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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jesus, sent from the Father, and alive in us through the Sacraments of the Church, this, this is the Hope for which the world longs for us, for you and me to bring it.

John 14; 15-21. Sixth Sunday in Easter. May 21st, 2017

“Beloved, Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear.”

These words of St. Peter, written in the first century under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are a direct calling to each one of us. Each of us, as Catholic Christians is being called by the Holy Spirit to give a stronger witness to others of the hope that we hold in our hearts, for each one of us is to bring Jesus to the world. And do so, by Jesus living in us by the working of the Holy Spirit.

Christian hope is not a, “I hope So!,” or “We can only Hope!” Christian Hope is not wishful thinking; Christian Hope is a Person, a Divine Person—Jesus Christ. And Jesus is the hope that never disappoints.

Witnessing to Hope is a great challenge for us in our times, which because of an increasing hostility to the truths of the Gospel has created an environment devoid of any real authentic hope. In such an environment, and its trials and sufferings, we ourselves may even be struggling to maintain our own hope much less be a witness to hope for others. However, in today’s Gospel, we learn that the Holy Spirit will be with us to give us His help in all the little moments and in all the difficult moments that we are called to give faithful witness to Christ Who is our Hope, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Certainly our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, understands each one of us intimately well. After all He knew us even before He knitted us while we were in our mother’s womb; He knows us better than we know our self. And so He knows our feeble human nature, how fickle can be our love and strong can be our fear. He understood that His own apostles would be scattered during His passion and death. He knew it would take time and His help for them to be able to be healed and to grow in their faith, hope (trust) and their love of Him in order that they could be His faithful witness, His faithful friends who would witness to Him by proclaiming His truth in its fullness, boldly and without fear, even unto death.

We too, like those first apostles, can be so afraid of giving witness to Jesus. We can be afraid what the truth may cost us, not only if we stand up for it, but the cost of living it out in our daily life by the self denial it entails. Jesus knows that we can be tempted to not give a reason for the hope that is within us, burying our head in the sand instead, and pretending that we can somehow manage to be faithful Catholics without fidelity to all of the teachings of the Church, which are the same as the truths of the Gospel. But not to proclaim hope is to lose hope!

Jesus today tells us that we will not be orphaned; He will not leave us alone. Through the Sacraments of the Church, He will be truly be with us even unto the end of the world. And even more, through those same Sacraments, He promises to send the Advocate, the Spirit of truth to us in order to help us, to strengthen our hope and love in Him, and to lead us to all truth, all in order to lead us to an deeper and intimate union with He who is the Truth—Jesus.

The Holy Spirit will lead us to this intimate loving union with Jesus by helping us to adore Jesus by offering ourselves totally and completely to Jesus, to trustingly give Jesus our everything with out fear. The Holy Spirit will then be our strength in order to be faithful witnesses to the ends of the earth, witnesses to the truth that sets mens free and gives them life and so gives them hope. We will bring the world hope because we will lead it to the One who is Hope Itself, Jesus. And when one Hopes in Jesus, one already begins to posses Jesus in whom He hopes.

Back in April of 2008 when He visited the U.S., Pope Emeritus Benedict during a homily at Yankee Stadium reminded us of the great responsibility we Catholics have to bear witness to hope, especially in our own country. His words bear repeating; Pope Emeritus Benedict said to us:

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he claims for his own, to proclaim his glorious works” (1 Pet 2:9). These words of the Apostle Peter do not simply remind us of the dignity, which is ours by God’s grace; they also challenge us to an ever-greater fidelity to the glorious inheritance, which we have received in Christ (cf. Eph 1:18). They challenge us to examine our consciences, to purify our hearts, to renew our baptismal commitment to reject Satan and all his empty promises. They challenge us to be a people of joy, heralds of the unfailing hope (cf. Rom 5:5) born of faith in God’s word, and trust in his promises."

Benedict here is telling us that to be faithful witnesses to Hope for our increasingly hopeless country and world entails many difficulties as we have said, but not just in the hostility we may face from others—the are other difficulties. To begin with, we have to do the difficult work of examining our conscience, particularly in the Sacrament of Penance. There, in the Tribunal of God’s Divine Mercy, honestly, humbly and on our knees confessing those areas of our lives where we have not been faithful and where we continue to not be faithful to our baptismal promises; in other words, all those way we have failed to love God by not following His Commandments. This hard work, and many times humiliating work, is the part of the very foundation of our ability to be able to give effective witness to our world to Christ.

