Monday, July 27, 2015


The three classes of men: the boy and the loaves (Jn. 6:1-15)


Try to picture the scene. Jesus surrounded by thousands. There is not enough for these poor people to eat. The solutions can be found in one simple way—the little boy with the loaves and fishes. God often uses little people, with little to offer, but with large and generous hearts to carry out extraordinary miracles.   This short meditation is on the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes that the little boy gave to Jesus.  Following are different reactions the boy might have had towards the loaves and fishes that he brought. Of the many options, which of these do you feel is your attitude?  What attitude would you like to assume?

WHAT MIGHT BE SOME OF THE OPTIONS THAT THE LITTLE BOY COULD HAVE CHOSEN WITH HIS LOAVES AND FISHES?

1.    RAN AWAY. As he saw Andrew approaching he could have simply ran away and avoided the question.

2.    HIDING.  Another option might have been to take a blanket that his parents had and simply to have hidden the loaves and the fishes underneath the covers.

3.    LIED. He could have said that these were not his but belonged to somebody else and they were not for him to give away, given that they did not really belong to him.

4.    LOOK FOR SOMEBODY ELSE THAT HAD FOOD!  This could have been another option—to avoid the issue by pointing at others that might have hidden food that they could share.

5.    NO THE FOOD IS MINE!  Then there was another option: NO!!!! The boy could have simply said “No” and that these belonged to him and he had no intention of relinquishing anything.  Maybe the boy would reason:  “Well I came prepared and you did not; you should suffer the consequences of your lack of intelligence and foresight.

6.    YES, BUT HALF AND HALF!  Here is another option: give away some, maybe 50% of what he had. At least in this there is a sign of good will!

7.    TAKE IT ALL!!! As we know from the Scriptural passage, the boy did none of the above, but rather he gave all, every morsel of the bread and the fishes in their totality.

 

QUALITIES TO BE ADMIRED IN THIS LITTLE BOY….

1.    GENEROSITY… The little boy would not delay in giving; he would not give only a part of what he had. He did not give begrudgingly, half-heartedly and with a frown on his face or thinking what he would get in return.

2.    TRUST.  He did not worry about tomorrow or even the possibility of going hungry. He just gave and trusted.

3.    LOVE FOR JESUS. Actually he gave all to Andrew, but was really giving all to Jesus.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR HEART AND OPENNESS??? PRAY OVER THESE QUESTIONS!!!

1.    Are you and your conscience running away from God?

2.    HIDING. Is there something in your life that you are hiding from God, your Confessor, and your conscience?

3.    LYING. Are you lying to yourself and to others in one way or another? Are you running away from the truth?

4.    POINTING TO OTHERS.  Do you have the habit of pointing to others and running away from your own responsibilities? Are you aware of the fact that actions have consequences?

5.    SELFISNESS/EGOTISM. Are you simply selfish? You simply do not want to give what God is asking you to give. You have your hands and fists clenched and God cannot get into them?

6.    HALF-HEARTED INDIVIDUAL.  Or is it such that you are giving but only half-heartedly, by half-measures. In your heart of hearts, you know that God is asking you for much more and you can give it but you do not want to leave your comfort-zone, your Linus’ blanket, your nesting place?

7.    MAGNANIMITY—This key Ignatian word that can be found in Annotation 5 in the Spiritual Exercises text means to have a great soul, open for great things, and willingness to give all to God. GIVE ALL AND TRUST GOD!!!

THE THREE GRADES OF HUMILITY: martyrdom of Eleazar—2 Maccabees 6:18-31
The Martyrdom of the holy and elderly Eleazar
 
 
 

The following is a meditation on the great nobility and powerful example of one of the most admirable figures of the Old Testament, the 90 year old scribe ELEAZAR. In our present society in which we are being menaced and threatened to violate our conscience in many moral matters, May this noble man be of great inspiration for all of us. Our eyes and hearts should be fixed on God above any political or social ideology! As Saint Peter stated bluntly: “Better to obey God rather than man.”

