Category Archives: Latin Mass

Read the Bible (latin Mass)

9th Week after Pentecost
Beloved in Jesus Christ, St. Augustine, who lived back in the 4th century, is one of the great saints of the Church. St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas are the two pillars of theology and influence in the Church. But St. Augustine was not much of a saint when he was young, he got into mega-trouble! He experimented with different religions, his life was on a sinful path, really the path to hell. But his mother never stopped praying for him, and eventually, he began to feel a pain in his heart, that he was not following Jesus Christ. He prayed, he tried to learn more about the faith, but he was continually torn inside, still attached to the lust and sin of his lifestyle.
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Then one day he was sitting in a garden with this tortured heart of his; he wanted to follow Jesus, but he didn’t feel he had the strength to give up his sin. He tells us about that day: ‘I prayed and wept: O Lord, how long will you be angry with me for all my sins.’ Suddenly I noticed a voice of a child in the neighboring house, saying and repeating: ‘Take up and read. Take up and read.’ I began to think of what kind of a game this might be by which they said this, but I felt that it was meant for me, to hear this as a command from God to open the Holy Bible that was there, and to read the first thing I should find.
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‘I remembered how St. Anthony, how having heard the Gospel, he changed his whole life – eagerly I picked up the Sacred Book and opened, and I read that on which my eyes first fell: ‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.’ No further would I need to read, for instantly a light of serenity came into my heart and all my doubts vanished. I showed the passage to my friend Alypius, and he too decided to join me in a new way of life. Then we went to tell my mother.
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Friends in Christ, St. Augustine, St. Anthony, and so many other people have had their life changed by reading the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Bible reveals to us the Word of God. Through the Sacred pages, Christ himself speaks. Of course the Holy Gospels are Jesus’ direct words – but in fact, every word of the Holy Bible is Him speaking to us, even if within some of the mysterious and strange stories of the Old Testament.
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The Sacred authors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have communicated God’s Word to us. Fr. Lawrence Hennesey says, ‘Let the Holy Scriptures wash over you each and every day. If you go to bed and remember you have not read, turn on the light, read a few lines, and then go to sleep.’ St. Jerome says: ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ,’ and every single master of the spiritual life, saints through the ages, urge us to read the Bible daily.
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I’ve head people say, ‘Oh, the Catholic Church tries to prevent you from reading the bible.’ This is NONSENSE. I have a Catholic bible in my room from 1948, and on the first introductory page it urges Catholics to read the bible and grants a special indulgence for doing so.[i] One can receive a Plenary Indulgence by reading the Bible 30 minutes.
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Today in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, he is describing the events of the Old Testament – the tests that Israel underwent in the desert, in which some were faithful, and others not. He says, ‘These things happened to them in figure, but they were written for our correction.’ In Romans he will say: ‘everything that was written was written to teach us.’ And to Timothy he writes: All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, and to instruct. Every word in the bible is to assist us and guide us.
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Recall that scene in the gospel about Martha and Mary; Martha is so pre-occupied, super-busy – meanwhile, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him speak. Christ says, that is better. Avoiding prayer due to busyness doesn’t cut it with Jesus Christ.
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We ourselves often fail to make time to listen to God; we can use busyness to escape facing the Lord or ourselves. Although it is true that we must live up to the duties and responsibilities of each day, it is most important that we give God some time, that we listen to him. This is in our prayers, in our rosary, in some quiet, but it must also be in hearing his Word in the Holy Scriptures. If we read and ponder and pray, we will find Jesus there, waiting for us. We will find him there as did St. Augustine, and so many others. Our Lord wants time with us; he wants to speak to us, he wants us to listen to his Word.
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St. Theresa says, the world needs souls that are on fire for Christ, who pray, who sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his Word. Now in reading the Bible, we can notice there are 4 senses of scripture: First is the literal sense, which is the plain meaning of the sentences, understood according to the place and the customs of the day. Second, is the allegorical sense, which teaches by symbol; for example, the Passover lamb which was sacrificed, and freed the people from slavery; it is a symbol of Christ, the Lamb who was sacrificed to free us from sin. Thirdly, the moral sense. Scripture teaches us how to live. For example, the parable of the foolish virgins with their lamps teaches us not to put off our conversion to Christ, or it will be too late for us. Finally, the fourth sense of scripture is the anagogical sense, in which our minds are fixed on our true goal, which is heaven. For example, the journey of Israel through the desert represents our journey through this life to the Promised Land which is heaven.
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So – four sense of scripture: The literal sense speaks of events; allegory reveals faith; the moral sense teaches how to act; the anagogical sense points to heaven. When reading the bible, we may focus on the literal meaning or on the spiritual meaning, but there are no rules; we may be moved to love God, to fear our sins, to be thankful – or praise Him – did I say, ‘to praise Him!’ There are no rules; as St. Augustine heard, just take and read.
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St. Francis says, when meditating on some passage, imitate the bees: they work on a flower until they have extracted all the nectar, only then do they move on to another. Therefore, rest in a passage of Scripture until it brings no more sweetness, and then read more.
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And the Blessed Virgin – Mary is in the bible too. Her last recorded words were: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ ‘So Lord, what are you telling me? We can’t know, unless we take and read.
Mary, pray for us, that no matter how busy we are, there will always be a little time each day for the Word of God.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Augustine]

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[i] Catechism #133 The Church “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful….to the frequent reading of the divine Scriptures

