December 27 2020
From the Pastor...
The older New American Bible translation refers to the wisemen as "astrologers from the east". This translation is not accurate and has been changed. The correct word is "magi". (The word "magi" is the root of our word "magician".) The "magi" were more like scientists and philosophers. They studied planetary tables but were apparently familiar with the Jewish religious traditions about a Messiah. To their credit they sought Him out, using all the means at their disposal, including the use of planetary tables. (Remember, they were not Jews. They were foreigners. They did not have the training in the true religion of the day.)
But isn't it true that they followed the "wandering star" which took them to Bethlehem? The "star" (probably a conjunction of two planets) only took them so far. It took them to King Herod, who was greatly disturbed at the news of a newborn king. Herod's counselors informed the king of the precise whereabouts of the infant- Messiah. The counselors used the Bible to pin point Bethlehem as the place. The Book of the prophet Micah contains the famous prophecy of our Lord's birth in Bethlehem. Once arrived at Bethlehem, the Magi discarded the tools of their trade: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and returned to their country changed men (we would suppose).
With the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and the Locus of all true worship, we must reject all forms of false religion. For example, divination, which seeks to learn hidden knowledge about the future via mean such as: horoscopy, palm-reading, tarot card reading, recourse to mediums and "psychics". Divination is an offense against God. The fortunes of men are not determined by the stars.
The Magi teach us something about the place of Jesus Christ in true worship: "they prostrated themselves (before Jesus) and did Him homage." The verb used connotes recognizing Jesus as divine. And so He is. Even today, all true worship goes through Jesus (the Eucharist, liturgical prayers, Our Father).
The Magi's gifts:
Gold (for Jesus's Kingship). We must acknowledge Him as our King and remain detached from the material wealth that we have. To what use do we put our resources in the service of God's kingdom?
Frankincense: a life of prayer (represented by the smoke going up to heaven) and goodness (the aroma of Christ).
Myrrh: He was offered wine mingled with myrrh, on the cross. His body was also anointed with this substance in death. It represents sacrifice and renunciation (mortification) and reminds us of the place of penance in the Christian life...
December 13, 2020
These words were written by a man who was beaten numerous times, put in jail, faced angry mobs, had gone without eating or sleeping for protracted periods,
was shipwrecked, came close to death, and faced treachery from others. Who am I speaking about?
St. Paul. How could Paul even speak about joy under these circumstances?
He was not speaking about any kind of joy, but the deepest and most enduring kind: the joy that comes from having a relationship with God.
It is a joy that the world cannot give, nor is it dependent on external circumstances. It is even possible to be sustained by this joy in time of pain or sorrow.
(I can think of St. Therese, smiling through her tears.)
In another place (Gal 5 ), Paul tells us that this kind of joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit: "Love, joy, peace, patience, etc." Here, he advises people, "Pray constantly, in all circumstances give thanks.... Do not quench the Spirit." Prayer opens people up to the Holy Spirit. Joy is an indicator that one is living a "spiritual life".
And what would you think a young woman's attitude would be if her husband were considering separating from her, just at the time she had conceived a child? The responsorial "psalm" contains her sentiments. It is a hymn of praise to God amid difficult circumstances. Who is the woman? The Blessed Virgin Mary.
The world has its share of counterfeits and substitutes for joy. Do not be misled. Recreational drug use, alcohol dependency, and various forms of escaping from the demands and challenges of life do not make anyone joyful. What is St. Pauls' solution? It is a spiritual one. He says, "Pray always." In another place (Galatians 5" ), he says that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The point is, only God can make us happy. It begins in this life when a person cultivates the practice of the faith, forgives others, seeks forgiveness for himself, is prayerful and exercises detachment from the world.
December 6, 2020
If you were asked to paint a picture of the Immaculate Conception, what would you paint?
Many great artists have already done so. One such artist is Bartolomeo Estaban Murillo. Murillo produced several such paintings.
Fr. Mulholland, the pastor who erected this church in 1953, saw to it that a prominent spot would be given to Murillo's painting.
The painting is a handmade copy of the original. Looking at the painting, what does the artist depict?
He painted the Blessed Mother (not Jesus). And he painted her in glory. What does this have to do with the Immaculate Conception?
The answer is that the Immaculate Conception is not Jesus (He is the Son of God). The Immaculate Conception is Mary.
