Divine Mercy Sunday 2016: Mercy of God

Feast of Divine Mercy

divine mercy image

This Sunday, April 3rd, 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 Most 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).”

The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are as follows:

Corporal Works of Mercy
The Corporal Works of Mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.

-Feed the hungry
-Give drink to the thirsty
-Clothe the naked
-Shelter the homeless
-Visit the sick
-Visit the imprisoned
-Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.

– Counsel the doubtful
-Instruct the ignorant
-Admonish sinners
-Comfort the afflicted
-Forgive offenses
-Bear wrongs patiently
-Pray for the living and the dead (Holy souls in Purgatory)

Divine Mercy and Jesus’ Second Coming

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 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.

Divine Mercy Devotion

*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

*Holy Mass at the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday April 3rd 2016

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Easter 2016~ 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

Resurrection of Our Saviour Jesus Christ

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

He had to die as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  In Wednesday’s Mass readings for the Octave of Easter, the risen Jesus appears to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and tells them,

“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into His glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
He interpreted to them what referred to Him
in all the Scriptures.”~Luke 24: 26-27

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  in a special way during the Octave of Easter (the 8 days after Easter Sunday). In addition, the Easter Season extends more generally for 50 days from Easter Sunday! 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!

Easter hymn: Sequence “Victimae Paschali Laudes”

 

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Holy Week 2016

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday also known as Passion Sunday. Palm Sunday commemorates when Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly and was praised by the people including little children. His triumphal entry into Jerusalem fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures about the Messiah.

Excerpt from the Palm Sunday Mass readings

Jesus proceeded on His journey up to Jerusalem.
… As He rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as He was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of His disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
“Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest.”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him,
‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’
He said in reply,
‘I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!’ “~Luke 19: 28-40

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.

Holy Thursday and The Triduum

 

Holy Thursday

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).

26 Now as they were eating,[d] 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[e] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”~Matthew 26:26-28

After recalling the first Mass (the institution of the Holy Eucharist), we recall Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal by Judas, and all that happened the day before Jesus was crucified. Jesus institution of the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday is connected with His crucifixion and death on Good Friday.

The three days following Holy Thursday are: Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. These three days are referred to as the Triduum.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we recall Jesus’ Crucifixion and death especially from 12 noon- 3pm. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins in order to reconcile humanity with God.

“Yet it was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured, While we thought of Him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole by His stripes we were healed.” ~Isaiah 53:4-5

Furthermore, through each Holy Mass, Jesus offers His same sacrifice of death on the cross to God the Father. Jesus’ sacrifice of death on the cross is made present during every Mass. For this reason the Mass as also referred to as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Holy Saturday

Then like the first apostles, we await Easter Sunday on which we will celebrate His glorious Resurrection!

We should pray (i.e. Rosary, Stations of the Cross) in preparation for the Holy Triduum. It is also important to go to Confession to purify our souls and resolve to amend our lives. It is also important to make time to take part in the Church services during the Holy Triduum.

“We adore you O Christ and we bless You, for by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.”

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

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Scripture Reflection: First Week of Lent 2016

“Seek the Lord while He may be found,
call Him while He is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
Let him turn to the Lord for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.” ~Isaiah 55:6-7

During this first week of Lent, let us resolve to turn away from sin and grow closer to God.

The first step is to carefully examine our lives to find out in what ways we have sinned. The second step is to be sorry for those sins and make a good Confession. (Click on this link for more information about the Holy Sacrament of Confession.)

The third step is to amend our lives through God’s grace. We must cooperate with God’s grace and make an effort not to sin. For example, we must avoid people, places and things which lead us to sin. Furthermore, when tempted to sin, we must pray for strength to resist temptation and not commit sin.

Let us strive with each day of Lent to grow in holiness!

 

 

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Lent 2016: The Meaning of Lent

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The season of Lent lasts 40 days beginning today, 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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Preparing for Lent 2016

Today is the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent. This upcoming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the 40 day Season of Lent.

