Offer it UP!

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Beloved in the Lord Jesus,
Today in the Gospel, Our Lord calls us to radical discipleship; he says it will involve the cross; To be a Catholic Christian is not for wimps, it is not always so popular a life, but it is a wonderful, free, and fulfilling life. Strange as it may seem, the wonderful life of a true Christian means encountering also – the cross. ‘Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.’ There are a lot of false Christianities floating around out there. People live a bourgeois lifestyle, the easy, spoiled life; they say that they are Catholics, but they follow whatever are the latest ideas. Some think of Christianity without the cross – they want an emotional experience of religion, or the comfort of religion, or the assurance of salvation – but they do not want the cross. It is ‘Christianity-lite.’ In many ways, they’ve returned to the Old Testament. The ancient Jews believed that if you live a good life and pray and love God, your business will thrive, you won’t have problems, you won’t suffer, bad things won’t happen to you; this is Old Testament thinking.
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Jesus however says, to be my disciple you have to carry your cross, there will be crosses. The protestant world says that Jesus died on the cross so that we don’t have to do anything. But this is totally wrong! Jesus calls us to follow him and share in his life and offer our joys our sufferings our whole life to God – just like he did!
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There is a rule in the Catholic Church, that wherever the Mass is offered, there must be a crucifix on or near the altar. The cross is important for us, not just because Jesus died on it, but because, as he says, we – each of us, must carry our cross and do our part. As a child, when difficulty came, mom would say to us: ‘Offer that up to God.’ Offer it up! We heard that a lot, we tried to offer hard things. This was the way that Catholics talked not long ago; I am wondering if we’ve lost this understanding, of being ‘other Christs’ on earth, offering our own crosses, uniting them with that of Jesus. This is really the heart of the Gospel; my mother knew it, many knew it – we must know this. St. Paul says, ‘We are heirs with Christ, heirs – if – We are heirs with Christ, – if – we suffer with him.
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Here is from the Catechism: It says: Christ, in his incarnate divine person, has united himself to every person, offering them the possibility of being made partners in the paschal mystery (paraphrased from 618). And Pope John Paul said: Christ has raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each person, in his suffering, can become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ (Salvifici Doloris, 19). In other words: ‘Offer it up!’ Offer up your trials to God. Sometimes our cross is physical pain: a bad knee, a sore back, a serious illness. Sometimes our cross is an emotional one: anxiety, stress, or worry. A tragedy involving a relative or even a child. Sometimes our cross is spiritual: doubts, past sins and their consequences, dryness in prayer, guilt, despair, temptations.
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At Our Lord’s Passion there were 3 crosses on that hill: One was a cross of rebellion – the bad thief, who wanted out of his suffering. Another was a cross of acceptance – the good thief, who did not choose his pain but he accepted it. The other cross was embraced – Jesus gave his all – all his suffering willingly, for us. We are glorifying God in our life and participating in the salvation of the world, of our family, of others – whenever we offer it up. For you, who are a spiritual person, I am only telling you what you already know, deep down in your heart. When that trial comes, when we are in great pain: ‘Lord, I offer this to you. I offer it for my daughter who is away from the Church. ‘I offer it for my past sins. I offer it for your glory, with Jesus, in his Passion. – Jesus!’ When we pick up the phone and that tragic news hits us – we don’t know if we can live through what has happened – Offer it up. ‘Oh Lord, O Jesus, Son of the Living God, help me to offer this, help me;’ we are on the cross, together. If you do not know the spiritual life at all, you will say that this is nonsense. But if you have that gift, you know what I am saying. There is a power that comes to earth unseen, when we Offer it Up. And even some children know this great Mystery, of how to offer trials; they are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.
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The opposite of offering it up and embracing our cross is self-pity, to have a ‘victim mentality,’ the ‘poor me’ A selfish-brooding over one’s own misfortunes. Self-pity puts a person at the center of their own little universe; they believe everything is against them, they’ve been dealt an unfair hand in life; they take themselves too seriously and exaggerate their difficulties. Here you find the melodramatic person who is not really interested in solutions for their troubles, they just want to tell you about them. The victim mentality craves attention, and projects misery in order to receive sympathy. It is an attitude full of ingratitude to God. But if you look at the saints, they hated the ‘victim thing.’ St. Teresa of Avila couldn’t stand to hear about ‘wallowing in self;’ St. Josemaria refused to hear of being victims. Mother Teresa said, sacrifices made with self-pity are worse than no sacrifices at all. She said: “There is a story of a little robin; he saw Jesus on the cross, saw the crown of thorns. The bird flew around and around until he found a way to remove a thorn, and in removing the thorn stuck himself. – Each of us should be like that bird,’ she said. Participating in the passion of Christ, and easing his pain. But more than the saints, Christ rejected self-pity: ‘Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.’
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If we could really grasp the gospel, we would see that the cross in our life can be our glory. True story: A women lay dying in the hospital – a mother of 3 children. Outside the room in the hall, her priest was pacing and thinking of what he will say to her. The husband comes out and says, ‘Father, she wants to talk to you.’ the priest walked in, still trying to think of what he will say; as he sat down next to her the young woman looked at him with serenity: ‘Father, isn’t it wonderful – I am sharing in the sufferings of Christ.’ (He said, it was the most beautiful moment in his priesthood.) But Offering it Up does not only help those for whom we offer it. It helps us. If you want to talk to someone who is sympathetic, wise, patient, and loving, you have to find someone who has been through trials, who has suffered. Bees live on bitter food when making their honey, the best honey comes from the most bitter herbs. In the same way we produce great virtue and grow in holiness, by accepting bitter trials and offering them up.
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The other secret is, that when we offer our pain or heartache, the trials strangely become bearable – no, actually meaningful, easier. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said: Those who offer their sufferings to God soon find their pain to be very sweet, for as Jesus says: My yoke is easy and my burden light.
Let us conclude with the advice of St. Francis de sales: He says: ‘To be perfect, we must not only accept the cross that comes to us, but we must delight in it; not because we are weak, but for God’s greater glory. What I say may seem hard, he says, but believe me, when you put it into practice, it will be sweeter than honey. May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with us in our trials, and spur us on, to offer everything up, that we may truly be partners with Christ, in his salvific work. + 

[Entrusted to the prayers of St Margaret of  Cortona]

