God and neighbor, we must come to Holy Mass every week, at least, and humbly adore the God who is truly present there, the God who has given us everything we have even our very existence and the existence of those we love. In this, we realize that by being present at Holy Mass we aren’t doing God a favor, He is doing us a favor; He is blessing us by even allowing us to be in His Holy and Sacred Presence, along with all the angels and saints of heaven bowing our hearts before Him crying out, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty…Blessed are we who are called to His supper.

In profound thanksgiving and appreciation, we must then take what we receive at this Mass, namely Jesus in the Holy Eucharist—His power and His Love known as Charity, out with us as we live our mission to bring the love of Christ to the world around us, for we can’t be a follower of God on Sunday’s and devoted to the business of this world the rest of the week. We cannot lead a double life. We cannot have a split personality if we want to be faithful disciples of our Lord.

Let us then offer everything we have at this Mass in order to adore God. Let us acknowledge our failure in the past to serve Him as we ought; let us thank Him for all the many blessings that He as given to us; and let us ask Him for the grace and the strength to serve Him single mindedly and faithfully all the days of our lives. Holy Mary, perfect Disciple of the Lord and Mother of all the disciples of the Lord, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Luke 15; 1-32. Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 11th, 2016

The parables of the Gospel today, the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son, are all very familiar to us. The parables of the lost sheep and prodigal son are so popular that you can see in many people’s homes pictures of Jesus with a sheep on His shoulders or of the Father receiving and embracing the prodigal son. We have heard some fairly difficult Gospels the last few weeks on discipleship. Topics like humility two weeks ago, and last week's taking up your cross each day, are not easy ones to hear, much less put into practice.

In light of the seriousness of these topics, certainly, many of us have tried to respond anew, and with greater intensity to Jesus’ call to become more fully His faithful Disciples. However, even though in our hearts we long to follow Christ more fully we know we are very weak and that we live in world where it is so very difficult to do the right thing. It’s so easy to become discouraged in our efforts and to just give up and say “Oh, what’s the use- I’ll never get this right!”

Well today, through the readings, God speaks to our discouragement. He offers us His grace; that is, offers us His Divine help so that we might fulfill our desire to be good and faithful disciples. He wants us to know that He is merciful God, a God who is patient and kind. He is a generous and understanding God; quick to forgive those who are humble and contrite of heart. He is a God who never keeps score or tallies our iniquities.

No, God is not a “scorekeeper” but a “promise keeper.” Being well aware of our human weakness, He prefers not to condemn us; after all He has presented us with his greatest gift imaginable, the gift of His only Son, who He continues to offer to us in and through all the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist because it is Jesus in the flesh.

In each of the parables in the Gospel today, the central figure is then God Himself. He is God who is on a “search and rescue” mission. He is a God who does everything He can to seek out and recover those of His children who have succumbed to temptation and so have separated themselves from Him and His love for them.

God is in fact, the Good Shepherd who misses the sheep gone astray by sin, seeks it out in order to bring it back to the fold. Once He has found it, He carries it on His shoulder, since it is trembling and weak from its disobedience and the great burden of its sins. God also seeks us, similar to the actions of a woman who having lost a coin of great value, lights a lamp and searches the whole house diligently and patiently until it is found. As well, God is a loving father who longs for the return of His son, going out daily, scanning the horizon to see if His son is coming so that as a Father He can run to His returning son and throw His arms around him and cover him with kisses.

Yes, these beautiful images of God are given to us to encourage us in our daily struggles. But at the same time they are given to us as an example to follow in our discipleship. They let us know that discipleship involves nothing less, nothing less, than taking into our hearts the qualities of God Himself-we are called to be God-like through divine grace. In other words, we are call to love like God, to actually love with God’s own love; we are called to have a merciful, forgiving heart like God, a heart that desires that none be lost, that all be found and saved.

And so, if we are to take on the qualities of the Father's heart, our discipleship then also includes a sharing in God’s own mission, which again is a search and rescue mission. It is a sharing in the mission of the Father, through, with, and in the Sacred Heart of His Son, of finding the lost sheep and bringing them back into the One Fold, to His one true Church.

