The Most Holy Eucharist

The Most Holy Eucharist: The Holy Mass, Holy Com­mu­nionAdo­ra­tion of the Blessed Sacra­ment (Eucharis­tic Adoration)

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Most Holy Eucharist is the source and sum­mit of our faith.

It is God among us. It is the Lord Jesus present in the taber­na­cles of our Churches with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divin­ity. It is Jesus veiled under the appear­ance of bread, but really and phys­i­cally present in the con­se­crated Host, so that He dwells in our midst, works within us and for us, and is at our dis­posal.” (Jesus Our Eucharis­tic Love, p.10).

The read­ings for today (20th Sun­day of Ordi­nary time) and the last three Sun­days have been focus­ing on the Holy Eucharist.  For exam­ple, on the 18th Sun­day of Ordi­nary time (two Sun­days ago~August 2nd), the first read­ing was the Old Tes­ta­ment account of how God pro­vided the Israelites with manna, bread He sent them from Heaven, as Moses guided them through the wilder­ness. God send­ing down bread from heaven to the Israelites fore­shad­owed the com­ing of Jesus into the world and at the same time fore­shad­owed the insti­tu­tion the Holy Eucharist, the means by which Jesus will remain present in a spe­cial way until the end of time.

While Jesus was preach­ing among the peo­ple, some of the peo­ple asked,

What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?                             What can you do?
Our ances­tors ate manna in the desert, as it is writ­ten:                                       He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
I am the bread of life;
who­ever comes to Me will never hunger,
and who­ever believes in Me will never thirst.”~ John 6: 30–35

The Gospel read­ing from today’s Mass con­tin­ues the same theme.

Jesus said to the crowds:
“I am the liv­ing bread that came down from heaven; who­ever eats this bread will live for­ever;
and the bread that I will give
is My flesh for the life of the world.”
The Jews quar­reled among them­selves, say­ing,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood,
you do not have life within you.
Who­ever eats My flesh and drinks My Blood has eter­nal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For My flesh is true food,
and My blood is true drink.
Who­ever eats My flesh and drinks My blood
remains in Me and I in him.
Just as the liv­ing Father sent Me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on Me
will have life because of Me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ances­tors who ate and still died,
who­ever eats this bread will live for­ever.”~ John 6:51–58

The Holy Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity of Jesus Christ. Jesus Him­self said so. He insti­tuted the Holy Eucharist dur­ing the Last Supper.

 

Dur­ing the Holy Mass:

1) We receive the Word of God through the readings.

2) Through the priest, Jesus offers His Sac­ri­fice of death on the Cross to God the Father. That is why the Holy Mass is also called the Holy Sac­ri­fice of the Mass.

3) In Holy Com­mu­nion, Jesus comes to our souls to feed us with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity. Each time we receive Holy Com­mu­nion worthily, we receive new strength and new graces to grow in holi­ness. With each Holy Com­mu­nion worthily received, we grow closer to God. Fur­ther­more, in Holy Com­mu­nion, Jesus desires to unite us to Him­self. The word ‘union’ is part of the word Communion.

Con­se­quently, we must strive to attend Mass every Sunday,try to attend daily Mass, and receive Holy Com­mu­nion fre­quently and reverently.

**Note: You must be in a state of grace to receive Holy Com­mu­nion. If you are con­scious of hav­ing com­mit­ted mor­tal sin, go to Con­fes­sion first before receiv­ing Holy Com­mu­nion. Con­fes­sion puri­fies our souls to receive Jesus worthily in Holy Communion.

Ado­ra­tion of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment (Eucharis­tic Adoration)

In Ado­ra­tion of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment, the graces of the Holy Mass and Holy Com­mu­nion are extended because we are in the pres­ence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacra­ment. (A Con­se­crated Com­mu­nion Host is placed in a spe­cial con­tainer called a “mon­strance” for adoration.)

 

The Most Holy Eucharist and The Blessed Vir­gin Mary

Jesus chose to come to the world by being born to the Blessed Vir­gin Mary. Jesus, though being eter­nally the Son of God, came into the world through the Blessed Vir­gin Mary.

Sim­i­larly, true devo­tion to Mary, brings one closer to the Eucharist. Mary is some­times referred to as Our Lady of the Eucharist or Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment. Mary always brings peo­ple closer to her Son Jesus who is present in the Holy Eucharist. Con­se­quently, the bet­ter our devo­tion to Mary such as (i.e.praying the Holy Rosary daily) will make our devo­tion to Jesus in the Eucharist grow.

Through the inter­ces­sion of the Blessed Vir­gin Mary, may we grow in love for Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist!

For more about the Most Holy Eucharist:

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Jesus, the good Shepherd

One major theme of the read­ings from today’s Mass (16th Sun­day in Ordi­nary Time) is that God’s care for us can be likened to that of a good Shepherd.

A good shep­herd leads his sheep to where they can find food and shel­ter, he takes care of all their needs, pro­tects them from dan­gers, and goes to bring back sheep that have wan­dered away and got­ten lost.

Respon­so­r­ial Psalm from today’s Mass readings:

The Lord is my shep­herd, I lack noth­ing.
    He makes me lie down in green pas­tures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for His Name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the dark­est val­ley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
    they com­fort me.

