Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jesus, in light of all that you have forgiven me, in light of your love and mercy for me, I choose to forgive, please help me to forgive completely from my heart. Our Lady of Divine Mercy pray for us.

Twenty-fourth Sunday in ordinary Time. September 17th, 2017. Matthew 18;21.35.

The Book of Sirach, from which our first reading was taken, must have been one of Jesus’ favorite books of Sacred Scripture because He often talked about the moral teachings that are included in it. The Book of Sirach was, in fact, written about 200 years before Jesus was born. And ever since that time, it has been frequently used for moral teaching and for its insights into human nature, or I should say into fallen human nature.

In today’s reading we hear the author of the book, a man named, Jesus Ben Sirach, writing, "Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the Lord’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail." Sirach, then goes on to argue that one who has been faulted must forgive if he is to really keep the commandments, especially the highest of all Commandments-to Love God above all and then to love your neighbor for love of God—in other words, it is impossible to truly love God unless we forgive our neighbor…period

In our Gospel today, Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive the sins committed against him. Peter asks, "As many as seven times?" I don’t know about you but (in our society) seven times seems kind of high, much less seventy-seven times. We have a very vengeful society-just look at our movies. As the bad guy is getting his, by the good guy who is dealing out vengeance more than justice, how many of us haven’t egged the “good guy” on, and in our minds hoped that vengeance would be served? In our heart, we may have even cried out, “kill the creep; after all he deserves it-and make it as painfully as possible.”

But, what does Jesus tell Peter? (Pause) We must forgive seventy-seven times, which is a symbolic number meaning, we must never stop forgiving—or as it means in the original Hebrew, we must forgive always. It seems to me that if we take what Jesus tells us seriously, we truly must have a change of heart.

To forgive as Jesus instructs us—commands us—we must become more serious followers of Christ and, as St. Paul tells us, "live no longer for ourselves but for Christ." We must become so imbued, so filled with the Holy Spirit that forgiveness becomes part of our nature—which it is naturally not. Forgiveness must become a part of who we are. With this being said, how much we are desperately in need of the powerful grace of the Sacraments to live a life of forgiveness.

The truth is, all of us have been sinned against, trespassed against-we have all been victims in some way. To live in the real world is to be abused or betrayed, to be disrespected or not listened to, to be cheated and lied to, to be pushed around, to be used and insulted, sadly, sometimes even by those in our families or in our parish family.

But what do we do with the pain of abuse that is thrown at us? Do we hold the pain in our hearts and, as Sirach says, "hug wrath and anger tight?" Are we resentful to those who have hurt us? In our spare time do we think of ways to get back at those who have hurt us…vengeance—have we even carried this vengeance out in action? Do we close our hearts to them and act as if they don’t exist? Do we wait for them to come crawling back to us, groveling back to us? Or, do we have some other way to justify our un-forgiveness, and so avoid forgiveness, hang on to the resentment and "hold tight to our wrath and anger?" (Pause) Or, instead do we follow Jesus’ commandment to not hate our neighbor and instead act as Jesus does; forgiving even when the person who is to be forgiven does not, by any worldly standard, either deserve or maybe even care to be forgiven?

Because forgiveness is a divine attribute, it is not an overstatement to say, “that to forgive someone who has really hurt us is divine—an act of mercy.” So in order to forgive as Christ asks us, to forgive as Christ forgives, then how much we need the help and grace of God. It begins with the realization of how incredibly much God as forgiven each one of us (no exceptions). In light of this truth, St JosĂ© Maria Escrivá, said, “Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you.”

The fact is, is that the forgiveness of our brother becomes easier to the extent that we realize how grievous our own personal sins really are, how much they offend an all good and loving God and how much they hurt our neighbor and ourselves. What act of Mercy it is for God to forgive our own sins, even the slightest. How can we then not forgive those who have trespassed against us, and so be merciful to them?

I remember someone saying that they had committed a sin equal to murder and how they had received the forgiveness of God; yet later on, this same person spoke about how they just could not forgive one of their loved ones who had wrong them. But we can protest, “but I have never murdered anyone, I have never committed a grievous sin against God.” Well first off, any sin is in a sense grievous, for any sin is an offense against an Almighty God. And, you don’t have to literally kill someone to commit murder; gossip, calumny, detraction, spreading rumors and innuendoes, slander, backbiting, etc., are all murderous. In fact, any act or omission that destroys or tears down or doesn’t support the good in another person is murderous; in fact, any way we seek to destroy the good in another is actually outright evil.

To forgive is to live in freedom as children made in the image and likeness of God. Forgiveness is freeing both to the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. But how can we truly forgive a grievous sin against us, practically speaking? First, as I said before, to forgive, especially very hurtful offenses, takes the grace and help of God. If you need to forgive someone, realize that it is to your own advantage to do so, beg Christ to give you the gift of forgiveness. Begin by seeking the grace of forgiveness for your own sins from Jesus in the Sacrament of confession. And begin by confessing your failure to forgive from the heart. And, then, keep begging until He gives you the grace to be able to really forgive from the heart.

Second, to forgive does not mean that we forget about what was done to us, or try and somehow say it was okay or it was nothing. If the act against us was wrong, it was wrong—Call a spade a spade. “What you did was wrong, and you deserve to be punished, but I forgive you any way.”

Third, we need to remember that we don’t need to “feel like it” in order to forgive. To forgive is an act of our will. In order to be able to forgive does not mean the feelings of un-forgiveness, anger or even hatred need to disappear first. To forgive is not a feeling; it is, like love, a choice. We can, with God’s grace, rise above our feelings of un-forgiveness, vengeance and anger. I choose to forgive this person, because Christ commands me to, because Christ has forgiven me for even greater offenses. And so, I chose to love this person because Christ has loved me, died for me and He loves this person as well and died for them also.

Today, let us place the hurt, anger, resentment and un-forgiveness that we have on the paten along with our Heart at this Holy Mass in order to be offered and so transformed into love by the Holy Spirit. And when we receive Christ in Holy Communion, let us all think of someone who has hurt us and for whom we may hold resentment or anger. Ask Christ, who becomes one with you during Holy Communion, to give you the grace to truly to forgive them, to let the anger and hatred go. And by the way, if you refuse to forgive someone, please don’t receive our Lord in Holy Communion; it will do you more harm than good.

Let us pray: Jesus you have told us, ‘if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’ Jesus, in light of all that you have forgiven me, in light of your love and mercy for me, I choose to forgive, please help me to forgive completely from my heart. Our Lady of Divine Mercy pray for us. Amen.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Let yourselves be offered to God and allow yourselves to be conformed, not to this passing world, but to be conformed to the Love of God and to His Holy Will, giving yourselves as victims of Love, and thus becoming Co-Redeemers with Jesus for the salvation of the world.

Twenty-Second in Ordinary Time. September 3rd, 2017. Matthew 16; 21-27

Last week we read about Peter making his profession of faith- he being the first one to confess that Jesus was not only the Christ-the Messiah, but that Jesus was truly the living and true God in the flesh. We hear today that it was the Father alone who revealed this wisdom to Peter—for no man on his own can believe that Jesus is God, the only begotten Son of the Father—it takes the gift of supernatural Faith-a gift from God.

Because of Peter’s confession, Jesus intends to build His Church upon the person of Peter, this is signified by a name Change. Peter, once called Simon, is now call Peter, which means literally Rock-You are Rock and upon this Rock I will build my Church. Peter becomes the first Pope and is given the Key of the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth—he is Christ Vicar on earth.

This week, it seems we read quite the opposite- Peter, the “Rock” is now called Satan. How does one go from being blessed by God, the one who knows the secrets of God, to now being called Satan, practically all in but an instant?

After the profession of faith by Peter, Jesus announces to the apostles another secret- that He would go to Jerusalem and enter into His passion by be handed over to be killed and on the third day rise again. Peter, like most of us when any talk of negative things comes up thinks or says– God Forbid! Certainly Peter here is expressing a normal, loving HUMAN sentiment. But then comes one of the harshest rebukes in all of the Gospels- Peter is called Satan. How Peter must have been crushed when his ears first heard this.

Jesus immediately then tells Peter the truth, that he-Peter-the first Pope, is thinking not as God thinks, but as men do. In other words, the wisdom of the Father is being revealed to you, beyond all human reasoning—don’t think as man does but as God does. The Son of Man, who is also the Son of God, must suffer and even die.

The Passion and death of Jesus is certainly the greatest evil to ever or that can ever occur on the face of the earth—at the Crucifixion there occurred, literally, Deicide-man killed God, man tortured and hung His Creator on the Cross to kill Him-to wipe Him off the face of the earth. Only in this great mystery does the mystery of all men and woman’s suffering and death find meaning, find purpose, find hope.

The problem of suffering and evil is certainly a long topic to discuss in a homily; books written on the subject could fill a library. But simply put, it is beyond our ability to fully comprehend. If we say, and I think we should- God forbid this or that evil, we are saying some true and honest. We pray this daily- often times more than once although maybe in many and different ways. Think of how many times God, through our prayers or others, has sent His angels to help us avoid a car accident. Yet, for others, in spite of their guardian angels they do get in car accidents and as a result suffer injury and death. Were their guardians asleep? Were they worse than we? Did God love them any less than us?

Bad things do happen, even to good people, for the rain falls on the bad and the good (cf Mt 5:45). Indeed, it seems ultimately Satan must be the source of the evils in this world. And original sin has had great consequences—man is fallen and so is now prone to suffering and death. But we cannot fall into the trap of saying every little discomfort is from Satan or that only sinners or those without faith suffer. Many of the evils we do suffer are a consequence of our personal sin, but then other sufferings are the results of other peoples sins, and still others the result of no one’s personal sins. So then, what are we to do about all of this?