During Lent, we will make a renewed effort to turn away from sin and draw closer to God. Our sins are forgiven through the Holy Sacrament of Penance also called Confession. We also receive graces through this sacrament to help us not to commit sin. Consequently, we should go to Confession regularly especially during the Season of Lent. It is a precept of the Church to go to Confession at least once a year, but going to Confession once a month or once a week is a great means of growing in holiness.

Furthermore, growing in holiness helps us to serve God. The first Mass reading in today’s Liturgy is from the Book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah’s experience echoes the need to turn from sin in order to draw closer to God and serve Him.

“… I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,
with the train of His garment filling the temple.
Seraphim were stationed above.

They cried one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!
All the earth is filled with his glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook
and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it, and said,
‘See, now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!'” ~Isaiah 6: 1-2,3-8

The Gospel reading from today’s Mass Liturgy reminds us that growing in holiness is connected to serving God. In this reading, Jesus enables the apostles to  catch many fish to foreshadow that they would soon serve Him by bringing many people back to God.

“Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
He asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then He sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,
‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’
Simon said in reply,
‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man’.
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men’.
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed Him.”~ Luke 5: 3-11

Simon (the apostle Peter) recognized that Jesus had done something miraculous to cause them to catch so many fish. Simon knew that he was in the presence of God and called Jesus ‘Lord.’ Furthermore, Jesus had done this to foreshadow that as His followers they would bring men from all the nations of the earth back to God .  Just as in the first reading when the prophet Isaiah answered God’s call to service, the apostles answered God’s call. Furthermore, this work of bringing people to salvation will continue through the Church until the end of time when Jesus Christ returns.

May we grow in holiness and serve the Lord!

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The Feast of the Epiphany 2016

The Feast of the Epiphany

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Last Sunday was 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 actionsThe 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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An Advent Prayer (Advent 2015)

 

Sweet Infant Jesus,

I bring to you this day, and all the days of Advent, my heart, my love, my very life, together with those little acts of self denial and sacrifice, made in your honor, and of which you alone know.  Let me, I beg of you, heap these gifts around your crib that they may on Christmas morning prove my love for you, and may love and adoration serve to warm your poor stable and make bright, and happy your birthday, sweet Jesus!

*These final days before Christmas, let us continue to prepare our hearts and souls to receive Jesus anew by purifying ourselves through frequently attending Mass (even daily Mass) and receiving Holy Communion, frequent use of the Sacraments (i.e.  Confession) and daily prayer.

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December 12th -Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Actual Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Basilica in Mexico City

On December 9th, 10th, and 12th of 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico as the pregnant Mother of God to Saint Juan Diego. Saint Juan Diego was an indigenous man who recently converted to Catholicism. (The Spanish had conquered Mexico only a few decades earlier. Later missionaries came to bring Christianity to the indigenous people of Mexico.)

Our Lady left a Miraculous Image of her appearance on Saint Juan Diego’s cactus fiber cloth (tilma), which still exists today and is on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Our Lady came to offer faith, hope and consolation to the indigenous people of Mexico and to bring peace to the land. Her appearance also brought an end to the human sacrifices that were part of the Aztecs’ offerings to their false gods. She led them instead to Jesus, her Son, the One True God.

Early in the morning of December 9th, 1531, Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego for the first time. Saint Juan Diego was walking to attend the Holy Mass in the morning as usual. (It is said that Saint Juan Diego walked 15 miles every day to attend the Holy Mass!) Our Lady said:

“My dear son, whom I love tenderly, know that I am the Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God; the Giver and maintainer of life; Creator of all things; Lord of Heaven and Earth, Who is in all places. I wish a temple be erected here, where I can manifest the compassion I have for the natives and for all who solicit my help.”

She asked him to go to Bishop Juan Zumarraga and request to have a church built on the barren hill of Tepeyac which is now part of Mexico City. Juan Diego went to the Bishop as Our Lady had asked. The Bishop asked Juan Diego to ask Our Lady to give him a sign.

