Friday, June 30, 2017
+ Jesus deals with what were probably many would-be disciples today by pointing out that real discipleship means sacrifice and effort. It means “feeling detached” “feeling uprooted” being “ready to drop everything to do something else on a moment’s notice.” It is not the glamorous membership in a “club of converts” that means being a Christian: it is being crucified with Christ so to Reign with him.
There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus. In July of 64 AD more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.
Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 AD at the age of 31.
Wherever the Good News of Jesus was preached, it met the same oppositions as Jesus did, and many of those who began to follow him shared his suffering and death. But no human force could stop the power of the Spirit unleashed upon the world. The blood of martyrs has always been, and will always be, the seed of Christians.
These holy Roman martyrs courageously finished the course of faith and despite their bodily weakness won a noble prize! The question today is: are we even half as willing as they were to stand up for the faith, for faith’s truths, for faith’s morals, values and sacred principles: in the face, of the decline in the governing machine in our nation’s capital? It’s time to tell Washington to stop this abuse of power, in the name of God, in the name of His Son who gave his life so that good men and women everywhere can live positive moral and principled lives, in the name of all who have given their lives so that our country could even get to this stage in its history.
As the Fourth of July birthday of the nation looms large on us – let this be a rallying cry for truth, justice and the American way!
Thursday, June 29, 2017
+ Today we rejoice as the Church celebrates the great Solemnity of the Martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul - and we also rejoice in the celebration of the twelfth anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation of the Joyful Servants of the Cross.
It was the intention of the Risen Jesus to preserve his real, true and very much living Presence for the sustenance of the spiritual lives of those living in the world – who call themselves his disciples. This, until the time, foreordained by his Father for him to come again as Judge! And beyond that, Jesus was now a potential friend of all men and women – due to the merits of his own Suffering, Death and Resurrection.
These actions established friendship once again between God and mankind; and so he wanted a way to continue that relationship of friendship with as many who would want it – until the end of time - and so he founded a living organism called “The Church” – to actually be his Mystical (Invisible) but very real presence in the world; and to communicate his friendship to as many as possible through it.
This would not occur without much opposition and sacrifice – especially at the very beginning!
In the gospel passage today [taken from the Vigil Mass], Jesus chooses Peter to be head of the Apostles and head of the Church by his three-fold dialogue with him about his willingness to feed the lambs and tend the sheep! Feeding the sheep would be the easy part: the preaching, the teaching, the healing, the consoling; tending the sheep would be the hard part: tending refers to suffering: Jesus tells Peter to suffer for the sheep, suffer with and for the beloved sheep: to be a good shepherd, going after the lost, carrying the weak, and being willing to give his very life for them – as he, Jesus did! And Peter did both; he fed and he tended – and he ended up by giving his life on the Vatican Hill in Rome – for the good of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, and to unite himself completely and thoroughly with Christ who gave his life for him!
St. Paul was likewise commissioned by Jesus, in person, in a similar post-resurrection encounter with Jesus – to feed and tend; to impart the knowledge of God to as many in the Gentile world who would listen, and to sacrifice himself greatly for the cause – ending by finishing the race – and giving his life by martyrdom as well!
The entire existence of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church rests therefore on Jesus who gave it; and the faith of Peter, and the teaching of Paul that proclaimed and instilled it!
Among the helpers of the successors of generations of bishops, clergy, religious and laypersons who belong to this magnificent reality called Church we have the Joyful Servants of the Cross (coming into existence on this date in 2005, in Boston, MA) who have as their aim:
to appreciate the Death/Resurrection Dynamic that is forever ensured by the incomparable Human/Divine Death and Resurrection of Jesus, once and for all; and (being their charism) to bring the Joy and the Hope and the Peace that comes from the Pierced side of Christ to all the world – by any simple acts of helpfulness or kindness that are called for with others – but especially by their daily and constant intercessory prayer for the intentions of all that are entrusted to them.
