Monday, April 13, 2020

As the Church's great celebration of Easter was made possible by the passion and death of Jesus, our share in its healing, transforming, and saving power is made possible by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Easter Sunday 2020

There was a body in the grave. It was cold; it was definitely a dead corpse, it did not take a breath, and the heart did not pump. You could see it; you could touch it. It looked no different than any other corpse. For those of you who have had a realistic experience with a dead body, you know that it is a profound experience. When one sees a genuinely dead body, a corpse, there is no doubt that it is dead.
In my training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for working on a volunteer rescue squad, I was instructed over and over how to check to see if a body was dead. Check the breathing, check the pulse, recheck. However, when my first opportunity during Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on a real body came, there was no doubt the person was dead. It was obvious.

The disciples of Jesus had such an experience with the dead body of Jesus. They saw it hanging on a tree. They saw the spear go deep into the side and, without a doubt, pierce the heart. They saw the blood and water come forth. They saw the corpse laid into Mary's arms. The women touch it as they prepared it for burial.

What a profound experience then, it must have been to see the empty tomb. What vivid realism it must have impressed on Peter as he saw where the body was laid. This was the place without a doubt that the soldiers were guarding. These professionals would never let their guard down for fear of the punishment, which was the punishment of death.

St. John's Gospels is filled with words to describe this profound experience of Peter. The whole scene in the tomb paints a picture of the resurrection. However, elements of this are lost in the translation, which is more apparent in the Greek language. In the phrase "The linen cloths lying there" the Greek indicates that the clothes were flattened, deflated as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose—as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being taken off, passing right through them (just as Jesus entered the upper room when the doors were locked). The Greek says the clothes were fallen, flat, lying, after Jesus' body—which had filled them—left them. One can readily understand the amazement and realism that this conveyed on the witnesses to it.

The language to describe the shroud that wrapped Jesus' head, says that it was not on the top of the clothes but to one side. It was like the clothes stilled rolled up, but unlike them, it still had a certain volume, like a container, possibly due to the stiffness given it by the ointments. It reminds me of paper mâché formed around a balloon, and then the balloon popped.

These details point to a body being raised in a heavenly manner, which transcended the laws of nature. It was not just a body being reanimated as happened in the case of Lazarus, who, by the way, had to be unbound before he could walk and who would later die again. Because of this unique experience of the state of the linens left behind the two Apostles realized that it was not a question of a robbery, which is what Mary Magdalene had thought.

This realistic experience of the empty tomb left many facts perceptible to the human senses. However, the resurrection still requires faith to be accepted. Christ's resurrection is a real, historical fact: there was a dead body, and it came back to life, literally. It was a real physical body that had its soul reunited to it. This physicality was apparent because Thomas could touch it-he put his hands into the nail holes and into the pierced side, "My Lord and my God." But yet, there was something also different about the body. It now had spiritual properties as well; it could pass through the burial cloth and walls. It could no longer suffer damage, decay, pain; it could no longer change or be separated from the soul.

The resurrection of Jesus, although historical, is also a supernatural event; that is, it is far beyond our capacity in this life to totally understand. It transcends sense experience, it requires a special gift of God to accept it as a fact with certainty, and that gift is the gift of faith. As St. Thomas Aquinas says in his great work the Summa Theologica, "the individual arguments taken alone are not sufficient proof of Christ's resurrection but taken together, in a cumulative way, they manifest it perfectly. Particularly important in this regard are the spiritual proofs, especially the angelic testimony and Christ's own post-resurrection words confirmed by miracles” (cf Jn3:13,; Mt 16:21; 17:22; 20:18).

This gift of faith in the resurrection is what we as believing Catholic Christians are celebrating with great joy this day. The apostles' faith is strengthened through the Holy Triduum, the time from Thursday evening to Sunday morning. We, too, have just passed through this time, symbolically, in the Church's celebration of this Holy time. But Christ has left us something even more remarkable to strengthen our faith and joy in the resurrection. He has left us the great mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

"At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the pascal Triduum: to the events of the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and to what followed it. We return to Good Friday, the hour of our redemption. In spirit and through the power and authority of the Holy priesthood, as the priest who acts in the person of Jesus Christ, we are all able to be present at the foot of the Cross, present alongside St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary. "This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the World, come let us adore! And we are present too at the empty tomb and are able to proclaim, "The Lord is risen from the tomb; for our sake, he hung on the Cross, Alleluia."

The Holy Mass makes present the Sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice; it does not multiply it. It makes Christ's one definitive sacrifice present in our time. But, the Holy Mass not only makes truly present the mystery of Christ's passion and death but also the mystery of the resurrection which crowned his sacrifice (EE:14).

As the Church's great celebration of Easter was made possible by the passion and death of Jesus, our share in its healing, transforming, and saving power is made possible by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

At every Mass, we are enabled to be present at all of these events, not in mind, but in reality. And not only are we able to be present sacramentally, truly—we are able to share, here on earth already, in the Joy of that eternal Easter in heaven. The Holy Mass makes truly present, not only the saving events of our salvation but makes truly, sacramentally present the one who is our salvation—Jesus Christ and his self-emptying sacrifice of love for us. And so, at Mass, we, by our baptism, are enabled to offer ourselves as priest-victims in a loving oblation of a gift of self to the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit by willingly uniting ourselves to Jesus' one and only Sacrifice of Love. We are called with our reserve to place our heart on the paten-for love has no reserve. To the extent that we give the gift of our self, we are enabled to receive Him into our bodies and souls and be transformed into His Body, into Love incarnate to become other "christs" for our world.

Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life. In essence, they already begin to possess it on earth as the first fruits of that eternal life. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world; "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day: This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact, that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection. With the Eucharist, we digest, as it were the "secret" of the resurrection. For this reason, Saint Ignatius of Antioch rightly defined the Eucharist as "the medicine for immortality and antidote to death."

I took the last few sentences from an Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist released on Holy Thursday in 2003 by St. John Paul the Second. I recommend all of you to read this incredible Letter. In this encyclical, St. John Paul points out that the Joy of the Resurrection is more than just a pipe dream in your life and mine. It is a tangible and livable reality because Jesus, the crucified, and the resurrection one, is still in our midst.

He is truly here, not just in our hearts, not only in the proclamation of the word, not just in our community gathered, Jesus Christ is still physically with us. Let me repeat it, Jesus Christ is still physical with us, in his resurrected body, a real body, albeit a glorified one. Jesus Christ Emmanuel, He who promised he would be with us until the end of the ages, becomes physically, sacramentally present, IN HIS BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, and DIVINITY at this very Mass and He comes into us at Holy Communion. For this reason, we know the grave is empty; there are no bones of Jesus in the ground anywhere. He lives again in His body, which is present in its entirety in the Holy Eucharist.

