Monday, October 31, 2011

Christian Love - Without Expecting Return

How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?
To a child their whole world is the mommy and daddy.  From their earliest moments of consciousness they see these people who care for them and give them shelter, nourishment, protection and life.  There is a day in the life of each person where they realize this debt.  Part of loving them in return is what is called filial piety, or giving them what is their due, to honor our father and mother.  They are an icon of the eternal and infinite providence of our loving Father.  The readings of Mass for today show us that we will never be able to repay God for his goodness and that loving our neighbor is a means of justly giving back to God what he has given us.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

The world teaches us the error that we love only those who love us, give to those who give to us and proportionately, that we forgive only if someone forgives.  This is not the way we love.  A follower of Christ MUST absolutely break out of this error.  If not the only way he will get out of it will be in the fires of purgatory.  This worldly way of loving is a very deep obstacle to sanctity and to authentic peace of heart.  We must wage a holy war against ourselves in this respect.  Prayer, frequent reception of the Sacraments, and placing ourselves in the line of God's gratuitous and undeserved charity, is the way to over come this obstacle eternally.

May Our Lady, whose Immaculate Heart is a white hot furnace of holy charity, help us to love as Christ loves, not expecting anything in return.  Loving others not because they are worthy, but loving them that they may become more worthy.

The Fatherhood of God Perpetuated in the Church

My Father, the deacon, and I at my first Mass
Recently a woman found herself apologizing for crying on my shoulder and taking up my time.  I reminded her that God consecrated me for that very purpose, that she would know especially in pain and sorrow, that God deeply loves and cares for her.

Listen to my homily today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

In the readings for today, the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, we see that a priest is a sign of the tender Love of God the Father, who arranges to give us very real and incarnate signs, or sacraments that we may know his love.  A priest is an alter Christus, another Christ, who has been given the sacrament of holy orders so that the people of God may filiate themselves to the Father in very real ways.

How many people find very real consolation, strength, blessing, life, and holiness in their relationship with the priests God has given them!  For it is clear that it is the will of God that the relationships of the Most Holy Trinity would be marvelously perpetuated in the Church.  When the faithful live as sons in the Son and filiate themselves to the fatherhood of God present in the priesthood of Christ, God is glorified and man is fortified.  Yet, on the other hand, there are some priests that do not give consolation but afflict the children of the Church.  In recent times we have been very aware of this, almost too aware.  The failure of priests has become often the most favorite topic at the bus station, in the grocery store, at homes and workplaces, so much to the point that it would seem that priests may be terrible villains.

It must be remembered that priests, while the dust has been kicked up a lot lately about the sex abuse crisis, are the lowest number of perpetrators and the management of the Church has handled it as the harshest of juridical penalties that civic law would never allow.  In Germany, the anti-catholic criminologiest Christian Pfeiffer claims that priests are the least number of offenders as .1% of all cases.  In the United States this number is even lower at .03%, while the insurance claims for married clergy are more than double this number and teachers triple.  Yet why are priests targeted?  Because they should be 0%.  They represent God's fatherhood and for this reason the damage is exponentially greater.

Thanks be to Jesus, who gave us this beautiful scripture, to "Call no man on earth our father" (Mt 23:9).  He said this so that when we do encounter the sinfulness of the Church, we will not ultimately allow this to shake our faith, because ultimately there is only One Father who is worthy of the name, before whom all other fathers whether spiritual or human appear as a very insufficient substitute or stand-in for the real thing.  Now, many so called "bible christians" interpret this scripture out of context.  The Catholic principle of interpreting scripture is context.  Let the bible interpret itself in light of itself and in light of the Catholic tradition, the magisterial teachings, and the teachings of the fathers and saints.

