Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Saint Teresa of Calcutta: (1910 –1997: was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary.)

Gospel Text: (MT 18:15-20)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them."

In the Gospel reading Jesus tells his disciples and listeners that it is very important that disputes and disagreements be settled well.

The challenge for all of us in our relationships and interaction with others is to be able to live and accept differences in opinion and way of life with understanding and respect. We are called to be careful and mindful of our prejudices and pre-judgments of others. We are encouraged to be able to understand, respect and forgive others who may differ from us.

We are reminded to go beyond our emotions and to see unity and grace in the midst of negativity and pessimism. 

Understanding and mercy are love gone full circle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Mother went up to Heaven, body and soul. Tell her often that we, her children, do not want to be separated from her... She will hear you!

“If we hope to be eternally with Jesus, we must now imitate the virtues of Mary. She is the perfect model of how we should live; in simple faith, trustful hope, and selfless love of God and others.” - Fr. John Anthony Hardon, S.J., Servant of God  (1914 – 2000: was an American Jesuit priest, writer, and theologian)

Gospel Text: (LK 1:39-56)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."

And Mary said:

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever."

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin means that after Her life on earth, Mary was taken body and soul into Heaven. Unlike other saints, therefore, Our Lady is in Heaven not only with Her soul but also with Her glorified body. Pope Pius XII defined this doctrine as a "divinely revealed dogma" on November 1, 1950.

The Mother of God was conceived without original sin. Consequently She did not have to wait, like the rest of us, for the resurrection on the last day. She is with Her Divine Son in the same body – although now resplendent in glory – that She gave Him at Nazareth. He ascended bodily into Heaven forty days after His Resurrection. She was assumed bodily into Heaven after She completed Her stay on earth, some fifteen years later.

For about fourteen hundred years, the Feast of the Assumption has been celebrated on August 15. It is now one of the holy days of obligation for the universal Church (Canon 1246), when "the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God" (Canon 1247).

What are some of the lessons for us to learn from this mystery of our faith? They are the same lessons that Our Lady gave us when She appeared at Fatima. We are to pray, make sacrifices, and do penance for poor sinners who are offending God.

Mary's bodily Assumption is the promise of our own glorious resurrection from the grave – provided we pray. Without prayer we cannot remain faithful in our service of God.

Mary's assumption is the proof of how profitable it is to make sacrifices.

Mary's Assumption is a call to penance.

Monday, August 14, 2017

“It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”

“Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” ― Ronald Reagan: (1911 – 2004: was an American politician and actor who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989.)

Gospel Text: (MT 17:22-27)
As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
"The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
"Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes," he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?"
When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him,
"Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you."

Our Founding Fathers may have opted for a separation of Church and state but not for a separation of God and state. There is no brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God. The division of life into the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. There is not now, there never was and there never will be the purely secular, that is, anyone or anything which is not dependent on God.

Atheistic capitalism will suffer the same fate as atheistic communism!

What the Constitution guarantees is not freedom FROM religion but freedom OF religion, freedom to practice religion. The irony, the contradiction, is that those who are pushing for freedom FROM religion are actually pushing THEIR OWN RELIGION, which is secular humanism.

In secular humanism the Supreme Being is man, greedy, lustful, proud man. But which man? There are more than seven billion of them in the world each claiming to be independent. These Supreme Beings are the creators. And they are creating rugged individualism, corruption, addictions, war and terrorism.

There is nothing as inhuman as secular humanism.

On September 11, 2001 the illusion that we were absolutely independent went down in smoke and ashes with the Twin Towers. On that day we fell to our knees and asked God for help. And in so doing realized how far we had wandered from God and from the convictions of our Founding Fathers.

Friday, August 11, 2017

“The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.”

There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit, that new life which will reach its fulfillment in the resurrection. This is our faith. This is our witness before the world. – Pope Saint John Paul II: (1920 –  2005: was Pope from 1978 to 2005. He is called by some Catholics Saint John Paul the Great.

Gospel Text: (MT 16:24-28)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."

What does Jesus mean when he says to his disciples – including us – “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”?

Does it mean that we are to accept with patience our trials, aches and pains that are part of life, to “offer it up to God,” as the good Sisters taught us to say?  Yes.  But it means so much more than dealing with life’s choppy waters.

It means that Christ demands, not suggests, a commitment of faith that is ready to embrace God’s will, wherever it may lead, even unto death. Such a commitment of faith means that we are ready to affirm life despite what life brings, and even in the face of doubts and fears.

Christ’s demand is unequivocal.  If we wish to follow him, we must take up our cross – with the kind of faith in which Jesus can say to us: “Your faith has made you whole.”