We must return to our passage, as Jesus reveals the Wisdom of God. Jesus says first, you must deny yourself and follow me; you must take up your cross and follow me. The suffering we experience, often on a daily basis, needs to be united with that of Jesus’. Jesus entered into His passion so we could have ultimate victory over evil. In other words, Jesus didn’t suffer and die so that we don’t have too, but He suffered and died so that our suffering a death could be united to His for the sake of the world and for the salvation of souls, our own and others.

Jesus Christ Himself was not only a priest, He was a priest/victim. There had been many other “priests” in the History of the world. But Jesus, was the first priest in the history of the world, ever to be both the one who offered and the one being offered. He was the priest who offered Himself in sacrifice for those He loved and then He commandment His followers to do the same. If anyone would be a disciple of mine let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Jesus, wanted his disciples (and us) to carry their cross out of love and so follow him by uniting their sufferings, all that they have, their very lives to His suffering and death on the cross. Christians, especially us Catholics, we are called to share in the priesthood/victimhood of Jesus Christ. Many there are, it seems want to be priests, demand to be priests, but few there are who want to priest-victims. We all, by our baptism, belong to the Royal Priesthood of believers, but not only Priesthood, but Royal Victimhood of believers. We are called, chosen by Jesus, to join our spiritual sacrifices and our very lives to His sacrifice for the salvation of souls and the salvation of the whole world….for “No greater love is there than this, than he would lay down his life for his friends.” This laying down of one’s life is not necessarily a physical death, but a death to self, a death to selfishness and a life of selflessness—to die to self will and to live to God’s will alone.

Jesus says, whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. The Greek word “psyche” here for life is much richer than this- it means our soul and person. When adore the Father through Jesus, we abandon ourselves- all that we have and all that we are-especially our suffering to Him. We unite ourselves to His cross. And Jesus gives us the grace each day, to take up our cross and follow him.

God loves each one of us and only allows suffering in our lives so that good can come out of it, that through our sufferings and the offering of them, many souls may come back to Him. Suffering and death are great evils in this life, it is true, but the greatest evil and the greatest loss possible is the loss of a soul for all eternity. The saints have said that any amount of suffering was worth it, if by the offering of our suffering we could saved just one soul from hell and bring them back to God and to a everlasting happiness and union with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and the whole family of the saints and angels for all of eternity.

We don’t have to go looking for crosses, they will come in our lives. Mostly they will be the little annoyances, trips, snags, drops, and monotony of every day life. Sometimes our crosses may be greater, heavier. For those of you that now carry a heavy cross, I pray that the Peace of Jesus Christ be with you, the Peace that the world can not give, the Peace that is beyond all human understanding; the Peace that alone is able to bring us Joy, even in the midst of our deepest and darkest sufferings, a Peace that lets us know that God loves us with an incredible love and never, never abandons us. Especially to you I say:

“The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.”

It is the Holy Mass that makes the Cross of Christ available to us so that we can unite and offering our sufferings to the Eternal Father. At this Holy Mass and at all the Masses you are privileged to attend, I would ask you to offer yourselves, your sufferings, your very lives “as a holy sacrifice truly pleasing to God.” Spiritually as priests/victims place your offering on the altar and then through the mediation of the ordained priest, who is acting in the very person of Christ, unite your offering to Christ’s own sacrifice. Let yourselves be offered to God and allow yourselves to be conformed, not to this passing world, but to conformed to the Love of God and to His Holy Will, giving yourselves as victims of Love, becoming Co-Redeemers with Jesus, for the salvation of the world.

Let us make our offering to the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with the pure and chaste Heart of St. Joseph. Amen.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

“O Jesus Son of David have mercy on me, a great sinner who is unworthy to approach your table but nevertheless I throw my myself at your feet trusting in Your Infinite Mercy. Amen.

August 20th, 2017. Matthew 15;21-28. Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

This Gospel marks the only time that we know of that Jesus ever ventured outside of the Jewish territory. Perhaps, He may have needed time away from the leaders of the House of Israel who not only refused to see Him as the long awaited Messiah and deliverer of God’s chosen people but, who also refused to believe that He was the Son of God. Jesus earlier had said that He had come to give His message only to the House of Israel, but by this venture into Gentile territory, He was pointing to His later commissioning of the disciples to preach the Gospel not only to the Jews, but also to the entire world. The Jews were meant to be the first born children of God but then they, by their witness of God’s mercy and goodness to them, were to lead all the nations and peoples to become Children as well.

So here is this pagan woman, a woman who is not only a gentile but also a Canaanite. The Canaanites were not only non-Jews, they were ancient enemies of the Jews. And to make matters even more interesting, women in Jesus day were seen as lower than the house hold slaves. And so in the eyes of many of the Jews, this woman is considered little more than a “dog” on two accounts, first by being a pagan and second being a woman.

However, in Jesus encounter with this gentile, non-jewish woman, we are given an example of humble, faithful and loving prayer before Lord. This woman knows that Jesus is a Jew and that she is gentile; she knows that she is considered an “enemy” of the Jews. Yet nevertheless, she has heard the wonders, the miracles of Jesus and she has a child who is in greet need…and good mothers stop at nothing to help their children-born or unborn.

She is a mother in anguish because good mothers always have compassion on their children and so suffer along with their children. She doesn’t care about herself; she only knows that this man may be able to help her child. She doesn’t care what others may say or even if she makes a fool out of herself. She throws herself at his feet like a beggar and begins to pray without ceasing for this Jewish man to help her child. She knows that He alone can help her, save her child, save Her.

The disciples themselves are ashamed at the way she is acting; they don’t want to be in this pagan territory in the first place, a territory full of sinners and enemies. But Jesus wishes to teach them compassion (not pity-feeling sorry for, but compassion, that is a willingness to bear and suffer with), and so teach them true love of neighbor. Jesus wants them to intercede on her behalf by asking Him to help her, their “so called enemy.” But instead, they ask Him to send her away. However, even after their attempt to rid themselves of her, she for her part only persists the more. Jesus, moved with pity for her, says, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.”

Now at first, this may sound like a cruel derogatory remark-it may seem that Jesus too, like the others sees her as nothing more than a dog. But the opposite is the case, because Jesus is looking at the woman with eyes of true compassion and with a warm tender loving smile on his face, which robbed the words of any insulting tone. The word dog that he uses here is not the same word that religious leaders of the day used when they called the Canaanites, the other gentiles and even women “dogs.” No, the word here is more like puppy. In other words, Jesus is showing this sorrowful mother, that He doesn’t share in the hatred, prejudice & lack of compassion of the religious leaders of the day.

But even more, He is showing that not only He is the messiah, but that He is her Lord and God, who loves even sinners—who loves her. He wants her to know that He has heard her humble, persistent plea and is ready to answer her faithful, childlike prayer. And she in return is filled with faith and understanding and responds to His love by calling Jesus, “Lord,” and saying with a trusting, childlike smile, “Lord, even the puppies eat of the pieces which fall from their master’s table.”

This woman of great faith teaches us about the loving characteristics of prayer. She teaches us how we are to pray, what kind of disposition of the heart we must have when we pray. She teaches us that we, like her, must realize our unworthiness to approach Jesus with our prayer, that we must be humble before our Lord and become as beggars, crying out, “Jesus Son of David have mercy on me, a great sinner who is unworthy to approach your table”. This is the beginning of prayer-humility--Humility that affects our actions, our demeanor, even our way of dress, especially at Holy Mass.

Humble Prayer starts with an act of adoration. Just like the woman, we realize the importance of prayer and we fall on our knees-we were given knees for adoring and praying. We humble ourselves, physically and spiritually, in body and soul, and make an act of faith & hope and trust by showing God that we realize who He is and how much we need Him, how we recognize our complete dependency on Him for everything, even to our very existence. We also recognize that we can’t even pray without the Help of His Spirit. And so, we call out to Him, “My God Creator of my soul, Father of my soul, I believe in Thee, I adore Thee, I hope and trust in Thee and I Love Thee, Help me now to Believe, adore, hope and trust, and Love Thee more.”

In our humble prayer, in acknowledgment of our poverty, we come face to face with the gentleness and compassion of Jesus Christ who smiles at us, like he did with the woman, and He lets us know that He Loves Us beyond all our imagining. He teaches us how to pray more deeply and intensely, trusting and knowing that we have a God who already knows what we need even before we ask. Jesus teaches us, like the Samaritan woman, to always be persistent in our prayer and to have trust that He hear us and loves us and desires to answer our prayer, but that His answer must be given in His time and according to His Will, not our own, for our sake not His. And we respond, “Lord, how could we possibly want anything but Your Holy Will, since you alone know what we really need, we beg you, give us only those things that will bring us closer to You.”

Jesus also teaches us, what his disciples in the Gospel missed. He wants us to know that we must pray with each other and for each other. Jesus is most pleased when we pray for others, especially before Him in the Holy Eucharist which is the Sacrament of His love because It is Him! This is the prayer that is the most fruitful. We should pray for those in our families, our friends and those who the Lord has brought into our life. However, we can’t stop there---WE should also, especially pray for our enemies. “What good is it, if you love only those you love you, even the pagans do as much?” We should pray for those who are in the most need of God’s mercy and so in the most need of our prayer.

When we pray for others, as well as our self, prayer becomes part of our daily life by offering up our work and activity of the day, even our sufferings, as a prayer; we become willing to show true compassion which again means not pity but a willingness to suffer with and along side the other. We also, come to recognize the importance of prayer in community, prayer together as a parish family, praying for each other and for others outside our parish family. With this recognition we also see the extreme failure in charity and grave sinfulness of deliberately missing Holy Mass on Sundays, or arriving late or leaving early without a serious reason and not participating lovingly, fully and actively, with full heart, mind, soul and body and with all of our strength and will.