Holy Mother Church applies the image of the Good Shepherd, and so this search and rescue mission, especially to priests when it states: “They (the priests) should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the Truth and of the Life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith.”

But the Church doesn’t limit this rescue mission merely to priests. It reminds us that we have all been the lost sheep at some time in our lives. And because we have all been searched for and found by the Mercy of our God, we too should want all souls to experience the healing and saving power of the Sacraments in which the Father through Jesus embraces us and covers us with His Kisses.

And so our sharing in God's search and rescue mission for lost souls is also a necessary requirement of the Lord for all of us in our faithful discipleship. Fulfilling this requirement of faithful discipleship in order to bear the fruit of bringing lost souls into the embrace of the Father, requires nothing less as well, than our full, active and conscious participation at Holy Mass; only then can we take on the qualities of God.

In the first reading today, we hear of Moses, after climbing the Mountain of Holiness, interceding before the face of God on behalf of his people that had gone astray, so they would not be destroyed would not be lost. So too at Holy Mass the “New Moses” Jesus climbs the mountain of true holiness, Mount Calvary. And there before the Face of the Father, Jesus continues to intercede by pouring himself out for the salvation and sanctification of all souls.

Even though, principally it is Jesus who is the “one intercessor to the Father on our behalf, He wishes that we too join in this intercessory role of the Son on behalf of all souls. We too, at Holy Mass, are to offer ourselves in love to Father, to offer our body and our blood. In other words, we too are to pour out our life for the sake of others, so that the lost may found and all may be saved through us. We too, through, with and in the Son are to intercede before the continence of the Father, that is, before the face of the Father as well, crying out, “Eternal Father, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Let us not be discouraged in our weakness and our sinfulness, but with humble and contrite hearts and with the Help of the Virgin Mary, join in this self-offering of Jesus by offering our self and all we have fully and with great trust to Jesus and through Him to the Father. And as the bread and the wine that is being offered is transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may our hearts too, by the same Spirit be transformed into images of this same Sacred Heart. Then becoming one with the Heart of the Son, we will truly be able to share in the search and rescue mission of the Father becoming His instruments of grace and mercy for the world, so that it may escape the destruction for by its sins it so justly desires. Let us pray:

Eternal Father, at this Holy Mass, I offer to Thee the Body and the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, along with my own heart, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world…

Sunday, September 4, 2016

In today’s Gospel we again hear Jesus asking us to become His faithful disciples. In fact, each and ever day when we wake up, if we listen closely, we can hear Jesus asking us to be his disciples to a greater degree than the day before. Are we willing to put our faith, adoration, trust, our love and obedience to Jesus, before anything or anyone? Will we love Jesus today even more than our closest loved ones, our father, mother, wife, brothers and sisters, children and even ourselves? Are we willing today to pick-up the cross that He gives us and follow after him? Will we renounce all of our possessions for Him, sacrifice ourselves by loving others for love of Him-will we live for Him alone?

These questions come up in the events of each and every day, and they remind us that it is important that we calculate not only the cost of being a faithful disciple, but what we need to do in order to succeed in becoming one. It takes great effort to be a faithful disciple of Jesus; it takes a daily struggle.

Our Gospel today teaches us three main aspects or actions, which we must struggle to carryout on a daily basis. They are; Adoration—that is daily loving God first; Carrying our cross in imitation of Jesus; and Renunciation, that is, putting nothing before God and our Love for Him. Let’s look a little closer at each one.

First, Adoration. Practically, this aspect of our daily struggle begins first thing in the morning when we wake up. Do we put our love for God first in our day? We struggle with getting out of bed and we struggle even more to do that first act of adoration of our day. Our minds can quickly turn to other things- like “I’ve got to get everyone else up and breakfast prepared.” “What time is that first appointment of the day—better to just hit the snooze alarm one more time?

