Monday, March 2, 2015

FORGIVE AND SET THE PRISONER FREE!



The renowned English poet Alexander Pope stated: “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” How true this statement, but how difficult it can be! Holding on to resentment indeed is interior slavery. Whereas, to forgive is truly imitating God Himself, but also setting the captive free and that captive is me!

Frequently and in unequivocal terms Jesus has reaffirmed the indispensable obligation of all to forgive those who hurt us, to pray for our enemies, and to do good to those who hurt us! Once again, easier said than done! Actually without God’s grace to forgive those who have wounded us and to love and pray for our enemies far transcends and supersedes our natural powers. In sum, we need Gods’ grace to forgive our enemies.

Jesus is our example in all,  in absolutely  all we say, do and even think in our daily lives!  Indeed He said it clearly:  “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus first begun by doing and then by His preaching. First actions, then words!

His very demanding teaching on forgiveness, He lived to perfection at every stage and moment of His earthly existence.

What are some of the teachings of Jesus on mercy and forgiveness? Meditate on a few!  “Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful.”  In response to Peter’s generous willingness to forgive seven times, Jesus upped it a notch or two: “No, I say to you to forgive seventy times seven.”  This is hyperbole for the imperious obligation to forgive always, without limits or reservations!

Then Jesus made a Liturgical/Mass allusion. He said that if you have come to Church to present your offering and you know that your brother has something against you, to simply leave the offering at the foot of the altar, reconcile with your brother and then return to offer the gift. In other words, to celebrate worthily the Liturgy we should strive to be at peace with our brothers and sisters, and not be angry and resentful towards anybody.

Then the most famous prayer in the world, the Our Father, Jesus inserted this very important command: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  In other words, forgiveness from God on our part is a two way street. If we want to be a recipient of God’s forgiveness, then necessarily we must forgive those who have hurt us!

 Finally, the most eloquent witness of Gods’ forgiveness for all of humanity and for us individually was when Jesus hung upon the cross after having been scourged, crowned with thorns, spat upon and mocked, forgotten and abandoned by His loved ones, derided and mocked incessantly. What was His response as He hung on the cross ready to breathe forth His spirit?  These words: “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

Following are five short and concrete suggestions to help us on the pathway to forgiveness and mercy!

1.    BEG FOR THE GRACE.  To forgive our enemies, to pray for them and to love them goes far beyond our fallen human nature.   We desperately need God’s overflowing and abundant graces. Saint Augustine says that we are all beggars before God. Therefore, we should beg for the grace to forgive when we are put to the test. God will not deny us this petition and important grace!

2.    FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY.   When we are offended, often the devil works on us right away fostering in our minds thoughts of revenge. Such ugly and vindictive thoughts can easily surface:  “Get even!”  “Teach him a lesson.”  “Give him his own medicine.”  “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” Finally, “Do not let him get away with it this time.” In a certain sense we might feel, as a Protestant preacher once put it succinctly: “We desire to forgive but only after we see him squirm like a worm in hot ashes, at least for a while.” All of these thoughts and feelings are diametrically opposed to the teaching of Our  merciful Savior and we must resist them and reject them as soon as we become aware of them. Therefore, if we respond to God’s grace of mercy and forgive immediately there is a very good chance that the victory is ours!  In sum, be quick to reject vindictive thoughts and even more rapid to forgive!

3.    HUMILITY. Another efficacious spiritual weapon that we have in our armory is that of HUMILITY.  How?  In this way!  If forgiveness proves laborious and near impossible, then call to mind your worse sin or your most embarrassing sin and the fact that God forgave you of this as soon as you begged for His mercy and forgiveness. Most likely the offense that was leveled against you is minimal in comparison with your most grave or embarrassing sin. This can prove  a very powerful tool to open up your heart in mercy and forgiveness!

4.    MERCY IS A TWO-WAY STREET!  Next, remember that receiving God’s mercy is not a dead-end street, but rather a two-way street!  Meaning? Jesus said: “Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful… and forgive…” Therefore, if we want to experience God’s infinite mercy in our lives, we must extend our hand in forgiveness towards those who have offended us.  The Our Father teaches us the same lesson:  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”   Saint Faustina Kowalska in the “Diary of Divine Mercy in my soul” asserts unequivocally that the greatest attribute or virtue in God is His infinite Mercy. Followers of Jesus the merciful Savior must practice this sublime but very demanding virtue. Mercy is God’s love forgiving the sinner. We deciding to forgive our enemies  is a clear sign of the victory of God’s grace and mercy in our lives!