The high point of the three grades of humility is a willingness to even sacrifice one’s life and to shed one’s own blood for the love of God and the pursuit of the truth and the practice of heroic virtue. Saint Ignatius, in the meditation on the three grades of humility states that we should prefer death over mortal or even deliberate venial sin. In a sensual, materialistic and consumeristic society this concept appears to be mere absurdity. However, not for Jesus, the holy men of the Bible and the saints. In fact Jesus stated: “What would it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul. What can a man give in exchange for his mortal soul?”

Indeed the salvation of our soul should always prevail over the safety and the welfare of our body. This is very difficult because the modern society tends to cater to the demands of the body in an excessive degree. In sum, the body is pampered in all times and places.   This is so clear in the way so many spend excessive and exorbitant sums of money. Pope Francis at the start of his pontificate warned about the danger of excessive money being spent on cosmetics as well as on pets.

Expensive restaurants, sauna baths, beauty salons, expensive vacation resorts—just to mention a few highlight the modern life-style of so many!

ELEAZAR when confronted by a moral situation that would compromise his beliefs would not buckle under pressure, but was faithful to his conscience until the end.  This noble man can be admired and for many reasons. Let us meditate and pray over these.

1.    FOREMOST SCRIBE.  Meaning that this man was a zealous student of the Word of God. Not only did he read the Word of God, know it but also he lived the word of God.

2.    MAN OF ADVANCED AGE.   How important it is for us that as we advance in age we should have a parallel growth in wisdom, knowledge, grace and holiness.

3.    MIND IN A NOBLE MANNER.   He had a very noble mind. How we should pray for the formation of a noble mind. May we have a strong mind, a mind filled with the most sublime sentiments. Indeed we are what we think. Let us put on the mind of Christ and even have the mind of Christ.

4.    ADMIRABLE LIFE HE LIVED FROM HIS CHILDHOOD. In other words, he had always lived a noble, holy and exemplar life, worthy of praise and imitation.  This was a man of great intelligence and innocence and holiness. Pray for preservation of the innocence of our children today more than ever.

5.    ABOVE ALL BE LOYAL TO THE HOLY LAWS GIVEN BY GOD.  Must pray that we would be faithful to God till the very end.

6.    AVOID TRICKERY AND DISHONESTY. Some tried to save him by convincing him to fake that he was eating pork. The man of 90 would not give in to trickery.

7.    BAD EXAMPLE. Indeed this would be giving bad example to the youth. At all times adults should be a shining example to the younger generation like Eleazar.  Jesus said that we must be the Light of the world.

8.    THE ALMIGHTY.  Nobody can escape the hands of the Almighty God. God sees all we do, even the secret intentions of our hearts and we will be judged accordingly. What we sow is what we will reap!

9.    GOES IMMEDIATELY TO TORTURE.  He has no identity crisis, very much like Saint John the Baptist.

10.SUFFERS GREAT PAINS BUT JOY IN HIS SOUL.  Even in the midst of great suffering and torture, God give joy.

11.MODEL. He leaves a model of courage and virtue for the young and the whole world.

12.Cardinal Burke speaks about three forms of martyrdom: Physical, persecution, and witness. In our present society, where human rights are being trampled far and wide, we might be called to the heroic witness of martyrdom. May the saints of the past through their prayers and example spur us on the win the merited crown that awaits us!

TYPICAL TEMPTATIONS OF THE DEVIL: THE ENEMY OF OUR SALVATION


 

The purpose of our life on earth is to know God, love God and serve God so that we can be happy with God forever in heaven. This many of us learned in our basic catechism years ago. Saint Ignatius in the consideration Principle and Foundation expresses the same concept in these words:  “Man is created to praise God, reverence God, serve God and by means of that save his soul.” (Spiritual Exercises # 23)

The spiritual writers warn us of the three major enemies on our road to salvation: the devil, the flesh and the world. In this article we would like to illustrate fifteen of the many tactics that the devil often will utilize so as to trick us, trap us, tackle us, and try to enslave us to sin. A keen knowledge of these astute and cunning tactics of the devil can be of enormous help in our struggle, with the super-abundant grace of Almighty God, to attain the eternal salvation of our immortal soul. May Our Lady intercede for us and help us in our battle against the ancient serpent.