Suddenly our minds are filled with the preoccupations of the day. These things are important, but will we love God first and put Him first in our day? The very first thing our minds should focus upon, immediately when awaking, is on God. Making the sign of the cross, we should make a sacrifice to get out of bed quickly and immediately kneel down, even touching our forehead to the ground in order to make our first act of the day an act of adoring God. “God, Creator of my soul, Father of my soul, I adore and I love Thee. Please help me to adore Thee and love Thee more this day.” We have to make the effort to start off each day putting God first if we are to keep Him first throughout our day and so in our lives. To help us adore him daily, do we, whenever we can, spend intimate time with Him truly present in the tabernacle or during Holy Hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?

The second aspect of our daily struggle; We must be willing to pick up the crosses that Jesus gives us each day? All of us have some sort of suffering in our lives and these are our crosses. If there is anyone who is free from suffering here, I’d love to meet them. Some crosses are big; most are small. Perhaps ours is larger—an illness, or an illness in the family. Maybe it’s troubles in the family- the children are misbehaving, a relative in trouble. Or maybe it’s troubles at work- that bothersome coworker, heavy workload, being out of work. Maybe our cross is smaller—just the hum drum of everyday life, or even the little trips, snares and snags that occur each and everyday, such as when we drop things, clothing snags on a door knob, we can’t find our keys or the car won’t start.

Whatever our sufferings may be, they are something that God has allowed in our life, and if we carry them for love of Jesus; they can make us into great saints—that is great friends of Jesus. Instead of saying, “Why me, we can say “why not me.” And so we ask Jesus to help us to see that our sufferings are the very things that He has allowed in order that we can draw closer to him in love; carrying our cross far from being a negative, can be the most positive thing in our lives, if we carry it for love of Jesus, it is the royal way that leads to salvation, ours and other’s as well.

If we ask Him, Jesus will give us the grace to handle our cross along with it’s many sufferings that come into our lives, not only to just endure these sufferings, but even to endure them with great joy and peace, “for his yoke is easy and his burden light for those who love him dearly.” But we can’t try to carry the cross on our own; we need his help—daily. So do we ask for this each day in our morning prayer? Do we think about Him during our work, asking him for his help and strength throughout the day? Do we seek the help of His grace by praying each and ever day.

And the third and final aspect or action: we must renounce all of our possessions do be His disciples. However, before we can do so, we must first understand what it means to renounce all of our possessions. Possessions are anything, anyone that might separate us from God. The list can be long. We immediately think of material goods. The question we can ask ourselves to see whether or not we have renounced them is, “do I possess this thing or does it possess me?” Does it possess me to the point that my heart is more attached to it than to God? Our world is so full of materialism and consumerism that it is a struggle to not be possessed by the things of this world.

Another area of possession, perhaps the most difficult, is the riches we hoard in our own hearts. One of the greatest riches is not money but our stubborn will. We love to have things our own way. Interiorly, we can all sometimes act like spoiled children; “It’s my way or the highway.” And so, do we make daily sacrifices for others for love of God? Do we submit ourselves to the church and her representatives in our beliefs and our practices? Do we make sacrifices for our family and for our Church family?

Another type of possession can be our memories. Memories can be another form of “wealth.” An example of this is our grudges. If someone in the past or present has hurt us, do we allow the memory of the hurt to possess us so that we refuse to forgive that person and even refuse to talk to or pray for that person? I think this occurs most often in families. Grudges can possess our heart and make them heavy and hard. And so, we need God’s grace to let go, to forgive, to reconcile. Each and everyday we need to ask God in prayer to help us in our struggle to forgive and to reconcile. We need especially the grace from the Sacrament of Confession to help us to forgive others who have hurt us, especially if it a very deep hurt. When we let go of our possessions and being possessed by them, we possess and become possessed by Jesus Christ our true Joy, and nothing could be better than this.

So to sum up the three points to following Jesus more faithfully: First each and everyday, we must make an act of adoration to God, in which we give to Him all that we are and all that we have. Connected to this is accepting and carrying our daily crosses with great love for Jesus and for our neighbor out of our love for Jesus. This is our we live adoration. And in those things, which are most difficult to let go of, those things that hold possession over our hearts more than the Blessed Trinity, we ask the Holy Spirit to slowly help us to renounce them.