Everyone (certainly every Catholic) should have a special place in his heart for the Blessed Mother. She gave the world Jesus. Without her there would be no Christmas. There would be no Church. We would have no hope. Do not fall for the claim that Mary somehow competes with Jesus. The two go together very well. This is certainly fitting, because sin entered the world due to the fall of a man and a woman. The world is redeemed because of a man and a woman: The new Adam and new Eve: Jesus and Mary.
In calling Mary the Immaculate Conception or "full of grace", she reminds us that our vocation is to be holy. This is not to suggest that we will be as holy as she is, or that we are conceived in a state of holiness, but only that we have access to grace and should maintain ourselves accordingly: through prayer, use of the sacraments, acts of charity, penance, etc. When someone commits a mortal sin, he has lost his holiness (which he received through baptism). A Catholic in this position must go to confession to recover the life of God that he lost through sin.
How many Catholics are there who are not concerned about maintaining their baptismal holiness. This is Our Lady's specialty. She helps us to stay on the right path. We need to rely on her as our Advocate before the Lord. Pray the rosary each day. Be a saint, now and in the life to come.
November 29, 2020
Today, the Catholic Church begins another year with the season of Advent.
The liturgical trappings of the season still contain vestiges of what had once been observed as a season of penance
(something like a little Lent). There is no Gloria and the priest wears purple.
Advent has, unfortunately, become eclipsed by a secular season which is called by many "the holidays".
It used to be called "Christmas", but our society has embraced secularism. Instead of preparing for Christ,
we have excessive busyness, consumerism on a grand scale, and (for some) an endless round of parties, etc.
Don't be fooled into thinking that these things, by themselves, prepare anyone for Christ.
Also, this year, because of COVID 19, it is wise to limit celebratory activities to one's home with members of one's household.
We must rediscover Advent, and not let the world take it away from us. Remember, the world is not interested in preparing for the coming of its Savior. We, on the other hand, should be. What can we do?
Take time to pray each day. Break new ground. Do something that you have not done before: family-prayer, spousal-prayer. Utilize the rosary (give ita try). Read the daily Mass readings. Make use of an Advent wreath. Light a candle before dinner and add an appropriate prayer to the usual grace before supper. There are four candles. Light an additional candle each week. Go to Mass during the week, whenever possible.
Take time to read the scriptures. We meet Christ through His word. Consider reading the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, about three chapters a day. Use a Catholic Bible (e.g., the New American) so as to benefit from the explanatory footnotes.
Take time to abstain. We don't have to allow the secular season to inundate us with its message of excess consumption. Use times (e.g., Fridays) to do some fasting. And don't overlook abstinence from television or Intemet. Parents don't have to allow their children to be exposed to excessive "screen time". Be careful about marketers. The message of advertisers a can undermine a person's state of recollection, to say the least.
Utilize the opportunity to make a good confession. After all, Jesus came the first time, to save us from our sins. The next time He comes will be as Judge of the living and the dead. Be ready for Him.
November 22, 2020
Jesus said that scandals are inevitable, but "woe to him through whom they come.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin" (Luke 17.1,2). Jesus' words are prophetic.
Many people have given scandal, not only in the world, but in the Church, down through the ages.
The solution that Jesus gives is that such people must be rebuked so that others do not fall into sin and,
also, to elicit the perpetrator's repentance.
Even in Biblical times there was scandal among the people of God. The documents of the New Testament are replete with examples. The betrayal of Christ by Judas is in all four gospels. 1 Corinthians 5 addresses the case of the "incestuous man". 1 Corinthians 11 addresses the scandal given by those who participated in the Eucharist after becoming intoxicated at the meal that used to precede it. St. Paul admonishes the people of the danger in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily (ie., in mortal sin). In Acts 5 there is the story of Ananias and Sapphira, who deceived the Church community. The list goes on...
Recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a press release congratulating Joe Biden on winning the presidential election and lauding him for his "profession of the Catholic faith". As I write this column, the election has not yet been finalized. Also, Mr. Biden uses the Catholic faith more as "prop". A good Catholic would never support the abortion industry or the re-definition of marriage (among other things). To add insult to injury, the competent Church authority never censured Mr. Biden, and when confronted about this, the bishop in question hid himself. Jesus had choice words for shepherds who run away from their responsibilities (John 10).
