December 26, 2021
Dec. 26th is the feast of the Holy Family.
It is indeed noteworthy that the Son of God was brought into the world as a member of the human race,
in the context of a family. The Lord could simply have appeared in the world, in human form,
already developed, as a full-grown man, but this was not to be. God wanted to enter as deeply as possible
into the human condition. He allowed Himself to be conceived in the womb, gestated, born,
and raised from childhood into adulthood. It is edifying that Jesus spent most of His earthly life (about 30 years)
at home with Mary and Joseph. His public ministry, which was only two or three years in length, followed.
We could say, therefore, that Jesus' work of redeeming the world actually began with His conception and extended through
all phases of His life as a man.
The moral of the story seems to this: as the family goes, so does the world. Jesus had the benefit of a mother and foster-father who raised and educated Him. It is clear that when He was 12 years old and found in the Temple that He was quite well-versed in His religion. Some parents today seem to think that religion is not as important as other matters in life (even sports). A woman once told me that she took her daughter out of religion classes because the child (about eight years old) made this decision. Why would a conscientious parent allow a small child to make a major decision of this type? Religion is not merely a subject to be learned in class; it is a way of life. One binds himself to God and lives accordingly.
In Jesus's case, His family helped immensely with His understanding of who He was in relation to God and His mission (i.e., Mary and Joseph provided Jesus with His religious education). Jesus learned His lessons well. Jesus took a term of endearment from family life ("father") and started using it of God (the Jews did not normally refer to God as Father). This was because He knew that His mother was a virgin and that He had no biological father. Therefore, Jesus recognized that He was Son of God in a unique way. Throughout His life and ministry, He was completely dedicated to His Father in heaven. He never wavered, even in times of extreme crisis (e.g., in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross). He was obedient unto death. Jesus' dedication to His Father was vindicated in the Resurrection. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
December 12, 2021
Many people lament (rightly) the disappearance of Christian trappings that, at one time, were inextricably connected
with the celebration of Christmas. Christmas, for many, has become more of a winter holiday.
I remember reading about a man who was surprised to learn that Christmas had anything to do with our religion at all.
The word "holiday" (which, ironically, comes from "holy day") does not do justice to the occasion, because there are many holidays.
Christmas, on the other hand, means exactly what it says, "Christ's Mass". The term goes back to the days when England was Catholic.
What is it about our culture that has caused the eclipse of Christmas? The momentum has been building for a long time. Charles Dickens's classic, A Christmas Carol, is only one of many "Christmas stories" that never brings up anything explicit about Jesus's birth. Christmas, for him, was a humanitarian observance. No one gave more of an impetus for works of mercy than did Jesus, but isn't that the point? Shouldn't we recognize the origin of so much good that takes place in the world, in the name of charity? The origin is found in the manger in Bethlehem. In recent times, since Dickens, Christmas as a celebration of humanitarianism has given way to Christmas as a marketer's paradise. Even Dickens would have recoiled at such a thing (although, by leaving Jesus out of Christmas, even in the name of humanitarianism, he helped to set the stage for it).
How should we respond to the demise of Christmas? First, we need to keep Advent holy. Adding an Advent wreath to a home's decor, and lighting a candle, with an accompanying prayer, can help to keep the focus on the coming of the Christ-Child. Each Sunday we add an additional candle for lighting. When the fourth candle is lit, we recognize that Christmas (Christ) is coming soon. A home ritual of this type has positive influence especially on children. Advent is a season of spiritual preparation. Take time to pray each day. Rely on the Blessed Mother's influence (she awaited Jesus for nine months). A daily rosary is fitting. And, don't forget to make a good confession. Jesus came, not to give us a "holiday", but to save us from our sins."
Happy and holy Advent.....
Nov 28, 2021
The world has a way of cheapening our religion.
For example, what ever happened to Advent? Weeks before the first candle
of the Advent wreath is illuminated, display windows, restaurants, television
and print advertisements (and even some homes) begin displaying Christmas decorations.
Further, the concern about the "disappearance" of Advent pales in comparison to what
our society has done to Christmas. Many seasonal displays and programs give the impression
that we are merely celebrating a winter holiday, rather than the birth of Jesus.
It seems, in short, that the very things Jesus warned about (using the example of how things
were in Noah's time) are back with a vengeance. What can we do about a world that has lost sight
of the Lord, and prefers that people live with this false sense of security, as if this world
were to be our permanent home for all eternity?
Let's start with our home. Even in a family whose celebrations have evolved to the point where little of the Christ Child matters any more, the gentle suggestion to add an Advent wreath to the home's décor for the preceding weeks can deliver a subtle invitation to prepare inwardly.
When the subject of Christmas parties (during the season of Advent) comes up among the neighbors, it's true that one can take a hard line and say, "it's too early, and we are only in the season of Advent". A more fruitful response might be, "thanks for the invitation. I love Christmas gatherings! In our home we add to the joy by calling in friends for quieter and smaller gatherings that begin with some Advent prayers and lighting of the Advent wreath in the days before the actual arrival of Christmas. Do you know about this custom?"
The introduction (and sometimes re-introduction) of very subtle activities can begin to draw family, friends, and neighbors to Christ at Christmas, when the culture exercises its influence to distract attention away from Him.
Why not return to the habit of sending only religious Christmas cards? A secular card is not going to impress people. It will not inspire them to ask questions or think about the important things, the way that a conspicuously beautiful Madonna and Child will do. Remember, a picture paints a thousand words….
Nov 21, 2021
Thanksgiving is about as close to a religious holiday, without actually being one. It has become a secular observance, although this is not the way it started. The original pilgrims were religious people, although quite anti-Catholic. They fled England and landed in the New World, happy to have survived the voyage (although some of them did not) and the first winter. The idea was to have a special dinner to give thanks to God. As Catholics, we are ideally suited for the task of rendering thanks to God because this is what happens in every Eucharist (“Eucharist” means “to give thanks”). The advantage we have is that Jesus, our High Priest, is the main Actor of each Mass. He gives thanks to the Father on our behalf. We join with Him in participating in the Mass. We thank the Lord for many things: life, salvation, hope, forgiveness, etc. Jesus more than makes up for our inadequacies in giving thanks to the Father.
Nov 21, 2021
This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church's year.
It is fittingly Christ the King Sunday. The Creed tells us that Christ will come again
to judge the living and the dead, and of His kingdom there will be no end.
This should put to rest any misguided assumptions that our religion has run its course and that something new is coming.
Nothing will ever overtake Jesus. He cannot be replaced or marginalized.
Many have tried to do it (e.g., we have the so-called New Age Movement).
Others prefer to marginalize Jesus by putting worldly kingdoms first.
For example, some might think that one's country is the most important thing.
Although patriotism is a virtue, countries come and go.
Jesus has a kingship that does not go out of existence because it is not a political or worldly kingdom.
It is a kingdom connected with faith, hope and love.
Have we given Jesus dominion over our lives?
Many people will say that they have. (Many certainly have. The saints, of course, are the best examples.)
However, giving Jesus dominion over our lives is not something that anyone on earth has perfected.
It requires daily effort, and, of course, much grace.
Here are some suggested areas for Jesus' dominion (this is far from an exhaustive listing):
♥ one's family-life
♥ one's interior-life
♥ one's life as a motorist
You see, there is much that we need to turn over to the Lord, on a regular basis. It is worth it. Jesus is a king of hearts. If Jesus rules the hearts of His people, the Church becomes what it should be, and the world will be a better place.
Nov 14, 2021
There are few things more intriguing than the teaching that the world, as we know it, is ending. The Bible speaks about this, often by using terrifying images. The Book of Daniel says that it will be a time “unsurpassed in distress”. Jesus teaches about the end of the world, in connection with the pending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (which happened 40 years after Jesus died). The destruction of the Holy City and its Temple, at the time, was certainly the end of the world for the people living there. What about the rest of the world? Will the wider world end? The answer is “yes”. When Jesus was asked when it would happen, He said, “Only the Father knows”. When it is time, the world, as we know it, will end, and Jesus will complete His kingdom and judge the living and the dead.
What does this teaching mean for us today? It means that we must not be worldly people. Our view of life must be formed by our faith in Christ, not by the fads and fashions of the world. As someone once said, he who marries the spirit of the world is destined to be widowed. Many people value the importance of being “relevant” to the world and its ways of thinking and acting. A Christian is not supposed to be a child of the world. We should, rather, seek to convert the world. The world needs Christ. Left to itself, the world does not understand this. This is why Jesus was crucified. The people who put Him to death had worldly agendas. They did not want a Messiah who would save them from the ravages of sin and death. They wanted a great military leader or a politician. Jesus would have none of it. He loved the world too much, to be worldly or accommodating to its agendas.
