Living a holy life: Reflections on Today’s Sunday Mass Readings

Today’s Sun­day Mass read­ings have sev­eral themes. We will talk about two of those key themes in depth.

1. Reject­ing a life of sin and turn­ing to God

Excerpt from the first reading:

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call Him while He is near.
Let the scoundrel for­sake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is gen­er­ous in for­giv­ing. …” ~ Isa­iah 55: 6–8

It is impor­tant to turn away from sin now. “… Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of sal­va­tion.” (2 Corinthi­ans 6:2) One should not per­sist in sin or assume that he or she will have time to turn away from sin later. First of all, sin is an offense against God. Sec­ondly, it dam­ages our soul and dis­tances us from God. What if a per­son dies before finally choos­ing to turn away from sin? By per­sist­ing in sin, a per­son risks spend­ing eter­nity in hell or at the very least, the per­son might have to spend time in Pur­ga­tory before enter­ing the glory of Heaven.

Fur­ther­more, the Holy Scrip­tures say that Christ’s Final Return, His Sec­ond Com­ing, will come “like a thief in the night” (1 Thes­sa­lo­ni­ans 5:2). Some­one who is per­sist­ing in a life of sin will not be pre­pared when Jesus returns.

 As soon as we real­ize that we have sinned, we should be sorry for offend­ing God by sin­ning and then seek His for­give­ness. One can imme­di­ately say the Act of Con­tri­tion prayer and then go to Con­fes­sion as soon as pos­si­ble.  Then we should begin or con­tinue a life of prayer start­ing with the daily Rosary in order to stay free from sin, grow in holi­ness, and live in a state of grace.

2. Work­ing for the sal­va­tion of souls (Evangelization)

Excerpt from the Gospel reading:

Jesus told His dis­ci­ples this para­ble: ‘The king­dom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire his labor­ers for the vineyard. …

And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did like­wise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found oth­ers stand­ing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into My vine­yard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vine­yard said to his fore­man, ‘Sum­mon the labor­ers and give them their pay …’ ” ~Matthew 20 (1, 5–8)

 

Jesus is the landowner who gives each per­son a task to com­plete dur­ing life. This task is meant to be our means of per­sonal sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and the sal­va­tion of oth­ers around us. All our work should be ori­ented towards the glory of God and the sal­va­tion of souls. We are all work­ers in Jesus’ vine­yard. Some peo­ple are priests or reli­gious (nuns, sis­ters, broth­ers) and oth­ers are lay peo­ple (mar­ried or sin­gle). We all have a unique role to play in the evan­ge­liza­tion of the world. We must be ambas­sadors of Christ who by our actions and words bring oth­ers to Jesus Christ so that they might have eter­nal life.

Prayer must be the source of strength for all our work. Prayer is also in itself a form of work. We must pray each day for guid­ance in our work and specif­i­cally for the con­ver­sion of sin­ners and the sal­va­tion of souls.

On an indi­vid­ual level, the ‘evening’ as men­tioned in the para­ble can refer to the end of one’s earthly life. At the same time, on a larger scale, the ‘evening’ as men­tioned in the para­ble, refers to the end of the world and the final Judg­ment when Jesus returns and rewards each per­son accord­ing to how they spent their time on earth.

 “Look, I am com­ing soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to each per­son accord­ing to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Begin­ning and the End.”~ Rev­e­la­tion 22: 12–13

 

Let us all strive to turn away from sin, lead lives of holi­ness, and to work for the sal­va­tion of souls!

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The Word of God

 

God spoke and the world and the uni­verse existed. By His pow­er­ful Word, He brought forth all things. He has spo­ken to human­ity in many ways through­out time. He speaks silently and unceas­ingly through His Creation.

He has also spo­ken to human­ity through the Holy Bible for it is truly His Word. God’s Word is a pow­er­ful source of instruc­tion, wis­dom, strength, peace, joy, encour­age­ment, hope, and guidance.

12 For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pen­e­trates even to divid­ing soul and spirit, joints and mar­row; it judges the thoughts and atti­tudes of the heart.~Hebrews 4:12

But He answered and said, “It is writ­ten, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro­ceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” ~Matthew 4:4

I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your Word. … 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your pre­cepts I get under­stand­ing; There­fore I hate every false way.105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.~ Psalm 119: 100–105

Fur­ther­more, it is impor­tant to be recep­tive and well-disposed to hear the Word of God so that His Word will bear fruit in our lives. The Para­ble of the Sower from last Sunday’s Gospel read­ing empha­sizes this point.

Excerpt from the Para­ble of the Sower:
” ‘A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had lit­tle soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it with­ered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and pro­duced fruit,
a hun­dred or sixty or thir­ty­fold.
Who­ever has ears ought to hear.’ 