Our witness is not and cannot be authentic if we fail to do this difficult work of repentance, of struggling to change ourselves for the better with the help of God’s grace and our own hard work. So often, we can tend to avoid trying to witness to our faith because we are ashamed of our sins. We can feel like hypocrites, for we ourselves have failed to live the Gospel so many times and in so many ways. Yet, the Sacrament of penance cleanses us from this fear and shame and gives us the grace to do better, to become better, more faithful, stronger and bolder followers of Christ; thus, giving witness to hope, not so much by what we say but more by how we live. Thus the sacrament of confession is the sacrament that leads us to Hope.

And so, rising from our knees in the Great Sacrament of the encounter with God’s forgiveness, we must run and fall on our knees in adoration and in silence before Hope Himself Who is truly present in the Holy Eucharist the most Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. This can be especially difficult because it demands that we enter into silence before the Lord, removing all distractions to alone with the one we love. Silencing all noise, the noise of sound and the noise of image, and seeing only the One we hope in.

The world, so distracted by loud noise and bright images, no longer sees Jesus, but we see Him through the eyes of faith in the Holy Eucharist. Seeing Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, that is with faith that He is really there, we realize that God continues to so love the World that He continues to send His Son into the world through the Holy Mass. The Holy Eucharist contains the fullness of this Love of the Father because it contains the fullness of the Son of the Father.

And so, at the Holy Mass God continues to offer to us everything He is and everything He has in the Holy Eucharist. Before such a great mystery of love, faith requires that we offer ourselves in return. In fact, only to the degree of love that we offer our hearts to the Father through the Son can our Reception of Jesus in Holy Communion bear fruit in our lives, and through our lives in the lives of others.

In Holy Communion, Jesus comes into our bodies and souls remaining with us Sacramentally for just a few brief minutes, but before He goes He desires to leave with us the Advocate the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will remain with us always if we open our heart to Him. The Holy Spirit will, if we let Him, transform us more and more into the image of Jesus by bringing us into a more complete union with Jesus and through Jesus union with the Father.

Through this union, Christ will be sanctified in our hearts, for we will be in Jesus and Jesus will be in us, And because Jesus is in the Father, the Father will be in us as well. We will live, truly live, because all Three Person of the Blessed Trinity will live in us and we in Him. God will be in us and we in God.

Strengthen by the Spirit of God, given to us in and through the Holy Eucharist our very lives of holiness, more than our words will be an gentle and reverent explanation to anyone who ask us for the reason for the hope that is in us. And when we are maligned by those who are convicted of their sinful life by our own life of good conduct, that is our lives of living the fullness of the truth of the Gospel in Christ, our conscious will be clear and they will be put to shame. And we will will cry out with joy, for it is better to suffer for doing Good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For we will be like Christ who though righteous, suffered for the sake of the unrighteous,. Like Him we will die to self and selfishness but we will be brought to life in the Spirit. And in our lives we will bring that Life to the world and so bring hope to the world for it will not longer be us who lives, but Jesus who lives in us. And the Father will continue to so love the world that He will Jesus into the world through us. Jesus, sent from the Father, and alive in us through the Sacraments of the Church, this, this is the Hope for which the world longs for us, for you and me to bring it.

Let us pray:

Come Holy Spirit; come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy well beloved Spouse. (x3) Amen.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We can see the son in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar; and when we see the Son in the Holy Eucharist with the eyes of Faith, we see the Father as well.

John Fifth Sunday of Easter. May 14, 2017
In today’s Gospel, St. John through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us today the definition of true and authentic Hope: "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…I am the way.”

Certainly our world lacks hope. However today, the Holy Spirit is calling us, you and me, each of us, to do something about it. We are called to be witnesses of hope in these difficult times. This may be difficult to accept because we ourselves may be struggling to have hope, struggling to maintain hope. So before we can be effective witnesses we must first understand well hope,

Today’s Gospel, as many of you may recall, is used at many funerals; it is one of the most used. Jesus gave this discourse in today’s Gospel during the Last Supper, when He was about to face His passion and death. He knew well that the apostles would have their faith shaken, their hope tested and would even come to betray Him. Yet, He gives the wonderful true words of hope. Jesus did not say, “Oh, everything will be fine!-ya just gotta have faith!”, as if nothing was about to happen, as if the disciples would not have to suffer or, as if they would be rich and successful if they just had enough faith. No, instead He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

For us as well, like the disciples, the prospect of difficulties and especially evil, such as suffering and death, can certainly trouble our hearts. Humanly speaking, these things are terrifying. It seems we have no control and that we are powerless to stop what is happening to us (and so we are)! Jesus, for His part however, did not shrink from His suffering even though He had the power to do so (we do not). Rather for us and for our salvation, He embraced His cross because He knew the Father would raise Him up and bring Him to Himself.