The Holy Mass remember is the most perfect of all prayers. The Holy Mass is the Most perfect of all prayers because it is the sacrificial prayer of Jesus to the Father on our behalf, the prayer of His self-offering to the Father for our salvation-it is the ultimate act of compassion. Because Jesus is God, the Holy Mass is the prayer of God to God on behalf of poor little puppies’ like you and me. Without the Holy Mass no prayer would be worthy to come before God.

It is the Holy Mass that allows our prayer to ascend to the Father because the Mass makes it possible for you and me to come before Jesus, before His table, better yet His Sacred Altar. If we offer ourselves to Him, our whole heart, with trust, and receive him in faith, he perfects our love, our love for God and our love for neighbor for love of God…He makes our love sacrificial not emotional!…At Holy Mass, in fact Jesus gives us His own Heart to love with….The Body of Christ.

Let each one of us take a closer look at our prayer life. None of us can say that we pray enough, including me. Do we pray more than just when you are at Sunday Mass? Do we pray the Mass? Do we only pray when we need or want something? Do we pray for others, especially our enemies? Do we begin each prayer, like this woman of today’s Gospel, with a humble, childlike trust in God, pleading Him to answer our prayers according to His Holy Will? Because in the end that is what prayer really is, prayer is not begging God to change His Mind and Will to ours, but our prayer helps us to change our minds and our hearts to correspond to His Holy Will in love so we can become united to Him in Love and lead other to share in these same union of our heart with His.

So let us all ask the Blessed Mother of God to teach us how to pray, so that we may conform ourselves more and more to the Will of God. In her school of prayer we will learn to pray for others in need, helping them to find the healing that they so desperately are looking for-to find Christ Himself! Through her intercession, let us too, ask the Holy Spirit to grant us the grace to realize ever more deeply, that far from receiving scraps from the table at this Holy Mass, we instead receive at the Altar of the Lord, the Lord Himself, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Let us become more than “puppies” before the Lord, but His Beloved children and humbly throw ourselves at His feet, and beg Him to bring us closer to Him through Holy Communion, even to a mystical union of perfect love and happiness with the living God. Then we can show true compassion to those we meet, even our enemies, becoming instruments of God’s mercy and love, leading those separated from God and His Love, to this same union of love with the Living God. “O Jesus Son of David have mercy on me, a great sinner who is unworthy to approach your table but nevertheless I throw my myself at your feet trusting in Your Infinite Mercy. Amen.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Transfiguration is now, thanks to St. John Paul II, one of the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary; it is the Fourth Luminous Mystery. The specific grace assigned to the Fourth Luminous mystery is the grace of a greater desire for Holiness. Holiness, it can be said is simply “listening to Jesus,” and doing whatever He tells us with the help of His grace.

We have to remember that the historical event of the Transfiguration of the Lord occurred immediately after Jesus revealed to the twelve Apostles, His impending suffering and death—His Crucifixion. It was a devastating revelation to Jesus most intimate friends, who were the twelve future first priest and bishops. Only those who have had given to them the terminal diagnosis of someone they love can begin to understand what the Apostles must have been experiencing.

With the cross now revealed to them, it is then that the fearful, weak disciples climbed the mountain with Jesus. The climbing I think symbolizing the disciples ascending to God in faith and trust—it is climbing the mountain of Holiness seeking union with God. The ascent of faith can then be a difficult hard journey. At the top of the mountain, after the arduous climb, the three arrive and suddenly Jesus is transformed before them.

In His transfiguration, Jesus reveals just a tiny, minuscule hint of the incredible glory of His Divinity shining through His sacred Humanity. For the three, it was literally a tiny glimpse into heaven itself—it was to peak to behold the very face of God Himself glorified in Heaven. How awesome it must have been to be on that mountain. You would think that the Apostles would have wrote volumes about what they saw but they didn’t (they probably fell on their faces and ate the dirt). Words could never even begin to begin to express, for what they saw was a very glimpse into that of which, “eye has not seen, ear as not heard, nor has it even entered into the mind of man…”.

The Transfiguration filled the hearts and the minds of the Disciples with great hope and strengthened them. They had seen the glory to which they were called; they had seen a glimpse of their their goal, their final end—union with God. When one knows the goal, when one knows one’s end, it makes the journey, no matter how difficult, bearable and even joyful. And so, the vision of the Transfiguration would carry them through the upcoming passion and death of their dearest friend—Jesus. It would carry them through as well in their own sufferings to come, the crosses they would have to carry in their own lives. It would also carry them through in their own passion and death at the end of their lives.

But even more so, the Vision of the Transfiguration of Jesus instilled in their souls a great desire for Holiness, to become more and more intimate friends with Jesus, to become one with Jesus. And close to Jesus, they would be full of joy and happiness in this present life, which is so often a valley of tears. With Jesus accompanying them in their climb of the mountain of holiness, they began to experience here on earth what they saw on that mountain—heaven. This gave them the hope that one day they would finally be able to experience the fullness of that tiny glimpse into Heaven they had seen—to see God, to become one with Him and to possess and be possessed by Him forever.

The transfiguration is for us, like the Apostles a important event in our lives as well. The Transfiguration is given to us, as it was given to the Apostles, to strengthen our faith in Jesus and His divinity, to maintain our hope and to increase our love—to strengthen us not only in our crosses, but also in our own personal climb of the mountain of holiness. But how do we make the Transfiguration have effect in our own lives? Like all the mysteries of the life of Christ, the Transfiguration is a mystery not to be solved but to be lived. It is the details of the Transfiguration that give us the answer.

Appearing alongside of Jesus we are told were Elijah and Moses, the two great prophets of the Old Testament and the Old Law. Moses as you know received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai—the Ten Commandments were the Moral Law—the guide for right living in order not only to be happy but to chose and obtain life (set before are two path, chose life).

But Moses also received something else on that Mountain, something that hardly anyones speaks about. He received the Liturgical Law, that is the way to properly worship God, both as individuals and as a community of God’s People (this Liturgical Law from God is found in the Book of Leviticus). The Liturgical Law and the Moral Law are intimately connected. A person cannot live rightly without both. The moral Law give us what we must do to have eternal life, but the Liturgical law shows us how to obtain that which we need to follow the moral law, not only in letter but in the spirit of love, of charity. Right worship, that is offered according to the Liturgical Law, leads us to right living, that is according to the Moral Law and the teachings of the Church, wrong worship then leads to wrong living.

There is therefore the Liturgy to be celebrated and the Liturgy to be lived. As Catholics we can say it this way, we go to Holy Mass on Sundays, and through the divine grace we receive at the Holy Mass, we strive to live the Holy Mass the other days of the week by loving God first, with all of our mind, heart and strength and then our neighbor for love of God—the summation of the Commandments. But the Holy Mass must be offered and attended with great reference and devotion, we must put our hearts and minds into, we must directed out attention toward the Lord—it is not what we get out of it, but what we put into it—the totally offering of our hearts—it is not what we do, but what the Lord does for us-sacrifices himself for us in order to give us His heart.

Elijah the great prophet was the one chosen by God to recall the people back to proper worship of God so they could be one with God and He with them. And so, he was the prophet who called the people of God to Worship God in spirit and in truth, not according to their own dictates, that is not according to their own whims—not for entertainment for emotional fulfillment for the Honor and glory of God. The people of Elijah’s day had fallen into false worship; they wanted to worship God the way they wanted to worship God, not according to the Liturgical Law that Moses received from God Himself on Mount Sinai.

Elijah knew that this improper worship led to improper belief and so improper living—this led to the worshiping of Idols, of false Gods. Elijah took on the peoples false worship and false God’s and false prophets and called them to repentance and conversion—to worship God correctly, not only in word but also in deed, not only correctly in external ritual but also, and most importantly, in full internal participation; in other words, to worship God by offering their whole lives to Him, their whole heart and all that they had and possessed in this world.

In the Transfiguration we discover Jesus did come not to abolish the law (not even the tiniest letter of the law) but to fulfill it. Jesus didn’t do away with the Ten Commandments or the Liturgical Law, but He showed that the both Laws lead to and point to Him. He has come down to earth to do what we could not do, to follow the Law perfectly in love, to worship God perfectly in spirit and and in truth—And Jesus continues to do this for us in the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church.

It is through Him, and only through Him that we can glimpse into heaven; it is through Him that we can love perfectly by living the will of God on earth as it is in heaven and so experience the joy of heaven while we still walk in the body on this earth. It is through Him, and only through Him, that we can finally hope to enter into the fullness of vision of Heaven which is perfect unity with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and all the Angels and saints. This is our hope that carries us through the present darkness. But we must leave our idols behind, and leave our false worship behind-and turn toward the Lord.

Specifically then, the Transfiguration points us to the Holy Mass, where we too along with Peter, James and John can in spirit climb the mountain and through the Holy Eucharist see a tiny peak into heaven itself. We do this by Faith…We can see through the eyes of faith, Jesus, who is the Truth, truly present in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is literally Jesus, transfigured before us, in the fullness of HIs Divinity shining through the fullness His humanity, both fully present in the little white Host.

It is through faith in the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist, that we can properly worship God in spirit and in truth, that we can with the help of the Spirit offering ourselves in union with Jesus on the Altar to our Heavenly Father as a living sacrifices of love. And it is in receiving ,if properly disposed, the grace to properly worship God as we go forth from the celebration of the Mass, and live the Mass, by following the Commands of God to the smallest letter of law, living the truth with our lives and in our lives—and leading others to this same truth which is ultimately Jesus Himself.