Pride – A Deadly Sin

Beloved in Jesus Christ,
In 1863 during the Civil War, Union and Confederate armies converged on Chancellorville, Virginia. The Union Army was led by General Joseph Hooker. General Hooker had a reputation: he was proud, he was a braggart and a profane drinker with a temper; a godless man. As his army prepared for the battle, Hooker began to brag about how he would beat General Lee. ‘Let God have mercy on them, he said, for I will have no mercy. Then he made a statement which sent a shiver through the room: he pointed toward heaven and said: ‘Even Almighty God could not stop me from winning the victory tomorrow.’ That night, Officer (Winfield) Hancock, wrote a letter to his wife; he said: ‘how can we expect to win when we are under a commander who utters such blasphemy. General Hooker went to bed confident, but early in the morning he would receive the surprise of his life: General Lee attacked, catching him totally off guard. Hooker was stunned. he became paralyzed with fear and indecision, and nearly a whole day passed before he even came out of his tent to lead the battle. But it was too late; the southerners had pulled off one of the most spectacular flanking movements in history. It was a humiliating defeat. Hooker was immediately fired by President Lincoln; his pride had ended his career in total disgrace.
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‘Whoever humbles himself with be exalted, says the Lord, and whoever exalts himself will be humbled.
Today we speak about the sin of Pride. Pride is one of the 7 Deadly Sins. Pride seems to have built into it, its own punishment. As scripture says, ‘Pride comes before the fall, and when pride comes, disgrace follows. Pride is the greatest danger to the soul. It is the sin of Lucifer, who said ‘I will not serve God.’ Pride was the sin of Adam and Eve who wanted to decide for themselves what is right and wrong; It is pride which causes some scholars to think they are above the teachings of the Church. ‘Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools,’ says St. Paul. Pride is the self love that makes us think we are better than others.
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Pride makes us seek our own glory apart from the glory of God; we see ourselves as the center of the universe and the judge of all morality. Pride wants to have its own way, and to control and dominate and manipulate. In the gospel today, we see the danger of those who wish to put themselves in the important place; it is very easy to look down on others, or to focus on the faults of others, so as to feel superior. In his book the Screwtape letters, C.S. Lewis shows how the devil wants us to pray for another person: the devil wants us, during our prayers, to list all the faults of the other person. ‘O Lord, help my friend who is arrogant; help my boss who is vain; help my brother who is a complainer’ – this is the goal of the devils: to keep our neighbor’s faults always in our mind, and to neutralize our own prayers, so that they aren’t even prayers at all. Pride is very sneaky. The more intelligent a person is, the more carefully their pride is concealed. Those who are very smart, will never fall into pride which is easily noticed, rather, their pride is subtle; it thrives – on clever words, certain tones of voice, and the manipulation of others. If we look closely, we will find some pride lurking in our hearts, often cleverly disguised.
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As Father Bill Casey likes to say, if we think back on our life, we will see that our worst moments, our biggest failures, our most embarrassing falls, our bad behavior, the broken relationships – can usually be traced back to our foolish, foolish pride. Pride is the great destroyer of marriages, the barrier to holiness, the obstacle to confession, and the source of endless self deception as well as vanity. Pride leads to anger, it is an open door to the devil, the gateway to hell, and always a disaster in the making. Actions done out of pride lead to no good, and bring shame and regret. You know, after we’ve messed everything up because of our pride, so many times we say, ‘Oh Lord, I have messed up everything. It is my pride again.’
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So how can we be cured? – Our pride can be conquered, only by humility. What is humility? St. Teresa of Avila says: humility is the virtue by which we have a correct opinion of ourselves and we see ourselves as God sees us. Humility is to see the truth of who and what we are before God. It reminds us that every good thing we have, every blessing and talent that we have, comes from God and not from ourselves. I love those athletes who point to heaven after a touchdown or a home run. Any good that we do, we should attribute to God and his blessings. In an old theology book, I saw a picture of two trees. One tree was ugly and the fruit on it was rotten sins: hate, envy, lust, arrogance. The other tree was beautiful, and its fruit was kindness, compassion, gentleness, gratitude, and charity. The roots of the ugly tree were in a soil by the name of – Pride. And the roots of the beautiful tree with all the virtues were in soil called – Humility.
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Some people think that humility is to be very timid, or to put oneself down, or to have no initiative, but this is false humility. Some people, when asked to accept some responsibility say: ‘O, I’m not worthy of such a task.’ They think they are being humble, but often it is false humility concealing their cowardice or laziness. The humble person does not make himself the center of attention, or act like a know-it-all; the person who thinks they know-it-all never learns anything; but the humble person listens to what others have to say. A humble man can become very great, because he is willing to learn, and he is not afraid of making some mistakes or of what others will think. But pride shows itself in fear of failure, putting on sadness or faking illness to attract attention – fear of being under-appreciated, imagined insults, oversensitivity. —–
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Sometimes we see the sins and failings of another person. We can be tempted to think that we are very superior. But if we think that our neighbor is nothing – that he is nothing more than a worthless cockroach in this world – then how God must laugh at us, because if our neighbor is a cockroach, then we are an ant, and how foolish is the insect who thinks he is something. Before the Greatness of Almighty God, we little human beings are really very much like each other. I often think that on the day of judgment, we may find ourself hanging desperately at the edge of heaven, slipping down toward hell by the weight of our sins. We cry out for help, and then a face appears above, to help us. And it is the face, of that person in life whom we had looked down upon: a neighbor, a spouse, the person whom we had considered a fool. And it is that person who offers his hand to us, to help me up and save me and embrace me. Then indeed would be that love, that Christ has wanted from us all along.
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Some people will say that they are Catholics even though they are full of pride; maybe they are Catholics, but I don’t think they can be children of Mary. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin has a way of melting away self-love and pride. It is said that when the Son of God looked over the earth to find where he would be born, it was the sweet humility of Mary that drew him down from heaven. Mary, pray for us, to be more humble, that our actions and attitudes will show forth a beautiful humble life. 