San Juan Diego

On December 12th, Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego and told him to pick the Castillian roses (found naturally in Spain) that miraculously appeared on Tepeyac hill, though Tepeyac hill is a barren area with cactus plants and despite the fact that it was winter. Saint Juan Diego put the roses in his tilma which Our Lady carefully arranged in his tilma. She told him to bring them to the Bishop as the sign for him to believe her request. Our Lady told him only to open the tilma full of roses in the presence of the Bishop.

  Saint Juan Diego and Bishop Zumarraga

Zumarraga

Saint Juan Diego went to see the Bishop and then he opened the tilma and the roses fell to the floor. To everyone’s amazement, the Image of Our Lady had appeared on the tilma  by the direct power of God! The Bishop built the church as Our Lady requested and within the next nine years, nine million native Mexican people were converted and baptized to the one true faith and established an era of peace!

Miraculous Phenomena related to the Image

Many scientists (including scientists from NASA) have studied the image and have shown that the miraculous Image is not a painting! There is no pigment and there no brushstrokes on the tilma. Also, since the tilma is made of a simple cactus fiber cloth, it should have rotted after 20 years, but it has been miraculously preserved over the past 471 years! The image was also left unscathed by a bomb blast in 1921 when a bomb was placed directly in front of it by anti-Catholic Mexican people. Furthermore, digital enhancement of the eyes of Our Lady in the Image shows the reflection of the faces of Bishop Zumarraga and Saint Juan Diego. This phenomenon is only possible for human eyes. Five eye doctors who examined Our Lady’s eyes said that what they looked into were human eyes. Dr. Jose Aste Tonsmann carried out the most famous research studies of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s eyes in the image. No painter would have been able create such effects.

Even the constellations on her mantle have been identified to match the constellations in the sky of Mexico on December 12th 1531!

Virgin Mary of Guadalupe Janet Barber

All of this confirms what the faithful have always believed—that this truly Miraculous Image was produced directly by the hand of God.

Understanding the Symbolism of the Image

Being in front of the sun and stepping on the moon shows that She is greater than they are. For the Aztecs’ it meant that She was even greater than their sun and moon gods to whom they offered sacrifices. Furthermore, She is wearing the star-filled sky as a cloak. This would have especially impressed the Aztecs who had devoted themselves to studying the stars, sun, and moon as part of their worship.

However, despite all this, Her hands are clasped in prayer and Her head is bowed in reverence toward someone else who is yet greater than She is–the One True God.

Her belt shows she is pregnant. To the Aztecs, the four petal flower below her belt and the constellation Leo (Lion) at the same spot below her belt would signify that the Child to be born would be divine and all-powerful. Interestingly, Jesus is referred to in the Bible as the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” Through this Image, the Virgin Mary communicates that she is the Mother of Jesus, the one True God.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the same woman described in the Book of Revelation.

“There was a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”(Revelation 12:1-2)

The image is full of symbolism which communicated to the native people of Mexico to embrace the Catholic faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ—to turn to the One True God. The miracles attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe continue to this day. Her image still continues to communicate to us the need to seek Her intercession that She might bring us to Her Son Jesus.

During one of the apparitions, when Saint Juan Diego was concerned about his dying uncle (who Mary later healed), she said,

“… Do not be afraid of any illness or accident or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Do you need anything else? ”

These words still bring comfort today and help us remember that Mary is always at our side.

Furthermore, how fitting that Mary should appear pregnant with her Son during the season of Advent of 1531, hoping to bring people to her Son in time for Christmas! May Our Lady of Guadalupe bless us during Advent, Christmas, and always!

For more information about Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Catholic Online)

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Feast: December 12)

Our Lady of Guadalupe (Wikipedia)

Videos

Appari­tion of Our Lady of Guadalupe(part1)

Appari­tion of Our Lady of Guadalupe(part 2)

Movie

“Guadalupe” made in 2006 by Dos Corazones Films

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Advent 2015: A Season of Hope and Conversion

Tomorrow is the Second Sunday of Advent. The Second Sunday of Advent starts off the second week of Advent. The advent season consists of four weeks during which we prepare ourselves in a special way for the coming of Jesus.  The word ‘Advent’ means ‘coming.’