Do not go looking for him when someone says he is here or there, for we know where our Lord is; He is in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. And He is available to us, along with the power of his divinity and victory of his resurrection at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This truth is the reason for our Easter Joy! A joy that is real, because the Eucharist is real. A Joy that is obtainable in the midst of our sorrow, pain, and death, because Jesus suffered sorrow, pain, and death. But he has defeated death—He has risen! Jesus is the resurrection and the Life. Every Holy Mass is an Easter because At every Holy Mass, we can truly encounter the Risen Lord, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist…This is a real encounter with Him in His resurrected and now living body. If we have faith, if we offer ourselves and all we have entirely to Him, He will transform us more and more into His other-self. We will become instruments of His love and mercy for the world… Our senses fail to see the Risen one, but faith alone rooted in the words of Christ handed down to us by the Apostle is sufficient.

O Come let us adore His resurrected body at this Mass in the Holy Eucharist which I, acting in His person, or better yet, which He acting in my person is about to make present—physically—sacramentally—truly, on this altar of true Sacrifice.

Let us, as St. John Paul the Second has taught at the beginning of this new millennium, put out into the deep of Jesus' love by offering ourselves totally to Him, with Him, in Him, to the Father. Let us adore Jesus--beholding the face of Jesus through the eyes of the Virgin Mary, she who will be with us to help us in our offering of ourselves. For we are weak, and we need a mother's help. Let us pray to Jesus through her, "Hail true body that was born of Mary, the Virgin, that truly suffered and was offered in sacrifice on the Cross for man and that gave forth true blood from its pierced side. Be to us a foretaste of heaven…" We give our hearts totally to you; Help us give our hearts totally to him at Holy Mass.
HAPPY EASTER to all of you. Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

How many souls are troubled by doubt because God does not show Himself in the way they expected.

Epiphany January 5th, 2020

Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany or manifestation of the God Child. Jesus, the Eternal Son of God become Man, is manifested and made known to the whole world. Jesus, true God and true Man, the savior of all souls, is revealed, not only to the Jews but to the gentiles as well.

There is much for us to learn from these events. The kings representing the peoples of the entire world go forth to adore the King of all kings. When they saw the star we are told that they were glad beyond measure—is this not a supernatural joy. It is a joy that is beyond what can be measured by human means, which means it is a joy beyond all earthly understanding.

The star led them to a simple little house in a small obscure village, insignificance in the eyes of the world. Three powerful kings, rich beyond compare are filled with such incredible joy when they see the manifestation of their King, their savior, revealed in simplicity and humility. What lessons there are for us in their example. These three kings are also called the three wise men, but why were they wise? It was because they used their natural wisdom to discover supernatural wisdom and joy. True wisdom and our natural common sense lead us to the adoration of God. Aristotle, a pagan, used his human wisdom and common sense to find the truth of the Ten Commandments, including that greatest of all commandments, to Love the Lord your God with your whole soul, mind, body and all of your might, which means to adore Him, to give yourself and all you have in response to what God has given to you, which is everything.

There is a spirit of our present age which is antithetical to the Spirit of God, an anti-spirit if you will, that tries to sell wisdom apart from God. It tries to convince us, that what is important is manifested only in great glamour and noise, only in technological wonders, feats, and riches. It is a spirit that lies and proclaims that God has come to give his peace to all men on earth.

However, the Spirit of God teaches us instead, that God comes only to those who are poor in spirit, to the humble of heart and He manifests Himself in simplicity and silence. God’s Spirit points to the Truth, who is Jesus Christ and who has come to give his peace, not to all men but only to men who are of goodwill; that is right, “peace on earth to men of goodwill!” The Holy Spirit of God teaches that earthly wisdom apart from God and adoration of Him in Spirit and in Truth is a false empty wisdom void of supernatural hope and joy.

This is an important lesson for us moderns who can too easily miss what is the most important among so much glitter and show. Just as the majority of the world missed the incarnation of God--God Himself come into the world in the flesh, as a man and a baby man at that, so too in our day far too many are missing our incredible closeness to this same Jesus.

This is what St John Paul the Second reminded all Catholics during the Year of the Holy Eucharist which he proclaimed during his pontificate. Jesus has not left us alone; He is still here on earth in His true body—He is truly Emmanuel—God with us. As believing Catholics, we can not say, “When Jesus dwelt on earth, for the true faith by the Spirit of God tells us that Jesus, Who is the Truth, still dwells on earth. And by this, I don’t mean in the hearts and minds of believers, but He still dwells on earth in a physical, albeit resurrected, body in the Blessed Sacrament-This is THE great mystery of our faith.

God presents Himself to us under the insignificant appearance of a piece of bread. Perhaps we are in danger of not realizing fully how close Our Lord is to our lives because He doesn’t reveal Himself in His glory, because he does not impose Himself irresistibly, because He slips into our lives in such hidden simplicity and poverty. Instead of wowing us with the riches of His divinity and power Jesus comes hidden to all except those who have the eyes of faith, trust in His words, and love Him with all their hearts by desiring to give their all to Him. How many souls are troubled by doubt because God does not show Himself in the way they expected.

Many of the people in Bethlehem (which by the way means “house of bread”), many of the people in Bethlehem saw in Jesus a child like any other. But the wise kings knew how to see Him as THE CHILD, who from then on would be adored forever by all “men of goodwill.” The kings’ openness to the truth of the Spirit and to the gift of true faith gave them a privileged opportunity, to be the first among the gentile world to adore God become Man. It was not their great learning, or their great riches or even the gifts that they gave, that made them wise, no, it was instead their humble act of adoring God made man, Jesus who really is God Himself. It was their adoration of the unseen God now visible in this child-- it was this act that made them truly wise.

What incredible joy these three wise men must have experience the extraordinary, now manifested in the appearance of an ordinary child. No, the babe did not have a halo around his head; He looked and acted like an ordinary babe, for He was like us in all things except sin. How careful we must be and how easy it is for us to miss the extraordinary in the ordinary of everyday life. And going into the dwelling, they found the child there, with His Mother, Mary, and fell down to worship and adore Him.

Bethlehem itself was a tabernacle of sorts. If every Catholic would come with a strong belief that in just a few moments, Jesus the Son of God who came to be among us, Immanuel, will be reborn on this very Altar during the words of consecration, -would not our churches be bulging at the seams, every single weekend? We can adore Him just like the three wise men, becoming wise ourselves, for Christ is our wisdom. We also kneel down before Jesus, God is hidden in His humanity in our Catholic churches. Jesus present in the tabernacle, the house of the Bread of Life” is the same Jesus the wise men found in Mary’s arms.

Perhaps in light of this wisdom, we should examine ourselves to see how we adore him when he is present on our altar or hidden in our tabernacle in our churches. With what devotion and reverence do we kneel in the moments indicated in the Holy Mass, or each time we pass by those places where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved? We, you and me, are called in a new way at this feast of the Epiphany to manifest Christ to our world by dying to ourselves in order to allow Him to live anew in us and in our lives, this is what adoration means, and those who do so are wise, no others.

