Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena for an Outpouring of God's Tender Kindnesses Upon Those Who Need it Most

From Good Friday, April 18th to Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27th, 2014 there is the Divine Mercy Novena.

Click here to learn more.

This Divine Mercy Sunday a special gift of mercy will be given to mankind, the canonization of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Pope John XXIII.

Pray with us the novena, begging God for graces for all mankind.

The Divine Mercy Novena

Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin onGood Friday.  He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:

"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."

In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:

"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."

The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:

DAY 1 (Good Friday)  - All mankind, especially sinners

DAY  2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious

DAY 3 (Easter Sunday)  - All devout and faithful souls

DAY 4 (Easter Monday) - Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him

DAY  5 (Easter Tuesday) - The souls of separated brethren

DAY  6 (Easter Wednesday)- The meek and humble souls and the souls of children

DAY  7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy

DAY  8 (Easter Friday) - The souls who are detained in purgatory; 

DAY  9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm.

During the Solemn Novena leading to Divine Mercy Sunday, 
theChaplet of Divine Mercyshould be offered each day for the
day's intentions.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection Demands a Response: What are you Going to Do About it?

This homily was given at the Easter Vigil liturgy at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, Saturday, April 19, 2014.
Eucharistic Miracle July 24, 2013, Guadalajara Mexico 
If you have trouble listening, click here.

The pastor of Mary Mother of the Church, Father Jose Dolores Castellanos Gudino, said that while he was kneeling in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, he saw a flash of light and heard a voice.
“Ring the bells so that everyone comes,” the voice allegedly instructed. “I will pour blessings upon those present and the entire day. Take your small tabernacle for private adoration to the parish altar and put the large monstrance next to the small tabernacle. Don’t open the tabernacle until three in the afternoon, not before.” 
“I will perform a miracle in the Eucharist,” the voice continued, “the miracle that will take place will be called, ‘Miracle of the Eucharist in the incarnation of love together with our Mother and Lady.’ Copy the image that I will give you now and show it to others.” 
The voice then reportedly told him to share this with all of his priests to aid in their conversion and that he would fill all souls with blessings.  Fr. Gudino said that after hearing the voice he could only say, “My Lord, I am your servant, let your will be done.”
With local people gathered at 3 p.m., he recounted that he “approached the tabernacle and upon opening it the host consecrated by Our Lord Jesus Christ was covered in blood.”
According to the priest, the voice also told him to establish an adoration chapel and to allow any scientific study necessary to confirm the miracle
I have heard about Eucharistic miracles happening in a place far far away in century long long ago.  I have never heard of something happening so close to our time and place.
Usually God shows a miracle as a reward of faith or to help people believe.  History is full of these kinds of miracles, the most famous is the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano Italy, when a Basilian Monk was doubting during the Mass, asking God for a sign to help his unbelief, then to his amazement, during the consecration, when the priest was saying the words that transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, the host started bleeding.
Jesus worked many miracles during his lifetime.  He healed many sick, cleansed lepers of disease, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cast out demons, and even raised from the dead.  
He also preached amazing sermons.  One time, he preached so powerfully for three days straight that people forgot to eat. They felt so full hearing Him speak, but then because He had compassion on the crowds, he fed them with the miracle of the multiplication of loaves.
At the sight of all this, many still did not believe.  Jesus told them, believe in me because of the works that I do, for the works themselves testify to me.
Why did they not believe?  They chose to not believe. They decided that if they would believe in Jesus Christ, it would mean the end of their reign, their own power, title, position, or little kingdom they had set up in their minds.
All Christ’s preaching had an open invitation about. This seems to be the powerful thing about his parables:  They ask, they demand a question to be asked.
The prodigal son asks, are you going to come back to your Father. The parable of the sewing of the seed asks what kind of seed are you going to have - the kind that falls on the path, the kind choked by the world of thorns, or the kind that falls on fertile soil.  The good samaritan asks, are you going to help your neighbor?
Not just his miracles, not only his parables, but His very life asks a question.  Indeed, His glorious Death and triumphant Resurrection asks a question,
The central mystery of our Faith is celebrated this very night - the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, is THE MIRACLE OF OUR FAITH, THE SIGN WHICH SHOWS US GOD, THE PARABLE WHICH ASKS US:
People have all sorts of religious experiences, they are given gifts all day every day, which include the gift of a heart beat, of the sun rising, of their family and friends loving them, they are even given amazing things like this Eucharistic Miracle in Guadalajara - all of these are a deep SIGN of GOD.  They are supposed to make us respond, to make a decision.
The Holy Mass is the most amazing SIGN OF GOD, because unlike all other signs, it also contains the SIGNIFIER.  It is not only THE MIRACLE of GOD but it is the GOD of MIRACLES.  
Every time we celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is presented to us again.  Indeed the Church tells us that every Sunday is to be celebrated as a mini-easter, a day of faith, a day of the Church, a day of the family, a day of rest.
This past Sacred Triduum, Fr James told me today that he believes God is doing something in this congregation. I know Fr James and I are not the only one who is aware of this. I know many of you can feel it too.
I believe Jesus is showing you as a people, a gift of new life, showing you the Resurrection in a powerful way.  
I believe he is calling you as a community to love one another in a new and powerful way by living in closer friendship and fellowship the bonds of faith and family.
I believe he is calling you men to be strong in moral conscience, to stand firm in holiness and purity of heart.
I believe he is calling you women to be beautiful in love’s kindness and sweet patience.
I believe he is calling you children, you young people, to be joyful, to be alive, to be disciples, just as Jesus at age 12 became a teacher, that you would go out and share your faith with your generation.
I believe he is calling you to throw open the doors of your church and your hearts to go out to byways and highways and invite the many, the lost, the broken, the needy, the poor - to know Jesus Christ in the powerful way of life in his One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I believe he is calling you to clean up this part of town, to renew the homes, streets, and business, but a social order that is leavened and influenced by the holy Gospel.
He IS calling you.
Tonight there is one thing you must do.  It is work. In fact, it is the work of the entire Easter Season. It is not easy, but God the Holy Spirit invites you to do it - REJOICE.  The work of mightily praising and worshiping the Lord in full throated gleeful rejoicing and praising is something that demands every fiber of your being to stand up and sing.  
He is inviting you to wear upon your hearts and faces the sign of the Resurrection - to smile. Smile at God and smile at one another.  Smile!  Smile Catholic Church! God loves you. He has redeemed you. You shouldn’t look, as Pope Francis says, like you just got out of a funeral.
St Augustine can help us here.  He says that we have to gather from our whole being, the joy of all the angels, saints, the victory of every poor soul, the happiness of every single person rescued in the pits of hell.
“Our thoughts in this present life should turn on the praise of God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice for ever in the life to come; and no one can be ready for the next life unless he trains himself for it now. So we praise God during our earthly life, and at the same time we make our petitions to him.” -St Augustine, discourse on the psalms
We should gather up all the petitions, praises, adoration and from our inmost being, from the depths of our souls, from our guts we let it rise up from our hearts to out mouths with the great battle cry:
Let this battle cry in the holy season of Easter help us, train our minds to be consumed not by our own foolish distractions and sorrows, but to be fixated on the Eternal Easter - the eternal joys of heaven and let us cry out