5.    JESUS BLEEDING FROM THE CROSS.  Possibly the most convincing motivational force to compel us to forgive those who offend us is the serene but serious contemplation of Jesus hanging on the cross, shedding every drop of His most Precious Blood to save all of humanity, but in particular my own immortal soul.  After being hurt and maybe not willing to forgive, lift up your eyes to contemplate Jesus as He hangs from the cross. Remember what He has already gone through: sweating Blood, scourged at the Pillar, crowned with thorns, denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, condemned being totally innocent, nailed to the cross, and shedding every drop of His Precious Blood. What was the first word/short sentence/ that issued forth from His most Sacred Heart?  Look, listen, contemplate and pray!  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing!”  Meditating upon these words, coupled with the contemplation of His bitter Passion, hanging from the cross and shedding of His most Precious Blood, should be the most efficacious tool/hammer to crush the hardened heart that is apparently unwilling to forgive! Finally, beg Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of mercy, for the grace to forgive.  Nobody ever suffered more than Mary—aside from Jesus Himself! Still, as she heard and witnessed her only Son suffer and die on the cross, brutally mistreated, she forgave from the depths of her Immaculate Heart. May Our Lady attain for us the grace to forgive, be merciful and merit the title to be truly the son of God the Father,  brother to Jesus Christ, and friend of the Holy Spirit in time and for all eternity! Amen.

 

Monday, February 23, 2015

BE AN APOSTLE OF THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION!


 
Many have drifted away from having frequent recourse to the Sacrament of God’s mercy that we call Confession!  The reasons are many!  Some have never had their conscience well formed; others are paralyzed with fear; still others simply blurt out: “I have no sin!”  Be it as it may, this crisis must be conquered.

The following are five concrete practices that you right now can undertake to promote the return to God’s mercy through returning to the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Confession.

1.    YOU PERSONALLY: GO TO CONFESSION!  It would be insincere to try to convince others to go to confession if we ourselves are putting up pretexts and excuses to avoid receiving God’s infinite mercy by avoiding going to Confession. Prepare yourself today and go to confession tomorrow!   Do not let the devil of procrastination conquer you!

2.    MERCY.  Then after you have experienced the infinite mercy of God by making your own personal Sacramental Confession to a priest, then invite somebody to go to Confession.  Remind this wandering soul, lost sheep, Prodigal son/daughter that God’s mercy is infinite.   Saint Paul reminds us: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God abounds all the more.”  Furthermore, the Diary of mercy in my soul of Saint Faustina Kowalska asserts that the greatest sinners can be the greatest saints if they simply place their trust in the Infinite mercy of Jesus. Actually, the greatest sin, according to Jesus, highlighted in the Diary, is a lack of confidence in Him!  This lack of confidence is what wounds Jesus most.

3.    THE PRODIGAL SON AND CONFESSION.(Lk. 15:11-32) Invite all to read and to meditate upon the Parable of the Prodigal Son before approaching the Sacrament of God’s mercy as well as to read and meditate upon this spiritual masterpiece after the Confession. You might even focus upon the wonderful gifts that the Father generously bestows upon the repentant son and their symbolic meaning. What are these gifts and the symbolism?

a)    KISS—God’s love for us never changes even when we make mistakes and even big mistakes!

b)    HUG—God is a loving Father always willing and ready to forgive us as soon as we can say from the depths of our hearts: God I am sorry; forgive me!

c)     RING—God wants to establish once again a covenant of love with you, but also challenges you to be faithful to Him in the future and reject the temptations to sin.

d)    NEW CLOAK—Nakedness symbolizes sin and the loss of grace. The Cloak is symbolic of the clothing and cloaking of one’s souls with the royal garment of sanctifying grace, God’s deep and lasting Friendship.

e)    SANDALS—given so that we can walk the walk and talk the talk of truly following in the footsteps of Jesus who is the WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.

f)      PARTY—after a profound confession, now we can return with joy to the Banquet of the Lord’s Sacrament, the Eucharist, in the context of Holy Mass.

g)    FATTED CALF—Now in Mass, having gone to Confession and returning to grace we can nourish our souls on the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

h)    MUSIC AND DANCE!  A good confession is always a reason to rejoice immensely. Experiencing God’s loving forgiveness, the soothing balm of a pure conscience, the invitation to start a new life, and the keen awareness of God’s all-abiding Fatherly presence—all of these are infinite reservoirs to exult with joy!



4.    EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE.   To facilitate the preparation for the Sacrament of Confession, acquire a good examination of Conscience that explains clearly and to the point the Ten Commandments and give this to this wandering and confused soul. Invite him to read it thoroughly, examine his conscience and even write down the sins that he is aware of. If they are mortal sins, remember to write down the number of times.  The Catechism specifies that mortal sins have to be mentioned in both species and number.  This is required for an integral and complete Confession!

5.    WHERE? WHEN? HOW?  Somebody who has been away from the Church for many years and has not confessed for as many, may not even remember the basics on how to go to Confession. This could paralyze him.  Just go through the basics with him.  Tell him where the Church is that has Confessions. Remind him of the schedule posted by the priests in that Parish. Then remind him on how to enter the confessional, make the sign of the cross, and tell the priest how long it has been since his last Confession and then tell his sins to the priest who represents Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician.  In the Diary of Saint Faustina three important conditions are emphasized to make a good confession: 1) Sincerity, which means transparency in telling one’s sins; 2) Humility—not glossing over the sins, point the blame at others or trying to justify or rationalize one’s sins; 3) Finally, obedience. When the priest, who represents Jesus, also as Teacher and Guide, gives advice as well as the penance, then we should humbly submit to and accept these words as coming from Jesus Himself.

