Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Infertility and God

This post appeared on Catholic Online

The Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the temple, speaking of his wife's new baby, although she is long past child bearing years.
"Father, I have been healed!"  
Believe it or not, this is not an uncommon thing for me to hear.  As a priest there are a lot of people who talk about the mighty things the Lord has done for them - healings from cancer, from emotional trauma, from addiction, or from some kind of brokenness that God reveals his love through their healing.  However it seems that one of the most common miracles are with regard to bearing the issue of human life: childbirth among complications, healthy pregnancy amidst difficult prenatal diagnosis, and even fertility despite bareness.
It is so common that when any gloriously reputed and renowned doctor tells a woman, "Oh no, you shouldn't get pregnant," or "you'll never have children," or "it would be better if you never exercise any fertility," I always advise to get a third or fifth opinion.  It seems there is no greater temptation for those in the medical field to play God than with regard to matters of life, sometimes pronouncing with all their "omnipotent" knowledge a definitive decree about a certain woman's uterine condition.
Don't get me wrong.  Doctors are great.  They just seem to overstep their bounds the most in this area, an area which God too seems to overstep the physical laws and intervene with supernatural healing.  If a doctor has used his medical authority to prophetically declare to you that "thou shalt never have children again,"  please don't hesitate to find another opinion.
In today's mass, we find the Lord addressing the area of infertility.  Life comes where there was only death.  Manoah's barren wife bears Samson.  Saint Elizabeth, who is beyond child-bearing years bears Saint John the Baptist.  At Christmas, the Virgin Mary bears miraculously the Son of the Eternal Father, conceived not by man but by the Holy Spirit.  All of these are an icon of man, who has been rendered lifeless and infertile by sin, yet in the coming of Christ eternal Life Himself is in man's very midst.
Infertility is a mystery.  It is not easy and for many couples is very painful.  Nowadays more than ever many couples are reporting to be infertile.  There are many reasons for this.  Sometimes it is because the woman damaged her fertility through oral contraceptives, which besides having a 12-17% rate in causing breast and cervical cancer, diminishing libido, and can even permanently disrupt a woman's menstrual cycle, also have the effect of causing high rates of infertility.  Another reason is the introduction of estrogen and progestins into certain process meats such as beef and chicken to keep them soft and supple, are ingested by men, whose reproductive organs are adversely affected.  And at other times, there doesn't seem to be any medical explanation for it, but just a trial that is endured.
As a result some people turn to the immoral practice of In-Vitro Fertilization, which not only removes the life-giving act of conception from the love making act, but also is illicit in the fact that fertilized embryos are wontonly destroyed.  AND HERE IS THE CRAZY PART: only one in five attempts are successful - 20%.  Yet 80% of all couples who try to conceive using Natural Family Planning, are successful, a method which is not only moral and right in the eyes of God, but also helps the couple to inculcate a high degree of respect and marital intimacy in the level of communication and the depth of what is communicated.  The other astonishing fact here is that the divorce rate of contraception and IVF is well over 50%, while those who practice Natural Family Planning according to the mind of the Church have a divorce rate of %0.02 (for more info visit
"Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that 'entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.'"
There are two things we need to take away from today's Mass.  First, don't contracept and don't IVF.  It's not only bad but a life and love killer.  Second, is to know that amidst a spiritual desert or spiritual infertility, God will intrude and bring forth abundant life.  Also for those couples who may never know the joy of having their own children, we must remember the glory of adoption.  It is by adoption that every soul brought into heaven is adopted into the Son of God through baptism, and that this is a very real and wondrous mystery of giving a child a second chance at a beautiful life.  If a couple opts not to adopt they must also remember that their marital love bears within it a certain fruitfulness in the apostolate of helping the sick, the poor, the friendless, and any in need of love.
May the prayers and intercession of the ever-Virgin Mary, who miraculously bore the Eternal Son of God, pray for all couples who have felt the pain of infertility, that they may know the God who brings life amidst barrenness.

Monday, December 17, 2012

O Holy Mary, Teach us Your Joy, Show Us Jesus

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near

Listen to my homily for Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent):

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

ADVENTUS DOMINI: Homily at Traditional Latin Mass in the Holy Season of Advent

Rorate, caeli desuper, et nubes pluant Justum. Ye heavens, drop down the dew from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One.

