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Sunday, August 18, 2019

100 days to Freedom


100 days to Freedom Overview
100 Days to reconnect with God and disconnect from societal influence while establishing new healthy habits and purging the old negative ones.
Start Date: ____________     End Date: ____________
Spiritual
1.      Daily Mass preferred
a.       If not possible then a formal spiritual communion with 30 min prayer time (See prayer on checklist)
b.      Daily Mass Readings
2.      Daily Rosary
3.      Formal Examination of Conscience nightly with review of:
a.       Blessings
b.      Temptations
c.       Godly encounters
d.      Plan of action for the next day (How to deal with repeated temptations)
4.      Daily Spiritual reading
a.       Bible or
b.      Early Church Fathers or
c.       Other
5.      Weekly adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament
6.      Monthly confession

Physical
1.      Walk or Run (depending on degree of fitness) daily
2.      Push-ups / Sit-ups / Lunges daily or weight lifting routine
3.      Stretches daily
4.      7-8 hours sleep a night

Nutrition
1.      2-3 meals a day - No eating between meals
2.      No candy / desserts
3.      No fast-food
4.      Fasting (1 meal and 2 small meals/snacks) Mon / Wed / Friday

Self-Denial
1.      No major purchases (Toiletries and needed items only)
2.      No TV (Sports) or movies
3.      No social media
4.      No Alcohol



Saturday, August 03, 2019

Do I love Jesus above all Things?




Homily – Deacon Pat – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time (Year C)

I can remember not too many years ago.

My wife Liz and I had raised all of our children and had just seen off our youngest, Mackenzie, off to college in Chicago.

We had planned for many years that as soon as we were without children in the home, we would try our hand at being fulltime missionaries.

In preparation for moving out of the country we systematically sold and gave away everything we had accumulated over decades of married life.

That process of whittling down all that we owned to less than a dozen boxes, keeping mostly photo albums and some clothing, was quite enlightening.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at the time.

Initially, I thought that parting with my motorcycle, tools, kayaks, fishing gear, weight lift equipment, and the such, would be traumatic, but surprisingly it wasn’t.

Somehow knowing that we were purging everything from our lives to make room for God and releasing the worry that often comes with caring for the “Things in our lives” and often “the associated debt” was actually quite refreshing.

It was on that final day, however, after selling our home, and having packed the few possessions we decided to keep, and then driving away, that a certain peace was revealed, a certain peacefulness that I had never known in my adult life.

Now, not owning much more than what we could carry allowed us to be completely free and present to what and where God was directing us, without distraction.

We experienced for the first-time what life could be like without the pressures and responsibilities that desiring and owning possessions often entails.

To this day I thank God for that opportunity, it changed our life and helped us to see what complete freedom looks and feels like.

A freedom to serve God to the fullest.

In a small way I feel that this experience somehow also relates to today’s message.

And in today’s readings and Gospel there is a message for all of us here today.

The message is clearly that we are to remain focused on our quest for heaven.

It is a call to live a Christ-centered life.

We are urged to focus our attention on heavenly realities more than on earthly shadows.

We are also reminded that we are in a transitory world.

And it is a call to make use of the “things of this world” prudently without losing our ultimate goal.

Because it is only when we make heaven our goal that the full meaning of life can be revealed and realized.

In the first reading of this Weekend it begins with a warning, translated: “Vanity, vanity, the Preacher says vanity…!”

It strikes a reality that most of us have neglected.

However, one day each one of us will come to terms with it.

The Preacher calls us to remember God in all that we do.

He reminds us that there will be an ultimate end to all created things.

He also reminds us that the ultimate goal here on earth is to walk our way straight to heaven.

And in the second reading, it hits the nail on its head.

In it, Saint Paul clearly differentiates true life, that is life lived in Christ, from a life lived outside of Christ.

Without mincing words, he reminds us that we must be heaven bound where Christ is everything.

Saint Paul tells us: 

“Kill everything in you that belongs to only earthly life, fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires, greed, false gods, and never tell each other lies.” 

This call to “kill everything evil” is simply a call to transform our lives, a call to purity of life, and call to remain steadfast.

Many Christians have become so attached to “the things of this world” that we hardly reflect about heaven any more.

This is because so many have come to believe that that heaven is an ancient tale told by the ignorant and believed by fools.

And additionally, in the gospel, Jesus speaks to our hearts just as he did to the man from the crowd: 

“Watch out and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made more secured by what he owns…” 

The pursuit of wealth and the pleasures of this world have so blinded so many of us to the reality that we are only pilgrims here on earth.

Avarice is one of the seven capital sins.

