Monday, June 29, 2015

VICTIM—SELF-GIVING LOVE AND SUFFERING TO SAVE THE WORLD: JESUS DID ALL FOR YOU AND ME!


VICTIM—SELF-GIVING LOVE AND SUFFERING TO SAVE THE WORLD: JESUS DID ALL FOR YOU AND ME!
 

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen comments on the many names and titles that we can give for Jesus.  Jesus might be called the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Bread of Life and the Living Water. He also might be called the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, as well as the Good Shepherd.  However, the Name that most perfectly exemplifies the purpose of Jesus’s coming and the purpose of His death and Resurrection is that of SAVIOR! Jesus’ mission was to save all of humanity, as well as our individual immortal souls from the clasp of the devil and the fiery pit of hell!

SAVIOR.  Why Savior? Only Jesus could save us from moral corruption, from moral slavery, from moral depravation—all of this refers to the reality of sin. Indeed sin is moral corruption, moral slavery and moral depravation.
 

THE MEANS HE CHOSE TO SAVE US.   Jesus could have chosen one out of a million ways or means to save all of humanity; being God He could have chosen an infinity of channels by which we could be extricated from immoral quicksand in which all of us were destined for drowning!  Indeed, Jesus being both God and man through His Incarnation could have saved the world with, the so to speak, smallest and most insignificant action imaginable.

INFINITE VALUE OF THE SMALLEST ACTION.  Jesus being God-man, the smallest of His actions could have saved all of humanity a billion times over! Jesus simply breathing once, lifting up a nail, stretching out His hand, shedding one tear, removing a speck or dust-particle from the eyes of anybody—all of these most simple actions could have saved the world a billion times over.

HIS PASSION, SUFFERING AND DEATH. However, Jesus went way beyond the simple and insignificant to save all of humanity as well as the souls of each and every one of us individually. He went to the extreme limits! Jesus chose to undergo all of the most excruciating pains of His Passion and death to save all of humanity and that includes your individual soul. How precious you are and your soul is in the eyes of Jesus the Lord. Saint Ignatius of Loyola points out that Jesus went to the extremes of suffering so much in His Passion for two reasons: 1) To show us the gravity and serious reality of sin—sin nailed the God man to the tree; 2) LOVE.  “No greater love than to die for the one you love.” Especially Jesus chose the most humiliating and painful of deaths—that of the Roman crucifixion!

 


CONTEMPLATE THE LIST OF SUFFERINGS THAT JESUS UNDERWENT!!!!

Jesus willingly, totally and lovingly underwent all of these excruciating pains for love of you and me.  Still more Jesus would willingly repeat these sufferings if you were the only one in the whole universe. How precious you and the salvation of your immortal soul is in the eyes of Almighty God. Spends some time in silence to contemplate these many manners of the suffering of Jesus!

1.    Jesus sweating of Blood in the Garden of Gethsemane- all for your soul! Big drops of His Precious Blood trickled to the ground!

2.    ABANDONMENT.  The defection of His best Friends; He suffered this for your immortal soul. Friends leaving us and abandoning us when we most need their presence and friendship is bitter indeed!

3.    SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR.  Jesus was brutally bound, stripped, and mercilessly whipped to the point that His Sacred Body was reduced to an open wound. All of this for love, pure love! Pools of His Precious Blood bathed the dirty ground!

4.    CROWNING WITH THORNS.  They pressed sharp and piercing thorns that penetrated His brow, skull, even to His brain. This was the price of our immortal redemption! Lord, have mercy on me for my immoral and sinful thoughts!

5.    THE CROSS.  The cross He carried was loaded with all of the sins of the world, your sins and mine. So heavy was the cross that Jesus fell more than once under the heavy weight.

6.    OPEN WOUND IN THE SHOULDER.  St. Bernard and other saints have meditated on a very painful wound—the bloody wound in Jesus’ shoulder that was opened and reopened as He fell under the heavy weight of the cross. Jesus shouldered your sins and allowed His shoulder to be splintered and bleed, shouldering all of our moral misery. How much His love for us!

7.    BLOODY SWEAT. The weight of the cross, the sun and the heat of the day caused Jesus to sweat immensely. Contemplate the sweat of the Body of Jesus, all done for your salvation and mine. What a costly price that of the salvation of your immortal soul!

8.    STRIPPING OF HIS GARMENTS.  As Jesus reaches close to the top of Mount Calvary where crucifixion awaits Him the soldiers brutally grab on to Him and rip His garments off. By doing so the wounds are opened once again and blood comes running like a stream. This Jesus suffered for the sins against the virtue of modesty and the sins against the virtue of chastity! O Lord grant us pure minds, bodies and souls!