Listen to my homily on this Advent Feria (weekday):

If you have trouble listening to my homily click here.


People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations: and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard, in the joy of your heart. Ps. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep. V. Glory be to the Father. 


Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son; that through His coming we may attain to serve Thee with purified minds. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth. 

EPISTLE Romans 15:4-13

Brethren, What things soever were written, were written for our learning: that, through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope. Now the God of pa- tience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ; that with one mind and with one mouth you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honour of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to con- firm the promises made unto the fathers but that the Gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to Thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles and will sing to Thy name. And again He saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with His people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and magnify Him, all ye peo- ple. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and He that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing: that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost. 

GRADUAL Ps 49:2-3, 5

Out of Sion the loveliness of His beauty: God shall come manifestly. V. Gather ye together His saints to Him, who have set His covenant before sacrifices. 


Alleluia, alleluia. V. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Alleluia. 


At that time, when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to Him: Art thou He that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer, said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lep- ers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the gospel preached to them: and blessed is he that shall not be scandalised in Me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multi- tudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Yea I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. 

Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life, and Thy people shall rejoice in Thee: show us, O Lord, Thy mercy, and grant us Thy salvation.

Be appeased, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the prayers and offerings of our humility: and where we have no merits to plead for us, do Thou help us with Thine aid. Through our Lord.

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, ever-lasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without differ- ence or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:

Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God.


Filled with the food of this spiritual nour- ishment, we suppliantly entreat Thee, O Lord, that through our participation in this Mystery Thou wouldst teach us to despise earthly things and to love heavenly ones. Through our Lord. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

In this Year of Faith, We Must Beg God for Holy Spiritual Directors to Build up the Faith of His People

Listen to my homily on the memorial of St John of the Cross:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

"Like a blind man he must lean on dark faith, accept it for his guide and light, and rest on nothing of what he understands, tastes, feels, or imagines. To reach the supernatural bounds a person must depart from his natural bounds and leave self far off in respect to his interior and exterior limits in order to mount from a low state to the highest."
-St John of the Cross

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe Saves Us from Destroying Ourselves

This article appeared on Catholic Online

Listen to my homily of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

If you have trouble listening, click here.
Amalekites.  Not very nice people.  Sacrificed baby's to the god of darkness.  God sent Abraham to them to make them extinct.
Aztecs.  Also not too nice.  Sacrificed people by ripping their still-beating hearts out of their chests to placate the god of darkness, Tezcatlipoca.  For one feast they sacrificed  atop of the great pyramid of Tenaochtitlan 80,000 people in three days with a line of victims stretching 2 miles long.  God sent his Mother to them to save them from extinction.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It commemorates the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a little native man, Saint Juan Diego, of the Aztec people.
Her coming to the Aztecs heralded the conversion of over 10 million people in a few years.
In a few decades the people that were a waring culture, intent on conquering different tribes of peoples to find more victims for sacrifice, had become peace loving and God fearing and had replaced human sacrifice with the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
We need her again today.
Italy.  France.  Spain.  They will all be extinct in two hundred years.  These traditionally Catholic cultures are literally contracepting themselves into extinction.
It is a demographic fact (each couple has 1.39 children) that they will no longer exist if they continue to sacrifice their children to the devil with contraception and its result - decriminalized abortion.
With such a drastically low population rate they will undoubtedly disappear like the Amalekites because they kill their own children.
They need the Mother of God.  Now.
Today, I will be standing outside an abortuary here in England holding an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, praying peacefully the Rosary, begging the Mother of God to obtain once again, the conversion of millions from murdering their own children on the temple of convenience to the god of darkness.
We need to beg the Holy Mother of God to intervene in human history and save us from destroying ourselves.  It was she who conceived and bore the Savior of the human race, and she continues to bring Him again and again mercifully into different historical situations.
To not act is itself an action.  It is a grave omission, a decision to ignore the mass murdering of our generation.  We must all do our part, or face the ensuing disaster for our inaction.
May the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is the patroness not only of the pro-life movement, but also the patroness of the New Evangelization, obtain for mankind once again, the end of a culture of death with the dawning of a culture of life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bringing People to Jesus Amidst the Crowdedness of Christmas Preparations