The three kings had their star, we have ours-Mary. She is the true star, more brilliant and more beautiful than any other, which lights the way in safety to her Son—Jesus. Let us ask her to help us at this Holy Mass to adore the Father in the Holy Spirit united to Jesus the Truth. She will help us as she helped the three wise men, to offer to our God the gifts of our lives to the Father in union with Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity. Instead of offering God gold, she will help us offer to Him our detachment to all the riches of this world so we can cling to the greatest of all riches, the Gift of His only begotten Son. Instead of offering Him the perfume of costly incense, she will help us to offer as incense our desire to live a noble and virtuous life, one which gives off the ‘aroma of Christ’ as hope to the world. Instead of the myrrh which tries to escape and avoid sacrifice, the Holy Virgin will help us to offer to God in adoration and in true love, the sacrifice of our very lives in union with the sacrifice of Jesus on this altar for our salvation and the salvation of all souls. Stella Maria, Stella Orientis, Sedes sapientiae, Star of the Sea, Star of the East, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us who pray to thee. Amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Luke 23:35-43 November 24th, 2019 Solemnity of Christ the King.

Today, in the Sacred Liturgy we celebrate the great feast of Christ the King. Our Lord is King and ruler of heaven and earth; and today, in this solemn Liturgy, we acknowledge this fact with our whole heart, mind, soul, strength, with our bodies and with our voices as we with great effort struggle to enter into full, actual, conscious and fruitful participation in this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which the King becomes present not only spiritual in our midst, but sacramentally, physically present.

Over the centuries devotion to Jesus has taken many forms. In the early centuries of the Church, we see this devotion very much directed to Jesus as the King of Kings. However, with the revelations of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 1800’s devotion to Christ became centered less on his Kingship and more on his Sacred Heart. With the Divine Mercy Revelations, this trend continues, but one could say with a more universal emphasis on the individual begging God’s Mercy not just on himself but one the whole world. With these two beautiful devotions, the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy, which are surely mutually enhancive of one another and both of which point to heart of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist beating in love there for all men and woman, one could argue that devotion to Jesus as King of the Universe seems, at least in practice, to have been set aside for a more personal devotion. But when we look at the history of devotion to Jesus within the Sacred Liturgy we find it is always center on Christ as King, as the King, no matter the liturgical season.

Unfortunately, us moderns have a hard time with the notion of kingship; especially us Americans, we can understand it only in light of tyranny and the loss of our freedom. After all, our own independence as a country was from the monarchical rule of England. Jesus, however, is not a political King, nor is He a president. He is not a Democrat or Republican nor is He an Independent; in fact, His visible Kingdom on Earth--the Catholic Church, from which He rules, is not a democracy at all; it is a strict monarchy with only one King, Jesus Himself, with full dominion and power.

Jesus the King, therefore, is not a military or revolutionary leader; He is not a socialist or totalitarian. He is not a king of material wealth or worldly power. In fact, He came to the earth as King not to be served but to serve. He wants subjects, not of forced loyalty but subjects who follow him in the freedom of authentic love and truth
The Kingdom of God then does not mean food and drink, or economic prosperity, but instead righteousness and true peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For Jesus’ kingdom is “the kingdom of Truth and Life, the kingdom of holiness and grace, the kingdom of Justice, love and Peace. The Kingdom of Jesus is a kingdom of true love, the essence of which is a man laying down his life for love of his friends.

In this, we discover that true love must be through Jesus, in Him, and with Him or else it is not true, for Jesus is the Truth. Love apart from Jesus and His truth results in our ideas quickly taking charge and then we end up creating our own version of a kingdom, the kingdom of man without reference to the kingdom of God. Consequently, it becomes just our made-up kingdom with a puppet on the throne—with an idiot king of our desire and making. What results is the dictatorship of relativism which our pope emeritus Pope Benedict continual warned against, for in this pseudo kingdom, the false kings will turn against the very people who put them in power and in the end they themselves will be destroyed by their own ideology—but not until the good themselves will have much to suffer.

Jesus’ loyal subjects, show their acceptance of Christ’s rule over them and His Father’s will for them and so accept God’s love and mercy for the world. Jesus became man to make this truth about the Father's love for man known and to enable men to accept it and live it, through the grace He won through his death on the cross and his subsequent victory over death in his resurrection.

Those who recognize Christ’s kingship and sovereignty, accept his authority given to His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. By doing so, they allow Jesus to reign over them in His eternal and universal. And these faithful subjects live their lives on this earth by following His Way, the only true way, which is the royal way of the cross, which is the way of self-denial and sacrificial love, loving and serving God above all things and their neighbor as themselves for love of God.
The Solemnity of Christ the King ends ordinary time and thus the liturgical year. We now enter into the Season of hope--advent. Our readings take on the tone of the last things, death, judgment, heaven, and hell, topics that don’t at first appear to be hopeful. But the Holy Spirit wants us to be ready, not only for the coming of Christ at Christmas but for His Second Coming in glory at the end of the world. “Behold Jesus is coming amid the clouds and every eye will see Him even those who pierced Him.”

But the Holy Spirit reminds today not to think this event as happening somewhere off in the distance future. Behold He is coming soon!!. This is the theme of Advent. For those souls who die this day, the second coming will happen today, and for each of us, our death is the second coming, for on that day we shall see the King face to face and He will question us about our love…

However, think about it, for you and me He comes even sooner; he comes this very day, on this very altar in the Holy Eucharist, sacrificing Himself anew, in order to totally and completely offer himself to us in love. He longs to enter fully into our hearts at our Holy Communion with Him if we but open our self to allow him to reign over us, for he will not stay by force.

Beginning today, let us as the Holy Spirit to help us more deeply acknowledge Christ as our King; let us start by offering our Hearts in an act of true thanksgiving at this Holy Mass, which makes the King Himself, His royal throne of the cross, His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension and His Kingdom truly present on earth, right here in this Church and in every Catholic Church around the world.

As we prepare to receive the fruit of the Crucifixion and Resurrection at this Holy Mass--Jesus Christ our King in the Holy Eucharist, the Kingdom of God personified, let us ask Him for the grace to hear His voice and to heed his words in testimony that we are committed to the truth of His Kingdom with every fiber of our being.
Let us ask Him through His Holy Mother to help us keep His Authority and the Holy Will of His heavenly Father and our Father, as the driving force of our life. Holy Mary, Queen of the Kingdom of Christ, Queen of our hearts, pray for us helps us to give our heart totally in love and fidelity to Jesus the King.