Finally, but not least, the Holy See published the "McCarrick Report". The Report attempts to address the scandal caused by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was morally depraved. McCarrick should never have been ordained, much less promoted to one episcopal see after another. The scandal was exacerbated and enabled by too many confreres of his who covered for him. Some refused to believe what they heard. Others were paid off. McCarrick was a master manipulator and deceiver. He was finally removed from any ecclesiastical position. Unfortunately, he has done great damage to many people and to the Church. Pray for his conversion and that of those who abetted his career, and for all his victims.
November 15, 2020
Today's parable speaks of three servants who were each entrusted with a certain sum of money (so many "talents")
by the king who expected a return on his investment. Two made a return. The third did nothing with what had been given to him.
In real life, each person is given certain natural gifts: time, resources, intelligence, abilities, opportunities, etc., and some supernatural gifts (gifts of grace): faith, hope, charity, humility, etc. What we do with these things has eternal ramifications. To squander what God has provided, on self-centered living, for example, is wrong. Conversely, to use well what God has given us, for his glory (not ours) and the service of others, is what He is looking for.
Sometimes people have many worldly advantages but squander the opportunities to put them at the use of the Lord's service. For example, Cardinal Wolsey, who lived during the reign of King Henry VIII of England had wealth, connections, a position of power, etc. The cardinal lived for himself and the good graces of the king. He celebrated Mass only once a year. He never went to Rome (though he was supposed to be the Pope's representative). He lived like a secular prince. He did not exemplify holiness or defend the rights of the Church. He squandered his talents.
There are people with few natural gifts who let God shine through them. Blessed Margaret of Castello (d. 1320) was born blind, lame, deformed and was quite small. When she was six, her proud, noble parents walled her up in a room beside the chapel. She did have access to the Mass and to the sacraments. She was released after 14 years. Her parents prayed that she be cured. When this failed, they abandoned her. At this point she became a lay Dominican and spent the rest of her life in prayer and works of mercy. At her funeral (at age 33) a crippled girl was miraculously cured. The miracle reminds us of Jesus saying to such people (at their judgment): "Come, share your Master's joy... I will give you great responsibilities" (their ministry does not stop with death).
And there are people among us who do give their gifts for the service of God, amid a secular environment that often does not encourage people to do so. For example, I remember visiting a young, Catholic couple. They had been married about 16 years. They were expecting their ninth child. At times, the young man had to put up with negative remarks from certain colleagues because they could not understand why any couple would want more than a couple of children. Marriage, rightly lived, is a great service to society and to the Church.
November 8, 2020
In Dante's classic Inferno, which is a lengthy poem about hell
(he also has one on heaven), he writes that the sign above hell says, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here".
What exactly does this mean? It means that God is the fulfillment of our hope.
As long as we are yet to complete our pilgrimage on earth, we need to practice the virtue of hope,
which is trusting that, through His grace, we can reach the right destination, after death, which is heaven.
St. Paul says, "If we believe that Jesus died and rose,
God will bring forth with Him from the dead those also who have fallen asleep believing in Him" (v. 14).
The substance of hope is our faith. And faith is far more than wishful thinking. (Wishful thinking is often not correct thinking.) Faith is concemed with the solid stuff of reality. (God is reality.) Years ago Catholic churches were built with marble sanctuaries. There were always three steps leading up to the high altar. Each step stood for one of the three theological virtues: the bottom one for faith, the middle for hope, and the top one for love (for it is the one that defines life in heaven). We must climb each of these steps to ascend to the top. To be people of hope, we cannot skip the bottom step. We must know and understand our faith and live it. Pay attention to all the articles of the creed, including the last part of it that concems the last things.)
What is life without hope? It is existing with despair or sadness. We can see why prayer is so precious. Maryknoll Bishop James E. Walsh survived for many years confined to prison by the Chinese communists by applying himself accordingly. "My great support during twelve years of imprisonment was the rosary. I had no religious books and could not obtain any, so it was impossible for me to celebrate Mass or recite the Breviary." He did not have the beads, so he used his fingers.
Hope is the middle road between despair and presumption. A despairing person believes that he cannot be saved and get into heaven. A presumptuous person has effectively canonized himself, long before death. He takes his salvation for granted. Hope prevents us from falling into either of these traps.
Finally, an anonymous complaint was directed at a previous bulletin column that I wrote. The complainer did not appreciate my editorializing on the Pope's position on "civil-unions". I apologize for giving the wrong impression as to respect due to the Holy Father. I do respect the Pope and ask everyone to pray for him and our bishops, as they navigate the Church through these troubled times.