9.    CRUCIFIXION. Finally Jesus arrives at His destiny—the top of the hill called Calvary. Awaiting Jesus is still more intense suffering—that of the crucifixion. His sacred Hands are nailed to the cross; Blood comes gushing forth. His feet are nailed to the cross and once again the Blood comes gushing forth—all of this to repair for the many times that we have used our hands and feet and members to offend God in one or many different ways. Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us! Now O Lord I gave you my hands and feet to serve you.

10. INSULTS. As Jesus hangs between heaven and earth, suffering the last hours of His life in bitter agony still more sufferings descend upon Him. There are those close to the cross who blurt out bitters words and insults. Not only does Jesus suffer physical abuse but still more verbal abuse. These angry and bitter words cut into His very heart and soul. However, Jesus does not become bitter. Rather He responds with these words:  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

11. APPARENT TOTAL ABANDONMENT. One of the worse sufferings imaginable is to think that even God has abandoned or forsaken you! Saint John of the Cross explains this in his mystical writings called “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Jesus experienced in this dark night the apparent absence of the Face of His eternal Father—at least in His human nature when He cried out:  “My God, My God why have you abandoned me.” Jesus suffered this willingly for those who have abandoned God by rejecting God or by giving in to serious sin—another way that we can reject the Presence of God!

12. UNREPENTANT THIEF.  Until the end Jesus worked to save, but one of the thieves despite the over-flowing mercy of Jesus hardened his heart all the more. Indeed one of the greatest sufferings of Jesus was to endure His infinite love rejected.

13. LOSS OF BLOOD, SLOW SUFFOCATION, UTTER EXHAUSTION.  Physically Jesus loss much of His Sacred Blood, His breathing became all the more labored and His exhaustion became extreme. Up to the very end Jesus was giving all He had to save souls. How great the love of Jesus for you and for me!

14.                     RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE. There underneath the cross the soldiers shot dice to see who could win the garments of Jesus—total indifference to the Person and mission of Jesus. How much Jesus suffers this very day due to religious indifference, apathy and a non-chalant “who-cares” (“whatever”) attitude of life. Jesus came to cast fire in a world cloaked in a dense cloud of indifference! May God have mercy on us for taking Him for granted!!! Lord Jesus set my heart on fire for love of you and the salvation of immortal souls.

15.                     LOVE NOT LOVED.  Possibly the greatest interior agony of Jesus was the hard and cruel fact of His mission of love being rejected. Jesus gives   freedom to every individual on earth. Therefore, He forces Himself on nobody. His love not being accepted, especially His love manifested by His suffering, caused Jesus mortal anguish.

In conclusion, meditate slowly and fervently upon all of the different ways or manners that Jesus willingly suffered for you and the eternal salvation of your immortal soul. Then meditate upon the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and act on these words:  “What have I done for Jesus Christ? What am I doing for Jesus Christ? What will I do for Jesus Christ?”  My past, present and future! May Our Lady who suffered and offered herself to Jesus for salvation of countless souls help us to appreciate more and more the infinite love that God has for your soul and for mine. We have been redeemed not by gold or silver nor the blood of animals, but by the Precious Blood of Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

Monday, June 22, 2015

MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU ALWAYS!!!


 

“Blessed be God, Blessed be His Holy Name, Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man…” At the conclusion of a Holy Hour with the Blessed Sacrament exposed and adored, the priest or deacon gives the benediction or blessing upon the people with the most Blessed Sacrament, which is Jesus Himself…

Then before reposing the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle the ordained minister invites the people to praise God with the Divine Praises.  St. Ignatius Of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises in his consideration Principle and Foundation highlights the primary purpose of our existence on earth is to praise God and to save our immortal souls.

In this short essay we would like to invite all to get into the habit of receiving blessings and blessing God, and others and the whole creation with our presence. May your life, words, presence and actions be a constant blessing on the world now, tomorrow and  all the way into eternity.

VARIOUS FORMS OF BLESSINGS IN OUR LIVES!

1.    WAKE UP: BLESS GOD RIGHT AWAY!  Upon waking the first thing we should do is to make the Sign of the Cross and bless ourselves with the sign of the cross: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Every day, upon awaking, this should be our first gesture and our first words!  The Cure of Ars points out:  “He who starts out well will finish well.” Start your day with God’s blessing; live out God’s blessing and end your day praising and blessing God!

2.    MEAL TIME.   We must recover and establish in our homes and lives those beautiful traditions of our parents and grandparents. Though it be a very simple gesture, it is very significant: bless our meals before eating!  By doing this we are expressing God great gratitude for all that He has given to us out of His infinite bounty and goodness. Also by blessing the meal with the family, we invite Jesus to sit down at the meal table to be with our family. What a great presence! What a wonderful Guest!

