Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hell is Real. People Go There. Don't Let it Be You.

Taken from Quinn Dombrowski's Flickr

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Jesus Christ teaches us about hell.  Hell is Real.  It is a place where people go who have unrepented mortal sin on their conscience when they die.  Jesus mentioned it over 70 times in the gospels, and the New Testament mentioned it another 92 times.  The Old Testament referred to it 60 times.  It is also is a dogma of our Catholic faith, which is the highest certitude of divine revelation, witnessed in the words of Jesus, "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall never pass away."  It was taught by the Council of Lyons (DS 457): "if anyone without repentance dies in mortal sin, without a doubt he is tortured forever by the flames of eternal hell."  The Second Vatican Council and every Pope in the past century reaffirmed this age old teaching of Christ.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 1035:
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

Yet why do people not acknowledge the existence of hell?  They say a loving God would not allow eternal torments.  However if it is love, it must be free, and therefore the possibility of not choosing love must needs be part of it.  If it weren't a free gift of one's self to love the other, it would be automation or instinct, not the decision of a dignified and rational creature to love in return the Lord who had infinitely loved.

We should take heart in the fact that truly, there is only one sin that is unforgivable.  It is the one sin every one in hell has committed and the one sin everyone in heaven has not committed.  It is impenitence, that is, the only sin God doesn't choose to forgive is if the person doesn't want his forgiveness.  GOD CAN FORGIVE EVERY SIN, and he does.  This is why perhaps we will be quite surprised to see some people in heaven who we might have thought do not belong there, because quite simply, they repented.

There are two ways we can choose to not be forgiven.  First we presume forgiveness and therefore do not think ourselves in need of God's mercy and become unwilling to admit our fault.  This kind of arrogance or willful ignorance is very common today.  Pope Pius XII and Blessed Pope John Paul II called it the "loss of the sense of sin" (Reconciliation and Penance, 18):

"Finally the sense of sin disappears when-as can happen in the education of youth, in the mass media and even in education within the family-it is wrongly identified with a morbid feeling of guilt or with the mere transgression of legal norms and precepts. 
"The loss of the sense of sin is thus a form or consequence of the denial of God: not only in the form of atheism but also in the form of secularism. If sin is the breaking, off of one's filial relationship to God in order to situate one's life outside of obedience to him, then to sin is not merely to deny God. To sin is also to live as if he did not exist, to eliminate him from one's daily life."
We read in the psalm for today:
From presumption restrain your servant;let it not rule over me.Then shall I be blameless and innocentof serious sin. 
The other way we can refuse the mercy of God is by despairing of it.  This is really a kind of cloaked pride, or what I like to call wounded pride - belief that you simply are not lovable and forgivable by God, but this is not what God says.  The Cross and Resurrection of Christ makes clear, especially the ugliness of his torments, that sin is horrible but forgiven in Christ.  To refuse this is to refuse Christ.


Very simply put (according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1857):
1. It's Bad  (sin whose object is grave matter)
2. You know it. (full knowledge)
3. You do it. (deliberate consent)
So if you are serious about going to heaven try this: go to confession pretending that you will meet your death after absolution.  Leave nothing out.  Confess your sins in kind and number.  Pull each act out by the root by accusing yourself of each act, renouncing each one singularly.

So how can we attain eternal life and avoid hell?  First of all, DON"T WORRY.  Well at least don't worry needlessly.  A little healthy fear of the Lord could actually save you.  But to show you how willing God is to save your soul let us talk about the 5 P's, the five point plan to get you upstairs with God:

PRECEPTS- When the rich young man approached Jesus, who is a kind of analogy for each of us, he asked the Lord, "Good teacher how may I attain life everlasting."  Jesus' reply was certain and simple: "FOLLOW THE COMMANDMENTS."  We don't decide what is good and evil and are not the arbiter of morality.  God is.  Eve believed the liar when he told her that she could decide for herself what was right and wrong and each sin committed since has a trace of this denial in it.  Just as hell exists whether we like it or not and believe it or not, so does grave moral evil.  If we follow the commandments, Jesus tells us that we will attain life everlasting.

PARDON- We pray often, "forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us."  This means that God's pardon of us has been made conditional upon our pardon of others.  Christ's teaching is clear here (Luke 6:36-38):
Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.  "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.  Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
So there is of course a very real and eternal significance in forgiving, and it is clear that our eternal salvation depends on it.  There are accounts of people being dragged to hell because they couldn't forgive their family members.  Don't let that be you.  FORGIVE!