Pray the rosary daily. Get your family involved.
October 11, 2020
Catholic Europe was threatened by the invading Muslim armies from Turkey,
in 1571. The European navy was outmanned by the Turks, 3 to 1. Yet the Christian forces prevailed at the Battle of Lepanto,
on Oct. 7th. It was not by force of arms, alone, that the victory was won. Pope Pius V had called for a rosary crusade
against the Turks. Christian Europe was spared, thanks to Our Lady's intercession.
At Fatima, Portugal (1917), Our Lady appeared, and called for praying the rosary daily. Few heeded her request. As a result, World War II followed. (Although Portugal was spared because enough of its people heeded Our Lady's request.)
A half a million people were wiped out, in Japan, because of the atom bombs. A church within eight blocks of the explosion was left intact, along with the four priests inside. The church was dedicated to Our Lady's Assumption. Nine days later, on August 15th, the war ended. It was the feast of the Assumption, 1945.
The miraculous pull-out of Russian troops from Austria, in 1956, came because of a rosary campaign. 700,000 Austrians pledged to say the rosary daily. The Russians (communists) pulled out, without a shot being fired, on May 13, 1955, the anniversary of Our Lady's first appearance at Fatima.
Imagine what can be done today, if our religious leaders united Catholics throughout the country to pray the rosary daily! Wars would come to an end (e.g., the war in Afghanistan that has been raging for 22 years with no end in sight). The war against the unborn (over 60 million are dead) can only be defeated by God's intervention. Prayer-warriors are needed.
September 20, 2020
is not telling us that bosses should pay people the same daily wage, no matter how many hours they have worked.
A parable, rather, speaks to us about the ways of God.
Who is the eleventh hour worker who gets the same pay as the one who came early in the morning (much to the dismay of the early bird)? The first application is that Jesus was referring to the gentiles and the Jews. The Jews were first, but they became last because most of them did not accept Jesus as the Messiah. The gentiles were originally pagans. Jesus built His Church on the foundation of the apostles, and opened it up to all peoples. (Imagine, our ancestors were pagans: worshippers of the sun, the moon, the stars, rocks, trees; practitioners of false cult. They weren't worthy to be called, but they were.) The last became first.
Another way of reading it is that as members of the Church, this parable can be applied in this way. There are people who serve God from their earliest years. (St. Therese is one example.) Others come along later. (St. Augustine, St. Mary Magdalene; I have met many such.) Others wait even to the last hour (i.e., death-bed conversions).
Many years ago I was called by a Catholic woman to have a funeral Mass for her husband who was dying. She informed me that her husband had never been baptized. I asked the woman whether the man had ever considered receiving the sacrament and becoming Catholic. In fact, he had taken instructions years prior to this, but had never taken the final step. I then went to the house and baptized the man, after testing him to see whether he was disposed to the faith and sorry for his sins. The man was.
Theoretically, the man (who died shortly thereafter) was forgiven all of his sins and all punishment due to sin (including the temporal punishment of purgatory) was remitted. Now, keep in mind that the man had not lived his life as a Catholic. I suppose, it would seem, that he got off easy.... Is this fair?
Remember, God's ways are not our ways. The Lord tends to be extravagant with His love. The New Testament constantly puts this idea before us; e.g., in the parable of the prodigal son, in the parable of the lost sheep, and the story of the good thief (who stole heaven in the eleventh hour). We must be grateful that God is the way He is. What about people who have spent their whole lives serving God, conscientiously? Anyone who lives a holy life and dies a holy death will spend his eternity with God. No one is being short-changed because of the Lord's generosity.
September 13, 2020
To be converted, fundamentally means to change one's way of looking
at things, from our viewpoint to the point of view of God. St. Paul uses the expression:
"to put on the mind of Christ". In today's lesson from St. Matthew, it is clear that Peter had not completely
converted. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah, but he was still thinking according to his old ways
of looking at the world, i.e., "God forbid that anyone (in this case, Jesus) should suffer".
Jesus' response was definitive and clear, "Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking as God does,
but as men do."