You pre­pare a table before me
    in the pres­ence of my ene­mies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup over­flows.
Surely Your good­ness and love will fol­low me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    for­ever.”~Psalm 23

Another exam­ple from the Old Testament:

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a shep­herd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep[b] have been scat­tered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will res­cue them from all places where they have been scat­tered …”~ Ezekiel 34:11–12

Jesus came to earth to save mankind

Jesus, who is God the Son, came to earth pre­cisely to save mankind which had strayed from God. The name Jesus means “God saves.”

Upon the con­ver­sion of the tax col­lec­tor Zac­cheus, Jesus said to him,  “Today sal­va­tion has come to this house … 10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”~Luke 19: 9–10

After His pub­lic min­istry of teach­ing, heal­ing, and for­giv­ing sins, Jesus was cru­ci­fied, died, and glo­ri­ously rose again. Through Jesus’ suf­fer­ing and death, Jesus offered Him­self in sac­ri­fice for the for­give­ness of our sins. By sac­ri­fic­ing Him­self and ris­ing again, Jesus made a way for a lost mankind to come back to God the Father.

Jesus says:

“14 I am the good shep­herd;[a] I know my own and my own know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  …  17 For this rea­son the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from My Father.”[b]John 10: 14–18

The Good Shep­herd and The Holy Mass 

sacrificeholypriest

Dur­ing the Last Sup­per, Jesus Him­self insti­tuted the Holy Mass.  Dur­ing the Holy Mass, we are nour­ished by hear­ing the Word of God through the Bible read­ings  as part of the Liturgy of the Word.

Dur­ing the Liturgy of the Eucharist (the next part of the Mass), through the priest, Jesus makes present the Sac­ri­fice of His death on the Cross and offers it to God the Father. Then, dur­ing Holy Com­mu­nion, Jesus gives us Him­self  in the Holy Eucharist! The Most Holy Eucharist is truly His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity. Con­se­quently, at every Mass, we have the oppor­tu­nity to receive Jesus in Holy Com­mu­nion as nour­ish­ment for our souls.

… For My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood abide in Me, and I in them. 57 Just as the liv­ing Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so who­ever eats Me will live because of Me. …the one who eats this bread will live for­ever.” ~John 6: 55–57,59

How else does Jesus, the good Shep­herd, work in our lives today?

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they fol­low Me; 28 and I give them eter­nal life, and they shall never per­ish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. ~John 10: 27–28

Jesus loves us. Con­se­quently, He is always seek­ing to draw us closer to Him­self. He guides us through­out our lives. When­ever we stray, He goes to bring us back. When­ever we feel weak, tired, over­whelmed, dis­cour­aged or heart­bro­ken, He car­ries us as a Shep­herd car­ries a lamb on His shoul­ders. He promises to take care of us dur­ing our life on earth and ulti­mately to give us eter­nal life with Him in Heaven.

On our part, we grow in holi­ness by obey­ing Him (i.e. fol­low­ing the Com­mand­ments and Church teach­ings), trust­ing Him, lis­ten­ing to Him, and grow­ing closer to Him through daily prayer, the Sacra­ments (i.e. fre­quent Con­fes­sion), and the Holy Eucharist (i.e. Mass, Holy Com­mu­nion, Eucharis­tic Ado­ra­tion). As wise sheep stay close to their shep­herd, we must stay close to Jesus.

When we turn away from God by com­mit­ting sin– espe­cially mor­tal sins, we are putting our­selves in seri­ous dan­ger. Close to the Shep­herd, sheep find safety, but far from the shep­herd, the sheep can get lost, hurt, or even eaten by other wild ani­mals like wolves. Sim­i­larly, when we stray from God, it is eas­ier for the evil one to deceive us and to try to lead us to eter­nal destruc­tion in hell.  If we real­ize that we are far from God, let us call to Him right away for help through prayer and seek His for­give­ness in the Sacra­ment of Penance (Confession).

May we fol­low Jesus the Good Shep­herd all the days of our lives that we may dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

**Hymn: “The King of Love my Shep­herd is” (inspired by Psalm 23)

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Seek God and turn away from sin

“To the pen­i­tent God pro­vides a way back,
He encour­ages those who are los­ing hope
and has cho­sen for them the lot of truth.
Return to Him and give up sin,
pray to the LORD and make your offenses few.
Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin,
hate intensely what He loathes,
and know the jus­tice and judg­ments of God,
Stand firm in the way set before you,
in prayer to the Most High God.

Who in the nether world can glo­rify the Most High
in place of the liv­ing who offer their praise?
Dwell no longer in the error of the ungodly,
but offer your praise before death.
… You who are alive and well
shall praise and glo­rify God in his mer­cies.
How great the mercy of the LORD,
His for­give­ness of those who return to Him!