THE POOR- Easy.  You feed the poor you feed Jesus in disguise and you go to be with the one you served in disguise.  You don't feed the poor you feed the disguise of the devil in the disguise of your fattened excuses and you go with him and his fallen angels for all eternity.  Need we say more?  Blessed Mother Teresa said that we will be surprised how many who do not know Christ will be in heaven because they encountered him in the sick and suffering here below and served him unknowingly.  In Matthew 25:41-46 we read:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’  Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’  And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
PRAYER- The greatest prayer is of course the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other Sacraments.  These are not called the Sacraments of Salvation for no reason!  Jesus tells us in the Eucharist (John 6:54): "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day."  Every time we approach the banquet of the Lord we accept the foretaste of heaven, the pledge of future glory.  The other powerful prayer is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  For here we approach the very tribunal of mercy to prepare us for the tribunal of justice.  We avail ourselves of the pardon of which Jesus spoke at the words of instituting this beautiful mystery (John 20:23): "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  The other great prayer is the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in which the apostle St James spoke about (James 5:14-15):
Is anyone among you sick?  He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.
I don't know how many times I have held the hand of a dying man and offered him this beautiful gift and only moments later he died being forgiven his sins, strengthened in Christ, and prepared for crossing through that very paper thin veil we call death that is the barrier between this life and the next to meet the Lord.  Another important gift here is called the APOSTOLIC PARDON.  Ask for this for the dying from the priests of the Church.  It is not only the full remission of sins but any temporal punishment due to sin.  It is a special plenary indulgence reserved for the dying to absolve them not only of their sins but any time in purgatory due to the residue of sin after death.  Here is the formula I pray with the dying frequently that gives them this supreme gift:
By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit."
Besides the Sacraments, we should spend time in prayer.  Prayer is to the Christian as breathing is to the soul.  We need to "pray unceasingly" not only for the salvation of our own soul but also the souls of all.  St Alphonsius di Ligouri said, "The one who prays will most certainly save his soul.  The man who does not will most certainly lose it."  St John Chrysostom simply said, "Prayer is necessary for the salvation of our soul."

HIS PROMISES - God has given us many promises to save our souls in the Scriptures:
Mark 16:16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.John 3:16For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
There are also the wonderful promises in the life of the Church.  Our Lady made 15 promises to those who recite the rosary:
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.
Ok it's pretty clear that you should become devoted to the Rosary if you want to live in life everlasting. There are also the promises of the 9 First Fridays given to St Margaret Mary Alaquoque:
"I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."
Then there is also the Divine Mercy Feast Jesus gave us to secure our salvation:

“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open.  The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment."
It is clear that God wants us upstairs.  He wants to save us all.  Yet there is also a backdoor to heaven.  It's name is Mary.  We pray in the Hail Mary, "Pray for us now, and at the hour of our death."  Those who approach Our Lady will most certainly obtain a very powerful advocate for the tribunal of justice.  A priest died, Fr Steven Sheier and found himself before the judgment seat of God:
At the end of his judgment, his sentence from Jesus was hell. Fr. Scheier said “yes” as that was the only logical thing he deserved. At that moment, however, he heard a woman say, “Son, will you please spare his life and his eternal soul?” The Lord replied, “Mother, he’s been a priest for twelve years for himself and not for me, let him reap the punishment he deserves.” “But Son,” she said, “if we give him special graces and strengths then let’s see if he bears fruit; if not, your will be done.” There was very short pause, after which Jesus said, “Mother, he’s yours.”
It is clear that even priests need the intercession of the Holy Mother of God to save their souls.  Let us ask her to obtain this grace for ourselves and for all.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You Don't want to Mess with St Michael

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

St Wenceslaus: Saint for the Young to Come to Full Christian Maturity

Today is the Feast of St Wenceslaus.  Read about this saint.

Listen to my homily for today:

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But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christ Comes to Free us from Vanity, Fear, and Egoism

Vanity of Vanities!  All is vanity!

Listen to my homily for the day:

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Like King Herod, our sinful nature would have us rule like a tyrant on a throne of egoism and all the vanity that it brings.  Herod couldn't even open himself to the idea that maybe Christ was not one of the prophets come back but actually the prophesied messiah.  Jesus visits us in the midst of our own tyranny, dethroning us from our own self-importance and self-love to reveal that he is the fulfillment of man's deepest longings, the very Love of God incarnate.

