Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have a Blessed 2012!

 Let's meditate in (Nm 6, 22-27) and the blessing we find there. “The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace”’ It is more than simple tradition; The blessings are ways to welcome the presence of God in every aspect of our lives.

We can summarize the good wishes of that blessing in three aspects that could be also a good way to start the year 2012. Protection, friendship with God and peace.

Jesus is the Son of Mary. The humility of the "born of a woman" (Gal 4, 4-7) becomes the exaltation of "The Mother of God". Jesus is also the "born in the fullness of time" Jesus brings time to fulfillment. There are no fullness of time without Him. Without Him Life is empty.

Born of a woman and born under the law in Saint Paul's mind goes together. It makes sense when you born from a woman to start to participate in laws and fundamental conditions of human life. Also means to be subjected to the laws of our existence. Also could mean "under the protection of the law". Jesus will transcend that condition and liberate us from the dominion of the law of Moses. He will give us His Spirit, He will be one of us, so that we can be His. 

Today we can't forget that In the heart of this cosmic transformation is Mary. She is contemplating the only face that brings peace and abundant blessings, the face of Jesus in the welcoming and tender Baby in Bethlehem. 
Lord, may I never tire of contemplating the scene of Bethlehem and your first days among us. There are so many lessons to be learned from Bethlehem. In contemplating Bethlehem, give me strength for my daily work, light to understand my vocation and clarity to see my mission and apostolate as men and women of the Kingdom.Lord, may the mystery of Bethlehem teach me complete trust in your plan over my life.
Heavenly Father, please do not let me inhibit your plan over my life in any way. I want to be a docile instrument in your hands. I want my life to be like Mary’s, never hesitating to keep pace with your plans. You are in haste because you love. Teach me this love that will want all souls to know and love you and to be able to enjoy doing so without delay. May all who come in contact with me go in haste to meet your Son Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vigil Mass:

When Christmas comes  different emotions visit different people... There are some that look at Christmas like a bridge to their  childhood and have pleasant memories of that, others  maybe because they had a different childhood, would prefer to have these days end quickly. They want to return as soon as they can to their "normal life" to their jobs as a way to stop thinking about what is related to Christmass.

Today I want to share a brief meditation about the time of the birth of Jesus. He was born in the middle of the night. Night,in more than one sense. 

The night of the earth is without the sun's light, the night of the sinner is being away from the clarity that comes from grace, the night of selfishness that can make us prisoners of horrible prisons, the night of fear of the Roman Empire that made himself an idol paying the price of idotitry with human blood.

Jesus was born in the middle of the night and the voices of the angels broke the silence of the moment and the shepherds saw themselves surrendered by a unexpected joy...

The glory of God visited the earth. A planet darkened by evil and ignorance did not look so bad to God. He sent Angels to visit and to bring to light so many injustices, lies, stupidity and impurity.

Jesus was born in the middle of the night. What is night in my life? What is night in my family, friends, community, parish, country, my generation? where and how is the start of the dawn of grace, the love and care of Mary, our Mother, and St. Joseph, where is the light of the star or the worship of the shepherds, the pilgrimage of the Magi?

God always gives gifts that ease the nights, consolations capable of defeating the dark moments.
Stop criticizing the night, because it is not going to get better. Don't simply increase lamentations because of the darkness of night. That lamentation can trap you... Look at the signs of the light in your life, bless those signs and thank God for them because with them you are going to defeat the night, Amen.
Merry Christmas

