Friday, May 25, 2018

May 25 2018 - Pope St. Gregory VII - Global war against marriage and family

The Collect for Pope Saint Gregory VII spoke of his fortitude and his zeal for justice. His fortitude was certainly manifest in the many problems he faced, as Vicar of Christ, at the end of the 11th century. In spite of much opposition, he worked for important Church reform: removing prelates and bishops who had obtained their offices by simony or bribery, suspending priests guilty of concubinage, fighting against the investiture of ecclesiastical benefices by temporal rulers.

For “causing such a stir”, as Pope Francis would say, Pope Gregory’s enemies arrested him during midnight Mass one Christmas eve, wounded him and had him imprisoned. He was rescued by the good people of Rome, who loved the Pope deeply for his holiness and concern for the Church. Later, The Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV forced Pope Gregory into exile and called for a new Papal election, where the anti-Pope Clement XIII was elected. The holy, courageous Pope Gregory died in exile, as the collect said, “rejecting evil, that the Church may be free to carry out in charity whatever is right.”

Though the lay investiture controversy has been resolved, the Church continues to face hostility from worldly powers for preaching the Gospel, particularly the truths contained in the Gospel today. Our Blessed Lord, in teaching about divorce, calls humanity back to God’s original plan for the family, as found in the first chapters of the book of Genesis.

Our Lord’s clear teaching is not popular in our culture today, but we continue to see the devastating effects the rejection of the biblical vision has on our society. Pope Francis has undertaken this topic repeatedly over the years, even speaking of gender theory and gender politics as a global war against the family.

He says “Today, there is a global war trying to destroy marriage… they don’t destroy it with weapons, but with ideas… we have to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.”

Pope Francis has received backlash for proclaiming the Gospel, as have many good priests and catechists at the local levels. Sadly, even many Catholics don’t see anything wrong with the legalization of same-sex marriage, or these gender ideologes which deny that humans come in two genders, male and female. We see Catholic politicians on the national and local levels acting as agents for error-ridden gender politics.

So, we pray for the fortitude of the Saints, like Pope Saint Gregory, to “reject” all of the evils and errors of our day: the moral confusion, the attitudes and ideologies that undermine the good of families and the health and holiness of Christian marriages.

Free from error, may we come to carry out in charity all that is right for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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For the Holy Father’s prayer intention for the month of May that the lay-faithful may fulfill their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.

That Politicians and government officials may look to the law of Christ to guide their work for the good of nations and the human race, especially for the protection of the unborn.

For all married couples, that they may be faithful to the Gospel in every dimension of their married life , and for troubled marriages, that all spouses may practice patience and authentic charity toward each other and their children.

For our young people beginning summer vacation, that they may be kept safe from the errors of our culture and kept in close friendship with Jesus through prayer and acts of mercy.

For all the needs of the sick and the suffering, the homebound, those in nursing homes and hospitals, the underemployed and unemployed, immigrants and refugees, victims of natural disaster, war, and terrorism, for all those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and those who will die today, for their comfort, and the consolation of their families.

For all who have died, and for all the poor souls in purgatory, and for X. for whom this Mass is offered.

Incline your merciful ear to our prayers, we ask, O Lord, and listen in kindness to the supplications of those who call on you. Through Christ our Lord

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

7th Week of Easter 2018 - Tuesday - The High Priest's Love for God and Man

There are many titles applied to Jesus throughout the Scriptures: he is the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God, the Son of Man.  He is also called the High Priest.  Each title focuses on a particular aspect of who Jesus is and what that means for us.  Today’s Gospel is from the final section of Jesus’ farewell discourse known as his High Priestly Prayer.

Jesus turns from addressing the apostles and begins addressing the Father, praying that his Father might be glorified in what he is about to do: namely his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and that his disciples might receive eternal life through it.

In his High Priestly prayer Jesus opens a window into his relationship with His Father. The Father glorifies the Son, and the Son glorifies the Father. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father through his humble self-sacrifice. Jesus reveals the nature of God, that “God is love”, a reality St. John will reflect upon in his first New Testament Letter. Jesus reveals the inner nature of God and simultaneously calls his disciples to the same highest, purist form of self-giving. God’s life is to become our life, our lives must become characterized by divine love.

