Author Archives: Father L

Detachment from the world

Friends in Christ, today in the gospel, Our Lord first warns against seeking after riches; ‘Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Then Peter says, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus tells him that for those who give up all to follow him, they will receive many times more, back, and eternal life.
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In Christ’s many teachings, it is not the fact of having nice things or wealth that is the problem, but really, our attachment to things of this world, making them into gods, as the first reading says today. To set our heart on created things, whether it be material goods, or clothes, or cars, or shoes; or whether it be experiences – travel, adventure, sports – or even persons on whom we set our heart, instead of God – we will not find peace, or joy, and we won’t find God.
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Father Faber has some great insights to the problem of seeking happiness in created things. He says, it leads to an endless, hopeless seeking of consolations and recreations. To seek in creatures what we feel we can’t find in God is truly a state of misery, he says, and is an endless and hopeless business. There is no end to it.
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Like bees among distasteful flowers, we fly from one to another, hardly stopping, but the honey which we taste is drugged. Strange to say, seeking joy in things, outside of God, becomes more of a necessity to us, the less that we are satisfied by it.
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This search for creature-consolation, like all failures, makes us irritable witih others. We pour our disappointment on them because money or experiences or some person could not fulfill us. And when all of this fails, as we are close to a frustrating despair, we turn to the lowest of all: bodily comforts: food, or drink, or drugs – to numb the empty feeling.
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How much better for us to detach our heart from all created things, and live for Jesus Christ alone. Then we will have all that our heart desires, and eternal life.