In order to be able to carry out each of these in our daily life it goes with out saying that we must begin our week by fully, actively, consciously participating in the Holy Mass in order to obtain its infinite fruits in our lives. The Holy Mass the source of all graces; it is the source and summit of the Christian life.
It is only at Holy Mass that we begin to truly adore God. For only there can be we present at the passion and death—the Crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary and join our imperfect adoration to the perfect adoration of Jesus to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
And so, it is here at the Holy Mass that we can more fully renounce all of our possessions by offering them along with our whole heart to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that she that she may place them on the Paten as loving sacrificial offering to God.
And it is at Holy Mass that we can receive from the Eucharistic Jesus the Holy Spirit, in order to daily carry our cross in imitation of Jesus, becoming His instruments of love and mercy to the world. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us; St. Joseph pray for us; St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta; Pray for us. Amen

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It is at Holy Mass that we can approach without terror and trembling but nonetheless with great humility “Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering (Heb. 12;22.

The readings today speak to us about an important virtue-the virtue of humility. It was the Blessed Mother who said to St. Faustina, the apostle of Divine Mercy, that the three most important virtues in the Christian life are: number one-Humility; number two-humility; number three-humility.

However for the most part, it seems humility is not a very popular virtue these days. In fact, I wonder if most view humility more as vice, as a type of weakness. In other words, the more humble we are, the more others will take advantage of us. Surely, in our world there are many people trying to take advantage of us (fraud is a common crime these days), but true humility is not this. Humility is not being a floor mat; it is not a weakness, but instead a great strength.

Humility is of course, the virtue that opposes pride in our heart. Humility comes first and foremost with our correct relationship with God and then flows out to our correct relationship with others and then ourselves; it is knowing the truth about ourselves and about God.

Simply, Humility recognizes that God is God and we are not. He is our Creator and Lord, and as such we must come to know Him in order to love Him by serving Him so that we may be happy in this life and in the life to come. This begins by knowing and obeying His Commandments and His teachings in our lives. And perhaps most difficult, to be humble we are to obey those whom God has placed in legitimate authority over us, as well as serve and love others for Love of God whoever they may be.

Perhaps to better understand humility we can compare it with its opposite-the vice of Pride. While humility is the truth, pride is a lie. Pride can manifest itself in a couple different ways.

First, pride can lead us to think ourselves above God and that we know better than God. We place ourselves above His Commandments and the teachings of His Son, Jesus. There are of course innumerable ways people justify this, like saying God doesn’t exist, or the Commandments are just a religion thing so don’t push your beliefs on me, or the Church needs to get with the times; after all, everyone is doing it.

In this first manifestation of pride, it is the self that becomes the determinant of the truth. But in the end, it is an act of pride, because it is lie. This was the real temptation in the garden, the devil said, you will know the difference between good and evil, in other words, you can choose for yourself what is true and false what is good and evil apart from God and His truth which is proclaimed by His Church.

The truth is of course that God is the only one who determines truth and He has revealed it to us in its fullness through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word of God, and so He is Truth Itself who continues to speak to us through the teaching office of the Church He founded. And so, humility recognizes that Right is right even if no-one is doing it, and wrong is wrong even if every is doing it.

The other manifestation of pride is the opposite of the above; it is when we judge ourselves to be less than the dignity that God has given to us as His beloved child made in God’s own image and likeness and redeemed by the precious Blood of His Son. This type of pride can come out like this, “how could God ever love me, I did this terrible thing and He could never forgive me.” Or “The teachings of the Church are too hard to follow, so why even try.” This manifestation of pride is a type of false humility in which we look at our weakness more than we look to God’s mercy and His grace in order to over come our weakness. This can also lead us to deny any good work that through grace, God has accomplished through us or can accomplish through us.