That the world will end, and that Jesus will come again means that evil will not have the last word. We should be grateful for this. Evil is rampant in our world, precisely because many people have rejected or do not know the true God. Even if we have the true faith, we must not take it for granted. We are all weakened by the effects of original sin. We need the Savior. The world is not our savior. It is our temporary home. It is not our permanent home. We were made for God. Only He can make us completely happy. In the meantime, we must conduct ourselves as His children, and not allow ourselves to be seduced by the world, the flesh, or the devil. The victory is ours, if we persevere in our faith, until the end.
October 31, 2021
Monday (11/1) is the celebration of All Saints (formerly, “All Hallows”).
It is not a holy day of obligation this year. The commemoration brings to our attention the holy men and women
of every day and age who have entered heaven and await only the resurrection of their bodies when Jesus comes again
at the end of human history.
Sometimes critics accuse Catholicism of being too “saint-oriented”, rather than putting the focus on God Himself. People who make this claim do not see the faith with a proper perspective. Isn’t God glorified in His saints? It is His grace that makes people holy. The greatest example of this is, of course, the Immaculate Conception herself (see Luke 1.46), whom we rightly call Queen of the Saints. Besides, no one would criticize someone for pointing out the beautiful flowers in a garden. The saints are the flowers in the garden of God.
The celebration of All Saints also calls to mind our vocation to holiness. We are called to be holy and, ultimately, to become citizens of heaven. Because our society has become so secularized, it is all the more important for the Church to hold before us Jesus’ call that we be made perfect (Mt. 5.48). Isn’t this the goal of living the life of faith? Indeed. Finally, the following day (Nov. 2nd) is the commemoration of All Souls. We remember many who have departed from this life and who may need purification after death. How would someone need purification? Impurities would include character faults, “rough edges”, undeveloped virtues, etc. There is a story about a deceased Capuchin Friar who appeared to Padre Pio. He told Padre Pio that he was in purgatory because when he served as the community’s sacristan, he was lazy. This man died a holy death but needed to be purified of his laziness.
The opportunity to be made perfect, after death, for those who have otherwise died in a state of friendship with God, is a function of Our Lord’s mercy. It is something to be grateful for. Most people of faith, probably need to go to this “finishing school” before entering heaven. We can assist our beloved departed who are being purified after death, by our prayers and Masses. When St. Monica was asked by her sons, as she was dying, about where they should bury her, she said, “Never mind where you bury this poor body of mine. Remember me at the altar.” All Souls’ Day is not a holy day of obligation. There is a full indulgence attached to visiting a cemetery, on any day from Nov. 1st through Nov. 8th and offering prayers for the beloved departed.
(See the list of departed loved ones in the back of this bulletin.)
October 17th, 24th 2021
October 10, 2021
1. Those who faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell. It will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4. The recitation of the Rosary will cause virtue and good works to ﬂourish. It will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God. It will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
6. Those who recite my Rosary devoutly, applying themselves to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. In His justice, God will not chastise them; nor shall they perish by an unprovided death, i.e., be unprepared for heaven. Sinners shall convert. The just shall persevere in grace and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Those who have a true devotion to the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who faithfully recite the Rosary shall have, during their life and at their death, the light of God and the plenitude of His graces. At the moment of death, they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.
11. By the recitation of the Rosary you shall obtain all that you ask of me.
12. Those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of their death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my beloved children and the brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion for my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
For more information see www.dominicanfriars.org
September 26, 2021
One of the things our Lord did repeatedly, was to expel demons.
Sometimes He did it in rather dramatic fashion.
I call to mind, for instance, the time when Jesus sent the demons that had possessed a man into a herd of swine.
The swine, once possessed of the spirits, plunged off a cliff to their death.
Jesus' power over evil spirits was so obvious that even His enemies could not deny it.
Instead, they chose to attack Him on the grounds that, yes,
He had power over evil spirits, but that was only because He was an agent of the devil himself.
Needless to say, this charge makes no logical sense.
Why would Satan attack his own minions?
It should not be difficult to imagine that Jesus wields power over evil spirits.
Jesus gave the Twelve authority to deliver people from evil spirits, along with the power to heal and absolve people from their sins. The Church maintains this authority even today. Many people do not realize it, but the last rite to be revised by the Second Vatican Council, was the official Rite of Exorcism. This rite is to be used only by priests who are deputed to do so, by their bishops. Although there are documented cases of possession and infestation, these phenomena are rare. Evil spirits prefer to work at the level of temptation. This gives them concealment.
Temptations, however, come not only from evil spirits, but also, they are often from two other sources: the world (other people, certain fads and fashions of the day, etc.), and the flesh (any intrinsic weakness of fallen human nature). We are urged to pray not only to be delivered from evil (evil spirits, and all the mischief they can cause), but that we not be led into temptation. This means asking the Lord to prevent us from being tempted, but, if not, to help us pass the test that is posed by the temptation.
We should be able to understand why Jesus included the above petitions in the prayer that He taught His disciples. Always pray it with devotion and understanding. Let it penetrate the heart. Wanting what Jesus wants for us is the key to praying the Lord's Prayer with devotion. St. Ignatius suggested that we take time to pray the prayer that Jesus taught. There are seven petitions in the prayer. Occasionally, take ten or fifteen minutes to pray the prayer once, stopping at each petition and meditating on it. St. Paul (see Ephesians 6) has likened the Christian life to a life of spiritual warfare. Prayer is a key to victory over the forces of darkness.
September 19, 2021
Jesus' answer is that greatness is connected with humbly serving others.
Humility is a virtue in short supply, it seems. The opposite vice is pride.
Taking a pride in one's work is not the sin of pride. Rather, the sin of pride is a lack of humility.
It is important to be able to identify attitudes that betray a lack of humility in ourselves.
There are many examples.
Note the following:
Feel free to use this list as an examination of conscience, on the virtue of humility.
September 12, 2021
The very first poll ever taken in the history of the Church had only one question. The "pollster" was Jesus. The question was: "Who do you say that I am?" The people on the street had all kinds of ideas about Jesus. Some thought he was John the Baptist. Now, John was Jesus’ cousin. They were about the same age and probably had a physical resemblance. The only thing is that (by this time) John was dead. He had been beheaded by King Herod. So (apparently) some people thought that Jesus was John the Baptist who had returned from the dead. The same is true with Elijah. But Elijah had lived hundreds of years before Jesus. Many people believed that he would return again. Was Jesus actually Elijah? A moral that we can learn from this is that popular opinion is not necessarily a good indicator of truth, especially when it comes to religious matters.
Jesus was unimpressed by the majority’s opinion, and so He then directed His question to the apostles. No one said anything, until Peter said, "You are the Christ." Peter did not understand the ramifications of what He said, but He did have the right answer. St. Matthew (who also writes about this incident) tells us that because of Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus appointed him the prince (head) of the apostles (we would say, the first pope).
Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the "Christ"? (This would certainly be a minimum for a Christian.) Most people who have had any instructions in their faith would say, "yes…. I do believe these things." Every Sunday and holy day we join with the congregation and profess our faith that Jesus is the "Only Begotten Son of God, consubstantial with the Father . For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven ." Jesus is from God. He is God. He is the only Savior of the world. He is the only path to heaven.
Over the years, I have asked people the question: "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" There are some people who are stumped (perhaps they are afraid of giving the wrong answer). I usually tell them that I am not necessarily looking for a "textbook" answer. I am more interested in provoking a certain amount of thought, as in, "who is Jesus in your life?" To believe in Jesus is important enough (it’s essential), but what does it mean? How does it affect day-to-day life? Remember, St. James tells us that faith without works is dead!
Belief in Jesus as Savior of the world and God incarnate should affect the way we look at the world, understand life, and how we live. It should allow us to see the "bigger picture"; that we are called to be holy, in this world, and, ultimately, to live in heaven forever. Salvation is a gift, but people can squander it. Jesus warned people, many times, about the danger of losing their souls and ending up in hell. Jesus loves everyone dearly but does not force anyone into His Father’s house. Jesus is the greatest gift. He is the bridge from heaven to earth from earth to heaven. Listen to Him, follow Him, and persevere until the end.
