Saturday, November 29, 2008

A New Year of Grace 1st Sunday of Advent

“God is faithful, He will keep you firm to the end, in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, you are not lacking in any spiritual gift.” Today we begin a new year. This is the first day of the New Year. It is the first Sunday of Advent. As we begin a new year of grace it is good to meditate on these words that St. Paul writes to the Church. God is faithful. That is to say he remains faithful. In the first reading this is clear. The people of Israel have been selfish.They forgot about God. They were busy living their sinful lives. Pleasure and distraction was the law they lived by in their pursuit of happiness. They rejected God and his law. God does not reject them. Even though he allows them to suffer the consequences of their actions, he does not reject them. The same is true today for you and me. No matter how far we stray from God, rejecting his law, living according to our own pleasures and desires, He remains faithful. Advent is a time of longing for God. Today we should admit our desire for God to be part of our life. The knowledge that St Paul gives today should serve as an encouragement. God is faithful. He is here for us. He will keep you firm to the end. God knows how hard it is for us to remain faithful; therefore He promises to keep us firm. In other words He is our strength. He strengthens us by the Sacraments. In living Sacramental lives we are strengthened. In Confession and Eucharist He is our strength. In these Sacraments the Grace, Mercy, and Love that is given to each one of us is what sustains us in our life, and in our struggles. Gods Loving Mercy will keep us to the end. In him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and knowledge, you are not lacking in any spiritual gift.. He is all we need. Often times when we stray from God we are looking for something that will make us feel whole. St. Paul tells us that what we are really looking for is Jesus, and we already possess Him if we have the courage to turn to Him and to accept His Mercy and His Love. As this new year of Grace opens before us we must keep the words of St. Paul in our hearts and minds. We must admit our faults and our sins. We must admit that we often stray from God, and that we long for Him who will fulfill our hearts desire in mercy and in love. This is how we prepare. This is how we wait in joyful hope; knowing that God himself will sustain us. We can no longer pretend that we are fine living without God. We must admit that we need His gifts. First the gift that comes to us in this new year of Grace. The second is the greatest gift that has been given; He gave us His only Son to be our Savior. The third is the Sacraments especially the Eucharist and Confession. Finally we await the fulfillment of His Promise to return in Glory. Many people have chosen to live their life without God. Even those who come to Mass every Sunday often live according to the ways of the world. God is faithful. He is near. You and I must pray that at the beginning and throughout this year of Grace we may have the courage to call upon Him form the depths of our hearts that our Hope will be fulfilled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Take Care Not To Be Deceived (Lk 21:5-11)

When speaking about the end of time, Jesus admonishes us not to be deceived by those who claim to be Him and go about using His name gathering people to themselves. In every age the Church has believed that it was living in the end times. Even St. Paul thought that Jesus would return soon. Nearly two thousand years later modern Catholics live with that same belief. Certainly here in the United States we have cause to believe this as the Culture of Death grows in power and influence. Jesus also tells us today not to be frightened when we here of wars and revolutions. What then are we to do? Listen to the Church! By that I mean follow the Holy Father and the Magisterium. We as Catholics living in the midst of the Culture of Death must simply remain faithful. In remaining faithful to the Church and the Holy Father as we go about our daily duties, Jesus will call us to act in Truth and Love in order to promote the Culture of Life. That is why we do not run around chasing those who claim that they speak in His name. That is why even as our hearts are filled with sorrow at the violence of the Culture of Death we are not terrified. We have the Church. We have the Sacraments. We have our Blessed Mother and the Rosary. We have Our Holy Father. Thus we are free. Free to be Obedient to our daily labors, and free to do what Jesus asks of us without fear or worry or anxiety. We do not have to chase after visionaries or prophets. We have the Church. We have Christ Jesus' Vicar on earth in our Holy Father Benedict XVI. The Culture of Death will not overcome the Church founded by Jesus on the Rock of St. Peter. We are Christ's Bride and while we may suffer terrible persecutions He will never abandon us. We are to remain faithful for as our Holy Father constantly reminds us God is Love. We do not have to be afraid for as Benedict has reminded us Hope is our Salvation. The Sacraments, the Rosary, and the teaching of the Church is all we need in order to remain faithful and obedient. If we go about our daily labors without fear and without anxiety we will draw others into the light and peace of Christ. Others will begin to wonder why we live in and with such Hope. In obedience we will Evangelize the Culture of Death. In God's Infinite Mercy we can do so simply living our daily life ready to act in Truth and Love when our Merciful Savior calls.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lord, This is the people that longs to see your Face