To Gain a Plenary Indulgence for the Feast of Christ the King
• Be in a state of grace
• Receive Holy Communion (should be easy, since this is Sunday, but you can receive within a few days so if you already received at Saturday vigil you can use that one)
• Go to Confession within 20 days before or after today
• Pray (out loud) for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be is sufficient)
• Be free from all attachment to sin (just do the best you can there)
And Publicly Recite the following prayer. It is sufficient if you read it out loud softly in a church open to the public.

Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but to be more surely united to Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates ourselves today to Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful children, who have never forsaken Thee but also of the prodigal children, who have abandoned Thee; Grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.

Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry; praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; To it be glory and honor forever. R. Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Death is not only the passage of our souls back to God, but one day our bodies will be reunited with our souls

Luke 20;20-28. Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. November 10th, 2019

As we approach the end of our liturgical year, our readings are changing. We have heard Jesus talk about prayer over the last few months and all of a sudden now Jesus is teaching about the resurrection of the dead. Last week we celebrated All Saints Day-the Church triumph in heaven, and All Souls Day-the Church suffering in purgatory. All of these feasts and readings from the Sacred Scriptures remind us of the serious topic of death.

Death is a hard topic to talk about; as it can make us feel fearful- it is normal to fear death, it is normal to fear death because death is not natural for us human persons.

Yet death is a reality for us which nobody can deny. And so, we all need to face the fact that one day each and every one of us is going to die. Our age is in denial of death. In fact, in our modern world, when someone dies we don't want to face it; so instead, we celebrate their life, as if we can somehow just pass over the sadness and reality of their death. Why do we want to avoid dealing properly with death? Is it because death reminds us of sin, for death is the result of sin, of our sin…this, is why we must die? God did not create death; he does not delight in the death of his creatures—we creatures created death by our sin, not God.

I would argue we also see this practical denial of death, even in our modern funeral liturgy, we no longer have black vestments which remind us of the horror of the wages of our sin, and its sorrow, which is our death. We are told that we wear white at funerals because we are people of the resurrection. Yes, we are truly people of the resurrection, but we can't just pass over the reality of death, and jump into the resurrection. Why? Because First, we must face reality of our sin and its horrible consequence—death; first, there must be morning, wailing, and sorrow for our sin, because sin is a refusal to love, obey and serve God who is all good and deserving of all our love; first, their needs to be confession for our grave offenses against God’s infinite goodness, and then an acceptance of our just punishment—death; First, all of this, only then the resurrection.

In our Gospel today, Jesus confronts all of the errors of death in his day, which are the same as in ours, just with different wrapping paper. Jesus confronts the myths about death held by the Sadducees. The Sadducees believed in the soul, but they denied the bodily resurrection of the dead. In other words, they denied that someday God will raise our bodies from the grave in order to be reunited with our souls; and in these resurrected bodies, we will be present body and soul at the final judgment before Jesus, who will come then not as merciful redeemer but as Just Judge. The Sadducees denied that we would spend eternity for better or worse in our bodies.

For the Sadducees death consisted of just the soul returning to the bosom of Abraham- the body simply was ignored. So what does it matter? Well, the practical result of this is, is that the body just isn’t important, and if the body isn’t important, then it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do in or with your body. You can sin in your body, but not with your soul. At the heart of the Sadducee's error, then, is that it separates the body and soul of the human person.

But, we are creatures who are body and soul; we are not a body with a soul or a soul with a body, but we are a body and soul composite, we are our body and we are our soul. This is one of the great terrors of death, our body and soul are not made to be separated, and it is sin that is the cause of this unnatural separation…if you want to know how bad sin is, look at the mystery and horror of death…the wages of sin is death.
How does this error of the Sadducees look in our day: We see it when someone gets caught in the act and gives an apology that consists of admission, not a confession, similar to the following: “Yes I did this bad thing, but that is not who I am.” But it is how you are. Our acts define who we are, what type of person we are. This is why there needs to be repentance and healing and forgiveness and transformation from Christ through his representative, the priest.

We also see this separation of the body and soul in our day, the idea that the body can be a different gender than the soul. And so, a person wrongly believes, I must mutilate my body to conform to what I think is the gender of my soul. And for your part, you must—or you will be forced, not only accept it but approve of it, thus, denying the truth of the human person as God has created, male and female he created them. (There is push to force even catholic hospitals to have to perform the “transitional mutilation…surgery”

We also see this error in everything from extreme body piercing, tattooing, to all forms of immodest dress. We see it in all forms of promiscuity, fornication and debauchery all carried out in the body… St. Paul reminds us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” We are to use our bodies to adore God both here at Mass, keeping them pure and undefiled by, with the grace of the Sacraments, living according to His Commandments and the teachings of His Holy Catholic Church.
After death too, we see the Sadducee’s error in a lack of respect of the body as a former temple of the Holy Spirit, by not burying the ashes of one cremated, placing them instead on the mantel of the fireplace or spreading them on the ocean or even making them into jewelry. St. Augustine, said that after their death we are so careful with the personal effects of our loved ones so that they are not lost, we should have the same care with regards to their body. The body should be buried with respect…this is one of the seven corporal works of mercy by which we will be judged…to bury the dead (by the way when the body is cremated what is left should never be called cremains, but instead called a cremated body, and it should be treated as such, a temple of the Holy Spirit and buried properly in sacred ground).

In our Gospel, Jesus points out that the Sadducees were wrong. And as we read in the book of Maccabees, the Scriptures do point out clearly the bodily resurrection of the dead and an eternity spent again in our bodies. In his condemnation, Jesus is pointing out as well all of the errors of death in our day and reveals to us the truth. Our faith tells us with certainty that the body is created as good and will be reunited with our souls after our death, at the end of the world. Jesus confirms this by answering the questions concerning marriage after the resurrection.

Death is not only the passage of our souls back to God, but one day our bodies will be reunited with our souls. So those who have already died are awaiting the resurrection of their bodies. Even the souls of the just that are now with God are not totally complete; they await the last day when their bodies will be reunited with their souls.

The truth is, is that on that last day we will be judged according to the works we performed while in the body. And this last judgment will be given to us after our souls have been reunited with our bodies—at the Last Judgment, all souls will be united to their body. For those who have done evil, their bodies will be horribly disfigured and they will suffer in those bodies eternally separated from God in hell.

But for those who have used their bodies to glorify God, they will receive a renewed body, a glorified beautiful body—the unimaginable beauty of their soul will shine through their bodies. This glorified body will have no need for food or drink or even marriage. Instead of the pleasures of food and drink and earthly marriage, there will be much, much greater pleasure. Earthly pleasures in the body are only a small hint to what pleasures God has in store for us.

Because at the end of our life, God will judge all of our deeds, all that we have done and all that we have failed to do, it is easy for us to be afraid of death and especially in the judgment that follows our death. However, St. Paul gives us encouragement in today’s second reading. He tells us that Grace is given to us in order to “encourage our hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.”