In contrast, true humility recognizes that we have all sinned, and we continue to sin and so fall short of the glory of God in our thoughts, words and deeds. We are all too weak on or own power to live our lives according to the truth, but we are indeed nevertheless loved by God more than we can imagine. He desires to forgive us of any or our failure to live the truth—our sins, if accept His mercy by truthfully, sorrowfully and humbly ask for His forgiveness by confessing them fully before His personal representative in the Sacrament of confession as we make a firm purpose of amendment with the help of His grace to sin no more. And God is always ready to give us the strength we need to humbly follow Him if we but, in humility call upon His Holy and Powerful Name through prayer and the Sacraments of His Church, which are the sources of grace for us.

Pride in all of us can be very strong. Just when we think we have lost some of our pride, it is then when pride can be the most powerful in us. Those who don’t think they are prideful are in fact the most prideful. Humility is the only antidote to pride. Humility is truth; it is being truthful about ourselves, both in what is good about us, and in what is bad about us. As someone once said, “True humility is being aware of our self worth, but not our self importance.”

Humility is actually an internal choice we make in the silence of our hearts. The essence of this choice & act of humility is adoration. We bow ourselves under the hand of the Creator, we submit our wills to His, we die to our self, that is to our self-will, our self-reliance and to our own ideas. We have received everything we are and everything we have from God, so we desire to offer it all back to Him in a loving sacrifice of thanksgiving. We bow our hearts, minds, and yes even our bodies, bending our knees before the majesty of the Almighty, all Powerful, and ever-living God—this is humility!

Humility then, always starts with what is most basic, adoration. The deeper our adoration of God, the more we realize our complete dependence on God, the greater we grow in our relationship with God & hence the more we grow in humility. This brings us to why we need the holy Mass.

It is at Mass that we can approach without terror and trembling but nonetheless with great humility “Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering (Heb. 12;22) . However, just like we can’t not pray as we ought with out the Holy Spirit, so too without Him we cannot adore the Father as we ought without the Holy Spirit.

At Holy Mass, Jesus-“the mediator of the new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel” (Heb. 12;24), through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the sacred priesthood, Jesus comes down onto the altar anew and offers His self-same sacrifice of Calvary to the Father as a perfect act of adoration on our behalf. We for our part, with the power of the same Spirit can offer ourselves in an imperfect act of adoration to the Father, through, with and in the perfect offering and adoration of Jesus. Let us turn to the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin, to help us place our hearts humbly, that is, totally, completely and with great trust and love on the paten at this Holy Mass.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Peace is always the fruit of accepting the truth—while rejection of the truth, ultimately, is the source of all division and disunity.

Today, Jesus seems to be saying to us some very divisive and even intolerant words. He tells us to strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many will try to enter and will not succeed.” He says, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!” and “Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth…” Jesus words seem like swords to our modern age of tolerance, as well as disrupting to our apparent peace; after all, “can't we just get along!” But here again, Jesus speaks the truth, the hard truth and yes the sometimes-divisive truth. Remember last week He said, “I have come to bring division…”

When hearing the tough truth of the Gospel, we can have the tendency to want to soften it, to remove those things that seem to us to be difficult--divisive or intolerant. Like parents who don’t want to destroy the peace by correcting their children, we can begin to think that to bring people together in peace and unity we should just drop the teachings of the Church that seem to lead to division and so a lack of peace. But it never works trying to preserve the peace by denying the truth; it may give us a false sense of peace, but only for a while because it is an illusion. Peace is always the fruit of accepting the truth—while rejection of the truth, ultimately, is the source of all division and disunity.

A good example of this false notion of the preserving the peace and so preserving a false perception of unity has been seen in the last fifty years in the Ecumenical dialogue trying to reunite Christian communities and Churches. After many early successes in ecumenical dialogue after Vatican II, the “spirit of the age” has rendered it for the most part uninspiring and unfruitful. Why? Because too many Christians, especially Catholics involved in the discussions are afraid of offending, “better to get along.” And so, much of the effort has been spent in trying to reach the goal of "getting along".