… ‘Hear then the para­ble of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the king­dom with­out under­stand­ing it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribu­la­tion or per­se­cu­tion comes because of the word, he imme­di­ately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anx­i­ety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and under­stands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hun­dred or sixty or thir­ty­fold.” ~Matthew 13

The Word of God in our daily lives

Make time in your day to read the Bible to be nour­ished spir­i­tu­ally, and grow in faith, knowl­edge, and love of God.

Prayer

One can even incor­po­rate the word of God into daily prayer such as pray­ing the Scrip­tural Rosary. The Scrip­tural Rosary pro­vides a Bible verse to think about as you pray each Hail Mary accord­ing to the par­tic­u­lar mys­tery. For exam­ple, one of the scrip­tures pro­vided for the Third Joy­ful mys­tery (The Birth of Jesus) is: “Today in the town of David, a Sav­ior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

The Liturgy of the Hours is another form of prayer which is based on the Holy Scrip­tures– espe­cially the Psalms.

Apply­ing the Word of God to our lives

Once we know the word of God, we must then obey His word and put the word of God into prac­tice in our lives. In fact, it is through obe­di­ence to God that He fills us with His grace, strength and wis­dom to enable us to live holy lives in the midst of var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions and cir­cum­stances. Obe­di­ence to God’s Word comes from love of God.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hear­ers only …~James 1: 22

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoic­ing the heart;
The com­mand­ment of the Lord is pure, enlight­en­ing the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, endur­ing for­ever;
The judg­ments of the Lord are true and right­eous alto­gether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the hon­ey­comb.
11 More­over by them Your ser­vant is warned,
And in keep­ing them there is great reward.”~Psalm 19: 8–11

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” ~ John 14:23

The Holy Mass

Dur­ing the Holy Mass, we receive Christ, who is God,  in Word and Sacra­ment. Dur­ing the Liturgy of the Word, we hear pas­sages of the Bible. It is God Him­self who always speaks to our hearts through the Bible pas­sages. Let us give due respect and honor to the Word of God dur­ing the Holy Mass. For exam­ple, it is nec­es­sary to arrive early or on time to Mass in order to hear God’s Word. Fur­ther­more, we must lis­ten atten­tively in order to under­stand His Word and apply what we learn to our daily lives. We should lis­ten atten­tively to the priest’s homily because Jesus works through the priest to help us under­stand His Word and apply it to our daily lives. (Note: Using elec­tronic devices or even read­ing the Church bul­letin dur­ing Mass are dis­trac­tions which pre­vent a per­son from hon­or­ing and under­stand­ing His Word.)

Dur­ing the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we truly receive Jesus in Holy Com­mu­nion. We receive Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity in Holy Communion.

Jesus is the Word who became flesh through the Incarnation.

In the begin­ning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the begin­ning with God. All things were made through Him, and with­out Him noth­ing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the dark­ness, and the dark­ness did not com­pre­hend[a] it. . … 14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1: 1–5,14

Thus, we receive the “Word become flesh” in Holy Communion.

May the Word of God bring you peace, con­so­la­tion, joy, hope, guid­ance, and knowl­edge of God. May His Word enrich and trans­form your lives so that you grow in holi­ness every day!

 

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Trust in God

 

Trust in God is an essen­tial virtue that comes from faith in God. Trust in God frees us from fear, worry, and anx­i­ety. Thus, trust­ing God is essen­tial for true and endur­ing peace of heart, hope, and perseverance.

Since our lives are full of joys as well as strug­gles, we must strive to per­se­vere in trust­ing God espe­cially when it is the most difficult.

It helps to fre­quently recall that God is the Cre­ator of the Uni­verse who also cre­ated each one of us. By His pow­er­ful Word, He brought all life into exis­tence and con­tin­ues to sus­tain all liv­ing things. He is all-mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. The dis­ci­ples learned a les­son about trust­ing God when their boat was caught in a storm.

23 Then He got into the boat and His dis­ci­ples fol­lowed Him. 24 Sud­denly a furi­ous storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleep­ing. 25 The dis­ci­ples went and woke Him, say­ing, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of lit­tle faith, why are you so afraid?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was com­pletely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!”

God is infi­nitely pow­er­ful. Since Jesus is God, He has power over all things includ­ing nature. It is God who con­stantly helps us in all of our needs. “Behold God is my helper, the Lord is the one who sus­tains me.” (Psalm 54:4) We should bring to God all of our trou­bles, cares, prob­lems, and needs, and He will help us. 

We can also trust Him because He loves us. Since He loves us, He knows and does what is best for each one of us in light of eter­nity. In other words, He takes into account what will bring us closer to Him and thus be for our eter­nal sal­va­tion and that of others.