With the help and protection of Sts Peter and Paul, the Congregation asks this day for the prayers of the whole Church so that they can carry on their God-given responsibilities, as men of HOPE, and men prayer, to proclaim that a red Cross of Suffering can always be transformed into a gold Cross of Victory – thanks be to Jesus Christ and – according to the Rule of St. Benedict, the Joy of St. Francis, and the Mercy Message of St. Faustina – and their own charism, for as long as God intends!
Let us bless, praise, thank and glorify God, both now and forever! Amen!
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
+ Irenaeus (b.130- d.200) was one of the greatest bishops and theologians of the second century. Born in the East, perhaps in Smyrna, he was a friend of Bishop St. Polycarp whom he had known as a boy; later he studied in Rome and became a priest of Lyons (east-central France). The city was a flourishing trade center and the principal diocese in all of France. During a persecution of Christians, Irenaeus was sent to Rome with a letter for the Pope urging leniency toward a heretical sect of Christians in Asia Minor, for the sake a peace and unity. On his return, he was chosen to succeed the bishop who had been killed during the persecution.
Bishop Irenaeus was a strong and effective opponent of Gnosticism, the first major Christian heresy, which denied the goodness of the flesh and held that revelation (or saving knowledge) was available only to an elite few. He appealed to the principle of apostolic succession to show that saving revelation is available to everyone and that its authenticity is guaranteed by a body of public ministers, the bishops, whose pastoral authority is traceable back to the apostles themselves. He also argued that the Incarnation and the Resurrection of Jesus gave ultimate value to human flesh because Jesus “recapitulated” (i.e. restated and summarized) God’s loving intentions in creating the world, revealing its destiny, and providing the “first fruits” of that destiny. Jesus was the climax and personification of the whole process.
Irenaeus died in Lyons in 200, (considered a martyr, although there was no reliable evidence to support that belief), and was buried in the crypt of the church of St. John (now called St. Irenaeus), although most of his relics were destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562.
There is every evidence that St. Irenaeus was a student of the first reading today, from the letter of St. Paul to Timothy: being a slave of the Lord he did not quarrel, but was gentle with everyone, able to teach, being tolerant and correcting opponents with kindness. Even opposing heretics, he demonstrated, could be done with conviction, yet with kindness and charity! And just as Jesus in the gospel passage prayed that the descendants of the apostles would be filled with a thirst for unity and peace among themselves and for the good of the Church that would soon be established, so Irenaeus had that thirst and found that the only way he could find peace was to work for justice, with charity!
May all the legislators of our governing bodies throughout our country, most especially those serving the needs of the American people in Washington DC take to heart this mandate: to work for justice, truth, freedom, safety, security, the American way, but filtering it all through the sunlight of charity, peace and hope!
Remain in my love, says the Lord; whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.
Monday, June 26, 2017
+ Our take-away thought from today’s readings is this: from the first reading: it is never too late, we are never too old, we are never too weak or tired out from life to do the next thing on God’s agenda for us. Since he has the master-plan – it would behoove us like Abram and Sarai, to do what we feel moved and inspired to do, with a force behind it that is “unearthly” – for it truly is “divine in its origins, purpose and wherewithal.”
The gospel passage, tells us, that once we arrive at our destinations we ought not assess too harshly the environs in which we find ourselves in: we ought not judge the heart and motivation of others, until we find our place in the new “digs” – after all, we were sent to make a difference, not to blame our new neighbors for not already have the benefit of our God-given new ideas and recommendations.
God thus dealt with us – Jesus came as one of us – to gradually and o so patiently manifest the full reality of our potential – and suggest ways and means to accomplish the task: his love is everlasting, and his resources are infinite: so, we need not fear anything, we need plan only on how to manifest his love pouring through us – for others. We must live for others and not for ourselves any longer!
The word of God is living an effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
+ Again today, we have amazing and timely readings. The underlying message is: FEAR NO ONE. Though many may, not only apparently, but actually really, be out to disengage us from our God-given mandate and “marching orders,” – we are told by Jesus not to fear them at all. Theirs is a vehicle and vessel of clay not unlike our own, and theirs is a mental capacity and conscience framework not unlike our own. Hopefully, both we and them, have taken the proper steps and instruction to rightly form not only our bodies, but our minds and our spirits.