Psalm 24, Basically sums up the whole Christian life. In his letter to the whole Church on the dawn of the Third Millenium Pope John Paul wrote that as Catholics we are called to be holy. He said that this call to holiness was a Universal call to each member of the Church. It was not a call only for a few so called saints who lived 100 or 1000 years ago. In that letter JPII called upon each member of the Church to seek the Face of Christ in their lives. He said that this was the project that the Church should be about for the next 100 years. At times we seek the Suffering Face of Christ and at others the Glorified face of Christ. What ever our situation; whatever we are going through we must allow that longing in our hearts to impact our lives. Deep down all of us long for Christ Jesus, because deep down all of us long for peace. Jesus is True Peace. Acknowledging our longing will set us on the right path. The path that leads us to prayer; especially praying the Rosary in which our Blessed Mother teaches us how to recognize her Son's presence in our daily lives. Acknowledging this longing draws us into the King's presence to make brief or long visits to the Blessed Sacrament, as we sit before the Tabernacle or in Adoration. Acknowledging this longing leads us to a fuller participation in our Sacramental Life. It draws us to Confession and to the Eucharist more often. It opens our hearts to recieve the Grace Jesus desires to give us. It opens our minds to the Peace Jesus desires to give us. It opens our souls to the Healing Jesus longs to give us. If you and I can honestly pray Psalm 24 today, not out of self centered wants but simply desiring to see the face of our Lord Jesus, then we will be open to receive all the gifts he wants to shower down upon us. If we can set ourselves to seeking His Face as JPII calls us to; then we can be holy as he calls us to be. Then we can be Saints.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Feast of Christ The King

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. In our opening prayer we prayed: “Almighty and Merciful God you break the power of evil and make all things new in your Son Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. May all in heaven and earth acclaim your glory and never cease to praise you.” If we believe this prayer to be true then we are being called today not only to honor Christ the King but also to conversion. If we do not open our hearts today to conversion our prayer is useless. In Christ the King the power of evil is broken. In Christ the King all things are made new. Through praising Jesus Christ our Sovereign King we acclaim and glorify our Father in Heaven. However this cannot happen if our own hearts are not open to conversion. Today each one of us is being called to conversion. Today Jesus Christ the King will break the power that evil has in your life. Maybe it is a sin, or a habit, or an addiction. Maybe it is a wound or a memory that keeps you from being free. Maybe it was something you suffered that you are still hurt by. Maybe you have been abused and do not know how much God loves you. Maybe you have a secret that no one knows about but you and it keeps you in fear. Jesus Christ our King will break the power that it has over you today. Our Almighty and Merciful Father wills it. The power of evil will be broken today. Open your hearts and ask the King for mercy. Do not be afraid of this call to conversion. In His Mercy Jesus Christ the King makes all things new. He will renew your life. He will heal you. He will forgive you. He will comfort you. He will give you the gift of Peace. It is not enough to simply honor Christ the King. This is not what He wants today. Today he wants to break the power that evil has in your life. Today he wants to renew your life in His Mercy and Love. That in knowing His Merciful Love we will never cease to praise Him and thus bring others to Him. Our Almighty and Merciful Father, Jesus Christ our King and the Holy Spirit do not want you to pray this prayer today; the Most Holy Trinity wants you to experience and live this prayer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"Mary heard God's Word and kept it, and so she is blessed." So says St. Augustine. This is the mark of discipleship. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the true model of discipleship. In celebrating the Presentation of Mary we are celebrating the Word speaking to her from the very beginning of her life. Indeed she is the Immaculate Conception; thus the Word of God has spoken clearly to Mary's Immaculate Heart from the very beginning. From her conception she heard God's Word and kept it and so she is blessed. We do not celebrate today that she is the Mother of God; rather that she is a Daughter of God the Father, and a Disciple of God the Son. In this we are called to imitate her. First by acknowledging who we are as sons and daughters of God the Father. Then living accordingly as disciples of Jesus the Son. This feast then is very simple. We celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary who heard God's Word and kept it, and so she was blessed. We commit ourselves to imitating her in living as disciples of her Son in whom we have truly become adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, Mighty God (Rev 4:1-11)