~ Book of  Sir­ach (Wis­dom) 17:20–24

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Solemnity of Corpus Christi: Jesus is present in the Eucharist

Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist
Jesus insti­tutes the Holy Eucharist

This past Sun­day was the Solem­nity of the Body and Blood of Christ also known as the Feast of Cor­pus Christi! In a vision, St. Juliana of Liege, a Bel­gian nun who lived in the 1200s, was told by a heav­enly voice that the Church at that time was miss­ing a feast in the litur­gi­cal cal­en­dar in honor of the Body and Blood of Christ. She told the Archdea­con of Liege who later became Pope Urban IV. In the mean­time, the Bishop of Liege cel­e­brated a Feast in honor of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment in his dio­cese for the first time on June 5, 1249. Pope Urban IV soon extended this Feast to the uni­ver­sal church.

The Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacra­ment, and Holy Com­mu­nion,  are all terms that refer to the true Pres­ence of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity in con­se­crated Com­mu­nion Hosts. God works through priests dur­ing the Holy Mass to change bread and wine into the full­ness of Him­self. Bread and wine are changed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity of Jesus Christ.

The roots of the Holy Eucharist can be found in the Old Tes­ta­ment. For exam­ple, in the Book of Exo­dus, God tells Moses to lead the peo­ple of Israel to free­dom after hun­dreds of years of enslave­ment in Egypt. Since the pharaoh did not lis­ten to Moses, God told Moses that He Him­self would pass over the land of Egypt in pun­ish­ment for the pharaoh’s refusal to free the Israelites. God told Moses that each of the Israelite fam­i­lies should take a spot­less young male lamb (or goat), kill it, put its blood on their door­posts, and then eat the lamb. The lamb was killed and then eaten by the peo­ple. This pre­fig­ures or fore­shad­ows the Holy Eucharist.

But the blood on your door­posts will serve as a sign, mark­ing the houses where you are stay­ing. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.”(Exodus 12)

Jesus: The Lamb of God

In the New Tes­ta­ment, Jesus comes as the new spot­less male Passover Lamb to be killed–but this time for the for­give­ness of sins.

Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

Like the Passover lamb’s blood on the door­posts, His blood shed on the cross brought us sal­va­tion from the destruc­tive effects of sin. ” For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” When Jesus came to John the Bap­tist to be bap­tized, John the Bap­tist cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”

For this rea­son, before Holy Com­mu­nion dur­ing every Mass, we pray or sing, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us …” or in Latin,  “Agnus Dei qui tol­lis pec­cata mundi … .” Then we kneel and the priest raises the Con­se­crated Host while he says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

Passover and the Holy Eucharist

How fit­ting that as Jesus cel­e­brated the Passover Sup­per (the Last Sup­per) with His dis­ci­ples, He simul­ta­ne­ously offered the first Holy Mass and thus insti­tuted the Holy Eucharist.

Now as they were eat­ing, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the dis­ci­ples and said, “Take, eat; this is My Body.” 27 And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, say­ing, “Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is My Blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the for­give­ness of sins.30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” ~Matthew 26:26–28,30

19 And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, say­ing, “This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remem­brance of Me.” 20 And like­wise the cup after sup­per, say­ing, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My Blood.”~Luke 22:19–20

In keep­ing with Jesus’ com­mand at the Last Sup­per, “Do this in remem­brance of Me,” the Holy Mass is offered around the world and dur­ing the Con­se­cra­tion, the above words are said by the priest. It is impor­tant to rec­og­nize that dur­ing the Con­se­cra­tion, through the priest, Jesus Him­self offers His Sac­ri­fice of death on the cross to God the Father for the for­give­ness of sins. Though Jesus rose again from the dead after three days, as God, Jesus is not lim­ited by the con­straints of time, and so through the Holy Mass, His Sac­ri­fice once for all time is always present before God the Father.

Fur­ther­more, pre­cisely because of His Sac­ri­fice, He then gives Him­self to us in Holy Com­mu­nion. The passover lamb had to be killed before it could be eaten. Sim­i­larly, Jesus had to come and die on the cross once and for all time for the for­give­ness of sins so that we could be united once more with God.

Holy Com­mu­nion is sim­ply God’s cho­sen means for giv­ing us the oppor­tu­nity for com­plete union with Him. Through Holy Com­mu­nion, God gives us food for our souls. Who other than God Him­self can feed our souls? As the Israelites trav­eled in the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land, God gave them manna, the bread He sent from heaven. In the New Tes­ta­ment, Jesus gives us Him­self, the Liv­ing Bread, in Holy Com­mu­nion to sus­tain us on our jour­ney to Heaven.

 51 I am the Liv­ing Bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this Bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My Flesh.”… 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eter­nal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My Flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the liv­ing Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”~ John 6:51,53–58

He wants to be united to us through Holy Com­mu­nion because of His great love for human­ity, His beloved chil­dren. It is because of this great love that He desires that each of us may be saved and so have eter­nal life. Each time we receive Holy Com­mu­nion, God gives us more graces to be holy and to grow closer to Him. In other words, because of the union of our souls to God through Holy Com­mu­nion, God trans­forms our souls.

Devo­tion to the Holy Eucharist

First of all, we must stand in awe before the great lengths God has taken to reach out to human­ity and bring it back to Him­self. God’s love is so great that He gives us the full­ness of Himself!