Then it does not matter if outside forces and influences attack us, either in minor or even more major kinds of ways: we will know that the important enemy is the one that can “kill the soul” – and not the body. The body is dispensable, but the soul is not – the soul is immortal and accountable and responsible for its right, good, useful and proper functioning – as we cooperate with God’s plan for building the Kingdom – in the small but significant way that he assigns to us.
Jeremiah, dear youthful, energetic, enthusiastic Jeremiah, a Prophet chosen by God to be a sentinel and warning for a wayward people of God, though concerned about the plottings, and the conspiracies that seemed to erupt the more he shouted out God’s will – he still trusted in God – and knew that God would have vengeance on any who attempted ill actions towards him.
How often do we feel like Jeremiah – with seeming whisperings of terror on every side aimed at us: “Denounce, let us denounce him!”
But, did not Jesus bear the same fate. We are in good company!
And so Jesus tells us in the gospel passage to “fear no one, because someday the entire story will be revealed, all the secrets of the heart will be proclaimed from the housetops, and what we tried to do, even in our human frailty, with the built in limitations that were ours because of our association with our first Parent: Adam, will be perfectly clear and we will be vindicated.
What this tells us is that: effort is everything, willingness to do what is right, good, beautiful, just and compassionate – no matter the opposing force – will always be vindicated.
Yes, we must acknowledge not only the Father, to ensure our heavenly reward, but also his Son, and their Spirit – and their operational gift of salvation that is found in the Mystical Body of Christ – the Church – which is always guided by the Spirit of Truth, Peace, Joy and Love.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify! And so, FEAR NO ONE! I am with you until the end of the age!
Saturday, June 24, 2017
+ Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist. John, of course, was a cousin of Jesus, the son of Zechariah, a priest of the temple in Jerusalem whose task it was to burn incense; and of Elizabeth, a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As we see in the gospel passage Zechariah’s tongue was released from silence only after the birth of his son, whom he communicated would be named John – because he doubted the angel’s word that his wife would bear a son in her old age, and that the child would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth.
John was the greatest of all the Old Testament Prophets because he was the last one of them: who had the exalted privilege and honor of literally pointing to Jesus, as he walked along the banks of the Jordan when he began his public life, and saying: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world! Behold the Lamb of God, indeed – these, of course, are the very words are now restored to the celebration of Mass as the priest holds the Body of Christ before you to look at to see just before receiving him in Holy Communion.
But, John’s main duty in the history of salvation was not just to point: but to prepare for the one who would be pointed to: to prepare the way of the Lord – by preaching a message of repentance for sin: only when the heart is clean can a person be open enough to receive all the God has to offer through his beloved Son – for salvation!
John converted many to this stage of salvation, and then later encouraged them to follow the Lamb, Jesus, who is the true Messiah – the one they had been waiting for these many centuries – who would take them the rest of the way!
When Jesus finally did come on the scene he came to John at the Jordan to give credence to what John was doing, but also to be baptized himself, but not for himself (as he had no sin), but rather for us – to show us that one day baptism and confirmation would be needed by his disciples to bring them into his new and mystical body of His – the Church!
Later, John was imprisoned by King Herod because he told him that it was unlawful for him to marry his sister in law, Herodias. Herod knew that John was right, but when the opportunity presented itself the Baptist literally lost his head so that the King could save face at a dinner party in front of his guests. It was only fitting though – that the very last Old Testament Prophet would give his life as a martyr for Christ – whom he knew to be the Way, the Truth and the Life eternal that he and everyone else was seeking for!
May we each do our all for the Lord every day, even preparing the way for his coming into hearts who do not yet know him, or who may have forgotten about him, or who just seem lost!
Jesus came to save the lost! Jesus came to save us all!