1.    KRYPTONITE.   We all know the story of SUPERMAN.  He has superhuman strength, could fly, leap over huge buildings, and many other heroic feats. However, once he was exposed to the fictional element that we know and call KRYPTONITE he was as weak as any other human person.  Applied to your spiritual life, you should know you own KRYPTONITE.  The devil knows very well your weak point and weak points, but we are ignorant of them. In this state we are very weak and vulnerable. Achilles was strong with the exception of his heel. Samson had strength, somewhat like Superman but when his hair was shaved Samson was rendered weak and vulnerable and his eyes were gouged out.   This is the 14th Rule for discernment in the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.   In a word, remember the maxim of the desert Fathers:  “Know thyself!” Know your weakness!

2.    LACK OF PRAYER AND STRONGER TEMPTATIONS.  Our spiritual life is a constant battle against the devil, the flesh and the world.  If we give up prayer it is almost certain that we will succumb to and fall into temptation. A very clear example is that of the Apostles in the Garden.  They fell asleep when they should have been watching and praying with the Lord for an hour. Consequently, they fell into temptation and abandoned the Lord. As Jesus prophesied, Peter denied Jesus three times. Remember the words of Jesus: “Watch and pray so that you be not put to the test; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

3.    STATE OF DESOLATION.  Another prime time that the devil will lift up his arms and launch his grenades is when the devil notices that we are in a state of desolation. What does this mean?  Clearly this!  When we feel sad, depressed, lonely, discouraged, life has no real meaning, and nobody really seems to love or care for us, in this state we must be very careful  because most assuredly temptations will come at us in one form or another.  In the state of desolation we should strive to pray more and even more fervently as we contemplate Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was experiencing a powerful desolation, but he prayed all the more fervently to the Heavenly Father.

4.    IMPURE THOUGHTS.   Impure thoughts at times will invade our mind.  This is to be expected while we live!  Solid spiritual theology and direction clearly points out to us that these thoughts are not sins.   On the contrary, every time that we manfully reject these indecent thoughts we grow in merit and in the opposite virtue which is that of purity. It is recounted that the great Saint Anthony of the desert had a temptation against purity that lasted a full year. He never gave in and finally Jesus appeared to him to comfort and congratulate him for having fought the good fight against this prolonged and powerful temptation. Sin is committed when we give consent in the will to the evil proposed by the devil.

5.    NEAR OCCASION OF SIN—PLAYING WITH FIRE.  All too often temptations come upon us because we put ourselves in the near occasion of sin.  We all know these sayings:  “He who plays with fire will get burnt.” And this one: “He who walks on thin ice will fall.” Finally, “he who walks in a slippery slope will slip and fall.”  One of the best examples is in the case of our first parent EVE. She was close to the tree and the forbidden fruit. There were most likely many trees with delicious fruit hanging from their branches. Why did she get close to the tree with the forbidden fruit? It was a near occasion of sin and she fell!  Keep away from near occasions of sin and harm’s way! Otherwise disaster will visit you!

6.    LAZINESS—NOTHING TO DO!   Another spiritual maxim for you:  “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.” The great saint and educator, Saint John Bosco, experienced a mortal fear for his young boys during the vacation months. The reason?  They were sent home and away from the Oratory and had all of the free time in the world.  The devil takes quick advantage of this.  A saint once said:  “When we are working diligently still a devil might be there to tempt us. However, when we have nothing to do an army of devils descend on us!”   We should always be engaged in wholesome activities, be they physical, intellectual or spiritual so as not to open up the door to the enemy, the devil!

7.    T.V. AND ELECTRONIC WORLD.  Even though objectively the electronic media—t.v., radio, movies, and the internet are neutral, still it must be admitted that it is very easy for us to visit dangerous and morally damaging areas—especially in the realm of pornography.  Another tactic and maneuver of the devil is not only to get us to fall into sin, but to enslave us to sin. We call this an addiction.  Addiction to the crude reality of pornography is indeed one of the chief tools the devil uses to tempt, to seduce, to captivate, to enslave, and to form a deeply entrenched addiction. Some studies have pointed out that addiction to pornography can be more powerfully addictive than addiction to cocaine and other drugs!