The Passion of Christ is Our Victory to Face Down Death and Win

If you have trouble listening, click here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Holy Thursday - Be Not Afraid to Be Fully Catholic

This homily was given at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
in Corpus Christi, TX, April 17th, 2014, for the celebration of
Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper
If you have trouble listening, click here.

On this most sacred night we celebrate with joy the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist, that our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed took bread, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, THIS IS MY BODY.  He took wine and said, “THIS IS MY BLOOD.”  

Because Jesus is not merely the prophet, or teacher of God, not just born of divine grace, but actually the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, because He is God from God, when he spoke these words, he was creating something new.  Just like when He spoke the words “Let there be light,” and light was created. He said, “THIS IS MY BODY,” and “DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME,” at that moment he created, or we say instituted, this, the Most Holy Sacrament of His Love and with it the ingenious invention of Love by which the Eucharist is given to us - through the Sacred Priesthood.

Tonight’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper is the first of three days, that is for us one sacred liturgy, or the Sacred Triduum, where we remember and call to mind the most important moment of our salvation, when Jesus offered Himself as a Eucharistic Victim, then began immediately to enter into his sufferings in the garden, his betrayal and arrest, his overnight incarceration, his rejection and abandonment by his closest friends and apostles, which we will commemorate tonight by a procession to the altar of repose, where we ought to spend a moment with Jesus thinking about the time he spent imprisoned for us that we may be made free.