Don’t Follow the Crowd

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Beloved in the Lord, one of the great saints that I like to read, is St. Alphonsus Liguori. But his path to sainthood was not so easy.[i] Growing up, he had a keen intellect, and his parents were proud that he studied and became a lawyer; his father was very glad that he was making a name for their family, Alphonsus would be a success.
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But God was working on the heart of that young man in another way, calling him to a different path. Alphonsus lost an important case in court. He was upset. He stopped his law practice, and began to pray – really pray. Daily Mass – devotion. Instead of associating with his law friends, he visited the incurably ill in the hospital. His father asked him to take another legal case, but he told him he was done with Law. He stared at his son and would not accept this.
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But Alphonsus strongly felt that God was calling him in a different way. Over the days his father argued with him, pleaded with him, one day, in a rage, his father said: ‘I pray that God would take one of us out of this world; I cannot stand the sight of you.’ —
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Friends in Christ, today in the gospel Jesus says: ‘Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, division. From now on a household will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father against his son and a son against his father, mother against daughter and a daughter against her mother.’
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Jesus is warning us against giving in to human respect. He is urging us not to seek after the opinion of others more than that of God. To do God’s will, and not be swayed by the desire to be accepted or to ‘fit in’ or follow the crowd. Seeking human respect is a temptation that is very great, for young and old alike. We want to fit in. We want to be liked. And so sometimes we throw God overboard, in order to be accepted or to avoid conflict, but this is disloyalty.
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There are many weak and spineless people, who in order to escape derision or contempt, betray the Lord in a heartbeat. ‘If you are ashamed of me before men, says the Lord, I will be ashamed of you before the Father and the Holy Angels.’ To me, there is no sadder scene in the gospels, than that night when a little girl asked Peter if he was not one of Jesus disciples. Peter was afraid of speaking out. He said’ – – I never knew the man.’ And then it says, Jesus turned and looked at him. And Peter wept.
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We are often tempted to betray Christ by giving in to human respect. But what Jesus really is seeking, is some disciples who will be loyal; Father Scupoli says, our lukewarm spirit contains much self-seeking, yearning to be praised and valued by the world. —and this is really it: a desire to be valued by the world.
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Speaking to other priests, we agree on one thing: the Church here in America will only recover its strength, when one thing happens: When Catholics finally accept the fact that we live and believe differently than society. Until Catholic families understand, that you cannot just send your kids to any school, or any movie, or watch just any tv program, or date just any person – until we start to see that – as my mother always said: ‘We don’t do what everybody else does!’ – until we stop seeking human respect, that desire to fit in – we won’t faithful, and we won’t be happy either.
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Sometimes Catholics, giving in to human respect and wishing to be accepted by their peers – sometimes they end up entirely loosing their faith, because they would rather be popular in this life, even if it means hell in the next life. Those who make it the most difficult for us are oftentimes ex-Catholics who seethe with a guilty conscience at believers. St. Agathoclia was a slave owned by people who had once been Catholic. They subjected her to terrible abuse and were forever striking her on the head with sharp stones. But she refused to give up her devotion to Christ, and for that reason they whipped her and cut out her tongue – because they wished to hear no more about God.
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Thousands of people have lost God’s grace in order to meet the approval of friends. No loyalty to their Savior. Many a person in the office or factory, has closed their lips tight, and betrayed Christ in order to avoid the scoff of a co-worker. Many unworthy Communions are due to human respect.
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Catholics seem unable to raise their hand to make the sign of the cross in a restaurant, for fear of what others might think. Fear for human respect is the fear of shame. Scripture says: ‘There is a shame that brings sin, but there is a shame that brings glory and grace.’ Have we ever stopped to consider how many times a day our thoughts and actions are influenced by a concern for what others may think of us?
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Jesus Christ is our model; he was recognized even by his enemies for not caring what others think. About Him they said: ‘We know that you are true and teach the way of God, for you are not swayed by others’ opinions.’ Matt 22:16
Jesus therefore asks His disciples – he asks us – to not be concerned with what other think, but to be loyal. Father Fernandez says, overcoming human respect is part of the virtue of fortitude – of courage. It is possible the Lord will ask of us the sacrifice of our good name, or to accept discrimination at work, or the loss of superficial friendships or even one’s job because of our faith. I know a man, out of work a long time, whose union finally offered him good work, finally – but it was work on a Planned Parenthood building. He said, ‘I won’t do it.’ He suffered for it. But many took notice of his action; his Christian witness had a wide effect on his co-workers.
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For the person who says he wants to serve God, St. John Vianney says, for such a person, the devil’s first temptation is human respect, to be liked by others. This weakness has surely been always part of the human race. Yet today it seems to have a drug-like power over people. People today are deathly afraid of being seen in an unpopular light.
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So desperately do people want their children to like them, they are unable warn them about their sinful lifestyle, or immoral decisions: ‘Son, this lifestyle of yours, it’s not right, it’s not what God wants;’ ‘You can’t just move in with someone, it displeases God.’ Often, we are even afraid to be known as a Christian.
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One clear mark of the saints, is that they never sought human respect. Mary Magdalene had to overcome all the murmurings and scoffs, when in the presence of so many persons she cast herself at the feet of Christ to wash them with her tears. But her courage won the love of the heart of Jesus.
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Let us conclude by going to Our Lady; let us ask the Blessed Virgin to pray for us to overcome this concern of what others might think. Mary, help us to be faithful and loyal to Thy Son, and become worthy of the promises of Christ.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Nicholas]

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[i] Never Stop Walking – life of Alphonsus, page 12?

The Good Samaritan

12th Sunday after Pentecost
Beloved in Jesus Christ, today Our Lord gives us this parable of the Good Samaritan.
Christ here is speaking not only of the evident love of neighbor we must have, but he is speaking in sign, about great cosmic events. He says: ‘A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho….’ The Fathers of the Church tell us, that he says ‘a certain man’ because he is speaking about Adam – and at once he is speaking of the whole human race: Man.
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‘This man went down from ‘Jerusalem…’ As St. Augustine says, ‘Jerusalem’ means peace, and so this signifies Paradise, which mankind originally posessed. But it says, this man went down from there to Jericho. Jericho signifies this fallen world – the fallen state of Man.
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In those days, a person would be taking a great risk to go alone along such a road, which was well-known for its thieves and robbers. The human race is not guiltless in that we chose and continue to choose – the dangerous road when we give into temption. And the dangers are real: St. Ambrose says that those robbers that acosted the man – they represent the Angels of Darkness, that is, the Devil and his minions.
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The Devil stripped mankind of virtue and wounded us, leaving us half-dead. Augustine says that ‘half-dead’ means that Man is alive, but at the same time because we are corrupted and pressed down by sin, we are dead.
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The priest and the Levite who come by, offering no help – these signify the Law and the Prophets which of themselves could not save us. Only Christ can save us, and he is typified by the Good Samaritan who is not of any particular tribe.
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It says, ‘The Samaritan, being on a journey….’ And in fact, Christ is on a journey, himself coming down from heaven to heal and save us. Only the Lord can save us. We can put our faith so easily in other things: politics, financial security, popularity – as if somehow, if these things are solved, all will be well. But in the end, this planet will burn up in fire, and our body will rot.
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Only Christ can heal our wounds and save us and bring us safely to the inn, which is heaven; and Christ can only save us if we love God and neighbor.
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Hateful, selfish people will not be saved, and therefore the Holy Scriptures lay out for us this gospel today. This Lawyer speaking to Jesus – it says, ‘He wishing to justify himself said, and who is my neighbor?’ St. Cyril tells us: this lawyer, who has so much pride, proves himself to be devoid of love of neighbor, since he did not consider anyone to be his neighbor.
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But everyone is our neighbor.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Mary, niece of Abraham]