September 5, 2021
Of all of the miracles Jesus performed
(38 are given in detail, but there were many others), the one from this Sunday's gospel
is particularly important in that Jesus’ actions are sacramentally included in the Rite of Baptism for Infants.
As Jesus touched the deaf and dumb man’s ears and mouth, the priest (or deacon) mimics this gesture.
"The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive His word and
your mouth to proclaim the faith." In healing the man, Jesus used the Aramaic word
"ephphetha", which means "be opened".
Someone might suggest that most people are not deaf, therefore, why tell them to be "opened"? Because it is necessary to "hear", or take in, the word of God. St. Paul tells us that faith comes through hearing. And how can one hear unless someone is sent to preach? For Catholics, the Mass offers many opportunities for hearing the word of God. If people listen and enter into what is taking place, the Mass has the capacity to transform people. I can think of the young libertine (who fathered a child out of wedlock and cohabited with a woman for 14 years) whose life was changed because he started going to Mass and listening to the bishop. The bishop was St. Ambrose. The young man was Augustine, who later became a canonized saint.
Worldly people are at quite a disadvantage in that in isolating themselves from the word of God, they receive their "directions" or formation from the secular culture, which is often at odds with the gospel of Christ: television, peers, current fashions of thought, Hollywood, et al. We live in an extremely secularized culture that does not really offer anyone hope beyond the brief lifetime in this world. Only Jesus addresses man at the deepest existential level: mortality, sin/forgiveness, why we are here? What good can come from suffering? How to get to heaven and avoid hell . etc.
What about proclaiming the faith? The most essential aspect of proclamation is to live the faith. St. Francis purportedly said to his friars: "Always preach. If necessary, use words". Some might object that St. Francis was a religious and a cleric of the Catholic Church. He was not a "lay person". Never use such things as an excuse. Lay witness to the faith is vital. A priest or other cleric has a certain influence with some people. A committed Catholic lay person can reach many others who have never been exposed to the word of God or have never received it and allowed it to inform them and transform them.
What form does witness take at home? This might be the greatest challenge: how one lives in private.
See 1 Cor 13 on the characteristics of love. Look at the Sermon on the Mount: " Blessed are the peacemakers". If you make a mistake or sin against someone at home in word or action, be quick to reconcile with him. Go to Mass every Sunday and holy day (even when you might be the only one in the household to do so. The other people need the example).
What about proclamation itself? Sometimes people need to hear someone say something about his religious convictions, even in a secular setting. We cannot assume that everyone has the same understanding of Jesus, the Church, the resurrection, as we do. Some people (even through no fault of their own) need someone to guide them (without being condescending). Respect them enough to tell the truth when the opportunity arises. (Personal testimony is a good method to use.) There are also parish opportunities for verbal proclamation. There is room for committed Catholic lay people to assist in various ministries in the parish to be witnesses: pre-marriage preparation, pre-baptism, the Renewal, RCIA, PSR, etc. I am grateful for all who have come forward and lent their assistance accordingly.
August 29, 2021
Jesus has something for everyone.
He has a message for those who are religiously observant. For the first century Jews, these were the people
who scrupulously followed all the traditions connected with meals.
Every meal had a religious significance, the prayers, the ablutions, and even the diet.
For us, ritual and religious observance are connected with official worship and devotional life (the Mass, the sacraments, the use of sacramentals, etc.) not so much with meals (although I would hope that everyone begins each meal with grace and ends it with the prayer of thanksgiving ).
"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me ." [Matthew 15:8-9] This line should always be in the back of one's mind, lest we succumb to the same fault. What do I mean? I mean, the "observant" Catholic (he goes to Mass every Sunday) who neglects to pay much attention to the commandments of God; whether we consider them ten or the two great commandments of love which summarize them.
Now, of course, we are all sinners. But we must not let that be an excuse for complacency. This is why the Church urges us to utilize the sacrament of penance regularly. The Mass even begins with a reminder: "Let us call to mind our sins." A time-tested practice is the daily examination conscience. We have special seasons (e.g., Lent) and days of penance (Fridays), and places of pilgrimage, to help us come to terms with our need for repentance. And, if we listen carefully, the scripture frequently conveys this message.
Most of us have probably heard the excuse that some have used as to why they do not practice their faith. "I do not want to be a hypocrite." A hypocrite is an actor. Being a sinner is not being a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone concerned with looking good on the outside (as were the Pharisees), without any interior conversion. St. James puts it this way: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves."
Jesus gives the ultimate interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Not only has He not softened them or abrogated them altogether, but He also insists that we adhere to the spirit of each commandment. "You have heard it said, thou shalt not kill . What I say to you is any man who is abusive (or angry) with his brother, risks the fires of Gehenna." "You have heard it said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' What I say to you is 'any man who looks lustfully at a woman '" (Etc.)
Jesus reminds us that we must keep custody of the heart in the battle against sin. "Wicked designs come from the deep recesses of the heart ." Note, for example, that the sixth and seventh commandments have companions in the ninth and tenth. Lust starts within. So does covetousness. What people entertain in their minds has important ramifications (good or bad). In Philippians, for instance, Paul says, "Your thoughts should be wholly directed at all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise" (4.8). (Which would seem to eliminate many television programs and other forms of popular "entertainment".) Jesus said (in another place), "the mouth speaks from the abundance of the heart." Let what is in your heart be good. When confessing one's sins to a priest, it is a good idea to get to the root of the sin. What is in the heart that needs to be changed? Jesus can help. He came to save us by making us holy. Holiness starts from the inside out.
August 22, 2021
The second reading for today is from
wherein St. Paul speaks about the union of husband and wife,
in the context of the great mystery of Jesus and His love for His Bride:
- i.e. that Christian marriage is a sacrament. God designed marriage and, in Christ, He elevated it.
It is noteworthy that Jesus' first miracle was at a wedding feast.
Today marriage is something of a shambles. And here's why: many people have drifted away from God:
our culture has become thoroughly secularized. Things have gotten so bad, that many people do not
even know what marriage is. For example, I received a note from a couple (some time ago).
They decided to leave the parish because I have not supported same-sex "marriage".
Why would I support such a thing? It is an aberration. It is not marriage, at all. It's a blatant attack
on real marriage.
Our legal system is no friend of marriage. One such example is "no fault divorce". As a result, we have a nearly 50% divorce rate in this country. Laurence Stone, a professor of family history at Princeton, says that such a thing is unprecedented in recorded history. (There are 1,000 annulments each week, processed through U.S. marriage tribunals.) The problem is that it gives people an easy out, for any reason (e.g., "I am tired of being married to so and so".) I remember a man who wanted to save his marriage. His wife did not want to be married any more. There were six children). Obviously, a person cannot live with an abuser or someone who is a threat to life or limb of the spouse/children. This is common sense. (Sometimes a separation is necessary.)
Another factor that has hurt marriage is the legalization and wide availability of artificial contraception. The Supreme Court opened the door to this in the 1960's. Once sexuality is separated from procreation, what is the point of marriage? Marriage then turns into an institution for the couple's self-indulgence. Once my spouse is no longer making me "happy", I become disillusioned with the marriage, and seek a way out, or find someone who will make me "happy".
Married couples of childbearing capacity should be open to and generous about having children. (Don't believe the anti-natal propaganda: our population is now imploding. There are now more people over sixty than there are under fourteen, in the industrialized "first world", for the first time in history.) If there is a legitimate reason to postpone a pregnancy, NFP is the answer, not contraception. The generosity of the spouses in welcoming children is important for their relationship to grow. Remember, fertility is a gift from God (it is not a disease). The first thing He ever said, as a commandment to His new human creatures: "Go forth and multiply..."
What to do? Work at your marriage. Do not take it for granted. And don't settle for a mediocre one, either. Jesus said, "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst." One cannot exaggerate the importance of prayer (couples can pray together), participation in the Eucharist and regular reception of the sacrament of penance. The weakest point in any marriage is that the people involved are sinners who stand in need of Jesus' saving work. He is the Savior of marriage.
What about those who are having marital troubles? Turn your marriage over to God. Get help. Visit the Blessed Sacrament. Read the Scriptures together. Receive counseling. Call a priest. He can be a good first point of contact to assist couples. Retrouvaille is a successful marriage recovery program.
August 15, 2021
It should not be difficult to appreciate that Mary has gone to heaven.
Of anyone who has ever lived (besides Jesus Himself), she lived the holiest life.
The Church has always believed that she never committed even one venial sin. She had a very solid faith.