3.    PARENTS BLESS YOUR CHILDREN.   Every night parents should form the habit of blessing their children before they retire for the night. Parents are called to be a blessing for their children as well as to bless them.   The Father is called to be the priest of the family; therefore, Dad should bless his children every night. Better yet, let Mom and dad bless their children with Holy Water—an added and even more powerful blessing! Even the devils have fear  the proper use of Holy Water!

4.    PRIESTLY BLESSING. The day after my ordination to the priesthood (May 25, 1986), I had the unique privilege of having the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa sing for my first Mass in our Roman Parish, Sant’ Elena.  After the Mass the nuns invited me to their convent which was less than a mile away from our Seminary. Upon arriving the nuns opened the door and received me and my family with great joy; there were probably close to 70 nuns. From the midst of these nuns a smaller and elderly nun approached me. She knelt down for my blessing. It was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I wanted to kneel down for her blessing. However, she insisted in kneeling down and begging humbly for my blessing.  With fear and trembling, I imparted one of my first priestly blessings to the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  Why did this great woman remain kneeling? Faith!  She had great faith in the presence and the blessing of Jesus through the presence of the priest. Indeed, even though we as priests are unworthy of such a sublime and lofty calling, God still calls us.  We are in the words of Saint Augustine “alter christus”—another Christ, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders imparted in the day of priestly ordination.

5.    MASS BLESSING.  This being said, we should bow our heads at the end of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and implore the blessings of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—with the priest’s blessing to conclude Mass. Sunday Masses and Weddings, as well as Funeral Masses the priest can actually impart a triple blessing over the people of God! Let us always implore God’s blessings but especially in the context of the greatest prayer—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

6.    BENEDICTION.  As mentioned in the introduction of this article, another prime moment to receive the most special of blessings is in the context of the Holy Hour.  The Holy Hour concludes with BENEDICTION.  The word “Benediction” comes from Latin and actually means blessing!  The priest (or Deacon) lifts up the monstrance over the people of God and then imparts the blessing of Jesus. This is the same Jesus who lived 2000 years ago in Galilee. This is the same Jesus who healed the blind, cured the sick, cleansed the lepers, gave strength to the paralytics, and even raised up the dead (Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Naim).  When the priest is imparting this very special blessing of Jesus Himself we should be very attentive to praise Jesus, thank Jesus, beg Jesus pardon for our sins and beg Him for the most abundant graces that flow from the depths of our hearts!

7.    RELIGIOUS ARTICLES AND BLESSING.  Once we acquire religious articles we should have them blessed by a priest or a deacon as soon as possible. Rosaries, Scapulars, Holy cards, medals, statues, religious paintings of Jesus, Mary and the saints, crosses and water—all of these can be blessed by the priest. These religious articles, because they have been blessed, should be treated with respect. Carry them on your person-- your Scapular, Rosary, religious medal, Holy Cards in your wallet. These religious articles are not good luck charms but reminders of God’s holy presence in your daily walk, in your daily life. We should do all we possibly can in our life to think about God, speak to God and to love God and these are holy reminders!  Take advantage of them.

8.    MASS AND HOLY EUCHARIST.  The greatest gesture you can perform on earth is to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion—the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the “Holy of Holies”.  Do this as often as possible to receive the most abundant blessings! The greatest blessing is Jesus Himself!

9.    YOUR LIFE: A BLESSING FOR OTHERS.  Then after you have received the Lord Jesus into the very heart of your being, your soul, then leave Church with the ardent desire of a true missionary. Leave the Church with the blessing of God within your heart and bring God’s blessings wherever you go and to whomever you meet and whoever God places in your path. God is the greatest blessing. God has blessed you most abundantly. Now it is time for you to be a constant blessing on the whole world. Blessed be you! Be a blessing for others!

10. OUR LADY AND BLESSINGS.  When Saint Elizabeth greeted Our Lady in the Visitation, the baby in the womb of Elizabeth leaped for joy. (Saint John the Baptist) Moved by the Holy Spirit, Saint Elizabeth addressed Our Lady in these all-inspiring, sublime and immortal words: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb…”(Lk. 1:42)  Then Our Lady in her sublime canticle of praise the Magnificat (Lk. 1:48)   reechoed the word “blessing” by saying… “All generations will call me blessed for the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.”  Therefore, if we truly want to learn the art of living a blessed life and the art of blessing others, let us turn to the “Blessed among women”, Mary most holy, and beg her for her prayers and blessings in this life and for all eternity!  May the Blessed Trinity be praised, blessed and worshiped, through the intercession of Mary. AMEN!

Monday, June 15, 2015

GRACE: GOD’S FREE GIFT TO THOSE WHO ASK IT!