The Holy Mass is where we experience in reality the Transfiguration for our selves. It is where we are able to Listen to Him and receive the understanding and strength to do carry out all that He tells us. The Holy Mass is our Hope for whatever the future might hold in store, for it brings to us and gives to us the One who is our Hope, Jesus the Lord. And, it is at the Holy Mass, by participating with full, actual, conscious and fruitful participation that we are lead to and taken more and more into the fullness of the vision of the Transfiguration, the Holy Eucharist unveiled to behold, adored and love for all eternity.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Matthew 13; 44-52. Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 30th, 2017

We have for the past few Sundays heard parables from Jesus. And today we continue with more; The Kingdom of heaven; the Buried Treasure; the Pearl of great price; the Net thrown into the Sea. These parables have a common theme…“our relationship with Jesus Christ is the most valuable thing we own—Jesus, and His Catholic Church, by which He comes to us in and through Her Sacraments and Her Teachings and Law, must be our most valuable possession.”

Jesus concludes His teaching today with a short discussion with His disciples, asking them if they had understood; and they reply they do. Then He adds one more parable, the Kingdom of Heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” The whole of Jesus’ teaching is very much like this, bringing the Old with a new perspective. He doesn’t change the Teachings or the Law found in the Old Testament, but He does fulfill them and bring them more fuller into the light, bringing a deeper understanding, and so a deeper call to conversion.

This new prospect certainly invoked many emotions not only in the disciples, but in all of those who heard Jesus words. Some mistakingly thought He was completely changing what came before, while others thought He was not changing things enough. A few, however, those who had allowed God to prepare the soil of their soul, realized that Jesus was the message, that He was the fulness of the Revelation of God to men. And so, all of what had come before, all of the teachings found in the Old Testament actually pointed to Jesus. Jesus was truly the Word of God become flesh—God become man.

Certainly in our own times, our Church has gone through this process of presenting old with a new perspective. In fact, this is exactly why Vatican Council II, was called. Vatican II was that the great gathering in Rome, of all the bishops of the world, during 1963 -1965. The Fathers of the Council desired to present the Old with a new perspective. In other words, they asked and tried to answer, “How do we present the unchanging Gospel anew to a ever changing, and in our times a rapidly changing, world.”

Before the Council the Catholic Church knew who She was and what She believed, there was no such thing as an identity crisis. Because of the surety of faith the Church was experiencing, the Fathers wanted to boldly take the truths of our faith and all of its beauty out into confident dialogue with the modern world. Instead of hiding from an ever increasing secularize and materialistic world, the Church wanted to take its great patrimony of faith and its 2,000 years of human experience and understanding and use it to confront the great challenges facing the modern world, all in order to heal it and, more importantly in order to save it from Itself—literally (especialy with the advent of nuclear weapons which could destroy the world)!!!

Over the last 50 years since the Council, the Church has struggled and continues to struggle much to try to understand this noble aspiration of Vatican II—that is, of presenting the old with a new perspective. However, in the last years since the Council there has unfortunately arisen a mistaken notion of a “post-Vatican II Church” that is opposed to “the Pre—Vatican II Church,” as if the Church before Vatican II was somehow different after than before, and since then She has changed, along with Her perennial teachings. Vatican II of course changed nothing, this is very clear to those who have read and studied the documents—the truth is the truth and as such is unchangeable.

Yes, the Church is the same Church, with the same teachings as before. Even Her Sacred Liturgy, although it may be offered in a different manner than before the changes that occurred after the council, it is still the same Holy Mass—it is still heaven on earth. And whats more, the old way of offering it, in Latin and with the priest and the people facing in the same direction, is still just as valid and true, just as correct and effective as before. Pope Emeritus Benedict explain all of this very clearly by his Hermeneutic of Continuity…

Hermeneutic of Continuity is just a technical way of saying that what was right and true, and beautiful and good for centuries and centuries cannot now all of sudden somehow be wrong, false and bad. (you don’t need a PHD to understand this). This goes for the Church and all of her teachings. It also by the way goes for how the Sacraments and the Holy Mass was offered as well…the old way is still valid and true and good along with the new. For Beauty, Goodness and Truth are ever ancient ever new because their source—God is ever ancient ever true.

In other words, because the Truth comes from God, who doesn’t change, truth therefore does not change and cannot change or be changed. And even more, Ultimately the Truth which comes from God is not just a list of things to be believed with our intellect and lived with our will, but Truth is actually a Person, a divine Person, Jesus Himself,

Jesus is Himself the Truth….And so as such Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever; and so too, His Holy Church and Her teachings and rituals…they are true and so like Jesus they can not change.—they are like Jesus, ever ancient ever new. It was after all, Jesus who came to establish on earth the Kingdom of Heaven, which is also known as the Kingdom of God…He compares It today to a treasure buried in a field and the head of a household who presents the old with the new.

To establish this Kingdom, Jesus personally and intentionally founded one Church, whose mission is “to proclaim and establish among all peoples the Kingdom of God, which is also the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the King of all kings. This Church, according to the teachings of Vatican II, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”. (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.)

The Church on earth is Herself, according to Vatican II, the Church on earth is Herself then mysteriously, the seed and the beginning of that Heavenly Kingdom already present” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 5” Why? Because She, and She alone, mysteriously contains the Kingdom of God in Person—

The Church is then this very treasure that Jesus speaks about, it is the treasure buried in the field of this present world because it alone contains the Treasure of all treasures, Jesus Christ the King of the Kingdom who is truly present in the Holy Eucharist....the Holy Eucharist is then the pearl of great price which is attainable by all of those who believe, adore, hope and love Him there; and, who love the Church which brings Him to us through the Holy Spirit working through Her Sacred Priesthood.

In our Holy Mass today, we ask this grace of Jesus- the grace to have Him alone as our only Treasure, for “where you treasure is, there is your heart too.” (Matt. 6.21). May we abandon ourselves completely to Him and allow His grace and mercy to fill and change our hearts in order to be united to His Sacred Heart. O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! Late have I loved Your body the Holy Church and the truth of her teachings which are your teachings, late have I loved You in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, obtain for us from your Divine Spouse an increase of Holy Wisdom so that we may understand and in understanding be more deeply aware of the Mystery of the Holy Mass. Help us at this Holy Mass and every Holy Mass we attend, to adore the Blessed Trinity in Spirit and in Truth. In other words, to adore the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, united to Jesus who is the truth, offering ourselves totally in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus being truly made present on this Sacred Altar becoming more and more conformed to the same Christ Our Lord. Amen

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The reality is, is that we all need the fertilizer of God’s Grace to help us prepare the soil and help the seed grow in us and so bear fruit in our lives

July 16th, 2017. Fifteen Sunday in Ordinary Time. Matthew 13;1-23

Today we read a very familiar passage-a parable we have heard many times. Jesus speaks to us about the planting of seeds—about the soil, how it grows and ultimately the harvest. The soil is our souls and the seed is the Word of God. I think we would all like to imagine that our hearts are the good soil and that we do produce a good harvest. But perhaps the truth is that we are not as open to the Word of God as we should be, or that even though we try we don’t seem to producing the fruit of growing closer to Jesus and bring many others to Him as well. The reality is, is that we all need the fertilizer of God’s Grace to help us prepare the soil and help the seed grow in us and so bear fruit in our lives.

Today’s gospel points out the obstacles of the world which try to hinder us from allowing the word of God to fully take root in our hearts and minds, in the seedbed of our faith. It is a message, not of condemnation but of hope and encouragement. For the Word of God is powerful and effective and It can change the lives of those who listen to It and accept It into their hearts, even if in the past they have been rocky hard soil and have succumbed to obstacles. If they turn to Jesus and enter into His rest and allow him, He can prepare them to receive the Word, that is to receive Him, and so bear the fruit that will last for eternal life.

First, Jesus speaks of the devil who like a crow, steals away the seed before it even has a chance to grow. Our world today is full of the “spirit of the evil one”, the “father of lies.” Even though it has much good, our western culture nonetheless is one steeped in many, many lies, lies that lead to many injustices against those who are the most vulnerable. The lies are often justified with reasons such as “it’s my choice” or “it was for the good of other,” or it didn’t hurt anybody,” Or I deserved it.” And not only are great injustices done to others, there is also very little done to prevent injustices or to repair the damage once done (reparation).

In this environment the devil tries very subtly to make us question basic truths of our faith that come to us through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. It begins with a question we have about some aspect of our faith--nothing wrong with questions, questions mean our intelligence is searching for the truth; however, instead of forming our intellect and enriching our faith with and through the teachings of the Church, we choose to hear the voice of the world telling us the Church is wrong and out of date. The spirit of untruth tries to convince us that truth is not absolute but evolves and changes over time and according to individual circumstances and preferences.

To combat this obstacle to our faith, we discover that for the Word of God, which is ever constant and ever new, to take deep root in our minds and hearts, we must prepare the soil of our souls in order to make it good soil so the devil can’t snatch it away from us. We do so, by studying and meditating on the truth that comes from God, because God is Truth. This truth is from the Word of God found both in Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition is the teachings of Jesus given to the Apostles and passed down through and by the Church in her official teachings and preaching. Sacred Scripture springs forth from Sacred Tradition as truths that have been written down through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the sake of our salvation.

Additionally if we work the soil, the seeds of faith which are sown when we hear the Gospel proclaimed and explained each week can more and more begin to produce fruit in our lives and consequently we can begin to more fully have a living and vibrant faith. We need to humbly ask God for help in order to open ourselves more fully to the seed of God’s truth. And He will help us, if we do our part by listening more carefully to the prayers and readings, especially the Gospel, in order to understand and remember what we hear in the homily. Christ speaks to His people in and through His priest, however, limited and unworthy the priest may be. The priest may be a more or less effective homilist, his message may come through loud and clear or dull and garbled, it may seem too long, we may like him or not, but God nonetheless can and does speak to you and me through him, if we keep the soil ready. It’s the message that is important, not the messenger. And if the priest is not a good preacher then by your prayers and sacrifices you can make him better.