Whether you are an ordained priest,  a homeless beggar, a widow, or a farmer, like St. Isidore, whom the Church honors today, we are called to a life which glorifies God, a life in which the love that exists between the Father and the Son increasingly characterizes our own life.

Love isn’t easy. Love involves embracing suffering for the good of others, it involves self-sacrifice for those who have no way of repaying you. But by practicing this form of Christ-like love, our souls expand, our life obtains the purpose for which it was created.

Today each of us are called to bring God to others and bring others to God. God is to be glorified in us by accomplishing the work that God has given us to do, to bring others to believe in the one that God sent for our salvation.

May the entirety of our lives—our thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes, all be conformed this day to Jesus Our High Priest for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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For Catholics in all walks of life, that we may glorify God through our daily labors in service of the Lord.

Through the intercession of St. Isidore, we pray for farmers, day laborers, and those who work by the sweat of their brow, that they may receive a just reward for their laborers, and for the unemployed and underemployed.

That spouses may help each other to grow rich in the treasures of heaven, and all those preparing for Holy Matrimony may do so rightly and chastely in the eyes of God.

That all families may seek to model themselves after the Holy Family and always know their guidance and protection.

For the sick, the suffering, the lonely, and the dying, that they may know the consolation of the grace of God.

For the deceased members of our family, friends, and parish, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, and for all those who have fought and died for our nation’s freedom.

Monday, May 14, 2018

May 14 2018 - St. Matthias - Counterbalancing evil

Matthias is mentioned only once in the entire New Testament—that short passage in the Acts of the Apostles describing the resplendent hour when he was chosen as an apostle.

More than forty days had passed since the unforgettable events of Holy Week.  The eleven were no doubt still astonished by all that took place.  The Lord had risen just as he said he would; the Resurrected Lord had appeared to them multiple times.  He had just Ascended into heaven and promised that the Holy Spirit would descend upon them.

The eleven decided that they had to replace Judas.  So Matthias became the first apostle chosen after the death of the crucified Lord.  One author said, “the dead branch of Judas had to be broken away from the living vine of Christ, that Matthias might be grafted in its place.  What Judas squandered was now entrusted to Matthias; what Judas should have accomplished was now to be completed by Matthias.”

In a reflection on these events, Pope Benedict wrote: “He was enrolled with the eleven apostles.  We know nothing else about him, if not that he had been a witness to all Jesus’ earthly events, remaining faithful to him to the end.  To the greatness of his fidelity was added the divine call to take the place of Judas, almost compensating for his betrayal” and “we draw from this a final lesson: while there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.”

To counterbalance scandal and betrayal by clear witness to Jesus.

In an age, when we have no lack of Christians who have abandoned the commandments, the clear witness of the faithful is needed.  To counterbalance their apathy and listlessness, we go forth to bear good fruit.  To counterbalance their idolatry of worldly vices, we fast, do penance, and purify our heavenly worship. To counterbalance materialism, we practice generous self-giving. Pope Francis himself said recently, that we must heed the call to offer the total commitment of our lives to Christ in order to be a “counterbalance to evil.”

Jesus chose the twelve personally.  But he also chose Matthias through the apostles.  And he has chosen us to be clear witnesses in this twenty-first century of the Church, to be a source of goodness the world so desperately needs.