In the first reading today the angels who sit before the throne of God sing God’s Praises without ceasing. The 24 Elders who stand before the Throne then give homage to God by saying these words: “You are our Lord and God, you are worthy of glory and honor and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.” When you stand before the Throne of God the Truth is evident and clear. The response to the Truth is Awe and Wonder followed by Humble Acceptance and Service. In our spiritual lives there is a great need in the human heart to express our prayers. That is we tell God of our problems, our worries and our sorrows. This is right and good to do; God wants us to speak to Him in this way. But there is more to a life of prayer than just our petitions. There is standing in Awe and Wonder before the Truth and giving glory to God; then Humbly accepting the Truth and Serving The One seated upon the Throne. We do not have to wait until Heaven in order to imitate the elders and the angels who sit before the Throne. The One seated on the Throne resides in each of our Churches and Chapels in the Tabernacle. Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus is The One seated on the Throne in Heaven. He is The One who Reigns in silence from the Tabernacle and speaks only to our hearts; inspiring Awe and Wonder, requiring Humble Acceptance and Service. Perhaps imitating the angels and elders in Heaven is too much to ask. Rather let us imitate our Mother Mary here on earth when we pray. Our Blessed Mother prayed “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!” in her Canticle of praise. Mary also responded to the Lord’s invitation through the angel Gabriel by saying “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to your word.” When we come before our Lord in adoration it is good from time to time to leave all our worries and petitions behind and instead enter into the Truth of The One seated upon the Throne, and imitate our Mother and all the angels and saints in heaven and say; “You are our Lord and God, you are worthy of glory and honor and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.” May it be done unto me according to your Word.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Revelations Says It All Today! Ch 3

I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’and yet do not realize that you are wretched,pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich,and white garments to put onso that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed,and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.Be earnest, therefore, and repent.“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,then I will enter his house and dine with him,and he with me.I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne,as I myself first won the victoryand sit with my Father on his throne.“‘Whoever has ears ought to hearwhat the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Do You Want Me To Do For You?(Lk 18: 35-43)

This question is one that all of us long to hear. However it is also one that we have a hard time answering. The blind man in the Gospel responds "Lord, please let me see." But the story is not a story of physical healing. It is a story of discipleship. The man wants to see with the eyes of faith that which he knows to be true in his heart. This is why he cries out for mercy. He wants to follow Christ Jesus. Thus Jesus asks the profound question that so many long to hear, but so few can answer clearly. Often we are so shallow in the way we think about our spiritual lives that we ask only for our immediate wants or desires. Unlike the blind man; we struggle to pray, or better yet to respond to Jesus from the very depths of our hearts. The people in the Gospel tried to tell the blind man to shut up. They did not want Jesus to be bothered. We often imitate these folks. The blind man refuses. He knows that Jesus will have pity upon him and satisfy the deepest desire of his heart. Thus he cries outall the more. Often we think that Jesus does not want to be bothered with us. We do not trust that He will satisfy our deepest desires. As proof we pray shallow self centered prayers and when they are not answered to our satisfaction we claim abandonment. The lesson that the blind man gives to us today is one that all can benefit from. Pray from the very depths of your heart that Jesus' Mercy be poured out upon you this day. Then trust that Jesus has heard you and will satisfy your longing. Then your hope will be fulfilled. Then your prayers will be answered when Jesus asks "what is it you want me to do for you?"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Generous and Joyful Father (Mt25:14-30) 33rd Sunday