Sec­ondly, we should pre­pare our­selves before attend­ing each Holy Mass so that we can attend each Holy Mass with great devo­tion. For exam­ple, we should arrive early to Mass, open our hearts and minds to hear God’s Word in the Mass read­ings and the priest’s homily (i.e. avoid­ing con­ver­sa­tions and any dis­trac­tions dur­ing the Mass), pray the Mass prayers with devo­tion, and pre­pare well to receive Holy Communion.

**It is impor­tant to receive Holy Com­mu­nion only when one is in a state of grace (not con­scious of any mor­tal sins). By receiv­ing Holy Com­mu­nion in a state of mor­tal sin, one com­mits the sin of sac­ri­lege. If you real­ize that you have com­mit­ted a mor­tal sin, you must go to Con­fes­sion before receiv­ing Holy Communion.

Since Jesus came to the world through the Blessed Vir­gin Mary, we should ask Her and also our guardian angel to help us to receive Jesus with love, devo­tion, and rev­er­ence in Holy Com­mu­nion. After receiv­ing Jesus in Holy Com­mu­nion, we should devote at least 15 min­utes for thanks­giv­ing to God.

Ado­ra­tion of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment (Eucharis­tic Adoration)

Ado­ra­tion of the Most Blessed Sacra­ment is an exten­sion of the Holy Mass. Untold graces come to souls through Eucharis­tic Ado­ra­tion. The word ‘ado­ra­tion’ comes from the word ‘adore’ which means love or wor­ship. In Ado­ra­tion, we wor­ship God who is present in the Holy Eucharist. We imi­tate the three wise men who came to adore (wor­ship and honor) the Infant Jesus and we imi­tate the angels who unceas­ingly wor­ship God before His throne in Heaven.

Eucharis­tic Miracles

Fur­ther­more, through­out time and even in recent times, there have been count­less mir­a­cles of the Eucharist which have con­firmed the true Pres­ence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divin­ity of Christ in the Eucharist.

For exam­ple, in the year 750 in Lanziano Italy, after the Con­se­cra­tion dur­ing the Holy Mass, the Con­se­crated Host and Wine became vis­i­ble as actual Flesh and Blood which are still intact to this day! On May 5, 2001 in Chi­rat­takonam, India dur­ing expo­si­tion of the Blessed Sacra­ment for Ado­ra­tion, an image of the face of Christ appeared and remained for some time in the Host in the Mon­strance in the plain view of those present! Pho­tog­ra­phers were even able to take pic­tures of this Eucharis­tic mir­a­cle. The priest at the Chi­rat­takonam church, Fr. John­son Karoor, noted that the Gospel read­ing for that day was the pas­sage in which the res­ur­rected Jesus shows Him­self to doubt­ing Thomas and says, “Put your fin­ger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faith­less, but believing.”(John 20:27) and Thomas says, “My Lord and My God!”

With faith, let us thank our Lord and God for the infi­nite trea­sure of the Holy Eucharist! Through the Holy Mass, Jesus offers His Sac­ri­fice and then gives us Him­self in Holy Com­mu­nion. In Holy Com­mu­nion, God, the Cre­ator of the Uni­verse and the Author of Life abides in us and we in Him. Fur­ther­more, through Jesus’ Pres­ence in the Holy Eucharist, He has kept His promise, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

For more infor­ma­tion on the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist, and Eucharis­tic Miracles:

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Divine Mercy Sunday 2015: Mercy of God

Feast of Divine Mercy

This Sun­day, April 12th, is the Feast of Divine Mercy also known as Divine Mercy Sun­day! In our own mod­ern times, Jesus gave St. Faustina Kowal­ska of Poland (1905–1938) 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 and remis­sion of 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)

**Addi­tional requirements

(Note: It is nec­es­sary to be detached from all sin includ­ing venial sin.)

1)Pray for the inten­tions of the Pope ( such as 1 Our Father and 1 Hail Mary).

2) Ven­er­ate the Divine Mercy of Jesus image (such as devoutly pray­ing “Mer­ci­ful Jesus, I trust in you” before the Divine Mercy of Jesus image).

3)Participate in church or chapel devo­tions in honor of Jesus of Divine Mercy.

OR

In the pres­ence of the Blessed Sacra­ment, exposed or reserved in the Taber­na­cle, pray 1 Our Father and 1 Apostle’s Creed.

 The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska

In addi­tion, He told her to keep a diary (The Diary of St. Faustina Kowal­ska) in which she recorded her var­i­ous expe­ri­ences, visions, as well as the mes­sages and devo­tions that Jesus wanted her to share with the world. As recorded in her diary, Jesus told her to have a paint­ing made in the like­ness of how he appeared to her along with the sig­na­ture  “Jesus I trust in you.”

Jesus of Divine Mercy

The words “Jesus, I Trust in You” are at the bot­tom of the image. 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.

Jesus told her the mean­ing the image as follows:

The two rays denote Blood and Water.  The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls right­eous.  The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.  These two rays issued forth from the depths of My ten­der mercy when My ago­nized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.  Happy is the one who will dwell in their shel­ter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299).  By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls.  It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail with­out works (742).”

God loves us 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.  His Heart is a foun­tain of grace and mercy. Out of his love, he pours out His grace and mercy upon us espe­cially through the Sacra­ments of Bap­tism, the Holy Eucharist, and Holy Con­fes­sion (Reconciliation).