She excelled in every virtue. Her earthly life was obscure and difficult and
filled with temptations. For a time, she faced the possibility of being a "single mother"
(which was even more difficult in that place and time). St. Joseph did not divorce her because he discerned
that it was God's plan that he stay with Mary as her husband, in a "white marriage"
(one that would never be consummated). Our Lady's troubles were not over, though.
There was no fitting place for her to give birth to her Son.
Once Jesus was born, the government of King Herod wanted to kill Him.
For a time, the Holy Family was displaced from their homeland.
When they finally settled down, Mary and Joseph and Jesus were quite poor.
At some point, Mary was widowed and then experienced the terrible death of her Son.
But never once did she turn away from the Lord in the slightest way.
(How many women would have simply given up altogether?)
Mary was completely dedicated to serving God. She let nothing get in the way.
Her interior life was strong. Her trust in God never wavered.
What about her bodily assumption? (This is a more challenging teaching.) This should not confound anyone. Doesn't God have power over the material world? After all, He made it. He can interact with it in any way He sees fit: multiplying loaves and fishes, calming storms, providing that His mother retain her virginity, etc. God's power is what raises people from the dead. And don't we believe in the resurrection of the body?
No other saint is in heaven with his whole human nature intact (body and soul). I have seen incorruptible bodies of many saints, but they have to wait until the general resurrection at the end of the world before their bodies join their souls in heaven. Mary did not have to wait. Why not?
She was immaculately conceived and therefore preserved from the corruption of death. We are not given such privileges. Why? Mary has a unique vocation. The human race fell from grace in the persons of Adam and Eve. Mankind was restored by the New Adam (Jesus) and the New Eve (Mary). The two are the new models for men and women everywhere. They are the prototypes of redeemed humanity. We need to aspire to the standards set by Jesus and Mary.
It was a fitting act of God to recognize her who was so closely associated with the work of His Son. Besides, we can only imagine how much Jesus loves His mother. To be a Christian means to be like Jesus and to love what He loves, starting with His Father and His mother. She is our mother in the order of grace. And Jesus provided for this Himself: "Behold your mother." Devotion to her is perfectly consistent with what Jesus Himself has provided.
August 8, 2021
A hundred years ago or so, even in Europe, many people experienced hunger as a regular fact of life. St. Bernadette (the seer at Lourdes) came from a family that was so poor that her little brother used to eat the wax that dripped from the candles. St. John Vianney, who lived in postrevolutionary France, is often cited as heroic because (among other things) he had the most rudimentary diet. He ate moldy potatoes. Not to take anything away from his spirit of penance, but it was not uncommon for the peasants of France, at that time, to eat such things. They ate what they could get. A moral here is, never take for granted the abundance that we have. Whenever we ask our Father to give us this day our daily bread, we are asking Him (among other things) for material sustenance, without which we could not live. He is the one who provides such things. Having said this, Jesus warns us about laboring for the food that perishes. This is not to suggest that we do not need to work. (St. Paul said, "He who does not work should not eat. "[2 Thes 3:10]); nor is it to suggest that we do not need to eat. The human body requires food. In fact, it would be a violation of the 5th commandment for a person to starve himself voluntarily. (Starvation is a terrible way to die.) A good example involves the famous entertainer and comedian, Bob Hope. Why did he live 100 years? He lived a long time because the Lord permitted it, and Mr. Hope took very good care of himself (as many entertainers will do). Notwithstanding his regimen of exercise and diet, his life in this world eventually came to an end. Health is a blessing (with which we should cooperate), but even people in the best of health eventually die. Recognizing this, Jesus said that we need more than the food that perishes. We need the food that only He can give us. We need Him: His truth, His mystery, His gifts. It is possible for someone to be well fed, but spiritually malnourished or even starving. Only Jesus can fill the human soul with what it needs. As He Himself said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Bob Hope was blessed with a wife who understood his need for something more than what the fruits of his career could provide. Delores Hope, a Catholic, prayed for her husband regularly. After retiring from show business, Bob became Catholic himself. He was baptized, received into the Church, made his first penance and First Communion. He died with a priest at his bedside. Being "successful" and well-fed may be a blessing, but it is not everything. We need Jesus, the Bread of Life, the food that never perishes....[John 6:35]
August 8, 2021
Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." What does He mean by this? Without food, people perish.
Without Jesus, people will be spiritually starved/malnourished. What is it about Jesus that feeds us?
His teachings, His grace, His gifts, His Person, His presence. Anyone who comes to Jesus by prayer or making an act of faith, for example,
is opening himself up to receiving many things from Him: enlightenment, inspiration, love, forgiveness, conversion, etc.
And finally (but not least), Jesus feeds us with the Eucharist: "The bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
How can we understand what Jesus meant when He said this? On one level, it actually sounds terrible, I mean the idea of eating flesh. In fact, in the early days of the Church, the pagans thought that our religion had something to do with cannibalism. Apparently, in order not to give prospective converts the wrong idea, they were dismissed early (before the priest said the words of consecration), until they were properly instructed. We do eat His flesh and drink His blood, but it is in a sacramental form: a form conducive to eating and drinking. The appearances of bread and wine do not actually change after the consecration, but the underlying substance of these elements do change into Jesus (His body, blood, soul, and divinity). Don't let the our culture has become thoroughly secularized. Things have gotten so bad, that many people do not even know what marriage is. For example, I received a note from a couple (some time ago). appearances fool you.
What can we do to help ourselves grasp this mystery of faith? We must put our faith into action (or it will weaken). How so? Anyone who prays before the Blessed Sacrament is already exercising faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord. Such a person, likely, is not going to lose his faith in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. Always prepare properly to receive Communion (fast for one hour and confession, if necessary). And always receive properly and reverently. Exercise proper etiquette before the Eucharistic presence (no loud talking or carrying on).
Be educated: too many "Catholics" are uninformed (per certain polls). Listen to Jesus's words in John 6, where He teaches about giving His body and blood to drink. For those (certain non-Catholic Christians) who like to think that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, Jesus lost disciples because of His teaching. They found His words too hard to take. He never corrected what He said. In fact, whenever He was misinterpreted in the Gospel of John Jesus always clarified His remarks. Be aware of some of the Eucharistic miracles that have taken place. (Check the Internet.) See the lives of various saints. One could make a good case for the claim that devotion to the Eucharist is a sign that one is predisposing himself to heaven.
Finally, how could ordinary bread give anyone eternal life? It cannot! Only Our Lord can do that. "I am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread He shall live forever." Think about it.
August 1, 2021
A hundred years ago or so, even in Europe, many people exp The Crucifixion:
erienced hunger as a regular fact of life. St. Bernadette (the seer at Lourdes) came from a family that was so poor that her little brother used to eat the wax that dripped from the candles. St. John Vianney, who lived in post-revolutionary France, is often cited as heroic because (among other things) he had the most rudimentary diet. He ate moldy potatoes. Not to take anything away from his spirit of penance, but it was not uncommon for the peasants of France, at that time, to eat such things. They ate what they could get. A moral here is, never take for granted the abundance that we have.
Whenever we ask our Father to give us this day our daily bread, we are asking Him (among other things) for material sustenance, without which we could not live. He is the one who provides such things. Having said this, Jesus warns us about laboring for the food that perishes. This is not to suggest that we do not need to work. (St. Paul said, "He who does not work should not eat."); nor is it to suggest that we do not need to eat. The human body requires food. In fact, it would be a violation of the 5" commandment for a person to starve himself voluntarily. (Starvation is a terrible way to die.)
A good example involves the famous entertainer and comedian, Bob Hope. Why did he live 100 years? He lived a long time because the Lord permitted it, and Mr. Hope took very good care of himself (as many entertainers will do). Notwithstanding his regimen of exercise and diet, his life in this world eventually came to an end. Health is a blessing (with which we should cooperate), but even people in the best of health eventually die.
Recognizing this, Jesus said that we need more than the food that perishes. We need the food that only He can give us. We need Him: His truth, His mystery, His gifts. It is possible for someone to be well fed, but spiritually malnourished or even starving. Only Jesus can fill the human soul with what it needs. As He Himself said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Bob Hope was blessed with a wife who understood his need for something more than what the fruits of his career could provide. Delores Hope, a Catholic, prayed for her husband regularly. After retiring from show business, Bob became Catholic himself. He was baptized, received into the Church, made his first penance and First Communion. He died with a priest at his bedside.