Other obstacles to the Word of God not taking root are similar. These obstacles stem from trials, persecutions, or from caring too much for material things or security. At the root of these obstacles is something fundamental to all humans and that is- we fear suffering, we do not like to suffer in any way. When we have trials our greatest fears are realized. In the midst of our trials we look at others who seemingly have no problems and we begin to think, “If God were really good, He would just change or remove all of my problems…maybe he doesn’t love me.”

Likewise, in persecutions, we fear being ridiculed for our faith. We don’t want to suffer being embarrassed or ashamed. We fear the loss of human respect, much more than offending our Blessed Lord. Or our fear also stems from our lack of knowledge of our faith which prevents us from being able to stand up to other’s who mock our faith and call the Church’s teaching into question. In caring too much about worldly and material security or comfort, we fear that we might have to do without or be inconvenienced.

In our efforts to overcome all of these obstacles, we discover that we have to suffer; suffering is a part of our life. Without suffering a little, we would not be able to grow in virtue and character in order to become stronger. Many suffer through great trials in order to obtain the things of this world—wealth, power and pleasure. We should be willing to sacrifice and even suffer as much or even more to grow closer to God and obtain union with Him and to lead others to Him. In our sufferings, especially in our sufferings for Christ, for His Holy Word and His Holy Church, St. Paul today encourages us not too lose heart; “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.”

Let us today, as we celebrate this Holy Mass, remember that blessed are we who hear and see. Let us enter into the rest of the Lord and ask Jesus to make our hearts the good soil for His work. He will do the work for us, He will carry our burden, if we but turn to Him in silence and lay open our souls before Him and let Him enter fully In. As we continue to hear the Word of God speak to us, let us hear with our ears; as we see the Word of God become Flesh in the Holy Eucharist, let us open our eyes and see; and as we receive the Word of God come to us—Jesus at Holy Communion, let us adore; all so that we may understand with our hearts and be converted and healed and so bear great fruit, the fruit of bringing many others into the eternal rest of the Lord. Let us ask our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to help us to do as she did; that is, surrender all to God and He will do the rest!!! Amen. God bless you!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Let us experience a life of leisure and enter into the Rest of the Lord!

Matthew 11; 25-30. Fourthteen Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 9th, 2017
This weekend after the Fourth of July Holiday, we find ourselves in the midst of the Summer. Summer is, of course, a time of leisure, and leisurely activities. It is time to take vacations in order to get away from work and find some rest and relaxation.

Today’s Holy Gospel is then very apropos, for it points to the true meaning of leisure. It is perhaps the most consoling gospel in all of Scripture for it contains the most reassuring invitation in all of history, one that promises us the greatest of all blessings. It is the invitation to experience a life of leisure in the Lord. It is a call to the Sabbath, which is to literally share in the rest of the Lord.

After God created the world we are told on the Seventh day, the Sabbath, He rested. But this doesn’t mean he was tired and so needed to rest; no, but that all of His work of creation was completed and so fulfilled in it’s purpose. And it’s purpose is found in man. God’s work of Creation was and is for us, the only creature that God has created for Himself. His beautiful works are for us, so that we could see the goodness of the Lord and so come to Him, in order to learn from Him to be able to rest in Him. All of creation springs from Him and all of creation is called back to Him. This is especially case with regards to man. .

Every human heart contains within it then, a restlessness which is trying to be tamed, a void which is trying to be filled. It can be a great burden for the human heart, a intense labor for the human spirit. But it is so, only to the degree that we try to do the work ourselves of finding rest. Because Man too often tries to fill the restlessness of his heart with his own effort, because Man tries to labor to find his own rest, his own leisure, his own fulfillment in this world alone, he sadly experiences an overwhelming and heavy burden, a burden that he is unable to bear and which crushes his hope and joy beneath its weight….for man will never find His rest through his own work, he will never find his rest here on this earth…here we have no everlasting home, no everlasting peace, no everlasting rest.

Jesus today gives us an answer to ease our labor and lighten our burdens to quell to the restlessness of our heart. Jesus says to us now and always, ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I myself will give you rest,’ In other words Jesus himself will do the work for us. We need to merely come to Him and open ourselves up to learn from Him, all in order to receive Him. To enter into the rest of the Lord then requires a receptivity on our part not a working.

And so we discover the true meaning of leisure. Leisure time is not just time away from work; it is this yes, but it is more. Leisure is not just a time for entertainment or pleasure as if for a distraction from the burdens and restlessness of this life. No, Leisure is really a time to come before the Lord in order to rest. But not just to rest in the sense of doing nothing, but in the sense of resting in God.

To have leisure is to come before the Lord our God and hear Him say to each one of us personally, “Be still and know that I am the Lord your God…” In other words, be silent, listen and you will learn from me and find your rest. By entering into my rest, my Sabbath, you will find your meaning, your fulfillment, not in work, not in doing something or accomplishing something or becoming something in this world, but you will find your purpose in me.

For us Catholics the sabbath is Sunday. And it is at the Sunday Mass that we can literally physically come to Jesus, to learn from Him and to receive Him so as to enter into the His Sabbath rest. The Holy Mass is the work of the Lord, not our own. And it is there that we can learn from Him in the proclamation of the Gospel and receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. In the Holy Eucharist Jesus enters into us. And if we are receptive to Him, open to Him by the repentance of our sins and seeking His mercy and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Confession; if we trust in Him by offering ourselves to Him, then we can enter into Him and experience His rest by resting in Him, being one with Him. He brings us into union with Him, we don’t bring ourselves into union with Him .

When on vacation and enjoying leisure as family, no matter where we were and sometimes even against angry opposition from extended family and friends who may have been with us, my parents made sure we made it to Sunday Mass. By their example, they taught us kids what was at the heart of a leisurely vacation. Along these same lines St John Paul II once reminded us that Vacation is not a vacation from God, but a vacation for God.

The true meaning of a vacation is to give us time away from the hustle and bustle of life and work in order to draw closer to God. In this way it is truly leisure. This is also the true meaning of Holiday. H-O-L-I-DAY comes from H-O-L-Y DAY. Certain times and days set aside and transferred to the exclusive property of God. Certain times and days to set everything aside in order to come before the Lord in order to receive all that He has to give us, and this includes His all, His whole self. It is not a time for merely for doing, but a time for being. In other words, it is a time for receptivity, to go before the Lord in order to receive the Good, the True and the Beautiful which is God Himself.

Isn’t this why so many enjoy vacation in which they spend time in the beauty and majesty of nature…because the good, true and beautiful things of this world although they are merely reflections, pale images, only shadows of the One who created them, they nonetheless point to the Creator, He Who Is Goodness, Truth and Beauty Itself. It is a profound experience to sit in silence before the majesty of God’s creation, but even more so to sit in silence before Him.

Silence is to put away the noise of the world, in order to be receptive to the Lord. Noise includes not only all that we hear, but also all that we see and read. To be receptive is to set them aside in order to come in silence before the Lord and be able to hear Him speak, to close our eyes in order to focus our gaze on the Lord, or better yet to experience His loving Gaze on us, so as to allow it to penetrate our being with His love.
Only in silence do we hear. Only in silence can we put aside the amusements of the world, its entertainments of the senses, to put aside consumption in the things of this world, not matter how good they may be, all in order to Be still with the Lord and rest in Him. “Oh Lord, I am so tired with all that I see and hear, for only in you is all that I desire, make me one in your truth…” (Thomas A Kempis). Make me one with You my God, then will I be able to truly experience leisure and to obtain rest

To contemplate God and His mystery, to meditate on Him and His goodness, reflect on Him and so to be receptive to Him and His love, these all require silence because they are acts of reception, not of doing. This idea of receptivity is hard for us, because our current age tells us that the important thing is getting something done and getting somewhere in this life. But true activity, the fullest form of activity is found not in exterior life and action but in the interior stillness and quietness of the presence of the Lord…Martha, Martha you are anxious about many things but one thing alone is needed and Mary has chosen the better part…to sit at the feet of the Master and hear Him speak and experience His loving gaze…

Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship, recently wrote a book on the great need for us moderns to rediscover silence in order to have rest. The book is entitled: “The power of Silence against the Dictatorship of noise.” He writes, “When creation knows how to place itself in silence, God makes His voice heard.” The Cardinal says, “Silence not for the sake of just absence from noise but to be still before the Lord and to receive His rest. Silence is the what creates the environment which makes it possible to welcome the incarnation…to welcome the God that comes among us as one of us in order to be revived by us so that we may enter into profound communion, union with Him.

In his book, and in many of his talks, the Cardinal points out as well the great importance and necessity of times of silence in the Liturgy, silence so that we can hear the Lord speak to us and open ourselves up to God’s initiative and accept all grace which comes from Him. At Holy Mass we are not before the beauty of God’s creation found in nature but we are before the Majesty of the Lord Himself in the Holy Eucharist; how much more then we should be silent before this majesty.

This reminds us how important and necessity are times of silence in the Holy Mass, so that we can hear the Lord speak to us and teach us and open ourselves up to God’s initiative and accept all grace which comes from Him. At Holy Mass we are not before the beauty of God’s creation found in nature but we are before the Majesty of the Lord Himself in the Holy Eucharist; how much more then we should be silent before this majesty.