“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 Most 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.

Regard­ing works of mercy, Jesus told St. Faustina,

“I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neigh­bors always and every­where. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse your­self from it (Diary, 742).”

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 of Him who will come, not as a mer­ci­ful Sav­ior, but as a just Judge. Oh how ter­ri­ble is that day! Deter­mined is the day of jus­tice, the day of divine wrath. The angels trem­ble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for grant­ing mercy.’ ” (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, Jesus’ Divine Mercy mes­sages , the Chap­let of Divine Mercy, and the Divine Mercy image go to:

The Divine Mercy Devotion

*For more infor­ma­tion about Divine Mercy Sun­day go to:

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

 

 

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Easter 2015: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Chris­tus res­ur­rexit! Vere resurrexit!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!

 

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, He has shown that He is truly the Son of God. Fur­ther­more, Jesus has con­quered death and sin.

To the Apos­tle John, writer of the Book of Rev­e­la­tion, Jesus said,

18 I am the Liv­ing One. I was dead. But now look! I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Hell.” ~Rev­e­la­tion 1:18

By His cru­ci­fix­ion, death, and Res­ur­rec­tion, Jesus has opened way for all peo­ple to come back to God  and have eter­nal life. Each per­son has to make the choice to turn from sin, receive God’s Mercy, and per­se­vere in holi­ness in order to obtain the eter­nal life that Jesus has made avail­able to us.

The Res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus, Evan­ge­liza­tion, and Jesus’ Sec­ond Coming

Excerpt from First Read­ing of the Easter Sun­day Mass:

You know what has hap­pened all over Judea …We are wit­nesses of all that He did both in the coun­try of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put Him to death by hang­ing Him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that He be vis­i­ble,
not to all the peo­ple, but to us,
the wit­nesses cho­sen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
He com­mis­sioned us to preach to the peo­ple
and tes­tify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the liv­ing and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear wit­ness,
that every­one who believes in Him
will receive for­give­ness of sins through His Name.” ~Acts 10

As fol­low­ers of Jesus Christ, we have been com­mis­sioned to spread the word about Our Risen Lord. Regard­less of life cir­cum­stances, we are all called to be wit­nesses who tes­tify to the truth that Jesus came into the world for the sal­va­tion of mankind. Only through Him can one receive for­give­ness of sins and only through Him can one obtain eter­nal sal­va­tion. The fol­low­ers of Christ are called to evan­ge­lize and spread the Word of God until the end of time when Jesus Christ returns in glory as the Just Judge.

19 My brethren, if any one among you wan­ders from the truth and some one brings him back, 20 let him know that who­ever brings back a sin­ner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a mul­ti­tude of sins.” ~James 5: 19–20

Lastly, the Res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus Christ is a fore­taste of God’s ulti­mate defeat of evil at the end of time. When Jesus returns at the end of time, He will destroy evil  “with the breath of His mouth” and “by the splen­dor of His com­ing.” (2 Thessalonians2:8)

Easter Sea­son

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. Fur­ther­more, let us be faith­ful wit­nesses to the Risen Christ who will soon come again in glory!

Chris­tus res­ur­rexit! Vere res­ur­rexit! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!

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Lent 2015: The Meaning of Lent

 

images

The sea­son of Lent lasts 40 days begin­ning tomor­row, Ash Wednes­day,  and ends on Holy Thurs­day (the Thurs­day of Holy Week).  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.

The ashes we receive on Ash Wednes­day are a sign of repen­tance. Ashes have been a sign of repen­tance since the Old Tes­ta­ment times. In the Old Tes­ta­ment, Jonah preached in Nin­eveh for the peo­ple to repent of their evil ways.

Then word came to the king of Nin­eveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, cov­ered him­self with sack­cloth and sat in ashesAnd he caused it to be pro­claimed and pub­lished through­out Nineveh …

Let nei­ther man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any­thing; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be cov­ered with sack­cloth, and cry might­ily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the vio­lence that is in his hands.’ “~Jonah 3: 6–8

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. How­ever, going to Con­fes­sion once a month or once a week is bet­ter for the soul.)

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. Fur­ther­more, repen­tance and con­ver­sion are nec­es­sary so that we may be always spir­i­tu­ally pre­pared to meet Jesus when we die or at His Sec­ond Com­ing. The time will come when we will all have to stand before God and give and an account of our lives.

Prayer and Penance:

Resolve to pray more dur­ing this sea­son. For exam­ple, some 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. This sea­son is an oppor­tu­nity to develop a deep prayer life for the whole year.

As penance, peo­ple often give up some­thing or per­form more works of char­ity dur­ing Lent.

*For exam­ple, this Lent, try to reduce the amount of time you spend watch­ing TV or brows­ing the inter­net. Spend the extra time in prayer or read­ing Chris­t­ian books (i.e Holy Bible, Lives of the Saints, etc.)

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. It is impor­tant to remem­ber that holi­ness leads to the per­fec­tion of love and charity.

Prayer, penance, fast­ing, and alms­giv­ing enable us to break free from attach­ments to earthly things. These attach­ments dis­tract us and pre­vent us from grow­ing closer to God.