 

Saint James encourages us with these powerful words on the importance of bringing a wandering soul back to the Lord:

 
“My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner form the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

 
These most encouraging words can apply to our efforts and attempt to bring a wandering soul and sinner back to the loving embrace of the Father of the Prodigal Son by returning to the Sacrament of God’s mercy which is the Sacrament of Penance. May Our Lady, who is invoked under the title “Refuge of sinners” as well as “Mother of mercy” spur us on to bring the wayward sinners back to the loving and merciful Heart of the Lord Jesus!

 

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

FASTING WITH THE TONGUE THIS LENT!

One of the most powerful weapons that we have at our disposal is between the two layers of our teeth-- namely, our tongue.  The words that issue from our mouth have an incredible power for good or for evil.

Pope Francis constantly is reminding us of the importance of vigilance over our whole being; and this includes our tongue and the words that come forth. Time and time again Pope Francis exhorts us to avoid gossip, back-biting, and speech that damages others.

Saint James reminds us: “We should be slow to speak and quick to listen.” In James chapter three—a must to read with respect to the control of our tongue—Saint James in a clear and challenging fashion outlines the dangers of the tongue and the damage that this small instrument can do.  Man can tame all animals, but not the tongue. It is small, but like a little spark that can start a huge fire, so the tongue being small can do irreparable damage.  In Southern California, there is always the danger of a fire that can cut across thousands of acres of land, devastate homes, towns, villages and kill people. Often this huge fire started with a match stick, a cigarette butt or some insignificant thing that started the fire.

Jesus, who is the Logos—the Word of God made flesh—likewise warns us of the importance of the tongue, speech, and a reminder for the Day of Judgment! The Lord Himself says:  “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Once again, with respect to our Final Judgment Jesus warns us: “Every word that comes out of our heart will be judged.” He also encourages us not to waste words, but to be quick and to the point when it is possible: “Let your language, be “yes” and “yes” or “no” and “no”; the rest comes from the evil one!

LENT: SEASON OF CONVERSION.  The Season of Lent is a time for conversion of life; this also includes conversion of the way we speak.  The three traditional ways to attain to true conversion of heart and life are: 1) prayer, 2) almsgiving, 3) Fasting.

True, one can and should fast from food, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Nonetheless, this is not exhaustive!  Fasting can be done in many other ways.  For example, fasting of the eyes from harmful TV programs, fasting from laziness at work, fasting from being overly critical and judgmental in our hearts.

Still there is another form of fasting: fasting of the tongue, fasting in speech, fasting from offending others with our words. Why not undertake this on your Lenten journey as you head to the Cross on Good Friday, with your hearts joyfully awaiting the Risen Lord Jesus the day of the Resurrection?

Indeed this practice could result in promoting harmony in your home with your family members, peace in your relations at work, and charity towards all people you meet!

The following are two short but powerful supports to help us carry out successfully a Program of fasting in our speech.

I. PENTECOST EXPERIENCE AND SPEECH!  The Apostles during the Public life of Jesus made many mistakes in word and deed. However, they experienced one transforming event—it was Pentecost.   The twelve Apostles spent nine days and nine nights in prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary and boom!!! There was an explosion of grace.  The Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire. Emphasize the word tongues!  Then they were endowed with the ability—with their own tongues—to preach the Word of God powerfully and convert countless souls.  The message and its meaning?  Simple!  If our speech is to be edifying and sanctifying, then we must be purified, converted and sanctified by the fire of the Holy Spirit. All of us must have and experience  a daily Pentecost experience; we all must invoke the Holy Spirit on a daily basis so that He will guide our minds, our hearts and the words that usher forth from our mouths! “Come Holy Spirit, come, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

II. GOLDEN RULE AND SPEECH!   Every person on earth can understand the Golden Rule given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Do to others what you would like them to do to you.” Everybody responds positively towards a kind word, friendly smile, and charitable gesture.  Why not apply the Golden Rule of Jesus to how we will speak to others. A bitter or sarcastic word can leave irreparable wounds in the soul. On the contrary, a kind word motivated by a pure and loving heart can lift somebody out of the pits of desolation!  Saint Bernard, in one of his edifying homilies, reminds us of three rules to apply to our speech: 1) Speak to accuse ourselves of our own failures (great way to do this is a good confession!!!); 2) Speak to praise God. Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises in the meditation Principle and Foundation reminds us as to why we are here on earth: “To praise God, reverence God, serve God and then to save our souls…”(Spiritual Exercises text # 23); 3) Finally, St. Bernard asserts that we should speak so as to edify our neighbor. The word "edify" technically means “To build up”.  Our words should serve to build up our neighbor. Today the world has been inundated by a Tsunami of gossip, criticism, negativism, sarcasm and irony—not to mention lies and slander! We must counteract negative and poisonous speech by using our tongue to lift others closer to God who is in heaven.   We should never forget that God’s ear is keenly attentive to every word, letter, syllable that issues forth from our mouth!