[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas]

The Triumph of the Martyrs

 Friends in the Risen Christ,
There’s a story from ancient times, of a young girl named Junia,  who was curious about Christianity.  Her best friend was recently put to death for her Faith. So Junia went secretly at night to the Catacombs, on the outskirts of Rome, to visit the tomb of her friend.  At the door, the sentry met her – a tall Catholic man, about 20 years old.  ‘I am not a Christian, she told him, but I would like to see Marcia’s tomb.’  The man looked around carefully to see if any spies had followed her,  and then quietly brought her in.   As they went down a narrow passageway  she could hear people singing.  The man told her, ‘They are offering Mass.   As they walked, she saw a group of people kneeling,  and a man lifting up a piece of bread.  ‘This must be the Mass, she thought.   Their guide, carrying a torch, led them down another passageway,  and there she saw the tomb of her friend.  Another young woman with them said: ‘She was a brave girl, and you too are brave Junia, for coming here tonight.  She said this, because the Catholic Faith was illegal, and these were secret meetings.  Junia asked her: Tell me more about your religion.  ‘Well, said the woman, we follow Jesus in this life, and then we go to live with Him in heaven.  Heaven is a wonderful place;  that is where Marcia is now, and she prays for you.  Junia asked her, ‘Why was Marcia always so happy?’ ‘It is because of Jesus,’ she said. The woman took the torch, and held it near a painting on the wall.  It was of a young man, very handsome, and cheerful, and confident;  he was holding a sheep on his shoulders.   Junia’s heart leapt at the sight of this picture.  Looking at the painting, she said, ‘Marcia was always so happy  because she loved the Good Shepherd with her whole heart.’   
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Friends in Christ, From ancient times, Jesus has been described as the Good Shepherd.  “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord. I lay down my life for my sheep.’ Catholics of old, in caves, and catacombs, drew pictures of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  In days of great persecution, why was this image of Christ so favored?   Well, a shepherd must fight and defend his sheep.  Against wolves, and wild animals, and thieves.  Jesus Christ from his earliest youth, showed in his young face,  one virtue perhaps over all the others. Confidence. The young Jesus held in his face, a certitude tempered with humility –  such that to be with the Lord Jesus, was to never feel afraid.  When he was before a hungry crowd of 5000,  he said, give them food.  –  How? We’ve only got a few loaves and two fish!  But with unwavering confidence, he said:  ‘Bring them here. And he fed them all.   When the man full of leprosy begged to be healed,  in complete confidence Christ stretched forth his hand and touched him:  I do will it, be thou made clean – and he was.  The confidence, the fearlessness in the heart of Jesus,  is a delight to the friends of Christ.   This Shepherd of ours is not afraid of anything.  He is not afraid of terrorists, he is not afraid of atheists,  he is not afraid of secularists, he is not afraid of the devil.  Jesus Christ is not afraid of the enemies of the past nor of those today.   Today, many enemies do carry off his little sheep.  Filthy television robs our teenager’s purity and modesty,  and carries off these little lambs.  And the wicked of the world, even lead moms and dads,  to give up their prayers, and their religion, and their marriages;  They are being carried off by wolves. Why?  Because they do not ask the Shepherd to help them.  They wander away from the Good Shepherd.  
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What is the most insidious thief of the children of God today?  It is the voice of the world, growing ever louder, which says: You Catholics have to give in on some things. You Catholics are too old fashioned.  Can’t you see the world is changing? Get with the times.  What the world is saying, is that they have a better way to happiness. They say, your religion is bad for the world,  it is divisive, it is too strict, your moral laws make people feel bad. But it was the same in the first centuries. It’s always the same.  
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The first Christians were told, you can have Christ,  but you must also – worship the Roman gods;  you must be a true member of our society and accept our ways. But they said no! ‘Oh, just throw a pinch of incense on the fire, to the gods  –  but they would not.   Young women, old men – the martyrs were asked to do a small thing, to deny their Faith, but they would not.  So they were fed to wild beasts, crucified, boiled alive, lit on fire, and every other test the pagans could dream up –  but they would not deny the Faith.   All that we are asked to do is to go along with the world on this idea or that; we only must say, ‘the church is wrong.’    But Holy Mother church is not wrong. She teaches truth which is the only path for a happy humanity.   The martyrs said, they will not particpate in the orgies or the gladiator games of the then-dying pagan world.  They said: ‘We will follow Jesus the Lord.’  St. Felicity sang to Jesus on her way to the wild beasts. St. Lawrence glowed with love of Christ, while roasted alive. St. Perpetua prayed in ecstasy while a dagger plunged into her neck. These are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. And each one of us, must be prepared to give up our friends, our reputation, or our life, for the Lord.   In Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, a group of CCD children were told by their catechists: ‘it is Easter; Jesus died and rose for you, you must be ready to die for Jesus if necessary.’ And the children all agreed. Soon thereafter, ½ of them died from a bomb.  
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Oh, there are many traitors of Christ out there. Not just terrorists.  Phony Catholics, who don’t agree with this or that teaching of the Faith. They want to twist the faith to fit in the modern world. But they are traitors. And they are on a path to destruction.  Let us, every single one of us resolve never, ever, to compromise a single truth of the Faith of Jesus Christ.  Let them kill us before we would betray this Good Shepherd, who loves us with his life.
O Mary, Queen of the Martyrs,  help us to love our dear Savior who died and rose for us; help us to live for him, so that we may also die for him.     
[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton]