There are three things that help us break out of this world of vanity: prayer, love, and suffering.  The holy Cross of Jesus stands as the sign of the Love of God and of turning away from self to find peace.

May the holy example and prayers of St Vincent de Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, and of Our Lady, the Mother of Divine Love, help us to be rooted in Christ.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our Lady of Walsingham and England Coming to Full Roman Communion

This is the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham
that is in our sanctuary today.
Listen to my homily for the day:

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Gospel for today (John 19:25-27)

Prayer for England

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.
Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Be Happy With What Great Love the Father Gives You and Take Some T.A.J. Medication

Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me."
Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Mass readings for the day.

Little children go through a stage where they need immediate, tactile, loving affirmation.  They place themselves in front of you waiting for this.  People are like little children, and especially if they didn't get that kind of love when they were young, will always scrape after it later.

The Holy Eucharist is where the Father touches us, embraces us, and shows us that he has created each one of us and unique, precious, and unrepeatable to him.  Each person is really a unique expression or emanation of the Father's love and each person has a place in the Father's heart reserved only for them.

When people don't feel this love, the result is jealousy and anger, which are what the readings for the day are about.  Why were the apostles discussing who is more important?  Why in the second reading does St James say that all these passions and jealousies arise among us?  Why in the first reading do the wicked get jealous of the just?  Because their vain insecurity excites what is evil in their hearts.  They don't feel the unique, precious, and unrepeatable love of Abba Father, and so they try to find it some other way.  Married want to be single, single want to be married.  Brown want to be white and white want to be brown.  Why?  Why do you not see that you are beautiful the way you are?

It is particularly hard for the suffering soul to see the value of the cross when they compare themselves to others.  How easy it is to think that we have it harder than others!  Yet just like the expression of the Father's love for us is unique, so is his cross that he has pre-measured just for us.  When Jesus was predicting in the Gospel his passion, death, and resurrection, he was also predicting this for our own lives as well.  The wonderful thing is that when we enter into sufferings, this is the doorway to entering into greater merit, greater enjoyment of God's eternal beatitude in heaven.  But only faith lets us see that right now.

Discipleship is living that interior discipline of life where we make clear and solid decisions to allow God the Father to embrace us: frequent reception of the sacraments, devout and consistent daily prayer life, repentance and ascesis, with works of mercy and kindness to our neighbor, especially those in our own home.

Here is some medication we need to help us, a TAJ pill.  Taj means in persian, a royal crown.  This is a crown for a disciple:

Vitamin T - Thanksgiving - to be grateful to God that he made us just the way we are.
Vitamin A - Acceptance - to accept whatever God has given us as our own participation in the paschal mystery of Jesus.
Vitamin - J - JOY that comes from being thanksgiving and accepting of everything we are and have that we are not and do not have.

May Our Lady help us to experience the Love of the Father and be thankful, accepting, and joyful disciples of Jesus.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

God Plays You HIs Tune But You Don't Dance

Jesus said to the crowds: "To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?  They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,  'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.  We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.'
Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass Readings for the Day

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jesus Gives Life Back to Those Who Have Lost It

Jesus raides the Widow of Nain's Son from the Dead
Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass Readings for the Day 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jesus Was Amazed at the Centurion. The Sacred Liturgy Should Enkindle Eucharistic Amazement.

When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."

Listen to my homily of the memorial of St Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor (Read more about this saint):

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Mass Readings for the Day

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Witnessing to Christ - Keep it Simple, Keep it Real

Listen to my homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

In the Holy Cross, God has United Himself to Each Man and He Has Conquered Death

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass Readings for the Day

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Decisions Based on God and His Law or on Your Ego and Self-Gratification

Jesus prayed all night before creating the foundation of the Church on the Apostles.  Although his was a pretty important decision, we could do well to stop and pray before making important decisions.

Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass Readings for the Day

Withered Man: Stretch Out Your Hand, For Christ Stretched His Out on the Cross!

Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass Readings for the Day

In today's Gospel Jesus shows us that we need to be healed of resisting redemption.  The hand is a symbol of the will and the works of the human person.  In this light Sirach says,

Set before you are fire and water; to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.  Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.