8.    PAST HURTS—OBSESSIONS!  It is not uncommon that the devil can fish into our past and bring images into our mind in the present. This is especially the case with respect to past wounds. I think all of us have experienced this case where, out of the blue or out of nowhere, a past hurt in which possibly a family member who hurt us even years ago surfaces in our mind. There that painful image is present causing us pain, anguish and definitely taking away our peace of mind, heart and soul. This thought can be transformed into a fixed idea; it simply will not leave us. This could be termed a diabolical obsession—a fixed idea that will not leave us in peace! The remedy to this interior struggle with the enemy is to go to one’s confessor or to one’s spiritual director and to reveal this to him.  Usually after divulging this the temptation and the obsession crumbles, dissipates and evaporates like smoke. The devil can easily turn mole hills into huge mountains. Transparency and openness to one’s spiritual director is essential!

9.    PAST ROMANCES.   Parallel to the past hurts that can easily surface and rankle the soul is the play of the devil on our emotions and feelings, especially related to past emotional, affective, and romantic ties. How often is the case of a married man or woman that out of the blue a thought surfaces in the mind of a past boyfriend/girlfriend and how good it use to be with that person. Frequently these past romantic images will surface when one’s present marital status is shaky or even on the rocks. The devil can compare your “X” lover with your present spouse. The devil will point out all of the negative qualities of your present spouse; then he will accentuate and glorify in graphic detail all of the excellent qualities of your past boy-friend/girl-friend.  In other words, the devil is inciting adultery of the mind and feelings and emotions. One thing is certain; the devil never goes in vacation. He works 25 hours a day, eight days a week, and 366 days a year.  As vigilant soldiers we should always be in the guard for the attack of our enemies—the evil spirits.

10. POSTPONE/ PROCRASTINATE—“THE DEVIL OF TOMORROW”.   Another major tactic of the devil is to convince us that we have a long life and that we can put off important decisions and actions until tomorrow. Often this is the case with respect to our prayer life. The devil can convince us to get up late so as to avoid praying early in the morning. Or simply the devil can convince not to do our prayers for the day, convincing us that we need a rest and will pray much better tomorrow! If there is one thing that the devil is, it is that of being CRAFTY!!!

11. DISCOURAGEMENT.  Saint Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, states that after sin the worst thing that can befall us is that of giving in to discouragement, losing hope and wanting to give up the daily battle.  Like Judas, after a fall the devil will try to convince us that we are a loser, a basket-case, that we will never be able to overcome this failure! The good spirit teaches us that after a fall we should get up, like the Prodigal Son and return to the loving embrace of the Heavenly Father.

12. THE DEVIL OF COMPARISONS.  Another tactic of the devil is to move us to compare ourselves to others. The devil will often work in this way to point out the talents, qualities and good aspects of a friend or family member; then the devil will highlight the fact that he/she is much better than you. This results in sadness and bitterness of soul. Spiritual writers agree on the fact that comparisons are odious and to be avoided like the plague. Do not focus on others but focus on the talents and gifts that God has given you— this is the best remedy!

13. DISTRACTIONS IN PRAYER.  If the devil cannot convince you to give up prayer, then he will do all in his power to destroy your prayer. If he cannot destroy it, then he will try to diminish its efficacy by assaulting you with a huge variety of temptations.  The following are some examples of distractions that might visit you in your Holy Hour: food, work activities, impure thoughts, a past hurt or even that you are wasting your time at prayer and your time could be used much more profitably by working—like in the case of Martha!

14. WEARINESS, FATIGUE, AND SICKNESS.  We should never forget that when we are in a weak state that the devil will sometimes exert double force. That is to say that when we are physically exhausted or run-down, mentally drained, emotionally frazzled, or simply physically sick, the devil is aware of this and may even attack us more forcefully. In other words our spiritual life is a constant combat. We are in war-zone until we die!

15. TEMPTATIONS AGAINST JESUS AND MARY. The devil is so astute that He can sometimes even tempt us against God Himself. Due to an untimely death the devil can tempt those who are weak in their faith to doubt God’s love and providence. The devil can even tempt us against the love and maternal presence of Mary in our lives. All too often the devil can launch this attack: “If you pray to Mary and love her then you will be diminishing the importance that Jesus merits from you in your spiritual life. Many saints have had these and similar temptations!