Being "successful" and well-fed may be a blessing, but it is not everything. We need Jesus, the Bread of Life, the food that never perishes
July 25, 2021
Jesus' first temptation was to change stones into bread. It was a clever ploy by the devil to distract Jesus from His mission of saving people, spiritually, and concentrating, instead, on the material needs of people. Everyone needs material 'things. We all need to eat, and, as Jesus said to the devil: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God". Jesus understood that His ministry was directed toward saving people for the kingdom of God, forming them into His Church, forgiving sins, and teaching. So, when Jesus was confronted by a hungry crowd of 5,000 men (and their families), what was He to do? Without compromising His ministry, Jesus recognized the people's need for food, and set about to satisfy their hunger, in order to teach them about God and His Kingdom. The problem was that there was almost nothing available to eat. One of His apostles found a lad who had only five barley loaves and a couple of fish. Jesus then had the people recline. He took the bread, blessed it, and gave thanks. Not only was He able to feed the vast crowd, but also, there was food left over: 12 wicker baskets full. How did Jesus do this? Jesus performed a miracle. He multiplied the five loaves. Everyone had enough to eat. Notwithstanding what the text says about no one having brought any food (except for the lad), certain churchmen and "scholars" like to pretend that there was no miracle. They say that Jesus simply had the people share the food that they had brought with them. (This contradicts what the passage tells us.) This reasoning is an example reducing Jesus to a mere man who had no miraculous powers. If Jesus is God, with a human nature, as we believe, and God has dominion over the material world, why is it so difficult for some people to accept the fact that Jesus was able to multiply the loaves? In the Gospel of John, the word "sign" is used, instead of "miracle". Every miracle, for John, is a sign that points to something. What is the sign-value of the feeding of the 5,000? The sign points to Jesus. It tells us something about Him. If Jesus did not really work a miracle, as these "scholars" suggest, they have reduced Jesus to being a mere man, with no power over the natural world. In turn, other aspects of our faith are called into question. For example, we believe that the bread and wine are changed in substance, when the priest says the words of consecration. They become the body and blood of Christ. And what about the resurrection? God can raise up mortal bodies, as Jesus's body was raised. And, as St. Paul says, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain and you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15.17). A faith without miracles is devoid of substance, and is, at best, wishful thinking.
July 18, 2021
One of the popular images of Jesus, from the days of the early Church is that of Jesus depicted as a shepherd.
This, of course, comes from the Bible itself.
Jesus identified Himself as a shepherd, as the shepherd whom God would send to tend His flock.
To say that Jesus is our Shepherd, suggests that we relate to Him as a flock. This is what He used to call the Church ("my little flock"). In fact, the first Catholics used Psalm 23 in the rite for Christian initiation. "You have spread a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows." The idea is that after baptism, one is confirmed ("anointed") and then brought to the Eucharist (the banquet).
The Official Catholic Directory (which is published each year) indicates that whereas the Catholic population in the U.S. has increased, participation in the sacraments has noticeably declined over the years: baptisms, First Communion, marriage. I am not entirely surprised. Our parish statistics reflect the same trends. There was a time (40 years ago) when the parish had 70 children for First Communion. Now we are lucky to have half the number.
In Psalm 23 we also read, "the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.... Fresh and green are the pastures where He gives me repose.... Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil, for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage."
It is a good idea to commit such things to memory (first by using the Bible to read them and pray them). I once saw an interview of a former prisoner of war: a pilot shot down in Vietnam. He had been a prisoner for five years. Being a prisoner of war in that country, besides living in appalling conditions in a cell, he did not know from day to day what he would encounter (e.g., torture, intimidation techniques and so forth). He not only kept his sanity, but he indicated that none of the Americans with whom he was imprisoned cracked under pressure or betrayed any secrets. The key was prayer and union with God. Among the most favorite passages among the imprisoned: Psalm 23.
A woman from Rwanda writes of her experience in the genocide that took place in her country in the 1990's. She spent three months hiding in a bathroom, with about eight other women, while men with machetes were patrolling about, looking for people to kill. As it was, she lost her parents and other family members. She spent her three-month period in almost complete silence. She united herself with God. She prayed for 15 to 20 hours each day. It was her salvation.
Jesus does lead us, guide us and protect us (if we let Him). He will be with us in the midst of adversity. We should take time to be with Him every day. It will make a great difference in the way we live and look at life. We are all called to union with God. This is the key to life.
July 11, 2021
Seven "effusions of the Blood of Christ", implicitly or explicitly mentioned in the Gospels, are recalled in a series of biblical meditations
and devotional prayers: the Blood of the Circumcision, the Blood of the Garden of Gethsemane, the Blood of the Flagellation,
the Blood of the Crowning of Thorns, the Blood of the Ascent to Calvary, the Blood flowing from Christ's side pierced by the lance.
Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy
This Chaplet is divided into seven groups, containing thirty-three "Our Fathers" in honor of the thirty-three years during which the Precious Blood flowed in the veins of Jesus, before it was poured out on the Cross for our salvation. After each group, the "Glory be to the Father" is recite in thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity for this great gift of the Precious Blood. While reciting these prayers, you are asked to meditate on each of the seven blood sheddings of Jesus
V. O God, come to my assistance.
R. Lord, make haste to help me.
V. V. Glory be to the Father, etc.
R. R. As it was in the beginning, etc.
1st Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood in the Circumcision
Let us ask for chastity of soul and body. Our Father five times. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray, You, Lord, help your people whom You have redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
2nd Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood while praying in the Garden of Olives.
Let us ask for the spirit of prayer. Our Father five times. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray You, Lord, help your people whom You have redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
3rd Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood in the scourging
Let us ask for the grace of mortification. Our Father five times. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray you, Lord, help Your people whom You have redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
4th Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood in the crowning with thorns
Let us ask for contempt of worldly honors. Our Father five times. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray you, Lord, help Your people whom You redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
5th Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood while carrying the Cross
Let us ask for patience. Our Father five times. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray You, Lord, help Your people whom You redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
6th Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood in the Crucifixion
Let us ask for contrition for our sins. Our Father five time. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray You, Lord, help your people whom You redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
7th Mystery - Jesus shed His Blood and water when His side was pierced.
Let us ask for the grace of perseverance. Our Father three times. Glory be to the Father, etc. We pray You, Lord, help Your people whom You redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in atonement for my sins, in supplication for the holy souls in Purgatory and for the needs of Holy Church. Amen
July 4, 2021
The United States is now 245 years old. Do we have a great country?
Let's ask a more basic question: In what does true greatness consist? Is it in empire-building? Is it maintaining a high standard of living?
Is it having an arsenal of military might?
The answer, I would submit is none of the above. George Washington spoke of the importance of the religious and moral fiber of the citizens of the new nation.
The point is that without God in our national life and in the lives of our citizens, we cannot have a great country.
Indeed there are many signs that our greatness is really a thing of the past. The United States is the abortion capital of the world.
(The unalienable right to life has been jettisoned by sanction of our government!)
The federal government currently is doing everything it can to redefine ("abolish"?) marriage. The crime here is frightening.
Much of popular culture has become debased. The list could go on.
Notwithstanding the damage that godlessness has wrought in our land, there are many pundits and opinion making establishments
that continue the relentless campaign to rid any vestige of religious faith from our national life.
They do not want us to be considered one nation "under God." We must not fall for their propaganda.
What are we to do about all this? First, we must be good Catholics, resorting to prayer and ardent practice of the faith. St. Paul says, "I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority, that we may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives in perfect piety and dignity" (1 Tim 2.2 ). Also, we must be good citizens. We do so by being interested participants in the affairs of our nation and being educated in what it means to be an American. Many of our people have never read the Constitution. Some Americans recoil from entertaining any issue that requires action on their part (e.g., writing a letter to a congressman). Others would rather confine their interests to sports and television. Remember, patriotism is a virtue. It does not mean a mind-less excitement about our nation, as one might root for his favorite sports team. Patriotism falls under the fourth commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother. It is true love for one's country. And we need never take our nation for granted.