Also known as extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

It is a sin which makes one become like the material good that one seeks.

It is a hidden enemy of every child of God.  

Concerning avarice, Saint Thomas Aquinas says: 

“Temporal goods are subject to man that he may use them according to his needs, not that he should make them his main purpose, or be overly anxious about them.” 

The more we place our hopes on the things of this world, the more we lose sight of heaven.


“Where a man’s wealth is, there is his soul.”

Concluding this message for us here today - Here is a challenge for you and for me,

Let us begin today, right now, to focus our eyes and minds on heavenly things, and not only on the vain things of this world.

Let me say that again –

Let us begin today, right now, to focus our eyes and minds on heavenly things, and not only on the vain things of this world.

(Pause)

There is a saying that: “Real men and women love Jesus, not riches!” 

Indeed, real men and women are those who in spite of their fame, wealth, achievements, etcetera, love Jesus above all things.

Let us honestly and authentically ask ourselves, with all sincerity and humility,

Do I love Jesus, above all things?

Do I love Jesus, above all things?

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The Ascension Of Jesus Christ



Homily for the Ascension of Jesus by Fr. Tommy Lane



At the end of school what do you want to do? - I want to do my Senior Certificate.

After your Senior Certificate what do you want to do? - I want to go to college.

After college what do you want to do? - I want to get a job.

Then what do you want to do? - I want to make big money.

What do you want to do after making money? - I want to build a big house.

After that what do you intend to do? - I want to get married.

What will you do after getting married? - I will have a family.

What will you do after having a family? - I will retire.

What do you want to do after you retire? - I want to take a rest.

What will you do after taking a rest? - I don’t know.

Will you die? - Oh yes, I will die too.

 We are so busy doing things, achieving, making progress that we can forget what life is all about, preparing to meet God in heaven. The Ascension of Jesus reminds us that during our lives we are “only passing through” on this earth, as we say. We are pilgrims on a journey. Just as Jesus’ earthly life was temporary, and he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, so also our lives here are temporary, will come to an end, and we will meet God in the next life. The Ascension of Jesus reminds us in all of our busyness not to forget what life is all about.

Remember that conversation with a student. What will you do next? The student had an answer for everything but never thought about dying and what would happen then. Part of the prayer in the letter to the Ephesians, the second reading today (Eph 1:17-23; Years A & C), is so beautiful. May God our Father...enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. (Eph 1:17-19) It is a most beautiful prayer and description of living life preparing for eternal life.

The Ascension of Jesus reminds us that God has great plans for us that are out of this world and that prayer in the second reading also reminds us that God has great plans for us that are out of this world. You can look at your self in three ways: what you think of yourself, what others think of you, and what God thinks of you. The most important is what God thinks of you. What does God think of you?

The second reading gives us the answer. God looks on you as his son or daughter since you were baptized: May God our Father...enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you…(Eph 1:17-18) You want the perfect house, the perfect car, in fact you want the best of everything. But in fact the best awaits us in the next life because God has planned the very best for you. In that prayer Paul prayed, May God our Father...enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see … what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit…(Eph 1:17-18) The saints are promised glory in the next life. Whatever possessions or riches you have are nothing compared to the riches of heaven. Can you take this £1 to heaven with you? (holding up money). No, it is nothing compared to the riches of heaven, May God our Father...enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see … what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit…(Eph 1:17-18)

 As we listen to so many reports about corruption it seems that people use all sorts of ways of exerting power and influence over others. Does God exert any power or influence over our lives? Jesus rose from the dead, and therefore God the Father “has put all things under his [Christ’s] feet”. (Eph 1:22) This is the power and influence of God exerts over you. So the prayer continues, May God our Father...enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see … how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. (Eph 1:17-19) God wants the best for you and through Christ offers you the best and therefore put all enemies under the feet of Christ when Jesus rose from the dead so that you can be free to enjoy the life God offers you. God has exercised power for you. Live with Christ enjoying the power God has exercised for you. What a wonderful privilege we all enjoy as sons and daughters of God since baptism. How wonderful is this calling that we have all received. How wonderful are the riches of heaven that God has planned for us, it certainly makes us see all our striving after riches here in a new light, and how wonderful is the power God worked in Jesus’ resurrection to raise us all to new life.

 Before Jesus ascended, he entrusted his mission to the Apostles saying, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations...” (Matt 28:19; Gospel Year A) While that mission was entrusted to the Apostles, and to the bishops who are the successors of the Apostles, and their assistants, the priests, you can assist them in their mission to evangelize by praying for them and assisting them in their work for the Lord in so many ways, especially by giving witness that you follow Christ. This is another way in which you live the prayer of the second reading seeing what hope his call holds for you. May God our Father...enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. (Eph 1:17-19)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Love as I have Loved You!



