Monday, December 30, 2013

HOMILY for the Holy Family: Society has an Auto-Immune Disease Which Attacks the Healthy Cells- the Family

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience

Here is my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

This account was taken from the Morning Sun, March 25, 2013:

On a normal day, Jennifer Digmann goes to class and Dan Digmann goes to work at his job at a University communications office. 
Though both have been diagnosed with different forms of multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects nerve cell communication, they don’t let their diagnoses control their lives. 
Jennifer, now 38, was diagnosed when she was 23 and Dan, now 40, was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS at the age of 27. 
Jennifer, diagnosed with secondary-progressive MS, relies on a wheelchair to get around. 
Because the disease affects each differently, Dan said he is often stricken with numbness in his hands and feet, and general fatigue. 
Jennifer said she lost the ability to walk five years after her diagnosis.

Through it all, Jennifer said she does not have a lot to complain about.
“I always say, other than MS, I’m quite healthy,” Jennifer smiled. 
Because MS is a degenerative disease, the two focus on a day at a time.

Jennifer said she’s cautiously optimistic about the future of the two. 
“When it started to get serious, thinking about it, you’re just like, ‘How would two people with MS function as a married couple?’” Dan said. 
Though each day is unpredictable, they consider themselves to be blessed. They still have each other.
Jennifer and Dan Digmann believed the words when they spoke them on their wedding day, “In sickness and in health.”
Multiple sclerosis is what is called, an auto-immune disease.  An auto-immune disease is a disease where the immune system turns against the body.  Normally the immune system attacks threats against the body, but in an auto-immune disease, like Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system becomes convinced that the good cells are threats and starts to attack them.
We could say that Multiple Sclerosis is a kind of parable for the way family life is now within society.
Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Exhortation, the Gospel of Joy, Evangelii Gaudium (66-67),
“The family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. 
“The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious. 
“Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. 
“The individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which weakens the development and stability of personal relationships and distorts family bonds.”
The family is the cell of the body of society.  Society of late seems to think that the traditional one-man, one-woman family that would stay together, to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part - is evil.
In a society that is fundamentally based on the fulfillment of one’s own personal happiness, any kind of threat to one’s own egotistical ends is seen as a threat, an evil, a disease.
Society today has an auto-immune disease.  Egotism has turned us in against ourselves.  We are our own worst enemy.  
The Church teaches not its own doctrine but merely re-echoes the very teaching of Christ. The Church is merely the instrument, the voice of Jesus, in today’s world.
What is Jesus teaching?
That the nature of man, like the human body, is not something we can redefine at whim.  We can no more decide the composition of the family the way we can not decide the composition of the human body.  We cannot redefine white or red blood cells, organs, nervous or gastric systems of the body, we can only accept the nature we have been given and take good care of it, keeping it in good health.
What does this mean?  It means that marriage and family life, like the human body can also be sick.
We are sick. Society is sick right now.  No matter how far and how deep this sickness is, even if it is an epidemic, we can never settle for the sickness, deny it’s existence, or just pretend it is not there and hope it will just go away.  We cannot stop being prescriptive of what a healthy family is.  We can’t stop teaching our children what healthy marriages and families look like, we cannot stop passing laws that protect healthy marriage and family life, we cannot change our nature.
The auto-immune disease that calls traditional family life as evil and says it is a good that you can redefine family life to whatever you want to be shows itself in a persecution of families, an attack on healthy cells of society.
Upholding family as a gift, a way of living, a way in which most disciples, most believers find themselves as their way of following Christ and growing in Christian faith, hope, and love, is seen as a disease on society, and so a persecution begins to try to destroy the traditional family as a one-woman, one-man, life-long, mutual, exclusive, unbreakable and irrevocable covenant.
Well there is the bad news.
What is the good news?
The holy family - Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  The good news is that although the human family is a broken family, God became a member of it.  God became a baby to a mother and a father.  God was a son who had to tidy his room, obey his mummy and listen to his father.  He had to be served and taught by a mum and a dad.
It is also the good news that this family faced every kind of struggle, attack, weakness, pain, sorrow, suffering that most families face.
Mary was tempted to not conceive Jesus, or at least was given the choice to contracept him by not conceiving him.  She would have had to face being an unwed mother.
Joseph was tempted to divorce Mary, being tempted to think of her, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, as being unfaithful - facing down the other possibilities of jealous retaliation, overcoming thought of her as adulterous.
Joseph had to face the decision to adopt Jesus and bring him up has his own boy.  When he found out that an evil king wanted to kill him, he never said to Mary, “Your kid is too much of a problem for us.”  He simply manned up and faced down the threat decided to protect Mary and the child, confirming his fatherhood and manhood as a protector and provider.
He had to make the difficult decision to move his family to a foreign land, where they would be refugees, not speak the language, would experience the hatred and racism of the Egyptians for the Hebrews, therefore also facing unemployment, poverty, hunger, worry, having to make difficult financial decisions.
Then Joseph and Jesus had to work very hard, every day.  They were laborers.  They sweat, they bleed, they got weary and tired.
When Jesus was young Joseph got old and died.  They had to face infirmity, death, and bereavement.