God’s Providence

6th Sunday after Pentecost
Beloved in Jesus Christ, after having escaped from Egypt through the Red Sea, the ancient Israelites made the treacherous journey through the desert for 40 years.  And through those whole 40 years of traveling, their clothes and their shoes never wore out. This is told us, in the Book of Deuteronomy (8:4).
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Their clothes never wore out! And not only that, but in the desert, they drank water that gushed from a dry rock, they ate miraculous quail, and manna appeared daily as bread for them to eat. Divine Providence cared for them, as long as they trusted the plan of God.
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Some of them however, were worried that God might not keep providing the manna every day; so just in case, they stored up extra manna, even though God had told them not to do it. In fact, they found that the manna they saved for the next day was always full of maggots. God was not pleased with their lack of trust in his Providence.
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Divine Providence is the care that God exercises over the universe. The Catechism says, ‘The universe was created “in a state of journeying” toward an ultimate perfection to which God has destined it.’ CCC 302 The plan by which God guides his creation toward this perfection is called ‘Divine Providence.’ Thomas Aquinas will say, ‘Everything has a place in God’s Providence, and this in no mere general way, but in particular, in individual, down to the last and least detail.’ (Summa of Summa)
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But so often, we do not trust Divine Providence. We live a constricted and fearful life, hoarding up for ourselves everything and anything, just in case – just in case God forgets us. Father Jacques Philippe says, ‘A lack of trust of what God can do in our life, and what we can do with his help, leads to a shrinkage of the heart.’  
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Now while it is true that we must focus on doing the details of our work, living up to our responsibilities, we must ever-maintain the glorious and big picture of God’s loving Providence, that we are acting within a grand scheme of a Good Master-Father.
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In the Gospel today, Jesus multiplies the few loaves and fishes to feed the multitude. Thousands of people from 7 loaves. Who would have ever thought that God could do so much, with our so little? Yet so often we question God: Lord, this won’t work. Why is this happening, this thing here – you made a mistake.
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Now we mustn’t attribute evil to God; all the pain, and evil, and sin, and suffering ultimately are rooted in that evil Fool who lives in hell. But God uses secondary causes to accomplish his plan. He knows every single thing, and will always be able to draw good out of whatever the Fool throws at us. God’s Providence cannot be stopped.
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If we are out on a lake riding in a motorboat, we look back at the wake behind us; we see the turbulent water, but our eye is also raised to the beautiful expanse of where we’ve been: of the vast distance we have traversed, the new perspective of the shore, the distant hills and forests. In our life, we are often bogged down by the restricted concerns of today, yet when we glance at where we’ve been; yes, we see the turbulence, but we also see the beauty of Divine Providence which has seen us safely through it all.
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In 1608, an English ship came to the New World at Plymouth. The Indians innocently met them, but were brutally captured and taken to Spain and sold into slavery. Where was God? Where is his Providence?
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Well, one of those Indians, whose name was Squanto, was purchased by a group of Catholic friars and set free. He made his way to England where he worked and learned English. Although he never dreamed it could be possible, he was one day offered a trip back to the New World. Ten years after he had been captured, Squanto returned to his homeland.
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But when he arrived, in grief, he realized that his entire tribe had perished from disease. He realized that had he not been kidnapped, he would also be dead. For years, he lived alone in the woods. In 1620, a ship called the Mayflower arrived, bringing pilgrims. Their journey had been difficult, and in the frigid conditions of that winter, half of them died. They no doubt wondered, ‘where is God? They seriously considered returning because they really did not know how to live in this New Land.
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But one day, an Indian walked out of the woods to greet them; and – he spoke perfect English. He knew everything about surviving in New England, and he could speak to them; he taught them how to plant corn and squash and methods for fishing. The Pilgrims adopted him as one of their own. He changed everything, making it possible for them to survive. To the people, Squanto was the answer to their prayers, an outrageous miracle that had walked out of the woods to help them.
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Friends, we question God’s Providence so many times; but is the King of the World really lacking in wisdom or goodness,[i] so that we must be fearful about our future? No. This universe will one day be dissolved. But what consequence in Gods sight is this machine of the world? Without effort He can make a thousand others. The events which we spend too much time worrying over, politics, revolutions, the succession of empires through history, – in God’s sight they are child’s play. Everything is here to save souls.
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Fr. James Mallon asks: ‘Is our vision too small? Is our vision big enough for God? Do we believe that God is doing and wants to do great things with our life, which seems perhaps, so hum-drum today?
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‘And He asked them: how many loaves do you have?’
Who said to him: ‘Seven.’
‘But what can be done Lord, with only 7 loaves? ‘Trust me’
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Fr. Joseph Schryvers says, God’s Providence, His sanctifying of souls, knows no limits. It makes light of difficulties, turns obstacles aside, forces its enemies to serve as instruments.
Before the patience of a holy soul, violence exhausts itself, deceit is entangled in its own net; what is intended to be its ruin, becomes the soul’s salvation. But St. Paul has already said it: for those who love God all things work together unto good.
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And when we look at the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her life was turned upside down: birth in a stable, arduous trips, no rest, her Son mocked, crucified – but Mary knew God’s Providence. In the Holy Scriptures she exclaims: ‘He that is mighty, has done great things for me.’ Why did Mary not explain what are the great things God has done for her?[ii] Why did she not explain to us God’s Providence? She did not explain it, because it is inexplicable.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Little Audrey Santo]

