Jesus, the good Shepherd

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

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

Responsorial Psalm from today’s Mass readings:

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

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

Another example from the Old Testament:

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

Jesus came to earth to save mankind

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

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

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

Jesus says:

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

The Good Shepherd and The Holy Mass 

sacrificeholypriest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seek God and turn away from sin

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

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

~ Book of  Sirach (Wisdom) 17:20-24

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Solemnity of Corpus Christi: Jesus is present in the Eucharist

Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist
Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist

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

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

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

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

Jesus: The Lamb of God

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

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

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

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

Passover and the Holy Eucharist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devotion to the Holy Eucharist

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

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

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

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

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration)

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

Eucharistic Miracles

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

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

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

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

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Divine Mercy Sunday 2015: Mercy of God

Feast of Divine Mercy

This Sunday, April 12th, is the Feast of Divine Mercy also known as Divine Mercy Sunday! In our own modern times, Jesus gave St. Faustina Kowalska of Poland (1905-1938) the mission of making His Divine Mercy better known on earth. He told St. Faustina to have this feast instituted in the Church.

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

Jesus told St. Faustina Kowalska:

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

*For information on how to make a good Confession go to our post:                                    The Great Sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation)

**Additional requirements

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

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

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

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

OR

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

 The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska

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

Jesus of Divine Mercy

The words “Jesus, I Trust in You” are at the bottom of the image. Red and blue rays of light are coming out from the Sacred Heart of Jesus as one of His pierced Hands offers a blessing and the other points to His Sacred Heart.

Jesus told her the meaning the image as follows:

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

God loves us with a love that is intense, infinite, perfect, and pure. It is because of His great love that He is merciful towards us, His beloved children.  His Heart is a fountain of grace and mercy. Out of his love, he pours out His grace and mercy upon us especially through the Sacraments of Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, and Holy Confession (Reconciliation).

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

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

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

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

Divine Mercy and the Holy Eucharist

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

Works of Mercy

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

Regarding works of mercy, Jesus told St. Faustina,

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

Divine Mercy and Jesus’ Second Coming

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

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

Then I saw the Mother of God, who said to me … ‘I gave the Savior to the world; as for you, you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge. Oh how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for granting mercy.’ ” (635).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Divine Mercy Devotion

*For more information about Divine Mercy Sunday go to:

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

 

 

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Easter 2015: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from First Reading of the Easter Sunday Mass:

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

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

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

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

Easter Season

The Church celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus  for 50 days! For the next 50 days, let us reflect upon the Resurrection of Christ and be renewed in faith, hope, and love. Furthermore, let us be faithful witnesses to the Risen Christ who will soon come again in glory!

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

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Lent 2015: The Meaning of Lent

 

images

The season of Lent lasts 40 days beginning tomorrow, Ash Wednesday,  and ends on Holy Thursday (the Thursday of Holy Week).  In terms of Biblical significance, the season of Lent is similar to the forty days that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.

The Season of Lent has four components:

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

Repentance and Conversion:

 

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

We are all called to repent and be converted every day of the year, but especially during the Season of Lent.

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

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

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

We must thoroughly examine our lives–our thoughts, our actions, and our words to see in what ways we have sinned. After recognizing our sins, we must be sorry for having committed them, and then resolve not to sin. God our Father loves us and is waiting for us to turn to Him. He wants to forgive us of our sins and shed his love and mercy upon our souls.  

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

Jesus told St. Faustina Kowalska:

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

Please, during this season and during the whole year, go to Confession as often as you can that you may be forgiven your sins and grow closer to God. (Note: According to the precepts of the Church, all Catholics must go to Confession at least one time per year. However, going to Confession once a month or once a week is better for the soul.)

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

 Repentance means that we have to resolve to amend our lives so that we can continue to grow in holiness. Conversion is the daily process by which we grow in holiness and grow closer to God.  The observances of Lent are meant to help our hearts and souls to be converted so that we can be transformed into holier people. Furthermore, repentance and conversion are necessary so that we may be always spiritually prepared to meet Jesus when we die or at His Second Coming. The time will come when we will all have to stand before God and give and an account of our lives.

Prayer and Penance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fasting:

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

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

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

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

Almsgiving:

We are also called to help those in need in a special way during this season. Consequently, many churches often have giving projects during Lent to help the needy. It is important to remember that holiness leads to the perfection of love and charity.

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

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

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

May we all have a blessed and holy Lent!

 

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Happy St. Valentine’s Day

Love for God and loving others

 

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

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

Characteristics of true love

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

God’s love for us

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

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

The Power of God’s Love

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

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

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Sovereignty of God

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

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

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

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

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Holiness and Perseverance

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

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

~Hebrews 12:1-4

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Bible Verse: Holiness in daily life

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

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The Feast of the Epiphany~Jan. 5 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does the Epiphany apply to us today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christmas Day 2014: The Savior is born!

The Birth of Jesus Christ
                 The Birth of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to Christmas Songs

 

 

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Advent 2014: A Season of Hope and Conversion

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

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

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

How can we prepare ourselves during Advent?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from today’s Mass readings :

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

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

~2 Peter 3: 10-14

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

Have A Blessed and Joyous Advent!

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Conditions for gaining indulgences:

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

1)  Going to Confession

2) Receiving Holy Communion 

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

and lastly,

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

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

More about Indulgences(from Handbook on Indulgences)

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

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

Why Purgatory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Resources on Purgatory:

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

 

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Sunday Mass Reading Reflections: Love of God and Love of Neighbor

(Excerpt from the First Reading for Sunday Oct. 19th)

“This is what the Lord says to His anointed,
    to Cyrus …to open doors before him
    so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you
    and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
    and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures,
    riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, who summons you by name. …
I am the Lord, and there is no other …
I will strengthen you …
so that from the rising of the sun
    to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides Me..” ~Isaiah 45: 1-6

(Gospel Reading for Oct. 26th)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

~Matthew: 22: 34-40

Both of these readings remind us that God is the Lord. The word Lord means ‘one with authority and power’, ‘a ruler.’ In other words, it is God who has supreme authority and is the sovereign ruler over all the universe. The Book of Revelation refers to Jesus as the “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.” In St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, it says that “..at the Name of Jesus, every knee must bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess to glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord“(Philippians 2:10-11).

We must put God first in our lives for God alone is the Lord. There is no other Lord. In other words, we should not put anything else before God in our lives. Once we recognize that God is the Lord, we must strive to know, love, serve, and honor Him in all that we do. For example, we must develop a daily prayer life, attend the Holy Mass at least every Sunday, and offer Him all our work.When we put God first, He brings everything in our lives into proper order. He arranges everything for the good of our soul and the good of other souls around us. As a consequence, He enables and strengthens us to serve Him by loving our neighbor. Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is every person other than me. My neighbor can live next door to me, but my neighbor can also be someone in my family or my coworker or even someone far away who I am praying for. The love of God leads to love of neighbor. As Jesus said, all the commandments are summed up in love of God and love of neighbor.

May we acknowledge God as the Lord, grow in love for Him, and serve Him by loving our neighbor!

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