Sunday Mass and the Courage of the 1st Century

Friends in Jesus Christ,
in the Mass for today, in the Communion antiphon, it says: ‘Thou hast given us O Lord, bread from heaven, having in it all delights.’ This is from the Book of Wisdom, and it teaches us that the Holy Mass is a Sacred Banquet. In the Secret prayer for today, we pray: ‘Look graciously O lord upon Thy people, graciously look upon our gifts: and appeased by this offering, may you grant us pardon and grant us what we ask.’ Here we see the way that the Holy Mass is a sacrifice, seeing to appease the Lord and beseeching him in our prayer.
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These two aspects of the Mass can clearly be seen: Sacrifice and Banquet. The Holy Mass has been the center of Christian life from the beginning. After Christ’s resurrection, his disciples would often refer to the Mass as ‘The Breaking of the Bread.’ It has been called by various names through the centuries: The Divine Liturgy, The Lord’s Supper, the Holy Sacrifice, or simply: the Mass. The Mass is the central focus of the life of a True Christian, its why we are here every Sunday. As the Fathers of the Church tell us, Holy Mass is the source and the summit of the Christian life, and this is the reason for the 3rd Commandment: ‘Keep holy the Lord’s Day.’ It is a mortal sin to skip Mass. St. Paul tells us, in Hebrews chapter 10, that people are not coming to their ‘Asembly;’ here he means Mass. He says that these people, who do not go to Mass – for them, there will only be a certain, dreadful fire waiting for them.
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So how are we to understand the importance of Sunday Mass? To answer this question, let us today transport ourself back to the early years of the Church. Let us see what Mass was like for them; In the early centuries, there were no big churches yet. Mass was celebrated in the large homes of more wealthy members of the Church – they had the space. The chalices and other vessels used were very beautiful and made of the best materials, the records show this. In those days, Mass was usually offered by the Bishop and his priests together, assisted by the Deacons. Nearly anything that was spoken out loud at mass was chanted, this was the normal way of prayer in those days.
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In the Roman Empire, Sunday morning was a working day. So before your job, you would rise at perhaps 4am, and walk down the silent streets. In your pockets was a little bread and a container of wine. As you walked, you would see the symbol of a fish carved onto certain fences or walls, telling you that you were on the right path to the meeting place, because the location was a secret. You come at last to the large home owned by a Christian woman. A man would look carefully at you as you went in – the Deacon – but he knows you, and you are allowed in. There in the main room, you would find the gathering of other Catholics, you knew most of them. At the other end of the large room, sitting in a chair is an elderly man, the Bishop. Next to him a man talking to him quietly, he is another Deacon. And in a semicircle of chairs are the priests, then Mass begins.
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After the readings and a homily, the offertory. The Deacons put a white cloth on the altar, and then they stand in front with silver vessels. Each person goes forward and puts their bread and some wine into the vessels, to contribute to what is needed for the Eucharist. This even today is symbolized by the people bringing the gifts forward at Offertory. Holy Mass in those days was simpler than ours; many of the prayers we have, had not yet been added to the ritual. But the Eucharistic prayer which varied quiet a bit from region to region, was chanted by the Bishop.
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Then comes Holy Communion, in which you partake in the true Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ. In some places the priest would give you Communion and say: ‘The Bread of Heaven in Christ Jesus. ‘ Afterward, people slip out quietly, in two’s or three’s, but not all at once to arouse suspicion. But let us imagine that that day it did not go so well. Perhaps the Bishop lingered outside a moment, to speak to the Deacon, and a passer-by recognized him and shouted: ‘He’s a Christian!’ A mob quickly forms. A brick is thrown through the window and a policeman arrives asking: ‘What’s going on here?’ ‘it’s the Christians again,’ someone says. And then the challenge comes by the policeman: ‘Is it true? Are you a Christian?’ And the bishop admits it. And the Deacons, and those who are still inside.
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You yourself have only made it down the block – but hearing all this, you whisper a prayer for your brothers – and then you hear someone say to you: ‘Aren’t you also one of them?’ This was real life of the 1st centuries. For those convicted of this capital crime, the person might be immediately tortured and killed. But if in that area, the judge is lenient, you might be sent to the lead-mines on Sardinia, to work. But the mines were more of a death-camp. From the point of view of the State, the Holy mass was deliberate treason. From the point of view of the Catholic people, Mass is the supreme act of worship given to us by Christ. For a person to say they were Catholic, or that they had Faith, without attending Mass, would be pointless and useless. If you were a believing Christian, you were there on Sunday.
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Can we begin to comprehend what the Eucharist meant to them? Rising so early, amidst real danger, they went. For 250 years, to be a Christian was a Capital Crime. How important was the Mass, that men and women would run continual risks to attend it? Was it because they wanted to have a “remembrance of Jesus”, no, they could remember Jesus safely in their homes. Was it to sing some songs, or hear a good homily? no. No, they had to be at Mass, they had to be there, in this action, this act of Faith, this burning faith, this offering of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, this Holy Sacrifice for our sins, our salvation – the Supreme Act of Worship. It was so important, that priests had to be smuggled into imperial prisons to secretly celebrate Mass for those awaiting execution.
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In this age lacking in any faith; this age of atheism and despair and scandals; let us hold fast to the Holy Mass given to us by Christ, and offer Jesus and offer ourselves and our families to God, in this Holy Sacrifice. And may the Blessed Virgin guide us. Mary, pray for us, to be true Christians, and to be always faithful to you and your Son.
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[Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Antonietta Meo]

Why is there Suffering?