In conclusion, let us calmly and prayerfully read over these various ways that the devil is known to tempt us and be ready as soldiers of Christ to resist immediately and manfully the onslaught of the devil and have quick recourse to Jesus and Mary, being fully aware that God’s presence and grace is much more powerful than the assaults of the enemy.  Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

10 WAYS TO GROW IN FRIENDSHIP WITH JESUS AND MARY



The ultimate purpose of our life is to grow to know, love and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the real purpose of our existence. He gives meaning to all that happens in our lives—our joys and sorrows, successes and failures our life and death. Our Lady is always close to Jesus. The saints emphasize that Our Lady is the short-cut to the heart of God. The following are ten short suggestions how we can grow daily in Friendship with Jesus and Mary His Mother so as to be happy in this life as well as the life to come!

1.    AVOID SIN.  The mortal enemy to friendship with God is the reality of sin, especially MORTAL SIN. In one of the meditations in the Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatius says that we should be ready to die before giving in to mortal sin.  The motto of Saint Dominic Savio before his first Communion was Death before sin. Saint Maria Goretti actually did give up her life rather than give in to a sin against the virtue of purity. MARTYRS. Unanimously, the martyrs chose death over sin or denying Christ. The Church is already being persecuted and we could be called to the glory of martyrdom. May God’s grace in us triumph!

2.    KNOW GOD.  We cannot love God if we do not know Him.  Best way? Reading, meditating on the Word of God.  Saint Jerome stated: “Ignorance of the Word of God is ignorance of Christ.”  Use the method of Lectio Divina that Pope Benedict suggested in one of his documents on the word of God: Lectio (read), meditacio (meditate and think deeply about God) contemplacio (imagine that you are with God). Oracio (talk to God) accio (put into practice what you have learned. As a result of living out this method of prayer that we call Lectio Divina, the end result will be “transformacio”—transformation.  As Saint Paul says: “It is no longer I who lives but it is Christ who lives in me.”

3.    LIVES OF THE SAINTS.  Get into the habit of reading the lives of the saints. The saints were God’s friends, confidants as well as God’s heroes.    We believe in the Communion of Saints. The Catechism teaches us that the saints can help us in many ways, but especially two: 1) power of intercession—they can pray for us as well as present our prayers to God. 2) Examples to imitate—They were like as  born in sin and sinners, but through the help of God’s grace they overcame human weakness and lived lives of heroic virtue as we are all called to do!  Saint Ignatius of Loyola received many graces on his path of conversion by reading the lives of the saints.

4.    LIVE IN GOD’S PRESENCE.  A secret of many saints in growing in Friendship with Jesus is the daily effort to live in God’s presence. We must become more keenly aware of the fact of God’s omnipresence—He is everywhere in the universe. Saint Paul reminds us of this as he quotes the Greek poet:  “in Him we live and move and have our being.”  Brother Lawrence insisted that striving to live constantly in the Presence of God is a sure way to holiness.  Saint Teresa of Avila affirmed this truth by asserting that we sin because forget about the presence of God.

5.    WWJD/WWMD.  Related to living in the presence of God is  a daily effort to imitate Christ and His Mother Mary.  One of the most famous books every written was the IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas Kempis. Our daily aspiration and yearning should be to imitate both Jesus and Mary.   The youth used to wear a wrist-band with the four letters WWJD---- meaning, “What would Jesus do???”  A great question let us accept the challenge.  WWMD—Let us add to it what would Mary do?  May we always have both Jesus and Mary before our eyes as our models!

6.    SACRIFICE-PENITENTIAL LIFE.  Even though it goes against the grain of the flesh and our fallen human nature we should try to live a penitential life-style.  If we really love Jesus then we should be willing to sacrifice ourselves for love of Him and the salvation of immortal souls; read the lives of the saints as our models and examples. Jesus Himself reminds us:  “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny himself, take up His cross and follow me.” If you are not in the habit if practice penance start with something that is small and build on it! Athletes start small, build up their wind and will-power and keep adding more. We are all called to be athletes for Christ, to run the race and receive the merited crown which is the eternal glory of heaven. A life of ease, leisure and laziness does not harmonize with the following of Christ! Upon entering a Carmelite cell there is a cross without the corpus on it. Why? Because the Carmelite nun is called to mount the cross and live a life of denial for love of her mystical spouse, Jesus the Lord.