Friday, June 23, 2017
+ The visual image we have of today’s Solemnity is the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Christ. An apt caption for just about any image the we can portray and visualize concerning the Heart of Christ is this: “As God Becomes the Flesh, So too the Flesh shall become God.” This says it all: Jesus, the reality of God who took on human flesh is everything there is to know about God the Father: for he is the exact re-presentation of the Father; the purpose of his coming to earth was to ensure that we, as fallen human beings, could once again become God – which was in the plan all along, from the time of Adam – though this time from God’s gift, rather than from man’s grasping at becoming God.
GOD IS LOVE; therefore, God is nothing but a giant Heart, full of love, full of gentleness, patience, kindness, compassion, mercy and truth; Jesus re-presents that Heart: and above that, His own human heart exists entirely for us. The Word of God did not need a body, he did not need a human heart; but He chose to take them on so that we could be forgiven of sin, so we could be healed of our defections. This is the totally selfless meek Heart we honor, adore and worship today in this feast.
This is the Heart that lived a solitary life for 30 years; this is the Heart that was excited about proclaiming a Kingdom of justice, love and peace for all humanity; this was a Heart that was moved to pity for so many, and who performed miracle after miracle to show His own personal care for people; this was the Heart that resolutely made its way to Calvary; this is the Heart that transsubstantiated bread and wine into his very self (including his heart) as a memorial of his Passion that would soon follow; this was the Heart that was pierced with a lance, at the site of crucifixion, allowing the last vestiges of blood and then water to flow from His Divine Heart; this is the Heart that was glorified and became the glowing image of peace and forgiveness for everyone, everywhere from that moment on; this is the Heart we celebrate today; this is the Heart that we love today; this is the Heart extraordinaire that we are called upon to go to, to hide in, be refreshed by and then moved by to reenter our lives calmed, joyful and eager to spread such a marvelous and wonderful love to all we meet, after having experienced it first ourselves!
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, “burning furnace of charity” – fire us up to imitate your self-sacrificial loving nature, this day and every day – and have mercy on us always!
Thursday, June 22, 2017
+ Sometimes it is easy for us to think that it is God who is hard of hearing, when it is actually us who are hard-up of trust in the God who is the object of this prayer that Jesus himself taught us.
Jesus tells us, when praying, “not to babble on like the pagans” who think the multiplication of words, and a well thought out “sales-pitch” is what will get the Father’s attention, and make him “a deal he cannot refuse to answer.”
God is not into deal making, but he is all about providing for the true needs of his children, seeing as he does the entire picture, of not only how to best answer our requests, but even to prepare an answer that is beyond our wildest imaginings.
What he asks of us is trust enough to let him be God, spunk enough to ask for at least what we think we need, and courage enough to accept and process the answer as he o so lovingly, and wisely apportions the details.
God is God – he is Father Creator, Sustainer, Doter Supreme, and his plan and execution thereof it be embraced, trusted and cooperated with entirely and immediately, for best results, not only for us, but also for those whose lives will be part of the interacting out of the solution.
God rarely answers prayers that are selfish and only has to do with ourselves and our own comfort. Daily bread is for nourishment yes, but to energize us to serve the true needs of others – who are struggling through this “vale of tears” with everyone else.
Forgiveness of one another is essential for the answering of our prayers. For if we do not recognize and work into our daily approach to life the inconsistencies, shortcomings, and quite frankly vincible ignorance of others, then God will not deal mercifully, forgivingly and compassionately with us.
If we are busy doing our fair, but limited, share of helping others – no one has to do it all – then we will be too busy to be distracted by the “roaring lion” who is out there to throw a wrench into all we are trying to accomplish with God’s help.
As St. Paul tells the Corinthians, the gospel message that he receives daily, and dwells on constantly, was given him free of charge – the message of utter, complete and unconditional self-sacrificial love – so we must likewise freely, generously, and with a magnanimous heart give to others today – especially the ones he places right in our path, beginning with the person sitting right next to us.
“For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, heavenly Father, Abba, both now and forever.”
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
+ Aloysius Gonzaga was a member of the Society of Jesus who died in his early twenties and is the patron saint of young people and of students in Jesuit colleges and universities.