In so many ways, we have allow the noise of the world to enter into the Sacred Liturgy. The Holy Mass as been filled with a cacophony of unworthy music, talking, instructing, hand gestures and Hand shaking. Any times of silence during the Holy Mass are met with uneasiness and questioning, “did father forget his place…”. And Sacred Words which were in the past only said in a low voice (vox secreta) because they are so holy and sacred and directed directly to the face of the Heavenly Father, are now blared out over the loud Speaker and said while looking out over the people. We fill up every second with some type of noise, even after we have receive the Body of the Lord in Holy Communion.

And silence is particularly important after Holy Communion when we have literally received the Lord, sacred silence, so we can listen to Him, He Who is now in our own body and soul. Silence is needed in fact, whenever we are before the Eucharistic Lord in the Tabernacle so that we can hear Him and allow others to hear Him speak…this is why we were taught rightly, never to talk in Church because the Lord is there in the Tabernacle, before, during and after Holy Mass. Our sisters at the hospital know this and why they placed on the sign out side of this chapel a reminder to please keep silence in this sacred place always, because the Lord is here and it is place of silent rest. In the halls of this hospital there are signs from the sisters to keep quiet in the halls because patients are resting, so too we must keep silence in the chapel because people come here to rest in the silence of the Lord and we should not disturb them by noise.

And finally, we have made the Holy Mass into something we do—the work of the people instead of something the Lord does—the work of the Lord; it is in so many ways no longer a place of rest, of being with the Lord but instead a place of “doing” of “working”. The active or actual participation called for by the Fathers of the Vatican II has been misinterpreted as external action—the people all have to do something; we need to find an active role for as many of the people as possible. But the Holy Mass is the place of Sabbath rest; it is again, we were are called to come to the Lord, learn from Him for He is humble and gentle of heart. At the Holy He does the work for us (He died on the cross not us), we just have to be still and know that He is the Lord. Our work is one of internal participation, it is the work of receptivity; that is of opening our hearts, offering our hearts and then waiting patiently and silently on the Lord. It is He who refreshes us, not we who refresh ourself; it is He who lifts us up to the Father through His Sacrifice on the Cross and through the gift of of Himself in the Holy Eucharist, not we who lift ourselves up by our own goodness and self-righteousness.

So many in our world are so tired, so many in our world long for rest. Many unknowingly try to find rest in the all the wrong places and things. So many others have left the temple of the Lord and no longer go to Holy Mass and so no longer enter into the Sabbath rest of the Lord in order to be refreshed by Him. As more and more Catholics leave the rest of the Lord the world it self become noiser, more restless, more tired. Only we can lead it to the rest it longs for, the Holy Mass, which is the eternal Sabbath made present on earth and which leads those who come to into the eternal Rest of the Lord. True Leisure is to be found only in the Lord, Our true Rest is only in the Lord. “Our hearts are truly restless until they rest in you O Lord” (St Augustine).

Let us turn to Our Lady to help us to learn to become silent. ”Mary, Mother of God teach me to be still before the Lord. Then listening, I’ll understand God’s Holy Word, so as to receive more fully His Holy Word become flesh in the Holy Eucharist, in order to live more perfectly His Holy Word in my life, one with His Holy Word, which is Jesus, bringing His mercy and love to the world so laboring under its burden of sin. Holy Mary mother of Silence, Mother of our Rest, pray for us. Amen.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Matthew 10: 37-42Thirteen Sunday in Ordinary Time. July 2nd, 2017

Most times homilies given at Holy Mass are based on the Gospel, but today I want to base this homily on our Second reading. In today’s second reading we have heard from St. Paul from the letter to the Romans. This past week we celebrated the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul; and so, it would be good to talk about St. Paul today.

In this letter St. Paul gives us advice about common struggles in our lives of faith. The Baptized Romans in Paul’s time were struggling with living out their faith just like we do. They found themselves struggling with a culture literally immersed in sin; especially the sin of hedonism--hedonism is the enjoyment of pleasure, entertainment and comfort in a way that is in opposition to the Holy Will of God. It’s not that God never wants us to enjoy pleasure, comfort or entertainment but that we must do so in a moral way, never placing our own will before His Will; in other words, To order our loves properly, never placing pleasure, comfort or entertainment, love of self before love of God and neighbor-to love God even more than our parents, spouses ect.

Pleasure, comfort and entertainment in Paul’s time had become the peoples’ god. While God, the true God was merely paid lip service, if even that. The people of God had become weak. Excessive pleasure and comfort had actually dulled their consciences. Some so much so that they had lost even a sense of sin thinking themselves good enough; theirs became a religion without sacrifice. But even for those who were still aware of their sinfulness, those who were still struggling to leave sin behind so as to conform themselves to the Gospel, that is to Christ, the hedonism of the day had infected them as well. And so they struggled to understand why was it, that if they had received the powerful life transforming grace of baptism, they weren’t making any progress in overcoming sin so as to be more conformed to Christ. They had begun to lose faith that the real power in this world is in the Sacraments of the Church; and so that effect of that power had been weakened in their lives and so in the world in their times.

In this we discover that St. Paul’s time is much like our own time. Even though St. Paul wrote close to 2,000 years ago, his inspired writings still of course have great relevance in our lives today, maybe more than ever. The constant struggle between good and evil played out in our own lives, within our own selves, is the same as in Paul’s day. It is a struggle, better yet, a war being waged between our souls and our bodies, between the Spirit of God and the disordered desires of the flesh, that is our passions and our fallen human nature; it is a battle between selfishness and selflessnes; it is a battle within

For us who are trying to follow God faithfully, our soul or spirit desires to do good, to follow the Gospel; it desires to be kind and considerate to our neighbor, to our family and even to share with them the truth of our faith courageously and with confidence. But instead, we often are short tempered or fearful, or just plain rude because we are in a bad mood. Many of us truly do desire to repent from our sinfulness and convert to truth in order to draw closer in intimacy with Jesus. Yet, sin is so attractive that it seems we will never be able to turn away from it; it seems that following Jesus is just too hard and demanding for us, and we love our own will. Comfort is much easier. As Saint Paul himself says, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. In his letter, St. Paul addresses people who are perhaps down on themselves in their struggles and failures; perhaps he addresses me and you.

St. Paul first reminds them and us that we were baptized and so have received the Holy Spirit. He says, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also.” St. Paul reminds us that our baptism is a baptism into Jesus own death and resurrection. Through our own baptism, we have all then died to that spirit of the world that opposes the Spirit of God. The death that works within us, that being the death of sin, is now reborn with the grace of Christ, who defeated death-sin on the cross. As Jesus was resurrected, so too are we resurrected or born again in the life of grace; and so in part, we share already in Christ’s victory of sin and death. The grace we have received in baptism has the power to give us all of the strength, courage, perseverance we need to finally win in our struggle with sin within ourselves. But first we must first have faith in this Divine Power, call upon it, trust in it and in Charity use it and cooperate with it in our lives, persevering to the end of our lives on earth no matter the effort needed.

The problem is that too often we don’t call upon and so use the grace of our baptism; instead, we can be so lazy, spiritually speaking. We too often, really don’t put up a big enough struggle to resist sin in order to practice virtue, and so we weaken or even lose our Baptismal Grace. St. Paul puts it this way, “you have not yet resisted (agains sin) to the shedding of your blood,” so in other words we need to keep trying harder with the help of God’s grace. So many times we extend so much effort in the other activities of our life, but yet when it comes to our external salvation we don’t seem to think it’s worth the effort that is needed. Many there are who work hard for a crown that withers and fades, so work harder for the crown that never perishes, the crown of eternal life... Many don’t think that an effort even needs to be made, after all everyone goes to heaven. St. Paul says instead, “Work out your Salvation with fear and trembling”. He knew that even he could have lost eternal life; if so St. Paul, what about us?

St. Paul today encourages us that we are not debtors of the flesh, to live according to the flesh and its desires. If we live according to the flesh and its desires, we will die (everlastingly); this is the truth, plain and simple. But, if by the Power of the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body we will live; this also is the truth plain and simple. We have that Spirit available to us because we have been baptized into Christ death and resurrection; and so, what hope we possess within us.

All of this, of course, (as we know) doesn’t remove us from the struggle against sin. And Sacramental grace doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it possible for us to overcome sin, if we only but desire it and make the effort…we have to be determined. If we are not yet saints the problem isn’t with the grace of our baptism or the power of the other Sacraments; no, the problem is with us, its that we don’t desire enough to be saints; perhaps we too, as the Christians of Paul’s day, have becoming lovers of comfort and ease. However, in our struggle, Paul reminds us, we to have the Holy Spirit which is the Power and the Love of God, given to us mainly though the sacraments; it is the will power in this world, the divine Power to change our hearts, to make us Saints, that is one with God in the image of Christ Jesus. As the saying goes, “we just gotta want it”…after all we’re talking about eternity here and our eternal happiness; as well as the eternal happiness of other souls. The Holy Spirit wants to help us to want it more than anything or anyone else; and so He leads us to the Sacraments of the Church in order to accomplish His work and bring the grace of our baptism to its completion in the perfection of love.

The Sacraments are intimate encounters with Christ, where we can take the burden of our sins and our labor to resist them, and give them to Christ’s redeeming Power. If we have lost the grace of our baptism or it’s power has become weak in our lives because of our failure to cooperate with it in order to resist the temptations of our flesh; as a result, if we have given into our passions in a disordered and moral way, then all is not lost, we can turn to Christ in Confession and have the heavy burden of our guilt taken away and our weaken state healed and strengthened.