And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.  But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered  him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Filling in the Valleys of Fears and Insecurities by Leveling the Mountains of Pride and Arrogance

John went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

O Mary Conceived without Sin, Pray for Us Who Have Recourse to Thee

La Purísima Inmaculada Concepción
by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, where we believe as Catholics that Mary was preserved by a prevenient grace, a preventative gift of God, that she was spared participation in original sin, and therefore of any personal sin at any time.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.
We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.
—Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christ is the Banquet for the Hungry

This homily is published on Catholic Online

"Can you make the sign of the Cross for me?  No?"  I used to be impressed if they knew the precepts of the Church.  Now I am just hoping they know the sign of the Cross.
That is where we are at.  Catholics are making the windmill, the left-right baseball sign, the let-me-make-something-up-so-I-look-like-I-know sign.  They don't even know what ought to be the most fundamental instinct of a Catholic - how to make the sign of the Cross.
They are starving.  They have not been fed.  Be not afraid.  Jesus is our food.  He is the hope of the starving Church, those who have not been properly evangelized or catechized.
In the Gospel today, Jesus is the promised One whose coming brings about the nourishment of man.  In the first reading the prophecy of the mountain where the holy feast of God, in which man is abundantly provided for, is fulfilled in Christ who says, "My flesh is true food" (John 6:55).  The Lord gives his very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, which as the Second Vatican Council says, is the "source and summit" of our faith.  It is the summit or mountain where we are fed the most bountiful and lush feast beyond anyone's imagining.
In the holy season of Advent, we will see many of the readings in the Old Testament being fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Advent is a season where the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are reaffirmed, "Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen."
We see in the Church today the need for this prophecy to be fulfilled again.  So many are deprived of the riches of the Eucharist because they are not taught what it is.  They are not fed by Christ because they don't even know that he is there.  Who will feed them?
If you spend a few moments with Jesus in the Eucharist you will most likely experience the "moving" of the Heart of Christ.  He says the word's of the Gospel to us today.  "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have nothing to eat."
Christ feeds the crowd, but he needs workers to distribute the food.  YOU.  If you are reading this, YOU are the one who must feed your brothers and sisters.  If you have enough faith to read a Catholic Online article, chances are you not only know the sign of the Cross and can teach it to others, chances are you probably know that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and can feed the starving with good things promised to them.
Charity demands that you respond, just as if you saw a starving man and did not feed him, it cannot be said that you do not have charity, likewise, when you see people starving for faith, you must feed them.  Simply because you know the truth, you must share the truth.
This is not easy.  We need help to do this well, or to do this at all.
Let us invoke the holy Mother of God, Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist, whose womb was the oven from which the Bread of Life came forth to feed the hungry, when he was born in Bethlehem, which means in Hebrew, "the house of bread" and placed in a manger, a feeding device for animals.  May her prayers and intercession help us to feed those starving for a lack of faith, and in this year of faith, may we respond generously to the One who calls us.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Faith of St Francis Xavier Enkindles Missionary Zeal

I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.

Listen to my homily for the Memorial of St Francis Xavier:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Let us pray.
O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier
won many peoples to yourself,
grant that the hearts of the faithful
may burn with the same zeal for the faith
and that Holy Church may everywhere rejoice
in an abundance of offspring.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent is a Time When we Ask: "What is God asking of me?"

Today at Mass, on this First Sunday of Advent, I read the pastoral letter of my current Archbishop in this archdiocese of Southwark, UK. On thing struck me, was the question that he proposes we ask, "What is God asking of me?"

So frequently people ask God questions, ask him for things, or even question him and his ways. Advent is the time when be still and get very quiet, quiet enough to realize that it is God who has questions for us.

I for one have ceased some noise creating things in my soul and body, by giving up legitimate use of Facebook and alcohol, for advent, in order that I may get silent enough to once again realize that God is asking me something.

What is God asking of me?