He was born in 1568 into a high-ranking family in Castiglione, in Lombardy, Italy and following the wishes of his father he was meant to go into military service, but on a family trip to Spain in the company of the empress of Austria in 1581 he decided to become a Jesuit. His family could not dissuade him and so Aloysius renounced his inheritance and entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rome in November of 1585.
He was inclined to austere penances, but obedience and poor health (a kidney disease) curbed this penchant a bit and gave him time for real prayer and meditation on the spiritual realities of life. His spiritual director, St. Robert commented that Aloysius’ example of piety was so extreme that others should not be encouraged to follow it; but it was his dedication to his studies, and his few years of nursing the sick in a Jesuit hospital during an outbreak of plague that qualified him for sainthood. He himself contracted the disease and died at the very young age of 23.
Aloysius understood the meaning of the gospel mandate of loving God, loving neighbor and loving self – and is a model for young people everywhere because he himself enjoyed being a child of God who experienced that love more and more deeply every day that he forgot himself and lived only for others. May young people in the world today find a true companion and model in St. Aloysius Gonzaga!
I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
+ Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This celebration is entirely the result of God’s self-revelation! There is no way at all that mankind on his own could ever have imagined, constructed or invented such a God – He is entirely beyond our scope, and yet He is entirely and absolutely near, intimate, up close, direct and personal! The infinity of his majesty, power and glory are found and proved in the minuteness, the tininess and the complete unsuspectability of his concreteness, his finiteness among us as demonstrated in creation, and in the sending of his own Son to be a part of our world, for our salvation! This is all very, very amazing – and yes, even awesome to the maximum.
And so we rejoice in the fact today that Jesus, the Son, has revealed his Father, as our Father! We rejoice that by his own merits of death on a cross and then resurrection from the dead to an entirely new and difference experience of life: the “ontological leap” that we all yearn for, was his; and now can be ours, by baptism and life in the Mystical Body of Christ: the Church. We rejoice that Son and Father have sent the Holy Spirit of Joy, of Love, of Truth and Life into the Church, into us, so that we can “light the world” with the Fire of Divine Grace and Sanctifying Presence.
Yes, God the Father, so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him, who believes in his divinity and live their lives like they believe it, may not perish but may have eternal life – on high with God forever!
It interesting to note, as we approach in a week’s time “Father’s Day” in our country, God is most Father by showing MERCY to his children! Earthly fathers can be the same, they can be most father to the extent that they 1) ask mercy from God for themselves, and then 2) pass it on to their families – thus teaching them the most glorious and God pleasing thing that can be taught to a family – which can then 3) penetrate into society at large so that the world can be renewed as it is intended to be!
Glory and praise to God forever!
Divine Unity in Blessed Trinity! Amen!
Friday, June 9, 2017
+ Our readings today are about promise and fulfillment, patience and results, trust and reward. The first reading is a continuation of the blessed and glorious unfolding of the Tobit, Tobiah, Sarah story of affliction, pleading, crying out to God, and then relief, healing and reconciliation.
Tobit is rewarded for his continued prayers for his son Tobiah, and his new wife Sarah – who, so far, has successfully entered marriage with him. And for Tobit to see the results of his prayers, Tobiah provides what is needed for the successful cataract removal procedure so that he can see. He sees! He rejoices! His classic and noteworthy prayer of thanksgiving reads:
“Blessed be God, and praised be his great name, and blessed be all his holy angels. May his holy name be praised throughout all ages. Because it was he who scourged me, and it is he who has had mercy on me. Behold, I now see my son Tobiah!”
This is reminiscent of how Job, at an earlier time, declares: “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”
In both instances, we see the astounding reality that God, though he may allow all kinds of things to happen to us, never leaves us, and gives us, if we ask him, every single bit of inspiration and know-how as to how to endure the playing out of the answer to our prayers for relief.
He will use angels, and caring companions, in many shapes, forms and sizes. And some, “out of the blue” – just in time, or so it seems.