The Word of God reminds us that he who does not control his speech is not on the highway to holiness. However, the man who controls his tongue is being led by the Holy Spirit and is following the pathway to heaven—the narrow path that Jesus taught us!

In conclusion, let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who spoke only seven times in the Gospels that we would learn the art of fasting in many ways. However, especially in the Holy Season of Lent, let us fast from all words that could offend others and God who is offended when we offend others with our speech. Let us learn to praise God, with Mary, with our words and with our lives: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Let us praise God, with Our Lady, in time and forever in heaven!

 


 

 

Monday, February 9, 2015

PREPARING FOR THE BEST LENT IN MY LIFE

Lent is a season of grace. The joy of the Risen Lord Jesus depends on how we live out the holy season of Lent. God’s generosity has no limits, but we often fall short in giving God our whole hearts so that He can fill them with His love.

The following are five short suggestions on how we can live out Lent intensely, so that we can rejoice in the Risen Lord Jesus this year! Why not strive to live out this Lent as if it were to be the Last Lent in your lives!

1.    PRAYER! Go deep in prayer this Lent. Set aside more time to pray, a quiet place and a heart that is well-disposed to communicate with your Lord, God and Savior. On prayer, one suggestion that the Church constantly exhorts us to carry out: the meditation of the Word of God. Take the Readings for the day of the Mass and dig deep. Beg Our Lady who meditated upon the word of God in her heart to help you in this most noble pursuit. Beg also that the Word of God will serve to transform your heart and your life. The first Sunday of Lent the devil tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread and Jesus responds:  “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Jesus expresses priorities here: first the Word of God and then the food for the stomach!

2.    CONFESSION.  Lent is a time for conversion. The word in Greek is Metanoia—meaning change of heart. As Catholic-Christians, the most efficacious means to attain true conversion of heart is through a direct encounter with Jesus the Healer. Jesus touches us and heals us in a special way in the Sacraments, but most especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Before going to Confession, why not read Luke 15, the Parables of God’s mercy. A friend of mine once called this the “Lost and found chapter”. In this masterpiece of St. Luke (chapter 15) we encounter the Parable of the lost and found sheep, the lost and found coin, and finally the lost and found son, known most commonly as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It also might be named the Parable of the merciful Father. Make a good confession in Lent and beg the Lord Jesus for a new and clean heart!

3.    DAILY MASS.  In the Our Father one of the petitions is “Give us this day our daily Bread”. This could mean three things: 1) physical bread and material sufficiency, 2) the Bread of the Word of God, and finally, 3) The Bread of Life which is the most Holy Eucharist. Why not make the intention to attend daily Holy Mass all the days that are possible in the holy Season of Lent and receive Jesus the bread of life. Better yet, bring your family or even some friends to the Table of the Lord for the nourishment of their immortal souls. The greatest gesture we can do in this world is to receive Jesus into our hearts in Holy Communion. “As the deer yearns for the running streams, so my soul longs for you O Lord my God.”  May we yearn, hunger and thirst for Jesus the Bread of Life!

4.    CHARITY: ACTS OF LOVE AND SERVICE. Lent must be characterized by an attitude that translates itself into action in concrete gestures of service toward others. Indeed if I receive Jesus into my heart in Holy Communion I should have an ardent desire to bring Jesus to others, especially those who suffer most—the lonely, the poor, the elderly, the abandoned, the forlorn, the depressed and dejected; in other words, those who  society views as a nuisance and a burden. Remember, that these were the favorites of Jesus! Needless to say, our love in service should start in our own home, amidst and among our family members.  We do not want to fall into the Rip Van Winkle complex, in which we are the most loving and kind towards those outside the home, but are devils to those who actually live with us. Remember the saying:  “Charity begins at home.”

5.    OUR LADY AND LENT. In the Season of Lent in which we are preparing our hearts and minds to meditate and receive Jesus who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation, we should invite Our Lady to take an active role in it. Mary was chosen by God to play a key role in the economy of salvation. Our Lady has many beautiful titles: Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of Compassion, the Sorrowful Mother (Stabat Mater), and she has also been proclaimed by the Church in the official teachings (Lumen Gentium, chapter 8) as the Co-Redemptrix. By this title “Co-Redemptrix” the Church affirms that there is only one Redeemer. However, in the plan and economy of salvation, God chose Our Lady to collaborate intimately in the work of our redemption and salvation. As Jesus hung on the cross, Our Lady stood firmly at the foot of the cross offering Jesus to the Father as the spotless Victim for the salvation of all of humanity. As we viewed in the film of Mel Gibson, the Passion of the Christ, Our Lady followed Jesus, step by step as he ascended Calvary; she was there when He was crucified; finally, she was there when he breathed forth His spirit into the hands of the eternal Father. May Our Lady walk with us and accompany us this whole Lenten Season, up to the celebration of Holy Week which culminates in the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, let us always rejoice in the season of Lent, which is a gift and blessing for us every Church year. However, let us truly enter in this year with true generosity of heart. Let us die to sin and rise to new life!