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[i] The Gift of Oneself, Joseph Schryvers, pp. 14-19

[ii] Glories of Mary, p. 367

Stargate to heaven

Corpus Christi
Beloved in the Lord Jesus, when we read through the Old Testament, we see there many unique events connected to a special bread. We see Melchesidech offering bread and wine in this mysterious sactifice; we see the Bread of the Presence in the temple, there with wine, changed by the priests every week. And the miraculous manna, that kept the people alive daily in the desert journey. These and many other references, all pointing forward to something new that the Lord would give us. Jesus himself says that he is the New Manna, the true Bread from heaven, and that in this form, he will give us his Flesh to eat.
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One evening I was at a gathering with the Knights of Columbus, and there was a priest visiting, Fr. Thomas McCarthy. When I saw him, although I had never met him before, I immediately asked him: ‘Father, tell us about it. What was it like?!!’ Though he was very old, he smiled, because he knew what was on my mind.
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In 1996, Father McCarthy was visiting a chapel in Worcester Massachusetts. He was offering Mass with a small group of people, and two other priests. But that day was different. As he prayed those sacred words of Consecration over the Host: ‘This is my Body,…’ a pool of blood appeared on the Host. He looked down to see the bleeding, wounded Host on the altar, and saw there, the reality of the crucified Lord Jesus, made visible. The other priests at the altar saw it; he showed it to the people, and as a hush of excitement swept through the chapel, he motioned to them for quiet; and they continued the Mass. I knew of this, because by coincidence, that mass was being filmed!
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Today is the Feast of Corpus Christi, in which we especially honor the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. So today we speak of this great miracle of the Mass, when, under the appearance of bread and wine, the True Body, and Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ appears on earth, and the bread and the wine are no more – only appearances remain.
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2000 years ago, the little body of Jesus was born to Mary. And Mary went and offered this Divine Child in the Temple to God. For those who did not know or have faith, that child seemed a mere human baby. But for Mary and Joseph and those of Faith, even before seeing all of the miracles Christ would do, they believed that that Child was truly God, who had taken on humanity, who had clothed himself in our human nature.
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Today is no different. This same Jesus is born into the womb of Holy Mother the Church, not by the word of the angel, but by the words of the priest. Not in the appearance of a child, but in the appearance of bread and wine. And then this Divine Child, is offered by Holy Mother church, in the Temple of God, which is heaven. Only persons of Faith know this and accept this. To be a Catholic, is to believe that this is indeed the miraculous truth.
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When we receive Holy Communion, we are really renewing our Covenant with the Lord. It’s like in marriage. Vows are made at the altar, and then each time the spouses give themselves to each other in marital love, they are renewing their vows, their covenant. Holy Communion is called a ‘Wedding Banquet,’ because here we are joined in a union with our Beloved, a one-flesh union with Our Lord. And so we say, I give myself to you, I swear my love to you, my faithfulness.
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If there is a small rift between spouses, a tiff, they still give themselves to each other. But if there is a wound to their relationship, a bad argument, they do not give themselves to each other, not without a reconcilation.
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Same with Jesus in Holy Communion. If we are not ready to receive the Lord in Holy Communion, if we have not been faithful to him in the way we live, then we don’t receive him until we have been reconciled in Confession. But if we are ready, at a given Mass, to approach the Holy Table, and receive into our soul, the dear Christ, to love him, and cherish him, all the days of our life, then let us receive Him with great reverence. ‘Lord, I love you, I praise you, I adore you!
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Years ago there was a movie called STARGATE, and I think a tv show, I never followed it, but there was an idea there, that was interesting: a person could go through this Stargate, and come out in a vastly different place, another world, billions of light years away. Well, Jesus is like the Stargate. He’s come to prepare us to enter into a different world. Christ is the gate to heaven. He brings the power of God to us, in little doses each Sunday, preparing us, so that we can survive the journey through the Stargate to a new world.
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It is only the glorified Body of Jesus which can make us ready for the new dimension of heaven, into a transcendently higher order of existence. The first Christians used to say that the Holy Eucharist is the Medicine of Immortality. Of course, if we receive Communion in mortal sin, it is not a medicine, but a terrible poison. Then it becomes the kiss of Judas. St. Paul speaks of this when he says that those who receive in an unworthy manner bring condemnation upon themselves. ‘This is why, he says, many of you have become ill and died.’[ii] – because of sinful Communions.
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But by receiving the Lord worthily, Communion becomes a medicine, that in effect, is preparing us for a new type of world. The world ahead is called the New Creation. It is resurrected life. At Holy Mass, we partake, a little bit, in something that has come over to us from the New Creation. Little by little, we are being prepared to live in the New World.
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May the Blessed Virgin help us, that we will swear our life to Christ, and always receive him with purity and love and faith.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Therese]