Man stretches out his hand to good or evil.  Too often we get addicted or attached or numbed in some way to stretching out our hand to what is evil.  It may not be apparently ill but the devil is a master of deceit and can make a lesser good look like a higher good.  When Christ comes to heal us, the first thing he has to heal us of is the desire to remain unredeemed, to keep attached to sin, or at least to lesser goods that bring us nowhere fast.

What do we do?

Thanks be to God that Christ has stretched out his hand on the Cross that he may place within our hearts the desire to be redeemed and the desire to be holy.  IN the Holy Eucharist, Jesus places within our very flesh, our wills, our souls, his own desire for our highest good.  Here he says,


or in other words, choose what is good and reject what is evil.  We remember that this life-saving command is uttered by Jesus who is God made man, God who uttered at the beginning and from his utterance was created.  Jesus creates this desire in our hearts.  We only have to permit him to be God, allow him to be the Savior, allow him to save us.

May Our Lady obtain for us this grace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

God Touches our Ears with his Word and our Tongue with the Holy Eucharist Enabling us to Speak to and about God

Today on the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Readings for the Day) Jesus says to the deaf and mute man, "Ephphatha, be opened!"

Listen to my homily for the day:

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Eve listened to the serpent with her ears and believed his lie to look at the fruit with her eyes, grasping it with her hands, smelling it's odor, and tasting it, she used all senses to fall away from God and with her all her children.  Since then, the senses have always been a doorway for sin.  With the senses the disordered appetites, passions, and emotions also are a gateway to sin.  For this reason Isaiah the prophet in the first reading prophesied of the Messiah:
The eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.
And Jesus came to heal us.  Each of us needs to be healed of blindness, but the way Jesus does this is by putting his finger in our ears with his Word and touching our tongues with the Holy Eucharist.  When he does this, we come to a very powerful realization that we cannot trust our senses, our emotions, our judgments, our very self.  We see the truth of his words, that unless we deny our very self we cannot pick up our cross and follow him.  "Cursed is the man who trust in himself and blessed is the man who trusts in God," (Jeremiah 17:5).  This is why we can deny ourselves because we understand that we do not see by sight but by faith, believing more the revelation of Jesus Christ more than the revelation of our own senses, our thoughts, and judgments.  This is the true moment of freedom, when the senses that lead us astray no longer bind us and instead we are bound to God by the darkness of faith.

We are proud and arrogant.  Like Eve, we tend to believe our own ego rather than God.  We therefore need to be humbled.  A lot.  Sufferings are sent our way all the time so that we are humbled before God and start to believe him rather than our own foolish rash judgments and spurious thoughts.  Let's make it easy on ourselves and humble ourselves before God first, accepting the words of Jesus, "those who say they can see are truly blind."

Only in the blindness of faith, where we accept as true the revelation of God's Word, transmitted to us faithful and fully only by the triple cord of the Scriptures, Tradition, and the Magisterium, do we truly see God.  When our eyes are adjusted, then we begin to see God everywhere and in everyone all the time.  St James speaks of the spiritual blindness in the second reading of not greeting Christ in the poor. You will see his poverty all day long if you want to.  He is in your neighbor waiting and thirsting for your love.  Only by the Word spoken by Jesus in the Scriptures proclaimed in the Liturgy and by the frequent and devout reception of the Holy Eucharist will we be given the strength to love Love's Poverty in the disguise of human poverty.  Look therefore in your spouse, in your children, in your parents, in your family, friends, co-workers.  See God in them and respond to their needs thus loving God disguised in your neighbor.

May Our Lady help us to respond generously to the poor.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nativity of Mary: For this Was I Born, to Bear Witness to the Truth who is Jesus Christ

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of Mary.  She was born to be the Mother of God, to bear witness to the Truth of Jesus Christ.  We are given a short moment in time to live this life and we have only one shot - we have to give it all we got to bear witness to the love of God.  So many need this witness but first we must realize it ourselves and accept the mighty and tender love of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass Readings for today 

Friday, September 7, 2012

God Must Rip Away Mundanity to Give the Sanctity of New Wine

At the death of Christ the temple veil was rent in two.  At his baptism and his transfiguration the sky was ripped open and the Father manifested himself.  God's divinity must rip open the mundanity of our lives so that our humanity can be sanctified.

Listen to my homily for today:

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Mass readings for the day