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

250px-WiseMenAdorationMurillo

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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Christmas Day 2015: Christ 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

Today the Church cel­e­brates the Solem­nity of the Nativ­ity of Jesus Christ. 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

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of a father’s only Son,[a] full of grace and truth. ~John 1:14

Jesus came to earth the first time as an Infant. How­ever, it is impor­tant to rec­og­nize that He comes to us also in the Most Holy Eucharist (i.e. Holy Mass, Holy Com­mu­nion, Eucharis­tic Ado­ra­tion). Fur­ther­more, He will come again at the end of the world as the Just Judge to sep­a­rate the wicked from the good. As we remem­ber Jesus’ first com­ing today, let us resolve to live holy lives so that we are pre­pared each time He comes to us in the Most Holy Eucharist and when He comes again at the end of the world.

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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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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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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