Jesus reveals to us in the Gospel today that our Father in Heaven is both Generous and Joyful. Is that the image of God the Father that you have? We see our Father’s generosity when He gives each of His servants a number of talents based upon their ability. He does not have to give them anything. Notice how not only is He generous but also loving in that He knows His servants well enough that He gives each one what they can handle according to their ability. Our Father shares everything with us His servants, and He gives each one of us exactly what we need and exactly what we can handle. We see the Father’s joy when the servants have done well. He is proud of them, and He invites them to share in His joy. Our Father is proud of us when we do well, and He is eager to share His joy with us. Is this how you see Our Father? Jesus reveals all this and more because in Jesus we know God Is Love. In Jesus we see the great Love the Father has for each one of us in that He sent His only Son to be our Savior. Thus the Father has literally given all things to us in the gift of His Son. Through Jesus and the Salvation He won for us the Father invites us to share His Joy; that their Joy may be in us and our joy may be complete. Do you understand this? Is this the image of God the Father that you have? Do you see the Father’s Love? Do you understand that Jesus has brought us the fullness of Mercy and Salvation? He is not waiting to condemn you. He knows you so well that you do not have to be afraid. He will not let anything overcome you. Perhaps you are paying too much attention to the third servant and how the master treated him. The third servant was ruled by fear. All his decisions and actions were based on lies; lies that kept him afraid. Many of us live the same way. This servant did not see that the Master in love knew him so well that he only gave him what he could handle. In other words the Master in truth thought much more of the servant than he thought of himself. The servant only saw his fear and worry and low self esteem and believed the lies. The third servant could not see that he was loved, and so he rejected the Master’s gift. He gave it back. His fear does two things to him. It makes him wicked and lazy. This is what the Master calls him. When we believe the lies and live in fear we too become lazy and wicked. Our becoming wicked because we embrace any number of sins that comfort us and make us feel safe. We become lazy because the weight of our guilt and shame can never be lifted because we only believe the lies and are afraid of the Truth. We are afraid of God the Father. We are afraid of Jesus. We are afraid of their Love, the Holy Spirit. We reject their generous gift of life and of freedom. We are incapable of joy, and so we are thrown out into the darkness where there is weeping and grinding of teeth. Pay close attention though. This is not God’s desire. The Most Holy Trinity invites us to share their Joy. Today we can decide to live in the truth of God’s Love, or we can live in fear.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's Among You (17:20-25)

"You Must Know, The Kingdom of God is Among You." Jesus could not speak any clearer than He does today. So many people claim to be spiritual but not religious, and so many who claim to be religious run around searching for something that will satisfy their inner longing for God. Both categories of people live an unending search for that Something that will satisfy their inner longing. Yet He is among us. We do not have to search for Him. You see Jesus is the Kingdom. He is among us. Most importantly in His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. We do not have to go far to find Him. We do not have to go far in order to find Peace. We do not have to go far to find Comfort. We do not have to go far to find Healing. For Peace, Comfort, and Healing as well as all the other desires of our hearts are found in Him, in Jesus our Lord. We can find Jesus right here among us in the Blessed Sacrament. There is no problem, worry, fear, or temptation that can not be overcome or solved through spending time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. If we humbly come before Him, He will take care of all our needs. We will know what we must do. We will be given the strength to do it. In the Blessed Sacrament Christ Jesus is among us. Spending time with Him enlightens our hearts and minds with the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. In the Grace that pours forth into our souls in Adoration our lives are renewed in the values and the virtues of the Kingdom. In other words our Lord Jesus transforms our lives that we begin to live as He lived. We begin to live our lives with confidence. Think about how children perform when their parents are watching. It is not only out of a desire to please them. Parents actually give their children confidence to do their best because of their very presence with them. The same is true of Our Lord's Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. In dwelling among us our Lord gives us the confidence we need to live our lives in imitation of Him. He strengthens us in His Loving Presence. We do not have to chase after or search for that Something that will satisfy for in Christ Jesus we have everything; we have the Kingdom right here among us. Stop in and make a visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament and be satisfied.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ten Lepers Came to Meet Him (Lk 17:11-19

The story in the Gospel today is very familiar to all of us. Ten lepers come to Jesus and ask that he heal them. He sends them off to the priests, and on their way they realize they have been healed. One man a Samaritan turned back and praising God threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him. Ten were healed but only one returned to thank God. So very often when we hear this Gospel we are reminded to be thankful for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. However there is more to the Gospel than just the Samaritan returning to thank our Lord. In fact the beginning of the story is as important as the end for us today. Ten lepers came to meet Jesus. In their misery they sought Jesus out. Is that what you do in your misery? Or do you isolate yourself and shut yourself off from others including our Lord? Even though they stood away off they cried out to Jesus. Is that what you do? Do you cry out to Him? When you feel far away from Him do you cry out to Him. When your caught up in sin and feel alone and abandoned, do you cry out to Him? When you are ashamed of yourself and feel like a failure, do you cry out to Him? They call Him by name and they recognize who he is, "Jesus Master!" Do you do this? Do you know your Lord's Name? Do you realize who he is? Finally they ask that He have pity upon them. Do you seek His Mercy in your life? Or are you afraid of all this. You see it is easy to think "Oh I should be more thankful." but the lesson does not begin there. It begins when in our misery and sinfulness we seek Jesus out. We must cry out to Him by name. We have to call upon Jesus name in our misery. We have to recognize who He is; that He is our Merciful Lord and Savior. We have to ask for His Mercy to be poured out upon us. This is what the ten lepers did despite their misery, despite their fears. In doing so the Mercy of God was showered down upon them. Their prayers were answered. Then one had the faith to be thankful to God and returned humbly to thank Jesus. But first he had to humbly seek out Jesus, cry out to him by name, and recognizing who He is and ask for mercy. You and I are called to do the same and be equally thankful for the Loving Mercy of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Doing What Your Obliged To Do (Lk 17:7-10)