On one occasion the great mystic, prayer-warrior, penitent, as well as woman Doctor of the Church Saint Catherine of Siena was granted a vision into the state of one soul imbued with sanctifying grace. Upon contemplating the beauty of this one soul in God’s grace she fell to her knees.  Enthralled and totally captivated by its beauty she thought it was God Himself!

GOD’S GRACE: THE GREATEST TREASURE ON EARTH!  Of all of the gifts that we can receive on earth, as pilgrims travelling towards our eternal home which is heaven, the grace of God is by far the greatest treasure.  It is the pearl of infinite price!

WORLDLY AND SENSUAL.   Whereas the worldly and sensual pursue money, fame, power, and pleasure as their ultimate source of happiness (which really is a lie and illusion), God’s true friends pursue ardently and constantly to grow in grace. Another rather simple way to understand the life of grace is simply this: friendship with God.  God desires ardently to be our Friend, the best of Friends; however, He respects our time and freedom to accept Him as our best Friend!
 

BAPTISM.  The life of grace all starts in the moment that we receive the Sacrament of Baptism.  The graces that flow from Baptism are extraordinary, almost mind-boggling—how good God really is!!!  Once the water is poured on the head and the words: “I baptize you X_____________name, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, invisible but real miracles occur: an intimate relationship with the Blessed Trinity, the infusion of the theological virtues, moral virtues, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Still of paramount importance is the reality of GRACE that permeates and imbues the soul in the moment of Baptism!

GRACE: GOD’S FRIENDSHIP.  With the waters of Baptism we enter into a deep and intimate friendship with the Triune God and we become partakers of His divine nature—we  become sons of God and have as inheritance—if we persevere in grace—heaven forever!  For that reason the saints teach us: grace is the seed of eternal life.

GRACE IN OUR SOULS.  Given that grace in our souls is the greatest gift and presence, we should do all in our power to preserve grace, grow in grace, so as to die in the state of grace. Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church and author of the classic  Glories of Mary, states that the grace of all graces is to die in the state of grace.  This should be our prayer every day for our souls, that of our loved one as well as for the whole world. Indeed Jesus came as universal Savior—to save the whole world through His Paschal mystery—His passion, death and Resurrection from the dead!

THE TWO WORSE THINGS!  The two worse things in the universe are the following: 1) Committing a mortal sin (this indeed is terrible); 2) Worse still is dying in the state of mortal sin; this, of course results in an eternal separation from God for all eternity! May God save us from the reality of mortal sin.  Nonetheless, if we do have the misfortune of falling into mortal sin, we should never give into despair. On the contrary, we should have a limitless confidence in God’s infinite mercy and have recourse to the wonderful Sacrament of God’s mercy that we call CONFESSION!   The Psalmist reminds us with these encouraging words: “God is slow to anger and rich in kindness.” Saint Paul reiterates the same theme:  “Where sin abounds, the grace of God abounds all the more.”

WAYS TO GROW ON THE GRACE OF GOD IN OUR DAILY LIVES

We should do all in our power to preserve God’s grace in our souls, but also to grow daily in God’s grace.  God’s grace and His intimate Friendship in our soul are worth more than the whole created universe.   The natural realm in which we live can never be compared to the supernatural realm in which we find the concept and reality of grace. As a fish swims in water, as a bird flies in the sky so should we be swimming and flying in the atmosphere of grace! This should be the most ardent desire of our hearts, mind and souls!

1.    PRAYER.  Every time we pray with humility of heart, purity of intention and a desire to please God we immediately grow in grace.   For that reason we should treasure prayer, our prayer life and the prayer life of others as the highest and greatest of all realities.  Parents who teach their children to pray are the best of parents; parents who are slothful and negligent in the education of their children in the arena of prayer will have to give an account on the day of their judgment! Because of the numerous distractions of daily life, how easy it is for parents—who must be the first educators of their children—to be negligent and sloppy in teaching their children to pray! May God have mercy on us!

2.    CHARITY.  The Word of God teaches us this consoling truth:  “Love covers a multitude of sins.” If we can find ways and opportunities that God offers us on a daily basis to practice charity and service or even alms-giving towards others then we have another means to augment grace in our souls. In the movie LITTLE BOY, the little boy was given what the priest called the “Magic list” to accomplish so that his father would return home safe and sound from the World War. The magic list is nothing more than less than the corporal works of mercy listed in (Mt. 25:31-46) “ I was hungry and you gave me to eat; thirsty and you gave me to drink; a foreigner and you welcomed me; sick and in prison and you came to visit me; dead and you provided burial…” Beg the Holy Spirit in prayer which of these He is calling you to carry out in practice in your life so as to increase grace in your soul!