What is the context?  In Exodus 20:12 we hear to "honor our father."  In Matthew 3:9 and Luke 3:8 we see that Jesus himself called human men fathers such as Abraham and David.  The Blessed Virgin Mary called Abraham as father (Luke 1:55).  The Apostles Paul, who surely knew how to interpret scripture called himself father of the disciples in Corinth (1 Cor 4:5) and Thessalonica (1 Thess 2:11-12), and even called St Timothy, a young bishop, his son.  Clearly the New Testament tells us that it is right and good to call men by the title father.  So what IS the context?  Jesus immediately before this passage warns us of those teachers who do not practice what they preach, who
"They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them"

It is clear that this passage ought be interpreted in light of that seemingly harsh first reading for today:
You have turned aside from the way,and have caused many to falter by your instruction;you have made void the covenant of Levi,says the LORD of hosts.
It refers to those priests who do not teach the teachings of Christ present through the legitimate authority of the Church, and therefore rather than help souls enter into life, they impede them.  For those Catholic priests who oppose the teaching authority of Christ present in Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium, it is time to tremble.  The penalty God speaks of here is very severe.  But the faithful, ought not get too caught up in their failure, they ought not lose their faith because a so called, "father" or "teacher" has not taught them the correct doctrine, for they share their fatherhood only in a participatory or instrumental way.

In closing, I would like to share with you the words of Archbishop Chaput, which he gave in his homily for the national convention of the Knights of Columbus in Denver, Colorado on August 2, 2011.  Watch video here.
"Bishops, priests, and deacons are too often weak and sinful.  We need to be held to high standards.  Some of us deserve to be chastised.  The Church's leadership, the clergy, should always be marked by humility and service, and never by a sense of entitlement.  But it is important to remember that men and women did not found the Church.  They don't own her and they have no license to reinvent her.  The Church belongs to Jesus Christ.  The different roles within the Christian community, clergy, laity, and religious life - have equal dignity but different purposes.  Certain failures, including the sins of the clergy, need to be named, but when people deride their bishops and priests out of pride or resentment or some perverse desire for what they perceive as power, they undermine the Church itself, and they set themselves against the God whose vessel the Church is, and that, as Scripture suggests, leads in a painful direction.  All real reform in the Church today requires two things….renewal begins not in vilifying others but examining ourselves, honestly, repenting of our own sins, and changing ourselves.  This applies to every baptized person, from the Pope to the average man or woman earning a wage.  We are all sinners.  We are all in need of repentance and in need of God's mercy.  When we really understand that we can speak to each other with honesty and love and the reform of the Church can begin.  The second thing we need for reform in the Church is faith, not faith as in theology, or faith as a collection of doctrines and practices, although these are important, but faith as a single-minded confidence in God.  Faith as the humility, and in a sense, the passion and recklessness to give ourselves entirely to God.  That kind of faith changes people, that kind of faith shifts the world on its axis, because nothing can stand against it,"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

VIDEO: Call No Man Father?

We call priests and the men who gave us the issue of life Father because God wants us to know his love and his fatherhood in a very real way.  Yet because we do fail in this regard, Jesus tells us to "Call no man on earth our father" (Mt 23:9) so that we don't get too caught up in their lack of fatherhood.  Instead we may entrust ourselves to the real Father, who is the only one ultimately worthy of the name, for whom every other father, spiritual or human is a very poor substitute and stand-in.

Interpreting the bible according to the bible tells us that Jesus called Abraham Father (Mt 9:3; Lk 3:8), Mary spoke of Abraham as Father in her magnificat (Lk 1:55).  St. Paul called himself Father (1 Cor 4:15; 1 Thess 2:11-12).  St Peter and St John called David their Father (Acts 4:25).

Colloquium for the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity
Yesterday and the day before (October 27-28, 2011) were days that will nourish and illumine my priesthood for a long time.  I spent them at the Oratory in Reading, UK, for the first ever Colloquium for the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

There were three great speakers, two of whom are bishops of the Church.  Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett spoke about the impact that the confraternity of catholic clergy had on the Church in Australia.  Msgr Andrew Wadsworth spoke about the gift of the new translation of the Roman Missal.  However the highlight of the whole conference was certainly the exhortation preached by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury.

One comment stood out to me among the rest of the inspiring words and meditations, "The New Evangelization means that bishops and priests first must accept that they need to be newly evangelized and converted before speaking of anyone else."  I went away from his talk wanting to be evangelized, wanting to be holy, wanting to become a saint.