7.    BE MERCIFUL AND LEARN TO FORGIVE. It is impossible to live in this life without being hurt or wounded by others. There are two reactions to being hurt by others: revenge and bitterness or forgiveness and mercy. If we want to be pleasing to Jesus and Mary, best to choose the hard path of mercy and forgiveness   Jesus challenges us:  “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”  The English poet Alexander Pope reiterates the same theme: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”   A key element in forgiveness is to do it right away. The Word of God reminds us: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This is especially pertinent for husbands and wives in the married life.

8.     SEEK TO SERVE OTHERS.  Do not seek to be served; rather, seek out opportunities to be of service and to serve others. Saint Paul once again reminds us: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.” The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity encourages us to do the same in a challenging short statement:  “Give until it hurts!”  Of course looking up at Jesus on the cross and contemplating His wounds is the most sublime example of giving; He gave all even up to the last drop of His Precious Blood for love of you and for love of me! Either we choose a Christocentric life of service or an egocentric life of self-glorification. Once a Protestant Pastor chimed in with these words: “It is either theology or meology!!!” Read Mt 25:31-46—in this powerful passage you have the Corporal works of mercy listed. Which one of these Corporal works of mercy do you think God is challenging you to live out right now???

9.    THANKSGIVING.  One of the most pleasing sentiments that can flow from the human heart is that of thanksgiving. The Psalmist commands us frequently:  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.” At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and gave thanks.  Actually the Greek word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.”  How much Jesus suffered after healing ten lepers and only one came back to render Him thanksgiving.(Lk. 17:1-9) Shakespeare in Macbeth offers his words of wisdom on ingratitude: “More painful than a serpent’s tooth is that of an ungrateful child.”  The famous medieval writer Meister Eckhart puts it succinctly: “If the only prayer we ever did were that of thanksgiving to God that would be sufficient.”  Therefore it is not surprising that Saint Ignatius of Loyola stated that the essence of sin is ingratitude. May God fill our hearts with an overflowing expression of gratitude.

10. WALK WITH MARY, TALK TO MARY, IMITATE MARY AND LOVE MARY!!! In the prayers we say to conclude the most Holy Rosary, the Hail Holy Queen, we pray:  “Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope…” In the midst of the trials, afflictions, uncertainties and insecurities of life, immersed in times of moral confusion and political upheaval, submerged in times of war, suffering and constant bloodshed, we must lift up our eyes with great hope and trust toward the STAR OF THE SEA.  This beautiful image and poem penned by the mellifluous Doctor, Saint Bernard, encourages us to trust that Our Lady is there for us to help us through the storms of life and make it safely to heaven. Therefore, as a pilgrim on your journey to heaven do not walk alone. Walk with Mary, talk to Mary, imitate Mary and love Mary. Indeed she will be your life, your sweetness and your hope.”

 

Monday, July 20, 2015

DO WE LIVE IN THE AGE OF SLAVERY RIGHT NOW???


 

God called Moses, as He spoke to him from the burning bush, to free the Israelites from the bondage of Pharaoh in Egypt. After the slaughtering of the Lamb and crossing through the Red sea on dry land they were freed from the bondage and slavery in Egypt. God called Moses to be the ultimate leader of the people from slavery to freedom.  In the United States in the time of the President Abraham Lincoln, the degrading reality of slavery came to an end. Blacks would no longer be sold in the market-place but respected as human beings with inherent rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

All those of noble hearts and lofty aspirations rejoice exultantly over these victories in which slaves were given their inherent rights.  The thought of being treated like a mere slave, sold like a slave (a mere property or commodity to be purchased at the highest bid) causes most of us utter repulsion, true repugnance. Why? For the simple reason that we cherish FREEDOM!

This being said, we must introduce a more extensive interpretation to the meaning of slavery. Physical slavery is one thing, but there is an even more serious slavery—it is the slavery to sin. Jesus Himself calls sin slavery. Sin can make us true slaves to moral evil; and this is the worse form of slavery.

St. John the Baptist was made a slave of imprisonment under the wicked King Herod. However, the Baptist experienced the true freedom of the sons of God. Even though King Herod experienced exterior freedom, interiorly he was a true slave of his disordered passions and sin—lust, greed, gluttony, and insecurity.