At least that is the answer I get when I ask him in prayer. He wants me to be a holy priest. I know the way of responding to this is by a more intense and frequent prayer life, better attentiveness and deliberate awareness of receiving and offering the Sacraments as a priest, and a more lively charity and service in my relationships, especially those in my own home.

May Our Lady help us all get quiet enough to hear God asking of us his bidding and obtain for us the grace to respond generously.

Here is the letter of Archbishop Peter Smith in its entirety:

Pastoral Letter for the First Sunday of Advent 2012

To be read on
Sunday, 2nd December 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The season of Advent is given to us as a “spiritual wake-up call” as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and look, in the longer term, to the final coming of Christ and the completion of the Kingdom of God at the end of time. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to “stay awake”. Advent, which begins the Church’s new liturgical year, is a time for us to be alive and awake, to become ever more watchful and faithful disciples. It is a time to witness to the life and hope which has been given to us in and through Jesus Christ, in whom we see made visible the God we cannot see. It is a time to look forward with hope and confidence to renewing our personal relationship with Christ in our hearts so that we can live out our faith in our daily lives. A key question for each of us, is to ask “What is God asking of me?” This is the question which I want each of you to consider and reflect upon prayerfully, not only this Advent, but throughout the course of this Year of Faith.
Beginning with the Incarnation, and culminating in the Paschal Mystery, the coming of Christ reveals and celebrates God's faithful and unconditional love for all people and for all time. He revealed himself as the God of unconditional love and compassion, who has a passionate care and concern for our salvation and our eternal well-being. Advent is a unique opportunity each year to allow God to deepen our faith and proclaim that love by the way we live and relate to others. It is especially a time, given to us by the Church, for us to focus on our relationship with the person of the risen Christ - an opportunity to make a new start with ourselves, with God and with others. It provides a more focused time to open our hearts to God in prayer, to allow God’s grace to change and mould us into clearer images of Jesus Christ, and to live as renewed and more faithful disciples. So we need to take to heart Christ’s challenge to all of us in today’s Gospel: “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”
We cannot hope to be changed, to be gradually transformed into more mature disciples, unless we keep alert to the opportunities of grace which God offers us day by day. The work of transformation and redemption is God’s work. It is literally a “labour of love” which God pursues through, with and in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This season of Advent is a special time for us to co-operate with that work, opening our hearts to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. It is a time for us to make use of all the means which Christ has given his Church for our renewal and transformation - especially the gift of Holy Scripture, the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and the gift of personal prayer.
Pope John Paul II, whose life and ministry made such a profound impact not only on the Church but on the whole world, reminded us that, “To be Christians has never been easy, and it isn’t easy today either. To follow Christ means having the courage to make radical choices that often go against the current. Do not be afraid to accept this challenge. Be holy men and women. Do not forget that the fruits of the apostolate depend on the depth of the spiritual life, on the intensity of prayer, of continual formation and sincere adhesion to the directives of the Church.”
Through the Church, God, in Christ, offers us again and again the love, nourishment and strength we need to continue on our journey of faith - a journey towards the fullness of life and love in the kingdom of our heavenly Father. As we make that journey day by day, we should do so with hope, confidence and joy. These are gifts of the Holy Spirit which we need to ask for in our prayer, and which he asks us to share with those around us. We are called to be the “light of the nations”, the “salt of the earth”. Like Christ we too live with the life of the Holy Spirit and we too are called “to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord's year of favour.” (Lk. 4: 18-19)
We are all called to proclaim the Gospel in the first place by the way we live. And we can only do that if we open our hearts fully and allow the Spirit, who dwells in the very depths of our being, to transform us more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Only with his help will we have the courage, the strength and the power to do as he asks of us - to proclaim the Gospel of God’s love, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, and to visit the sick and those in prison. I pray that each one of us may grasp the opportunity that Advent gives us, listening to God’s Word, rejoicing in his gifts and confident of his love for us and for all people.
“Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love,
and our minds are searching for the light of your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour
and give us the strength to grow in love,
that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence
and welcoming the light of his truth.”
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Archbishop of Southwark
Given at Southwark,
26th November 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

St Andrew, Pray that We Bring our Family Members to a Living Encounter with Jesus Christ

"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Listen to my homily on the Feast of St Andrew:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