And if we need to nourish our soul because it has become thirsty for Christ’s love we can come to Holy Mass and give ourselves to Christ in order for Him to quench our thirst in Holy Communion. Feeding on His true flesh and blood nourishes our soul, increases our love and so makes us stronger to overcome the disordered desires of our flesh and blood, to overcome our in ordinate love of comfort and so to overcome our disordered loves. May we today, in receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, the fullness of Jesus Christ and His grace and power and love, beg our Lord for grace for this coming week and everyday of our remaining life to struggle and to never give up hope in our struggle against the one thing that keeps us from God’s love and union with Him—sin. Oh Mary conceived without original sin, pray for us sinners who have recourse to thee. Amen.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

our eternal destiny depends on whether we believe this and so live our lives according to this great Truth of the Most Blessed Trinity

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Sunday June 11th, 2017

Today, on this first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. It is not an extraneous feast day, without relevance in our daily lives. The Holy Trinity is in fact our Beginning and our end. He is our reason for being. Everything, EVERYTHING! we have, our family, our possessions, our world and our very existences is a gift from the Holy Trinity. Our Final Goal is the Holy Trinity, to be One with the Holy Trinity, one with the God who is Love. This is the reason why the truth of the Holy Trinity is the key pillar of the Christian faith and so why we celebrate liturgically this great Solemnity right after Pentecost.

In speaking of the Holy Trinity, simply stated, the mystery of the Holy Trinity states that there is one God in three Divine Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, yet there is only one God, not three Gods, one divine nature in three distinct divine Persons. The Divine nature is not divided (like pieces of a pie) between the persons of the Blessed Trinity. No, each person shares in the fullness of the Divine nature; yet, the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, etc.

It contemplating the Holy Trinity it doesn't work to think mathematically (i.e. one plus one plus one equals one. This is the mistake Mohammad and others made). No, we must think in terms of love to begin to begin to understand the Trinity. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to think about the Trinity is their essential unity, a unity which comes from Perfect Love. The Three Persons of the Trinity are One in Perfect Love. We have never experience perfect love, but even so, we desire it and so it must exist.

Let’s use the example of Human love to help us understand. When we love someone we want to be close to them not far away; in fact if we really love them we want to be so close that we desire to be one with them. Our love gives us the intention to live our lives with our loved one in a way that not only proves our undying love and fidelity, but moves us towards a more perfect unity, a unity of love. We understand this intention and yet we understand how hard it is to accomplish. Yet, we do try; hopefully with God’s grace. For example, a man and a woman who love each other desire to give their whole selves to each other in marital love-to be one in mind, heart and spirit; when we see someone who loves like this we even say they are as of “one heart and mind.”

For the Holy Trinity, however, perfect love is not just intentional; it is completely real. In other words, unlike us, they don’t just intend to love each other perfectly, they are able and do love each other perfectly. Each member of the Trinity gives of Himself totally, sacrificially, perfectly to each other, nothing held back. And this total sacrificial gift of themselves unites them in perfect oneness, the oneness of perfect Love.

The Fathers of the Early Church liked to say that the Holy Spirit is the substantial love between the Father and the Son. Their quality is essentially one- unity is the most important. God is Love, the Father is Love, the Son is Love, the Holy Spirit is Love; three persons united so perfectly in Love that they are a unity of one God; Very simply—love unites--perfect Love unites perfectly.

The Holy Trinity is a mystery; but not a mystery to be solved, but a mystery to be professed and lived. The Mystery of the Holy Trinity reveals to us that we are called to greatness, for we are called to the Oneness of Love Himself. We are called to share in the inner Life and so the inner Love of the members of the Blessed Trinity; we are called to become one with the Trinity.

The Holy Trinity is therefore our everything. And our eternal destiny depends on whether we believe this and so live our lives according to this great truth. How important our understanding and belief is then in the Trinitarian God. If we don't know what or for Whom we are made, how can we ever find our way back to Him, to live as one with Him. We are Made by Love and For Love; we are made to be eternally One with Love--The Most Blessed Trinity.

And so we must in this life come to know the Blessed Trinity intimately. Before we can live in eternal Love itself--the Trinity, we must learned to love with perfection in this life, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, in order to be united in love with God and others for love of God. This is by the way, why unity is so important; unity in our families, unity in our Church on the Universal level, the local diocesan level, and the parish and unity among all Christians and among all men. There is no true love without unity; true love unites.

To obtain this unity of love we must of course have daily, intimate contact with Perfect Unity Itself, Perfect Love Itself, the Blessed Trinity. The Blessed Trinity is the source of all unity and all love; He is the source of true and authentic family life because He is Family, not a family but The Family.

How do we have intimate contact with the Trinity? Well yes through daily prayer, but especially through the most perfect of all prayers—The Holy Mass. All the prayers during the Mass invoke the members of the Blessed Trinity. All of the action of the Holy Mass is directed toward the Holy Trinity. And Every Holy Mass gives us the real opportunity to come in intimate contact with the Most Blessed Trinity. And more than contact, but to actually become more and more united to the Son, and through the Son, to be united to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Mass makes Truly present Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament along with HIs once and for Sacrifice to the Father on Our behalf, but it does so that through this action of the Son (the second Person of the Trinity) made truly present in our midst, we may have access to the Holy Trinity. The Blessed Sacrament is then the Way to the Blessed Trinity of Divine Persons, for it is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus become Man. Through our adoration of the humanity of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, His Resurrected, glorified Body and Blood, we can in faith touch the divinity of Jesus and so touch the Holy Trinity, in, with and through the perfect Love and unity of the Son…”through Him with Him, and Him

And then when we receive Jesus with faith in Holy Communion, He comes to us, in us; and through Him, the Father and Holy Spirit comes to us and in us, and if we let Them, They make Their abode, Their dwelling with us. As a result, when we receive Holy Communion worthily (and worthily is the key word here, that is, in the state of grace by frequent Sacramental Confession) we receive all Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. In the Holy Eucharist God gives Himself totally, sacrificially perfectly to us in love. And if in Faith, Adoration, Hope and love we offer ourselves to Him in return, we then begin to share already on earth, in the inner life and love of the members of Blessed Trinity. And the Trinitarian love is from whom we came and the greatness to which we are called to return and the Love that we are called to share with others so through us they too may adore and so become one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us pray:

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so as to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into Your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.

Our Lady, daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit, help us to offer ourselves totally, perfectly, in a sacrifice of love at this Holy Mass and at every Holy Mass, help us to place our heart on the paten, so that we, like you will live and lead others to live, in the Divine life and Love of the Most Blessed Trinity, beginning now, and fully and forever in the life to come. Amen

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Today on this great solemnity of Pentecost we celebrate the birth of the Church. It is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and then onto the Apostles present in the upper room. But not before those first bishops and priests had spent the previous nine days in deep intimate prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Holy Spirit is the One who came with many great gifts on Pentecost to renew the face of the earth. The Holy Spirit gave the apostles Seven-Fold Gifts of divine grace. These were supernatural gifts-gifts that enabled them to live for God alone, in joyful intimacy and friendship with Him. When the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them they became great witnesses to the world to Jesus, and to the truth of His teachings in the face of great difficulties and even outright persecution and death.

For us, like the apostles, the help we need from on High, that is the gifts of the Holy Spirit, are given to us at well. We need not only His divine strength and light, but also the Hope and joy of divine friendship with Him. With His divine gifts, the Holy Spirit wants to continue His work of renewing the whole world, beginning within our own hearts (this is the way the world is always renew; it begins with our own hearts and then flows out from us). The Holy Spirit wants to use us in order to bring His light to the souls we come in contact with on a daily basis, sharing with them the hope and joy that is alive within us and which comes from this divine guest and friend of our soul.
Let us look closer at these supernatural gifts that the Holy Spirit gave to the apostles and to us, beginning at our baptism and confirmed in us at our Confirmation. These supernatural gifts are: WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, FORTITUDE, COUNSEL, PIETY, AND FEAR OF THE LORD.

First, the gift of wisdom. Wisdom gives us a spiritual awareness of the love of God and allows us to order and judge the things of this world from this perspective. In other words, with wisdom in our lives we don’t put the things of this world before the Creator of things. We don’t use this life to obtain things but we use things of this life to obtain God.

In the gift of Understanding, or also called the gift of Intelligence, we are given the understanding of divine things, especially when we read and hear the Holy Scriptures and study the teachings of the Church which are the teachings of Christ. With this gift, the Holy Spirit gives us the desire to know and understand better the truths of our Catholic faith and how intricately they affect our relationship with Christ and with one another. We learn how to live the Truth which comes from God.

The gift of fortitude gives us strength to live our faith, to live the Truth. This strength is not just for doing extraordinary things; like martyrdom, but this gift also helps us in the ordinary struggles we have in life, especially our daily struggle against sin. It helps us to persevere even in our darkest moments, not to lose hope.

Along with the Gift of Fortitude, He will help us to use the Gift of Knowledge so that we can exercise the moral virtue of prudence, enabling us to make practical decisions in our lives which are in conformity to God’s Holy Will. Close to the Gift of Knowledge is the Gift of Counsel.

Counsel is like a divine compass. In the problems and uncertainties of life this gift helps us to know what will work best for the glory of God, not only for our own souls but even for the souls of others. The Gift of Counsel directs us in our everyday life. It helps us, to prudently choose the right thing to do in a given circumstance. No matter how intricate and difficult the situation is, aided by this great Gift, we are better able to see what to do in a given situation in order to please God and fulfill His Holy Will thus living life to the fullness with great joy. We can then help-counsel others to do the same.

The Gift of PIETY helps us to live out the commandment in order to love God and love our neighbor for love of God True Piety is knowledge that God is love, that he loves each of us infinitely. Our response should be thanksgiving; that is, to worship and adore God properly, reverently and devotedly, at Holy Mass and before His true, physical presence in the Holy Eucharist in order to be able to love God more and to love those whom he loves.