Monday, February 2, 2015

THE DEVIL OF TOMORROW!!!


Satan in film of Gibson
 

C. S. Lewis in his classic Screw tape Letters, presents Satan in a meeting with three of the chief devils. The purpose of this meeting is to discover the best tactic to win over souls to hell.

One devil suggests to  convince the people that Heaven does not exist. Satan shoots down this proposal as unrealistic. People are awarded in this life; surely they will be awarded in the next for good conduct. Another chief devil suggests that they convince people that hell does not exist. Once again Satan frowns on this suggestion. Bad conduct results in jail-terms. Immoral conduct must be meted out with an eternal chastisement that we call hell!

Finally, the last devil comes forth and suggests that people be convinced to put off their conversion until TOMORROW!  BINGO!!! Satan rejoices in this suggestion: get people to delay their conversion from sin until tomorrow. Simply to convince people that they can live in sin, that they have a long life and a long time to delay their conversion from sin—this is excellent, according to Satan! In other words, live in sin and be in no hurry to exit from it. Rely on God’s everlasting and unending mercy!

How true this short but cutting chapter from Screw tape Letters  is on the strategy and tactics of the devils. If Satan and company can convince the vast multitudes of people that life is long, life is here to enjoy, pleasure is paramount, and that conversion can be held off to a later date, this is a most efficacious trick.

Look around you right now and see how few people have their minds fixed on God and their eternal destiny and how many are living only for the moment to enjoy life, pleasure, sin and false happiness!!! But how many sudden and unprepared deaths are there? Just check out the news every day!

What are some of the areas where the devil convinces us to wait until tomorrow, procrastinate, and rationalize our spiritual inertia? There are countless areas and circumstances, but we will offer just five for your reflection!
Film: greatest miracle and devils near confessional

1.    CONFESSION. How easy it is for the devil of “Tomorrow” to convince us that we do not need to go to confession now, but rather to go later. This might be the case even though we might be in the state of Mortal Sin! How many of us, if our home were burning at 1:00 a.m., would wait until the morning to call the firemen! Our soul prevails over our physical home!

2.    COHABITATION. This is really becoming a plague!  So many young people decide to live together and for many specious and false reasons. They say: “We have to see if we are compatible…” or “we must have the right chemistry…” or “let us save up…” finally,  “We do not have enough saved for the party after the wedding.”  With these justifications the devil of tomorrow has a real field day!
I will not forgive!

3.    RESENTMENT. Many today live angry, bitter, resentful and depressed. One of the reasons is that there has been a ruptured relationship with some friend and relative that has not been reconciled. Consequently bitterness has built up to the point of overflowing in the soul. Jesus beckons and knocks at the door. Jesus tells us clearly to leave the gift at the altar to be reconciled, but once again the devil of tomorrow sticks his ugly tail of pride in and wins another victory.

4.    VICES/ADDICTIONS. The devil of tomorrow wins countless victories by convincing addicts—drug, drinkers, sex, gamblers, etc.—that they really do not have a problem. On the contrary, the devil of tomorrow convinces them that they really can overcome and conquer the problem, but better to work on it tomorrow!  If the blind, the sick, the deaf and the infirm does not admit his sickness, then how on earth can the Physician heal him???
Multiple vices and denial

5.    FAMILY ROSARY.  Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 appeared to three little shepherd children—Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia with many important messages. The last Apparition Our Lady promised a miracle and it was the miracle of the sun spinning like a Ferris wheel in the sky and looked as if it would crash to the ground. Our Lady appeared six times to the children and every time she appeared she insisted on the daily recitation of the most Holy Rosary. Saint John Paul II insisted on the family Rosary on a daily basis and for two very important reasons: 1) For world peace, 2) for the sake of the family.  “The family that prays together stays together.” And “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” How often has the devil of tomorrow convinced both Mom and Dad to skip over the praying of the family Rosary for many false reasons! Once again the devil of tomorrow wins a major victory!

In conclusion, God has given us only one life to live and we should live it to the fullest extent possible. The Psalmist teaches us: “Our life is like the flower of the field. It rises with the morning sun, but withers and dies at sunset.” Once a day passes, it is like the water underneath the bridge, it never returns again.

Parable of the Rich fool
 

Now and only now is the time to give ourselves totally God and calling to mind the words of the great Apostle Saint Paul: “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”  Saint Albert Hurtado, S.J., a recently canonized Chilean Jesuit priest put it succinctly:  “There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven.” In the meantime it is time to work hard. Once the great Jesuit Doctor of the Church, Saint Peter Canisius was admonished not to work so hard, but to rest.  The response of this great saint was the same idea as Saint Alberto:  “Now it is the time to work. We will have all eternity in heaven to rest! Work now and rest in the loving embrace of God for all eternity!