Jesus makes it very clear today in the Gospel that we are obliged to serve Him. This Truth upsets many people. In fact the culture we live in as a whole has rejected this truth. We have decided to serve ourselves. In serving ourselves we have perverted society and degraded the human person. Serving ourselves has produced a culture of death for us and our children. A culture in which how we feel is the absolute measure of truth, and the sole motivation for action. This self centered feeling base culture constantly wounds those who embrace it and produces massive devastation in the hearts and souls of so many. Yet even the wounds themselves give people the opportunity or the excuse to be even more self centered. Thus they are carried away deeper and deeper into misery because they only live according to their feelings. Their feelings that say "Take care of Yourself." So many people come to Confession and list a litany of sins. When asked "Why do you commit them?", they simply reply "Pride". As if to say "you see we all have pride so it is okay, it is just you know." No it is not okay, and no it is not just anything! It is in fact you deciding to serve yourself rather then God. It is in fact hurting yourself and others because you believe that what you think and how you feel is more important than the truth of your life. What is the Truth of your life? CHRIST JESUS! But perverted self centered sinners would never admit this to be true. These people place two things at the center of their lives; one is their their feelings and the other is their wounds. The rotten fruit of the self centered life is misery, sin, and death. Life does not have to be lived this way. When we embrace the Truth of our life in Christ, our self centered world is shattered. Shattered in His Love and Mercy. In His Merciful Love we see who we really are. In His Loving Mercy we are free to live according to our obligations. That is, we are free to serve Him. In being loved we are free to do all things. Even our weaknesses and our sufferings become a delight because from the fount of Life and Love (that is Our Lord's Sacred Heart) there flows a river of Mercy. In humbly coming to Him who is our Life, and agreeing to serve Him we are set free. You see as servants we are obliged to serve Him. But as the Master he is responsible for everything else. In other words the Master provides the servants everything they need in order to complete their tasks. And what is it that we need? To be Loved. In this Christ Jesus has in fact given us all that we need for He has given and continues to give to us His Very Self. Day to day then as we struggle to live our lives, what we must do is to choose to act upon the truth of our life; that we are loved by Christ Jesus. It is then that we can live according to our obligations in love, and reject the self centered life based upon our feelings and our wounds. The former leads to an abundant life; the latter to a miserable slow death.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran (Jn2:13-22)

Today we hear in the scriptures that we are Temples of the Holy Spirit. We have heard this phrase many times in our lives. We have heard many homilies about being Temples of the Holy Spirit. Some of us have even prayed about being Temples of the Holy Spirit. I could speak to you today about the truth of this teaching. I could speak to you today about the many sins that we commit in our thoughts, words, and actions, that are abuses of our bodies and the bodies of others; that are Temples of the Holy Spirit. These sins try to destroy who we are as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. However you have heard all these words before. You have either rejected them or forgot them. It is our problem of forgetting that is our great sin. We forget many things that are good because we forget that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We forget that we are His Temples. Jesus tells us in St. John’s Gospel that he will give to us His Holy Spirit to remind us of all that He taught us. In the Gospel today we hear that the disciples remembered what Jesus had said (about the Temple being destroyed and raised in three days) after His Resurrection. That is after they had received the Holy Spirit. We focus on the Temple that is our body but ignore the very Person that makes it Holy. That is even in striving for holiness we forget the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who reminds us of all that Jesus has taught. We forget because we are self centered. We forget because we do not want to be inconvenienced. We forget because we are lonely or afraid. We forget because we are hurt or are suffering. We forget because to know and to believe is too hard. We forget because our hearts and our minds are distracted by other things. Even when those distractions are meaningless, we use them to ignore the truth of our life. That is that we are loved by God. The Holy Spirit IS the Love of God. Love demands a Response. With our Response comes Responsibility. We must listen to the Holy Spirit when He reminds us of what Jesus has revealed. We must acknowledge God’s Love and live accordingly. We are not empty shells in which the Spirit decides to take residence. We are human persons and the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Therefore to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit is in truth to be a living communion of persons. A communion that is Unforgettable! Our communion with the Holy Spirit draws us into further communion. It is He who draws us to Holy Communion, and finally into communion with our Father in Heaven. This communion in which we become Temples of the Holy Spirit is certainly something worth remembering. In this you are never alone. In this you do not have to be afraid. In this you do not have to distract yourself. In this you will find peace for you will know that you are loved.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One Sinner Who Repents (Lk15:1-10)