Dedication of St. Mary Major (ii)

Friends in the Lord, Jesus Christ has two natures: Divine nature and human nature – he is Truly God, and truly Man – yet he is one Divine Person. In this, Jesus unites heaven and earth, he joins our human life to God’s life, he is the perfect ‘ladder’ to heaven. But in the 4th century, an error in the understanding of Christ was taught, primarily by a man named Nestorius: He would say that Mary is the Mother of the human nature of Christ only, as if Jesus were two persons in one, a Divine Person and a Human Person. But this idea is totally against the teaching that Our Lord is One Divine Person, who unites in himself divinity and humanity. Jesus is One, Divine Person, with two natures.
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To address the heresy, the Church called the great Council of Ephesus in 431, and said, ‘Jesus is One Person in two natures. He is not a split personality. And to illustrate this perfectly, the Council taught that Mary is the Mother of God. Mary cannot give birth to a ‘nature,’ no. It is true, that Christ existed from all eternity according to his Divinity; but the Child born to Mary is a Person and so we say that Mary is the Mother of God, and this shows the unity of the Person of Jesus Christ.
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In honor of this great teaching, Pope Sixtus had built in Rome the church which is today called St. Mary Major. Today’s liturgy recalls the dedication of St. Mary Major, and this basilica is considered to be the most important church of Our Lady in the West.
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If you go to Rome, after St. Peter’s, this is the Church that must be visited. As Ms. June Hager explains, ‘In the course of 16 centuries all the arts have joined together to glorify this basilica as the house of the Virgin Mary on earth. It is a jewel box of treasures of every age. Classical marble columns divide the nave and side aisles. Byzantine mosaics glitter with gold in the apse, while colored mosaics from an earlier period wind their way high above the architrave. It all underlines one constant theme— the pre-eminence of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.’
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At the end of the 4th century a replica of the Bethlehem nativity was placed there; for this reason the Church is also called “St. Mary of the Crib.” To those who live in Rome, this church really IS Bethlehem, and the first Papal Mass of Christmas is always offered there.
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Because Christ has united perfectly in himself humanity and Divinity, into one Person, we too become the spiritual offspring of Mary; and so she is the Mother of God and also the Mother of us!

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St. John Vianney – Our Patronal Feast