O glorious St. Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, St. Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus. Amen.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Greater Evil is Secularism within the Church

But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Mass Readings for the day

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jesus Makes Himself Vulnerable in the Host, Giving All that We Might Give Him All in Return

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Most of us keep something back.  We are afraid to give all. St Maximillian Kolbe said that sanctity is giving that final exception back to God.  The widow gave all, but who is the One who truly gives all.  It is Jesus.  Just as the widow gave her all by giving a tiny penny, so Jesus gives a tiny host, and in doing so gives us his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  This is God's plan so that you and I can give all.  We are afraid to surrender so Jesus comes down to earth at every Mass and surrenders his all to us giving us strength to overcome our fears and vanity so that we can give him everything.

Mary, the Mother of God surrendered all to God.  May her prayers and intercession help us to do the same

Viva Christo Rey y La Virgen de Guadalupe, Long Live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe

The Cristeros, the freedom fighters in Mexico during the marxist opression of the early 20th century, used to shout, "Long Live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!"

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Mass Reading for the day

St Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, was a fifteen year old martyr, who offered his life for the sake of Christ the King.  This little boy gave courage to generals which helped them to overcome the wicked government of the day.

Let us ask Jesus the Lord and King of the universe, for this great courage to fight and overcome sin and weakness.

Monday, November 5, 2012

God Loves You with All His Heart, Mind, Strength, and Might, So Do the Same for Him

Shema O Israel!  Hear O Israel, the Lord is One!
Listen to my homily for the 31st Sunday of the Year:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Mass Readings for the Day

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feast of All Saints: Be A Saint! Be Holy as God is Holy

Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,which no one could count,from every nation, race, people, and tongue.They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.They cried out in a loud voice: 
"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,and from the Lamb." 
All the angels stood around the throneand around the elders and the four living creatures.They prostrated themselves before the throne,worshiped God, and exclaimed: 
"Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,honor, power, and mightbe to our God forever and ever. Amen."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows Eve - An Icon of How Faith and Culture Meet and Clash

This article has been posted on Catholic.Org
Some folks from last year's All Saints Partay