Midnigth Mass

A lot of people come to mass without expecting anything; they come not knowing God... But we welcome the ones that are not expecting much. Maybe the ones that are well prepared will know details, maybe they are walking in the light, but the people that are walking in darkness are going to be surprised like the Angels in the Gospel tonight.
Saint Paul said that the grace of God has come. Maybe we expected a kind of God, that was upset, but not this merciful forgiving God. If He is here and He has fascinated many in years past why can’t He do the same today? Why can’t He take the hardest heart and surprise us?
Sometimes behind the chasuble and cleric identity is hidden a priest that thinks that he knows everything... Nuns, brothers they think they have all the answers and live their lives in a boring routine. We are not the only ones. Elder people, spouses, professionals, singles, college students, high schoolers; people that think they are in the perfect situation like the shepherds did are going to be surprised by an Angel.
I would like to take those lives and surprise them with the love of God. Surprise them with joy, happiness, holiness, purity, truth...
What can we do for more bishops and priests to preach to us with fire, not only truths but also with a deep love of God?
How can we accept boring Catholics?  Sometimes even from young children... Like the kid that said Mom I don't want to go to mass. Why? Because the priest always preaches the same:  be good.
I want to be a good father that brings new life. Lord grant me the grace to inject your good news... The reality that You are God with us and You are not going to go anywhere... That He is staying right here, among us,  in the Sacraments.
The fruit of this night of Christmas is that something is going to go from the manger to our hearts.
That was the beginning for me and my vocation to the priesthood. He found me and I found Him and that is my desire for all of you.
I think that if we share the fire of the encounter with Jesus soon we will have the world on fire like Jesus wanted.
Let’s finish with the hope that even though people are giving Jesus their backs and are stubborn in sin, Jesus is more stubborn in loving and surprising us.
Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Advent : “For with God nothing is impossible” Lk 1, 37

 The first two weeks of Advent we have the prophet Isaiah as a guide. The third John the Baptist was there to help us to prepare the way to The Lord. This fourth and last week of Advent we have Mary as our model of faith and promptness to respond to the call of God.

I want to invite you to learn from our Mother how to receive Salvation and then how to share that great gift with others and how that needs to be the source of all our apostolate.

In our case it is not an Angel anymore that announces the coming of our Lord. From the apostles, the Catholic Church, our parishes we receive Salvation. It is precisely through that offer, with hearts molded as the Heart of Mary, that we receive Salvation and incarnate Christ so t that we can offer the Life of Christ to the world.

Everything that the Angel said to Mary in the annunciation is alive and valid today. We continue proclaiming it. It is available for all.

Blessed Virgin Mary, teach us to learn your silence and your words always at the right time, you humility, your audacity, your prudence, your unique way to offer yourself to God and your perfect disposition.

With you Mary, help us to listen to the great news: “For with God nothing is impossible” (Lk 1, 37) and then with your help we will believe that God can also make our lives and our hearts open like yours as many other blessings are going to be received.

Faith, faith is what I need to learn from you and that is why Elizabeth your cousin made a complement of you because you believed God, because you trusted Him.

How much do you want to believe in the Lord? Are you going to put limits on your faith?

My brothers and sisters if you find limits, ask Mary’s intercession so that you can receive a faith without limits.

 Mary, teach me how to do God’s will as you did, so that I can remain in his company. I want to do his will, even though at times I know that it may seem difficult or impossible. Ask your son for the grace of perseverance for me so that I, too, may cooperate with the Lord, whether he is asking something of me that is ordinary or extraordinary.

Some resources to improve this Last week of Advent:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent: John The Baptist, what a good preacher...

John called himself "the voice" (John 1, 23). He made his voice the text of Isaiah "Prepare the way of the Lord" (Isaiah 40, 3).