The other powerful gift of this meeting was encountering so many holy priests whose witness has deeply touched my life and showed me how much I am in need of repentance and growth.  Particularly touching were the different times we prayed together, offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass together, and knelt in quiet adoration of the Blessed Sacrament together.  When I heard the sound of the priests singing the ancient Latin hymns of the Church, it was almost as if I could hear that holy harmony of the everlasting hills, the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Here are the photos from flickr:

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Are Beautiful. You are Good.

This is the little girl I spoke about in my homily
You are beautiful.  You are good.  The Holy Spirit who dwells in the heart of a baptized soul tells this to a person who listens, revealing to them the very goodness in which God created them.  In today's readings for Mass, St Paul tells us that "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” for our hearts cry out, "Abba, Father!"

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

In the Gospel we have a living encounter with the Lord Jesus, who comes to us as the comforter of the afflicted and the affliction of the comfortable, the healer of the broken and the breaker of the "healed."  The Pharisees had a nice little fortress and stronghold, content to make decrees and proclamations that were not in keeping with the Gospel of the Lord, which is a Gospel of healing and restoration.  We find in them a very strange tendency to resist healing and redemption, to want to have it on their terms.  It isn't that hard to find ourselves in this situation, if we, like the Pharisees, have set up our little kingdom of self love and self affirmation, not allowing others to love us or affirm us, especially our Father, whose love will always make us go beyond ourselves and rise above where we are ready to go.

The Love of the Father when we are young is an amazing affirmation, but when we are more mature in the grace of God, his affirmation comes in the form of the Cross.  We know that his love cradles us, but he doesn't want to coddle us.  He says to us, "STAND UP TALL AND WALK STRAIGHT!  BE A MAN!  BE A WOMAN!"  We then are affirmed by finding that we can carry whatever cross, whatever suffering, trial, or temptation that our Father permits us to endure.  We also find that he asks us to be his voice, to present to others through spiritual paternity or maternity his very fatherhood so that we too show others how beautiful they are and how much loved they are by God.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Charity to Go Beyond Ourselves

Today we are faced with a terrible disease: egotism.  It is the most predominant form of idolatry in our time that bears the commandment: love thyself, serve thyself, worship thyself.  In today's readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus shows us how to overcome self-idolatry with true charity that is love of God and of neighbor.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

In our first reading we learn to come to the aid of the widow and the orphan and in the second we learn to live lives free of idolatry.  St James sums up nicely when he says,
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
True charity, to love God above all things and to love one's neighbor as oneself consists in living this way. It is not easy.  We are tempted to selfishness, to narcissistic self-concern and preoccupation with our own condition.  That is why the Holy Eucharist which we receive both is where we offer our charitable works to God in purity of heart and also where we receive the strength to be charitable.  Jesus is Charity itself, love Incarnate, the Father's Love made visible in the world.  When we receive him with humble faith, by a gift of his love he fills our hearts with the charity we need to love the poor, beginning with the poor ones in our very own homes.

May Our Lady, mother of divine Charity, help us to follow the law of God that we may love one another as Christ has loved us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spirit of Opposition to Your Loving Father

Why do you do things that you really wish you didn't do?  Why is part of you for God and part of you not?  In the readings for today's mass, St Paul tells us:
For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening click here.

What is really happening is that our bodies participate in that spirit of rebellion, of opposition, of sin, against the Love that Our Father has for us.  Separated from his Abba, man becomes fearful and arrogant at the same time, building up his ego so much that if his Loving Father tried to break through the fortress, the mask, and the armor, he would dig his heals in and consider it an attack.  This is really where this spirit of opposition to God comes from.

How do we get rid of it?

The Cross.

It is a lot of work, discipline, and a lot of perseverance to submit that part of our hearts that is in opposition to the goodness and love of God, that it may be subdued and quieted like a baby who at first strikes the face of his daddy, but when he realizes he is safe is lulled to sleep in his hands.

Frequent, intense, consistent meditation on the passion of Our Lord, especially on Fridays, which are days of penance in the Church, can help free us of the evil that still lies at the door of our hearts.