Conversion requires a new way of thinking and perhaps, new habits to support the thinking. If the person tends to drink too much, for example, the drinking will probably continue until the individual opens his heart and mind to God. Perhaps he starts reading the Bible, attends church a few times a week, visits the Blessed Sacrament, becomes involved in some type of Christian service, and does whatever he can to avoid occasions of sin (e.g., certain persons, places, or things). He must convert to seeing himself as a child of God and that it is beneath his dignity as such to live a life of self-satisfaction.
St. Augustine reminds us that if we keep all of the Ten Commandments (which we should be doing) that we are only beginning to live the Christian life of discipleship.. The Christian life is a great adventure. Are we willing to embark?
St. Paul gives us some examples of discipleship in Romans 12, 13 and 14: blessing one's persecutors, putting away ambitious thoughts, striving to live at peace with everyone, not being wise in our own estimation, never repaying injury with injury, etc. In short, putting on the mind of Christ. Living such a life is an ongoing task. If you don't believe this, pick up the New Testament (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount).
Trying to be like Jesus (even in our thoughts) is the great challenge. Anything less that that is not really Christianity (it is watered down). And, isn't it true that we are called to be saints? Jesus promises us a blessed life here (John 10.10) and glory in the next life if we take Him seriously and "put on his mind".
August 9, 2020
How many people have ever walked on water?
Two come to mind immediately:
Jesus is one. The other one is St. Peter (Mt 14:28-31).
Although, ironically, he is remembered more for sinking in the water, but he did take a few steps, it seems.
Peter is chastised for not trusting in Jesus enough, but you must give him some credit.
Peter had enough initial faith to ask Jesus to help him to walk on the water.
How many of us would do this?
I can think of several examples of people who boldly ventured forth into unknown territory, putting their trust in God. Eternal Word Television Network is the largest religious broadcasting network in the world. EWTN is a case of someone venturing forth out of a boat, so to speak, and walking on water. The woman who started it had no background in the industry. She had only a garage full of equipment (40 years ago). Besides, she was a cloistered nun, not a worker in the field of radio or television. We know her as Mother Angelica. (Watch her station / listen to local radio affiliates/website .)
The thing that holds many people back from venturing forth into unknown territory is fear. It could also be complacency. The desire to live a comfortable life can limit a person's horizons. Another thing that can get in the way is people do not always hear God calling them. We must allow ourselves to hear what God wants of us. To this end, silence, prayer, and spiritual reading are indispensable.
Sometimes, people are challenged by the Lord to go beyond what they are used to. Samuel Leonard, a former parishioner of mine, became a priest in his 70's. He was a widower and a devoted Catholic. He could have spent the rest of his life living comfortably. He heard God's call and responded with trust.
Sometimes it comes in the form of welcoming another child into one's family. Why not let God plan one's family size? Every child is an unrepeatable gift. I remember a young man who had had himself surgically sterilized. He was more of a cultural Catholic than anything. Over time, he became more involved in the Church (he was in the parish's men's group). Through exposure to the truth he was moved to have the operation reversed. His wife conceived another child (a child who would never have come into existence had her father persisted in the limitation he had placed on himself). He may very well have fathered more children since then.
Listen to God. He has plans for you.
August 2, 2020
There are many misconceptions about the Mass that we
should be careful about accepting. One is that the Mass is merely a symbolic reminder
of Jesus and His sacrifice. Jesus actually makes His sacrifice present through the hands
of a validly ordained priest. Why? Because He knew that most people would not be able to be present
on the Hill of Calvary 2,000 years ago. So, He makes Himself present in an unbloody way.
It is the same Jesus who offers Himself to atone for the sins of mankind. To this end,
it is necessary to remember that we are dealing with the Real Presence. If Jesus is actually present,
in His body and blood (not just "spiritually"), there is much more substance to the Mass than mere symbolism.
Be sure to worship of the Eucharist, during Mass and outside of Mass.
What do we do at the elevation of the host and the chalice? "My Lord and my God".
A second misconception (and you will hear it from some "fundamentalists" is that Catholics believe that Jesus is crucified at each Mass. This has never been Catholic teaching. Jesus' one perfect sacrifice is re-presented in the Mass. He is not crucified again.
On Tuesday, the Church remembers a man who, as a boy, received his First Communion under the cover of darkness from a priest disguised as an itinerant craftsman because priests who did not foreswear their allegiance to the Pope had been outlawed by the government (it was the time of the French Revolution). The boy grew up to become a priest himself. His name was John Vianney. He is now a canonized saint. The Eucharist makes the Church; the Church produces saints. Love the Eucharist, love the Mass. It is a sign of divine election, if we persevere in our love.