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[i] 1 Cor 11:27-30

St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph the Worker
Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, which in the Tridentine Calendar actually overrides the 5th Sunday of Easter. This 1st of May is also called ‘May-Day’.
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For centuries, it was a day that celebrated the joy of Spring, the planting of the fields, a day of festivals. After the 1800’s, it also became associated with worker protests and strikes, and by the 20th century, Communists had turned this day into one for showcasing Communism: their armies and weapons and power – a demonstration of the supremacy of their workers. Communists proclaimed that a worker paradise could be achieved through their ideology, which promised a new man and a new society – a society without the need for God or a Savior.
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In a direct challenge to this false view of man, the Catholic Church instituted the feast on this day, of St. Joseph the Worker. Pope Pius XII, in 1955, instituted this Feast in order to expose the lies of Communism, and proclaim that the only truth which can liberate men and women is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Contrary to Marxism, the Church teaches that there is a dignity to human work, not because of the primacy of the State, but precisely because of the dignity of every human worker.
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In the gospel today, it says that Jesus was the son of the ‘carpenter.’ St. Joseph was this carpenter who worked hard for a living; it is certain that his work was done well, because it was done alongside the Son of God. In reality, God is with each of us in our daily work, whether it is difficult, hands-on work like St. Joseph’s, or mental or desk-work.
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Father Plus, in his book ‘How to Pray Always,’[i] tells us that if we wish to pray all day, we must do our work with maximum professional skill, and offer it to God. Even the most mundane task: ironing a shirt, sweeping the shop – these can be made into beautiful gems offered to the Lord, if we only will introduce a supernatural intention; this is surely the way that St. Joseph quietly worked.
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Charles Peguy writes that in his childhood of olden times, he remembered seeing people re-caning chairs as carefully as their forefathers used to cut stones for the Cathedral. There was a painstaking love of perfection for detail he says, a desire for a task well done.
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The Holy Father has lamented the throw-away society that we live in. Have we all not seen very well-crafted furniture from olden times, or that appliance that just keeps on going? Growing up, we had a toaster that just kept on going really my whole life, designed probably in the 50’s. New ones? no way. You throw them out after 5 years.
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The idea of quality craftsmanship is fading away, we often do work, design things, just to get the job out of the way, just to make some cash; St. Joseph for sure never lived like that. We ourselves should do everything with care and precision and professionalism, whether it is designing a microchip or cleaning the windows, all for God’s glory.
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St. Josemaria once wrote: don’t let your professional success or even failure — make you forget what the true aim of your work is: the glory of God! (The Forge, 704)
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There can be a tendency for us to look past our work, at greener pastures, looking for the next thing, the next option. If our duties are boring, we yearn for an exciting career; if we are weighed down by responsibility and stress, we yearn for a simple job. A man who was very well educated and in a lucrative field once said to me: ‘I saw this guy working in a shoe repair shop; his work was simple, uncomplicated; and at 5 o’clock he could just go home.’ He said, ‘I often wish for such a job.’
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We can all yearn for a different kind of work, but God does not ask us to do something different, he asks us to do our work differentLY. Work done well can be a cause for evangelizing others. They notice your work-ethic, they note the quality and they enjoy working with you, then underneath it all, they find a Christian. And they might want to know more.
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Father Plus says, we must all admit that sometimes we slack off and “go on strike”, we don’t put our heart into the quality of our work. But the saints did not behave in this way. Whatever had to be done, they did it to the best of their ability.
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St. Joseph, pray for us, that we will find richness and value in doing our work very well, because we are doing it for the glory of God.

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[i] How to Pray Always, p. 77, 85.

The Lord’s Voice

Good Shepherd Sunday, Latin Mass
Friends in Christ, years back in my other parish, I visited an older lady who was nearing the end of life; as we spoke, some unsettling questions came up; I had reassured her that Jesus was with her in her discomfort, that she is not alone, Christ himself lives in her, with her. Her response: where is that in the bible, that Jesus is within me? I quoted her Galatians, chapter 2.
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Then she was asking how a priest can forgive our sins in confession, when that’s not in the bible.  This was a Catholic!  I explained to her where that also is in the Holy Scriptures, and as she seemed somewhat reassured, she confided, that her caregiver is an ex-Catholic, part of another denomination, and is always trying to pick apart her faith. She said, ‘Father, my previous caregiver was also this way!’ I said, that’s crazy, to have to deal with that when you are not feeling well.
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Friends, there are many voices out there trying to confuse good Catholics. For sure, secular voices try to lure us away from God, but there are also subtle voices that try to confuse, under the cloak of so-called-Christianity. The early church knew about this. St. Peter says there were people then, who are, as he says, ‘ignorant and unstable who distort the scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16) So, it’s not new.
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A young college woman in our parish was praying in the Adoration Chapel recently; she picked up some of the little books people leave around, to read and pray with. She says, ‘As I was reading it said that Jesus’ resurrection was only as a spirit-being, not bodily, and that there is no hell;’ ‘I was like, this seems totally wrong.’ Yes, I said, ‘totally wrong!’ It was a pamphlet put there by Jehovah witnesses. In our Adoration chapel! ‘I asked her, did you —– Yes Father! Into the garbage!
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Today in the gospel, Our Lord calls himself the Good Shepherd. In this passage of St. John’s gospel, the Lord, in teaching how he leads his sheep, he contrasts himself with hirelings and strangers. ‘The sheep hear my voice,’ he says, the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger, they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.’
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Many voices abound, these days. The person who grows up in a good Catholic home can often develop an instinct for following the True voice of Christ and is not easily led away by the voice of strangers. But the voices can be crafty. For myself, having grown up in a Catholic home, when I went away to college, a bit naïve, some friendly students invited me to a gathering for Christians. I said, ‘I’m a Catholic Christian; they assured me, I’d fit right in.’
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Well, there I met a lot of nice people – especially girls – but as the evening progressed and we listened to talks, warning bells started going off in my head. At first, a sense that this just didn’t feel right; then, outright wrong things being said against my faith. Time to go.
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We can’t listen to every voice that comes along, only the voice of the True Shepherd. ‘The sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice, but they will not follow a stranger.’ So, we want to keep the Lord’s true voice speaking to us.
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We’ve mentioned before the importance of spiritual reading each day, in addition to our prayers. But we can’t choose our books by browsing the ‘spirituality’ section at Barnes and Nobles. no way. Mostly problematic. And we have to know for example, that the History Channel makes up some wacky stuff about early Christianity, and then mixes it in with truth to feed us a delicious story.
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As parents, we carefully scrutinize videos and children’s books to be sure that they are faithful to the True Faith. Some materials not produced by Catholics might be useful, but they must be checked over. How many people are no doubt lost in hell because they allowed themselves to be led away by a stranger’s voice, and even lead children and others away from the Truth given to us by Christ. St. Paul warns again and again about deceivers: ‘Let no one deceive you in any way.’ (2 Thess 2:3) And again: Beware of people who are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. (2 Cor 11:13) And again, in Galatians: ‘There are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ….let them be accursed.
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Also, St. Jude says in his epistle: there are those who ‘deride what they do not know; woe to them, for they have gone the way of Cain, and have rushed into the error of Balam; for them the storm of darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1:10
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The True Shepherd is asking us to follow his voice, not that of strangers. St. Alphonsus says, ‘O loving Shepherd of Thy sheep! Thou hast spent, not all Thy riches, but all Thy Blood for them.[i] This is the kind of Shepherd we have.
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We have not always been good sheep of this loving Savior, at times we are the goats. Abbott William of Paris says, the goats, which are sinners, they are entrusted to Mother Mary, that she might change them into sheep. Mary, pray for us, that we will be sheep of Christ’s pasture, and listen always, to his sweet voice.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Luke]

