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