Here are some Bible pas­sage about trust­ing God:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose con­fi­dence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no wor­ries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”~ Jere­miah 17: 7–8

Why, my soul, are you down­cast? Why so dis­turbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Sav­ior and my God.” ~Psalm 42:11

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may over­flow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:13

You will keep in per­fect peace
    those whose minds are stead­fast,
    because they trust in You.” ~Isa­iah 26:3

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from Him.
6 Truly He is my rock and my sal­va­tion;
 He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My sal­va­tion and my honor depend on God;
 He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in Him at all times, you peo­ple;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.”~ Psalm 62: 5–8

… The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts. I was helped, my heart rejoices. …”~Psalm 28: 6–7

 May you grow in holi­ness as you trust in God each day!

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The Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus

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The Solem­nity of the Ascen­sion of Jesus is cel­e­brated on the for­ti­eth day after Easter Sun­day, the Thurs­day after the Sixth Sun­day of Easter. How­ever, some Catholic provinces observe the Solem­nity of the Ascen­sion on the Sun­day after the Sixth Sun­day of Easter. Some dio­ce­ses observed this Solem­nity on May 29th and oth­ers cel­e­brated this Solem­nity yes­ter­day (June 1st).
 
 This Solem­nity hon­ors the day of Jesus’  bod­ily ascen­sion into Heaven forty days after  His Resurrection.
 
From the Mass Read­ings for the Ascen­sion of Jesus:
 
Excerpt from the First Reading:
“In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day He was taken up,
after giv­ing instruc­tions through the Holy Spirit
to the apos­tles whom He had cho­sen.
He pre­sented him­self alive to them
by many proofs after He had suf­fered,
appear­ing to them dur­ing forty days
and speak­ing about the king­dom of God. …

When they had gath­ered together they asked Him,
‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the king­dom to Israel?’ He answered them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or sea­sons that the Father has estab­lished by His own author­ity.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My wit­nesses in Jerusalem,
through­out Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.’

When He had said this, as they were look­ing on,
He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.
While they were look­ing intently at the sky as He was going,
sud­denly two men dressed in white gar­ments stood beside them.
They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you stand­ing there look­ing at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen Him going into heaven.’ ”~Acts 1:1–11
Gospel Read­ing:
” The eleven dis­ci­ples went to Galilee,
to the moun­tain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw Him, they wor­shiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.
Go, there­fore, and make dis­ci­ples of all nations,
bap­tiz­ing them in the Name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teach­ing them to observe all that I have com­manded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world.’ “~ Matthew 28:16–20
 
 This cel­e­bra­tion of this Solem­nity rekin­dles in us the zeal to: evan­ge­lize the world, pre­pare for the Sec­ond Com­ing of Jesus, and have a lively hope of eter­nal life with God.
 
We are reminded that every Chris­t­ian is called to evan­ge­lize– to bring the news of sal­va­tion to the ends of the earth. Wher­ever you are on earth, you are called to evan­ge­lize, to spread the word that Jesus Christ is the Sav­ior of the world and that through Him, there is the for­give­ness of sins and the hope of ever­last­ing life! It is impor­tant to remem­ber that evan­ge­liza­tion begins right where you are– in your home, with your friends, fam­ily, and peo­ple in your com­mu­nity. God strate­gi­cally places peo­ple through­out the world in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, states of life (priests, reli­gious, laypeo­ple), and pro­fes­sions in order to work through them to bring about the con­ver­sion of sin­ners and the ulti­mate sal­va­tion of souls.
 
We are reminded that we must pre­pare for the Sec­ond Com­ing of Jesus.  Jesus will return. Only God the Father knows the day and the hour, but we must live lives of holi­ness so that when He returns, He will find us ready to meet Him. To grow in holi­ness, we must turn away from sin and seek God more than ever by daily prayer, fre­quent Con­fes­sion (once a week or once a month), attend­ing Mass daily or fre­quently or at least every Sun­day includ­ing receiv­ing Holy Com­mu­nion. We must also pre­pare for Jesus’ Sec­ond Com­ing by doing works of char­ity and mercy. It is impor­tant to note that the great­est work of char­ity is bring­ing oth­ers to Jesus that they too may be saved and have eter­nal life. Fur­ther­more, we must resolve to serve God in all we do.
 
“For in just a lit­tle while,
  He who is com­ing will come
    and will not delay.”
 ~Hebrews 10:37
 
We are reminded that we have the hope of eter­nal life. God Him­self offers us eter­nal life!
 
When Jesus  ascended into Heaven, He returned to God His Father. By the mer­its of Jesus’ death on the cross and glo­ri­ous res­ur­rec­tion, we too can spend eter­nity with God in Heaven at the end of our earthly lives. God wants us to spend eter­nity with Him in Heaven after our earthly lives. It is we who can choose eter­nal life with Him by the way we live our earthly lives.
 