Tomorrow, on Good Friday, all day we should be thinking about once again living through his trial, his torturous scourging, the mockery of his kingship with the crown of thorns, his condemnation, his rejection and revilement by the crowds, his way of the Cross, his Crucifixion and glorious death after bitter hours of suffering on the Cross.

Saturday night we will celebrate the Easter Vigil, entering the church in darkness and pondering on the events of salvation through the readings. Then with the service of light and the singing of the Alleluia, we will celebrate the glorious Resurrection of our Savior, triumphing over the world, the flesh, the devil, sin, and death.

As we go through this Sacred Triduum, let us remember that it is through the sacred liturgy the work of our redemption is accomplished, that we do not just remember or commemorate what Jesus did for us, but by participating in Sacrament of the Eucharist, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Death and Resurrection of Christ will be carried out in us in a new and powerful way.

In all of this we ought to come to a more intimate and profound awareness that God loves each of us personally, and the key to unlocking each moment of his passion, death, and resurrection - is that he did it for me.  He gave himself in the Eucharist and Priesthood FOR ME.  He suffered FOR ME.  He died FOR ME.  He rose FOR ME.

Tonight let us see that Jesus wants to cement and institute in our lives anew the Most Holy Eucharist.  Let us pause to reflect for a moment on the meaning of the Sacred Priesthood and the Eucharist.

A few years ago I was getting a few things at the H-E-B over on Leopard and Neuces here in Corpus Christi, TX. I was walking by the checkout lane and a woman saw my gray robe that I wear and gave me that look.  You know that look.  She obviously wanted to say something to me. I wasn’t sure if she was curious or confused, so I approached her and she blurted out in a kind of irritated way, “So…what are you?”

I prayed to the Holy Spirit so that He would be the one to answer her question.  Then I was surprised to hear myself say, “I AM CELIBATE.  I am dressed like this to remind people that God loves them and want to be in a relationship with them.”   Her face was full of contempt and she said with disgust, “Oh! Yeah I guess so,” and motioned to me to get going as if I were a bad smell she didn’t like.

A television producer of a secular reporting show approached a well known media priest asking for help putting together a show which would investigate, “why so many priests are depressed.”  A few young men told his parish community that they were seriously thinking about becoming priests.  Some of the people were horrified at the idea and tried to talk them out of it telling them that priesthood is “sad and lonely existence” and that it is a “negative and unsatisfying life.”

With all the negative anti-catholic anti-priest press lately, a picture has been painted of priesthood that would assume it is a sad and lonely life that would attract psychologically unhealthy men.

Not long ago priesthood was thought of as a noble choice for a young man, one that require great manly virility, strength, practice of heroic virtue, something not for the faint hearted or weak kneed, but a privileged calling.  Although many were called, few were chosen.  Only a select few of upright conscience and keen faith could answer this lofty vocation.  Many parents and communities were proud to have their sons’ moral fiber cut of the clerical cloth.  It meant they were doing a good job as parents. It meant that a parish was fruitful in faith, and that a people was producing men of outstanding character.
Living in the UK and traveling many European countries for the past three years, I cannot count the times I have been sneered at, scoffed, or how many parents have sought to protect their children from me as I walked by, as if I were some kind of monster.  The public sector paints a dreary picture of priesthood.  As if it were a dying race of disillusioned, stale-hearted, dysfunctional men, who must be disturbed to continue in such a foul profession.

YET…despite all this.
-There has been a 16% increase in vocations since 1995, a 10% increase since 2005.  In this diocese of Corpus Christi the number of men studying for the priesthood has increased by 20% in the past few years alone.
-A study that involved 36 diocese and over 3700 priests in 2004 and 2009, in the wake of the scandals that rocked the priesthood actually asked priests, “Are you happy?”  The results were staggering. 
-92.5% of all priests were very happy with the decision to become a priest. Out of average Americans, only 45% could say the same. 
-90% of all priests reported fulfilling relationships and satisfying friendships with other priests and laity. 
-75% found celibacy to be a positive part of their lives, which goes against the deception of dissent or dissatisfaction by the media. 
-Despite the hype of bishops not siding with priests in investigations, over 75% said they enjoyed a good relationship with their diocesan bishop.-The psychological well being of priests scored very high and priests are scored a higher well being than most Americans
Let’s keep in mind here, what is meant by happiness is a clinical, psychological, and objective well being of person.  Particularly what is called a Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) which measures depression, anxiety, and distress caused by bodily dysfunction, which is a "highly sensitive screen for psychiatric disorders and psychological integration.”