Jesus also had to obey elderly parents.  I love the first reading.  God seems to know how difficult elderly parents can be.  It seems like they become like little children in many ways.  It is almost as if he wants us to experience some measure of what they did for us.  In the first reading for today we read:
“My son, support your father in his old age,  do not grieve him during his life.Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,  do not despise him in your health and strength;for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten  but will serve as reparation for your sins.”
When people get very old, it is like they recede to being like children again.  This is the cycle of life.  
If our parents had to be with us when we were impetuous, irritable, irrational, why could we not do it for them?  They had to feed us, why would we think twice of feeding them in their old age?  They had to change our diapers, why if they become incontinent, would we think it above ourselves to do the same for them?  What? We can’t handle them being difficult?  Forget not how difficult you had been in your life and repay the favour. 
The other thing we learn from the holy family is trust.
Mary had to trust Joseph.  Imagine if your husband woke up and said, “Right we have to go face hardship in a foreign land because an angel appeared to me in a dream saying so.”  The angel didn’t appear to Mary at that time.  At certain times wisdom and grace was given to one and not given to the other.  God did this in the holy family and he does this in our families to teach us to trust and obey one another, to learn to rely not on ourselves but first on God and on one another.
This is the good news.  This is the Gospel for today. 
“Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.”
It is basically the new commandment of Jesus, “LOVE ONE ANOTHER,” except in the dimension of family life you can substitute all the things that love means, Listen to one another. Obey one another. Trust one another. Serve one another.
In short the good news of family life is:
Prayer - family prayer, constant prayer, faithful and fervent prayer 
Obedience - to God’s plan and to each other 
Trust - of God and through God of each other, even negatively though sin 
Service - of God and each other. 
Observance of the Sabbath Rest
I would love to tell you that this is the easy answer.  It is not.  It is certainly simple, but just because it is simple, doesn’t mean it is easy.  It is very difficult.  

Lets go back to our couple with Multiple Sclerosis.  Not all couples were like Jennifer and David.  Here are a few others.

These are actual stories taken from MS and Marriage
I've had ms for so long I can't even remember. When I was first told I had it I was happy I wasn't dying. My husband thought otherwise. He left me. I had 3 small boy's. He just took off and left me with no money. I went back to school raised 3 wonderful boys that I am so proud of. Nobody can understand why he left. My boy's are drop dead handsome, and I actually won a beauty contest after I colored my hair blonde. So HA HA to him!!! 
Diagnosed with MS in 1996. Since the diagnosis the relationship with my husband is better than ever. He is my loving caretaker and because of that am able to work full-time. Our faith in Jesus Christ and love for each other has grown through the years and for that am very thankful. Recently broke my fibula from falling, but due to MS caused numbness have little pain in the ankle. Am very thankful for this. God works all things together for good. 
Husband has ms. He's now not working and on disability. He does what he can. I am 41. He's 43. He can still walk poorly with walker. Can help with kids homework. He doesn't help in household- could but doesn't. He's not depressed thAnk god- but I am. I feel resentful and then sorry for him. Grateful every day I don't have MS cuz I doubt he'd stick around. Live with blinders on and denial. Could always be worse.. Grateful he's still alive and doesn't have something worse! I get angry he can't even stop and get me milk - can't walk or no energy.. Then I think - what if it was me.. ? Life's hard but could always be worse.. I try to live in the minute - not future
The truth about family life is that it is not easy.  It isn’t so black and white.  The plan for the family given to us by God is rather simple.  Love, obey, trust, serve one another.  But that does not mean it is easy.

Sometimes it breaks down.  When this happens, we have to be very careful as a parish community, as a Church to walk not further, but closer to those families, “most in need of God’s mercy.”