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that who­ever believes in Him should not per­ish but have eter­nal life.”~John 3:16
 
“See, I set before you today life and pros­per­ity, death and destruc­tion. 16 For I com­mand you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obe­di­ence to Him, and to keep His com­mands, decrees and laws; then you will live …” ~Deuteron­omy 30: 15–16
 
*It is not enough to know about Jesus, but we must also have faith in Him, love Him, and serve Him.  The way that we show our love for Jesus, who is God, is by being obe­di­ent to Him and putting what He said into prac­tice in our lives.
 
 Obey­ing God means that we strive to serve God in accord with His will for our lives. Obey­ing God also means that we must turn away from sin. It is impor­tant to recall that sin is an offense against God. We must ask for God’s grace to turn away from sin because we do not want to offend God whom we love and because com­mit­ting sin can put the soul in dan­ger of spend­ing eter­nity in Hell. When we real­ize the we have sinned, we must first remem­ber that God is mer­ci­ful! He will for­give us through the Sacra­ment of Con­fes­sion (Penance or Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion) if we are truly sorry for our sins and desire to amend our lives.
 
 
May the Ascen­sion of Jesus renew your zeal to bring oth­ers to Christ, to pre­pare for Jesus’ Sec­ond Com­ing, and to hope for eter­nal life!
 
 
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Matthew 5:14,16

 Holiday Candle

 

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill can­not be hid. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before oth­ers, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.                                                                                                                                                                               Matthew 5:14,16                                                                                                                                                                                 

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Divine Mercy Sunday 2014: The Love and Mercy of God

Tomor­row, April 27th,  is the Feast of Divine Mercy also known as Divine Mercy Sun­day! In our own mod­ern times, Jesus gave St. Faustina Kowal­ska of Poland the mis­sion of mak­ing His Divine Mercy bet­ter known on earth. He told St. Faustina to have this feast insti­tuted in the Church.

Jesus told St. Faustina that any­one who receives Holy Com­mu­nion on the Feast of Divine Mercy and goes to Con­fes­sion on the Feast of Divine Mercy or within the 8 days before or after it, will obtain com­plete for­give­ness of sins (includ­ing all pun­ish­ment asso­ci­ated with those sins).

Jesus told St. Faustina Kowalska:

When you go to Con­fes­sion know this, that I Myself am wait­ing for you in the Con­fes­sional; I am only hid­den by the priest, but I myself act in the soul. Here the mis­ery of the soul meets the God of Mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the ves­sel of trust. If their trust is great there is no limit to my gen­eros­ity” (Diary of St. Faustina Kowal­ska, VI, 6–7).

*For infor­ma­tion on how to make a good Con­fes­sion go to our post:

The Great Sacra­ment of Con­fes­sion (Reconciliation)

 

He  gave St. Faustina the Chap­let of Divine Mercy to be prayed daily (espe­cially at 3pm) and other prayers such as the Divine Mercy Novena.

Chap­let of Divine Mercy (video)

How to pray the Chap­let of Divine Mercy

 

In addi­tion, He told her to keep a diary (The Diary of St. Faustina Kowal­ska) and to have a paint­ing made of the Divine Mercy image, a like­ness of the way He had appeared to her.

Jesus of Divine Mercy

The words “Jesus, I Trust in You.” are at the bot­tom of the image and red and blue rays of light are com­ing out from the Sacred Heart of Jesus as one of His pierced Hands offers a bless­ing and the other points to His Sacred Heart. The words remind us that we need to trust in Jesus. The red and blue rays of light rep­re­sent the water and blood that gushed forth from His Sacred Heart when a sol­dier pierced His side with a lance while He was on the cross (Gospel of St. John). He endured His Pas­sion and death on the cross because of His Love for us so that through all His suf­fer­ing, He could merit the for­give­ness of all the sins of mankind. This was the great­est act of God’s Mercy!

The Divine Mercy of Jesus image reminds us that God’s Love and Mercy are con­nected. Some­times we have a dis­torted view of God’s Love (due to expe­ri­ences of imper­fect human love), so it is hard for us to really believe He loves us and to then accept His Mercy. Out of His love, He pours forth grace and mercy upon us.

Friends, God does loves us so much with a love that is intense, infi­nite, per­fect, and pure. It is because of His great love that He is mer­ci­ful towards us, His beloved children. 

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures for­ever.” ~Psalm 107:1

The Lord is gra­cious and full of com­pas­sion, slow to anger and great in mercy.” ~Psalm 145:8

Though your sins are like scar­let,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crim­son,  they shall be like wool.”~ Isa­iah 1:18

Surely good­ness and mercy shall fol­low me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”~Psalm 23:6

Divine Mercy and the Holy Eucharist

He pours out His grace and mercy chiefly through the Holy Eucharist (The Holy Mass, Holy Com­mu­nion, Ado­ra­tion of the Blessed Sacra­ment) as well as through the other Sacra­ments (i.e. Con­fes­sion). It is impor­tant to note that on one occa­sion, St. Faustina saw the blue and red rays com­ing forth from the Blessed Sacra­ment. This can help us to rec­og­nize that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.