A woman who had attended a birthday party for George Washington, in her younger days, from a devout Episcopalian family started attending Catholic Mass. (She and her family had to travel to Italy because her husband was dying). At the elevation, someone told her that that is what Catholics call the Real Presence. She investigated, took instructions, and joined the Catholic Church. We know her today as St. Elizabeth Seton, the foundress of the Catholic school system in our country.
July 26, 2020
Many have the kingdom close at hand but do not discover it for a long time.
A case in point is Rob D. He was baptized in the Catholic faith as an infant,
He received all the sacraments, He was even married in the Church.
But he was not much of a Catholic. As a young man, he lived a rather amoral fife.
He did not go to confession regularly. The Catholic faith did not mean that much to him.
It seems that he had gone to work for the Knights of Columbus and was reintroduced
to the Catholic faith. He started praying the rosary.
One day, he was standing in the back of the church, during Mass, and something moved him
to pray that he could become part of what was going on.
Today he is a family man and something of a lay apostle for Christ
(he even helped a woman in his office to reclaim a life of chastity,
by advising her to stop using the birth control pill).
Some do not value the kingdom as much as it deserves. What is the kingdom? It has many forms.
A. Faith: Do you value your faith? How much?
(Would you defend it if put on the spot to do so?
Do you not only keep it but also try to spread it?)
B. Friendship with God? Do you consider the Lord your friend?
C. Grace: How much does being holy mean to you?
(Some will go for months in a state of serious sin before they go to confession.)
D. Vocation: If the Lord called you to do something unplanned/unexpected, would you do it?
"The kingdom in its purest form is Jesus Himself? How important is Jesus to you? Does He bring you joy just to think about Him? Do you think about Him? Do you speak with Him? Do you let Him in on life's decisions? What part does He play in your daily affairs? If you stopped believing in Him how different would your life be? (Do not say, "I would stop keeping the Ten Commandments." The Commandments were around before Jesus. Do not say, "I would stop going to Church." Of course you would, but what else?)
In the parable of the treasure in the field, the great point is the joy of the discovery that made the man willing to give up everything to make the treasure indubitably his own. To follow Christ is to begin to share in his joy. He tells us so Himself: "You will live in my love if you keep my commandments.... All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete" (Jn 15.101). St. Paul tells us that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy ("love, joy, peace, patience, ete."). Never confuse pleasure with joy. Pleasure is fleeting. Joy abides. Ultimately, this is what heaven is about: "Enter into your Master's joy."
July 19, 2020
Isaiah: "Just as from the heavens the rain and the snow come down
and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth.
It will not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it" (55.10f) .
The word of God is effective. Everyone may not receive it fruitfully, but some will.
Here are some examples:
Conversion of pagans:
A young man finally faced up to the fact that he was living a sinful life and had to do something about it. He started going to church and listening to the homilist. who was a holy man and a solid preacher of the Catholic faith. The young man was inspired to seek baptism (he was already in his 30's at the time). He became an exceptionally good Catholic. He sought ordination. We know him as St. Augustine.
Conversion of unchurched/non-Christians:
A young Jewish boy was supposed to be practicing his piano lessons. When his parents weren't watching he would use the time to read from the forbidden bookshelf, the New Testament. He learned about Jesus (the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of Jewish hopes). Eventually he was brought into the Church. He became a priest. He went on to become the Catholic Archbishop of Paris: Archbishop Lustigier.
Conversion of the lapsed/non-practicing:
A woman was a medical doctor, a practicing abortionist, and a lapsed Catholic (Dr. Beverly McMillan). Something was missing in her life. She started reading Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. She was not looking for God (so she thought). She started reciting a line that Dr. Peale reiterates in his book: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. " (At first she was apprehensive about saying this because she knew it was from the Bible.) She was also befriended by a practicing Christian (someone active in the Church). Today Dr. McMillan no longer practices abortion or gives out the birth control pill. She is a solid, pro-life Catholic.
Millions of people from all walks of life have received Jesus's teaching and put their lives in His hands, over the past 2000 years...
July 5, 2020
There are many malefactors that are working to destroy our country,
culture, and civilization. Besides the people who are looting and engaging in mob violence,
we have forces within the system that are effectively dismantling our culture and society.