Friends in Christ, today our parish celebrates our Patronal Feast, the feast of St. Jean-Marie Vianney. We have heard this past week various priests here each evening, speaking about our patron. It has been good to see so many people coming to the Novena Masses, to obtain a special grace from God in these days.
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St. John Vianney, began as a pastor of a tiny, uninteresting church in Ars, France. Ars itself was a town of a mere 230 people. Upon his arrival, he saw that the church was a dilapidated mess, and filthy. He began himself to clean it. He would clean the church, but he wished even more, to clean hearts, the souls of the people.
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The people in Ars were not hostile to the Faith, He would have preferred that; what he found, was complete apathy and indifference. 19 years after the end of the French Revolution, when ½ the priests in France had disappeared, and thousands of heads cut off – the persecutions and the hatred of God – after all that, well, France was spiritually dead. Nobody there, except a handful of people cared at all whether a priest came to their village, or said Mass.
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The town’s fame for dances and drunkenness was widespread. People came from miles around, even on Sundays, to join with the townspeople in their carousing, and to go wild in the four taverns there. The people would say, ‘this village is too small to have a church,’ but yet – there were 4 saloons! People did not go to Mass on Sundays and even worked on that day.
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St. John was not there long, when he came across a drunk man who was swearing up a storm. ‘My child, he said, ‘you are an animal.’ Indeed, people without God become animals, and those people had been without God for some time.
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At the time of the village festival, came the parties, the dancing, and after hours, the expected mortal sins between men and women. But in the Sunday sermon, their new parish priest did not waste any time addressing these things: ‘The tavern is the devil’s shop, he said. ‘in the tavern, hell pours forth its doctrine, souls are put up for sale, and families are ruined. ‘At the dance club, a Christian leaves his guardian angel at the door, and a devil takes his place. Soon, there are as many devils in the room as dancers.’
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As St. John preached, and prayed for his people, and fasted; little by little, people were not so comfortable in their sins. A small group at first, wished to learn about God. Some youth came to pray the Rosary. Improving morals led to the two taverns nearest the Church closing for lack of business; although 7 new ones appeared, eventually each of them had to close as well.[i] A group tried to slander their priest to make him stop, telling evil stories about him to malign his character, but in the end, people began to change. The love of God had gained a foothold in Ars.
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Later, more victories, confessions increased – Not only that town,[ii] but pilgrims came from other towns, to go to confession and to seek his advice. They came by the thousands: pilgrims brought other pilgrims, converts brought unbelievers. From every province of France, from beyond France and even overseas they came. The poor began it, the middle class followed, and soon the intellectual world was drawn to Ars.
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The great preacher Lacordaire came from the Cathedral of Notre Dame to learn from this parish priest. Special trains had to be run for pilgrims, and through it all, as Henri Gheon says, ‘the people of France awoke one day to the rumor of an incredible thing: ‘France had a saint.’ They had thought that France was done with saints, but not so, and even miracles were happening.
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St. John Vianney was part of a wonderful revival of religion which took place in France. In the wake of this saint, love of God began to blossom in that country. Numerous religious orders came to life again, often under the guidance of simple priests or humble women. After the Faith had seemed entirely wiped out in 1800, the new century would bring hundreds of religious congregations, missionaries pouring out into the world, and dozens of saints. St. John Vianney, St. Andrew Fournet, St. Peter Chanel, Blessed Julia Billiart, St. Rose Duchesne, St. Simeon Berneux, Saint Peter Eymard, Catherine Laboure, Therese of Liseux, St. Bernedette and dozens more.
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Like John Vianney, we must never underestimate the capacity of one Christian’s life to affect the world. All of these religious orders, missionaries and saints that followed St. John, these are merely the results, the fruit, of ordinary Christians beginning to really live for Jesus Christ.
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Our world is not as bad off as France, of 1800; to be sure, we have powerful forces against the faith – but if we follow the teachings of our Patron, who knows? The next century here could be a blossoming of faith. Such a thing however, is not accomplished by superficial Catholicism, or with lukewarm Catholics. It is by praying every day: morning, night, and at meals. regular confession, well-prepared Communions – or no Communion – honesty, truthfulness, purity in body and speech, sobriety, faithfulness to Sunday Mass and to the Church.
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If the corrupt village of Ars can change, so can our world – God is counting on you, on each of us individually.
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When people are hiking and they wish to drink water that they find, there is a tablet, which when put into the water, makes it pure. Well, we are supposed to be like that, purifying everyone we touch by our holy lives.
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You know, in that little town of Ars, France, there were some good ladies who helped John Vianney a lot, one was Mademoiselle Durie. Now she had contracted a serious illness, and she often said, that she wished God would just take her. Well one day she went to stop by at the Rectory. [iii] Approaching the door, she heard two voices inside. ‘One voice, with great gentleness was saying, ‘What do you ask of me?’ The other, St. John’s voice replied, ‘O loving Mother, I ask for the conversion of sinners, and particularly help for a person suffering a long time and now wishing for death.’  – Now this referred to Mademoiselle Durie herself –
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‘She will be cured, said the Lady, but not yet.’ Miss Durie could stand it no longer and pushed open the door. ‘What to my surprise, she said, was to see standing by the fireplace a beautiful lady of average height, dressed in white with gold roses and a crown of stars shining like the sun.’ I was astounded as I saw her kind smile. ‘O Mother, I said, the time is now, take me now.’ ‘Later, she said. You will always be my child and I shall always be your mother,’ and with these words she vanished.
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‘Who is she,’ she asked St. John, ‘I thought it was the Blessed Virgin.’  ‘And you would not be wrong,’ he said.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Peter]

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[i] Butler’s Lives of the Saints, new one.