3.    PENANCE.  Jesus stated that some devils can be cast out only through prayer and fasting.  The Lord also reminds us: “Anyone who wants to be my follower must renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me.”  Every time we say “no” to our selfish desires and “yes” to a sacrifice that the Holy Spirit has inspired in our hearts then once again the grace of God rises in our hearts! An added blessing from God when we undertake a life of sacrifice is conquering our bad habits and interior peace of mind, heart and soul!  Let us be generous with a God who loves us so much!

4.    SACRAMENTS: THE EUCHARIST! Of course the greatest action in the whole universe is that of receiving the greatest of all Sacraments—The Eucharist!  The Holy Eucharist, Holy Communion, is truly and substantially the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Receiving Our Lord with the best of dispositions, in grace, with faith, love, humility and desire for a deeper conversion to His love is an infinite source of grace because this Sacrament is God Himself! For this reason there is no greater action we can do as pilgrims and wayfarers on earth than to receive Jesus with lively faith, frequency and burning love! If you like a simple image, upon receiving Jesus with burning love the gas gauge in your spiritual tank (your soul) shoots up way beyond the FULL!!! Beg for the grace to have a daily hunger for the Bread of life so as to constantly skyrocket in grace—to penetrate the high heavens even while on earth! In the Our Father we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread…” Perhaps Jesus is challenging you to aim at daily Mass and daily Holy Communion so as to surmount the highest mountains in the realm of grace!

5.    OUR LADY: THE HAIL MARY. On one occasion the German mystic and saint, Saint Gertrude saw Jesus in heaven.  He was resplendent in glory, but He was doing an intriguing gesture: placing a golden coin on top of a huge mound of other gold coins. The saint was just finishing praying to our Lady the Hail Mary. Jesus responded in this manner. “Gertrude, every time you pray to my mother the HAIL MARY with faith and devotion, I am depositing a Golden coin in heaven that will be yours for all eternity.”  If we want to be multi-billionaires in heaven let us love Mary and the prayer that Mary loves so much-- the HAIL MARY.  In the Hail Mary we greet the Queen of Heaven and earth with these beautiful words: “Hail Mary FULL OF GRACE…  Therefore, let us get into the habit of praying the daily Rosary, with the beautiful prayer HAIL MARY.  If done, Our Lady, through her powerful intercession will be storing up for you infinite treasures and an eternal home in heaven! May we love grace, treasure grace, strive to grow in grace and finally die in grace through the intercession of Mary, the “Full of grace.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

SAVING SOULS FOR ETERNAL HAPPINESS


 

If we love God then we should be intent upon knowing what God loves and collaborating with God in His plan and destiny of this world.  What God loves and desires most in the world that He created from an abundance of His love is the SALVATION OF IMMORTAL SOULS.

One soul is worthy more than the whole created universe. In fact, God created all in the natural and material world as a means by which we can arrive at heaven. If you like, all of creation should be a ladder or stepping stone to heaven, and never a stumbling block.

This being the clear truth about God and His great desire to save souls, what way can we  collaborate with God in  this awesome enterprise, this sublime mission, this most noble of all activities: the salvation of immortal souls?

1.    HOLINESS.  Jesus said: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” Also, one of the Beatitudes is: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (holiness) they will be satisfied.”  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed it as such” “Holiness is not the privilege of the few but the duty of all.” The devil said that if there were three more of the Cure of Ars then his kingdom would be destroyed.” Unfortunately evil can attract, lure, appeal and seduce even noble and holy individuals. However, holiness is like a magnet that attracts.  St. Pope John Paul II, the Cure of Ars, St. Anthony, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. John Bosco were saints and they attracted others to follow them so that they could bring them to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Beg Jesus right now from the depths of your heart for this one special and all-important grace: “Lord, make me a saint.” Saint Dominic Savio upon meeting Saint John Bosco said this:  “You are the tailor and I am the cloth; make me a saint.”  Let us beg the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier to help us to become the saint that God has designed for us for all eternity.  The hard truth is this: we are all called to become saints. The proof is double:  Jesus commanded it; and only the saints are in heaven (Of course with the faithful angels). In a real sense, the greatest tragedy on earth is to fail in God’s mission for us and not become the saint that God has called us to be.  One of the most important Documents in the Church in the Modern world is a Dogmatic Constitution with the title “Lumen Gentium” (Light for the People). This is considered by many the greatest of all of the Documents of the Second Vatican Council. In the very heart of this Document, Chapter V, the title of this Chapter is nothing less than “The universal call to holiness.” All are called to grow daily in holiness; all are called to become saints. There is too much mediocrity, tepidity, lukewarmness in the Church today. The world must witness men and women that are on fire for the love of God.  Jesus Himself said:  “I have come to cast fire on the earth and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled.”  Saint Ignatius’ last words to the great Apostle to the Indies, Saint Francis Xavier were:  “Go set all on fire.”