Our Lady, who herself was at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, stands at our crosses, helps us graciously die to our selves.  May she help us and obtain for us from her Son the grace to be transformed in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Love of God is a Consuming Fire

Jesus, the mighty Lion of Judah, tells us from today's Mass readings, 
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!"
Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, wrote a book about the human person called, Person and Act, but most people know the translation called, The Acting Person, in which he tells us that since man is a moral being whose actions are always leading him to the good or away from it, his actions, words, thoughts either build up the quality of his moral being or detract from it.  In a particular way, this is true for the body, which itself has its own memory.  The first reading talks about this:

For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
We can either grow in holiness or in impurity with our body.  The part of the body that can perhaps sully or  sanctify our body the most is our lips.  We must always be careful to use our mouth to build up rather than destroy, to bless rather than curse, to bring healing rather than ill.  This is true in our day with our use of the media.  We should think before we use our fingers to type something that can be spread abroad for the tearing down of another.  We should ask first, 
"Is this truly going to help my brother, is it what he really, really, needs to hear that will help him, or will it rather contribute to the huge mass of useless, careless, needless, and even dangerous communication that already clutters up the internet?"
In the Gospel we see that even if we have sinned with our bodies, the fire of God's holy Love can consume us, especially when we use the same lips that we have sinned with, to confess our sins in the sacrament of peace and reconciliation.  When someone comes to me in confession with a sin of the lips, cursing, guile, or has spoken malice or oppression to another, I always ask them for a penance to allow the Eucharistic Host to remain on their tongue for a while.  Let Jesus bless, sanctify, and heal your body, beginning with your mouth.

Our Lady's Immaculate Heart could be said to be a white-hot, immaculate furnace of the consuming love of the Most Holy Trinity.  May Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity pray for us and help our words, thoughts, and actions set this world ablaze with the love of God.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Vocation Was Born in Russia 19 Years Ago Today - Слава Богу!

"My son has gone very far astray and I don't know what to do about it."
"The only thing left to do is to give him to Our Lady."
This was the conversation between my mother and a priest as they stood outside Red Square in Moscow on October 18, 1992.  A group of pilgrims that filled two 747 planes full, or 20 busses by land, had just crowned Our Lady as queen of Russia in Red Square and as they filed back to the hotels, my mother approached one of the priest chaplains that accompanied them on the journey.

She knelt down in the hotel lobby and the priest placed his hands on her head.  He asked her, "Do you believe that by your maternal right you can be a proxy, a stand-in, for your son?"  "Yes," she replied.  The priest then declared, "I consecrate you, Samuel, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the protection of all the angels and saints."  In this act of intercession was the cry of desperation of a mother for her boy.

Heaven heard a mother's cry.

Three years later, after having been the singer in a punk rock band, after having tried to slice up a piece of the American Pie of the pursuit of happiness and coming up empty, after having been promised to a lady marriage, after having been terrifyingly bored of the path on which I was beginning to tread, I heard the call of Jesus Christ to become a priest.  It was the clearest and most lucid moment of my whole life.  I remember where I was sitting in my apartment in Southeast Minneapolis, Minnesota, the clothes I was wearing, the song I was listening to, but most importantly, I was given in one instant a very clear knowledge of the eternal reason why God created me as clear as I knew my own name.  I was born to be a priest.

Soon I also came to understand that it wasn't only a calling to be a priest, but also to serve in Russia.  Two years later after my mother's plea in Russia yet before I felt the call to priesthood, for no apparent reason whatsoever, I began to study Russian at the university I was attending.  Then when I entered my religious community, the founder of SOLT, Fr James Flanagan, verified my calling, "Our Lady is calling you to go to Russia, for it was there that the seeds of your vocation were planted."

Aren't all these events and spiritual things a bit too much?  Well, I began to think so.  I doubted and asked God for confirmation about this missionary vocation to Russia.  Soon after I began a novena for clarification on this matter a Russian Orthodox deacon from Moscow walked into my Roman Catholic theological faculty in Rome and looked me straight in the face and told me that it would not be easy to go to Russia but would be for the good of the unity of the Church for which Christ prayed.  That day I met fifteen young people from eastern Europe whose common conversational language was Russian, and I got a tutor to teach me the language better.  So much for clarification.