‘And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questions arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.’
Friends in Christ, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared often to his disciples, and it is interesting, that in the first visits to them, he makes it a point to show them his hands and feet. He is showing them the wounds from his crucifixion. The resurrection of Christ is hope for us, because we are supposed to do what Jesus did: rise up on the last day in our own glorified bodies. But there is something else that we must do even before that great day: we must also endure wounds on our hands and feet – or at least, wounds in our life.
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Suffering is part of this life, no one can deny that. There is much suffering in the world, it can even make people question their faith. Young people sometimes ask: ‘How can God allow suffering?’ ‘If God is all good and all powerful, why does he allow this to happen to me, or my brother, or my mother?’ ‘Why does he allow people to be tortured and persecuted?’ ‘Why is there cancer?’ This is one of the great questions. It is called ‘the problem of evil.’
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Now contained in this question are two different types of evil. Physical evil and moral evil. Physical evil is: why does God allow cancer, or earthquakes; why does God allow a person to be attacked by a shark? These are causes of suffering which are due to nature. The other kind of evil is moral evil. Why does God allow a gang member to kill a child in the city, or a person to be treated cruelly in the work place, or a kid to be beaten up by bullies? These are ‘moral evils,’ they are caused directly by sin.
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Atheists often bring up this question: They say: ‘The evil in the world proves there is no God. If God were all powerful and all good, he would not allow suffering.’ So what can we say about this? Well, first let’s say the small things, and then the big thing.
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First, Free-Will:   If God were going to stop the gang member from shooting, if he miraculously stopped the bullet in mid-air; or if, when the bully is going to throw the punch, his arm miraculously would freeze up and in this way, no one would be capable of ever hurting another, well, then we would really be robots controlled by God, there would no longer be free-will. God has given us a great gift: free-will. He wants us to use it to love, but unfortunately we use it sometimes to hate.
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And every parent often feels this same frustration, seeing children use their free-will, not always for good things. They could lock them in a closet for their life, so that they would never get into any problems or get hurt, but that is not freedom. So much suffering and pain and broken hearts come about because we use our free-will to hurt others or ourselves.
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God also allows the devil to exercise his free-will; the devil was the original source of all the moral evil, and the demons create enormous pain in the world by their temptations. So this is one reason that God allows moral evil: free-will. and we must say that he ALLOWS all this, but he does not desire it. It is his permissive will, not his active will. God suffers over the pain of the world, with us – we see that on the cross.
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Another thing for us to consider, is that God can bring good out of evil; he is working on a much larger scale than we are. He can see the long-term effects of things. God is painting a masterpiece that extends over millions of years. If you put your face up close to a painting, you may say: ‘This black smudge is ugly, what a mistake.’ But backing away a distance, one can see that that black spot is an important part of the entire painting.
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For example, a priest friend of mine was visiting a parish and after Mass, he saw a child in a wheel chair, deformed and serverely handicapped; he had a brief thought: ‘Why Lord?!’ Then he met the family after Mass. Great people. The older son was going to be a priest, a sister was going into social work, very kind and wonderful family. He thought: I think I know why – because of that child. We can sometimes see good that comes out of trouble.
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God allows some people to be cruel, irritating, or unkind; but it is just these persons who allow another to be patient, serene, and long-suffering. How can we pray for our enemies unless we have some? For most of us to become a saint, there must be another person in our life – ‘to make us a saint,’ if you know what I mean!!
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God also wants nature to be free. He allows cancer cells to grow in their own way, he allows sharks to do what sharks do and germs to do what germs do. The wind and seas move as they will; the earth’s crust shifts in a freedom all it’s own. For example, earthquakes – under the sea. In the 2004 Sunami, thousands of people died. This tragic event however produced an enormous amount of compassion and aid and generosity on the part of others. ‘But all those people died,’ you say. yes. But that isn’t the end of the story for them, is it? There is a next life. A man and woman were chatting in a barber shop in New York. The TV was on. They saw the devastation from the Sunami. The man shook his head. ‘Life is terrible.’ The woman said, ‘No, life is beautiful, but it’s full of pain.’
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Mother Cabrini always saw suffering and obstacles as evidence that God was going to bring his blessings; when she and her young nuns were to stay their first night in the United States, in an old boarding house, one of the nuns turned down the blanket and screamed, ‘Look at that, they are crawling!’,she said. The sheets and blankets were alive with bedbugs. Mother Cabrini said: ‘My daughters, things like this will happen, but it is a sign that God is going to bless us.’  
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When she visited one of her missions, the sisters there told her: ‘Everything is wonderful here, no problems.’ She wrote in her notes: ‘I became worried about that mission, I wondered if God really was blessing it.’ Suffering, problems, obstacles – the Lord wishes to sanctify us through challenges.
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So what can we say to the atheist about suffering? Let us ask: ‘If there is no God, then what? Then suffering is totally meaningless, then everything is meaningless; that means we are born, we suffer, and we die. that’s it. But that can’t be, we know there is meaning to life. This is why so many young people are in despair today, they don’t see God’s hand in the world. But he is here. St. Paul says: ‘We are heirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with him – that we may also be glorified with him.’
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God has not totally explained the Mystery of suffering, but it is true that God himself has come into the world and has joined himself to our suffering. He didn’t take it away, but he has chosen to be IN all of our pain along with us, giving it meaning; our patience in suffering means that we are helping Jesus save the world, participating in his redemptive work.
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When I was a seminarian, we had to attend some talks at a hospital. Other faiths were there too. One lady was giving a talk, and at one point she told us about a woman with cancer, who refused pain medicine, because she ‘wanted to offer her pain up for her family.’ She had a scowl on her face. The protestant seminarians and clergy laughed and said ‘it’s foolish, she must be convinced to take the pain medicine.’ But we Catholics did not laugh; that lady who was offering her suffering was probably a saint, another Christ, bringing down graces for her family. She got it. She understood suffering and it’s redeeming value.
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God has not taken away suffering, but he has joined into it, with us. In heaven, when the meaning of all things is revealed, after the pain of this life – we will finally see the end of the story. In the end of the story, we will be resurrected with the Lord, and the sufferings of our life that we patiently endured will be the great glories of our life. May the blessed Virgin assist us in all the trials of life, that we may see her glorious face with Jesus, in heaven. Amen.

[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Joseph]

 