Works of Mercy

Jesus also told St. Faustina that, like Him, we should be mer­ci­ful to oth­ers and do works of mercy in order to be chan­nels or instru­ments of His Mercy towards others.

Divine Mercy and Jesus’ Sec­ond Coming

 Fur­ther­more, Jesus told St. Faustina that His rev­e­la­tions to her would have a spe­cial role in prepar­ing mankind for His Sec­ond Com­ing. The fol­low­ing quotes are from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska.

“Sec­re­tary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My jus­tice is near” (965).

Then I saw the Mother of God, who said to me … ‘I gave the Sav­ior to the world; as for you, you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and pre­pare the world for the Sec­ond Com­ing…’ ” (635).

“Write down these words, my daugh­ter. Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind rec­og­nize My unfath­omable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of jus­tice. While there is still time let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy … ” (848).

“Write: before I come as just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy” (1146).

“Today I am send­ing you with My mercy to the peo­ple of the whole world. I do not want to pun­ish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, press­ing it to My Mer­ci­ful Heart. I use pun­ish­ment when they them­selves force Me to do so; My hand is reluc­tant to take hold of the sword of jus­tice. Before the Day of Jus­tice I am send­ing the Day of Mercy “(1588).

Let us remem­ber to look for­ward to Jesus’ Sec­ond Com­ing with hope and trust and by liv­ing lives of holi­ness. Dur­ing every Mass, after the Our Father prayer, we are reminded of this when the priest prays,

Deliver us Lord from every evil and grant us peace in our days, that, by the help of your Mercy, we may always be free from sin and safe from all dis­tress, as we await the blessed hope and the com­ing of Our Sav­ior Jesus Christ.”

On this Divine Mercy Sun­day, run into the arms of your lov­ing Heav­enly Father, who is wait­ing and yearn­ing to embrace you! Then, go out into the world and do deeds of mercy to share His Mercy with oth­ers! Tell oth­ers of His great mercy that they too may return to God.

*For more infor­ma­tion on St. Faustina Kowal­ska and Jesus’ Divine Mercy mes­sages, the Chap­let of Divine Mercy, and the Divine Mercy image go to:

The Divine Mercy Devotion

 

 

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Easter: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Resurrection of Our Saviour Jesus Christ

 After the sab­bath, as the first day of the week was dawn­ing, Mary Mag­da­lene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And sud­denly there was a great earth­quake; for an angel of the Lord, descend­ing from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appear­ance was like light­ning, and his cloth­ing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are look­ing for Jesus who was cru­ci­fied. 6 He is not here; for He has been raised, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His dis­ci­ples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him.’ This is my mes­sage for you.”~Matthew 28:1–10

 Through His death and res­ur­rec­tion, Jesus has con­quered death and sin. Con­se­quently, He has opened the way for human­ity to come back to God and have eter­nal life. Fur­ther­more, by ris­ing from the dead, He has shown that He is truly the Son of God.

The Church cel­e­brates the Res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus  for 50 days! For the next 50 days, let us reflect upon the Res­ur­rec­tion of Christ and be renewed in faith, hope, and love.

He is risen!

 

 

 

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The Meaning of Lent and Holy Week

imagesThe sea­son of Lent lasts 40 days begin­ning on Ash Wednes­day and end­ing on Holy Thurs­day (the Thurs­day of Holy Week). Today, April 17th is Holy Thurs­day.  In terms of Bib­li­cal sig­nif­i­cance, the sea­son of Lent is sim­i­lar to the forty days that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.

The Sea­son of Lent has four components:

  • Repen­tance and Conversion
  • Prayer and Penance
  • Fast­ing
  • Alms­giv­ing

Repen­tance and Conversion:

 ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fast­ing and weep­ing and mourn­ing.’ ” ~Joel 2:12

We are all called to repent and be con­verted every day of the year, but espe­cially dur­ing the Sea­son of Lent. We must thor­oughly exam­ine our lives–our thoughts, our actions, and our words to see in what ways we have sinned. After rec­og­niz­ing our sins, we must be sorry for hav­ing com­mit­ted them, and then resolve not to sin. God our Father loves us and is wait­ing for us to turn to Him. He wants to for­give us of our sins and shed his love and mercy upon our souls.  

In the Sacra­ment of Con­fes­sion, God Him­self for­gives us all our sins.  That is why Con­fes­sion is known as the Sacra­ment of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion (or the Sacra­ment of Penance).

Jesus told St. Faustina Kowalska:

“When you go to Con­fes­sion know this, that I Myself am wait­ing for you in the Con­fes­sional; I am only hid­den by the priest, but I myself act in the soul. Here the mis­ery of the soul meets the God of Mercy.Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the ves­sel of trust. If their trust is great there is no limit to my gen­eros­ity (VI, 6–7)”

Please, dur­ing this sea­son and dur­ing the whole year, go to Con­fes­sion as often as you can that you may be for­given your sins and grow closer to God. (Note: Accord­ing to the pre­cepts of the Church, all Catholics must go to Con­fes­sion at least one time per year.)