Bishop Tomash Peta, of Kazakstan and I at the
2006 Asian Mission Congress in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Time went on, and my community's mission in Russia folded.  It seemed that I wouldn't ever go there, and foolishly I asked God again for clarification.  This time I was in Thailand at the 2006 Asian Mission Congress.  It was the 14th anniversary of my mother's consecration of me in Moscow.  I found myself in chapel with several Cardinals of the Church celebrating Mass.  After it was over and we had walked out the door there was a bishop from Russian speaking Kazakstan, who brought with him some Russian speaking missionaries.  He asked me if we could celebrate Mass in Russian!  It was the first time I had ever attended a Mass in Russian and he asked me to do the first reading.  Afterward he approached me and told me that, although I had never set foot on Russian soil, I did not have an accent when I spoke Russian, unlike many Polish, Italian, or American missionaries in his diocese.  I told him that Our Lady was calling me to go to Russia.  He gave me a big Russian bear hug and said, "The Mother of God loves you very much."  I walked out of the chapel and there was the largest billboard size picture I had ever seen of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to whom I was consecrated in Moscow 14 years previous.  I told them I would never doubt again.

Will I still go to serve in Russia?  I did get a chance to visit in 2009 but with no clear plan from my community to start a mission.  All I know is that I am called by Our Lady to Russia.  When and how this will happen is not really up to me.  Wherever I am called I will go.

Let My Flesh Be Ground Like Wheat for the Eucharist

Today we celebrate the memorial of St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, the patron saint of my home parish in Annandale, Minnesota.  St Ignatius tells us:

I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible. (Letter to Romans 7:3) 

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

In the Reading for Mass today, we learn that we must fight against greed with almsgiving, the greatest almsgiving is given to us in the Eucharist where Jesus offers us the sacrifice of his very Body and Blood.  May our receiving of the Holy Eucharist enable us to become generous in offering the Christian witness of charity.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why Abortion is THE Issue of Our Day - Render Unto God what is God's and Bears His Image

In the Gospel for today, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus teaches us about the two realms of faith and government as his disciples have dual citizenship both of this world and of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Listen to my homily for this Sunday:

If you have trouble listening click here.

A coin bears the head of the person in charge of the state on it and his name.  A human person has inscribed within the very image and name of the Creator, bearing a divine dignity and rights with which he is endowed.  To say then that faith can have no bearing on the state is a lie.  Anyone who doesn't allow their faith to bear influence on their own political views, the social and economic sphere, not only has dead faith, but actually the words of Jesus apply to him, "You hypocrite!"

THE issue in our time for faith and government is abortion.  The reason for this is because the fundamental right to life, and to treated as a human person from the moment of conception is being violated by governments.  For those who say that we cannot be stuck on one issue, I would simply point out that Hitler was an ingenius leader who did everything legal but had one little issue of exterminating a portion of the population.  Why get stuck on one little issue of genocide?

Like hitlerian germany and the environment of slavery, we are now in an environment where millions are deceived into thinking that a fertilized embryo ought not have acccorded full rights of a human person.  When then does their personhood begin?  The fertilized embryo is not that of a duck, nor is it simply a tissue, or a machine.  It is a person who is simply very small growing every day into a larger person.

In our time, the young, in particular, seem to not have the same fear or reverence for the lie that a child in the womb is not a person, and it is the young that are doing the most in the pro-life movement.  A 22 year old woman, Lila Rose, started uncovering the illegal and unethical activity of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest abortion provider, and now it is being defunded slowly of taxpayer's money.  A young 23 year old founded 40 days for life, the world's most successful pro-life campaign to stop abortion.

When we look back at hitlerian Germany or times where slavery was decriminalized, we ask those people living in the time, why didn't they see it?  Why couldn't they see the evil right in front of them?  Why didn't they do anything to stop it?  Will generations from now ask that about us with regard to abortion?  It isn't going to last forever.  Eventually the image and likeness of the human person will be restored.

The question Jesus asks you today is,


Friday, October 14, 2011

Authentic and Catholic Faith of Pope St Calixtus I

"All you have to do is take Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior."  I heard this recently from a delivery man.  Really?  What about the part about acting on your faith to show that it is real?  In today's readings for Mass we hear about the faith of Abraham and the lack of the authentic faith of the Pharisees.  Together with the witness of Pope St Calixtus, whose memorial we celebrate today, our faith should be authentic and fully catholic.

Listen to my homily for today.