We have to walk closer to divorcees, single mothers, the bereaved, the sick, the poor, the unemployed, those facing issues like infertility, infidelity and adultery.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean we stop proclaiming God’s plan for the family in all its fullness, with all clarity and beauty of a one-man, one-woman, fruitful communion that is open to life, mutually exclusive, that is an irrevocable covenant.  For this is the cell of the body of society.

On a final note, perhaps the greatest indication of just how sick our society is, is the fact that the most vulnerable, the tiniest, the unborn, are threatened every day by laws that permit mothers to take the lives of their children by aborting them.  Unless we are working hard to stop this sin, we are at fault and contribute to the sickness.  Let's get healthy.  Now.

May the prayers and love of the Holy Family help all families to try to grow in faith, hope, and charity, of mutual prayer, trust, obedience, and service.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stop Combing the Fleece of the 1 and Go Seek Out the Lost 99

"Console my people, console them says your God."

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

This is what Pope Francis said to pastoral workers and priests of the diocese of Rome about today's Gospel

I want to tell you something. There is a beautiful passage of the Gospel which tells us about the shepherd who, when he returned to the sheepfold realized that one sheep was missing. He left the 99 others and went in search of it, he went off to look for one. But brothers and sisters, we have one sheep. We have lost the other 99! We must go out, we must go out to them! In this culture — let us tell the truth — we only have one, we are a minority! And do we feel the fervour, the apostolic zeal to go out and find the other 99? This is an enormous responsibility and we must ask the Lord for the grace of generosity, and the courage and patience to go out, to go out and preach the Gospel. Ah, this is difficult. It is easier to stay at home, with that one sheep! It is easier with that sheep to comb its fleece, to stroke it... but we priests and you Christians too, everyone: the Lord wants us to be shepherds, he does not want us to fuss with combing fleeces! Shepherds! And when a community is withdrawn, always among the same people who speak, this community is not a life-giving community. It is barren, it is not fertile. The fecundity of the Gospel comes through the grace of Jesus Christ, but through us, our preaching, our courage, our patience.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

ADVENT 2ND SUNDAY HOMILY: Pope Francis' Vision for Authentic Advent Repentance for A Parish

A voice of one crying out in the desert,

Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.

Listen to my homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening click here.

During my homily, I read some excerpts from JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Pope Francis' new apostolic letter.  Read more...

I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. 

The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters”. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few. The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Amazement: Finding Real Faith Where You Least Expect

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,

“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. 
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.”

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Presentation of Virgin Mary: Mother, or Bearer, of Christ by Believing His Word

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken

Jesus' cousins and family, hebraism for brothers and sisters (Read more here.), prompted him to point out who his true relations are.  Are you a true relation of Christ?

Today is the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Read more.)

Here is my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Your Fatih Has Saved You from the Blindness of Secularist Culture

"Have sight; your faith has saved you.”

He immediately received his sight
and followed him, giving glory to God.

Underground Shopping Mall of Kiev
Mass Readings for the day

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Here or There? Questions of Jesus that Demand a Response

Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.

My homily for the day:

If you have trouble listening click here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Using Dishonest Wealth (Corruptibility) to Gain to Riches (Incorruptibility)

For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than the children of light.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some Days Are Better Spent: A Private Silent Day of Recollection at the Brompton Oratory (Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)

If there was ever a need to pray and sacrifice for priests for their preservation and sanctity it is today. - Fr John Hardon (Read this Article on Prayer and Sacrifice for Priests)

Every Wednesday I have a day of prayer, a day of rest, a day away, what other call, my "day off," although this is misleading because I never take a day off from being a priest.  I am "a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek" and ontologically, in my very being, a priest of Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus, left the sick unhealed, the ignorant untaught, the poor unfed to go and speak to His Father in private.  Priests should follow His sublime example and do the same.  If you know any priest, who seems run down, tired and tested, pained and puzzled, encourage him to take a day of prayer. At the end of this post are different encouraging texts to encourage priests to pray.

In my SOLT community, priests are expected to strive for two hours of prayer every day, especially Eucharistic Adoration.  This is very challenging, and sometimes I make compromises like praying the rosary while driving, homily preparation time before the Lord, but my preference, is to put down all the tools of my trade and just BE with Abba Father, as Christ did.

This Wednesday, November 6th, I will spend it in silent prayer in the Brompton Oratory, the second largest Catholic Church in London.

Here is the Super flumina Babylonis Palestrina, sung at the Brompton Oratory, which frequently has very beautiful hymns and liturgies.  They celebrate Latin Mass every day in the Extraordinary Form.

Priests are called to be holy as God is holy.