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[i] Incarnation, p. 417

The Devil in God’s Trap

Easter Sunday!
Beloved in the Lord: Jesus Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!
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Today is Easter, and if Good Friday was a day of sorrow, then today is a day of Victory. Christ has won the victory for mankind; for you and for me. This victory in which we bask today, is a victory over sin, and death, and Satan, and the story of this victory goes back to the dawn of the human race.
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The first man and woman were created in a state of happiness. But then came temptation by that fallen angel: ‘Follow me,’ he says, I will make you happier.’ So our race fell into the trap, and we became slaves to the Ancient Serpent. ‘You are mine now, you fools,’ ‘you are under my power,’ he says. and the devil was happy about it.
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Originally, death had been unknown to us, but now our race is subject to death. Satan became prince of this world, he is a heavy taskmaster. But the Good God did not give up on us. He promised a Savior, who would bring us back, out of this slavery. The Lord had a master-plan to overthrow the devil. And so he sent his own Son secretly into the world as one of us.
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From the moment Christ was born, the Ancient Enemy was suspicious: This Christ, just might be the promised Messiah, and that meant all out warfare. So he tempted the Lord in the desert – tried to figure out who he is. He whispered to King Herod: ‘kill the child. He whispered to the Pharisees: ‘he is a threat to you.’ To Judas: ‘get rid of him.’
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The devil was determined to destroy this Messiah, so that his slaves would be his forever. To Pontius Pilate, and to the crowds he whispered: ‘Jesus must die! And so Christ on Good Friday was nailed to the Cross. That day it seemed to be a defeat for Christ, but actually, it was a trap for the devil.
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An artist once painted the famous Merode alterpiece in Belgium. And in this painting, we see St. Joseph. Now St. Joseph in the scriptures, is a symbol for God the Father. And in this painting, St. Joseph, who is a carpenter – who works in wood – he is depicted, as making a special mouse-trap. He is making this mousetrap out of wood – to catch the Mouse. Who is the ‘Mouse, that he will catch? It is the devil.
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And so Joseph, or really, God the Father, is making a trap, to catch the Mouse. St. Augustine says this: ‘What is this trap, made by a Carpenter – who works in wood? ‘God’s Trap for the devil, is the Cross.
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And who is the bait, placed on the Trap? It is Jesus, he himself becomes the bait. As St. Anselm says, Jesus is the ‘sweet bait, by which He will catch the devil.
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And so, intoxicated with pride, the devil makes a huge mistake; he became reckless, and in his frenzy to condemn Christ, he put the sins of the entire world onto an innocent man – but he had no right, he had no rightful authority over the innocent Son of God. The devil took the bait. Hook, line, and sinker.
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At the death of Christ, the devil jumped for joy. ‘I’ve won! ‘I’ve won.’ ‘The Christ is beaten, and these slaves are mine forever.’ But he would have a great surprise, on the 3rd Day – that is today. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. And the stone is rolled away! ‘What is this, says Satan?’ ‘Something is wrong.’ And Mary looks into the tomb – and no body. And the angel says: he is not here! He is risen!!
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‘Risen?’  And that word rings in the devil’s head: ‘Risen? That’s impossible? He was brutally crucified, I saw to that! ‘Risen? Then I have been defeated.
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Yes says Jesus. You have lost. Sin, and death, and you, have been conquered Now give me what I want!   –   What do you want? He wants us. ‘Give me now, my children!! All of them!’
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And as it is written… ‘The great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who leads astray the whole world; and he was cast down, and I heard a voice in heaven say, ‘Now has come the salvation, and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of Christ; for the accuser of our brethren has been cast down. And they overcame him through the blood of the Lamb. Therefore rejoice O heavens. Rejoice.’ (Rev 12:9-12)
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Our sins are forgiven, and Christ has saved the world. So let us love Jesus and Mary and become saints for Christ; praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.   +