June 27, 2021
What would Jesus say about the current crisis connected with certain so-called "Catholic" politicians and their promotion of the killing of pre-born infants? Jesus has already given us the principles to apply to the situation. When the rich, young man asked Jesus about eternal life, Jesus said that one must keep the Commandments. He listed a number of them, including "Thou shalt not kill". All forms of murder are serious transgressions against God and neighbor. What does the New Testament say about a so-called "Catholic" politician who aggressively insists on pretending to be a member of the Church in good standing, while promoting the dismemberment and killing of innocent children in their mothers' wombs? St. Paul asserts, "Whoever eats or drinks [the Eucharist] unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11.27). In other words, a Catholic conscious of grave sin must go to confession before receiving the sacred Body and Blood of the Lord. You can bet that these so-called "Catholic" politicians who promote direct attacks on the innocent are not going to Confession. And if they are, they show no purpose of amendment, which is an abuse of the sacrament altogether. What would Jesus say about the shepherds' response to aggressive attacks waged against His Church? Jesus clearly asserts that good shepherds must defend the flock against wolves (John 10) . Shepherds who will not do so are no better than hirelings: people who work for pay but will not follow through on their responsibilities to guard the flock. Today's shepherds are bishops who must defend the flock against people who attack Catholic faith and morality. The response of the various competent bishops has been (at best) tepid. The bishop of Wilmington (who recently retired), which is the president's home diocese, hid himself in his house when confronted by Catholic media on the action he was going to take to defend the flock. The archbishop of Washington has done nothing to promote/defend Catholic teaching against predatory politicians. Other bishops who have such scandalous politicians living or working in their dioceses are deferring to act. They would rather not impose canonical censures and address the scandal. As a result, the pro-death politicians become even more emboldened in their attacks against human life and the Body of Christ. We need good shepherds. Please pray for courageous bishops who defend the flock and teach the faith. Please pray for an end to the abortion-culture. 60 million children have perished (3 to 4,000 each day) in our country. This is nothing less than a genocide.
It is the source and summit of all Christian life.
In the Eucharist, the sanctifying action of God in our regard and our worship of him reach their high point.
It contains the whole spiritual good of the Church, Christ himself, our Pasch.
Communion with divine life and the unity of the People of God are both expressed and effected by the Eucharist.
Through the eucharistic celebration we are united already with the liturgy of heaven and we have a foretaste of eternal life.
May 23, 2021
The Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.
(1) "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
(2) I will establish peace in their homes.
(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
(6) Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
(10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
It was to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Order of the Visitation of Our Lady that Our Lord chose to reveal to the world His Sacred Heart, thus opening a New Era of Grace and Mercy in the history of the Church and the world.
Blessed be the Most Loving Heart and Sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the most glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, in eternity and forever. Amen.
....Only the Heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father's love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way ----From the Catechism. P:1439
From the depth of my nothingness, I prostrate myself before Thee, O Most Sacred, Divine and Adorable Heart of Jesus, to pay Thee all the homage of love, praise and adoration in my power. Amen. -- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps. -- From the Catechism. P: 2669
May 23, 2021
We need the Holy Spirit to live a "spiritual life".
St. Paul refers to the Christian life as one lived in the Spirit.
He opposes this to a life lived in the flesh.
When he uses the word "flesh", he is not implying that the body is evil.
"Flesh" means everything about us that pertains to sin (any kind of sin).
A person who lives his life in the flesh is prone to selfishness, egoism, impurity, sloth, false worship, gluttony, etc.
A person who lives in the Spirit experiences good fruit:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity.
We need the Holy Spirit to recognize God as our Father "(cf. Rom. 8.15) and Jesus as Lord (1Cor 12.3). In other words, to relate to God properly, to believe in Him and to love Him.
We need the Holy Spirit to rise from the dead "(Rom. 8.11) : ""If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also, through His Spirit dwelling in you" .
We need the Holy Spirit to pray "(cf. Rom 8) : ""The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself makes intercessions for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech" (Pope John Paul used to groan when at prayer).
Where do we find the Holy Spirit? If we have been baptized and are in a state of grace, He is in us already. How effective His presence is, is another question.
What things block or soften the Holy Spirit's influence in us?
Unforgiveness of one's neighbor can impede us in making progress in the spiritual life. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are not experienced (love, joy, peace?.)
Unrepentance. "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven?.." The Holy Spirit and sin do not go together. Sometimes people live double lives. They "practice their faith" (formally), but are not honest with themselves or the Lord about how they are living.
Not engaging in serious, regular prayer
Not abiding by the teaching of the Church's magisterium (cf. 1 Jn 4 for more information) in matters of faith or morality?.
Have a devotion to the Holy Spirit. Pray to Him. Love Him. Think of Him. Call on Him frequently for understanding, wisdom, fortitude, etc.
Pray the Sequence from Pentecost. Pray/Sing the Come Holy Ghost.
Have a devotion to the Blessed Mother. She was so filled with the Holy Spirit, that she gave birth to Jesus. If we have her in our life, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are not far from us.
If you are not confirmed, seek the sacrament.
May 16, 2021
Today the Church commemorates Jesus' ascent into glory.
(This is beautifully depicted on the large stained glass windows in the Gathering Area of the church.)
Human nature has penetrated heaven. Where Jesus has gone, we hope to follow.
The hope of living with God for all eternity is one of the gifts given to us resulting from Christ's ascension.
What is heaven like?
The Bible uses images: the Father's house, paradise, the heavenly Jerusalem. St. Paul (after some type of a mystical experience) says, " "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9) . It is clear that the happiness of heaven has to do with God. To experience God (described as "seeing Him"), the human heart desires nothing else. Only God fulfills the desire of the human heart for happiness. All earthly pleasures always leave something to be desired, even the best of experiences. A close friendship, for example, will one day come to an end (ultimately through death). Besides, friends (on earth) are not perfect. There can be misunderstandings and so forth. In heaven, we will have perfect friendships for all eternity because everyone there is a saint.
Only holy people can enjoy the possession of God. People who are not holy, or not holy enough, cannot abide God's all-holy presence. It would be very painful. Hell is simply the condition of someone who has rejected God, never repented, and died in this state. For those who die in a state of grace, but who are not quite ready to meet God, are purified after death ("purgatory") so that they can enjoy the vision of God and come to their fulfillment.
We should never forget the great hope to which we have been called (from baptism). We are called to be saints. The only real tragedy is to die without having become one. The Catholic Church exists to raise up saints. If we do not become saints, we have only ourselves to blame. The first step in becoming a saint is wanting to be one, and then working at it (through prayer, penance, proper use of the sacraments, and works of charity). As Jesus said, in the beatitudes : Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness, they shall have their fill."
May 9, 2021
May is Mary's month! And during May, throughout the Catholic world,
special devotions honor the Virgin Mary. "May Crowning" is a traditional Catholic ritual that occurs in the month of May
and it recognizes Mary as Queen of heaven and earth. Since medieval times, there has been a correlation
between Mary and the month of May. May is considered the season of the beginning of new life.
"May Crowning" marks a new spiritual season. Our Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, lifted us right out of the last long,
cold days of winter and firmly planted our hearts in the warm and promising soil of spring.
During the Holy Mass on May Crowning day, a crown/flowers is placed on the statue of Mary. The act of crowning is rooted in the view of Mary as the Queen of Heaven. The event is of particular significance as it relates to the Champion Shrine history because, when Our Lady appeared to the young Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, in 1859, she identified herself as the "Queen of Heaven."
A cherished age-old tradition of reverence, the crowning of Mary at the Champion Shrine is in keeping with the "Order of Crowning" which attributed the queen symbol to Mary because she was a perfect follower of Christ, who is the absolute "crown" of creation. "She is the Mother of the Son of God, who is the messianic King. Mary is the Mother of Christ, the Word Incarnate... " he will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; the Lord will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:32-33).
Elizabeth greeted the Blessed Virgin, pregnant with Jesus, as 'the mother of my Lord' (Lk 1:41-43) . Mary is the perfect follower of Christ. The maid of Nazareth consented to God's plan; she journeyed on the pilgrimage of faith; she listened to God's Word and kept it in her heart; she remained steadfast in close union with her Son, all the way to the foot of the Cross; she persevered in prayer with the Church. Thus, in an eminent way she won the "crown of righteousness" (2 Tim 4:8) , the "crown of life" (Jas 1:12; Rev 2:10) , the "crown of glory" (1 Pet 5:4) that is promised to those who follow Christ ("Order of Crowning," NCCB, 1987).
May Crowning Mass This Sunday, May 9th at the 12 noon Mass [Immaculate Conception Church ].
May 2, 2021
In Confirmation the soul of a baptized Christian is imprinted with a permanent seal
that can be received only once and marks this individual forever as a Christian.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the strength from above in which this individual puts the grace of his Baptism
into practice through his life and acts as a "witness" for Christ.