[ii] Gheon, p. 129 on.

[iii] Gheon, p. 219 on.

The Net

Friends in Christ, today in the gospel, Jesus gives this parable of the net. In those days in Palestine, fishermen fished with two different methods of nets. One was the casting net which was thrown from shore and then pulled in, capturing the fish that were targeted. The other kind of net was with the drag-net. This net was put into the water and pulled by a boat, enclosing all kinds of fish and other things. In this case, the net was taken to land to sort out the good things from the bad.
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It is to this that Jesus refers: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.
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As William Barclay says, there are two great lessons here. The first lesson is that the Church is like this drag-net. All kinds of people are in the Church: good, bad, useless, – but it is not ours to judge. Sometimes it’s actually deceiving, who is good and who is not. Some people think that the Church should be more of an exclusive club: only for those who are fully committed. If you do not practice your faith 100%, Mass every Sunday, Confession every year, prayers every day – if not, you are out, not allowed inside the church. Some Protestant sects operate like that. Some think this would be the right method, to really purify the faith. But this is not the Church, Jesus says so. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” So that is the 1st lesson.
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The 2nd lesson that we learn from this parable is that the time of separation WILL come, when the good will indeed be separated from the bad. When the truth is made known about every soul, and they are sent to eternal bliss or eternal damnation. In this world however, it is hard for us to know who are in the Elect. Some who are evil, may be saints before they die. Some who seem to be good, may become lost. But the separation of the good and the evil is not man’s work, but God’s.