Monday, January 26, 2015

A SHORT TRIBUTE TO SAINT JOHN BOSCO


 

The accomplishments of this priest, founder, writer, builder, preacher and teacher, but especially lover of Jesus through his filial devotion to Our Lady Help of Christians is simply outstanding, almost breath-taking. On one occasion a youth entered his office. On the wall were written some words in Latin. The boy asked the saint the interpretation and meaning of those words. These words would be the motivating force of the life of Bosco and they were: “GIVE ME SOULS AND TAKE ALL THE REST AWAY!” The name of that boy was none other than SAINT DOMINIC SAVIO.

We would like very simply to list just a few of the extraordinary accomplishments Of Saint John Bosco to encourage us to follow in his footsteps to preach, teach, evangelize and to be ardent and fiery missionaries in a world that is seeking for love, joy, and happiness, but do not know where to find it.

May the great Saint John Bosco , through his most powerful intercession, help those who are walking in darkness to find the true meaning of their lives in Jesus the Light of the world and Mary, help of Christians!

Following are ten of the most noteworthy accomplishments of this extraordinary saint loved by so many, especially those who work for the conversion, sanctification and salvation of the youth!

1.    FOUNDER—He was the Founder of the Salesians—in honor of a great saint that he loved and tried to imitate: Saint Francis de Sales. With Saint Mary Mozzarello, Bosco also was instrumental in the foundation of the women’s branch of the Salesians. In this year dedicated to the Religious life may Saint John Bosco’s prayers encourage Religious men and women to ardently pursue holiness of life!  Jesus, the Holy Of Holies, reminds us of our vocation:  “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”

2.    WRITER.  Saint John was a prolific writer. Like the saint that he admired so much—Saint Francis de Sales—he was aware of the incalculable good that could be done by the reading of solid catholic literature. Actually saints have been converted by reading: Saint Ignatius ( the lives of the saints),and Saint Augustine (The Bible: Romans 13:13), to mention just two… One of his masterpieces that Saint John Bosco wrote was the life of the child saint, prodigy that Bosco helped to form—“The life of Saint Dominic Savio.”All young people should read this classic! It helped me on my road to the priesthood!

3.    BUILDER. Due to the strenuous efforts of this patron of the Youth, some of the most beautiful churches were built.  Just to mention two:  Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin and The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the eternal city—Rome!

4.    PATRON OF YOUTH. Bosco lived in the tumultuous time of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Many young boys wandered through the streets without home, family, work and  had  a very dismal future. Bosco set up the ORATORY in Turin to house, feed, educate and form morally and spiritually these abandoned youth. For this reason he is considered the patron of youth. Now Salesian Oratories and schools are spread throughout the entire world! Thanks be to Saint John Bosco.

5.    SAINTS—CLOUD OF HEAVENLY WITNESSES. He was formed spiritually by Saint Joseph Cafasso. Then Bosco served  as spiritual director to Saint Dominic Savio. Upon meeting Saint John Bosco, Savio put it on these terms: “I am the cloth and you are the tailor. Make me into a saint.”  Furthermore, he worked side by side with Saint Mary Mazzarello to form the women’s branch of the Salesians.  His successor would be Blessed Michael Rua.

6.    PREACHER AND TEACHER—Saint John Bosco was a teacher to young and an ardent preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He preached first by his example and then by his word. May we learn from him! He is renowned as an educator for the school-method called the “Preventive-system.” Much better preventive medicine than curative medicine. In other words, if an educator can form well the child from the outset with the help of the grace of God, this can prevent many future disasters!

7.    VISIONARY. The Mystical-Spiritual Dreams of Saint John Bosco are world-renowned.  Their messages are both spiritual and very practical. Probably the most famous would be the Ship and the two pillars on top of which can be found Our Lady contemplating Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Meaning? If we want to direct the ship of our souls safely ashore, we must focus our gaze on Our Lady who points us to Jesus with these words: “Do whatever He tells you.”(Jn. 2:5)

8.    CONFESSOR. One of the most renowned and dedicated confessors in the Church was the priest Saint John Bosco. He promoted frequent confession to his young boys. Pictures depict the saintly priest in a field, with a boy leaning on his shoulder, patiently listening to the boy’s confession, with a swarm of boys waiting their turn to go to confess to their beloved friend, confidant and spiritual father—Saint John Bosco, priest-confessor!

9.    ATHLETE--- MODEL FOR THE YOUNG.  As a boy Bosco was a super athlete. His strength was prodigious, his speed almost unmatchable, and he could even walk the tight rope.  All of these feats he would accomplish not for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, but rather to bring the young people to Christ. Once he challenged a circus-leader who was preventing the youth from going to Mass on Sunday, because his feats were on Sunday. The youth Bosco challenged the circus stunt-master to three activities: 1) Running, 2) jumping, and 3)tree-climbing! Saint John Bosco won the three easily!  The prize for Bosco was for the circus-leader to leave on Sundays and allow the boys to attend holy Mass—what zeal for the salvation of immortal souls, especially the young!