John's obsession was that the word of God could reach hearts. He wasn't taking the place of the Word of God (John. 1, 20; John 1, 26).
John prepared the way, made straight the path, made sure that when the Lord came he could especially reach those far away.
One day a professor in the art of speech was giving this criterion: the true and good preacher directs his words to those who are far from him, not only physically but emotionally and psychology speaking.
When I preach I especially need to reach those in the back of the church or those who do not come to mass often or those who may be here in body yet their attention is not fully engaged in what is happening during Mass. What a beautiful job I have!
Maybe you come to Mass yet you feel apart from God or you think that you are not worthy to be forgiven or loved, or maybe you are away from our Catholic Church and its teachings, maybe you don't understand the rites, the new translation of the responses...
If that is your situation my concern is to preach in a way that you don't leave this place without being touched by at least one word of God.
This is the challenge for me, other priests, the seminarians in our convent- our future priests. "Don't preach to the one that is close by, preach to the one who is far away from the Church"
Every time I preach I need to especially remember the one who came to mass to give God "one last chance" or the one who said "I am going to go to Mass to see if God makes something happen in my life”. These are the ones to whom I need to preach and touch with the Word of God.
John is the model for preachers. What a different result there would have been if he had preached a message filled with compliments to the religious people of his time. No, instead he preached to those that were far from God, he preached repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Their answer and ours needs to be: Thank you Lord, because you thought of me, thank you Lord because I know that this message is for me.
My brothers and sisters, God is calling you and me to return to Him! (Mt 3, 1-2).
It is a strong message, yes, and a good one, for those who need to go back to Him. It is bad news for the Pharisees and Sadducees of our time who think: “I am religious, I am pious, I have enough comfort in my life and I even have friends in politics that can assure me security...”
The ones who were far from God and the ones today who are in need of forgiveness must say: “God is calling me to go back, God wants me back, God is waiting for me this Advent and Christmas”.
Someone will ask; Why these readings? Why on this Sunday? Because the birth of Jesus is near and believe me He has so much to give...
In the first reading there is a clear joy for the visitation of God to His people.  “When God calls us back to Him, He wants to bring us the glad tidings of His love; He wants to heal our broken hearts; to proclaim liberty and release us from the sins that make us captive.  He wants to bring His joy, justice and praise to all.  He wants us to make straight the way to the Lord and primarily He wants us to recognize His Son, Jesus Christ.”
My question for you today is: Is the way to your heart open? Is the door of your heart unlocked so that Jesus can give you what He wants?
That is the spirit of Advent, the time when we hear John’s voice crying out in the desert to prepare the way to the Lord by reconciliation with God.  That is why John’s voice and my preaching focus on repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
If as a fruit of this meditation, or as a fruit of this moment of prayer or as a fruit of John the Baptist’s preaching, you will realize that something is missing from your life today; if you realize now that that “Someone” is missing and that that “Someone” is Jesus-- your hunger is going to open wide the way to Him. Congratulations for your desire to open the doors of your heart to the Savior. God brings us today to the best banquet but if He doesn’t find hunger there is no way we can be fed by Him.
Let us pay attention my brothers and sisters to the VOICE of John, now that Christmas is near. Let’s ask God for a humble and contrite heart, sorrow for our sins. Jesus is near; Jesus heals and saves especially those that were far away. For those who think that Christmas is something for others to enjoy, this Christmas is for you also.
Dear Lord, help me to show who you are to others, especially those who do not really know you or have forgotten your goodness. For this I need to know you more intimately each day. Then, I like John the Baptist, can decrease as you increase. Help my testimony to be a faithful one, expressing more your love than mine, more your truth than my ideas. I want others to see you, Lord. May I never be an obstacle to their vision. I know you will shine in my world, more so if I am faithful to my vocation and seek only the Father’s glory.

Some resources to improve this third week of Advent:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Queen of Heaven, my sweet Mother Mary, although I am weak and unworthy, I am moved by the loving invitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I wish to dedicate myself entirely to Him, I wish to offer everything to Him through your Immaculate Heart, and with childlike trust, I in your care, await for your help in accomplishing all my intentions.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, King of goodness and Love, freely, and with all my heart, I accept this sweet pact: That You will take to care of me, and I will take care of You.

I wish that all that I have be Yours. I put it in Your hands my soul, my eternal salvation, my liberty, my spiritual progress, my life, my health, my family, my possessions, my work, and whatever good deeds I can accomplish, so that You will arrange these things according to Your will.

I will try to do my best in these matters, and remain content with whatever,
Your loving Heart decides for me. In exchange, I ask that the time I have left is not wasted; I wish to do something important to help you reign in the world.

Through my daily prayers, my daily work, and my daily suffering and self- denial, I ask that everything I do in every moment of my life will be used to build your Divine Reign in our souls, in the Church, and in the world.

Make my last words and last ounce of strength be words of love and a generous offering to Your Blessed Sacred Heart. Amen, Amen

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent : What happens when Jesus is taken away from Advent and Christmas?

The only thing left is the living torture housewives feel when they decorate the house with a number of colors and make a batch of recipes, and fix a number of invitations, and send a number of cards, and eventually are exhausted.


I've found a couple of articles in the papers recently, where moms have declared, "I do not do that external decorating anymore, I will not do anything in my house or front yard."

Some people are opting-especially where there is money to be made-to shut down the house and go to another country, go to a hotel to spend two or three weeks, "there the hotel decorates as they like, so I'm not going to do all the usual stuff: cards, lights and gifts. "

Can you imagine a party where THE guest does not arrive? It would be boring unless one did not care if THE guest came or not. If one reads the kinds of articles that I just shared, they are bored because THE greatest guest, Jesus, is the one who is missing.