One such culprit is (of all things) the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout its history,
the Supreme Court has made many decisions that are deleterious to a properly functioning society.
The famous Dred Scott case (which was eventually overturned) comes to mind.
This opened the door to the Civil War and the institution of slavery.
The Court threw prayer out of public schools 60 years ago and has done its best to further secularize our culture since then. In 1961, the Court opened the door to the wide use and accessibility of contraceptives. This has wreaked havoc on the morals of our land and has served to undermine marriage and objectify women. In 1973, the Court issued its infamous rulings Roe V. Wade and Doe V. Bolton. These rulings opened the door to the slaughter of 60 million children in the womb. Recently, the Court redefined marriage, attacking the institution as God designed it, as a union of a man and woman until death do them part. Then, the court redefined "gender" and opened the door to a new classification of people who cannot be discriminated against. There will be countless lawsuits over this, to be sure.
The Court is playing God, in its own way (a false god, to be sure). The real God would never make changes to the natural moral law or "redefine" marriage, sexuality, or personhood. Four of the justices are Catholics. Another was raised Catholic. Yet, two of these "Catholics" always seem to take the wrong side on these issues. Please pray for sanity among our leaders, especially the Catholics (who should know better).
June 7, 2020
This Sunday we celebrate the mystery of God as three Persons in One.
We call this the Holy Trinity. Even though the word "Trinity" does not occur in the Bible, the teaching
that God is one and three is clearly and consistently revealed in the New Testament.
Who revealed this to us? Jesus. He called Himself the Son of God. He spoke of God as His Father. He spoke of His equality with God: "I and the Father are one" . He spoke about sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus even died as a martyr for the Trinity. " This man is making Himself equal to God" , was the charge against Him.
Lest anyone think that the Trinity is some odd fact that has no practical meaning, we must think again. Jesus wants us to share in the life of the Trinity. What does this mean? It means, ultimately, entering into heaven. It also means living a life of grace (holiness) here. It all begins with the sacrament of Baptism. (We are baptized into the Trinity.)
Andrei Rublev painted a famous icon in which the Trinity is depicted as three spirits ("angels") seated around a table . The point is not to suggest that there are three gods or that angels make up the Godhead, but that the Trinity is a communion of Persons. God is eminently "personal". He is not merely a "higher power", prime mover or infinite intellect. He is "love". We can and should relate to Him. (Prayer facilitates this.)
Everything we do, as Catholics, is somehow connected with the Trinity. The priest calls upon the Father to send down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine so that they may become the Body and Blood of Jesus. The priest invokes the Trinity when he imparts absolution in the confessional. The one true God (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) created everything and reached out to save the world ravaged by sin. Thanks be to God.
Knowing and loving the one true God (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) is the key to living a blessed life. We all need protection from the evils of the world, the flesh, and the devil .
March 8, 2020
God the Father's only comment about Jesus is:
This is my beloved Son.... Listen to Him. "
We can't listen to Jesus very well if we live a "noisy" life.
We should not always need to have the radio or the television or other electronic devices
cluttering up minds and hearts with noise. How do we do this?
We need silence. I remember a seminarian (of all people) who was so upset that he was unable to sleep.
It turns out that he could not calm down because he never allowed himself to experience quiet.
He always had to be listening to music. His life was inundated with noise.
This would also have affected his prayer-life.
If we are to relate to Jesus, we need to pray. Prayer is intimacy with the One we love. How can we be friends with anyone if we do not spend regular periods of time paying attention to him? Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament is a privilege that we, as Catholics have. We can also have a "prayer-comer" at home. Jesus tells us to " go into your room and pray to your Father in private " (Mt. 6.6).
If we are to relate to Jesus, we need not let anything get in the way, such as our sins. As Catholics, we have the sacrament of penance ("reconciliation"). People risk damaging or severing their relationship with the Lord because they stop going to confession. Imagine what would happen between a husband and a wife, if one party doesn't care about reconciling with the other, when it is necessary to do so, and goes on his merry way pretending that everything is fine. What kind of a relationship would this be?
Finally, don't forget the Church. We need each other for support in maintaining a relationship with Jesus. Sunday Mass must be a priority. If you can be active in the parish, outside of Sunday Mass, this is encouraged. We need all the help we can get in a world that is thoroughly secularized and, if we're not careful, will convert us to its ways of thinking and acting. As confirmed, (or soon to be confirmed) Catholic people, aren't we supposed to be converting the world to Jesus?