To be confirmed means to make a "covenant" with God. The confirmand says, "Yes, I believe in you, my God; give me your Holy Spirit, so that I might belong entirely to you and never be separated from you and may witness to you throughout my whole life, body and soul, in my words and deeds, on good days and bad." And God says, "Yes, I believe in you, too, my child and I will give you my Spirit, my very self. I will belong entirely to you. I will never separate myself from you, in this life or eternally in the next. I will be in your body and your soul, in your words and deeds. Even if you forget me, I will still be there on good days and bad."
April 24, 2021
It is fitting that Good Shepherd Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter,
is the Sunday that is also designated as World Day of Prayer for Vocations,
with a special emphasis on priestly and religious vocations. Having said this, it is necessary to realize that everyone has a vocation
(a baptismal vocation). It is not only priests and religious who are called by God to service. The lay vocation is a legitimate and necessary vocation.
It is the vocation to be a committed Catholic, bringing Jesus into family life, and to the world of work, culture, business, etc.
The Church is 98% lay. The priests are not the Church. However, without priests there is no Church. Without the Church there is no salvation. What do priests offer that brings about the Church? Most of the sacraments necessitate the involvement of a priest. One cannot have Mass without a priest. There is no absolution from sin without a priest.
The priest is to be a teacher and preacher of the gospel of Jesus. He brings to the world Jesus Christ. He is even a sacrament of Jesus himself (even though the priest is a mortal man with sins and defects). Do not let this fool you. Jesus was criticized for being a man whom everyone knew (at least they thought they knew: "Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary? How is it that such miraculous deeds are accomplished by hands .? They found Him too much for them."
April 18, 2021
It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt" (Vatican II) .
No one wants to die. The human person recoils at the prospect of bodily decay and the end of earthly existence.
Leo Tolstoy, in The Death of Ivan Ilyich, tells the story of a man who coped with his death by simply not thinking about it.
He was able to do this until he had a fatal accident. The looming specter of death terrified him.
Today, there are, likewise, many successful, worldly people, whose horizon is limited to what they can see and touch.
Faith in Christ is urgent because it is the only thing that is able to address, adequately, human mortality. Jesus, who rose from the dead bodily, promises a like resurrection to all who embrace Him in faith. What amazes me is that there are many Catholics who do not make any connection between Jesus's resurrection and the hope that is in store for those who love Him. For them, the resurrection of Jesus is limited to Him and has nothing to do with us on a practical level. We must get the word out that we believe in the resurrection of the body, not only Jesus's body, but also our own (provided that we persevere in the faith).
Jesus set up His Church to provide the means for people to live the life of resurrection, starting with baptism. The sacrament of penance ("confession") allows people to maintain their baptismal purity. (Jesus founded this sacrament on the evening of Easter. See John 20) . In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus fills people with the seeds of eternity: He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6.54) .
What can we do, then, about death? Live the faith. Live a sacramental life. Pray. Make the Sunday Mass the high point of the week. Keep the teachings of the Church. Strive to be Christ-like in thought, word and deed. With Jesus, we will not perish after death. We will rise to a new and glorious life.
April 4, 2021
Arguably, the most famous person who ever lived was Jesus. Ironically,
He lived an obscure life in a remote backwater in the Middle East. He only lived to be 33.
He had never visited a big city. He was poor. He had no influential friends in positions of power.
He wrote no books. Why is He so widely known today? The answer is that Jesus is the only person in history
ever to have risen from the dead bodily. Since then, only His mother has shared in a similar destiny.
The point is, without the Resurrection, it is unlikely that anyone, today, would even have heard of Jesus,
much less committed their lives to Him.
How do we know that Jesus is risen? We have the existence of the empty tomb, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in Jerusalem. There are also the purported burial wrappings, known as the Shroud of Turin. More to the point, though, is the existence of the Church, which traces its roots back to the first Christian community who were the original followers of Christ, e.g., the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, the "500 brothers" of whom St. Paul speaks, who saw the risen Christ, etc.
The Church continues to make the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist. She obeys His Great Commission to "baptize and teach all nations" (two adults were scheduled to be baptized at our parish's Easter Vigil this year, and there will be many infants in the coming months). The Church continues Jesus' work of reconciling sinners in the confessional. (Jesus authorized this ministry on the night He rose from the dead: "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven".) In short, Jesus is very much alive.
Finally (but not least), Jesus promises resurrection from the dead to all who believe in Him and follow Him. Our world is troubled by many things. We have had a year's worth of pandemic. Many have died. There are wars raging around the globe. Many people live as if there is no God or He is not important. We must get the word out: Jesus is real. He is our Savior. Give Him a chance. This world is passing away. It was never meant to be our permanent home. As Jesus said, "You will have trouble in the world, but take courage, I have overcome the world". Alleluia.
March 14, 2021
The Book of Genesis in the Bible reminds us that we are all made in the image of God. As such, we all deserve to be
treated with respect, dignity and compassion. Our diocese and our Church have a long history of providing charitable
service without regard to race, religion, or any other characteristic precisely because as Catholics we believe in the
inherent dignity of each and every person. That we are all made in God's image is also basic to the belief that we
need to honor every person's right to worthwhile work free of unjust discrimination or harassment and to the basic
goods that people need to live and thrive. However, it also means that people of differing religious beliefs should be
respected and allowed to live and act in accord with those beliefs.
Considering its name, one would think that the Equality Act, which will be soon be voted on in the United States Senate, would promote respect and dignity for all. Ironically, the act in many ways would do the opposite of what its name suggests and needs to be opposed. Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and the nature of the human person, the Equality Act would discriminate against and punish people of faith. The Equality Act would:
Exempt itself from the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, in an explicit and unprecedented departure from one of America's founding principles, thereby infringing on religious freedom and making it more difficult for individuals to live out their faith.
Force religiously operated spaces and establishments, such as church halls, to either host functions that violate their beliefs or close their doors to their communities.
Require women to compete against men and boys in sports and to share locker rooms and shower facilities with men and boys.
Force faith-based charities that serve all people to violate their religious beliefs and threaten the welfare of thousands of beneficiaries of charitable services, such as shelters and foster care agencies, by forcing a multitude of them to be shut down.
Jeopardize existing prohibitions on the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortion, likely pressuring or even man-dating the performance of abortions by health care providers in violation of their consciences and ultimately ending more human lives.
Hinder quality health care by forcing health care professionals, against their best medical judgment, to support treatments and surgical procedures associated with "gender transition." I urge you to contact your elected officials today to oppose this bill. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made this simple and easy to do. Simply go to:
https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/80967/Respond fill in the blanks, and click "send message."
March 7, 2021
The most classic example is from the gospel for this Sunday
which concerns what is called "The Cleansing of the Temple" .
El Greco, and many other artists, have depicted this scene. We see Jesus in the foreground holding a whip of cords. We see the moneychangers recoiling.
We see tipped over tables. People are running away. (Etc.) Why did Jesus do this? It was a prophetic gesture aimed at purifying the religion and making a statement
about the future of the Jewish cult. Ultimately the Temple would be destroyed by the Roman armies (in 70 A.D.).
The sacrifice that would replace the Jewish animal sacrifices, would be Jesus' own sacrifice on the cross. It is this sacrifice that is re-presented in the Mass, in an unbloody form.
The priest has the power to make present Jesus' Body and Blood, which were offered (in their natural state) on the cross.
Other things that caused Jesus to become quite upset include hypocrisy and lip-service. Matthew 23 is an entire chapter of Jesus' vituperations against supposedly "religious" people who were not living according to God's commandments, but also loved to present themselves as examples of faith for others. Hypocrisy means "acting": saying one thing and doing another. For example, someone who says that he is a "good Catholic", yet, at the same time, does everything he can to promote the massive baby-killing industry (i.e., abortion industry), is a classic example of what Jesus was talking about. To say, "I am a good Catholic because I go to church and have a rosary in my pocket" means nothing if it is only lip-service. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" .
People who pretend to be Catholics, but work against God and His requirements for living, give scandal and should be censured by the competent Church authorities. Unfortunately, there is not much censuring taking place. As a result, certain people in high positions become bolder and bolder in their wicked designs. Failure to stand up to bullies brings about more bullying. And so, we have the upcoming "Equality Act", which means "equality" for people who traffic in evil lifestyles/practices and who want to attack the Church and her many charitable institutions for not being "on the same page". Women will be especially victimized, should the Senate sign the act into law. For more about the so-called "Equality Act", please go www.crisismagazine.com , and see Ann Hendershott's article, "The Equality Act: Anti-Woman, Anti-Catholic" . Please write to our Ohio senators to express disapproval [Senator Rob Portman , Senator Sherrod Brown ] and pray for active shepherds who guard the flock against thieves and marauders (See John 10 ).