If Advent and Christmas means only "we will change these yellow lights for red or green lights and putting up a tree, or we can remove this or that, then we will send cards to people that we never see or care about during the year"; it all sounds very silly and empty. Jesus is missing in our hearts and in our homes if this is the way we think.

The center of the Christian life is Christ, the center of Christmas is Christ and without Christ Christmas is a sterile exercise and a lie, it's silly, it is as if we all say, "Now everyone is happy, everyone is happy. Well, happiness is over, now back to reality, "back to work." That is not the way a Catholic talks, we are happy because we have Christ.

There comes a time when you get bored. A time when you are told that you have to become happy. Instead, Jesus comes to conquer our hearts, to captivate us, to love us, this Child must bring joy to you and me,  He must bring us good news. This Child is coming to break the things that hurt us, especially arrogance, selfishness and resentment. Those things, when broken, will turn into the new Spirit that He brings. The Spirit of Christmas is not that we say words just to say them, like "Well, let's be good people for a few days," that is more or less what one sees in the world of commerce or in the movies.

The spirit of Christmas is not, "Well, we are good people for a few days, let us put on a brave face and eat more or less". That is very little and it is like a social farce, the real Spirit of Christmas is that Jesus is coming.  That is the excitement that we should all feel.

And the wonderful thing about John the Baptist is that for him the center of his life was Jesus Christ, what he did was to proclaim Jesus Christ. So, basically, this is what we have to learn in Advent. That Jesus is the center. It is so very beautiful when the human heart begins to feel longings for Jesus: "Come, Jesus, come into my life, take away what is disturbing me"

Lord, you have given me a new day. You have given me a new opportunity to prepare myself for your coming. I believe that you will be with me as I continue my preparation for your coming. My heart is too often divided and pulled in many directions, but I wish to set my heart totally on you so that I may love you above all else. Here I am, Lord, to know you and love you more. Help me to embrace the proper means to prepare myself for your birth. 

Sacred Heart of Jesus, often I fall into the ways of the world, letting myself get caught up in its comforts and vanities. Teach me that only one thing matters: you and the life you promised us. Help me to use this Advent to prepare for your coming by detaching myself from the ways of the world and by being an example of Christian living for those whom I encounter. Help me to be always faithful to my frequent confession.

Here you have a link with resourses to improve this Second Week of Advent‏

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Sunday of Advent: Come Lord Jesus!

We, Christians always celebrate Christ but especially when He gave everything on the cross. The Mass is the greatest celebration of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. We call that celebration Easter.

We make preparations for that celebration and that is why we have a specific time to do it: Lent. We remember the 40 days of Jesus praying in the desert, we do our best to emulate Him.

Because of the gift of the resurrection is huge we need to learn to appreciate it. If it is too rich of a gift the Easter season will continue in time and we will call it the Paschal Time.

We have Lent (the days before Holy Week until the Easter Vigil) and Easter (fifty days until Pentecost) which are two very important Liturgical times.

These are the two oldest Liturgical times that we have as Christians. The first thing they celebrated is what we celebrate: the death of Jesus filled with love for us, and His resurrection which is the forgiveness of our sins and the source of our hope and joy.

After a while, some ages, the contemplation of the mystery of Christ starts to help the first Christians to discover other richness such as the Incarnation and Birth of Jesus.

The Gospels tell us of the circumstances that preceded the birth of Christ. They are many reasons to celebrate as we see in the readings, symbols, and new translation of the Roman Missal. What we have is the desire and hunger of centuries for the Savior. Not only hope or desire from ages past but also our desire now because we too are in need of Him.

As you can see we also have another pair of Liturgical times: Advent, the one we are starting today until Christmas (a very short three weeks). That is a time of joy for His birth. We also celebrate the Epiphany, a manifestation to the poor and strangers.

The word advent is an entire catechesis. It comes from the word “adventus” which means “the coming”. Advent is a time to prepare for someone’s coming. Is this the memory of the first Christmas? Is it just a nice way of celebrating Jesus's birthday?  Yes, but it is more than that. When we celebrate His coming we also remember that we are in need of Christ.