Dur­ing the Lenten sea­son, let our hearts, souls, and minds be drawn back to God and may we renew our efforts to love our neighbor.  

‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. … ‘Love your neigh­bor as your­self. ’ “~Mark 12: 29–31

May we all have a blessed and holy Lent!

 

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Happy St. Valentine’s Day

Love for God and lov­ing others

 

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the com­mand­ments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’[a] This is the first com­mand­ment.[b] 31 And the sec­ond, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.’ … ~ Mark 12: 29–31

A new com­mand­ment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My dis­ci­ples, if you have love for one another.”~ John 13: 34–35

Char­ac­ter­is­tics of true love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dis­honor oth­ers, it is not self-seeking, it is not eas­ily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always pro­tects, always trusts, always hopes, always per­se­veres.”~ 1 Corinthi­ans 13: 4–6

God’s love for us

Sacred-heart-post

It is impor­tant to remem­ber that God loves each one of us with an infi­nite, pure, and per­fect love.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Every­one who loves has been born of God and knows God. Who­ever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an aton­ing sac­ri­fice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”~1 John 4: 7–11

The Power of God’s Love

35 Who shall sep­a­rate us from the love of Christ? Shall trou­ble or hard­ship or per­se­cu­tion or famine or naked­ness or dan­ger or sword?… 37 No, in all these things we are more than con­querors through Him who loved us.   38 For I am con­vinced that nei­ther death nor life, nei­ther angels nor demons,[b] nei­ther the present nor the future, nor any pow­ers, 39 nei­ther height nor depth, nor any­thing else in all cre­ation, will be able to sep­a­rate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8: 35,37–39

May you grow in the love of God and oth­ers each day. For true holi­ness leads to the per­fec­tion of love and charity.

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Sovereignty of God

Our God is the liv­ing God, endur­ing for­ever; His king­dom shall not be destroyed, and His domin­ion shall be with­out end. He is a deliv­erer and sav­ior, work­ing signs and won­ders in heaven and earth.” ~ Daniel 6:27–28

Let them know that You, whose name is the Lord—
    that You alone are the Most High over all the earth.” ~Psalm 83:18

Yours, O LORD, is the great­ness and the power and the glory and the vic­tory and the majesty, indeed every­thing that is in the heav­ens and the earth; Yours is the domin­ion, O LORD, and You exalt Your­self as head over all.”~1 Chron­i­cles 29:11

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

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Holiness and Perseverance

Below is the first read­ing from today’s Mass readings:

Broth­ers and sis­ters:
Since we are sur­rounded by so great a cloud of wit­nesses,
let us rid our­selves of every bur­den and sin that clings to us and per­se­vere in run­ning the race that lies before us while keep­ing our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and per­fecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before Him
Jesus endured the cross, despis­ing its shame,
and has taken His seat at the right of the throne of God.
Con­sider how He endured such oppo­si­tion from sin­ners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. …”

~Hebrews 12:1–4

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Bible Verse: Holiness in daily life

Your love must be sin­cere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good. Love one another with the affec­tion of broth­ers. Antic­i­pate each other in show­ing respect. Do not grow slack but be fer­vent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, per­se­vere in prayer. “~Romans 12:9–12

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The Feast of the Epiphany~Jan. 5 2015

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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Christmas Day 2014: The Savior is born!

The Birth of Jesus Christ
                 The Birth of Jesus Christ

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given … And His name will be called Won­der­ful, Coun­selor, Mighty God, Ever­last­ing Father, Prince of Peace.” ~Isa­iah 6:9

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tid­ings of great joy which will be to all peo­ple. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Sav­ior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swad­dling cloths, lying in a manger.” ~Luke 2:10–12

It is impor­tant at this time to reflect upon God’s great love for us which made Him come down to earth to rec­on­cile mankind with Him­self and show us the way to ever­last­ing life.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begot­ten Son, that who­ever believes in Him should not per­ish but have ever­last­ing life.” ~   John 3:16

May the cel­e­bra­tion of Christ’s birth today be for you a source of hope, peace, and joy!

Merry Christ­mas! Feliz Navi­dad! Feliz Natal! Joyeux Noel!

Links to Christ­mas Songs

 

 

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Advent 2014: A Season of Hope and Conversion

AdventToday begins the sec­ond of the four weeks of the sea­son of Advent, in which we pre­pare our­selves in a spe­cial way for the com­ing of Jesus.  The word Advent means ‘coming.’

Firstly, we pre­pare our­selves to cel­e­brate Christ­mas, the his­tor­i­cal birth of Jesus Christ, His first com­ing into the world. The angel Gabriel told the poor shep­herds who were nearby when Jesus was born, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Sav­ior, who is Christ the Lord. “(Luke 2:11) The Mass read­ings dur­ing Advent remind us how the peo­ple of the Old Tes­ta­ment waited in hope­ful expec­ta­tion for the com­ing of the Messiah.

Sec­ondly, in addi­tion to cel­e­brat­ing the his­tor­i­cal event of Jesus’ birth, the most impor­tant event in all human his­tory, we pre­pare our­selves spir­i­tu­ally to receive Him and His grace in a spe­cial way at Christ­mas. This way, our hearts and souls can become spir­i­tual mangers ready to receive the Child Jesus.