February 28, 2021
Try something different. For example, if you are not used to praying the rosary, give it a try. The rosary has a long history and has proven effective
for individuals and nations. For example, the Panama Canal is considered a wonder of the world, yet its construction was in jeopardy because the workmen kept getting malaria.
Dr. Carlos Finlay came up with the solution as to what the cause of this disease was. The solution came to him while he was praying the rosary. He kept noticing mosquitoes flying around.
He made the connection that they might be carriers of the disease. He was proven right. Construction on the canal was able to continue once the cause of the disease was discovered.
A priest I know was upset about his brother going into an armed conflict in the Middle East. The brother was in the service. The priest prayed the rosary and was inspired t o call a Lebanese priest, in the Cleveland area, to inquire about what he knew. (The Lebanese priest had relatives in Beirut, where the military action was taking place.) The Lebanese priest told the priest from Cleveland, "Your brother is fine." This was based on reliable information. It was Our Lady, though, who was the inspiration to call the priest from Lebanon. The moral of the story is that prayerful people are more open to inspirations from God, this is because it is the Holy Spirit who prays in us when we pray (see Romans 5 ).
There are many examples of the successful use of the rosary on behalf of nations. The Austrians were inspired to pray the rosary so that Soviet troops would leave their country. One out of ten Austrians participated in the campaign of prayer, suggested by a Fr. Peter. After a brief time, suddenly (without a shot being fired) the Soviets left Austria. The year was 1956. This was a miracle indeed.
Our nation could certainly use the influence of Our Lady, on many fronts. Our families need her influence. The Church needs to get back to the basics of the faith. Our shepherds need to rely on the Blessed Mother's advocacy in the battle against evil spirits, sin, the culture of death, a corrupt media, corruption in our government, etc. (fill in the blank).
Let us do our part and be prayer-warriors. The rosary is both a source of inspiration and a weapon against the forces of evil. The devil hates the rosary. Jesus gave us His mother to be our mother: "Behold your Mother", He said (see John 19.27 ).
Praying and meditating on one set of rosary- mysteries takes 15 minutes. Can you give at least 15 minutes a day paying attention to Our Lord and His Mother? You will be doing more good than you realize.
February 21, 2021
What is temptation? A temptation is a suggestion that directs us to commit sin.
Is temptation the same thing as sin? No. It is possible to be tempted and remain free of sin.
Jesus did not sin, although He was tempted.
Are there different levels of temptation? Yes, there are three:
External temptation: It does not enter the heart. There is no consent.
This is the level at which Jesus was tempted.
Taking a certain delight in the temptation, though without clear consent (consent makes for sin).
There is some sinfulness at this level.
Internal temptation: One allows the temptation to enter the deepest part of his soul.
He gives his consent to it. Here we have a definite commission of sin.
What is the meaning of "and lead us not into temptation?" The petition means both: "Do not allow us to enter into temptation," and "do not let us yield to temptation."
Why should we be concerned about temptation? Because our sins result from our consent to temptation.
(We must distinguish between being tempted and consenting to temptation.)
What are the sources of temptation for us? The world, the flesh, and the devil. The world means the anti-Christian influences that saturate the air we breathe (e.g., the influence of peers, writers, television shows, entertainment, etc.). The world tends to be full of itself. The flesh is not limited to sexuality, but includes anger, gluttony, covetousness, etc. The devil is often the most difficult one to detect because he generally hides himself. A directly diabolical temptation is strong (scary or seductive), and often out of character for the person subjected to it.
Why would the Lord allow us to be tempted? (Note, God tempts no one.)
We can learn where our weaknesses are. Also, it gives us a chance to demonstrate that we want Him and we will not allow anything or anyone to take His place. "No one can serve two masters." Besides, earthly life is a time of trial. Heaven is something that must be chosen.
Jesus teaches us
He allowed Himself to be tempted to show us how to handle temptation via prayer, obedience and fasting.
Note that Jesus defeated the devil in the desert without resorting to any of His supernatural powers.
Jesus teaches us that the temptations of the devil assail principally the sanctified).
No one, however holy, should consider himself free from temptation.
We should not be afraid of temptation, but we should never dally with it. We must stand firm. We must be careful about what we do with our mind: the intellect, memory, imagination. Immoral thoughts of any kind need to be gently repelled (idleness can bring them on). As long as one repels them and takes no delight in them he does not sin. We must maintain custody of the heart (which includes the feelings). Don't let evil desires take root.
"Where your heart is there your treasure is."
January 24, 2021
Because of his special role as foster-father of the Child Jesus, St. Joseph has merited singular privileges in heaven
unmatched by any saint excepting the Blessed Virgin Mary. Certain saints have received special insight into his holiness and the wonderful
power of his heavenly intercession .
The Catholic Church has always fostered a tender to St. Joseph as the Head of the Holy Family; yet he has become increasingly prominent in the spiritual life of the Church over the last 150 years, as Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, lists in his new book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father :
1870 - Blessed Pope Pius IX declares St. Joseph the "Universal Patron of the Church."
1879 - Apparitions at Knock, Ireland. St. Joseph appears with the Blessed Virgin Mary,
St. John the Apostle, and Jesus (appearing as the Lamb of God).
1889 - Pope Leo XIII writes Quamquam Pluries, an encyclical letter on St. Joseph.
1908 - St. Luigi Guanella begins constructing a church dedicated to St. Joseph in Rome.
It is completed and consecrated as a basilica in 1912.
1917 - Apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. During the last apparition on October 13,
St. Joseph appears holding the Child Jesus and blessing the world.
1921 - Pope Benedict XV inserts the phrase "Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse" into the Divine Praises.
1955 - Venerable Pope Pius XII establishes the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, to be celebrated on May 1.
1962 - Pope St. John XXIII inserts St. Joseph's name into the Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer I).
1989 - Pope St. John Paul II writes Redemptoris Custos, an encyclical letter on St. Joseph.
2013 - Pope Francis, echoing and fulfilling the intentions of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, inserts the name
of St. Joseph into all Eucharistic Prayers. He also consecrates Vatican City State to St. Joseph.
Through this providential sequence of events, it's clear that the Holy Spirit is at work teaching us the importance of devotion to St. Joseph at this moment in salvation history. "Now is the time of St. Joseph!" writes Father Calloway, "In our day, Jesus wants the Church to know, love, honor, and seek refuge in the spiritual fatherhood of St. Joseph."
January 17, 2021
From the Pastor...
On Jan. 17th I start my 40th year as a priest. I well remember ordination day. It was 16 below zero. Up until that time it was the coldest day of the century in Cleveland. I was ordained at the cathedral on Saturday morning. I had my first Mass of thanksgiving, on the following day, at St. Rose Church (my family's parish) in Cleveland. The parish was closed many years ago. I was able to obtain the beautiful candle holders and place them on our altar, where they have remained ever since.
I am grateful to all whose example and prayers inspired me to receive the priestly vocation, especially my parents and grandparents. Had my parents been different (e.g., non-practicing or lax Catholics), I probably would not be a priest or even a practicing Catholic layman. This goes to show the importance of parental influence on the children. Parents, do not be discouraged. If you are living the faith, much good will come out of this. You may inspire some vocations.
Since my ordination I have celebrated over 18,000 Masses, some under less-than-ideal conditions (e.g., during the Gulf War in Saudi Arabia), some in beautiful shrines in Europe, and most in parish churches. The center of the priest's life is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is Jesus continuing His work of saving the world by making present His body and blood through the hands of priests (there are now 400,000 priests in the world). Likewise, I have heard countless confessions: in parish churches, shrines and at the beds of the sick and the dying. Jesus works through His priests absolving people of their sins.
I thank everyone for your support of the Church and vocations. Keep praying and being strong in the faith. The world needs God. The world needs Jesus. The world needs the Mass. The world needs priests. The world needs vocations. The world needs practicing members of the Catholic faith.
When St. John Vianney was going to his first parish, after ordination, he asked a young man for directions. "If you show me the way there," said the priest, "I will show you the way to heaven." Priests are instrumental not only in helping people live the faith, but in getting them to heaven. To this end, let us pray for each other....
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