Now, it’s good for us to want to “get along,” of course; however, the trouble is when getting along is the main goal, many of our significance differences are ironed over and ignored and the fullness of the truth is set aside. Many of our separated brothers and sisters, not to mention many Catholics, even some priests and religious, have frankly abandoned the full truth of the Gospel for a political correctness, teaching incorrectly for example that abortion and contraception are morally correct or that traditional marriage should be abandoned, and divorce and remarriage, or even so-called homosexual "marriage" should not only be allowed but embraced.

More and more Christians are abandoning faith in the Gospel and its unchanging Truth. So many try to cover up this lack of faith and acceptance of grave errors under the umbrella of “tolerance or inclusivity.” But this rejection of God’s truth, and this rejection of reality and the way God has made it, does nothing but lead to a false sense of unity and peace and to just more division, and eventually to outright chaos and destruction.

A few years ago there was an instruction that came out from Rome, by Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI; It was entitle, "DOMINUS IESUS"
OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH. When released it cause a huge backlash in the Christian Church and beyond. In this instruction, the future Pope pointed out why the fullness of Christ Church and so the fullness of Christ’s truth--God’s truth, subsists only in its fullness in the Catholic Church.

Afterwards, as you could image, many commentators condemned Pope Benedict for being divisive and hurtful, and for damaging the efforts to “get along” with others. Surprisingly, (or not surprisingly) some of the harshest critics of the future Holy Father were so-called Catholic Theologians. They claimed this instruction “set-back” the efforts to unite the other Christian “churches” by decades, not to mention the damage, they claimed, it cause to unity with the other non-Christian faiths. But in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

In the instruction from the future Pope, far from condemning the other Christian communities, merely proclaimed to them the truth in love in order to bring about true unity and true peace, not only among all Christians but also among all men of good will. He wasn’t trying to say that other Christians were evil or that they had no truth; nor, was he saying that there was no way they could get into heaven. No, Benedict, was only saying that they were and are missing some of the vital necessary truths that Jesus Christ came to give us in order for us to be able to succeed in entering through the narrow gate into life. And the most vital of these necessary truths that is missing, leading to serious defects within these communities, is a correct understanding and so belief in the Holy Eucharist.

Only the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches claim to have, and truly have, the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus who is the True and Living God among us. All the other Christian communities believe the Eucharist is merely symbolic or spiritual or that Jesus is somehow present among the elements of bread and wine, but not as the Catholic Church believes, that it is truly the flesh of Jesus, the fullness of His human nature along with the fullness of His divinity truly present in the world in His resurrected body.

Even if some Christians claim to believe in the Eucharist in the correct way, according to Catholic teaching and the reality of the situation, it would not be possible for them to have the Eucharist-Jesus the incarnate Lord. Why? Because only the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have, claim to have, and can claim to have, Apostolic Succession.

Apostolic Succession is the truth that the divine power to confect the Holy Eucharist was given to the Twelve Apostles, and only the twelve, at the Last Supper when Jesus literally laid His hands on them and ordained them priests and bishops, telling them to do this, “in commemoration of me.” In this “laying on of the hands true power, the power of God Himself was placed into their very person. No Christian denied this perennial truth of our Faith until the Sixteenth Century, but now sadly millions do.

This divine power to make present the sacrifice of Calvary and the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and so Holy Communion with God possible, this power was then passed on to the successors of the Apostles also by the Laying on of the hands. Only the Catholic Church and orthodox Churches have keep intact Apostolic Succession and so have, in reality, throughout the centuries passed on this divine power of Jesus. As a result, only the Catholic Church can claim to have the Holy Eucharist--Jesus in the fullness of His Divinity united to the fullness of His Humanity. And so as Pope Emeritus Benedict proclaimed in his instruction, the fullness of Christ’s Church and the fullness of His truth subsists only in the Catholic Church because only She has, truly and really, the Holy Eucharist, which is, better yet, Who is Jesus, Who is the Truth, the Way and so the Life.