These readings are also about: not only visible sight-restoration, but also spiritual. Jesus is trying to tell the scribes in their own language (the psalms) how David saw Jesus, as his descendant, who would sit upon his throne of mercy, compassion, truth and justice, forever, through the eyes of faith.
May we pray today for the gift of spiritual sight, vision and insight – so that we can see truly and clearly what is what, and minister to what we see with the Lord’s own mercy, compassion and helping, healing hands and hearts.
“May the Lord open the eyes of our hearts,” this day, and always!
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
+ Two beautiful and quite descriptive and imaginative readings are given to us to contemplate today. Both readings have to do with the all too human dynamics of struggle and surrender, labor and rest, conflict and resolution, death and life.
They also have to do with the very human and even manly activity of crying out to God in distress, being heard by him, and allowing the resolution that God had in mind all along begin to play out, now successfully and productively: there is nothing so soothing than to have the peace of God descend on you after you have been through the wringer!
And so God proves himself to be the “God of the living” – those who must endure what life throws at them, and actually gifts them with; because how else would one even meet and be the recipient of the unimagined and more satisfying than we can ever imagine solutions to our real and often-times difficult burdens that are part and parcel of being human.
And again, we must not forget that Jesus volunteered to come and taken on this broken and fragile human estate, so that he could transform it, heal it, and bring it a newness that would be worth all the trials and tribulations that we go through to get there!
Jesus said, and says again to us today: I am the RESURRECTION and the LIFE, he who believes in me shall never die! – but shall live in eternal bliss!
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
+ We have interesting readings on this second day of mass in the continuing ordinary season of the year. We return now to the “teaching narratives and suggestions for daily application” that was suspended when we began the two great salvific cycles of the Liturgical Calendar Year: Advent/Christmas, and Lent/Easter.
Our practical stories today are both colorful and pragmatic: useful to our lives this day.
In the first reading we begin the story of Tobit’s blindness, and the ensuing crankiness that develops – as is only natural for one who is stricken blind from “bird-droppings” obtained from sleeping the in the wrong place, outdoors, at the wrong time. The “goat” of the matter can be considered any intrusion into his normal temporarily handicapped lifestyle. Errors in judgment and motive ensued as well, because he simply could not see clearly.
Any of us can have the same problem to the temporary blindness that we can experience – especially the spiritual blindness of seeing reality and circumstances as God does, and enables us through proper use of spiritual tools and gifts: such as the gifts of the Spirit received at our baptisms and confirmations and ordinations. When we suspend the use of these gifts – because we think we know better – then the “spiritual bird of paradise poops on our eyes of faith, and things get rather cloudly and distorted.
In the gospel passage we see the classic scene of Jesus clarifying the message of who gets what regarding the instrument of exchange: the denarius, the dollar. On the coin there was an image of Caesar – and so Jesus says: You see this: give Caesar what is his due (your responsible patriotic tithe and service), but give first and foremost to God, what is his due: your worship, adoration, affection, devotion, trust, love and thankful service to all your brothers and sisters in the family of mankind that he has created for you to live in.
Both readings then have “seeing things correctly” and then acting responsibly, compassionately and mercifully as their follow-up.
May we then, in the circumstances and situations that God will arrange for us today: be his willing instruments of Hope, Peace and Joy – so that the light generated by this will enlighten and lighten other people’s lives and loads and responsibilities.
God has visited his people / he has brought redemption, salvation and HOPE / he has empowered us to carry on his work of gathering in the flock, the family of God – to a place prepared for them, for us, beyond all imagining.
May Jesus Christ be praised / both now and forever. Amen.
Monday, June 5, 2017
+ St Boniface was born in Devonshire, England around 637. He was educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter. He chose to stay in Exeter to become a priest and to join the Benedictine order as a monk. He became a missionary to Germany in 719 assisted by Sts. Albinus, Abel and Agatha. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites. Boniface became Bishop, and then Archbishop of Mainz – reforming the churches in his sees, and building religious houses there. He founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia and Franconia. He evangelized in Holland, but was opposed there by a troop of pagans and died a martyr’s death with 52 of his new flock in 754. St. Boniface is considered the “apostle to Germany” and its primary patron!