2.    SHORT-CUT TO HOLINESS.  There are many means, methods, and tools that can be utilized to construct an edifice of holiness in our person. However, let us cut to the quick and give the quickest and the most efficacious means. The Sunday after Trinity Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of CORPUS CHRISTI—that is to say the Solemnity of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One of the primary purposes of this sublime Liturgical Solemnity is to foster within our hearts a strong faith, ardent love and burning passion to appreciate the Eucharistic Lord more than we ever have in our life. This is manifested most concretely by having an insatiable hunger and thirst for Holy Mass and to receive the Eucharistic Lord into the deepest recesses of our souls.   The Psalmist reminds us in these poetic and mystical words: “As the deer yearns for the running streams so my soul longs for you O Lord my God.”  I do not believe that it would be far-fetched, much less heretical to offer a Eucharistic interpretation to the most prayed prayer in the world—the Our Father.  One of the petitions in the Our Father, also known as the Lord’s Prayer is:  “Gives us this day our daily bread…   Would it be wrong to assert and to challenge believing Catholics to have an ardent hunger for the daily bread of the Eucharist??? No doubt our body needs daily bread to be sustained. However our soul supersedes in light years the importance of the body. Jesus reminds us with these clear and cutting words:  “What would it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and to lose his soul in the process?  What can a man give in exchange for his soul?”  By receiving the Holy Eucharist with lively faith, burning fervor (love) and frequency (on a daily basis) we are on the highway to holiness, the highway to heaven, and beyond the shadow of a doubt God will use as His companion, friend and collaborator to work ardently and strenuously for the salvation of immortal souls.  Therefore, why not right now look at your weekly schedule and your daily schedule and check out the daily Masses close to your home and decide to set aside a half an hour a day for daily Mass and for the reception of daily Holy Communion. You will never regret this decision and change in your life!!! Then after you have received Jesus with faith, devotion, fervor and passionate love in your heart in Holy Communion beg the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, who is the Holy of Holies to make you a saint. Beg the Lord through the intercession of Our Lady the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Mother of the Eucharistic Savior to use you as an instrument to save an enormous harvest of souls. The harvest is rich and the laborers are few. Jesus is calling you right now to hearken to His wonderful but challenging call to work with Him in the salvation of immortal souls. Never forget: one immortal soul is worth more than the whole created universe! Jesus shed His precious Blood for the salvation of your soul and the souls of the entire universe!

Monday, June 1, 2015

MAKING THE BEST COMMUNION IN YOUR LIFE!


The Mass and the Mystical Body of Christ!
 
 

Of all the gestures, actions, decisions, operations, motions in the life of the human person, by far the greatest (beyond comparison) is to receive Jesus, the Lord and God into the very depths of your soul in the greatest of all Sacraments: HOLY COMMUNION!!!

The Bread of Life, the Bread of the Angels, Corpus Christi, food for the journey, energy and strength on the Highway to holiness, Our Comfort, Friend, Guide, Light, Support and fortitude, spiritual manna, Our eternal life—all of these and many more can be mentioned are short names, titles or descriptions for Jesus, truly present in Mass  in Holy Communion. We can call it the “Sacrament of Sacraments.”

VALUE OF ONE HOLY COMMUNION.   Nobody on earth could ever compare one Holy Communion to any other created reality. However, reflect on this: the entire created universe from the stars, planets, immense oceans, and lofty mountains, and starry skies, as well as all of the fish in the seas and animals populating the earth cannot equal even one, just one Holy Communion!!!

Mass and the sacrifice on Calvary
 
WHY?  The reason is simple but very sublime!   One Holy Communion is GOD HIMSELF!!!   Holy Communion is not some vague or abstract symbol, as non-Catholic religions assert! No one Holy Communion is God Himself. God is the origin of all that exists and the purpose of our existence! God created all of us out of love, to love Him in this life so as to be with Him and to love Him for all eternity in Heaven!

GOD’S HUMILITY!  How humble God is that he becomes one of us. By Mary’s “Yes” the second Person of the Blessed Trinity became like us; He became man. He became like us in all things except sin. Still more, Jesus the Son of Mary, after leaving this earth in His glorified Body, wanted to stay with us always even until the end of time.

The last words of Jesus in the Gospel Matthew were: “And behold I will be with you always even until the end of time.” (Mt. 28: 20 ) If Jesus went up to heaven then how can He still be with us and even until the end of time, until the end of the world? The response: in His Mystical Body which is the Church that He established as the primary Sacrament of salvation.