For more on Con­fes­sion, see the our blog post: “The Great Sacra­ment of Confession”

 Repen­tance means that we have to resolve to amend our lives so that we can con­tinue to grow in holi­ness. Con­ver­sion is the daily process by which we grow in holi­ness and grow closer to God.  The obser­vances of Lent are meant to help our hearts and souls to be con­verted so that we can be trans­formed into holier people.

Prayer and Penance:

Dur­ing the sea­son of Lent, peo­ple often give up some­thing or per­form more works of charity.

Peo­ple should resolve to pray more dur­ing this sea­son. For exam­ple, peo­ple make the Way of the Cross, pray the Holy Rosary, and make time for Ado­ra­tion of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacra­ment (Eucharis­tic Adoration). 

In prayer, we com­mu­ni­cate with God our lov­ing Father. Con­se­quently, the more we pray, the closer we come to God. Fur­ther­more, this sea­son is an oppor­tu­nity to develop a deep prayer life for the whole year.

Another aspect of Penance is to recall the suf­fer­ings that Jesus Christ endured for our sake in order to pay for the sins of mankind and rec­on­cile human­ity with God. For this is the rea­son that He allowed Him­self to suf­fer death on the Cross.  Fore­shad­ow­ing His death on the Cross, Jesus said,

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peo­ple to Myself.” (John 12:32)

It is impor­tant to rec­og­nize that Jesus Christ suf­fered death on the Cross to bring human­ity back to God–to make it pos­si­ble for us to come back to God.

Fast­ing:

On the Fri­days of Lent, Catholics ages 14 and older are not to eat meat (abstinence).

On Ash Wednes­day and Good Fri­day, Catholics ages 18 to 59 are sup­posed to fast and abstain from eat­ing meat. When fast­ing, a per­son can eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. 

*Note: There may be some vari­a­tion in fast­ing and absti­nence require­ments in dif­fer­ent countries.

The pur­pose of fast­ing is firstly to imi­tate Christ, prac­tice self-denial and dis­ci­pline, as well as to focus on God.

Alms­giv­ing:

We are also called to help those in need in a spe­cial way dur­ing this sea­son. Con­se­quently, many churches often have giv­ing projects dur­ing Lent to help the needy.

*Holy Week: Holy week is the week pre­ced­ing Easter which begins with Palm Sun­day and ends with Holy Sat­ur­day. Dur­ing Holy Week, the Church com­mem­o­rates the events lead­ing up to Jesus’ cru­ci­fix­ion, com­mem­o­rates His cru­ci­fix­ion and death, and eagerly awaits His Res­ur­rec­tion to be cel­e­brated on Easter Sunday.

The Triduum: Good Fri­day, Holy Sat­ur­day, and Easter Sunday

On Holy Thurs­day, we recall the Last Sup­per dur­ing which Jesus offered the first Mass. Dur­ing the Last Sup­per, Jesus insti­tuted the Holy Eucharist and the Sacra­ment of Holy Orders (the priest­hood).  We also recall Jesus’ agony in the Gar­den of Geth­se­mane, His betrayal by Judas and all that hap­pened the day before Jesus was cru­ci­fied. The three days fol­low­ing Holy Thurs­day are: Good Fri­day, Holy Sat­ur­day, and Easter Sunday.

On Good Fri­day, we recall Jesus’ Cru­ci­fix­ion and death espe­cially from 12 noon– 3pm. Then like the first apos­tles, we await Easter Sun­day on which we will cel­e­brate His glo­ri­ous Resurrection!

May you all have a blessed Good Fri­day, Holy Sat­ur­day and Easter Sunday!

 

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Lamentations 3:21–23

Mercies are faithful 

                                        

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Son of God movie~Now in theaters!

13 Now when Jesus came into the dis­trict of Cae­sarea Philippi, He asked his dis­ci­ples, “Who do peo­ple say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Bap­tist, but oth­ers Eli­jah, and still oth­ers Jere­miah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Mes­siah,[c] the Son of the liv­ing God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.~ Matthew 16:13–17

 

The movie “Son of God” came out in the­aters yes­ter­day Feb­ru­ary 28th. We encour­age you to see the movie and tell your friends and fam­ily to join you! Spread the word about this film so that as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble can watch it.

We watched the film today. It was beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful, inspir­ing, superbly done, and sim­ply breath-taking! This film about Jesus’ life and teach­ings will rekin­dle and build up your faith.