March 1, 2020
A temptation is a test. It is not a sin. A temptation is a suggestion to sin.
As long as one takes no pleasure in it, he will not consent to it. It is consent that makes for sin.
Nevertheless, we must take temptations seriously, lest we fall into sin.
Make the sign of the cross. It strengthens us to face temptations and difficulties. Do penance: pray, fast, read the Scripture, make use of the sacraments (be honest with your confessor; be honest about your feelings, tendencies and affections.) When the devil wants to seduce a soul he urges it to keep silent, whether from pride or shame.
Avoid occasions of sin. If you know that certain persons, places, things are sources of temptation, stay away from them as much as you are able. People bring much on themselves sometimes. If friends are occasions of sin, you have the wrong friends. St. Paul reminds us, "Bad company corrupts morals." Maybe it's the internet or cable television, which (for some) are occasions of sin. Maybe it's alcohol.
Take small temptations seriously (otherwise, how can we face big ones?). It may be easy enough to refrain from murder, but it can be extremely difficult to restrain all the angry feelings for which occasions are offered at every moment. It may be easier to refrain from adultery than to guard one's glance or speaking or listening to flattering words It is easy enough not to steal our neighbor's property, but it may be difficult not to covet or desire it. It is easy enough not to bear false witness in court, but can be difficult not to lie in conversations, The supreme antidote against vice of every kind is the love of God. Worship Him, adore Him.
February 23, 2020
This Wednesday begins the penitential season of Lent.
Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday, are days of abstinence from meat
(for everyone 14 years of age and older).
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of fasting (for everyone ages 18-59).
Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but people are encouraged to come to Mass on that day.
What about the other days of Lent? Everyone is encouraged to practice various forms of penance
(e.g., different types of fasting), prayer, and the giving of alms (i.e., charity).
The bishops of the U.S., in their 1966 document, state:
"we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting.
In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons,
we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing
of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor
to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures
as well as the traditional Lenten devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary),
and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of 'mortification'."
The parish will be providing opportunities for spiritual studies. These include Bible study on Monday nights, a Divine Mercy Retreat video series on Mondays and Thursdays, and a 5-week video series on the transforming power of confession ("Forgiven") on Wednesdays. There are also various devotional activities: Eucharistic exposition until 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, communal rosary before Masses, Stations of the Cross on Fridays after weekday morning Masses and at 7:00 p.m.. And, of course, we have daily Masses, and confessions. As usual, the church will be opened for many hours during each day. Come and visit the Blessed Sacrament. Pray the rosary or the Divine Mercy chaplet. Take a pamphlet from the literature rack for spiritual reading...
The purpose of Lent is to prepare ourselves to renew our baptismal promises on Easter: to reject sin and Satan; to profess and live the Catholic faith, so as to live the mystery of resurrection, now and in the life to come.
February 16, 2020
We live in a culture that tends to reject laws,
rules, and anything seen as restrictions on human behavior.
This distrust of laws also extends to the laws of God. I remember a woman who left her parish
because she did not like what the priest had presented in his homily one weekend.
"We didn't need to hear this," she said. What had the priest been talking about? His subject was the Ten Commandments . He presented each commandment and asked the people to examine themselves, accordingly. (Isn't this what a conscientious Catholic does to prepare for confession ?) It is amazing the strange ideas that some people get. Another woman was upset that a priest would talk about something she believed had been thrown out by the Second Vatican Council. Not even Jesus Himself threw out the commandments: I have come not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it", He said.
The commandments of God must be taken seriously if we are to even begin to be Christian disciples (note, I said, "begin"). The commandments free people from the slavery of sin. I can prove that sin can enslave people. Have you ever known someone with a vice?...someone who is compelled to engage in seriously immoral behavior on a regular basis? This person is a slave.
The commandments, then, do not infringe upon our freedoms. They actually help us to be free: free to serve God and others; free to be disciples. A person who is wallowing in the mire of sin is not free to do these things. The commandments, for the "free person" are like guard rails for the good driver. The good driver is free from the guard rails in that he knows how to stay on the road, but, the rails are there just in case. We need to know what is right and what is wrong: Actions lead to habits. Habits form character. Good habits form good character. Bad habits form bad character.
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