The priest acts in the person of Christ
 
GREATEST SACRAMENT.  However of all of the Sacraments the greatest of all of the Sacraments is the most Holy Eucharist. Why? Because the most Holy Eucharist is really God; it is really Jesus Christ the Bread of life.  The Holy Eucharist is truly and substantially the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ! Even the smallest consecrated Host, even half of the Host, even a small particle of the consecrated Host is still Jesus the Lord, Kind and God of the universe!

UPGRADE/IMPROVE YOUR HOLY COMMUNIONS: TEN SUGGESTIONS!!!

The success of the party depends on the prior preparation; sports success depends on the prep and warm-up and mental attitude and discipline; a good and loving courtship terminates in a loving and permanent marriage.  The same can be applied to a fervent and worthy reception of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.

How do we treat our guests??? And Jesus the Guest of our soul???
 
Another analogy! Receiving a guest! There are very many different ways that we can receive a guest into our home. Here are a few!   You could receive a guest against your will—sometimes due to circumstances, this is the case. Or you could receive a guest with resistance and begrudgingly.  Then you can receive a guest willingly with the doors of your home wide open!  Still more you could receive a guest by preparing the night before, with great joy, to receive such a guest you really long to have in your home and share a meal with. Finally, upon the knowledge of a special guest coming, you clean the whole home the day before, prepare the food and the meal that you know your guest enjoys most; put on the back-ground music that the guest  enjoys listening  to; and finally, decorate the home with balloons and attractive and joyful banners.  We have portrayed a whole series of ways or manners that a guest could possibly be received—from the worst imaginable scenario to the best of bests!


Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart!
 
JESUS THE GUEST OF OUR INTERIOR HOMES (OUR SOUL).  This analogy of receiving a guest into one’s home can easily be applied to receiving Jesus into our souls.  Examine your conscience now: what type of reception do you give the Eucharistic Lord Jesus when you receive Him into your home/soul when you receive Him in Holy Communion?  How is He received? Accept the challenge to examine your Eucharistic reception. Why?  As was said earlier, this is the most important action that you can possibly do in your life. This being the truth, we should all make a concerted effort to improve and upgrade the efficacy of our reception of the Eucharistic Lord.   How then can we apply this principle to receiving the Lord of the universe into the inner recesses of our soul? Following are ten practical suggestions that can be of immense help!
Can you identify with this Sunday Mass goer???
 

1.    FAITH. How easy it is for our faith to decline, to get weak, or even to disappear.  Sad to say that the biggest religious group in USA are non-practicing Catholics! Let us pray with fervor:  “Lord I do believe but strengthen my faith!” Faith is like a seed planted in the ground. May our faith grow, blossom and flourish until we reach heaven!

2.    APPRECIATION.  In relationships, especially in marriages, one of the greatest perennial dangers is to start to take the spouse for granted. This can be lethal to any marriage. The same thing can insinuate itself into our relationship with the Eucharistic Lord: we can become accustomed or used to Mass and Holy Communion—even among daily communicants- and start to take the Lord for granted.  In the Diary of Mercy in my soul, by Saint Faustina, Jesus complains that there are souls that receive Him with no love, but rather as if  He were a mere object. Jesus states that He would prefer not to be received than to be received like a mere object and out of mere routine, to be received mechanically!  There is a plack with these words in many sacristies, which serves as a reminder to priests to celebrate every Mass with faith and fervor:  “Priest, man of God celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.”  We should receive every Holy Communion as if it were our first, last and only Holy Communion.

Scrub your soul be confession
 
3.    CLEAN THE HOUSE. Make a good sacramental Confession.   The saints and the church teach us that the cleaner and more pure the soul the more abundant the graces in receiving Holy Communion. If you like, a dirty glass pane prevents the sun from entering the room fully. Likewise, a dirtied or sullied soul will block the full and powerful presence of the Eucharistic Lord in His entirety from inundating the soul!

4.     COME EARLY.   It is doubtful that we would show up late for the last game in the World Series, or a graduation ceremony, or even an expensive and exquisite meal in a glamorous restaurant. Should we not then be early to welcome the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords into our hearts? What do you think? Coming late for Mass disturbs others, disturbs the priest and dampens one’s over-all participation in the Mass. Let us avoid cutting corners and selling God cheap!

Late for Mass again!!!
 
5.    REVERENCE.   Moses was commanded to take off his sandals before the burning bush that was a mere symbol of the Eucharistic Presence. Isaiah complained that he was impure in the midst of an impure people. His lips had to be purified by the burning coal.  How much more reverence we should manifest in front of the Real Presence and the Eucharistic Lord.  He is not a symbol but a Real Person! If a King merits the greatest reverence and respect, what about the King of the universe the Eucharistic Lord?