Only Christ was Predicted

Beloved in the Lord Jesus, 
We are about a week away from the great day of Christmas, when we ponder that singular event – the Word becoming flesh, this God who made all things, enteres into our own world, to be born like us and live with us – in order to save us. – This Jesus, who is still with us, who we pray to, speak to during the day.
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But today there are many people in the world who feel lost; they don’t know what to believe about anything, they are not living such good lives, and they are confused. They see different religions in the world, and atheists, and they are bewildered. Like Pontius Pilate they seem to say, ‘What is truth?’ Who really knows anything? Who is Jesus? How is our religion different from others?
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History is full of famous religious leaders who claim to be prophets or a spokesman for God. Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, LaoZi, Baha u llah, Joseph Smith, and many others – and Jesus. Bishop Fulton Sheen[i] asks a very good question:  Of all these religious leaders he says, is there any objective evidence that we could look at, to judge the truth of the claims of these people? Each has a right to be heard, but what legitimate claims can they make? If one of them came from God, the least God could do as evidence for us, would be to pre-announce his coming. If God sent someone, or came himself, with a vitally important message, it would seem reasonable that he would first let us know that his messenger is coming, where he would be born, and many other things. Otherwise, any impostor could appear in history, and say: I came from God, or an angel told me this or that.  If a man shows up in Washington, DC as a diplomat, claiming to represent another government, he must present his credentials, to prove that he is who he says he is, and those documents cannot have been written AFTER he arrives, they must pre-date his arrival.
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And so then, of the many religious figures of history, we must ask them: ‘What record was there before you were born, that you were coming?[ii] Socrates had no one to foretell his birth. Buddha had no one to pre-announce him and his message, or tell the day when he would sit under the tree. For Confucius, the events of his birth and his mother were not recorded, nor were they written down centuries before his arrival. But with Christ it was different.
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By the many Old Testament prophecies, his coming was expected. How can we not read Isaiah’s predictions of the Virgin Birth of the Messiah, or the prophet Micah’s predictions of his birth in Bethlehem, how can we read these ancient prophecies, and not marvel?   Or the detailed descriptions of the suffering Messiah written down, as if the author himself wrote it at the very foot of the cross! Or the psalms, which describe, even a thousand years before Christ, the holes in the hands of the crucified Messiah, before crucifixion was even invented. There were no predictions about Baha u llah, Joseph Smith, or Mohammed, or anyone else. They just came and said, ‘Here I am, you must believe me.’ They were therefore only ordinary men – and not the Divine Man, come down from heaven.
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Christ alone, came into history, amidst a torrent of prophecy. At the time of Our Lord’s birth, the rabbis had gathered together some 456 predictions about the Messiah to come. And so, when he asked, the scribes could assure King Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Since then, scholars have discovered a total of 1096 prophecies of Christ, every one of them fulfilled. But for other religious figures – nothing. Buddha’s own mother did not know he would amount to anything; nor was Confucius or Mohammed ever pre-announced. But the collection of prophecies of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is simply staggering. Isaiah 35:4: Here is your God, he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; the lame will leap like a stag, and the tongue of the mute will sing. It was predicted, and Jesus did it: he healed the blind, and the deaf, and the lame, and the mute. Instantly. And perhaps most amazing, is that with the arrival of Christ, all new prophecy came to an abrupt and sudden end.
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The Blessed Virgin was well aware from scripture, that the time foretold by the prophets had arrived; that the 70 weeks of Daniel were completed; that the scepter of Judah had passed to hands of a foreign king (Herod), and that a Virgin was to be the Mother of the Messiah. And these prophecies don’t even consider the thousands of miracles and wonders worked by Christ in the course of his life.
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Friends, we can open any modern history book, open one up, and you will find that they no longer use the terms, BC and AD. They no longer use ‘Before Christ’ and Ad Domino – year of Our Lord’ Now they say BCE and CE – ‘Before Common Era, and Common Era.’ Why? to remove the reference to Christ. The popular children’s dictionary in England, now has had every Christian word and symbol removed from it. Kids in publics schools tell me, they are told to no longer say ‘Christmas break’ – they are to say: holiday break. A 6th grader said me, ‘Father, it isn’t right!’   – and he is correct – it isn’t right.
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The pagan world rejects Jesus, and wants his name expunged from every part of society. Why? Because Christianity is a problem for an immoral world. The world wants this season to be not about Christ, but about snowmen, flying reindeer, and food and parties. They want happiness, but do not want God; but this is a dead-end project. You can’t have happiness without God! there is no point to this “Holiday” – if Jesus Christ is not in the center. People now say: happy holidays. ——   Such words must never pass the lips of Christians. Let us always be guilty, of being a Christian, and saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’
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The final prophetic voice announcing the Savior, was John the Baptist who we read today. As scripture says, ‘He came for testimony, to testify to the Light. And so I ask you, dear Christians. Will you testify to the Light?
Friends, we are not just ‘one religion among many;’ Jesus is not just some other prophet or religious teacher, he is God come down from heaven – foretold by the prophets long ago. No other religious figure has the credentials of Jesus Christ. no one. And so Our Lord is asking: will you will be witnesses to the truth, to the greatest event in the story of mankind: when the Son of God came down from heaven, and split history into two parts: BC and AD.

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[i] This material borrows from ‘The Life of Christ,’ by Fulton Sheen, p. 11-14.

[ii] Even the pagans had a prophetic sense. Tacitus, a Roman historian writes: ‘people were generally persuaded that from Judea was to come the Master and Ruler of the world.’ Even in China, the sages looked for the appearance of the great Saint of the West. The Greeks expected him, for Aeschylus in his Prometheus, 600 years before Christ wrote: ‘look not for any end, to this curse, until God appears to accept upon his head the pains of your own sins.’ How did the magi of the East know Christ’s coming? By prophecy. The ancient oracles and the Sibyls of the Greeks spoke of ‘a coming King whom we must recognize, in order to be saved.’ Virgil himself spoke of a ‘chaste woman, smiling on her infant boy, with whom the iron age would pass away.’ Plato and Socrates also spoke of a great Logos and of the Universal Wise man yet to come.

The Temperament God gave you

3rd Sunday of Lent (Latin Mass)
Beloved in the Lord,
In 1935, when St. Josemaria Escriva was starting what would be a new movement in the church: Opus Dei, he invited a young man to join in the cause whose name was Alvaro del Portillo; Alvaro would become an essential advisor and confidant. History shows that the movement might never had come to fruition, if both had not been together.
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Josemaria had a firey Basque temperament, which, when tempered with charity, had the power to spread to the whole world, the message of sanctifying our daily life. Alvaro however, was a quiet and unassuming person who was able to deal deftly with many problems behind the scenes, and insire some powerful people by his kind manner to be faithful and influential Catholics; he would later become the Prelate of Opus Dei, with great effect. Of these two men, one would be canonized a saint, the other beatified. Two holy men – but two completely different temperaments.
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Friends in Christ, all the way back to the ancient Greeks it has been known that there are 4 basic temperaments among people, and everyone’s temperament is raw material for them to become a saint, for as Thomas Aquinas says, ‘grace builds on nature.’
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The 4 traditional temperaments are: the Choleric, the Sanguine, the Phlegmatic, and the Melancholic. A person’s personality is the result of environment – how one grows up, experiences – plus one’s temperament. The temperament is what we are born with, it’s in our genes. We may have already noticed our own, personal temperament. If we reflect on our life regularly, especially in prayer, we can hardly fail to consider why or how we have acted on a given day or situation, and perhaps we’ve recognized the patterns that come from our temperament.
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Spiritual masters have long had the slogan: ‘Know thyself.’ To grow in holiness, we need to know the truth of ourself, and the truth is, that there is usually an internal war going on inside of us; the good aspects of our temperament help us be good, the dark side of our temperament pull us toward the bad.
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In the Gospel today, Our Lord says: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house shall fall upon house.’ He tells how a person can have their house clean and swept and in good order – that is, a pure soul, a state of grace – and the next thing, the Enemy returns with 7 evil spirits. As St. Paul says, I end up doing the very thing I did not want to do. If we are trying to follow Christ, then we each have an interior war going on, the type of war usually depends on our temperament.
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The Choleric person has a strong will, a type ‘A’ personality, he has to be in charge, likes to be in charge, gets things done, reacts quickly, decisively, self-confident, independent. These are good attributes for a leader. St. Ignatius Loyola was surely a choleric. Certainly St. Paul.
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But such a person has a dark side that must be resisted: easily angered. quick to judge; stubborn; imprudent, denies their mistakes, hides insecurity by blaming others, impatient, can use people to get the job done. It is said, the choleric person would rather die than humble himself.’ So there is an interior war – and this is the battle of the spiritual life.
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The Sanguine person is friendly, outgoing, communicative; fun-loving, creative, looks on the bright side, emotional, notices details, has many friends, seeks adventure. St. Philip Neri probably was sanguine, who was a practical joker. Sanguine people are usually happy people, but they have an interior war also. They can desire to be the center of attention, or are tempted to vanity, or ready to give up morals or faith in order to be liked; they can act rashly or be frivolous or superficial or follow the crowd. St. Peter was probably Sanguine – he was impulsive, one moment ready to die for Christ, the next a coward – he spoke first and thought later; So the Sanguine has their own struggle.
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Now the Phlegmatic person is prudent, reserved, sensible, and dependable. He is attuned to his own feelings and those of others, he is not easily provoked to anger, he is easy going, very loyal; the phlegmatic is punctual, thrives on routine, good with detailed work, he has good judgment, is objective; he is agreeable and tolerant, but with a strong underlying backbone. A dry sense of humor. The monks that painstakingly copied manuscripts were probably Phlegmatics, St Thomas Aquinas was.
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But the Phlegmatic has an interior war too. Temptations to avoid manual labor, laziness, sensuality; not persevering in prayer, unmotivated; and the phlegmatic might give in to peer pressure to avoid conflict, which he hates.
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Finally, the Melancholic temperament. The Melancholic values the ideal, seeks perfection in everything. He is skeptical about overly simplistic labels, tends to be quiet and reserved, holds thoughts to himself. He is studious and orderly, attentive to detail; can be thoughtful and pious and compassionate, and is upset when he sees injustice. He prefers solitude and reflection and is very faithful in relationships and is good at planning things, and in detail. St. Edith Stein was surely a Melancholic.
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But Melancholics have a war going on also. The Melancholic can be prone to brooding or sadness, or dark critical thoughts. He can suppress anger for a long time, and then – blows up!’ Everyone wonders why. He was stewing and ruminating on something a long time. The melancholic can presume motives in others that do not exist and fume silently over perceived slights, and be unforgiving. His pride is not about wanting recognition like the choleric, it’s about fearing failure; wanting to be perfect, his pride fears disgrace. For him, caution can lead to a lack of courage and action. A melancholic’s idealism can lead him to be impractical and indecisive, and not always a team player. So – they have spiritual combat going on inside too.
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But this is the adventure of the Christian life – a war! It is not new. St. Paul says the exact same thing: ‘I see a law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin. Unhappy man that I am, who will deliver me?’ And then he answers it: Who will deliver me? The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
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We each have an interior war, usually between the best of our temperament and the worst; but we cannot fight our war without God’s help. And also, let’s ask Mary to aid us; O Virgin most powerful, O Virgin most faithful, help us by your prayers, to win our daily, interior battles for Jesus Christ.