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Paul]

He comes in peace

Palm Sunday
Friends in Christ, today is Palm Sunday.  
Today with our palms, we walk with Jesus as he enters the city.  Jesus comes into the City hailed as king, as the Messiah.  
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Now it is true, that in those days the Jewish people probably thought Jesus would be a warrior Messiah,  who would raise an army against their enemy, the Romans.  But Christ was trying to teach with signs,  that they might understand what kind of Messiah he is.  Riding the donkey was a sign of peace.   
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St. Matthew tells us: ‘This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.’ The King of heaven is coming in peace, he is not coming for war.  
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In the ancient Jewish Talmud a question asks:  ‘Why doesn’t your Messiah come riding a horse?’ The answer:  the horse is a sign of war, the donkey is a sign of peace.  Therefore, it was said that a king came riding upon a horse when he was planning war, and upon a donkey when he was coming in peace.  
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In the Talmud it was also written, that the Messiah would appear as a poor man on a donkey  only if the people were not worthy of salvation.  The truth is, that none of us are worthy of salvation, and so Christ came on a donkey.  
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In the Book of Revelation, that last book of the bible, we see images of the final judgment, the end of the world, when Christ will return, not in peace, but to judge, and definitively crush his enemies, at the final trumpet.  ‘And I saw .. a white horse, and he who sat on it called Faithful and True, and .. he judges and wages war .. and the armies in heaven .. were following Him on white horses ..’  When Christ appears at the end of the world, it will be to judge,  to vanquish his enemies;  but today, the Lord comes on a donkey, which means he comes in peace.  He is coming to die for you and for me.   
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This is what we will remember in the coming days of Holy Week. Let us therefore walk with the Lord in his Passion, that we may celebrate his victory on Easter. The victory of all of us, and the hope of our own resurrection in the world to come.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. John of God]

Your Savior

Passion Sunday
Beloved in Jesus Christ,
In the Epistle today, St. Paul says that unlike the priests of olden times who entered the sanctuary to offer the blood of goats or calves, Christ has done something new. He has entered not an earthly sanctuary, but the heavenly; and not with the blood of animals which cannot take away sins, but with his own blood.
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Sin is the noxious poison that eats away at human life like a cancer. It is sin, that ruins happiness and joy in this life, and takes away hope in the next. All sin creates wounds to a certain extent, but if we think about certain sins, it’s easy to see the wounds and the damage on full display. 
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Sins like calumny, whispering things about another, destroying their reputation. Or the sin of adultery, a sickening blow to one’s spouse and the children, turning a happy family into bitter tears.
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The ancient Jews and even today some Muslim societies prescribe stoning to death for this sin, because this crime is a horrible blow to family life. We may think that stoning is too harsh of a punishment, but actually, if the adulterer dies without repentance, his punishment will be much worse: Eternal Damnation; the bible is quite clear about this. But all sin wounds the world, our families, and ourselves.
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God however, in his Providence, did not want sin to have the last word. In the new dispensation, Jesus Christ comes to show us that sin – even very serious sin – can be overcome. By his bitter Passion – by God’s suffering on Calvary – he redeems us from sin, making it possible for a repentant sinner to be healed, and making forgiveness possible.
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When I was a young and naïve priest, an older couple asked if I could bless their marriage, since they’d been married for 60 years. I said, ‘Marvelous!, 60 wonderful years.’ But the man stopped me: ‘It was not all wonderful father,’ ‘There was infidelity, I was unfaithful, but I repented;’ and – as he looked at his wife he said – there was forgiveness.’ Holding hands, they tightened their grip, and she said: ‘Our love is stronger now, than ever before.’
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It is the Passion and death of Jesus Christ that makes it possible to conquer evil, that sin will not have the last word. Soon we will be in Holy Week, and we will walk with Christ in his Passion. This is really the reason that Jesus came into the world, to die for us, to save us, to change everything.
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Once upon a time, there was a great king, who had one, only son, so beautiful, so holy, so good, that he was the delight of his father who loved him as much as himself. Now this son of the king cared very much for one of his servants; so much so, that when that servant had committed a crime and was condemned to death for it, the son offered to die in the place of that servant.
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The father was sad, but he agreed, and allowed his son to be condemned to death in order that that servant might be free from the punishment he deserved; and so the son of the king died the miserable death of a criminal, out of love for that servant.
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Now this story is ridiculous and has never happened in the world and never will, but it is told to us in the Gospels; there we read that the Son of God, seeing that man was condemned to death as punishment for his sins, chose to take upon himself human flesh, and thereby, pay by his death, the penalty that we owed. This is the love of Jesus Christ for us; it shows us how much he has sought us out.
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Our Lord is called the good shepherd. One of those sheep goes straying off where it should not be; – that’s us – driven by curiosity and temptation, into sins of all kinds. Yet this dear shepherd leaves the beauty of heaven to search and search, until he finds us. Seeing that the wolf will kill that little lamb; he gives his life in exchange for the lamb, so the lamb may live. The heart of Jesus is so full of love that he never gives up on us.
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So what then must be our response? We must love Him with our whole heart. We must repent of our sins. We must forgive those who have trespassed against us. And above all, we must unite ourselves to Him daily; speaking to this dear Savior every day in our prayers.
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When we rise, we offer the day to God. We pray at meals and before bedtime: that’s 5 times. We should speak to Jesus often during the day, in our work and in our play. Read a little from the Holy Bible or a spiritual book. In this way, we remain united to the God who has died for us.
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St. Zeno says that Jesus Christ wanted to have for his earthly father a carpenter; he wanted this, so that he could learn carpentry, and thereby handle wood and nails. He says: ‘The Son of God took delight in carpentry work, which, by often using wood and nails, was reminded of the cross, by which he would save mankind.’
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Why did Jesus suffer scourging, thorns, mockery, and death for we ungrateful sinners? It was because he loves us. He saw us spoiled with sin, and made for us a bath in his own blood that we might be cleansed and become dear to God. Christ came upon the earth principally that we might know his love, be forgiven, and ourselves forgive. We then, must return that love by living the Gospel and by praying every single day of our life….. and praying to Mary too!
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The Blessed Virgin was at the cross at the moment of our redemption.
The soldiers, taunting Jesus, ‘Come down from that cross!’
But not Mary: ‘O Jesus, stay on the cross, and save us.’
When we get to Holy Week, let’s stay at the cross with Mary, and pray: ‘Lord, help me; help a sinner who wishes to love you.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Nicholas]