Jesus came over 2000 years ago but He still needs to come now. Even though He was born in Bethlehem, we still today need to celebrate His birth. Even though the Incarnation has already happened, Jesus still has to start His work of salvation in many souls.

As we can see it is not only a matter of remembering the past and saying what a good birthday of Jesus that happened over 2000 years ago. Advent has the seriousness of knowing that something is missing in our society, our families and in our own lives.

I think this Advent is going to be very special and difficult to forget because of all the things that our eyes are witnessing. There is much justice that is missing and more; peace, solidarity, love, happiness and joy.

Advent is a time to come to our senses and sees how much we need Jesus individually, in our families and in our community at St. Marks. What is going on with the world? Where are we going?

Advent is asking those kinds of questions, it is accepting that we need conversion in politics, relationships, money, life issues such as abortion, education, moral issues. Where are we going with all of these? What are we doing with this great gift of life?

The conclusion is one: Come Lord Jesus, come and save us, come and save us from our selfishness and desire of revenge, from our addictions and lack of love. Come Lord, because it doesn’t seem to get better when I try by myself, without your grace which comes through prayer and the Sacraments.

Advent my brothers and sisters is regaining our appetites and hunger, the necessity of Jesus in our lives. Advent is getting to the point of saying: We need meekness, wisdom, goodness, purity Jesus Christ. We need you, come and don’t delay your visit.

Lord Jesus, I easily forget that you deserve the first spot in my life. At least right now I recognize you as my King and Master. I know you are present with me now and that you wish to fill me with your grace. Thank you for your friendship; I offer my weak love in return. I love you, Lord, and wish you to reign in my life.
Lord Jesus, help me to stay vigilant to your holy inspirations.

I have sought to please you in my actions, and when I have failed, I have turned to you through confession to be washed of my sins. I want to hear you say to me: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come share my joy” (Matthew 25:23).

Lord Jesus, help me to “stay awake” in my daily life, keeping heaven as my true goal in all that I do. Help me to stand ready in every moment of my life to be called into your presence, Amen.

I asked all of you to incorporate some specific pratices this Advent. Here you have some prayers for your personal and family devotions for the first week:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King

Saint Paul offers us a perspective about the mystery of Jesus coming as our King. His kingdom will appear only at the end of the world. Our future then has a very clear goal and direction given to us from history.  It is not only what Ecclesiastes 1:9 said: “There is nothing new under the sun”...Christ gives understanding and meaning to history. He is the goal and without Him personally or collectively, everything is just a sum of desires that can't satisfy.

In 1 Cor. 15:20-26, 28, Paul presents  the whole universe submitted to Christ. The perspective and direction is precisely this one: the submission of everything to Christ. If this is true, we can prepare and anticipate that goal. Even though there is no specific day, we can anticipate it making Christ reign in our hearts and in other hearts as well.

The words of Jesus that day will be “'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” or “'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:31-46) and if we see and think more on those words, they are  the mirrors of our actions. The judgment of Jesus is going to be the result of the kind of life that we all had.

Christ as we see is hidden in the poor or in other words, poverty is the way in which Christ wants to reveal Himself. This is nothing new for the one that has read the gospel. In poverty grace is revealed through the limit of our efforts and what we want and can do Poverty is not a decoration or caprice of Christ. It is a unique condition where we  discover the love that exists and that we cannot control: a love that  has the power to own our hearts

Lord, let me see you in those who come to me in their need. Open my eyes with faith and love to reach out to all who come to me, offering them what I would offer you. In this, let me find the path that leads to you, hearing you call, “come, blessed of my Father, the Kingdom is prepared for you.”

Sacred Heart of Jesus, you are king of my heart; by the love you have shown me, you teach me how to live not for myself, but for others. Let my motive in doing these acts of charity not be out of fear of punishment or desire for reward, but rather let me act out of love for you. Let me respond to the love you have shown me. You are always a faithful friend to me; let me be a faithful friend to you in every person I meet today.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings are inviting us to take a look at our lives. What are we doing with our time? Which means what are we doing with our lives? To live is to pay attention to our talents and how we are administering them.
In Mt 25: 14-30 we see a man that has this same response to the servant that gains two as to the ones that gain five: “Well done, my good and faithful servant…  Come; share your master's joy”.  Why?
For God, what matters is to multiply our talents, to use them.

