Friday, March 30, 2012

Explanation of Passiontide, the 5th Week of Lent

There has been a shift in Lent in Week 5.  We veil the statues in purple and veil our senses in the purple of the Blood of the Lamb.  The mood intensifies, the Church settles in for the holiest week of the year.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Father Glories in the Suffering of His Servant

Then a voice came from heaven, 
"I have glorified it and will glorify it again."

James Jacques Tissot, the Voice from on High, 1896
Listen to my Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent (Passiontide):

If you have trouble listening click here.

Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent

Why?  Why Jesus, do you choose to leave heaven and unite yourself with those who suffer?  Why does love suffer?  Why is it that when we draw near to God he permits us to be purified by the Passion of His Son?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jesus is the Divine Physician, but First Permit Him to Diagnose So You May Be Healed

"You're not listening to me.  I don't like your tone of voice.  How dare you speak to me that way.  We are going to the shop and your going to buy me this and you're going to do it now."
Sound like an adult speaking to a child?  No.  It was a little boy speaking to his mother.  It is what is called a satanic inversion.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.
Mass Readings for the day

When a person tries to be God and tell God what to do, it is a wicked inversion of roles, where good is seen as evil and evil, good.  Yet the mystery of iniquity is at work in our hearts: rebelliousness, arrogance, resistance to grace, and so on.  Do not be afraid if you find this in your hearts, but turn and submit this sinfulness to the power of the Cross, where Jesus overcame our pride by his humiliation.  We need to drink of his humility every day to be washed free of our arrogant tendencies.

Lent is the time for repentance, the time when we are able to look at ourselves and have the courage to change.  It is the time not to distance ourselves from the idolatrous Israelites and prideful Pharisees but identify ourselves with them.  It is the time when we allow Jesus the divine Physician to begin to heal us by first giving us the diagnosis of our sins.

May the Immaculate and Penitent Hear to Mary pray for us and intercede for us sinners, that we may turn to God and find salvation and healing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St Joseph: Patron, Protector, Defender, Provider - Man of God

The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid"

Listen to my homily for the Solemnity of St Joseph

If you have trouble listening click here.
Readings for the day.

The glory and sublime vocation of St Joseph rest on the fact that he was the protector and guardian of the God-man and of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.  Such a person would need to be necessarily equipped with excellent graces, merits, and gifts to be the head of such an exalted family.

Yet we remember that this family had to live in poverty, exile, under worry of violence and death, and how docile St Joseph had to listening to the promptings of angels who spoke to him only in dreams.  We learn from him silence, contemplation, service and imitation of Jesus and Mary, and how to consistently humble ourselves before God and his holy plan.

St Teresa of Avila said that she had never been refused anything from his intercession on his feast day.  Let us therefore ask God through his intercession for protection, guidance, and defense of holy Mother the Church, and for every good intention in accordance with God's will.

Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote an excellent reflection on him called, Guardian of the Redeemer.

Awareness of God in Us Becomes Deadened by Sin but the Cross Not Only Restores but Creates this Life Anew

"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

Listen to my homily for today, Laetare Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent:

If you have trouble listening, click here.
Mass Readings for the Day

The first reading for today, taken from 2nd Chronicles, describes why the Israelites were exiled by God to Babylon, because by their sin they had exiled God from their moral conscience, "adding infidelity to infidelity."  They felt themselves estranged, alone, orphaned from their fatherland.  Even the great St Padre Pio prayed, "O Lord forgive me for may many infidelities."  How could a saint who was so close to God feel this way?  It is because saints are the ones who truly know they are sinners and are fully aware of Christ's salvation.  It is the one who has sin caked over his eyes that he thinks he does no wrong.  "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:10)  When God's light shines in us we see our sinfulness - dead, exiled, separated from God and very very alone.  Yet, according to the second reading taken from Ephesians
"Even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ -by grace you have been saved-, raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus"

And this is the ingenious thing about the Cross, that that which had formerly caused us separation with God, our sin, has now become through the pardon of Jesus Christ through his blood, the very thing which unties us closest to God.  This is what Jesus was referring to when he told Nicodemus 
"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
When we gaze upon the Crucified we see two things.  First what our sin does: kills the presence of God in our moral conscience.  One mortal sin separates us eternally from God and for it we deserve and justly merit eternal punishment.  The effects of this in our souls is obvious: depression, sadness, fear, anxiety, even insomnia and psychological problems.  We see that our sin kills the life of God in us, i.e. sanctifying grace.  However, the second and more important thing we see is that by our sin God has revealed his great love, showing us that God is love and he loves us without condition or measure.  Undeserving of his love, this woos us, wins over our hearts, to discover the novelty of being loved by God without having deserving it so that we can boast only of our weakness and the wisdom of our loving God.