Below is a link to the movie trailer:  Son of God trailer

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Jeremiah 29:11–12

 

11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your wel­fare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.
                                                                        Jere­miah 29:11–12

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Joshua 1:9

9 I hereby com­mand you: Be strong and coura­geous; do not be fright­ened or dis­mayed, for the Lord your God is with you wher­ever you go.”        
                                                                                                Joshua 1:9

GOD is always with us no mat­ter what we are going through in life.   Tri­als and temp­ta­tions will always come, but GOD has promised to see us through. In the face of adver­sity, put all your trust in GOD, remain calm, JESUS  will NEVER FAIL you.

 

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Psalms 37:23

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23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.  Psalms 37:23

Every year we come up with a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion. At the end of the year, how many of us ever lived up to these res­o­lu­tions. I don’t know about you, but as the year goes by, I totally for­get all about it, only to make the same res­o­lu­tion again the next year. 

As chil­dren of the Almighty GOD, our num­ber one res­o­lu­tion for each New Year should be to get to know GOD more and more by read­ing his word (the Bible), liv­ing the gospel (obey­ing GOD’s word and putting to prac­tice what we read, for exam­ple, lov­ing our neigh­bor as our­selves), and read­ing the Scrip­tures and pray­ing often.

In addi­tion to pray­ing the rosary, we need to read the Bible daily, even a few verses each day.“Igno­rance of the Scrip­tures is igno­rance of Christ” (Cat­e­chism, 133). Read­ing the Holy Bible brings us closer to GOD because we get to know HIM more and to know what pleases him. It guides our path and keeps us in the right course. If we do not read the Scrip­tures, how do we share our faith with others?

This New Year, let Christ be at the cen­ter of our lives. Let Christ be a part of every­thing we do. Seek his face in every deci­sion you make. In time, you will come to real­ize that our LORD is a liv­ing GOD.

Praise GOD always because it pleases HIM. JESUS CHRIST is Lord and GOD at all times, not only when things are going well, but also in bad times. The Bible says we should thank GOD always.

I believe GOD will make this year a won­der­ful one for his chil­dren. So, be cheer­ful and TRUST and have FAITH in the Lord. Approach the New Year with strength and bold­ness, not with fear. When you count your bless­ings, fear and doubts dis­ap­pear. Fear is not a gift from GOD, so always rebuke it in Jesus Name.

Through­out the year, remem­ber always that GOD directs the steps of the right­eous. He knows and sees every­thing, he will not let you cry a need­less tear or aban­don you.

Love, Peace and Joy!

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The Feast of the Epiphany ~ Jan. 5, 2014

 250px-WiseMenAdorationMurillo

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord. The word “epiphany” means man­i­fes­ta­tion. The Epiphany cel­e­brates the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the Sav­ior, Jesus Christ, to the gen­tiles (non-Jewish peo­ple) in the per­sons of the magi—the three wise men Mel­chior, Balthasar, and Gaspar.

After Jesus was born in Beth­le­hem in Judea, dur­ing the time of King Herod, Magi  from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to wor­ship Him.’ When King Herod heard this he was dis­turbed, and all Jerusalem with him. … After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were over­joyed. 11 On com­ing to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and wor­shiped Him. Then they opened their trea­sures and pre­sented Him with gifts of gold, frank­in­cense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2 :1–3,9–11)

God began His work of the redemp­tion of mankind with the Jew­ish peo­ple as seen in the Old Tes­ta­ment. For exam­ple, He gave the Jew­ish peo­ple the Ten Com­mand­ments through the prophet Moses. He also spoke of the Savior’s com­ing through the Old Tes­ta­ment prophets until finally Jesus came into the world. The man­i­fes­ta­tion of Jesus to the three kings sym­bol­izes that Jesus’ com­ing into the world has made rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with God now open to the gen­tiles as well.

All the nations you have made will come and wor­ship before You, Lord;  they will bring glory to Your name. 10 For You are great and do mar­velous deeds; You alone are God.” Psalms 86:9–10

All the ends of the earth will remem­ber and turn to the Lord, and all the fam­i­lies of the nations will bow down before Him … .” Psalms 22:27

The gifts of the three kings: gold, frank­in­cense, and myrrh also have spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance. The gift of gold sig­ni­fies that Jesus is a King. In the Book of Rev­e­la­tion, Jesus is referred to as “the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” The gift of frank­in­cense sig­ni­fies that Jesus is the High Priest and also God. In the Jew­ish tra­di­tion through­out the Old Tes­ta­ment, the high priest would offer incense to God in wor­ship. For the same rea­son, the priest incenses the altar dur­ing the Holy Mass to honor the pres­ence of God. The last gift, myrrh, seems at first, a strange gift for a new­born baby because myrrh was used as part of Jew­ish embalm­ing and bur­ial cus­toms. This last gift sig­ni­fies that Jesus has come into the world to die as the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice for the sins of mankind in order to rec­on­cile mankind with God.

How does the Epiphany apply to us today?