An empty life, a life without meaning is represented in the Gospel with the ones that haven’t done anything with their talents.  There are many people living like that. They worry too much, focusing on what life can give to them, but not on the talents that they have received and how they can multiply them to serve others. There is a law in spiritual realm: the more you give of your talents the more you multiply them.
First Lesson: God doesn’t care of the amount of work, but the quality of it. God is the owner of the universe. And what is quality: everything, all your talents.
Second Lesson: Don’t live only concerned about things in this world. Your talent could be infertile for the next life.
Teach me, Lord, to take all that you have given me and make it produce fruit for your kingdom.
Lord, give me the grace and love to work for your kingdom with all the talents that you have given me. Let me return them all to you with real fruits for your kingdom.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: "The foolish and prudent virgins"

The invitation of Jesus is very clear: "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Mt 25, 13)

In this parable specifically Christ suggests that there is a kind of sleepiness that involves all of us. Notice that the main difference between the groups of virgins is not in the fact that one group was sleeping and the other not; what makes them different is the way they where prepared for the banquet, how they anticipated their waking. Some didnt prepare for it at all. The tiredness of the activities defeated them, it was too much for them, and they surrendered to sleep without thinking of what would happen later.

On the other hand the other group knowing that the night could defeat them, found a way to have oil for the lamps, so that when they awoke they could find something to defeat the night.

As we see, it is a matter of awareness. Some of them where conscious of the fact that they could fall sleep and prepare themselves for any inconvenience and the others simple let the tiredness overcome them.

What do we do to prepare ourselves for our awakening? First it depends of what kind of sleepiness we are talking about. It is the sleep of death? Actually that sounds very connected to the end of Ordinary time, this is what we are approaching in the liturgy of the Catholic Church as we come to the last chapters of Matthew.

The ones that let sleep take control of their lives are just assuming that after the reality of this world nothing else will happen.

On the other hand save oil for the lamps, save light and even though the body will suddenly be defeated by tiredness and sleepiness, there will always be enough light to keep them from sleeping. What light are we saving? What can defeat darkness when we are sleeping, in other words when we are dead and the night of our lives will inevitably overshadow us?

The first reading (Wis 6: 12) talks about " A Resplendent and unfading wisdom", a light  that corresponds well to the oil of the gospel (Mt 25: 1-13). Because even though the sleepiness of death will come to everyone, wisdom is not subjected to the empire of death. The light of wisdom will stay with us when we listen to the voice: 'Behold, the bridegroom (Mt 25: 6)

It is good to remember that this wisdom is much more than just knowledge. It is not against knowledge, but there is more than that. This wisdom comes to those that look for it "and found by those who seek her."(Wis 6:16). It is wisdom that helps us in the art of living.

The message then will be: Learn to live this life in order to prepare for the life that will come after.

I would just like to say something about the hour and the final encounter in today's parable. All the virgins were invited to the wedding, all of them were waiting for the bridegroom. This was the proper custom of the Jewish people. To wait for the bridegroom doesn't have a joy that can be compared to on earth. The wedding is a day of joy and happiness in the Book of the Song of Songs 3:11

If we are waiting, we are not lost in uncertainty without purpose and meaning. We are called to SHARE the joy of the coming of the bridegroom, the coming of our Lord and Savior, in the intimacy of a banquet that is clearly anticipated in the Holy Eucharist. Christ is giving all of us the anticipation of plenitude of joy from His Heart in the midst of His Bride, The Church.

Like In the Mass, after the Mystery of Faith, we say "Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory". Today we say Lord, Come to our lives and help us to prepare many more hearts for your coming, Amen.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Importance of Eucharistic Adoration and Prayer at St. Marks

“The worship given to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit... must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses…This worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament… Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of Eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, hours of adoration, and periods of exposition – short, prolonged, and annual (Forty Hours) - Eucharistic benediction, Eucharistic processions, Eucharistic Congresses… Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease?” Pope John Paul II

What is Eucharistic Adoration?
It has been the consistent belief of the Catholic Church from the very beginning that the bread and wine consecrated at Mass truly become the Body and Blood of Christ; and that, furthermore, as the Catholic Catechism states, this “Eucharistic presence of Christ [which] begins at the moment of the consecration...endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.” (CC #1377). In other words, the Eucharistic Christ then continues to be present in our midst beyond the Eucharistic liturgy when the consecrated host is either reposed in a tabernacle or exposed on the alter.
Why Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?