Jesus in our Gospel today and through the teachings of the Church is giving us the hard truth, but only because He loves us and wants our salvation and our happiness, not our condemnation or the condemnation of any man—God desires that all men and women be saved. The truth matters with regards to our eternal salvation, especially the truth of the Holy Eucharist. Only the Person of Christ can save us and, the Eucharist IS the Person of Christ available to us on earth. So, how can we as Catholics possibly say, as did Pope Emeritus Benedict, that other Christian faiths who do not have the Eucharist are not defective; how can we in order to just get along, say they are not missing something vital to life?

Only through an honest and straightforward dialogue about our differences with other Christian communities and people of other beliefs can we ever hope to have unity and peace. Even more, if we love other Christians and even people of other non-Christian faiths, our own children and family members who have left the Church (and even those in the Church who no longer believe), how can we not want them to have the truth of the Church's moral teachings which give life, how can we not want them to have the truth of the Holy Eucharist, which is not only necessary for salvation, but which is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh still among us, Love itself still among us, in order to Love us, help us, heal us, to save us...

Today, Jesus tells us that only through our acceptance and living the truth will we finally enter into the Kingdom of God in heaven. Jesus makes it clear however, that to accept the full truth of the Gospel is hard, and to conform our lives to it is even harder; it is the narrow way…this is especially the case with regard to the truth of the Holy Eucharist.

Again, last week Jesus said He has come to bring division. The Holy Eucharist is primarily how Jesus in our day continues to bring division. It’s is not that the Holy Eucharist—Jesus causes division, but that division is caused because so many reject or don’t know the truth that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus in the flesh still among us—In other words, lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist is the cause of division in our world. However, the Good News for us today is, is that contrary is even more true.

Our Faith in the Holy Eucharist can and will bring unity. True faith in the Holy Eucharist will, as the Blessed Mother said at Fatima, establish peace in our hearts, in our families, in our Churches and in our world. It is through our faith in the Holy Eucharist that you and I can receive the Power, the power of Jesus to be enabled to enter through the narrow gate and actually become a way for others to enter in as well. At this Holy Mass let us again offer ourselves totally to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by offering ourselves totally to Mary, so that we may used as her little ones to convert the whole world to authentic faith in the Holy Eucharist thus bringing it mercy and love, and true unity and peace. Amen.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

We continue today with our theme of prayer and it’s urgency for our lives. Last week a man approached Jesus to settle an argument he was having over the inheritance. Jesus pointed out what was most important- an intimate relationship with God. Nothing and no one is more important than possessing and being possess by the God who is Love. And so, Jesus makes it even clearer to us in our Gospel today- “sell your belongings- for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Jesus then tells a couple of parables to emphasize this sense of urgency.

One of the main truths of our existence is that we are only here on earth to learn how to love, to learn how to love as God loves us so that we might be intimately united with Him here on earth and forever with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. Live is very short, and so more than anyone or anything else, is our heart set on the One thing that matters…Jesus and an intimate self-sacrificing relationship of love with Him? Is our heart set on Him alone or is it divided?

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

Sadly, many souls live their lives in denial of the reality of death, whether from fear or presumption. As a result, they fail to take seriously the Four Last Things; that is, Death, then Judgment, then Heaven or Hell. They naively and ignorantly believe that everyone goes to heaven, even though many there are who do seek the truth--do not seek Jesus and so do not find Him, come to know Him and love Him. But, how can anyone possibly expect to spend forever intimately united with Jesus in love, in an eternal marriage of their soul with God, if they have not have not strived for an intimate relationship with Him here on earth?

A while back a priest I know share with me of a man in his parish who happened to be rather obnoxious during Mass one Sunday. During his homily, which was about being prepared for death by loving God now, this person caught the priest attention because he talked with his neighbor throughout the whole homily and as he did so even grinned in mockery at the message of the priest. He came up to receive Jesus at Holy Communion with the same mocking attitude, grinning, really more like sneering at the priest. Apparently he didn’t like the priest or more likely didn’t like the message. That very night the priest was called to anoint this person. He had electrocuted himself with a hair dryer and he was dead. Was this person ready to die?