It’s important for us at this point to realize and to understand that Jesus did not have hope; rather instead, He is the object of our hope. As true Man, He is the way to our Hope; as true God is not only the source of all Hope, He is Hope. God is our true Origin and our true Destination, and Jesus is the way. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega; He is the One by Whom and for Whom we have been created and for Whom we long—all things were created by Him, for Him and through Him (cf. John1:). When one knows the Goal, and the goal is Jesus, and sees Him through the eyes of faith, then one already begins to posses that in which, or better, in Whom he hopes.

Jesus came from the Father and always saw and was with the Father, even when He was one earth in His human body—He didn’t leave Heaven; He brought Heaven to us. We, who do not see the Father, need hope, supernatural Hope. This hope comes only from believing in, and so seeing through faith, the One alone who has seen the Father and comes from the Father…Jesus. He is the Father’s only begotten Son. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father, for everything the Father has and is, Jesus has and is. For this reason, whoever sees the Son sees the Father. And so our Hope comes from the Father and this Hope, which has for its object—Jesus, is supernatural and carries us through and beyond any suffering we may endure, even our death in this world, but only if we keep our eyes on Jesus.

But how do we keep our eyes on Jesus? It is a matter of merely keeping Him in mind or saying His Holy Name? Is this the way Jesus says we can see the Father? Surely, we we love someone we must keep them in mind and call upon them by name. But Jesus has been sent by the Father to us, because God so loved the world-us. His love, however, is not past tense. Did He send the Son and now the Son is Gone? How therefore can we see the Son? Well, us Catholics know how?.

We can see the son in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. And when we see the Son in the Holy Eucharist with the eyes of Faith, we see the Father as well. Think of it, when you look at the Holy Eucharist you see the Face of the Father—although It is veiled from our earthly sight, we no less behold the face of God in the Holy Eucharist. All our hope is therefore contained in the Holy Eucharist because it is Jesus. The Holy Eucharist is therefore our Hope, hope itself. For we know the way, the Holy Eucharist is the Way to the Father. Hope comes when we fall on our knees before the Holy Eucharist and be, not believing but believing and cry out to Jesus who is really there, “I Hope in You, I trust in you Jesus!

No matter what may happen to us in the future, if we place our hope in Him, Jesus will take us to the Father by uniting us to Himself in love through the gift of faith. He has prepared a dwelling place for us and will come and to take us to Himself, if we place our hope solely in Him. Our Hope is not a, “hope so, or might be!,” Our Hope, is a hope that never disappoints, for It is none other than Jesus Christ, truly present in the Holy Eucharist the Most blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Adoring God in the Holy Eucharist is the source of our strength in overcoming opposition and suffering and fear.

This is our hope, founded on faith in our Lord Jesus. This Hope, that we literally receive in Holy Communion, as the power to transform us if we let It. But not only us, It also as the power, through us, to transform the entire world. True Hope like true Faith is not merely informative, it does not just give us knowledge; it is also performative; it calls us to do something. Hope, like faith, calls us to give a total giving of ourselves in response to the sacrificial love of the Father given to us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, who gave and continues to give Himself totally to us in the Holy Eucharist. We begin to actively hope at this at Holy Mass by interiorly making an act of our will to place ourselves, all that we have and are on the Paten to be offered back to the Father as living sacrifices of love. Holy Mass is then the way, the only way to the Father.

In this gift of complete self, in complete hope and trust to the One who gives Himself totally to us, we will be more and more transformed through holiness into His image and likeness for all the world to see. Our thoughts will become His thoughts, our words and deeds—His, and we will always ready to proclaim the Lord Christ to others, always having our answer ready for those who ask the reason for the hope that is within us, so that they too may posses that Hope and that Joy that we process in our hearts.

Let us answer the call, let us become hope for the world by allowing ourselves to be transformed by the Holy Eucharist, at this Holy Mass, into Instruments of God’s Grace and Mercy; this is the world’s Hope; its only Hope. Let us turned to Our Lady of Fatima, for help:

O Virgin most holy to you we consecrate out lives, our possessions and our whole heart. Place them on the paten at this Holy Mass. Surely from your hands your Divine Son will accept our offering. Then obtain for us the grace from Him to live out self-offering in everything we say, think and do. Then walking in the Lord’s footsteps, our own lives will become a journey of hope—of total trust in the Lord. Holy Mary, Mother of God, our life, our sweetness and our Hope, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Saint Jacinta, Saint Francisco, Pray for us.