LESSON: The New Commandment

The Church, like a good mother, is very wise. She gives us a full seven weeks of Easter season. We need this extended time to reflect on those lessons Christ taught us in his passion and resurrection.

Plants have to spend time outside to gradually absorb the sunlight and transform it into nutrients. Just so, our souls have to spend time basking in the light of Christ's revelation, so that we can absorb the grace God wants to give us.

Today especially, we are reminded of the New Commandment that Christ gave us the day before he suffered.

• We are brought back to that Last Supper, when Jesus was gathered with his closest companions and opened his heart to them.

• It was the night when his heart overflowed with love as it never had before.

• It was the night when he revealed the secret identity of every Christian, the distinguishing mark: "This is how all will know that you are my disciples," he said, "if you have love for one another."

• And not just any kind of love, but Christ-like love: "I give you a new commandment... As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Being a Christian is much more than being a member of a club. Being a Christian means having an urgent, important mission in life.

• It means being another Christ in the world.

• Jesus gave his very life in order to fulfill his Father's will and win salvation for sinners.

• Each one of us is called to reproduce in the unique circumstances of our lives that exact same pattern: dedicating our lives to discovering and fulfilling God's will, and striving to help as many people as possible know, love, and follow Christ.

ILLUSTRATION: Gandhi's Critique and Chesterton's Quip

Mahatma Gandhi, last century's leader of India's independence movement, received his education in Europe.

• Although he wasn't Christian, he had many opportunities to study Christianity and get to know Christians.

• Later in his life he commented on this experience. He said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

G.K. Chesterton, the famous British convert to Catholicism and great apologist for the faith in the early twentieth century, made a similar statement.

 • He was responding to critics who claimed that since Christianity had been around for so long, but hadn't solved the world's problems, it must be false.

• Chesterton retorted: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

These two quotations remind us of something we already know: too often, too many Christians are satisfied with a mediocre Christianity. But Christ wants more for us.

• He wants to release our full potential as human beings.

• What does that potential consist of? It consists of our capacity to love, to know others as Christ knows them, and to dedicate ourselves to their good.

• Christ knows that if we follow him down that path, we will be truly happy, and we will make those around us truly happy, here on earth and forever in heaven.

How can that happen? It has to start right here - right in our hearts. Christ has already shown us the way. Christ has promised to give us the grace. But none of that will matter unless each one of us makes a firm decision to have one goal in life: to take up the difficult but sure path of knowing, loving, and following Christ. Only then will we have an answer for critics like Gandhi, because only then will we, Christians, become like Christ.

APPLICATION:

Mother Teresa and the Right Idea of Love One thing that can sometimes hold us back in our efforts to follow the Lord's New Commandment is a false idea of what love should feel like.

• We tend to think that true love is always accompanied by nice feelings, and if the feelings go away, that means the love has gone away too.

• That's what radio and TV tell us, but that's not what the Gospel tells us.

• Love, true love, Christ-like love, goes deeper than feelings. It demands sacrifice, self-giving, and self-forgetfulness.

• Christ-like love always involves a cross. That's what makes it Christ-like; that's what makes it true love.

If we can get this truth to sink down from our heads into our hearts, we will be freer to love more as Christ loves, and we will lead happier lives, and make those around us happier. Maybe the words of a real expert in Christ-like love will help convince us of this. Here is a profile of real Christian love from Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway. 

Why? Because in the final analysis, all of this is between you and God…It was never between you and them anyway."

Today when Jesus comes to renew his commitment to us in Holy Communion, let's ask him to convince us once and for all that Christian love doesn't mean nice feelings, but self-giving, self-forgetting, and going out of our way to help our neighbors, just as he went out of the way to help us

Saturday, May 04, 2019

100 Days to Freedom



100 days to Freedom 

100 days to re-connect with God and disconnect from societal influence while establishing new healthy habits and purging the old negative ones.