The Our Father

10th Sunday after Pentecost
Beloved in Jesus Christ, this past spring, in a small town in Ohio, moments before the high school graduation, the senior class secretly made a decision that would make national headlines. For over 70 years, their public school had a tradition at graduation of singing the Our Father. Catholics and Protestants alike, and any others who wished to join in, sang the Lord’s prayer at their graduation.
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But this year, the school district banned the song to appease a group of ‘perpetually-offended atheists,’ it might be better to call them ‘bullies,’ none of whom even live in town. The decision devastated the community. So that day, as the students were lining up, some of them began talking about how wrong it was that their beloved tradition had been outlawed. ‘Pretty much everyone was in agreement,” said senior Bobby Hill. The class thought it was wrong.
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Bobby’s father was sitting in the auditorium when he received a text message from his son: the students were going to take a stand for God. After the valedictorian welcomed the crowd, the seniors rose to their feet and began committing an act of disobedience. They had been told they could no longer ‘sing’ the Our Father, and so instead, they recited it…. ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…’ The people cheered. They cheered for God, and for freedom to pray.
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Friends in Christ,’ Today in the Gospel, our Lord shows us two examples of prayer. The phony prayer of the Pharisee, and the humble sincere prayer of the Publican. Prayer is not just some ‘add-on’ to our life; if vitamins and minerals are essential to the health of the body, prayer is essential to the health of the soul.
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One time Christ’s disciples asked him to teach them to pray. Now all though there are many ways to pray, Jesus taught them the Our Father. They said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples. And he said unto them, ‘This is how you should pray, Our Father, who art in heaven….’ And he taught the Lord’s prayer. On two different occasions he did this: the one recorded by St. Luke is briefer, the one recorded by St. Matthew is exactly the Our Father as we say it today.
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This prayer is the only prayer given to us directly by God. Jesus Christ himself gave this prayer to us. Now I am certain that everyone here says this prayer even more than once a day. It can be said in our morning prayers or night prayers. As I was preparing this homily, I wondered how many times I pray it each day and I counted about 30; for sure it is and must be an important part of our daily life.
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Growing up, our family always prayed, along with the meal blessing, the Our Father. (We also prayed the Hail Mary and the Glory Be, and a prayer for Missionaries, and for our deceased relatives.) If you pray a rosary, you are saying the Our Father six times. St. Ambrose says, ‘Say the Our Father at least 3 times a day that you may be worthy to be children of your Father in heaven.’ But regardless, a day should never pass in our life, in which this prayer is not on our lips and our children’s lips.
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This prayer has worked wonders: it brings immediate peace to a troubled soul, drives out demons, repels temptation, and has worked miracles. A woman was completely mute, unable to speak at all. But one day at Mass, as the Our Father was begun, she was miraculously cured. The Lord’s Prayer shows us that we are children of God. No other religion on earth calls their creator ‘Father,’ but we do. ‘Pater Noster, qui es en coelis….’
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Some people add to the end of the Our Father, ‘For thine is the kingdom and power and glory… A person asked me once, ‘why don’t you Catholics add that part?’ I said, because it’s not in the bible! We use the Our Father just as it was taught to us by Christ in the gospel of St. Matthew. That extra phrase is called a ‘Doxology,’ a short prayer of praise. In the early Church, especially in the east, such Doxologies were often added to things in prayers.
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Well, the bible before the 15th century was copied entirely by hand – very arduous – and it seems that a monk or someone wrote an aspiration – a doxology – in the margin of his book. The next copiest must have thought that it belonged in the text and put it in.  Of the Greek manuscripts we have of the bible, some of them have this Doxology added to the Our Father. When Protestants translated their bible during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, this translation was used and brought into the King James Bible.  They used the Textus Receptus text, which has this error.  Scripture scholars all agree now, that this doxology is not part of the Our Father given to us by Christ and is therefore not found in modern bibles. So we can just say, ‘we don’t use it because it’s not in the bible. It’s a nice prayer of praise, but it wasn’t given to us by Christ.
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Since the earliest days of the faith, the Lord’s Prayer was prayed right before receiving Holy Communion, it has always been connected with Holy Communion.[i] In fact, in the true Greek, in which the Our Father was written, it doesn’t say give us our ‘daily bread,’ but rather, ‘give us this supernatural bread.’ The bread that we are asking for in the Our Father, is the Bread of Life from the altar. So it is appropiate that many people come to weekday Mass as well, to receive daily, this ‘supernatural bread of angels.’
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And it is interesting, that in the gospel of St. Luke, where he teaches the Lord’s Prayer, right after that, he tells the story about the man knocking and demanding to receive some bread. It is not a coincidence.
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In the early Church, no one ever spoke publically about the Mass, nor ever spoke the Our Father out loud. This was called the ‘discipline of the secret.’ These were Secrets of our Faith, and no one was to know them except those who were members. These are the Sacred words, and although today we allow non-Catholics to know of them, the Our Father is still the secret words of love that we pray to our Father in heaven.
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May the Blessed Virgin help us in the coming days, especially to pray often, this sacred prayer taught to us by Jesus.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Bernadette]

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[i] Jungman, Vol. II, p. 285.

Mary’s Humility

Friends in Christ, today is Saturday, the day of Our Lady; if we think of the saints, and all the virtues they possessed, Mary possessed them to a greater degree. One of the great virtues of the Blessed Virgin, is humility, and she did possess this virtue more than any other saint.  
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It has been said that Mary won God with her humility. St. Augustine says, Mary’s humility was like a ladder, by which Our Lord descended from heaven to earth to become Man in her womb.  This is confirmed by St. Antoninus, who says,  the humility of Mary was her most perfect virtue,  and the one that immediately prepared her to become the Mother of God.   
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Humility is not to act in some artificial, deprecating way; humility is to know the truth of one’s self before God. The truth that we are utterly nothing in comparison to God, but at the same time that we are unbelievably blessed in experiencing God’s love for us.  Now in this virtue of humility, Mary exceeded, as we have said, all the other saints put together.    
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This is in stark contrast to that of God’s enemy, Lucifer;  such a beautiful, gifted, angel,  seeing himself endowed with such marvels,  aspired to exalt his throne above the stars and to make himself like God.   But Isaiah 14:7 tells us: ‘How have you fallen from the heavens, O Lucifer?  You said in your heart: I will scale the heavens; above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will be like the Most High!   Yes. But now, ‘down to hell you go, to the recesses of the pit! You are cast forth, loathsome and corrupt, as a rotten carcass.  This is the end for those full of pride.  Thus, God’s mortal Enemy.    
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Mary, on the other hand, by her most humble heart, in a way, held God captive; Francone the Abbot says, Mary, with a kind of ‘sweet violence,’ drew the Word himself down from heaven and made him a prisoner in her chaste womb.   And St. Bernard remarks, O Lady, by your humility  you drew the Eternal Son from his repose into thy most pure womb.   
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Albert the Great says: O Mary, you have found, not taken, grace as Lucifer tried to take it.  You did not lose it as Adam lost it;  you have not bought it as Simon Magnus tried to buy it.  But you have found it, because you have desired and sought it.    
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St. Louis de Montfort says that in a certain way,  the devil fears Mary more than God. Why?   Because Satan, being proud, suffers infinitely more,  being beaten by a humble and little handmaid;  he fears even one sigh of Mary for a poor sinner,  than all the prayers of all the Saints.           

