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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!


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday - What actually happened so long ago?





The Lord's descent into hell

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Prayer

Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead, and rose from there to glory, grant that your faithful people, who were buried with him in baptism, may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.
(We make our prayer) through our Lord.
(Through Christ our Lord.)