This is the experience every time we go to Jesus in the Sacrament of confession.  The Lord Jesus gave the power to forgive sin to his apostles in the upper room when he said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" (John 20:23).  The psychological effects of receiving the actual pardon of God sacramentally are quite dramatic: emotional healing, peace, happiness, and freedom.

May Our Lady help us to experience the salvation of Christ in a powerful way this Lent.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Homily at the Wedding of Lee and Melissa Fletcher

Listen to my homily at their Wedding:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Remember the Last Hour That You May Live This Hour Well

If we seek to recognize the hidden Resurrection, he who is the Bread of Life, we will seek the hidden Resurrection, the seed of eternal life, in every encounter with the Living Jesus Christ in the poor.

Listen to my homily for today:

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Jesus, Free us of Harsh Judgments that we May Not Be Judged Harshly

Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening click here.

There is one thing of which we may be most certain, that our judgment about other's value is often askew and inaccurate.  We do not know what another has been through, what upbringing or education they have had, what their interior experience is, what graces they have been given or have not been given.  We only know that our capacity to weigh them is woefully lacking.  Because we are most certain of our own incapacity to judge their subjective experience and how often we are erroneous about it, we can be certain that is wise to not trust our judgments, but instead to be generous in the way in which we might measure.  In fact it is best to not measure at all.  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "If we judge others we have no time to love them."

This does not mean that we render ourselves morally incapable of judging moral acts, because the law of God always measures these objective criteria perfectly, forming our way of assessing a situation.  It means that we refrain from assigning and thus condemning the interior culpability or fault that is due to others in that situation.  Love doesn't not blind us to sin, but reveals it and sharpens our vision, yet at the same time illicits our pity and compassion on those who have sinned.  In this way we relate to others as our heavenly Father does fulfilling Jesus' words, "Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate."

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is free of any trace of judgment.  If you find yourself imprisoned by a heart that tends towards judging others rashly and therefore imprisoning them.  She can help you grow in humble love and service to tend more to free others of accusations rather than making them, to excuse rather than accuse.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Christ's Light Appears Brighter in the Midst of our Temptations, Sufferings, and Loneliness

Listen to my homily:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Mass Readings for the 2nd Sunday of Lent.

The three children of Fatima, Portugal saw a vision:
"At the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘PenancePenancePenance!'."
This was interpreted by the then Prefect of the Congregation of Doctrine of Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who said that Our Lady held up to the angel all of the penance of the faithful.  Lent is a season of penance and therefor a season of light, where we are illumined in the ways in which we are not pleasing to God and given the grace to change our lives.  It is a season of hope, where God affirms us in the capacity to cease doing evil and learn to do good.

This is the light of Jesus face in the Gospel, which shines forth even brighter when we see his light in our darkness.  The light of the baby at Christmas is that God is with us.  How much more resplendent is that light and the fact that God is with us when we are in the midst of temptation, suffering, isolation, abandonment, and fear!  Blessed Pope John Paul has said that the light of Mt Tabor is the same as the light at Mt Calvary as St Faustina, the Divine Mercy nun, has said that the light of Jesus in his resurrection and in his divine Mercy is the same light that issues forth from the face of Christ Crucified.

The light of God is that the Father has given his dearly beloved Son over to temptation for our sake, that we may not say that he does not know what it is like and what we are going through.  In fact, he took all our temptation upon himself and suffered it himself, conquering all our temptations personally in his own time in the desert.  Just like the first reading where Abraham suffered the test of God, God suffers our testing, trials, and questioning hearts, so that we may not doubt that he is with us in trial and pain.

The Eucharistic Lord illumines us brightly.  The Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem reveals this. A woman went to a witch in order to cast a spell on her unfaithful husband.  The witch told her that she needed a consecrated host.  The woman went to Church and stole a host at communion time.  It began to bleed so she locked it in a chest.  In the middle of the night, a light greater than the sun illumined the whole village, until the people asked where the light came from.  A priest took the host and placed it in Church, where it remains to this day.  The Eucharist contains our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, who is brighter than any light of the sun and when we receive him he consumes us in the rays of his love giving us the light and the love we need to change our sinful ways and begin to become pleasing to God.

This Lent, may the light of Christ bring us to a true communion of the Most Holy Trinity, who was manifest on Mt Tabor in the Father's voice to listen to the glorious Son, and the mysterious cloud of the Holy Spirit.  May the Immaculate Virgin Mary, whose love is like pure water in the midst of our aridity, refresh us and help us grow and change to become more like her glorious Son, Jesus Christ the Lord.

God Allows our Failings in Lesser Things to Humble Us, Laying the Necessary Groundwork for Growth in Charity

We are allowed to fall and fail in lesser things that the foundation of that which is greater may be laid, for the charity can grow only like a tree in greatness inasmuch as the depth of it being rooted in humility.  Do not be discouraged then if you find yourself failing in your Lenten obligations and promises.  Often times the Lord reveals in them our frailty and his unfailing faithfulness in always staying by our side.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.