10. LOVER OF MARY.  Many miracles were attributed to Saint John Bosco. However, the humble saint would always deflect the glory from himself. He would tell people to have recourse to Our Lady under the title, Help of Christians, and it was through her powerful intercession that the miracles would be accomplished. Jesus’ first Public miracle was done at the Wedding Feast of Cana through the intercession of Mary. Bosco had a limitless confidence in Our Lady. It was said of Bosco that the more problems he had the greater joy radiated from his face. Why? He had done all he could humanly speaking, now it was God’s turn to intervene, through the intercession of Mary, and the problem would be resolved! Praise be to Jesus through the intercession of Our Lady Help of Christians!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


ABORTION--- KNOWLEDGE AND ACTION
 

The following is a summary of facts, courses of actions, Biblical references, and prayers that can be done to support your PRO-LIFE work. It is our hope that this will prove extremely useful for you.  If you like, make copies and give it to friends. The unborn child has no voice. We have to be the voice of the unborn child!

1.    Jan. 22nd, 1973—one of the saddest days in the history of USA. Reason: legalization of the killing of innocent babies that we call ABORTION. This contracts our Founding Fathers who stated: “All are endowed with inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

2.    WHY WRONG? It is wrong because it breaks the 5th commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” Book of Job we read:  “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I return to the earth; the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

3.    LIFE BEGINS.  Questions: when does life begin? Biology books for many years in USA spelled it our very clearly: from the moment of conception or fertilization. In that moment God intervenes creating new human life; He also infuses an immortal soul in that little person. Only God, the author and support of all life, has the right to give life, sustain life and end life when and the manner He wills in His infinite wisdom.

4.    DIFFERENCE between us outside the womb and the baby inside is that we are simply more developed biologically.

5.    STATISTICS.  Following are some statistics, which of course are not perfect, but fairly accurate. Since Roe vs. Wade—the Supreme Court decision on January 22nd, 1973(42 years ago today, 2015) close to 45 million surgical abortions. Percentage wise in between 1/3 and ¼ of pregnant women opt for an abortion. This is about 4,000 daily in USA. In the city of L.A. it varies in between 180-300. Every minute close to 3 abortions are carried out—meaning about every 20 seconds! Many women go back to get a 2nd or 3rd or even more! In Russia and China most women will have 7-8 abortions—one-child policy in China.

6.    BIBLICAL REFERENCES AND ABORTION.   What Pharaoh did in the time of Moses can be a parallel to abortion. Remember, the Pharaoh told his subjects to throw the male child of the Hebrews in the Nile River. Moses, whose name means “Drawn out” of the river, was saved. The Magi, and the Feast of the Holy Innocents also is a parallel text to abortion because King Herod, in search of Jesus, killed the male-children two years of age and younger. Jesus was saved by Saint Joseph as the Holy Family fled to Egypt.

7.    BIBLICAL VERSES IN DEFENSE OF LIFE. There are many, but we will give a few: Jeremiah’s vocation (Jer. 1) from my mother's womb I was called to be a prophet of the nations. Psalm 138—This Psalm presents the baby inside the womb as precious. The Word of God presents God as a weaver, molder and knitter. God is knitting, stich by stich the baby within the womb of the mother. In sum, the woman carries the baby for nine months, but it is God who is forming, knitting and weaving the beautiful child. By far the best passage is the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary greets Saint Elizabeth and the baby within her womb leaps for joy. In the USA society these two women would be prime targets for abortion, due to the euphemism and lie, “Quality of life.”   Mary would be too young to have the child; on the other hand Saint Elizabeth was too old. Both rejoice in their child, said yes and trusted. Consequently they brought forth the two greatest men born of women: John the Baptist and Jesus, the Life of the world!

8.    FALSE REASONS WHY WOMEN CHOOSE TO HAVE AN ABORTION….

a)    Devil—Jesus says that the devil is a LIAR AND MURDERER from the beginning!

b)    FEAR—many teen girls will have abortion due to fear of their parents. Unfortunately in the state of California a teen girl in High School can get a pregnancy test and actually abort without the parents’ permission as well as behind the back of her parents.

c)     TOO MANY! Some reason that they already have a big family and cannot support another child.

d)    AGE FACTOR. Today often medical agents will warn women who are in their late 30’s not to have a child because they could jeopardize their health.

e)    SELFISHNESS—Unwillingness to sacrifice for the sake of another person.

f)      QUALITY OF LIFE—Not enough money or education. This skewed reasoning asserts that better not to bring a child into this world if he/she cannot have the best of futures!

g)    WRONG ADVICE! Many women have abortions because they are surrounded by so called friends that give them the wrong advice.

h)    MONEY—Many doctors and nurses will encourage it because they can make big money over performing the abortion. Abortion is the most common operation in USA!   The womb of the woman is the most dangerous place today for the child. “The womb of the woman has become the tomb of the child.”

i)      LACK OF TRUST AND FAITH IN GOD. When all is said and done, the primary theological reason for any abortion is a real lack of trust in God’s love, support, protection and providential care. Jesus says that we are in the palm of the hand of God and nobody can snatch us from His hand.