Through the example and prayerful intercession of the Apostle Matthias, may we also be faithful to this divine call of ours and bear good fruit for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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May we join the Holy Apostles in our prayer for the world and the Church.
As the Apostles witnessed to the Resurrection of the Lord, may we be his witnesses to the farthest corners of the world.
For the bishops, the successors of the apostles: That they may be courageous in stirring up the flame of faith and defending the Church from error.
For all of the sick and suffering, especially victims of natural disaster, poverty, and addiction, may they be comforted and supported by God’s healing love. We pray to the Lord.
For all who long to see the face of the Father, for all our departed loved ones and all of the souls in purgatory, and for N. for whom this Mass is offered. We pray to the Lord.
Incline your merciful ear to our prayers, we ask, O Lord, and listen in kindness to the supplications of those who call on you. Through Christ our Lord

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Ascension Sunday 2018 - The divine stamp of gaurentee

Years ago, a Catholic missionary was preaching in the open square of a village in North India.
As he finished, a Muslim man approached him and said: "You must admit: we Muslims have one thing you Christians have not, and it is better than anything you have." The missionary smiled and said, "I should be pleased to hear what it is." The Muslim went on, "You know, that when Muslims make pilgrimage to Mecca, to the burial place of Muhammed, we have our founder’s coffin, his body to venerate to embolden us. But when you Christians go to Jerusalem, your Mecca, you find nothing but an empty grave."

The Missionary replied, "Ah ha! But that's just it, and it makes all the difference. Mohammad, the founder of Islam, is dead, and he is in his coffin. But our Leader has risen from the dead and returned to heaven."

As Christians, we don't just believe in a philosophy or a theology, we believe in a person, a Savior, a God who is alive and who has brought our own human nature into heaven.

There is however an ancient monument on the Mount of Olives. When Christ Ascended into heaven, he left his footprints in the rock of Mount Olivet. You can visit this spot, or see an image of Christ’s footprints on the internet. Our faith isn’t based on wishful thinking, but on real events which we have received from the apostolic tradition.

The reconciliation of humanity and divinity was pleaded for and longed for in ancient Israel. From the Old Testament we know of an ancient Jewish practice which foreshadowed the Ascension.  Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple. He would pass through a huge, thick, ancient curtain into the Holy of Holies symbolizing the throne of God in heaven. There the High Priest would offer the sacrifice of atonement, pleading to God to forgive the sins of humanity which separates man from God.

In his Ascension, Christ goes to the true eternal Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of the universe, heaven itself. Christ, who is both the atoning sacrifice and the priest, He has brought fallen, and now, redeemed humanity to heaven.

The Ascension is the stamp of guarantee that humanity is redeemed, and has a place in heaven. And no other religion makes that claim. And this is why we are bold as we go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t based in wishful thinking. It isn’t based in fairy tales.
Christianity isn’t man’s best attempt at religion. It isn’t man’s word about God, it’s God’s word about man. God Himself offers the Divine Guarantee, that following Christ leads to everlasting life.
And so bearing witness to Christ, to his message and the power of his goodness: this is our primary mission on earth. Before he ascended, Jesus didn't say, “Enjoy yourselves. And if you have time, go to church once and a while.”  No! He said, "Go be my witnesses to all the nations."

We are each called to witness in different ways. God calls some to witness as priests. He calls some to consecrate their lives as full-time missionaries. Others are called to be leaven in the world, transforming culture from within, either as humble workers or as great leaders. But each of us God tasks to bear witness to Him by allowing the Christian faith to permeate every dimension of our life, ever relationship. And, until this mission becomes our highest priority in life, until it becomes more important than sports, than bank accounts and stock markets, more important that receiving the adulation of our neighbors for a fine-kept lawn or a new car, until the Gospel is our highest priority we will experience an interior restlessness that nothing will cure.

For, we were created to live in friendship with God, and that means sharing in God's projects. And his project in this fallen world is "that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in Jesus’ name to all the nations". May we grow in our faithfulness to this mission.

On this Ascension Sunday we also honor our mothers on this Mother’s Day. We thank our Mothers for all of their sacrifices, with flowers and chocolates, cards and kind words, praises and prayers. But we acknowledge that the best way of honoring them is by becoming the people God made us to be; for they bore us in their wombs, that we may become bearers of God’s Word to all nations, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.




Friday, May 11, 2018

6th Week of Easter 2018 - Friday - Childbirth and New Spiritual Life

Jesus explained to the Apostles that their experience of his absence will sometimes feel like the sufferings of childbirth.