The readings today fit the feast: Boniface, like St. Paul, enjoyed the help of God in all of his apostolic work – testifying to the great and small alike – saying nothing other than what was handed down by the Scriptures of old, and the living testament of the fulfillment of it all: JESUS CHRIST who suffered, died and rose from the dead to be a light to all the nations: Jewish and Gentile as well – Germans too!
And of course, just as Jesus was the ultimate and supreme Good Shepherd, who, as God-Man, laid down his life for his sheep: so did St. Boniface of Germany: thinking never of himself but always of the task at hand: to bring the faith to the sheep that do not yet belong to the fold – Boniface was empowered by the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead to see his ministry through to the end that God had in mind for it!
God has a ministry in mind for each member of his flock (whether as shepherd or sheep): may we be dedicated to it, with heroic faithfulness – for with the assignment comes the power to perform it!
Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
+ Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. After ten days of waiting for the Promised Gift to come, it finally arrived with awesome force, strength, grace and peace! It shook the place where the Apostles were and flames of fire came to rest on each of them: and they were filled with a superabundance of spiritual gifts needed to launch the Church of Jesus Christ into the world with repercussion that would last until the end of time! It was a magnificent day!
And “what is it” that came in such great display? the Spirit of Joy, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Life! Armed with these realities the Church would be empowered now to be as much “The Light of the World” – as Jesus was Light of the World when he walked among us: after all, the Church is truly his extended and Mystical Body – and therefore capable of shining great light into the chaos and confusion that can reign, and does reign currently, in the world at large, especially our own country! The Church would be the source of all truth: infallible truth; the source of all moral right teaching and the source of all sanctifying grace needed to raise men and women above their natural existences and destinies to a supernatural life and destiny beyond imagining!
The Church is meant to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic from day one! For this reason there were guests from many lands visiting Jerusalem for the originally Jewish Feast, amd each heard the Apostles speak in their own tongues, the one message of faith, the one truth of reality, the one power of sacramental grace. And even though in the course of time the oneness of the Church has been fragmented and shattered, we pray every day that the beautiful mosaic of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church - the broken Body of Christ Himself - will be restored to its original dignity and grace and splendor!
Our part is to accept the power and presence and life of the Holy Spirit that came to us at our baptism and confirmations and ordinations - giving us the exact measure of spiritual gifts that we each need to be useful and helpful members of the Church. This portion is stirred into flame again and again at each celebration of the Holy Eucharist, giving us the motivation and power to do our part in proclaiming the beauty, the reasonableness and the necessity of belonging to Christ in the way in which he desires all men and women everywhere to be associated with him: as true members of Him, with He himself as Head!
Lord, do send out your Spirit, magnificently, gently, yet powerfully, and renew the face of the whole earth – now, using us – your adoring, worshipful and grateful children!
Among the gifts given the apostles on that first Pentecost Day were these:
WISDOM – so that believers can communicate with God on his own level, and so they can order their relationships therefore with him and the world appropriately and joyfully
UNDERSTANDING – allows believers to grasp at least in a limited way the very essence of the truths of our faith, and all truths in general, and specifically, when needed
COUNSEL – believers are able to know just how best to act almost by intuition, especially in difficult situations, and can thus help advise others prudently and wisely
KNOWLEDGE – believers can judge all things according to the truths of the faith, and thus make the right choices in how to proceed efficiently and effectively
PIETY – believers can possess the willingness to worship and serve God and others on a higher level, other than the purely natural: this would be holiness in action
FORTITUDE – gives believers the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel; this goes beyond courage, it is the virtue of the martyrs.
FEAR OF THE LORD – confirms the theological virtue of hope; it gives the believer the desire not to offend God - beyond duty, this arises now from a sense of love of God and his people.