God is with us

2nd Sunday of Lent
Beloved in the Lord, 1400 years before Christ, Moses prepared to ascend Mt. Sinai. Before he did this, he sent 12 men to offer sacrifice to God. Then, taking with him Aaron (his ‘right-hand-man), and two brothers, Nadab and Abihu, they went up the mountain along with 70 elders. It says, ‘there on that mountain, they saw God.’
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Today, we read something similar in the gospel. It is not Moses, but Jesus, who goes up a mountain, Mt. Tabor. He takes with him Peter, his right-hand-man, and two brothers, James and John. This is exactly parallel to the events of the Old Testament, where Moses, taking Aaron, and then two brothers, goes up the mountain, and they see God. But in the case of Jesus, with Peter, James, and John – on that mountain, do they see God? Wow! Do they!
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‘And his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white….and behold, from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Today, Christ reveals a little sample of his Divinity. This marvelous, luminous glory of God – the Divine Nature of Christ is allowed to bust forth.
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Now in these events, Our Lord is teaching, not only with words, but with his actions. Since the days of Moses, Israel had organized itself according to it’s founding events. Moses had chosen 12 men to offer sacrifice, i.e., priests; he chose his right hand man Aaron to be High priest. And he took 2 brothers with him, Nadab and Abihu. And then there were the 70 others.
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At the time of Christ, the structure of the governing bodies of Israel were based on this model. There was the High priest and his inner circle; there were his 12 assisting priests in the temple. And there was the governing council of Israel called the Sanhedrin, made up of 70 members. All of this followed the model seen around Moses. These are the key numbers: 12 – 1 – 3- 70
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Now how does Jesus arrange his ministry? First, he chooses 12 apostles. There is that number 12. We see that when he went up Mt. Tabor, he took with him his 3 inner circle: Peter James and John – there is that number 3. Peter, his number one man, who will become the “high priest” of the Church, and two brothers: James and John, just like at Mt. Sinai. Furthermore, after this mountain event, Christ sends out 70 disciples. So there is that number, 70. What is Jesus up to?
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The High priest of Israel, and the Sanhedrin – it is certain, were carefully watching what Jesus was doing, and what do they see? They see him assembling around him, the exact same structure that they have: 12 – 1- 3 – 70. Peter will be the new ‘high priest.’ The 12 apostles are the new leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel just like the 12 priests in the temple. And his sending the 70 to preach, shows that he is replacing the Sanhedrin. Therefore, the leaders were furious.
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Jesus did not need to say one word, his actions told it all. He is building a new priesthood and new leaders; He is forming the New Israel – the Church. But the center of the New Israel is not a dead law nor an earthly temple, nor the memory of Moses, but the Living Jesus, who is God.
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On that mountain, Christ shows us the glory of the world to come; not just in himself, but in us, his disciples; this glorious life of the future resurrection. As St. Paul will say: ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time can’t even be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’
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But the joy of Mt. Tabor is not only for the world to come; we are to live it now, by anticipation. Why? Because Jesus is living in us; he is with us. As scripture says, ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?’
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Friends, we are ultimately to be Transfigured in glory as Christ is. We follow him. But that transfiguring of ourselves is already beginning. It began in our baptism, when God took up his life in our soul. And the more that we follow God’s will, live the life of Christ, then the more we are transfigured from glory to glory.
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Let us then, never let the Lord leave us, all the day and all the week; through our work and duties and business, let us always find time to glance to our Savior who dwells within us. This is to keep the Presence of God. No matter the obstacles of life, we should always be able to turn to our heart and say as Peter said on the mountain: ‘Lord, it is good to be here with you.’ This is what the saints tell us is the foundation of a happy life: keeping it in mind: God is here, he is in us.
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St. Paul of the Cross would say: ‘Frequently stir up your faith, when you are studying, working, or eating; when you go to bed and when you rise, make aspirations to God.’[i] Speak to him, who is with you. In this way, our problems are easy and our burdens are light.
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My mother had a favorite passage of Scripture, she kept it written on a little note for herself, from Psalm 27:
‘One thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and behold the beauty of the Lord in his temple.’
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This we can do, today. We can dwell with the Lord all the days of our life.
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May the Blessed Virgin help us to always keep the Presence of God; that in our work and in our play, we may always say: ‘Lord, it is good to be here with you.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Camillus]