Tonight, many of the youth of my parish will be attending an All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, party.  They will be dressing up as different saints and I am sure that we will all have to try to guess who is who.  Last year one kid showed up with arrows sticking out of his chest like St Sebastian and another had an ax sticking out of the crown of his head like St Boniface.  Others were dressed donned with armor and sword like St Joan of Arc or holding a papal crozier like Blessed Pope John Paul II.  Yet for most of their contemporaries it is a night that has its origins in the pagan druid feast day that commemorated the Celtic new year, when they would dress up like gouls and banshees asking for sweets and treats to placate the lord of death and evil spirits, and have lots of bright and shiny jack-o-lanterns, which originally were a sign of a damned soul.
Pretty cheery - anybody for trick or treating?  The statistics for kids getting ran over by cars is doubled tonight more than any other night of the year.  Even more enthused?  Don't get me wrong.  Some of my happiest memories are from knocking on doors when I was a kid to get free candy.  Loved it.  However, Halloween will always be one of the feasts of the year that is an icon of that clash between the Catholic Faith and culture.  That is how it started.
In Rome it was clear that it was not possible to commemorate every martyr because there were just too many of them.  So Pope Boniface IV in 609 or 610 consecrated the Roman Pantheon as the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of All Martyrs.  Then Pope Gregory III (731-741) began the celebration of the Feast of All Saints on November 1st to commemorate all those holy men and women who, although saints of God, were not officially recognized by canonization, followed by Pope Gregory IV (827-844) extending this to the whole Church.
In the evangelization of Celtic lands, the Feast of All Hallows Eve was from the beginning a way of trying to rid the aboriginal culture of the horrible practices that the pagans practiced such as human sacrifice and burning both animals and men alive.  It was an attempt to try to Christianize the culture.  Faith must always leaven culture, and if the Church's faithful are not making the world more Christian, you can be sure that the world will be making Christians more worldly.  Do not be afraid of Halloween.  It is a moment to truly enculturate the Gospel, making the witness of All Saints to bear on a neo-pagan culture.
Sadly to this day human sacrifices are still carried out by satanic worshipers and it would be a good thing for Catholics to make prayers of reparation for these terrible acts.  Such atrocities ought to call Catholics to stand up and take their faith seriously.  The Year of Faith was called for because many within the Church, seated in the pew, seem to not allow their faith to bear fruit in the way they live on a daily basis, let alone in the way they celebrate and feast.
In the Gospel for today, Jesus says that many will say, "'Lord open the door for us.'  He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'  And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'  Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you evildoers!'"  The mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist is where we eat and drink in the company of the Lord.  How then would Jesus say that we are evil doers?  Clearly if we eat the Lord's Most Holy Sacrament in a state infected by mortal sin, we are, as St Paul tells us (1 Cor 11:27): "Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord."  Is this not Eucharistic ignorance also a blaring icon of Catholics who have let the world influence their faith rather than letting their faith influence the world?
Don't let your Catholic faith be like a Halloween mask.  Be real.  Your eternal salvation depends on it.  Jesus tells us right there in today's Gospel, "I do not know where you are from."  Not that he is ignorant of the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, but that when our hearts do not know Jesus Christ we cease to live in the knowledge of God and the glory of union with him, and we are cast out of his presence.
The Eucharist is the source, summit, and center of authentic Catholic culture.  The Second Vatican Council (Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, 58) says: "The Gospel of Christ constantly renews the life and culture of fallen man, it combats and removes the errors and evils resulting from the permanent allurement of sin. It never eases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. By riches coming from above, it makes fruitful, as it were from within, the spiritual qualities and traditions of every people of every age. It strengthens, perfects and restores them in Christ."
Jesus said in John 6:51, "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the"…church choir?  folks sitting on the pew attending mass?  For what?  For the WORLD!  So obviously Jesus' sacred flesh, his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, are given to Joe Lunchbox in the pew so that he can go out and transform the world with the same transformation which has ought to have happened by him receiving Jesus Christ in holy communion and being inspired and fired up with his Word.  This is how the Eucharist you celebrate must leaven Halloween.
The Church is not going to tell you how to do that.  Neither is God.  He is too happy to let you use the head that he gave you and the will that he gave you to let you figure out what way in your sphere of influence will change the pagan sacrifices to the Holy Sacrifice of Mass lived out by people on the street.
But since you might need a kick start, here are few suggestions:
1.  Have an All Saints party.
2.  Have masses and prayers said for reparations against the Holy Eucharist on All Hallows Eve.
3.  Don't be afraid to go trick or treating.  Don't be afraid of culture.  Claim it for Jesus Christ!  Just be real about your Catholic identity and your intentions and use the occasion to teach your children how to let their faith inspire culture.  Keeping in mind the first reading for today, "bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord."
4.  Feast!  It is a feast not a fast.  Rejoice and enjoy the Catholic attitude of celebrating the supreme Love of God not just in the church, but at your dinner table and your way of living your faith at home.
5.  Blog.  Facebook.  Tweet.  Digg.  Whatever.  Preach the Gospel always and don't be afraid to preach it using words and associations the neo-pagan culture can understand.  Be careful of Halloween becoming an occasion where you become a "hater" using the media or some kind of weirdo who can't dialogue with a most people who simply see this as a time to have good clean fun.  Remember most people haven't a clue of Halloween's origins.  Show the attractive way of the Love of God.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Submit to One Another Out of Reverence for Christ: Obedience of Faith in Relationships

It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches."
Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Mass readings for the day

WOMAN, You are Set Free of Your Infirmity - Jesus Loves and Heals Women

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Readings for the day

When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."  He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jesus Heals Us of the Blindness of Pride and Sin

Healing of Bartimaeus by Carl Bloch

Listen to my homily for the 30th Sunday of the Year:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Jesus heals the blindness of pride and sin.  We cry out to him in our blinded state and beg him like Blind Bartimaeus, saying, "Jesus Son of David, have pity on me!"  When he hears us he calls us and gives us courage, heals us and then we are ready to truly follow the master, bringing others to be healed of their blindness as well.  Yet we remember that we always need him to continually heal us, for if we say we are not blind, how deeply blinded we are.