First of all, we can be thank­ful for our knowl­edge of the One True God, the lov­ing Cre­ator of all mankind who loves us so much that He sent His Son to rec­on­cile us with Him­self. Fur­ther­more, because of this knowl­edge, we must make time and effort to wor­ship God each day by attend­ing the Holy Mass and receiv­ing Holy Com­mu­nion every Sun­day and as much as we can dur­ing the week, mak­ing time to adore Christ like the magi through Ado­ra­tion of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment, as well as daily prayers such as the Most Holy Rosary.

 Sec­ondly, we must resolve to man­i­fest Christ to others—to bring Christ to whomever we encounter by our words and actions.  The light and love of Christ must shine through us, so that all those with whom we come into con­tact may be drawn to Jesus for the sal­va­tion of their eter­nal souls.

 “A new com­mand I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this every­one will know that you are My dis­ci­ples, if you love one another.” John 13:34–35

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can­not be hid­den. Nei­ther do peo­ple light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to every­one in the house. In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14–16

 In Chap­ter 4 of the Gospel of John is the beau­ti­ful account of the Samar­i­tan woman who met Jesus and was so moved by the expe­ri­ence that she told every­one in her town.

Then, leav­ing her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the peo­ple, ‘Come, see a man who told me every­thing I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward Him. … Many of the Samar­i­tans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s tes­ti­mony … and because of His words many more became believ­ers.” (John 4: 28, 29, 39–41)

 The vision of Saint John in the Book of Rev­e­la­tion gives us a hope­ful and tri­umphant image of a redeemed mankind.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great mul­ti­tude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, peo­ple and lan­guage, stand­ing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wear­ing white robes and were hold­ing palm branches in their hands.” Rev­e­la­tion 7:9

Like the three kings, may we earnestly seek Christ and His King­dom! Like the Blessed Vir­gin Mary, may we man­i­fest Him to others!

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Happy 2014!

"Behold I make all things new." ~ Revelation 21:5

“Behold I make all things new.” ~ Rev­e­la­tion 21:5

A Blessed, Happy, and Holy New Year to all of you! Let this year be for you an oppor­tu­nity for renewal in Christ!

There­fore, if any­one is in Christ, he is a new cre­ation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthi­ans 5:17

 How can we be open to the renew­ing power of God? 

Firstly, we must resolve to leave behind sin and amend our lives. Then God will give us the strength and grace to detach from sin and thus improve our lives, grow in holi­ness and char­ity, and be closer to HIM. Though none of us is per­fect, we must resolve and strive not to sin because sin offends God and sep­a­rates us from HIM. In addi­tion, we must resolve not to sin because of our love for God who is our lov­ing and faith­ful Cre­ator, Father, and Friend.

Fur­ther­more, when­ever we real­ize that we have fallen into sin, let us quickly go to Con­fes­sion to obtain par­don for our sins, be rec­on­ciled with God who loves us so much, and obtain graces to detach from sin. It is Jesus Him­self wait­ing for us in the Con­fes­sional, who works through the priest to par­don our sins.

God has given us many means through which HIS abun­dant graces can flow into our souls, renew our souls, and make them holy such as:

  • Fre­quent (every Sun­day or even daily) par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Holy Mass and receiv­ing Holy Communion
  • Fre­quent (monthly or even weekly) use of the won­der­ful Sacra­ment of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion (Confession)
  • Daily prayer (i.e. daily Rosary)
  • Holy read­ing (i.e. the Holy Bible and other Chris­t­ian books)

This year, let us also renew or begin a resolve to serve God in every­thing we do. Every­thing in our life must be ori­ented to the ser­vice of God! We must real­ize that what­ever gifts we have, wher­ever God has placed us, and what­ever influ­ence we have among our fam­ily, friends, and com­mu­nity are the means God has cho­sen to save other souls through us. God has called each of us to be a spe­cial light wher­ever He has placed us. We are lights in the world because we carry within us Jesus, the Light of the World, the Ever­last­ing Light.

Fur­ther­more, we can trust that God is guid­ing our lives so that our souls and those around us may grow ever closer to HIM.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to pros­per you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   

~ Jere­miah 29:11

16 Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters …
18 ‘Remem­ber not the for­mer things,
    nor con­sider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not per­ceive it?
I will make a way in the wilder­ness
    and rivers in the desert.’ “~ Isa­iah 43:15–16,18–20

Rec­om­mended books for the New Year:

  • Jesus, Our Eucharis­tic Love” by Father Ste­fano Manelli
  • The Imi­ta­tion of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis
  • I Believe in Love: A Per­sonal Retreat Based on the Teach­ing of St. Thérèse of Lisieux” by Father Jean C. J. d’Elbée
  • Story of A Soul: The Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux by John Clarke, O.C. D.
  • The BOY who met JESUS: Segatashya of Kibeho by Immac­ulée Ilibagiza
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