Advent

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.

baby jesus

 

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.

 

segunda venida de Jesus

“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 Holy and Joyous Advent!

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Second Coming of Jesus (33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time)

Today’s Mass Readings remind us of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Jesus came into the world the first time and He will return a second time. This time He will come as the Just Judge. As we await His return, we must purify ourselves by turning away from sin and amending our lives so that we will be ready when He comes.

We must stay away from people, places, and things which are occasions of sin. We must receive the forgiveness of our sins by going to Confession frequently (i.e. once a month or once a week). We need to pray daily (i.e. Holy Rosary) and to attend Mass at least every Sunday. (**Note: It is also good to try to attend daily Mass as well.)

In addition, we must strive to help others to turn to God before it is too late.

Furthermore, Jesus told us about the signs that would precede His Second Coming. He said that there would be great distress around the world including earthquakes, wars, pestilence, etc. Given the current state of the world, His coming must be very near.

First Reading from today’s Mass Liturgy

In those days, I Daniel,
heard this word of the Lord:
“At that time there shall arise
Michael, the great prince,
guardian of your people;
it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress
since nations began until that time.
At that time your people shall escape,
everyone who is found written in the book.

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake;
some shall live forever,
others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.

“But the wise shall shine brightly
like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever.” ~Daniel 12: 1-3

Gospel Reading from today’s Mass Liturgy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then He will send out the angels
and gather His elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that He is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”~Mark 13: 24-32

May we grow in holiness each day so that we will be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming!

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November Solemnities: All Saints Day and All Souls 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. Let us strive to be holy so that one day we too may join the Saints of Heaven.

On November 2nd, the Church celebrates All Souls 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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Seek the Lord

Second Reading from Mass Liturgy for Sunday October 18th

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. ~ Hebrews 4:14-16

Let us turn to God more and more each day by turning away from sin, serving Him more faithfully, and entrusting to Him all of our needs and concerns. Furthermore, we must not delay seeking God.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.” ~Isaiah 55:6-7

May we grow in holiness as we seek God more and more each day!

 

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The Coming of Jesus Christ

“The first reading from today’s Mass (Sunday, September 6th) is from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah consoles the people of Israel by telling them about the coming Messiah.

“Thus says the LORD: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense He comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.”~ Isaiah 35:4 -7

Jesus came as the Savior of the world and fulfilled the prophecies made by Isaiah. The gospel reading for today even includes an account of when He healed a deaf-mute man. However, Isaiah’s prophecies have a two-fold meaning. His prophecies also refer to Jesus’ Second Coming at the end of the world. At His Second Coming, Jesus will come as the Just Judge “with divine recompense” to reward each person according to his deeds and to establish a new heaven and a new earth.

Just as Isaiah’s prophecies gave the people of Israel hope for the coming of the Messiah, today we should find hope in the Second Coming of Jesus. Various Old Testament Books of the Bible (i.e. the Book of Daniel) and many New Testament Books (i.e. Book of Revelation) discuss the Second Coming of Jesus.

The Nature of His Second Coming

It is important to note that although no one knows the 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  

The Old Testament prophet Daniel wrote about his vision of the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. St. John, one of the twelve apostles and author of the Book of Revelation (New Testament), saw a strikingly similar vision of a redeemed mankind.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man,[a] coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” ~Daniel 7 :13

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ “~Revelation 7:9

What should we do while we await Jesus’ Second Coming?

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 prepare ourselves for His Second Coming by sanctifying ourselves and purifying ourselves. We must amend ourselves and turn from sin through daily prayer (i.e. the Holy Rosary, Chap­let of Divine Mercy), fre­quent par­tic­i­pa­tion at Holy Mass and Holy Com­mu­nion, and fre­quent Con­fes­sion. Furthermore, we must pray and work for the salvation of souls.

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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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