1 Chronicles 16:11

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

2 Chronicles 7:14-15

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 

Psalms 145:18

18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Matthew 6:6
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

Matthew 7:7-8

7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Luke 6:12

12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Luke 11:1-4
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray

Luke 18:1-9
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 

John 14:13-14

13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

1 Corinthians 14:15
15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

Philippians 4:6

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:8

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

Hebrews 4:16
16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1589 Before the grandeur of the priestly grace and office, the holy doctors felt an urgent call to conversion in order to conform their whole lives to him whose sacrament had made them ministers. Thus St. Gregory of Nazianzus, as a very young priest, exclaimed:
We must begin by purifying ourselves before purifying others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct, become light to illuminate, draw close to God to bring him close to others, be sanctified to sanctify, lead by the hand and counsel prudently. I know whose ministers we are, where we find ourselves and to where we strive. I know God's greatness and man's weakness, but also his potential. [Who then is the priest? He is] the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ's priesthood, refashions creation, restores it in God's image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes.82 And the holy Cure of Ars: "The priest continues the work of redemption on earth. . . . If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. . . . The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus."83

Canon Law:
Canon 276 §1 Clerics have a special obligation to seek holiness in their lives, because they are consecrated to God by a new title through the reception of orders, and are stewards of the mysteries of God in the service of His people. 

§2 In order that they can pursue this perfection: 

1° they are in the first place faithfully and untiringly to fulfill the obligations of their pastoral ministry; 

2° they are to nourish their spiritual life at the twofold table of the sacred Scripture and the Eucharist; priests are therefore earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic Sacrifice daily, and deacons to participate daily in the offering; 

3° priests, and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily, in accordance with their own approved liturgical books; permanent deacons are to recite that part of it determined by the Episcopal Conference; 

4° they are also obliged to make spiritual retreats, in accordance with the provision of particular law;  

5° they are exhorted to engage regularly in mental prayer, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and to use other general and special means to holiness. 
Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests:

In the fulfillment of their ministry with fidelity to the daily colloquy with Christ, a visit to and veneration of the Most Holy Eucharist, spiritual retreats and spiritual direction are of great worth. In many ways, but especially through mental prayer and the vocal prayers which they freely choose, priests seek and fervently pray that God will grant them the spirit of true adoration whereby they themselves, along with the people committed to them, may intimately unite themselves with Christ the Mediator of the New Testament, and so as adopted children of God may be able to call out "Abba, Father" (Rom 8:15).

Pastores Dabo Vobis by Blessed Pope John Paul II

The priest's prayer life in particular needs to be continually "reformed." Experience teaches that in prayer one cannot live off past gains. Every day we need not only to renew our external fidelity to times of prayer, especially those devoted to the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and those left to personal choice and not reinforced by fixed times of liturgical service, but also to strive constantly for the experience of a genuine personal encounter with Jesus, a trusting dialogue with the Father and a deep experience of the Spirit.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You Were Born Yesterday and Tomorrow You Will Be Dead. Don't Make Excuses. Make it Count.

For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.

Listen to my homily for today:

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Pope Francis invites us to question ourselves about death.

You were born yesterday.  Tomorrow you will be dead.  You have only the decision for today, this moment, this life, which will be gone very quickly.

All you got is 1440 minutes in the day.  One fiftieth of that is the length of daily Mass, that is .02% of your day.  Use this time wisely.

It ain't automatic that you are going to heaven.  We aren't all going uptown, upstairs, to heaven - some will go downtown, downstairs, i.e. to hell.  So?  Make it count.

Don't allow the evil one to inspire very intelligent and smooth sounding excuses to absent yourself from the wedding banquet of the Lamb.  He is a master of excuses.

The Gospel of today is the good news of Jesus saving us from stupid excuses, like those who said, "I ask you, consider me excused."  What are they excusing themselves from?  Not just from the "King's Banquet," and not just from Sunday Mass, but ultimately the Lord is talking about heaven, the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

Some have really good excuses.  Even people like to point to the shortage of priests.  Can't make it to Mass?  Not available?  Take the 30 minutes of your day and make a spiritual act of communion by meditating devoutly and intensely on the Passion of Christ, which is what you should be doing at Mass anyway.  Don't say, "There aren't any masses available around here."  Here is a really good act of spiritual communion:
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You have already come, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Go to Mass in your heart, watch it on TV or listen to a good homily, meditate on the readings for the day.

Make it happen.

Make time.

Do it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Being a Good Son Makes One a Good Father: Allow God to Love You Gratuitously to Learn How To Love Others

“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

My homily for the Memorial of St Charles Borromeo:

If you have trouble listening, or would like to download, click here.