With faith and confidence in God’s grace, we can face our sins and ask God to help us each day to live this life on earth using our bodies and souls in a way that we will be ready to die and meet him. But we strive with the to use our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. We must not only treat our bodies as holy and sacred temples, but we must also use them assisted by God’s grace (again which comes to us through the Sacraments) to live holy lives, holy lives lived out in the body. Then we will be able to share in the joy of the resurrection, and live out eternity in heaven not only in our souls but in our bodies as well. If we are ready, meaning if we are holy, if we have taken care of our souls by confessing our sins and amending our lives, if we have been striving to by God grace live out God’s Holy Will in our body on earth, then far from fearing death, we will long for it so we can be with God forever and see Him face to face.

The Holy Eucharist is the key to the Resurrection of our bodies to the eternal glory of the Father, for the Holy Eucharist is the resurrected human body and blood of Jesus reunited to his human soul, along with the fullness of His divinity. It is through our Holy Communion with Him if we have faith, that gives us the grace to transform our earthly bodies into glorified bodies like Jesus in order to share in the happiness of all the angels and saints in the resurrection of the body in heaven. We become what we eat and we come to share more and more fully in the victory of Jesus until our communion with Him is consummated in an eternal union with the blessed Trinity, along with all of the angels and the Saint, whose bodies and souls together, like ours, will be glorified with the splendor of the Father love.

We live and move and have our being in Christ, and through the Sacraments, we are members of His Mystical Body, the Church, and children of Our Heavenly Father. Let us ask Jesus to help us deepen our faith, hope and charity and so be prepared to meet him face to face one day not with fear but with hearts full of joy. Even now, our bodies are being transformed into glory. Let us also continue to pray for our dead, all of the Holy Souls in purgatory. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the living not the dead, pray for us sinners, now and especially at the hour of our death. Holy Mary, we know you will honor all of the Hail Mary's we say in our life and you will be there for us at the hour of our death. Amen. God Bless you all.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

If you truly want peace, come in silence before the Holy Eucharist and in faith adore and love the living resurrected Jesus silently but really present there.

John 14: 23-29. Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. May 26th, 2019.

The last few weeks in the Gospel readings we have been hearing Jesus calling us to the deepest form of love. It is a love that surpasses anything that man is capable of on his own power. Unfortunately, our English translations almost always use the word “love” to describe it. However, “love” is certainly not the best of words, for the love that Jesus calls us to is Charity. Charity is human love elevated and united, through grace, to divine love—elevated and united to the God who is Charity.

Charity is only possible in a human heart to the degree that that human heart trustingly offers itself in totally self-giving love to the God who loved us first- this begins at our baptism and grows through worthy reception of the Holy Mass and the other Sacraments, along with intimate daily prayer and the living out of our beautiful Catholic Faith through the human virtues animated with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and of course, Charity.

Our Gospel today shows us how God loved us first. Our Lord here is preparing to enter into His passion and death in which he would prove his love for us with the greatest act of love the world has ever seen. Jesus in divine love, in Charity, would totally pour Himself out sacrificially for love of each one of us on the Cross-God would die on the cross for us. And He would do so, not just to save us, but in order to be able to give himself has a gift to us in the Holy Eucharist. In this sacrificial offering we discover that the God who has given us the very gift of existence, isn’t content to stop there, he offers us the gift of himself in the Person of Jesus, His Son present in Risen Body in the Holy Eucharist.

And so, it is in the preparation for His passion that Jesus says to us, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” Loving Jesus first and foremost and above all else is the key to receiving the Father’s Love in its fullness. It is an act of gratitude to the God who has given us everything, and this gratitude can only be expressed in the offering of our self to the Father through Jesus in order to be united to God in Charity, to the God who is Charity.

But this love for Jesus must be shown and expressed through virtuous action. After all, love—charity is shown in deeds, not in sweet words. And so, as Jesus says, love for Him is shown in obedience to God's Holy Word. Obeying God’s Holy Word means keeping His commandments and living according to His teachings, which come to us through His Holy Catholic Church. It is in and through the Church that we have been promised the Holy Spirit to help us understand this truth and to be our Diving Helper in living it in our lives. If we do our part, the Holy Spirit, which he leaves with us, will help us to learn and understand the Church’s teaching so we can apply them in everyday life.

It is this obedience to the truth in our lives that bring us the peace that the world cannot give. Because the world rejects this truth and refuses to live in obedience to God’s Truth, the world has no peace. Rejection of the truth is ultimately a refusal to love God, by refusing to live one’s life in obedience to the truth that comes from God to the truth that leads to God. The result is a lack of peace. And if there is one thing that defines our world today, it is a lack of peace; not just exterior peace but most especially inner peace, peace of soul.

I think it was Pope VI that once said; “Peace is much more than just a lack of conflict or war.” Many people in the world mistakenly think that all of our advancements in technology are going to give us peace and make us happy. In fact, these technological advancements have led, at least partially, to the ideal that man can live a moral life, a good life, a flourishing life, apart from God and His Commandments, and especially apart from God’s first commandment which is to love Him above all else and adore and worship him according to His dictates, not our own. Our generation even seeks to use its technological advancements to overcome death apart from the power of the Resurrection of Jesus, which is the power of the divine and human love known as Charity, which is stronger than death. But even if he were to succeed, which he will not, to live forever without God and his love is not paradise but hell.

The result of this pride of man-this self-exaltation of man is nothing but an astronomical increase in the amount of crime, violence, and moral degradation in our society, which have surpassed what many of us never dreamed possible, not to mention the fear of terrorism and war. Peace is more elusive than ever. And what takes its place is a general feeling of insecurity and outright fear.

All of this has led to a degradation of man himself, who fails to see that his greatest lies in his relationship with His Creator. As result, we see a fear of giving oneself in love to the other, especially to God-this fear is manifested either in outright atheism or at least a practical atheism in which one speaks of God but lives one’s life contrary to God’s truth. We see this manifested in fear of making lifelong commitments to one’s vocation, whether in marriage or the religious life, fear of bringing new life into the world, and above all, fear of not being loved. Psychiatrists and other therapist are literally swamped with clients, depression is rampant, and suicide is epidemic.

And what is the remedy that most turn to in order to alleviate this fear, fear which stems from a lack of peace? Diversion; noise, lots of noise, TV, music, sex, computer games, pornography, drugs- baseless entertainment and amusement, the list is long. Our generation craves diversion through noise, because it lacks peace; it hates silence; it is afraid of silence.

In his book, The Power of Silence over the Dictatorship of Noise, Cardinal Sarah, who is the head of the office in the Vatican that oversees the liturgy, including how the Holy Mass is celebrated, speaks of this atheism and noisiness:

“Postmodern man seeks to anesthetize his own atheism. Noises are screens that betray a fear of the divine, a fear of real life and of death. But “what man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?” (Ps 89:48). The Western world ends up disguising death so as to make it acceptable and joyful. The moment of demise becomes a noisy moment in which true silence is lost in weak, useless words expressing compassion.”