I wonder how many times Jesus has to say the same thing over and over again before we begin to believe Him. Heaven rejoices when a sinner repents. Every time a sinner repents. In other words it pleases God the Father when we repent. It pleases Jesus when we repent. It pleases the Holy Spirit when we repent. It also pleases all the Angels and Saints when we repent. All those in Heaven rejoice when we repent. Those on earth rejoice as well. Priests rejoice when sinners are forgiven in the confessional. The faithful rejoice when those in need go to confession. Despite all this rejoicing. Despite all the healing and peace that come from repentance and forgiveness. We won't forgive, and are afraid to repent. We refuse to forgive because we have been hurt, and we do not want to be hurt again. We are afraid to repent because we believe God will throw us out like the garbage we falsely believe ourselves to be, ugly, hypocritical, perverted, disgraceful failures. Therefore our unforgiveness ferments in anger and anger ferments into bitterness until finally the fermentation is complete in bitterness turning to hatred. Hatred which is the opposite of Love. All this because we have been hurt. Our Lord does not want to see our wounds foul and festering as they decay into hatred. He desires to wash clean our wounds and to bind them up that we may be healed as He comforts us. He rejoices with all the Heavenly Hosts if only we come to Him trusting in His Merciful Love. In refusing to come to Him we allow our false judgments to be compounded by sin. The only thing that can ease the pain of believing you are a hypocrite is to give in and sin. The only comfort in believing you are ugly or perverted or a disgrace is to sin. We seek to distract ourselves from the misery of our interior lives. So our sins that distract us continue to confirm and reinforce our belief that we really are a worthless failures before God and men. So sin builds upon sin reinforcing our false judgments that keep us from knowing who we truly are in the eyes of God. Yet Jesus who is the Truth tells us that all Heaven will rejoice if we trust in His Merciful Love and repent. He also reveals why Heaven rejoices; because we are the Father' beloved sons and daughters. When we repent we are returning to the safety of Our Fathers House through the gift of our Saviors Sorrowful Passion, and in the Loving Mercy of the Holy Spirit. There we will heal from the many wounds that are our sins. We will find healing for all the sins that have been committed against us that we did not deserve. We will find healing for the many wounds we have inflicted upon others. Finally we will find healing for the deepest and most grievous of our wounds; those that are self inflicted; the sins that cause us the deepest embarrassment because we believe we should have known better. If only we repent. The truth is that we do not have to be afraid of being hurt again because we are Loved by the Lover of our souls, Jesus. The truth is we do not have to fear being judged for our Crucified Savior reveals to us our Fathers Love. Our Crucified Savior reveals the Our Father's Mercy triumphs over Judgement. In truth we are God's children now. In truth we belong to Him. In truth Our Father rejoices as does all those in Heaven when we return to Him and repent. They rejoice that in repenting we have been set free from our guilt and shame; free to know that we can live as His beloved sons and daughters.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Two Hands Children

“Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life…” These are the words of St. Paul to the Philippians, but they are timely for us today. We too live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We truly are living in the midst of a culture of death where the human person is constantly degraded. A culture that teaches that the greatest virtue one can practice is that of tolerance to the many forms of degradation that people subject themselves to. The greater the degradation the greater is the tolerance required. The culture of death rejoices in the slavery that so many have chosen; to live in denial of God, to confuse license with freedom, to abandon the love of neighbor for self love and the reduction of others to that of objects for pleasure or ridicule. In such a dismal culture St. Paul calls us to shine like lights by holding onto the Word of life. Jesus is the Word of Life. We must hold on to Him with both hands. In such darkness even a little light has great affect. Each one of us then is called to be light in the world. But we do not give off our own light. Because we hold onto the Word, because we hold onto Jesus, we shine with the light of His Grace. That Grace that He poured into our hearts, which is His Love and Mercy. People will not turn away from their crooked and perverse ways unless they see something better. We cannot simply tell them what they should or should not do. We must show them. Many good Catholics cannot because they are not holding onto the Word of Life. Instead they are clinging to their possessions, and their distractions, and their comfortable way of life that includes toying with and engaging in many of the pleasures offered by the culture of death. To hold onto the Word of Life is a radical abandonment to the Loving Mercy of Jesus. To allow Jesus to be the beginning, the middle, and the end of all that we do. If not, those caught up in the tolerant culture of death, will simply tolerate another way of living but will never recognize the Catholic way as the Way of Life. The greatest way to live without blemish is to live a Sacramental life. By going to Confession regularly and frequently attending the Mass, we are holding on to Jesus with both hands. He gives us His Life and Light to shine in us which draws those who are sick of the emptiness that tolerance and license feeds. It is difficult to hold onto the Word of Life, to make Jesus the center of all that we are. But we are not alone; this has been the Catholic Way since the very beginning of the Church. St. Paul is writing to encourage the Philippians nearly 2000 years ago. Like the Philippians we have been given the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate and Blessed Mother to be our example. In praying the Rosary, Mary teaches us how to listen to the Holy Spirit and respond to the Loving Mercy of Jesus. It will become easier to live the Way of Life even in the midst of the culture of death for we will not only know but we will believe God our Father loves us. We will come to believe that we are His beloved children.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Souls

Today we celebrate all souls day. In the readings we hear a message that is full of hope. This hope is based upon the love of God. Because of Jesus we have faith in Gods mercy. In Jesus we hear that we belong to God. This is a great comfort. However with love comes responsibility. They always go together, love and responsibility. Today many people, even Catholics say that God is love. They trust in his love, but they do not take the responsibility that comes with being loved by God. In other words they do not listen to or live by the teaching of the Church. They make excuses for their situations and claim; God loves me he would not be upset with what I am doing. Christ instituted the Church. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and he gave the Church the authority to preach and teach the truth of the Gospel. We hear today from the book of Wisdom “Grace and Mercy are with his holy ones and his care is with his elect.” If we are his elect then we have a responsibility to live holy lives. How many of you are living holy lives? If we are his elect then we have the responsibility of living lives of grace and mercy. How often do you pray? How often do you go to Confession? How often do you fast? How often do you pray the Rosary? How often do you give a substantial amount of money in the collection? You know you should give more every week than it takes to bring your whole family to McDonalds. How well are you living up to your responsibilities? These are not rules made up by the Church. Fasting, Prayer, and Alms Giving are the traditional ways of growing in holiness from the time of Christ. If you believe God loves you then you have a responsibility to live lives of grace and mercy. You cannot ignore his love and think everything is okay between you and God. When Paul writes to the Romans, “we have now received reconciliation,” he is urging the Roman Christians to live according to the truth of their life in Christ. In the Gospel Jesus says that everyone who sees and believes in him will have eternal life. This is true, but we have to live as if we are believers. We cannot just say we believe and then live according to the ways of the world. You cannot say you are a Cowboys fan and then walk around wearing a Giants jersey. You cannot say you love the Cowboys but not even care if they win or lose. But many think that with God and the Church these things are possible. I live my life as I want and the priest and God better give me what I want when I want. I say I am a Catholic and that is enough, I do not have to act like one. I love God, he knows what is in my heart I can skip Mass whenever I want, I do not have to go to Confession, and I do not have to support the Church. In this we are not living according to the responsibility of love. Today we pray for the dead because they need it. All of us are going to be judged someday when we die. We pray for the dead. It is our responsibility. We pray that God have mercy upon them and forgive them, and that he allow them to enter Heaven. We too will come face to face with God and will need the prayers of the Church. But today we can begin to live according to the responsibility we have because God loves us. We believe in him and are promised mercy when we die, but we cannot trust in this promise when we die if we do not live according to this promise in our daily life today.