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{Entrusted to the prayers of St. Camillus]

No one left Behind

3rd Sunday of Epiphany
Beloved in Christ, on Nov. 13, 2004, Chris Marquez was on standby, part of a Marine quick-reaction force. He was getting ready to take a nap when the call came for help.
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Members of a platoon had been ambushed and were pinned down inside a house; Sergeant Bradley Kasal joined the squad that went to rescue. Entering the house, and as he moved toward the wounded in the next room, he and another Marine were raked in the legs by rifle fire. Then the grenades rained down.
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The men formed a plan: two would shed their gear, including rifles, then run in and out of the kill zone, extracting casualties one by one as other Marines provided cover. It was crazy, but maybe a way to get the wounded home. Bullets rained down, everybody was shot up pretty bad. “He had lost so much blood,” Marquez said, he looked like he was going to pass out.” But Kasal refused to leave until everyone else was out.
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Friends in Christ, one of the watch phrases of the military, is ‘No Man Left Behind. It is the confidence that every effort will be made to get you out, if you are hurt or in trouble or captured. Why is this so important? Because of the effect it has on morale.
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One of the most dangerous missions of the Vietnam War was the attempt to rescue 65 American POWs held at the notorious Son Tay prison. A 116-plane armada flew hundreds of miles over mountainous territory at treetop level to the prison camp. As it turned out, the prisoners had been moved. They had to return empty handed. Yet, when the POWS learned of the attempt, “morale soared.” They no longer felt abandoned or forgotten.”
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Friends this is very noble and heroic, but these efforts are focused on the value of our earthly, physical life. Of much greater consequence is the salvation of souls, and the rescue of others from Eternal damnation. The Centurion in the gospel today is very noble; he is seeking help from Jesus for his slave. A slave was nothing. A thing. A tool, in those days. No one would have such compassion for a slave, and so Jesus can perceive the goodness in this Centurion.
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Yes, Christ heals that slave, he healed the leprous man, and so many others. But what he is really interested in, is saving souls. We ourselves admire a Marine who gives everything to rescue his buddy. No man left behind. But the question we can pose to ourself can be: Is this my attitude toward others? That no one will be left behind? We hope to save our souls; we work for that, we pray for that. But what about the others? Can we say in our heart, we wish that no one will be left behind? Do our prayers and actions and words reflect this? It is said, you can’t get to heaven if you don’t bring someone with you.
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Our Lord will say in the gospel, Two will be working in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two will be grinding meal; one will be taken and the other left. two will be in bed; one will be taken and the other left. Our own motto must be, no one will be left behind. Not one of our family members, not one of our neighbors.
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It’s true, the Enemy is raining down bullets and grenades on people today – many people we work with or know, are pinned down by the Devil’s hellfire. But we want to save them, we want to rescue them. St. Francis de Sales so passionately wanted to save a group of heretics, that he crawled on a frozen log over a chasm every day to preach to them.
‘Lord, give us this passion for the salvation of souls.’
‘Lord, make our hearts the hearts of apostles.’
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Now we are not faced with a frozen log, nor with bullets or grenades. The task for us is more subtle, and as the Lord will say, we must be cunning as serpents and innocent as doves. What we need, is a powerful attractive force, to bring wayward souls to God. And that attractive force is two-fold: prayer, and human virtue. Under the influence of prayer, it is usually human virtue by which we attract a wayward soul.
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Jesus did this. We see how he shows compassion, healed bodily ills: the leper, the Centurion’s slave. His person was attractive, people wanted to be near him – He did the human things that people would respond to, so that they would come to him to be healed in their souls. We must use human virtue to attract souls.
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When we are known in the office as responsible, hard-working, amicable – people see that. The wayward soul sees that; the atheist notices this. And they notice our sincerity, our fairness, and good humor. Our wayward adult son or daughter – they see our love, our faithfulness, our kindness; yes, sometimes they hear us speak about faith, but what penetrates over time is our human virtue.
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With this kind of soil, we can plant a seed – it may not be we who see the harvest, in this life; but with prayer, the harvest will come.
May the Blessed Virgin intercede for us; Mary, pray for us, that we will seek lost souls for Christ, so that no one will be left behind.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas]