9.    METHODS OR FORMS OF ABORTIONS:

a)    Scalpel method—can be compared to a butcher shop, where the child is cut to pieces.

b)    Saline solution… Not as common today. Salt-solution is injected and the child is burnt to death. Not done as often—ironically, for the health of the mother! It could leave scars in the woman!

c)     SUCTION METHOD—Baby is sucked out of the womb by a powerful vacuum machine.

d)    PARTIAL BIRTH METHOD. As long as the baby is inside the mother the doctor and mother can decide to kill the baby, but once outside the child is considered a person with equal rights.

10. CLARIFY THIS IMPORTANT POINT. Many women will take the so called “After-morning Pill”. This is not a contraceptive pill, but rather and abortifacient pill. The dense quantity of hormones impedes the implantation of the little baby in the uterine wall, thereby killing the child. This indeed is a micro-abortion—meaning a microscopic abortion, can be seen under the lens of a microscope. Most likely, since Roe vs. Wade more than 250,000,000 of these abortions have been perpetrated! This being the case nobody should ever get close to the After-morning Pill which in reality is an ABORTION PILL. Even though the government—FDA—has legalized its selling and use, even now in some states for teen girls—it is still gravely immoral. Remember this important distinction: what is legal is not always the same as it being moral. In other words, not all laws that have been promulgated are necessarily moral!

PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT AND ACTION: WHAT TO DO?

1.    STUDY.  The web-site “Priestsforlife.org with Fr. Frank Pavone is excellent. Check it out! Read Saint Pope John Paul II’s encyclical: “The Gospel of life”.

2.    MARCH FOR LIFE. March for life in front of your local abortion clinic. Have a silent and prayerful protest!

3.    MARCH FOR LIFE IN WASHINGTON. Do this in front of the White House and Capital giving national support and recognition for your stance in favor of life.

4.    SIDE-WALK COUNSELLING. If trained, try to persuade the woman who is entering the abortion clinic to have the child.

5.    LITTLE FEET. Wear the little feet of the baby child on your coat or shirt.

6.    PRO-LIFE LICENSE PLATE.  Have a Pro-life license plate with a catchy Pro-life phrase:  “It is a child and not a choice.”

7.    VOTING. There are non- negotiables in voting. Your first criteria in voting is to defend the innocent child and support Pro-life candidates.

8.    TEEN CHASTITY. Support our young people to live a life of chastity and save their sexuality for their wedding night with their spouse. Give them a chastity ring.

9.    PARISH LEVEL. See if you can set up, with the permission of the Pastor, a Pro-life committee and group in your parish.

10.SPEAK OUT! Many women have abortions because they are surrounded by people that give them bad advice. Speak up and out to defend the child.

11. RECONCILIATION. If you know of a woman who has done and abortion never condemn her but encourage her to seek reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession, professional help for healing and come to terms with Post-abortion syndrome and encourage her for healing and help. There are wonderful retreats—Rachel’s Vineyard, that can help in the healing process.

12.FILMS. Promote good films in Pro-life, for example the Silent Scream of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Bella, and October baby, to mention three good ones.

PRAYER AND THE PRACTICE OF PENANCE

Very important in the fight against the devil of abortion and this institutionalized sin are the arms of PRAYER AND PENANCE! Jesus stated very clearly: “Some devils can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.” The following are some prayer weapons that we should utilize in our spiritual combat to fight the devil of death.

1.    FASTING AND PENANCE. Do some form of penance and fasting so as to cast out these many devils!

2.    JAN. 22ND. The USA Bishops have proclaimed this as a day of prayer and penance in reparation for abortion.

3.    CHAPLET OF DIVING MERCY.  “I offer you the Body, BLOOD, soul and divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world.

4.    HOLY MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION. The priest lifts of the Host which is the Innocent Lamb of God whose innocent Blood pleas for mercy for the innocent babies killed through abortion.

5.    COMMUNION OF REPARATION. Offer your Holy Communion in reparation and prevention for the sin of abortion.

6.    HAIL MARY—we praise the fruit of thy womb of Mary JESUS!!!

7.    ROSARY—Better yet—fifty Hail Mary’s!

8.    PRO-LIFE HOLY HOURS OF REPARATION—Great idea!

In sum, let us do all we can to be the voice of the unborn child, the child in the womb cannot speak for himself. You have to be the voice to the child who cannot speak. May Our Lady who said “yes” to life and Jesus who is the Way, Truth and Life help us defend life from the moment of conception until natural death! Amen.