How can we pre­pare our­selves dur­ing Advent?

We can pre­pare our­selves this Advent by amend­ing our lives and turn­ing away from sin. Let us resolve to make Christ the cen­ter of our lives through  daily prayer (i.e. the Holy Rosary, Chap­let of Divine Mercy), fre­quent par­tic­i­pa­tion at Holy Mass and Holy Com­mu­nion, and fre­quent Con­fes­sion. In order to grow in holi­ness, it is nec­es­sary to go to Con­fes­sion at least once a year, but once a month or once a week is better.

 Thirdly, we call to mind, with a joy­ful hope, the fact that Jesus will come again! Jesus will return! This will be His Sec­ond and Final com­ing. The Mass read­ings dur­ing Advent remind us of Jesus’ Sec­ond Com­ing and the need to be pre­pared at all times to receive Him at His Sec­ond Com­ing, when He comes in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory to sep­a­rate the wicked from the good.

“Behold I am com­ing soon! My reward is with me and I will give to every­one accord­ing to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Begin­ning and the End.”(Revelation 22:12–13)

Let the sea resound, and every­thing in it, the world, and all who live in it. 8Let the rivers clap their hands,let the moun­tains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in right­eous­ness and the peo­ples with equity.” (Psalm 98:7–9)

*It is impor­tant to note that although no one know that exact day or hour of Jesus’ return, Jesus did give us warn­ings through­out the Scrip­tures as to the signs that would pre­cede His final coming.

“3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the dis­ci­ples came to Him pri­vately, say­ing, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your com­ing, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, say­ing, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not trou­bled; for all[a]these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and king­dom against king­dom. And there will be famines, pesti­lences,[b] and earth­quakes in var­i­ous places. All these are the begin­ning of sorrows.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribu­la­tion and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because law­less­ness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the king­dom will be preached in all the world as a wit­ness to all the nations, and then the end will come. …

29 “Imme­di­ately after the tribu­la­tion of those days the sun will be dark­ened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the pow­ers of the heav­ens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man com­ing on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trum­pet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn this para­ble from the fig tree: When its branch has already become ten­der and puts forth leaves, you know that sum­mer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it[d] is near—at the doors! ~Matthew 24:3–13,29–33

*One glance at the news head­lines is enough to real­ize that many of these signs are already being ful­filled. Thus, Jesus’ return must be near.

Excerpt from today’s Mass readings :

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then the heav­ens will pass away with a mighty roar
and the ele­ments will be dis­solved by fire,
and the earth and every­thing done on it will be found out.

Since every­thing is to be dis­solved in this way,
what sort of per­sons ought you to be,
con­duct­ing your­selves in holi­ness and devo­tion,
wait­ing for and has­ten­ing the com­ing of the day of God
… But accord­ing to His promise
we await new heav­ens and a new earth
in which right­eous­ness dwells.
There­fore, beloved, since you await these things,
be eager to be found with­out spot or blem­ish before Him, at peace.”

~2 Peter 3: 10–14

We must sanc­tify and purify our­selves every day so that we may be ready to receive Him at Christ­mas and when He comes again in glory upon the clouds of heaven.

Have A Blessed and Joy­ous Advent!

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November Solemnities: All Saints Day and All Soul’s Day

 

On Novem­ber 1st, the Church cel­e­brates All Saints Day.

 

all-saints-day-011

All Saints day is the day that the Church cel­e­brates all the saints. This Solem­nity hon­ors all the Saints that have been can­on­ized by the Church as well as all the saints which are known to God alone.

The Saints are the men, women, and even chil­dren who have glo­ri­fied God dur­ing their lives on earth and now enjoy His Pres­ence in Heaven.  Dur­ing their earthly lives, some Saints were reli­gious (priests, broth­ers, nuns/sisters) and some were laypeo­ple (sin­gle or mar­ried). There are Saints from every race, nation­al­ity, and language.

An excerpt from the first read­ing for the Mass of the Solem­nity of All Saints:

After this I had a vision of a great mul­ti­tude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, peo­ple, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wear­ing white robes and hold­ing palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice:

Sal­va­tion comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four liv­ing crea­tures. They pros­trated them­selves before the throne, wor­shiped God, and exclaimed:

Amen. Bless­ing and glory, wis­dom and thanks­giv­ing, honor, power, and might be to our God for­ever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wear­ing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me,“These are the ones who have sur­vived the time of great dis­tress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”  ~Rev­e­la­tion 7:9–14

The saints pro­vide a won­der­ful exam­ple for us who are still on earth. They too had strug­gles and dif­fi­cul­ties, but they per­se­vered and by the grace and strength of God they com­pleted their mis­sions and now enjoy the per­fect hap­pi­ness and peace of Heaven.

On Novem­ber 2nd, the Church cel­e­brates All Soul’s Day.

All Soul’s Day is  the com­mem­o­ra­tion of all the faith­ful departed, all those who have died in God’s friend­ship. This was insti­tuted in the Bene­dic­tine Monastery of Cluny by Abbot Odilo in the year 998 and then spread to the whole Church.

Those who have died in God’s friend­ship are either now in Heaven or in Purgatory.