In the United States we boast of the freedom that we experience, especially on the 4th of July by blowing off fire-works, admiring fire-rockets and guzzling down beer barrels! But do we really experience the true freedom that Jesus came to give us, the freedom of the sons and daughters of God?

What might be one of the major obstacles to freedom and the major form of slavery?  Anybody who utilizes simple reason will quickly be brought to the conclusion: the Capital sin of lust.  The flagrant, pervasive and universally promoted promiscuity in the realm of sexuality must be touted as the modern binding force of slavery far and wide. 

The expressions of sexual promiscuity are many, but for sake of brevity we will mention only three. First, it must be stated that all that God created was good, is good and always will be good. However, the problem is in the abuse of the goods of creation. One of the most exalted gifts of God’s creation is the proper use of human sexuality. The expression of human sexuality has its plan, purpose and divine blessing only in this context: a man and woman sacramentally married and in their conjugal union being open to the possibility of life, or procreation—that is to say, being ready to collaborate with God in bringing forth new life into existence. Man and woman provide the material reality; God infuses the immortal soul! Let us now proceed to list three of the modern slaveries in the field of lust and the abuse of human sexuality.

1.    SAME-SEX UNIONS. Even though the Supreme Court has recently approved and legalized the union of the same sexes and calling it marriage, it is not in the eyes of God. Even though you call a banana an apple, still the banana is a banana. The Government might call same-sex unions marriage, but it is not and it will never be. Why? God has told us! Listen!  “God created them male and female and for this reason and man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. What God has united let no man rent asunder.” Then God gave the first order to the man and woman:  “Increase and multiply.”—in other words, have children!  The acceptance, the promotion and practice of sodomy is wrong and it always will be morally reprehensible!

2.    PLAGUE OF PORN.  Honestly we must admit it: we live in a pornographic society. On almost every corner we turn we are bumping into the crude but all pervasive reality of pornography. In a certain sense, we can use this powerful but so true image: we are being surrounded by a pack of ravenous wolves (pornography) that is intent on devouring us. Indeed if we do not take extreme measures this ravenous wolf can grip on to us, bite into us and rip us apart—the way wolves do to their prey. It would be more than safe to say that pornography is the number one addiction in the United States as well as in other countries. Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton made an incredible prophecy more than two hundred years ago. She said that a black box would enter into the homes and families in the United States and ruin numberless families. Could it be that this prophecy of the insidious and poisonous “Black box” is both the television as well as the Internet connected to the “Black box” of the Computer, what to do you think?

3.    TRIAL-MARRIAGES/FREE-UNIONS/COHABITATION. It is all but a plague today among many so-called Catholics, Christians, to start off their life together by simply living together, free-union, “Shacking out” as they used to say in the 60’s! This expression of sexual promiscuity is becoming so common, pervasive and relevant to the modern world that believers, even practicing Catholics, are becoming desensitized to this immoral phenomena. The reasons behind this are multiple, but all immoral! Many say that they have to try it out to see if it works; others say that we have to see if we have good chemistry; still others, say that they do not want to take such a serious step of getting married in the Church and to make a wrong decision. In the mean time they are more than willing to offend God, live in mortal sin on a permanent basis, give bad example, better yet, give scandal to their children and to pave their way to the loss of their immortal souls for all eternity.

In conclusion, let us lift up our minds, hearts, souls and desires in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the holy and chaste Saint Joseph. Let us beg them fervently for ourselves, our family members as well as the whole world for the grace to be free from the slaveries of the present world, especially the all-prevalent slavery of lust. Let us beg both Our Lady through her most pure and Immaculate Heart and the most pure heart of Saint Joseph for the grace to live out this challenging but freeing Beatitude:  “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8) If done we will not be slaves, but truly free sons and daughters of our heavenly Father!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

HOLY HOUR AND OUR FAITHFULNESS TO GOD: REASON WHY WE SHOULD CONTINUE THIS PRACTICE.


HOLY HOUR AND OUR FAITHFULNESS TO GOD: REASON WHY WE SHOULD CONTINUE THIS PRACTICE.
 

 

The famous Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, famous tele-radio-evangelist, prolific writer, Head of the Missionary Society of the Church, world-renowned preacher and friend and confidant to many Popes, loved by millions attributed his success to one thing: a deep relationship to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The love of this great man of God was particularly manifested in His faithfulness to daily prayer, what He called His Holy Hour or HOUR OF POWER.