What is the solution? The solution is to turn back to the love of God. This begins by setting the diversions aside, especially the diversion of noise and returning in silence to the One who speaks in silence…the living and true God. In silence, alone with oneself and alone with God, we can hear the voice of God who speaks in the silence to our heart; and we can respond to Him still small voice with ours through intimate prayer, heart speaking to heart; heart giving itself to heart.

A few years ago, you may remember there was an interesting movie that was all about silence before God. It was actually entitled, “Into the Great Silence.” This three-hour movie about the lives of Carthusian monks in the French Alps had hardly any spoken words at all, and yet, the movie was a surprise hit. What is it that made this movie about silence so appealing to such a noisy world?

One of the comments about the monks in the movie is that they live in no fear…they live with peace, the peace that they have acquired through the years of silently nurturing their relationship with God. They have deepened their faith that they are indeed sons of a loving Father who loves them, each of them with a unique unfathomable love. If we only knew what it means to be a beloved son and daughter of God, we would have no fear, only trust.

In their faith in Jesus Christ and their striving to live in obedience to His words found in Sacred Scripture and interpreted by the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church, the monks have found that solace that the human heart looks for, the solace that comes from living the world behind and living for love of God alone. And this is really the test in this life isn't it?; whether we turn to human beings and to the things of this world for our solace, or turn to God alone.

Now, I am not suggesting we all become Carthusian monks, but we do need to enter more into silence in the presence of God, and we have to have the living obedient faith of Carthusian monks. In other words, we need show our love for Jesus by obeying His words, His commandments, and teachings and trusting in Him alone, and the power to this comes through silence, spending intimate time with him apart from the dictatorship of the noise that this world offers.

Again, Cardinal Sarah:

“It is necessary to protect precious silence from all parasitical noise. The noise of our “ego”, which never stops claiming its rights, plunging us into an excessive preoccupation with ourselves. The noise of our memory, which draws us toward the past, that of our recollections or of our sins. The noise of temptations or of acedia (sloth), the spirit of gluttony, lust, avarice, anger, sadness, vanity, pride—in short: everything that makes up the spiritual combat that man must wage every day. In order to silence these parasitical noises, in order to consume everything in the sweet flame of the Holy Spirit, silence is the supreme antidote.”

And so like the Carthusian monks, we need to come in contact whenever and however much we can with God in silent prayer before God, in the silence of our inner room, that is our heart and listen. And especially we need to come in silent faith before the Holy Eucharist both at Holy Mass and whenever we can before His physical presence in the tabernacle. The Holy Mass is the Sacrament instituted by Christ in order to bring the world peace because it makes truly present in the Holy Eucharist the One who is the King of Peace, along with His sacrifice of love for us, which made visible the love…no, which made visible the Charity that God has for us.*

In reality, the more that faith in the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist is lost, the more the Mass is ignored or treated as a time for feel-good noisy entertainment, instead of a time for a silent intimate reverential encounter with the living God in adoration and worship, the more we will lack peace and live in fear. This is why the Church has reminded us over and over again to make ample time for periods of sacred silence during Mass. But so sadly us moderns too often try to fill every moment of the Holy Mass with noise.

Thomas Merton summed this all up nicely when he wrote:

Silence is not a virtue, noise is not a sin, it is true, but the turmoil and confusion and constant noise of modern society are the expressions of the ambiance of its greatest sins—its godlessness, its despair. A world of propaganda, of endless argument, vituperation, criticism, or simply of chatter is a world without anything to live for…Mass becomes racket and confusion; prayers—an exterior or interior noise” (Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas).

Cardinal Sarah put it this way:

“Why are men so noisy during the liturgies while Christ's prayer was silent? The words of the Son of God come from the heart, and the heart is silent. Why do we not know how to speak with a silent heart? The heart of Jesus does not speak. It radiates with love because its language comes from the divine depths."

Therefore if you truly want peace, come in silence before the Holy Eucharist and in faith adore and love the living resurrected Jesus silently but really present there. It’s hard for us to do this because of the silence, I didn’t say silence is easy. The Eucharist makes no earthly noise, it is true, but it is in that sacred silence before the living God truly present in the Holy Eucharist that we will find the peace that we are looking for, the peace that the world cannot give because it is in the Holy Eucharist that we will find the strength to love God with deeds, in obedience to His truth. And then, then we will be able to give ourselves to him entirely, and He and the Father will come and make their Home in us and place His own love alive in our souls and in our hearts; then and only then will we truly have peace.

I want to end with a saying from Mother Theresa of Calcutta. She learned to love in adoration, in silent contemplation before the Eucharist. There she learned to see the true face of God in every suffering human being and showed her love for God by obedience to His word which resulted in her life of peace, lived in service to God and neighbor; and others experienced the Charity of God through her. Mother of Theresa said…

The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.
And I would dare to add: the fruit of peace is complete trust in and abandonment to God by offering ourselves to God through Charity !!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Like the Israelites, God calls us too, out into the desert.

Luke 4:1-3. First Sunday in Lent. March 10th, 2019

Lent is our time to imitate our Blessed Lord and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the desert.
But why the desert? Time in the desert signifies a time away from our normal cares, a turning away from the distractions of the world and worldly things which do not last, and a turning more fully toward that which last forever, the one thing in which we can truly trust--the eternal God and His unfathomable love for us.

In the Old Testament, God called Israelites out of Egypt, which represents the spirit of the world, and calls them into the desert. Why? So that apart from the distractions of Egypt, and all of its idols and false worship, He could teach them again to recognize His sovereign rights as their one True God. All so they could offer Him proper worship and adoration, not for God's sake but for their own.

In their struggles and hunger, they would see their complete dependency on God and then turn to worship Him and adoring Him alone and doing so according to His dictates. He for His part would reveal His great Love for them. He would provide for their every need, give them water from the rock of salvation, feed them with bread from heaven and lead them to the promised land flowing with milk and honey; but most of all He would take them to Himself; He would be their God and they would be His people; He would share Himself totally to Him and make them one with Him lavishing them with His divine Love, that for which they truly hungered and thirsted; He would give them life.

Like the Israelites, God calls us too, out into the desert. In the desert, filled with silence, we too can hear the small, still, voice of God speaking to us, teaching us, revealing His love to us. Apart from the distractions and noise of this world, we can come face to face with God in prayer, the God who draws near to us. It is then that we are able to honestly recognize the Creator’s sovereign rights over us. He is our Creator, the source of our existence and the loving and caring Father to whom we are called to return. We are poor creatures, completely dependent on Him and so need to reach out to Him by worshiping and adoring Him, and doing so properly. We must have an attitude of poverty because the truth is we are absolutely nothing, have nothing without God; but with Him, we have everything.