From a sermon of St Charles Borromeo (Office of Readings):

I admit that we are all weak, but if we want help, the Lord God has given us the means to find it easily. One priest may wish to lead a good, holy life, as he knows he should. He may wish to be chaste and to reflect heavenly virtues in the way he lives. Yet he does not resolve to use suitable means, such as penance, prayer, the avoidance of evil discussions and harmful and dangerous friendships. Another priest complains that as soon as he comes into church to pray the office or to celebrate Mass, a thousand thoughts fill his mind and distract him from God. But what was he doing in the sacristy before he came out for the office or for Mass? How did he prepare? What means did he use to collect his thoughts and to remain recollected?
  Would you like me to teach you how to grow from virtue to virtue and how, if you are already recollected at prayer, you can be even more attentive next time, and so give God more pleasing worship? Listen, and I will tell you. If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out. Keep the stove tightly shut so that it will not lose its heat and grow cold. In other words, avoid distractions as well as you can. Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter.
  If teaching and preaching is your job, then study diligently and apply yourself to whatever is necessary for doing the job well. Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.
  Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.
  My brothers, you must realise that for us churchmen nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: I will pray, and then I will understand. When you administer the sacraments, meditate on what you are doing. When you celebrate Mass, reflect on the sacrifice you are offering. When you pray the office, think about the words you are saying and the Lord to whom you are speaking. When you take care of your people, meditate on how the Lord’s blood that has washed them clean so that all that you do becomes a work of love.
  This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work: in meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in other men.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Fires of Purgatory

Here is an excellent explanation of purgatory by Mother Angelica:

Mass Readings for the 31st Sunday of the Year

Here is my homily on Purgatory:

If you have trouble listening, or would like to download, click here.

Here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church's teaching on purgatory:


1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608
1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Unnamed and Uncanonized, They Behold the Lord Face to Face

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.- On the Feast of All Saints, Pope Francis stressed that the saints are not “supermen” who are “born perfect,” but rather are ordinary people who followed God “with all their heart.”

“They are like us, they are like each of us, they are people who before reaching the glory of heaven lived a normal life, with joys and griefs, struggles and hopes,” the Pope said before the noontime Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 1.

Each saint changed his or her life “when they recognized the love of God, they followed him with all their heart, without conditions and hypocrisies.”

“They spent their lives in the service of others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace,” he said.

“Sanctity is beautiful! It is a beautiful way!” Pope Francis stressed. “The saints give us a message. They tell us: be faithful to the Lord, because the Lord does not disappoint! He does not disappoint ever, and he is a good friend always at our side.”

The Pope emphasized that everyone can be a saint.

“To be a saint is not a privilege of a few... all of us in baptism have the inheritance of being able to become saints. Sanctity is a vocation for everyone.”

“All of us are called to walk in the way of sanctity, and this way has a name, a face: the face of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis said the Feast of All Saints “reminds us that the goal of our existence is not death, it is paradise!”

“The saints, the friends of God, assure us that this promise does not disappoint,” he added. “In their earthly existence, in fact, they had lived in profound communion with God. In the smallest and most despised faces of their brothers, they saw the face of God, and now they contemplate him face to face in his glorious beauty.”

The saints show joy and love, he said.

“The saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and spread it to others. Never hating, but serving the other, is the greatest need. To pray and to live in joy: this is the way of sanctity!”

The saints do not “place conditions” on God, the Pope explained. In addition, they “are not violent but merciful and they seek to be makers of reconciliation and peace.”

“The saints never have hated,” the Pope added. “Understand this well: Love is of God, but where does hatred come from? Hatred does not come from God, but from the devil!”

Pope Francis said the Kingdom of Heaven is for those who trust in the love of God and do not put their security in material things. It is for those with humility and a “simple heart” who do not judge others. The Kingdom of Heaven is for “those who suffer with the one who suffers and rejoice with the one who rejoices.”

The saints are also a source of fortitude and hope, he noted.

“The saints encourage us with their witness not to have fear of going against the current or fear of being misunderstood and derided when we speak of the Lord and of the Gospel,” the Pope said. “They show us with their lives that the one who remains faithful to God and to his words experiences now on this earth the comfort of his love and then experiences it a ‘hundredfold’ in eternity.”

After the Angelus prayer, the Pope voiced special prayers for the victims of violence, especially Christians who have lost their lives because of persecution. He also prayed for those men, women and children who have died because of hunger and thirst.