6.    INTENTIONS!  The Parish priest usually has his specific intentions in every Mass. This does not negate the fact that you cannot have your own private intentions. Three suggestion to help you to live the Mass more fully : 1) Offer Mass for a deceased person that might be detained in Purgatory, for his quick release or at least alleviation of his suffering. 2) Conversion of sinners. We all have in mind family members, relatives, friends, fellow-workers who seem to have forgotten about God or are angry at God and have for many different reasons drifted away from the Church. Offer your Holy Mass and Holy Communion so that they will return. These lost sheep may return to the Good Shepherd if you take the effort to pray for them and place them on the altar in Holy Mass. 3) Personal conversion. We all struggle with the flesh; we all struggle with our own demons; we all struggle with the seduction of the world and its deception and many allurements. In Holy Communion why not beg the Lord Jesus that He would grant you the grace of a true HEART TRANSPLANT!!!  Indeed you do receive the Body, and Blood of Jesus. That means you receive His total Body and that includes His Heart. Ask Jesus to give you His Sacred Heart and beg His Sacred Heart overflowing with the flames of love to consume all that which is in your heart which is displeasing to Him. Fervent and frequent Holy Communion is the short-cut to holiness!!!

Excellent guidelines to participate well in Holy Mass!
 
7.    PARTICIPATE.  In Mass we are not called to be passive observers as if it were a play, a show or an opera. On the contrary we are called to participate fully, actively, and consciously. (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium,  Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy) We are called to listen attentively to the Word of God, respond to the Word, and to sing with all our hearts in praise and worship of the Lord. When silence is called for we enter into profound silence where we will meet the Lord. As the prophet reminds: “Be silent and know that I am the Lord.”

8.     MARY’S HEART AND YOURS.   While approaching Holy Communion we should humbly beg the Blessed Virgin Mary—as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta reminds us—to lend us her Immaculate Heart so that we can receive Jesus with the utmost purity, humility and burning love.  This is truly a key to upgrade and improve our Holy Communions—to receive Holy Communion through the Heart of Mary. St. Pope John Paul II makes a beautiful parallel. He compares Our Lady’s “Yes” or fiat in the Annunciation to our “Amen” when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. The result is the same: receiving Jesus into the heart. Our Lady’s yes resulted in the conception of Jesus in her womb. Our “Amen” in Holy Communion results in Jesus’ Eucharistic Presence taking root in our heart, mind and soul!

Our Lady and the Eucharist
 
9.    THANKSGIVING!   After Holy Communion we should spend some time in rendering thanks to Jesus for this greatest of all gifts—His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion. There is no greater gift! In a home visitation and a friendly meal, a guest who has even the least of manners will thank the hosts for having invited him. Should we not abound in thanksgiving to Jesus for humbling Himself to descend into our miserable interior home that we call our soul?  Let us join our hearts, minds and voices with the Psalmist and acclaim:  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” Indeed God rejoices in a grateful heart. Let us cultivate and attitude of gratitude!

Mary is a living Tabernacle-- Corpus Christi
 
10. EUCHARISTIC APOSTLE. Given that you have encountered the greatest treasure in your life, the pearl of infinite value, you should be motivated to the fullest extent possible to bring Jesus to others and to bring others to Jesus!  Take Our Lady as an example! After conceiving Jesus in her womb in the Annunciation, she went in haste to bring Jesus to her cousin Elizabeth who in her old age was with child. Mary hurried to bring Jesus to others. After you have received Jesus in Holy Communion and given Him a worthy thanksgiving, now it is time to become a fiery Apostle and to bring the Lord Jesus to others. Preach by your example but also by your word. Invite others to Church, to confession, to Mass and Holy Communion. Become a missionary! The harvest is rich but the laborers are few. You right now are called to work in the vineyard with the Lord; you are called to go fishing with the Lord and to save souls. One of the most efficacious tools to save souls is to help the wandering sheep, the stray Catholics, to come back to Church, make a good Sacramental Confession and then to receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. Venerable Archbishop Fulton Seen expresses it this way:  “First come and then go!”  First we should come and receive Jesus with great fervor, faith and love; then we go out to the whole world to bring this good news of salvation to every living being!

In conclusion, we should be overflowing with joy and gratitude for the most sublime gift of the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is truly and substantially the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. There is no greater action we can possibly do while we live on earth than to receive the Eucharist worthily. Jesus’ promise for receiving Him frequently and worthily should fill all of us with immense joy. Jesus consoles us with these words:  “I am the Bread of life. Whoever eats my Body and drinks my Blood will have everlasting life and I will raise Him up on the last day.” (Bread of Life discourse: Jn. 6: 22-71) Heaven is ours if we receive Jesus here on earth with faith and burning love!