The more we come to this realization of the sovereign rights of God over us, the more we see the many ways we have replaced our dependency on God with our idols, that is, those things that we have put in the place of God and so have worshiped and adored instead of him. True religion always, if it is true, consists of adoring God. It is our supreme duty to do so; it is a matter of justice. But this duty is a duty of love, better yet a response of love that comes from the fact that God has first loved us; He has created us and wants us to return to Him.

As a result, in our effort to return to Him, we must necessarily deny ourselves of those things that have taken us or prevented us from a deeper relationship with Him. We must deny our self of those things we have loved before Him and so have, in a sense, “worshiped” before Him, especially, our love of comfort before service, pleasure before self-denial, power over others, and sinful amusements before adoration. Our inordinate attachments to these “idols” prevent us from offering proper worship and adoration of God.

And so, in order to help rid ourselves of these inordinate attachments, we are asked in Lent to take on a spirit of penance and repentance, this leads us to self-denial; in other words, to the cross—which is the way of Love of Jesus and others before ourselves. We deny ourselves by giving up comforts and delights, such as abstinence from meat or other food or drink. This sacrificing and denying of ourselves leads us to discover that nothing, nothing on this earth can fulfill our dependency and our longing for God. Think about the things people give up for love- things like meals, sleep; we sacrifice because we want to be closer to the one we love—this is what Lent is all about.

During this time of Lent when we begin to discipline ourselves so we can convert and draw closer to our God, it is then that we will experience many temptations from satan. The devil always promises more than he can give. He doesn't want our happiness; anything he tempts us with is a miserable deception. In order to test us, the devil takes advantage of our own ambitions, of our desire to be the center of attention and to seek ourselves in everything we do or plan. This self-centeredness is at the heart of wanting material things so much that we end up turning to them before God and so worshiping them. We then give God lip service if even at all. Material things then cease to be good because they separate us from God and from our fellow man. As a result, we fail to serve God and our neighbor for love of God and end up only serving ourselves, and this leads to our destruction. But Jesus tells us that we should seek only His glory. He tells us, "You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.

Ultimately God, allows these temptations from the devil to help purify us, to make us holy, to detach ourselves from the things of the earth, to lead us to where He is and by the route He wants us to take, so as to make us happy (even in a life which may not be comfortable), to make us flourish; He allows them in order to help us to grow in Christian maturity and understanding, and virtue, so as to become more effective in our apostolic work for the salvation of souls. He allows temptations above all to make us humble, very humble.

It is then very clear why we need to spend these forty days in the desert very close to our blessed Lord, fasting with Him, praying with Him and giving alms, three things which weaken the power of Satan over us. And above all, we need to stay close to Him by making use of the Sacraments, especially Holy Mass and confession, (you can’t really love or flourish without confession), all so that we may have the grace and the power to persevere in the battle and so share in Jesus’ victory over the devil and his temptations. Additionally, as well, we need to take in the Lenten devotions offered to us, like walking with Jesus along the way of His via Dolorosa, His way to Calvary in the Stations of the Cross on Fridays; also, by experiencing all the Holy Week Masses and services, like Holy Thursday and Good Friday. And especially, by spending time in adoration where we can really experience the silence of the desert but above experience the bodily presence of Jesus alongside us in our struggles.

In the temptations of Christ, we discover that Jesus has allowed Himself to be tempted for our sakes. He was tempted as one of us, having laid aside His divine power. Christ, true God and true man-made Himself like us in all things except sin and voluntarily underwent temptation. He was tempted in order to give us an example and a model of what we are to do when we too are tempted by satan and to give us hope that we too can share in His victory. St. John Vinney, the Cure of Ars, said:

“How fortunate we are, how lucky to have a God as our model. Are we poor? We have a God who is born in a stable, who lies in a manger. Are we despised? We have a God who led the way, who was crowned with thorns, dressed in a filthy red cloak and treated as a madman. Are tormented by pain and suffering? Before our eyes we have a God covered with wounds, dying in unimaginable pain. Are we being persecuted? How can we dare complain when we have a God who is being put to death by executioners? Finally, are we being tempted by the demon? We have a lovable Redeemer; he also was tempted by the demon and was twice taken up by the hellish spirit: therefore, no matter what sufferings, pains or temptations we are experiencing, we always have, everywhere, our God leading the way for us and assuring us of victory as long as we genuinely desire it.”

This lent let us ask Our Lady for help to enter into lent more deeply. Let us ask her to help us avoid the temptation of Satan, a temptation that puts personal pleasure first, and does away with personal guilt and sin and the need for redemption, satisfaction, expiation, mortifcation, and penance for our sin. A temptation that saythe s that essence of love is personal gratification and not sacrifice, a temptation that says love is not that of laying down one’s life for a friend. Our Lady can teach us how to adore Jesus, how to give ourselves entirely to him without fear in complete trust; all we need to do is to ask her. Let us pray, that the Blessed Mother, who while adoring Jesus on the Cross was given John as her son and by this gift was given to all of us as her sons and daughters as well, that she may help us to enter the desert this lent and there learn how to adore the unseen God from whom we came and to whom, through our proper adoration at Holy Mass, we are called as his little children to return. Amen.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fourth Sunday in Advent. December 23rd., 2018

Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to Me? These are profound words coming from The Virgin Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. They not only point to the great reverence that Elizabeth had for the Blessed Mother but even more, to the reverence she had for the One of whom Mary was the mother. Elizabeth tells us, in fact, cries this out to us in her own words, words which are some of the most familiar in all of history, “Blessed art thou amongst Women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb--Jesus.

Elizabeth’s words reflect the profound adoration she had when she came into the presence of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the True God, truly, physically present in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Additionally, Elizabeth’s own child in her womb—John the Baptist, was sanctified by being in the presence of this incarnate God, which caused the infant John to leap for Joy. What an incredible mystery, one given to us in today’s Gospel to prepare us for the coming of the Christ Child at Christ-mas.

This experience of Elizabeth, and of her child in the womb, was also experienced in some way by all who came into the stable at Bethlehem on beholding the newborn King--God Himself in the flesh, Emmanual come into the world to die in order to save men from their sin. However, before that little divine child, unlike the encounter in today’s Gospel, no words were spoken, all in the stable gazed silently at the little Divine baby in deep adoration. Probably one of the songs that best captures the image and feeling of this tranquil adoration is the song Silent Night. Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.

I am always amazed how if one truly listens with one’s heart on Christmas Eve, there is always a profound stillness that seems to be manifested in all of creation. Even amidst the greetings and the noisiness of Christmas celebrations, if you just take a few moments to listen, the whole of created reality seems to be in a type of hushed reverential awe. When I was in a parish, after I would offer Midnight Mass, as I walked back to the rectory, I would always be struck by this, and I would take some time to stop and listen to the “silence;” it seemed as if all of creation was on it’s “knees” so to speak, bowed down in adoration at the very thought of its Creator being born into the flesh as one of His own creatures. Yet, in all of creation, the only one of God’s creatures that is stirring against this manifest silence and referential awe before the incarnate God born into the world is God’s creature man.