Another priest friend told me the story of another man he knew. This man tried to live his Christian life with much fervor out of love for Jesus. Two of his sons became priests. After the death of his wife, he joined his sons in the monastery. On Christmas day, he was at Holy Mass. He received Holy Communion and returned to his pew for his thanksgiving prayer to tell the Jesus truly present in soul how much he loved Him. He died right there in the pew with Jesus still bodily present in his soul.

Which of these two men were really ready to die—which one of these were ready for a eternal marriage with God in Heaven?...

Now I am not saying we have to join a monastery, but the point is we do have to be ready. So then how do we know that we are ready? Well, Jesus gives us clues to the answer to this question in the first part of the Gospel today. Jesus tells us we should not be afraid, fear is actually a sign that we are not ready. We heard these same words of Jesus repeated by our St. John Paul II, immediately after he was elected Pope—“Be not afraid!” John Paul knew then and we know now that we truly live in a world of fear.

We truly have much to fear in our day and with good reason. Everything from crime, to economic uncertainty, from continued terrorist attacks to a priest getting his throat slashed during Holy Mass; these things blanket the newspapers and television today. What will happen next? This fear touches our lives very deeply, whether we want to admit it or not—“what will happen to our families, our children?” And so it is very easy to fall into despair, overwhelmed by feeling afraid; it is very easy to bury our heads in the sand so to speak to the reality around us. While it is true that we need to be cautious because of the very real dangers we face, we cannot however have the dread of this fear dominate and control our lives and take our trust in God away.

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

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

Jesus however, desires us to even rise above this type of reverential fear of God and His divine Judgment. He wants us to fear, not so much hell, but instead fear offending the Father because we love Him even more than we love ourselves…I am sorry most of all because by my sins I have crucified my loving Savior, Jesus Christ and offended Thy infinite mercy. Jesus desires our salvation because He loves us so much. He wants us to fear hell, not so we will be forced into loving Him out of fear, but only because it would be an eternity away from Him and intimacy with Him. Jesus wants us to know that united with Him in Love we have nothing to fear in this life or in the life to come, for nothing can separate from the love of Christ. Without Jesus however, sin and fear dominates and controls our lives. But with Jesus there is no fear only love, and “…perfect Love casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4;18)

It is for this very reason Jesus comes to us in and through the Holy Eucharist, which is…Who is, the fullness of the Kingdom the Father is please to give us. In the Eucharist, Jesus our Lord and God is intimately with us in order to ease our fears by helping us to become prepared for anything this world has to offer. But we for our part must have faith.

Faith is believing in that which we cannot see, and being certain it is there. We cannot see Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with our human eyes, we can only see Him through the eyes of faith, and faith brings us certainty that He is truly there—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And His True Presence there enlightens the darkness of our journey here on earth. Faith in this presence of Incarnate Love brings with it an increase of…Hope!

And so, along with faith, we must not only receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, but we must offer ourselves totally to Him with great trust and love. Only in this way can He work in our hearts to rid them of all fear and fill them with His love instead. And so to the degree we Believe, Adore, Trust and Love Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, giving ourselves and everything we have totally to Him at Holy Mass, to the degree we do this, is the degree we will be ready to meet Him when He comes for us.

Let us ask in today’s Mass, for our Blessed Mother to obtain for us from the Holy Spirit the “Gift of Holy fear” in order to move us to a stronger belief, adoration, love for and trust in Jesus. Let us ask the Holy Spirit, to slowly but surely, take away all the other treasures we cling on to, particularly the treasure of our own wills and sin, so that for us our only treasure is to be one with Jesus and His Sacred Heart truly present in the Holy Eucharist. And where our treasure is, so to will our heart be and nothing on this earth will our hearts cling to, and we will trustingly place everything, lovingly sacrifice everything, offering it all to God on the paten at this Holy Mass. Then instead of being full of fear of death, we will be ready, actually longing for our last day on this earth in order that we can finally be with our beloved Jesus. When He comes for us we will not be afraid, but will run into His arms and be united fully to Him, and with Him to the Father and the Holy Spirit along with the Virgin Mary our Mother, St. Joseph, our guardian angel and all the Angels and Saints forever. Amen. God Bless you.