If we can adore the Eucharistic presence of Christ when reposed in a tabernacle, why do we then need to expose the Blessed Sacrament on an altar? It is not essential for exposition to take place to have Eucharistic adoration, yet people report experiencing a greater sense of intimacy with Jesus and attentiveness of mind and heart to prayer when they are able to actually “see” our Eucharistic Lord. Moreover, according to Church regulations exposing the Blessed Sacrament for a period of time requires the presence of a sufficient number of people to be there and therefore fosters the commitment needed to establish and sustain a meaningful parish Eucharistic adoration program. But the best reason for having exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is simply that God wills it. During His Eucharistic discourse, Jesus made this unmistakably clear: “Indeed, this is the will of My Heavenly Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son, and believes in Him, shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day” (John 6:40).

Has not Vatican II Forbidden Eucharistic Adoration?

Vatican II sought to highlight the centrality of the liturgical celebration of the Mass and foster the faithful’s full participation in it. Some thought this meant doing away with Eucharistic adoration all together but the opposite is true. In his encyclical on the Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei, promulgated at the height of Vatican II on September 3, 1965, Pope Paul VI expresses his hope that “the restored sacred liturgy will bring forth abundant fruits of Eucharistic devotion, so that the Holy Church, under this saving sign of piety, may make daily progress toward perfect unity and may invite all Christians to unity of faith and of love, drawing them gently, thanks to the action of divine grace.” Experience has proven this to be true, for parishes which have established a long-term Eucharistic adoration program have over time seen an increase not only in the attendance at Mass but also in the sacrament of Reconciliation as well. And even though non-Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist at Mass, they can spend time before the Lord in Eucharistic adoration and through His Eucharistic presence felt spiritually do oftentimes seek full communion with the Church so that they may also participate fully in the liturgical celebration of the Mass.
What is the Difference between Perpetual and Non-Perpetual Adoration?

Perpetual Adoration is a Eucharistic devotion whereby members of a given parish (or some other entity) unite in making continuous hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament both during the day and throughout the night, seven days a week. Non-Perpetual Adoration is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament less than 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Perpetual Adoration, whenever possible, is to be preferred because it offers individuals the convenience of adoring Our Lord at any and all hours of the day and night and mobilizes the maximum number of individuals committed to prayer. Consequently, it is to be considered the goal of all parish Eucharistic adoration programs.

Is not Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in a Parish Forbidden by Church Laws?

Neither the Code of Canon Law pertaining to the exposition and reservation of the Holy Eucharist (cf. Canons 938-944) nor the Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (HCW) cited by some liturgists to deny permission for Perpetual Adoration forbid perpetual exposition in parishes. Rather they provide the minimum requirements under which adoration with exposition can take place. Moreover, Pope John Paul II has himself set the pattern for the establishment of parish Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration by opening a chapel of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at St. Peter’s Basilica on December 2, 1981. And in June 1993 at the 45th International Eucharistic Congress in Seville, he expressed this wish: “I hope that this form of perpetual adoration, with permanent exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, will continue into the future. Specifically, I hope that the fruit of this Congress results in the establishment of perpetual Eucharistic adoration in all parishes and Christian communities throughout the world.”
Will not Focus on Christ’s Presence in the Consecrated Host Eclipse People’s Awareness of His Presence in Each Other and the Community as a Whole?
It is true that the Eucharist is not the only modality of Christ’s presence to us. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states “Christ Jesus… is present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church’s prayer…, in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present… most especially in the Eucharistic species” (Catechism, 1373) for therein “the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (Catechism, 1374). It is precisely this mode of Christ’s presence offered in atonement for our sins and “remembered” in this sacrificial meal which raises the Eucharist above all other sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend” (Catechism, 1375).

In other words, Christ is present in the Eucharist par excellence precisely because the Eucharist becomes the means by which he is able to establish his presence in every other experience of the Church’s life and ministry and in its members. Rather than eclipsing his presence in all other ways, the Eucharist first celebrated, consumed and then adored becomes the means by which that presence is established and enhanced. This has been the conviction and personal experience of all who have possessed a true understanding and love for the Eucharist in the past and it continues to be the conviction and experience of all who do so today.