St. Mary Magdalene II

Beloved in Christ, 2000 years ago, there lived in the little town of Bethany, two sisters, Martha and Mary, who also had a brother named Lazarus. Mary had been from her youth a headstrong and passionate child; with her independent ways, she was impatient with the dull, quiet life of Bethany. For Mary, the call of the big city lured her; the caravans passing through town and stories about King Herod, led her to dream of adventures, where her beauty and talents would not be wasted. In the end, she could endure it no longer. She left her home and her heart-broken brother and sister; she won her way in the world and became quite popular, thanks to her dominating character and her beauty.
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Eventually she came to live in the city of Magdala. There, Mary of Bethany quickly developed into Mary of Magdalene. She acquired a reputation; a woman whom respectable people avoided, the talk of the town. So tells Father Goodier, who uses what we know from scripture, to fill in the pieces of the life of Mary Magdalene.
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Her name came to be associated with reckless defiance. In her daring she had found everything she wanted, but had lost all that mattered. She had been the flattered woman of the world, but it had drained her, and now she was just ‘a woman in the city – a sinner.’ Mary had no one to love her. In her defiant nature, Mary of Magdalene kept telling herself that she did not need love. Yet still dormant deep in her soul, was the little girl of Bethany, who as a child, had known God, and who had known love.
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The day came when that new prophet had passed by her town. She had heard of this man Jesus, who taught that even sinners were God’s children; who taught about beginning again, starting over in life. Could she really be forgiven? Was it really possible? One day she caught a glimpse of Jesus, and suddenly her heart expanded – without explanation, this headstrong, defiant woman, made a new decision: if she could be forgiven by Jesus, she would be the greatest disciple he ever had.
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And so in her boldness, she pushed her way into that public dinner, and in her reckless love, she broke the jar of perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. Her stubborn heart had been transformed to Christ. In an instant the old life slipped away.
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Jesus would bring her back to Bethany, and henceforth, Our Lord would often stop in Bethany to visit, where he always found a grateful child of God. Mary of Magdalene was at the cross with Jesus, and she was the first to see the risen Lord as we read today.
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You noticed that we said the ‘Gloria’ today. It is a Feast. The Holy Father, in this year of Mercy, has elevated this Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to that of a Feast!  We can’t be sure about the details of her life, but we do know that Mary Magdalene is a hope for us sinners, a living testament to the wonderful mercy of Jesus Christ.

God will multiply his grace

‘To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’
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These words of Our Lord seem to go against our present ideas of basic fairness. ‘to the one who has, more will be given.’ ‘the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’ Such expressions by Christ recall the parable of the talents; the men who used the talents they were given, and produced more with them, were rewarded well. The one who just kept his safe, had it taken from him because the Master was displeased.
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When we work for the Lord, building his kingdom wherever we are – when we act on grace that he gives us, opportunities to be courageous, generous, kind, faithful – then the Lord gives us more. There is an expression in the business world which is true: ‘If you want the job done, give it to a busy man.’ In other words, if you have an important thing you need done, look for the person who is already doing a lot – that person is industrious, hardworking, motivated – even though they are loaded with more, they will somehow make it happen. If you give the job to the man who has lots of time on his hands, this might seem logical, but the job might not get done, because that man may not be so industrious.
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God is sort of this way. When we cooperate with grace, we almost certainly are given more grace; when we show ourselves faithful in little things, we are given great things. If a person steps up to the plate for God, and does difficult things for him, the Lord will give him more to do – in this way, he builds a person into a saint.