Our age is surely an age of great noise. It is as if man is afraid of silence, afraid of what or Whom, he or she might encounter in the silence. In his book, “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise,” Robert Cardinal Sarah, says:

“Noise is a deceptive, addictive, and false tranquilizer. The tragedy of our world is never better summed up than in the fury of senseless noise that stubbornly hates silence. This age detests the things that silence brings us to: encounter, wonder, and kneeling before God” (p. 74). He says, “Without silence, God disappears in the noise. And this noise becomes all the more obsessive because God is absent. Unless the world rediscovers silence, it is lost. The earth then rushes into nothingness” (p.80).

A few weeks ago, I made the statement, that we will never be able to keep Christ in Chriwithoutith out keeping the Mass in Christmas. The name Christmas literally means “Christ’s Mass.” Today, in the same Spirit that made Elizabeth cry out, I would also like to cry out, proclaiming that we will never be able to keep the Mass in Christmas, and so, not only keep Christ in Christmas but in our world and in our hearts, unless we recover the profound importance of Sacred Silence in our Catholic Churches.

Every Holy Mass is a Christ---Mass, for at every Holy Mass we truly celebrate “Christmas” when Jesus says through the priest, “this is My Body and this is My Blood. At God’s Words, Jesus the Eternal Word of the Father, becomes truly and physically present on this altar, no less present than He was in the crib at Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Jesus, God literally in the flesh, is reborn again on the Altar at the words of consecration and then elevated for us to adore in silent and profound reverence and adoration.

What reverence we should have; in what profound “silence” we should approach such a mystery as this. This is a priviledged time for us to be literally with Jesus in silence and let Him, as he did with John the Baptist, sanctify us in the womb of our hearts, especially as he comes sacramentally, truly, into our bodies and souls. Every Holy Mass is truly a silent night, a holy night.

In fact, every time we come into, or are present in a Catholic Church, we are like Elizabeth coming into the presence of Jesus in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We can look at the tabernacle as a type of womb, in which Jesus is contain, no less than He was in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Or we can look at it this way. Every Catholic Church is a stable, every tabernacle a crib, in which is contain that poor babe that was truly present in the stable of Bethlehem-the God-man come into the world in bodily flesh.

How did the Angels and Shepherds, how did the three wisemen act in the stable before the newborn King? How did all of those act, even the animals, who came into his true presence? Did they speak, or they did they kneel in silent adoration before their God and Creator? I think it was the latter. “This is a reminder that we should never infantalize the Babe of Bethlehem for, while He may whimper in the manager, this is the voice that made all things and judges all at the end of time” (Fr. George Rutler, Bulletin Article for this Sunday).
When we are in a Catholic Church, we are in the presence of Jesus through whom an by whom all that is was created—He is present for us, no less than he was present to those who came to adore Him in the crib at Bethlehem—this is the Mystery of our Faith. Just think of the truth of it—“And how does this happen to us, that our Lord should come to us?” (cf. Lk 1:39-45). Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:45).

A few years back, the bishop for Peoria said “that the reverence we show during Mass, expressed in words, gestures, music and surroundings, inspires reverence for all of the Catholic faith and ultimately for God himself. The bishop went on to say, “reverence at Mass starts with actions such as dressing appropriately and arriving on time; praying and reflecting on the readings of the Mass; observing the one-hour fast before Communion; repenting of one’s sins; going to confession frequently; performing acts of self denial; and showing Christian charity to others.” All of these things, he said, have been somewhat neglected in the past 50 years since the Second Vatican council and this neglect as contributed to a loss of the sense of mystery and sacredness of the Holy Mass and a loss of the realization of the holiness of the sacred space which contains the True Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

But I would argue, what has been neglected more than anything else is appropriate times of referential silence at the Holy Mass. It is as if, we have brought the noiseness of the world into the Sacred Liturgy. This as caused a profound lessening of the understanding of the mystery of the Holy Mass. St John Paul II, reminded us how necessary is silence in order to bring about reverence and a sense of mystery in the presence of Jesus, when St. John Paul said, “An aspect which must be cultivated with greater commitment in our communities is the experience of Silence…When people’s daily lives are frantic and full of noise, rediscovering the value of silence is vital.” He went on to say that, rediscovering the value of silence is vital to understanding the Holy Mass and entering into its profound mystery. Cardinal Sarah, who I quoted earlier, said, “Silence is an acoustic veil that protects the mystery…a sort of sonic iconastasis (a window into heaven).” On this earth veils are necessary for us to help us keep a sense of sacredness so as not to profane the things of God; this especially so with regards to the true presence of God in the Holy Eucharist.

In the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (explain), the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church gives us these recommondations on silence at Holy Mass:

First, in the Advent part of the Mass beginning with the penitential Rite, silence is to help us call to mind our sins and express interior sorrow for them.

After the Scripture readings and the homily, silence is to help us meditate on what we have heard and bring it into our hearts and minds.

After Christ has been born on our altars and has come Sacramentally into our bodies, at Holy Communion-Silence is a privileged time for us to pray to our God, to spend time in silent adoration with Him now substantially present in our souls. The time after Holy Communion is the most intimate time we have with our Lord. It should not be a time when we watch others going up to communion, or watch Father purify the chalice and remove the vessels from the altar; or even worse receive Him as did Judas, and immediately go off into the night.

And finally, before Holy Mass begins and after Holy Mass is over, silence is to be strictly observed in the Church to help us prepare for Holy Mass and to help us with prayerful Thanksgiving after Mass, thanking God for the privilege of attending Mass, and being in His true presence in the tabernacle. A privilege that is equal to that of Elizabeth and all those who came into the stable of Bethlehem.

Pope Francis Himself has said “At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing "to meet with Jesus" instead of engaging in "chitchat."

Times of silence far from being dead time can very much be alive, active times when we allow God to touch us, to talk to us and sanctify us in deep intimacy with Him. Silence is absolutely necessary in our prayer if we are to hear the Lord speak to us. “Silence has the capacity to open a space in our inner being, a space in which God can dwell, which can ensure that His Word remains within us, and that love for Him is rooted in our minds and hearts, and animates our lives" (Pope Emeritus Benedict).

In this time before this coming of our Lord again into our world, on this Altar and into our bodies at this Christ Mass, let us turn to the Mother of Jesus to help us prepare to adore Him in the silence of our hearts , so we can bear the fruit of the Christ Child alive in the womb of our soul, thus being able by the Holy Spirit to cry out with our very lives to the mercy and love of this God for this World and for all human persons, and to do so for their eternal salvation and ours. Hail, “Full of Grace,” the Lord is with Thee….Blessed are thou amougst Women, and bless is the fruit of thy womb—the Holy Eucharist. Amen.