Don’t Resist God

2nd Sunday of Advent
Beloved in Jesus Christ,
It is said, that in heaven there will be two types of people there: the innocent, and the repentant. The St. Theresa’s and St. Agneses, who seem to have led a pure life from birth; and the sinners, even great sinners who repented and finally gave their heart to God. These two groups will praise God together, with no hint of difference between them, because God’s greatness is seen in both.
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Something else that these two groups share, is that ultimately in their lives, they no longer resisted God, no matter how hard that was. Today we encounter John the Baptist in the Gospel. From his birth, John did not resist God, but followed the WAY marked out for him. It was not easy. We find him in the desert living on the land – – and not much to live on in the desert.
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St. Neilos says, John the Baptist lived in the wilderness, dressed in camel hair and survived on locusts and wild honey. Yet all the people, even dressed in silk, and from luxurious homes went out to see him. He says, ‘there were many rich and famous people in those days, proud of their glory, and yet today they are all forgotten. It is John the Baptist who is remembered.
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John the Baptist did not resist God; he followed the Lord’s call wherever it took him, even to the desert, to prison, even to death. But that is how he came to be a saint in heaven. He did not resist God. I am reading a book called ‘Resisting Happiness.’ It speaks very well, about how we try to do so many things our own way, the wrong way – knowing that we are supposed to do it ‘the right way,’ and in this, we not only resist God, but end up unhappy or less happy.
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We resist doing things we know are good for us; we resist the things we know are right; we wish to cut corners. But it never ends well. We have an inclination to do the things that are not good for us, and to delay the things we ought to do. When the alarm goes off in the morning, if we resist, and delay, and put off getting up – it affects the whole day. We set goals and then don’t go after them. We procrastinate, and end up doing things in a hurry, or poorly.
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Advent is a time to prepare for the holy day of Christmas; it is a time to seek peace in our soul, and to change our bad habits into good habits. But the devil prevents improvements in our character by means of resistance. Resistance wears a thousand masks. Laziness, procrastination, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self-loathing, escapism, pride, lukewarmness – Sometimes we are about to do something, some task that we know needs to be done, but we pause – ‘I think I’ll get a soda before I start this’ – or this chair is really not good, I need another one -. And the task is delayed for comfort-seeking. A man told me, ‘I’m going to read the whole bible, from start to finish.’ ‘How’s that coming?, I asked. Well, I’m trying to find just the right bible before I start, I want a leather one with a nice font, I don’t want to start until I get the perfect bible.’
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In the end however, when we give in to resistance, and put off things, or do what we feel like, instead of what God wants, we end up less happy. St. Augustine delayed and delayed doing what he knew God wanted. He writes extensively about it in his book. He was utterly, entirely, miserable. And his life was spiraling into a bad place. We encounter people in our lives – ‘if only they would not have done that!’, we think, their life would not have such problems. They did it – almost always for short-term, selfish-seeking reasons.
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Giving into resistance in big decisions can hurt us, but the real battle is with small decisions, the hundred decisions every day: will I get to bed on time – this affects the whole next day. will I get going to start dinner, or give in to mindless television? will I start my homework right after supper, or go on texting my friend, and then find myself scrambling to get it done in the morning. Happiness is daily destroyed for us by giving in, instead of fighting. We continue with a bad relationship because it’s the easy path – but the less happy one. We give in to comparing ourselves with others; we buy things we don’t need and can’t afford. We want to be happy. But giving in to resistance blocks it.
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When we are children, we think we’ll be happy if we just can get that toy – When we are older, we say, if she’ll be my friend, I’ll finally be happy. In adolescence we are chasing pleasures of all sorts, but none make us happy. Some ruin us. Adults wish to accomplish something great, or put their entire hope in a romance. But in the end, as Matthew Kelly says, we have a ‘God-sized’ hole, that can’t be filled by this world. So when will we stop resisting God?
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As we start into Advent, John the Baptist who has followed the Lord, even when it was difficult – he is pointing us to Jesus Christ. Following Jesus especially in the small decisions of daily life, leads to more happiness and more peace. Advent is a time to adjust our course and find this happiness that only Christ can give. And this means saying ‘yes’ to him in daily life-decisions, even if we feel resistance.
May the Holy Virgin Mary touch us with her love in these days, and help us to always say ‘yes’ to God despite resistance.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas]

Our Trinitarian Prayer Life

Friends in Christ,
Today Our Lord tells us that we must build our ‘house,’ on a firm foundation, otherwise it will be swept away by storms.
We can consider, in our spiritual life, or we might speak about our prayer life – is it built on a firm foundation? We are not speaking today about our norms of piety, which are part of the needed foundation – of a morning offering, examination of conscience before bed, meal prayers, time for mental prayer or meditation, spiritual reading, bible reading – we are not today speaking of this foundation, which is very important – But we can ask, is my prayer life Trinitarian?
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We should have a relationship with each of the 3 Divine Persons. This is the foundation that we want: Prayers or aspirations each day to God our Father. Speaking daily to God the Son, to Jesus, as our Savior, our brother, our intercessor, our friend. And – speaking to the Holy Spirit, asking his help, his power. A solid foundation for our spiritual life means relating to each of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
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Of course we gravitate to, or feel closer to, one of the Divine Persons. We may speak more often with Jesus during the course of the day, or meditate on his life in the Holy Gospels, and this would be very appropriate. Some call often on the Holy Spirit for his guidance and help, for outpourings of his Gifts. And as children of God, with a true sense of ourself as a son or daughter of God, we may often speak to our heavenly Father, and praise him, with an awareness of his watchful eye during our work.
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Earlier in my own life, I was not paying attention to this, but a good priest reminded me, to have a Trinitarian prayer life. This always strikes me very close to my heart when we recite the prayers for people who are near death. One is reminded of each of the Divine Persons: as the person is dying, the prayer is: ‘Go forth, Christian soul, from this world in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for you; in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you. Go forth, faithful Christian!
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God the Father, Jesus, God the Holy Spirit – however we pray and speak with God, each day should find us relating to each of these dear, Divine Persons. And Mary should be with us too.
In this way, we will have built our spiritual life on a solid foundation, that will help us withstand the storms of life.

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