 Start Date: __________________________ End Date: _____________________________

Spiritual 
1. Daily Mass preferred
                 a. If not possible then formal spiritual communion with 30 min prayer time
                 b. Daily Mass Readings
2. Daily Rosary
3. Formal Examination of Conscience nightly
                 a. Blessings
                 b. Temptations
                 c. Godly encounters
                 d. Plan of action for the next day
4. Daily Spiritual reading
                  a. Bible or
                  b. Early Church Fathers or
                  c. Other
5. Weekly adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament
6. Monthly confession

Physical 
1. Walk or Run (depending on degree of fitness) daily
2. Push-ups / Sit-ups / Lunges daily
3. Stretches daily

Nutrition
1. 2-3 meals a day - No eating between meals
2. No alcohol
3. No candy / desserts
4. No fast-food
5. Fasting (1 small meal and 2 snacks only) Wed / Friday

Self-Denial
1. No major purchases (Toiletries and needed items only)
2. No TV or movies
3. No social media

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Divine Mercy and a new parish



The Homily:


As many of you already know, today is The Feast of Divine Mercy, or better known as “Divine Mercy Sunday” which was instituted by Saint John Paul II on April 30, of the year 2000.

However, the origin of this day began in 1931, when a young nun, Saint Faustina, saw a vision of Jesus with Rays of Mercy streaming from the area of His heart.

Christ told her to have an image painted to represent this vision and to sign it, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

In a series of revelations, Christ taught her that His mercy is unlimited and available even to the greatest sinners, and he revealed special ways for people to respond to His mercy.

Yet, the real question for all of us here today is:

“Do we really understand Christ's Mercy?”

When we look at the Gospel reading Jesus appears to his apostles and says to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were not at peace.
They knew Jesus Christ, they believed in Him, but they were not at peace.

And in the second reading we hear Our Lord say, “Do not be afraid.”

Why would we be afraid?

The only reason we would be afraid and not be at peace is when we are not trusting Him.

So, here are some questions that maybe we could ask ourselves and ponder:

Is it that we don't fully believe?

Is it that in our heads we know; but in our hearts we often don't accept?

Could it be that we don't want to let him in very close because we know that it will probably do something to us; something that will require a change in our lives?

Is that why, we, at certain times don't let him come any closer?

Are we sometimes afraid to be vulnerable with God?
(pause)
Listening to our Lord's words from today’s scripture, He tells us:

“Do Not be Afraid, Be at Peace.”
We are also shown how the Holy Spirit breathed upon the disciples and how they are given the authority to forgive sins, our sins.

And when we really know that our sins are forgiven, that is when we can be at peace.

That is when we have nothing to fear if we truly believe in the promises of Our Lord.

But do people actually believe in the promises of Christ?

Do they actually believe in the Mercy of God?

Maybe this issue has much deeper roots?

Maybe they don't even believe in their own dignity.

Maybe they don't believe in the forgiveness of sin.

Maybe they don't believe that God really loves them because they don't believe that they can be loved.

But what does our Lord do?

He comes to us and He points to his heart.

The rays of love flow from his heart depicting, in two different colors, the waters of baptism and the blood of Jesus Christ.

These symbols represent The Eucharist and Baptism; the covenant, and the celebration of the covenant, that each one of us has entered into.

And related to this, there is also a reality that is more profound than anything in the world.

It is the reality of the true and real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and the actual reality of having our souls cleansed of sin through Confession.

When we kneel before the priest in confession and hear those beautiful words of absolution, we should walk out with the knowledge, the unshakable knowledge, that our sins have been removed from our soul.

They are no longer there.

The Mercy of God is greater than anything we can do; that is what Our Lord wants us to know.

That there is nothing we can do that is bigger than Him.

He wants, more than anything, to forgive our sins.

Yet - many do not go to regular confession.
And some estimates state that only 20% even fulfill the Catholic obligation of yearly confession.

WHY?

Why is it that so many don’t take advantage of the healing Sacrament of Confession?

If we are one of these people, maybe this is a question we should ask ourselves and pray about?

Jesus said that it was because of his love and mercy for us that he gave us the Sacrament of Confession.

And Saint Faustina records Jesus saying in such a beautiful way:

Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of my mercy, the blood and water which came forth from My heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it.

For every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in my mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour out the bounty of my grace upon your soul.

When you approach the confessional, know this, that I myself am waiting for you there.

I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul.

Here the misery of the soul meets God solely with the vessel of trust.

If their trust is great, there is no limit to my generosity.”

In conclusion of today’s message let us remember that in confession, our sins are forgiven for all who believe and are truly contrite, that is our Catholic belief.

And it is in the utilization of confession and believing in the promises of Christ is what ultimately brings us healing and Peace.

Jesus is reaching out to each one of us.

The question we should ask ourselves is:

Will we draw near?

Or will we keep backing away, only to remain at arm’s reach?

Why don’t we all choose to Accept Christ's Mercy into our lives, (Especially Today) of all days.

Let’s all vow to accept his forgiveness,

To Believe in Him,

To Believe in our own holiness, and to Believe and to know deep in our hearts and soul that God loves us, that He truly loves us… so very much!