Now, none of the Apostles had ever experienced the pains of childbirth, themselves; but no doubt, they knew it to be one of the most intensely painful human experiences.

So when Jesus says, following me will bring you intense pain and grief, you wonder why the apostles stuck around! Well, yes, as the Lord taught, there would be pain and grief and suffering, but all that would seem like nothing, like a distant memory, compared to the joy to follow.

The Apostles would truly experience great suffering. They would see their Lord and Master crucified, in what appeared to be ultimate defeat. Then they would experience the feeling of abandonment following the Lord’s Ascension. And then in their work for the spread of the Gospel around the world, we know they would undergo terrible sufferings for the sake of the Gospel. They would face persecution in nearly every corner of the earth.

Jesus’ words at the Last Supper give the Church hope. That our sufferings for the sake of the Gospel meaning something—that the suffering indeed furthers the Gospel and brings salvation to souls lost in error and sin.

The example of a woman in labor was a common biblical image for the end of days. Just as a woman is in anguish as she gives birth, so also the Church experiences anguish throughout history. But once the baby is born, the mother no longer remembers the pain but is filled with joy. Similarly, the Church’s grief will pass away, and be transformed into joy over the new life experienced through Christ.

As is often the case in pregnancy, our work for the Gospel may be marked by great stress. Under these circumstances, we will be pressured to terminate the new life the Holy Spirit wishes to create in us. We will be tempted to seek escape from the hard work through various pleasurable distractions.

Today begins the annual Pentecost Novena. Nine days of prayer perhaps corresponding to the nine months of pregnancy, itself symbolic of the whole of the Christian life. Let us pray fervently these nine days, turning to God in times of stress, nurturing the new spiritual life God wishes to bring to birth in us, knowing that all we suffer for His sake will be transformed into joy for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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That through the preaching and teaching of the Church and all that she suffers, all people will come to recognize Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

That those charged with civil authority will show Christian compassion to the poor and marginalized, particularly for the safety and defense of the unborn.

For all Christian families: that the mercy, purity, and peace of Jesus will reign in their hearts and homes.

That the Church may cooperate with God’s grace for a flowering of new spiritual life during this Pentecost Novena.

For the sick, the suffering, those in nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice care, for the underemployed and unemployed, for the imprisoned, those with addictions, for those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and those who will die today, that the Spirit of Consolation may comfort them.

For the deceased members of our families, friends and parish, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, for all those who fought and died for our freedom.

O God, who know that our life in this present age is subject to suffering and need, hear the prayers of those who cry to you and receive the prayers of those who believe in you. Through Christ our Lord.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

6th Week of Easter 2018 - Thursday - What does it mean...

40 days ago, we celebrated the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday.  And 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended to the right hand of his Father in heaven.  Traditionally, the Feast of the Ascension, a holy day of obligation, was celebrated today, as Ascension Thursday.
In most of the dioceses of the United States, including Cleveland, the liturgical feast has been transferred to the following Sunday.

So we have a few extra days to ponder along with the Apostles in the Gospel today: “What does this mean that he is saying to us, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?"

We do well to ponder these questions, to ask, what meaning does the Ascension of Jesus have to my life? How is my life to be different because of it? How can I help others come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of this event in salvation history? What impact does it have on my Christian faith? On my Christian Hope? On my Christian Love?

Jesus’ Ascension should fill us with deep joy. For it is a sign of his victory, his faithfulness to the mission given to Him by His Father. It is a sign that his earthly mission of saving souls and starting Church was complete. He did it!

This event impacts our Faith: because of his Ascension, the Lord is not bound by time and space, he is not limited by geographical distance, we do not have to travel to Galilee to know the closeness and presence of the Lord Jesus.

The Ascension fills us with Hope. That he goes to prepare a place for us, as he promised. I can really HOPE to be with God in heaven, because the faithful son, has gone there to prepare a place for us.
And the Ascension should fill us with deep love: love for God for His mighty works, for the revelation of His goodness, for the blessings that flow from it.