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[i] How to Pray always, p. 105

The demons’ 3 methods

1st Sunday of Lent
Friends in Christ.
One day a while back, I was looking on-line for a priest alb – that’s the white vestment we wear under the chasuble – so I checked out some at an on-line store for priests; later that week, I was looking up the weather online, and in the advertisements to the right, there was an alb !  I was quite surprised. Speaking to someone about this, they tell me that the advertisers collect information on what you are looking at, to keep track of what interests you, so that they can tempt you with just the right product.
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Well, thinking about this, this is exactly what the devil does with us. He collects, over the years, a record of our past actions and interests; and so he knows which temptations might work on us. He has different types of temptations for different people.
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In the devil’s army, there are three groups of demons who fight on the front lines.[i] One group is composed of specialists, who tempt us with sensual desires; another group tempts us to greed; and the others are specialists in pride. These are the three leading attacks of the demons, all the others follow after these.
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Today in the Gospel, we see the temptations that Jesus underwent in the desert. Why did Jesus undergo this? He wanted to show us that we can also be victorious over the devil’s temptations.
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Christ is fasting in the desert, and so the devil tempts him: ‘turn these stones into bread,’ then you can eat all you want! He could easily do it if he wanted to. And he is soooo hungry from fasting – but instead, he shoos away the devil by saying, ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’
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So that was a sensual temptation; sensual temptations are those of the body: we wish to eat too much, gluttony; we are tempted to sexual desire or impure thoughts; laziness, lying around, oversleeping; or to drink too much, get drunk. (By the way, it is a mortal sin to get drunk [ii])
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So, sensual temptations, of the body – this is one of the 3 main types of temptation. Our Lord shows us by his example, that we should immediately shoo away such things and tell the devil to get lost! As the saints tell us, in the area of sensual temptation, the victor, – the winner – is the one who runs away. If we have an impure thought for example, we must not ponder it at all, but immediately pray, and turn our mind to something else.
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Overeating, oversleeping, wasting our time – all of this leads to many other sins, including impure sins. Christ shows us that an important way to fight sensual sins is by fasting – by eating less, which we do during Lent.
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In the 2nd temptation of Christ, the devil shows Our Lord all the kingdoms of the world; the vast wealth of the world. ‘All this can be yours,’ he says.
It is true: if Christ had wished, he could have made himself a king with any riches he wanted: diamonds, rubies, luxury palaces, beautiful clothes – Here is the temptation of greed. We are tempted to fill our heart with created things, with material things, and this is an endless program.
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If you meet people who live in the 3rd world, in poverty, you will find they are often very happy. The suicide rate among young people is very high in the US and Europe – but very low in poor countries. The more we try to fill our heart with material things, the less happy we are, they leave us empty, because what we need, is God.
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Some people are obsessed with material things; those shoes that she wants – she can’t stop thinking about them – ‘I must have them!!’ This is to make them into a god. Then we have bowed down to Satan. But this is why it is good to give up something for Lent, it strengthens us.
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The 3rd temptation of Christ is pride. ‘Then the devil led him up high, to the parapet of the temple, and said, jump off of here and have the angels save you. It will impress everyone to see this amazing event.’ Pride tempts us to show off, to think we are better than others.
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Pride can be interior, as in those who act as victims and are always seeking pity or attention; or pride can be exterior, like those who are pompous or braggarts.
You know, I don’t understand people who put a bumper sticker ’26.2’ on their car, maybe you’ve seen them. It means they’ve run a marathon, which is 26.2 miles. So, what is all this bragging about? Nothing against marathoners, but I never see bumper stickers that say ‘I earned a PhD, or I bench-pressed 500 pounds.’ It all seems rather vain.
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Garrigou-Lagrange says, we must not praise ourselves; by so doing, we soil ourselves. People praise themselves, when they think they are not sufficiently praised by others, but this makes us look ridiculous, and we lose the merit of our good actions. The antidote to pride is humility. Humility today is one of the rarest, but most beautiful virtues.
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We see therefore that there are three chief groups of demons against us, and after them follow the whole army of the Enemy with their temptations. They have studied us, and they use their methods – but as Jesus demonstrates, with his strength, united to him, we can easily conquer the Enemy.
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We are beginning Lent; we do some self-denial, we go to confession; it is the time to battle our demons and go against our weaknesses and desires. But we should do it with confidence. St. Paul tells us that if we do it with the Lord, ‘God will speedily crush Satan under our feet.’
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May the Blessed Virgin help us this Lent, to obtain many victories over the Enemy for the glory and praise of God.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Mother Duzdik]

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[i] Philokalia, p. 38

[ii]  Thomas Aquinas says: ‘To take more meat or drink than is necessary belongs to the vice of gluttony, which is not always a mortal sin, but knowingly to take too much drink to the point of being drunk, is a mortal sin. Summa theological, Q. 150 a2.  Also, scripture says that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. 1 Cor 6:10