I remember taking a very extensive psychological test called the MMPI, shortly before my profession of perpetual celibacy.  The psychiatrist who interviewed me, was looking at the results and her face had a surprised look on it and she had a funny smile.  For a moment, I was sure she was going to say, “Yep, it is just as we thought, you are totally nuts!” Actually she said, “Wow, I don’t know if I have ever come across anyone who is as happy as you are!”  I knew I was happy being a celibate, religious missionary, but no idea that I was measurably psychologically happy in my own skin.

But why are priests so happy?

The reasons priests gave, had to do with their spiritual lives:
-“The strongest predictor of priestly happiness was the priest's own sense of inner peace.” 
-“The research confirmed the importance of a number of traditional aspects to the spiritual lives of priests such as devotion to Mary, theological and spiritual reading, private prayer, Sacrament of Penance, Liturgy of the Hours, obedience to religious authority, and attending priest gatherings. All of these common elements of priestly spirituality correlated significantly with a priest's relationship to God. In addition, one of the most common comments made by priests was the centrality of the Eucharist and other sacraments in their lives.”
Theologically, the reason priests are so happy could be said this way…

On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, broke it, gave it to His disciples and said, “Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my body.”  

Who was He speaking to, primarily?  First and foremost, the Lord Jesus was speaking to God the Father.  It was the Father who received the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus as a sacrifice.  The Sacrifice of the Eucharist and the mystery of suffering that this inaugurated, was primarily a gift of expiation to God.  Secondly, He was offering His Body and Blood to the Church, that it could be fed by His Love.

When the priest says these very same words of Jesus, he is speaking in Persona Christi. The priest is offering again to the Father that same sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and once again, offering the Eucharist to nourish and build up the Church, so that the faithful may be given, “a foretaste of heaven, a pledge of future glory.”

HOWEVER!!!!!  The priest is not only speaking in Persona Christi.  Although he speaks primarily in the Person of Christ, he is ALSO speaking secondarily in persona sui, in his own person - he himself, as a man, as a human being is also speaking these words and offering NOT ONLY the Body of Christ to the Father.  He offers his very own body to God.  In that sacred moment, Jesus Christ joins the manhood of the priest to His own Sacred Manhood and offers them both totally to the Eternal Father.

So, what happens when you offer your own body to God, to pure Love itself?  What happens when you gift your entire being, your heart of hearts, all your fears, hopes, joys, anxieties, all your time, energy, emotions, thoughts, all your life, your body, your all, your soul, and humanity?  FREEDOM!!!!

The deepest urge, the most powerful longing, the most consuming hunger in the depths of our humanity is FOR GOD!  A sign of this, an expression of this desire is felt as the desire for sexual union with the Other.  Celibacy is a very potent sign that the deepest longing we have is God almighty.  As St Augustine said, “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God!”

This is something that celibacy teaches married life, or as J.R.R. Tolkein told his son in a letter

The breviary that the priest prays is said to be “the extension of the Eucharistic Sacrifice” (CCC 1178) throughout the day.  So the priest not only offers himself to God once a week but through daily Mass, daily Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration, praying the Liturgy of Hours, the daily Rosary, and other spiritual practices - he offers his body to God many times a day. 

Also, like the Lord Jesus, the priest doesn’t just say the words of consecration to God, he is also saying them to a particular group of people, who actually hear him say the words.  He says to the people, “This is my body, this is my heart, my time, my attention, my thoughts, my feelings - this is my life offered for you, People of God!” The Eucharist brings about for the priest a very deep bond with the people, and makes for very deep and meaningful relationships.

I remember my first year of priesthood, as I would lay my head down on my pillow at night amazed at the sheer depth and richness of emotional content, the vast spectrum of meaningful exchanges I had in just one day was overwhelming.  I felt as if I was experiencing the depth and quality of significant experiences in one day that the average man would have in a month.

This is why studies show that most priests report that they have a high quality of happy and meaningful human relationships, because the Eucharist and the faith community that it generates is a kind of super-charged love fest, where the human heart can love and be loved intensely on a daily basis.  This kind of happy life is extremely attractive.