Will not Eucharistic Adoration foster a type of a Privatized Spirituality that places exclusive focus on personal growth over social concern?

A true concern for society (i.e. welfare of the poor, issues of peace and justice, evangelization) is a byproduct of the strength of one’s own prayer life and personal dedication to Christ. Eucharistic Adoration fosters such a genuine sense of conversion from over preoccupation with one’s own will to the embrace of Christ’s will for oneself and others. Consequently, rather than being a deterrent to the social mandate of the Church, it provides the foundation upon which a genuine commitment to Gospel service and evangelization can be built.

How Much Time and Money will it require to Establish Eucharistic Adoration?

Eucharistic Adoration is a lay-run ministry. As such it supports the call of Vatican II to promote the involvement of the laity in the mission of the Church. Consequently, once established, outside of his occasional pulpit support and offering of spiritual guidance when needed, very little time will be demanded of the pastor? Experience has also shown that the laity tends to be very generous in financially supporting ministries they see as directly benefiting them and their families. As a result, whatever expenses are needed also tend to be provided for by the lay people themselves.

Someone asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta: What will convert America?

"My answer is prayer. What we need is for every Parish to come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Hours of prayer"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The union between the love of God and love of neighbor

St. Catherine describes the way of love like this: In the first stage, in the beginning, even when we say that we love, we don’t understand love. What we have is love of ourselves, self-love. We have a list of selfish plans and desires. In the beginning this is the human condition wounded by original sin.

A second stage is an encounter with a love that has no selfish desires, like the one that we find in 1 John 4, 10: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us He loved us before we loved Him. When we receive this kind of love we receive healing and cleansing. We receive freedom, a very specific strength that helps us to get out of the jail of selfishness, because living in egotism is like being in a prison; to live life as the slave of “my plans” is to live in a very small cell.

Well... Once the prison is broken we are able to receive the love of God, we are freed.  We receive the Life of God and our soul is like "a dry weary land without water" (Psalm 63) starting now to drink from the love of God because of a personal encounter with Jesus.

Again, first: There was no love, only selfish desires; second: Love comes in the Person of Jesus. The third stage: that love has the power to build us, construct us until the point that we are going to be capable of loving… loving who? God, the one who has always loved us with a selfless love.

This process is almost like the development of babies. They are not great sinners, but in the beginning they live only for themselves. “My food, my sleep, my comfort” after receiving love from their Moms, they start to love her; they learn to love with a love of gratitude. In this third stage a love of gratitude to God, a love made of happiness, and the ability to trust in Him is what begins to grow within us.

And finally… The fourth stage: God has healed me, forgiven me and freed me. God built me and made me capable of finding some of the beautiful masterpieces that He wants to build and see within me. My life has a purpose and now I can see it. Then, God show me that there are others like me that pass through stage one, two and three, other brothers and sisters that were also helped, loved and freed from their selfishness… we see them and we can easily relate to them.

Little by little God is going to awake in us the capacity of loving our neighbor. How come? Why is He doing this?

When I love someone I want to make them happy, I want to please them, I want to respond to their needs, I want to help them in their projects, in what that person wants to achieve. I will help them finish what they are working on; I want their projects, and plans to be the best. (This is what God is doing; because He loves us, He wants us to succeed at loving our neighbor, and therefore, succeed at loving Him even more.

God said to St. Catherine of Siena: “You can’t love me like I love you, because I love you in a selfless way, without expecting or receiving anything from you… you can’t love me like this… but what you can do is to love the ones that I love, in the same way I love you… you can love them without expecting retribution”

My brothers and sisters, we are called to love God’s project. His plan is the salvation of the whole world. We need to love in the name of God and, because of our love for Him, we need to love our neighbors. This is the explanation of the unity of these two commandments: The Love of God and of our neighbors.

Come Holy Spirit and make us capable of uniting the love of God and the love of our neighbor in the Heart of Jesus.

Dear Lord, I believe in you, because you have a plan for me that will bring me to be like you. I hope in you, because your example and your grace give me the strength to be able to identify my will with yours. I love you, because only by loving you can I be transformed into you and be holy. Give me, Lord, the grace to practice charity faithfully.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, give me the grace to love others with all my effort and good will. I want to contemplate you, Lord, so that I may learn from you how to love them to the point of giving my life for them.