At the end of his life he made a decision to give retreats, after he retired as Archbishop of Rochester, New York.  However, his audience was very select and specific—to priests and Bishops. He challenged them!  He said that when they would speak the listeners would not always pay attention. However, when he spoke people would listen. The key Sheen emphasized was union with God through the Holy Hour—THE HOUR OF POWER.

We honestly believe in the truth of the words and habit of Sheen. The only way to convert the world is in the forming of an army of saints. Saints are those who are madly in love with Jesus Christ, head over heels! This fire of love can only be ignited through deep prayer and deep prayer becomes a reality specifically through the practice of the daily Holy Hour.

The following are ten reasons why we invite our readers to be generous and courageous enough to undertake the practice of the daily Holy Hour. Incorporate the HOUR OF POWER in the fabric of your daily routine and you will never regret having undertaken this life-changing practice. Sheen believed that the conversion of the priesthood and the Episcopacy should start by prolonged and fervent prayer—the Holy Hour the HOUR OF POWER! All of us should find the time to give the Lord time. We can easily spend more than an hour in front of t.v. or on the computer or talking with a friend or simply wasting time. Why not give the Lord and Creator of heaven and earth one hour day?
 

1.    AVOID SIN.  There is a direct relationship between sin and lack or prayer—Example: The Apostles in the Garden.  For us to avoid sin we need the grace of God and it come especially through prayer and the Sacraments.

2.    LEARN THE ART OF PRAYER.  St. Alphonsus says that the art of all arts is that of prayer. In any profession or enterprise perfection comes after hard work.  “No pain, no gain.”  A little girl was known to get up and sacrifice hour practicing figure-skating. Olympic athletes train years before their performances. Should not we give the Lord our time, efforts and good will and learn how to pray more and better?

3.    IMPROVE THE RECEPTION OF THE EUCHARIST.    Indeed the Sacramental life improves when the personal prayer life is improved. Jesus becomes more real in Holy Communion. Instead of a cold reception; Jesus is receive with fire, passion and love!

4.    AVOID MEDIOCRITY-- We live in a world with religious indifference (The message of Pope Francis for Lent (2015)—the globalization of indifference.) God hates this is! We hear this in the Book of Rev. 3—“You are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth…”The Church of Laodicea.)

5.    START FIRES.   Prayer sets our hearts on fire, like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus—“Did not our hearts burn within us as He explained the Word of God to us and tin the breaking of the bread… (Luke 24)

6.    OVERCOME BAD HABITS.  The saying is so true:  “Tell me with whom you associate and I will tell you who you are.”   If we spend this quality time with Jesus then we will start to imitate Him. Hopefully we will be able to say with St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me.”

7.    BLESS YOUR FAMILY.  We all have many family problems that we would like to resolve, and we have probably tried to resolve without much success.  We should first talk to God a long time and then we can talk to others about God.  It was said of Saint Dominic that he would first talk to God and then talk about God to others.

8.    INTERIOR PEACE OF SOUL.  We live in a hectic world of ACTIVISM.  Like Martha, many of us prefer to work more than prayer and fall into activism or horizontalism. Consequently we live stressed-out as well as stressing others out. We are lacking in deep prayer. Deep prayer gives us deep peace. Our God is called Emmanuel—God with us. He is the Prince of peace.

9.    SALVATION OF OUR SOULS AND OTHERS.  Saint Alphonsus says: “There is no such thing as weak or strong people but rather people that know how to pray and those who do not know how to pray.”  Fervent prayer with penance are keys to opening up the heart of God for the conversion of sinners.  First, the Cure of Ars prayed long hours and shed profuse tears and practiced severe penance and then his Parish was converted.  If we really knew the value of one immortal soul, we would spend much more time on our knees begging for the conversion of sinners and their immortal souls. Our souls have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

10. JESUS AND MARY REJOICE.  The fact that you have made the decision to give the Lord an Hour—the Holy Hour—is already a sign of good will and this causes the Heart of Jesus to rejoice. When someone comes to visit us with good will we rejoice at this token of good will and friendship. Jesus is even more grateful. By spending an Hour in the presence of Jesus He will become your Best Friend in time and for all eternity!