If you have trouble listening, click here.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."(Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 5).  For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17; Galatians 5:6) Living faith "works through charity."

So it is not enough to simply make an interior act of belief.  One must put it into practice by submitting one's inmost being to God, by offering one's life to him in obedience of his will, by graciously and trustingly accepting all the crosses that come to us through his kindness.

Contrary to the Pharisees, faith is not a matter of appearing to have it, but ultimately of sacrificing our whole being, our time and energy to the living and Eucharistic God who comes to us in humble circumstances and situations.

Pope St Calixtus fought the inauthentic faith of the modalists and adoptionists, which both deny the inner power of God, while proposing an exterior veneer.  Modalism is a heresy that says God is one in being but wears three different masks or modes.  Adoptionism is heresy that Jesus is not consubstantial with the Father, but just a man who has been divinized.  Many today follow this heresy saying that Jesus is just another profit and that therefore all religions are all the same.

Like Pope St Calixtus, we must fight these lies with gently and confidently proclaiming the one and true authentic Eucharistic Jesus who is God, to whom we offer our lives in worship.  We ought not fear those who may harm us for this proclamation, but rather fear God and worship him.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In the Eucharist, God Wipes Every Tear, Calms Every Fear, and Destroys Death Forever

A few weeks ago I had the great privilege of reconciling a woman with God by giving her the last sacraments of confession, anointing of the sick and the Most Holy Eucharist.  When I went into her hospice room, she was clearly full of anxiety, fear, and trepidation, but after receiving holy communion, all of that left her and it seemed as if death itself was conquered in her.  She died peacefully soon after.

Listen to my homily for today, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

In today's readings for Mass, we learn that it is in the Holy Eucharist that God says,

On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

Jesus invites us to the wedding banquet of the Lamb, the Eucharistic Feast on the very love of God.  When we receive him worthily, we are transformed to become living invitations to the Eternal Life, a life which we participate in on earth in the Holy Mass.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the Eucharist, "the foretaste of heaven and the pledge of future glory."  Jesus said in John 6:54-56,
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."
Some people struggle with faith in the mystery that each consecrated host is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, even priests.   There was a priest in the 8th century in the Church who doubted the real presence and so asked the Good Lord to manifest his real presence that his doubts may be healed.  Jesus answered his prayer.  During the Mass, the host began to bleed and was transformed into flesh-like substance.  This became known as the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy, where it happened.

For millennia this host has remained fresh, as if it just started bleeding.  In 1970, Pope Paul VI authorized forensic scientific research on the eucharistic species.  The analyses were conducted with absolute and unquestionable scientific precision and they were documented with a series of microscopic photographs.
These analyses sustained the following conclusions:
  • The Flesh is real Flesh. The Blood is real Blood.
  • The Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.
  • The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.
  • In the Flesh we see present in section: the myocardium, the endocardium, the vagus nerve and also the left ventricle of the heart for the large thickness of the myocardium.
  • The Flesh is a "HEART" complete in its essential structure.
  • The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood-type: AB (Blood-type identical to that which Prof. Baima Bollone uncovered in the Holy Shroud of Turin).
  • In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions (percentage-wise) as are found in the sero-proteic make-up of the fresh normal blood.
  • In the Blood there were also found these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
  • The preservation of the Flesh and of the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.

If this is truly GOD almighty whom we receive, the very Heart of Jesus Christ, why doesn't this mystery transform us?  The reason is perhaps that we while we may receive him sacramentally, we do not receive him spiritually.  We do not allow Jesus to receive us, to take us up into himself.  This is because our approach to the Eucharist remains very self-centered.

Why don't people go to Mass?  They center this mystery on themselves.  They want to get something out of it.  It is raining.  I am not in the mood.  There is a football game on today.  I don't like the parish.  The priest's preaching doesn't grab me.  All of these are excuses you hear, and all of them are based on ME.  If you center the Mass on receiving the living Person of Jesus Christ, you will not be able to sit through a Mass and not be riveted, moved, transformed, and rejoiced, that the living God comes to feed you with his very being, his love, and his grace.

May Our Lady, Mother of the Eucharist, help us to receive Jesus well, that we may become living invitations to the wedding banquet of the Lamb.