Those who have died in the grace of God and have no need of fur­ther purifi­ca­tion are gath­ered around Jesus and Mary, the angels and the saints. They thus form the Church of heaven where they see God ‘face to face’(1 Corinthi­ans 13:12). They live in a com­mu­nion of love with the Most Blessed Trin­ity and they inter­cede for us.” (Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church)

Pur­ga­tory is the state of those who die in God’s friend­ship, assured of their eter­nal sal­va­tion, but who still have need of purifi­ca­tion to enter into the hap­pi­ness of heaven.” (Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church) These souls are referred to as the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

It is impor­tant to note that accord­ing to var­i­ous Saints of the Church, the suf­fer­ings of Pur­ga­tory are like suf­fer­ings that souls suf­fer in hell. The only dif­fer­ence is that the suf­fer­ings a soul endures in Pur­ga­tory end when the soul has been puri­fied enough to enter Heaven. The suf­fer­ing of a soul in hell on the other hand is eter­nal and thus will never end.

We, “the faith­ful who are still pil­grims on earth are able to help the souls in pur­ga­tory by offer­ing prayers in suf­frage for them, espe­cially the Eucharis­tic sac­ri­fice. … by alms­giv­ing, indul­gences, and works of penance.” (Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church)

It is there­fore a holy and whole­some thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins” (2 Mac­cabees 12:46).

*The Eucharis­tic Sac­ri­fice is another name for the Holy Mass (also The Holy Sac­ri­fice of the Mass). We can have Masses offered for them or offer the Masses we attend for them. We can also offer to God our recep­tion of Holy Com­mu­nion for the relief of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

*Prayers: We can offer any prayers for their release from Pur­ga­tory, espe­cially the Holy Rosary and St. Gertude’s prayer. Jesus promised St. Gertrude the Great to release 1000 souls in Pur­ga­tory each time this prayer is said:

“Eter­nal Father, I offer You the most pre­cious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said through­out the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Pur­ga­tory, for sin­ners every­where, for sin­ners in the uni­ver­sal church, for those in my own home and in my fam­ily. Amen.”

*Works of Penance: An exam­ple is mak­ing The Way of the Cross (Sta­tions of the Cross) specif­i­cally for the souls for the Holy Souls in Pur­ga­tory. We can even offer our suf­fer­ings for their relief.

***Indul­gences: “Indul­gences are the remis­sion before God of the tem­po­ral pun­ish­ment due to sins whose guilt has already been for­given. The faith­ful Chris­t­ian who is duly dis­posed gains the indul­gences under pre­scribed con­di­tions for either him­self or for the departed.”(Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church)

**Con­di­tions for gain­ing indul­gences:

One can obtain either a ple­nary (full) or par­tial indul­gence by:

1)  Going to Confession

2) Receiv­ing Holy Communion 

3) Then, recit­ing prayers for the Pope’s Inten­tions (such as 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be)

and lastly,

4) Com­plet­ing a par­tic­u­lar work to which an indul­gence is attached. 

Here are some exam­ples: Ado­ra­tion before the Most Blessed Sacra­ment for at least 30 min­utes, pray­ing at least 5 decades of the Rosary in a Church, pray­ing at least 5 decades of the Rosary as a family/in a Pious Association/in a Reli­gious Con­gre­ga­tion, mak­ing the Way of the Cross, and espe­cially between Nov. 1 — Nov. 8 vis­it­ing a ceme­tery to pray for the Holy Souls in Pur­ga­tory, etc.).

More about Indulgences(from Hand­book on Indulgences)

*The four cri­te­ria men­tioned above for gain­ing an indul­gence should be com­pleted within days of each other if not all on the same day.

An indul­gence is Ple­nary if one has no attach­ment to sin, but oth­er­wise it is Partial.

Why Pur­ga­tory?

In God’s infi­nite wis­dom and mercy, He made a place for souls to be puri­fied if they die in His friend­ship, but are not yet pure enough to enter Heaven.

We must remem­ber that God is holy.  Only what is holy can enter into God’s Presence.

“Who can ascend the moun­tain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sin­less, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.” ~ Psalm 24

When St. John recounts his vision of the heav­enly city, the new Jerusalem, he said, “But noth­ing unclean shall enter it.” (Rev­e­la­tion 21:27)

Also in the New tes­ta­ment,  Jesus Him­self said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”(Matthew 5:8)

Both Solem­ni­ties remind us that we need to strive for holi­ness. We need to purify our­selves each day by daily prayer, true repen­tance for our sins, fre­quent Con­fes­sion, fre­quent atten­dance at the Holy Mass, fre­quent recep­tion of Holy Com­mu­nion, and penance. We must grow in holi­ness each day. As we grow in holi­ness, we must strive to do what­ever work God has given us in a way that will honor, glo­rify, and please Him

We must remem­ber that each of us will have to ren­der an account of our lives to Jesus either when we die or when Jesus returns in glory at the end of the world.

May we each grow in holi­ness each day, so that when we die or when Jesus returns in glory, we will be ready to meet Him!

More Resources on Purgatory:

  • Pur­ga­tory Explained: By the lives and leg­ends of the Saints”~Fr. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.

 

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