With piety we act appropriately in Church, never talking because the tabernacle which contains the HolyEucharist-God on earth is before us. We dress with our Sunday Best (never shorts), w genuflect, pray, and kneel with great piety, not just because we do them well, but because our outward actions matches the inter dispositions of our heart.

With this gift as well, the Holy Spirit heals our hearts of every form of hardness and un-forgiveness, and opens them to tenderness towards God and our brothers and sisters. With this gift, we feel urged to treat all people with great kindness and friendliness, to do good even to those who wrong us, to love and forgive even those who hate us and persecute us. We all need this gift, just think about how often each day we are called to love people who are human speaking hard to love.

Lastly, the Gift of the FEAR OF THE LORD is a special gift, which helps us to dread and avoid sin. The gift of fear is not like the fear we experience in a horror film or the fear of being hit by a lightening bolt from heaven. It is not a fear in which we are afraid of God. It is our sin, which causes us to fear God in this wrong way. The true gift of fear from the Holy Spirit is a holy fear, a fear of not offending in any way a God who loves you so much and whom who want to love in return. We become sorry for our sins not so much because we dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell but most of all because we have offended our God who is all good and deserving of all of love. With this Holy fear we longer fear the loss of human respect, we are set free from our slavery to human respect, we fear only offending God who love us so much.

Today at this Holy Mass, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us with all of his gifts. We need these gifts so very much. He is an all knowing Expert who will guide us in our decisions and difficulties if we ask Him; He will help us to make the right choices in our lives, to choose this action or that; He will help us in our relationships, to get along better with those we love, especially in our families; He will help us in the times we have no idea what to do, situations that seem hopeless or impossible such as the illness or death of a loved one, our own serious personal illness, the loss of our job or our struggle in finding new employment. And when we feel lost, if we cry out to the Holy Spirit, He will immediately, and I do mean immediately, rush to our aid and begin to show us the way. We can simply say with great trust, “Holy Spirit help me for I am lost.”

So today, at this Holy Mass which is also a Pentecost as the priest calls down the Holy Spirit over the gifts and over all of us to make us holy, let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is actually the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Along with prayer, let us turn to her to help us draw close to this same Holy Spirit so that we may put His great gifts into effect in lives. St. Louis de Montfort who wrote the beautiful work, “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,” maintains that devotion to Our Lady is the best means to develop an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. He says: “God the Holy Spirit wishes to fashion His chosen ones in and through Mary” and St. de Montfort insists, that when the Holy Spirit finds Mary in a soul, He hastens there and enters fully into it. The Holy Spirit then gives Himself generously to that soul to the degree that it has made a place for the spouse of the same Holy Spirit. Let us turn to Mary, the Holy Spirit’s spouse, so that she may help us to offer our heart totally at this Holy Mass; through her the Holy Spirit may then form Jesus in us as a fruit of our Holy Communion that through Jesus living in us, the Holy Spirit will renew the face of the world.

“Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of Thy faithful, enkindle in them the fire of Divine Love. Send forth Thy Spirit and You will renew the face of the earth.

O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever more rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.

Come Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed the Virgin Mary, your well beloved spouse.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

We go to heaven to the extent we got to Jesus and enter into Him!

Solemnity of the Ascension. May 28th, 2017

Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. When we pray the Rosary, the Ascension as you know is mentioned as the second Glorious Mystery. As we announce, and with the help of the Virgin Mary, contemplate, the Mystery of the Ascension, we pray for an increase in the grace of Hope—not a “hope for,” or “maybe,” but a sure and certain hope known as Theological Hope, a supernatural hope which comes from God alone.

Celebrating the Solemnity of the Ascension with faith, strengthens and nourishes our Hope that one day, if we remain faithful Disciples of Christ by keeping His Holy Word and His commandments, especially His great Commandment of Love (To one another as He as loved us by living the teachings of the Catholic Church), we will really and truly join Him in heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit, along with the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all the saints. For as Jesus has taken His human nature, that is, His human body and soul to heaven, so too someday He wishes to take to heaven, not only in soul, but in body as well, all those who love Him—that is, those who love Him not only in word but in deed.

Christ has gone before us into heaven and so we know that we are called there as well; this is the source of our hope in this present life, which is so often a valley of tears. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once wrote, when speaking about the Ascension of our Lord:

"The meaning of Christ's Ascension expresses our belief that in Christ, the humanity we share (with Him) has entered in the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God.”.....

And so, Benedict goes on to say:

"we go to heaven  to the extent we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him."

We could replace the word “heaven” in the pope’s comment with the word hope. In other words, we have hope to the extent, “we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him.”

But how do we go to Jesus and enter into Him? Again, as I said a few weeks ago, is it through merely believing in Him? Is it, as the born again Christians say, by accepting Him as our Personal Savior? Is it by merely calling upon is Holy name? While these are important aspects of our going to Jesus Christ and entering into Him, they are short of how we do this in the fullest sense? In other words, enter into Jesus becoming literally one with Him and through Him, one with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Ascension of our Blessed Lord that gives us the answer to how?. So let ask the the spouse of the Holy Spirit the Blessed Virgin Mary to obtain for us the help not only to understand more deeply the Ascension and to see its relevance in our daily life but to put its saving power into effect in our life and in the lives of the members of our families.

First of all, I think one of the mistakes that we can make in our understanding about Christ’s ascension into heaven is to think that He is no longer with us here on earth. This wrong way of thinking can make heaven can seem light years away, especially when we face the turmoil, suffering and monotony of this present life, all of which try to robe us of peace. But when we understand the Ascension correctly we discover that our religion is not irrelevant, it is not a pie-in-the-sky religion where concern and active desire for heaven replaces the reality of our present situation of struggle and difficulties. No our Catholic Christian religion shows us that mysteriously, heaven is already present in our midst, already present in this present “darkness.”

Now, truly at the right hand of the Father, Jesus constantly intercedes for us at this very moment, attaining for us the Power—the Grace, to be his true disciples here on earth by loving God and loving neighbor with Jesus’ own divine love alive in our souls. But Jesus is not literally “at the Right hand of the Father,” as God the Father has no physical body. At the “right hand of the Father,” means that now ascended into heaven in His humanity, in His human body, Jesus shares all authority and power with His Father; He is equal to the Father. And so with the Father, the power and glory of Jesus’ divinity, which was, is and always will be equal to the Father, now shines through His resurrected body. In other words, Jesus divinity which was always present at the “Right hand of the Father, now shines through, is visible through, His sacred and now glorified Humanity which now too is present at the Right Hand of the Father .

In heaven, Christ, as true God and true Man, is constantly acting, interceding to bring to us that divine power--that grace and mercy, forgiveness and love we need in order to follow Him by loving as He loves us. And how does He dispense this power from on high, how do we on earth get in contact with this power, so we can “enter into Jesus”, as the Pope Benedict says? We do this through His Mystical Body the Catholic Church, in and through all Her Sacraments which literally bring us the healing and consoling, life giving and saving power of Jesus; but we do so most especially in and through the Holy Eucharist, which brings to us Jesus who is the Way to the Father.

And since Jesus, is at the Right Hand of the Father, the presence of Jesus with the Father and the presence of Jesus at the Mass is the same exact presence. Where Jesus is in the Holy Eucharist, there heaven is as well. You may not have thought about this, but when we are present before the Holy Eucharist, we are present as well at the Right Hand of the Father. This points to a profound truth of the Ascension. Because of the Ascension we can already begin to possess that in which we hope for. In other words, we can already begin to experience the joy of heaven while still on earth, but only to the extent we go to Jesus and enter into Him.

It is at Holy Mass then that we can truly go to Jesus and enter into Him. We enter into Him to the extent we make an interior act of our will in which we try to trustingly give Him our whole Heart in order to fruitfully receive His Sacred Heart in Holy Communion, so that our heart and His can become as one. And so, it is at the Holy Mass that our humanity can already begin to follow Jesus’ Humanity ascended into heaven in order to begin to already possess here and now that in which we hope for—-Jesus, who is our Hope because He is our Heaven, truly in our midst.

To sum up: Yes, Jesus, has ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven. But as we know, the Holy Eucharist makes this same Jesus in His risen and glorified body present to us on earth as well. The ascension was merely the end of Jesus visible presence on earth, but it was not the end of his physical presence on earth. St Leo the Great put it, “(At the Ascension) our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments.”Every time we look at the Holy Eucharist and there through the eyes of faith see Jesus at the right hand of the Father, our love is elevated and perfected, our position in heaven and so our closeness and our unity to the Holy Trinity deepened, and so, our hope increased. And so, If we are to have hope, and bring Hope to the world, we need to frequently go to the temple with joy and there, like the disciples, we need to, through the humanity of Jesus, be constantly praising and adoring God truly present there.

To help us, let us turn to Our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Holy Mary mother of our Faith, Mother of our Hope, Mother of our Love. Intercede to your beloved Spouse, the Holy Spirit for us in order He may help us to more fully believe that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist in order to adore Him there as the living and true almighty God still with us, placing all of our hope and trust in Him, so that we can love Him by offering our lowly heart (and everything we have) totally to His Sacred Heart. Obtain for us the grace and assist us in living out this self-offering of love by living out more perfectly in our daily lives our beautiful Catholic faith, all so that we may more and more possess Jesus. In this we will be able to share Him with the world, so that it too may have Hope, have Jesus. Then at the end our lives, the veil which prevents us from seeing His glorified face in the Holy Eucharist and at Mass will be lifted, and along with You and and all of the angles and saints we all shall see the Risen and Ascended Lord in all of His glory, His sacred Divinity shining through His Sacred Humanity—we shall see the Face of God, for we shall see Him as He is, thus possessing and being possessed by Him—which is Heaven. For this alone do we hope! Amen.