Last week I attended the ordination of seven deacons and visited a Major Seminary.  I can assure you that these men are not only good candidates for priesthood, but they are also some of the greatest men I have ever met.  They are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, they were great achievers in professional world yet exuded humility with a gentle and upbuilding sense of humor, creative, athletic, virile, strong yet sensitive, extremely well balanced, well rounded, thoughtful, eager to encounter good in everything, to find beauty everywhere, and most important - of keen moral conscience - they were very pure-hearted.  And all of them were there because of their personal and living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist.

It is clear that some of the greatest men of our time are being attracted to the Sacred Priesthood.  Here I am not talking just about the stories of professional baseball, football, soccer players, or great scientists, lawyers, doctors, or college professors who are now being attracted to the priesthood.  I am speaking about men who live very holy and self-sacrificial lives - living saints - the greatest men of our time.

What is interesting here is to see this pattern statistically.  The studies of why priests are happy show that the same pattern of those great men who became priests in the World War II era, whom the author of this study calls, “spiritual grandfathers” of the young men today.  They have the same scores psychologically and emotionally, but also the same kind of reasons why they are so happy - traditional devotions and practices that help center a man’s life on the Eucharistic Jesus.

The 60’s, 70’s, 80’s were a kind of dark age in the Church, reflected in the psychological dip in well being of priests, lessening of satisfaction with the priesthood, and dip in priestly vocations.  It appears that the past twenty years have been marked by coming out of this darkness.

So Church of God, if we are now experiencing a renewal in the Sacred Priesthood, what should that say to you?

Get off the defensive.  Stop thinking of the Church as dying, or weak, or somehow so sad and pathetic.  Stop listening to the loud minority of lying mouths that tell us we should be cowering like a bunch of fearful old fools.

Start listening to the Holy Spirit, who teaches us as Pope Emeritus Benedict taught us that, “The Church is alive!  The Church is Young!”

Listen to our holy father, Pope Francis, who is also telling us to get off the defensive.  Get on the offensive to claim this world for Jesus Christ. Pope Francis has said, 

“We should stop thinking that being Catholic is defending a position….The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow…The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful. It needs nearness, proximity…The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.”

Pope Francis’ reform of the Church could be said in one simple phrase:



Get rid of the hypocrisy.  Get rid of all the fluff. Focus on what is essential. Focus on Jesus in the Eucharist and the rest will take care of itself.

I dare say a happy priest is a very clear proclamation of this.

A happy Catholic says this without even opening his mouth.  He radiates the Church’s warmth.  He reveals that the Church is a hospital for the sick, a home for the poor, God’s response to the needy, the consolation of the afflicted and the afflicter of the comfortable in self-satisfaction.  A happy Catholic reveals that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ is God’s response to all this modern world’s aches and pains, the solution to the greed that has destroyed our economy, the ordering of society’s mess, the peace for which the people of our time are desperately seeking.

How to become a happy Catholic?

Simply follow the same thing that makes a happy priest.

Frequent. Intense. Contact. With Jesus in the Eucharist.

Practically speaking this is very easy here at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

1.  Mass 
Sunday - God gave you 7 days and only asks for 1
God gave you 168 hours and only asks for 1
If the source of happiness is here, why just once a week, why not once a day?

2. Eucharistic Adoration
There is Eucharistic Adoration from Tuesday to 9am - 6pm and every First Friday 7-8pm.
Effects of Eucharistic Adoration:
1.  Increased Mass attendance and Confessions.
2.  Increase in priestly and religious vocations.
3.  The return of fallen-away Catholics and conversions to the faith.
4.  "Personal sanctification and the sanctification of all Catholic action." (Pope Pius XII)
5.  Marriages restored.
6.  Greater unity.
7.  Inner peace.
8.  Decrease of crime rate in local neighborhood.
9.  Building up of a Gospel Culture

3.  Frequent Confession - How often do you need to clean up your body, once a year.
Clean up your soul at least once a month. 

4.  Make the Church the center of your family and social life
-The community center that Fr James built here?  What is it for? So that the Eucharist becomes the center of the local community. The basketball court, the playground, the stage with the little booths for fiestas?  So that faith is put back in the center of our lives. This is how it used to be. It is the beginning of a happy community life, a happy family life, a happy marriage.  When God is number 1 everything else falls into place.

5.  Go out and invite more to become happy

Finally, a priest, a catholic, a community, are not happy if they are closed in on themselves. We must be an inviting community - to share the Good News with everyone we meet. We become a proclamation of joy.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe help us to become truly happy by becoming totally centered on her beloved Son the in the Most Holy Eucharist.