For as we heard earlier this week, the Lord ascends to heaven, so that the Holy Spirit might be sent upon the whole Church. So the Ascension enables us to be filled with the supernatural burning charity of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow is nine days until Pentecost. The Apostles gathered for nine days of prayer, after Ascension Thursday, with the blessed Mother, before they received the gift of the Spirit—this was the first novena. We do well to join with them, in the Pentecost novena (praymorenovenas.com), as a way of honoring the Ascension and disposing ourselves to the Gifts that come through God’s Almighty Plan, for the building up of the Church, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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That all bishops, priests, catechists, and parents may be faithful in preaching and teaching the saving Gospel of Christ.

For those who do not believe in God and for those who have fallen away from the Church.

For an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit among all Christians, and for all who are persecuted for the faith.

For the sick, the suffering, those in nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice care, for the underemployed and unemployed, for the imprisoned, those with addictions, for those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and those who will die today, that the Spirit of Consolation may comfort them.

For the deceased members of our families, friends and parish, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, for all those who fought and died for our freedom.

O God, who know that our life in this present age is subject to suffering and need, hear the prayers of those who cry to you and receive the prayers of those who believe in you. Through Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

6th Week of Easter 2018 - Tuesday - Convicting the World

The Gospel of John’s account of the Last Supper is quite different from the other Gospels. For one, St. John omits the institution of the Eucharist and includes the washing of the Apostles’ feet.  John’s Last Supper is also a much longer text, spanning several chapters compared to just a few verses in other Gospels. And this is so, principally because it contains what scholars call Jesus’ Farewell Discourse in which Jesus delivers one of the most moving, theologically rich, and mystical passages in the whole New Testament.

Jesus’s Farewell follows the example of the farewell speeches of the great men and women from the Old Testament: people like Jacob, Moses, David, Tobit, Noah, Rebecca, Isaac, and Enoch.
Addressing those who are closest to them, they speak about their impending deaths, and offer comfort in the face of the grief their announcement produces.  They promise how God’s care and God’s saving plan will continue. And they leave instructions on how those left behind should behave.

Jesus’ farewell discourse fits this pattern well: he speaks about his coming crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. Jesus certainly offers instructions for his disciples, as well: they are to love one another, by following his example of humble self-sacrificial service.

Today we hear how news of Jesus’ going to the Father so fills the disciples hearts that they are rendered speechless. Jesus makes the astonishing claim that it is better that he goes than if he stayed. Because the sending of the Spirit will usher in a brand-new chapter in God’s Saving Plan in which the world will become convicted for the Gospel.

The Spirit Advocate, like a defense attorney, will prove the case for Jesus Christ. He will defend Christ’s claim to be God, to be the Messiah, to be the Savior. This great court case will play out over the remainder of human history, and the evidence with which the Spirit will use to prove the case, is us, the Church.

You want to know Jesus is Lord? Look at what the Spirit has done throughout human history and continues to do. Look at the Saints he has produced. Look at the miracles he has accomplished and continues to accomplish. Look at the Courage He inspires and the consolation he brings to the suffering.

To those with eyes, let them see, the work of the Spirit. May each of us cooperate as well as we can with the Spirit, that others may come to know the evidence of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, working in our life.

May He continue to use us to convict the world that Jesus is Lord, for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

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That all bishops, priests, catechists, and parents may be faithful in preaching and teaching the saving Gospel of Christ.
For those who do not believe in God and for those who have fallen away from the Church.
For an increase in the gifts of the Holy Spirit among all Christians, and for all who are persecuted for the faith.
For the sick, the suffering, those in nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice care, for the underemployed and unemployed, for the imprisoned, those with addictions, for those who grieve the loss of a loved one, and those who will die today, that the Spirit of Consolation may comfort them.
For the deceased members of our families, friends and parish, for all of the poor souls in purgatory, for all those who fought and died for our freedom.
O God, who know that our life in this present age is subject to suffering and need, hear the prayers of those who cry to you and receive the prayers of those who believe in you. Through Christ our Lord.