We thank God for these gifts and open ourselves to their use today and all the days of our lives – for the up building and care of others, and for our own redemption and salvation! It is in the Holy Spirit of HOPE, Joy and Peace that we say:
JESUS IS LORD, JESUS IS KING, JESUS IS OUR IMMINENT AND ENDURING BROTHER & FRIEND!
Friday, June 2, 2017
+ St Peter’s confession of faith, and then his willingness to feed the flock of God in all charity is the rock-like foundation of the Catholic Church – this Jesus clarifies just before he ascends into heaven. “Belief, followed by acts of love done out of obedience to Christ’s command for us to take care of one another” is what we are all about! – and it is also what we are all about as monks of the Church.
Peter professed his faith by saying “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God;” and he three-times proclaimed in front of the other apostles: “you know that I love you Lord, yes, I will feed your sheep and tend your lambs” – inferring not only himself but also his descendants in the apostolic line of succession.
The true measure of a pope, bishop, abbot or priest of today is his willingness to base everything he does on “faith and charity” – otherwise he is a hypocritical “puff of smoke and a pious fraud” – and no priest or monk at all.
In this quite frankly unbelievable unstable and challenging day and age, no less than the first century, the clergy, the religious and the laity alike are called upon to witness to the Truth of the Catholic Church – filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit and willing to go to the ends of the earth at the very most, [and for us, the “farthest west end of Richmond”], and even much more easily, but again much more difficultly, to the person sitting next to you.
The new kingdom of God begins right here, right now – and every right here and right now of today!
Come Holy Spirit – teach us everything we need to know – to make the real Jesus truly “known among the peoples of the earth!”
Thursday, June 1, 2017
+ St. Justin, whose memorial we celebrate today, is a very important second century saint. At this time in history of the Roman Empire, and Church history, what was hoped to be an experiment gone awry had staying power. The Romans knew they had a formidable foe in the new Church of Rome, the Catholic Church in its infancy. But though an infant chronologically, the Church was a fierce opponent to the world and its ways, a fierce opponent to the ways of the Emperors who thought themselves to be gods among a great many gods in the pagan pantheon.
It was such a pagan who converted to Christianity at age 30 by reading the Scriptures and witnessing firsthand the heroism and faith of the first martyrs of the Church. These things impressed Justin of Samaria very much. Justin was born to wealthy Greek parents, was well educated and a student of many philosophies. But coming to full maturity he knew that the only true philosophy was the Christian one: he believed that the word of truth came to all people, but that it resided fully in Jesus Christ who was the very essence of the Church of Rome! And so, with his keen mind, deep faith, and oratorical skills, Justin became one of the first apologists of the faith: an explainer and defender, using words both written and spoken!
The cross of Christ – which Justin preached and taught – was a great threat to Rome – the victory of a dead man, who is still alive – was too much for them to comprehend – but this did not deter Justin from doing what he was called to do: to stand up for the faith, stand up for Christ, stand up for the Church.
We are called to do the same – especially with the repaganization of society that is unfolding in our world every day. Especially when the wiles and cunning deceptive machinations of the Evil One are seen on the world stage, even our own national government. We must let our lights shine – the light of faith – so that the elected representatives in Washington, and indeed the entire world can see: and so that we all may give glory to our Father in heaven! – and a kingdom of justice, peace and love will firmly take root on the earth, as it is destined to, eventually.
Time and circumstances would lead to the Roman authorities’ attempts to silence Justin – as a threat to the supremacy of the Empire – and so in 165 he was beheaded in Rome. I ask you this question: how far are we willing to go to “stand up” for our faith in the Person of Jesus Christ – God’s only Son, our Lord, our Brother and our Friend?
Justin is considered then above all a great martyr and the first great Christian philosopher.
+ St John Chrysostom was born in 347 in Antioch, Asia Minor. His father died when he was young and he was raised by a very pious mother. ...
+ St. Clare of Assisi became a friend of St. Francis of the same town after hearing him preach. Her father was a count and her mother a coun...
+ We celebrate the Feast today of the Cure of Ars. John Mary Vianney was born to a farm family in Lyons, France in 1786. In his youth he tau...