July 26 – Seventeenth Sunday

Seeking the Treasure
Fr. Isaac Abu, OMV

One day many years ago when I was in elementary school, I came home only to meet pots of sea shells that were excavated from the ground at a medical facility where my mother worked. I was told that the intention for digging in the ground was to implant poles so clothes could be hanged and sun-dried. In the process of digging they discovered pots full of cowrie (mussel) shells. It was someone’s lost treasure. Cowrie shells you see were used as a currency long ago in some African Countries. Obviously whomever the owner of these shells was, he or she hid them in the thick forest for safe keeping. The shells were never able to be used until they were later discovered so many centuries later.

These past few Sundays we have been following Jesus’ use of parables for teaching about the Kingdom of God. Structurally, Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel is considered as the center of Jesus’ teaching. Furthermore, to demonstrate how dear this teaching about the Kingdom is to Jesus, he used seven different stories (parables) about human realities aimed at focusing our gaze on the divine.To further emphasize the centrality of this topic to the ministry of Jesus, the Church gives us the opportunity to make it our own, by hearing it, pondering it and immersing ourselves in it through meditation for three weeks running now. Today we are concluding these all important teachings on the Kingdom of God with the parables on treasure buried in the field, the pearl of great value, and the net cast into the sea that collects fish of every kind. I am particularly touched by the parable concerning the hidden treasure in the field. Hiding treasures in the ground was common in the first century. A rabbinic saying has it that the only safe repository for moneyis the earth. This explains the reason why, in another parable, the unwise, lazy servant hid his one talent in the ground (Matt. 25:25).

When the medical personnel at my mother’s facility discovered the cowrie shells they were very happy, despite the fact that the shells held no more monetary value after four hundred years. Discovery of a treasure is always an occasion of joy. A good friend or a good spouse is considered a treasure of an inestimable value. Christ is our Treasure, our Pearl. Discovering Him and holding on to Him is equivalent to having everything. Discovering Jesus is discovering the Author and Perfecter of everything, the Alpha and Omega, the One Who is, Who was and Who is to come; the One Who makes impossibilities possible. Acceptance of Christ who is the Way, the Truth and Life, gives us assurance on following the Way that leads toKingdom of God. To find Jesus demands some sacrifice, much work, renunciation, and an untiring search. It often involves pain and generosity with one’s gifts. If these aforementioned qualities are lacking even in our ordinary daily affairs, the chances of succeeding in life diminish, let alone succeeding in our spiritual adventures and our pilgrimage to eternity.

One who was seeking the right treasure was Solomon. In the first reading we see that God was very pleased with the request Solomon made: he asked for wisdom to discern between good and evil. Wisdom is highly necessary in our search for Christ, our Divine Treasure. A wise person understands easily why self-dispossession is necessary in order to acquire the Divine Treasure. With wisdom one is not discouraged by the question, “what if there is no heaven?” Divine insight that wisdom gives will help to re-frame the question thus: Suppose in the end there is heaven and one didn’t do the one thing necessary to have it? It is better to safe than sorry. Everything works for the good of all those who love God. If there is no heaven at the end, we lose nothing but if there is, and no preparation was made towards entering it, one loses everything. We are hereby in a special way, urged to “keep loving the commands of the Lord more than Gold, however fine”. That is what we need to keep “Seeking first the Kingdom of God” (Matt: 6: 33)

July 19 – Sixteenth Sunday

The Master of Might 

It can probably be safely assumed that very few, if any, people retire for the evening wondering if the sun will still be in the sky when they wake up the next morning. There are very few, if any, people who wonder if, when they step outside their homes, gravity will still exist so that they don’t float off into space. We do not typically spend much time wondering about such things and other “natural laws” because we recognize that they have never failed. Nature seems to be working as usual. There are patterns of nature that we have observed all of our lives, so we have come to have confidence that the laws of nature will always be as they are.

This Sunday’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom speaks of God’s “mastery over all things.” The laws and patterns of nature that we recognize every day, to the point of not thinking much about them, are all derived from and sustained by the mind of God, a mind that is Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia in Greek). When things are ordered properly and attain their purposes with ease, we can speak of wisdom. An acorn never, ever becomes a dolphin or an automobile. An acorn always becomes an oak tree. It does so because of the Divine Wisdom that has ordered all things and masters them. The confidence we have in the patterns of nature should lead us to daily gratitude for Holy Wisdom; for God who has a beautiful mind and is full of care for his creation.

If there is anything at all in nature that does not seem to hold consistently it would be the behavior of human beings. Though we are created by the same Holy Wisdom that created all other things and possess a moral code, or natural law of behavior, we fail to live according to this wisdom and therefore we very often do not exhibit the same consistent patterns as the rest of nature. Yet, as the Book of Wisdom reminds us, “But though you are master of might, you judge us with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.” The Holy Wisdom of God is not an unyielding force of nature, but the master of nature. The Lord, the All-Powerful, knows that we fail terribly in following His wisdom. But it is also according to His Wisdom that God is lenient and judges us with clemency. God’s understanding of power is not to destroy but to redeem and forgive his creation. The might that the Lord masters is a might of creativity and sacrificial love. It behooves us to seek this Holy Wisdom in all we do.

June 28, 2020 – Thirteenth Sunday

The New Way

Imagine the scene. Jesus of Nazareth has been gathering followers at an increasing rate. He is saying things in a new way, with authority and not as just another scholar of the Law. People are hearing his message and beginning to believe that he is sent from God, perhaps a great prophet. He is performing miracles and giving people hope. Then, Jesus says something to this new band of followers that is truly staggering: “If you love your family more than me, you are not worthy of me. If you seek to save your own life instead of losing it for my sake, you will never have it.” Even for us, in modern times, this would be unnerving to say the least; but for a first-century Jewish person this is world-shattering. The entirety of their social order and of their lives as the Chosen People of God was built on family and blood and land, the Promised Land. Now, here is this new teacher who is saying that he must come before all of that. Jesus is making the claim that he is in fact the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the center.

The very foundations of Israel was based on the stability of the family and of learning the ancient customs from parents. The larger communities of several Jewish families would of course also gather together in the synagogues or the Temple, if they lived in or near Jerusalem. This was how Torah (The Jewish Law and Way of Life) was learned and lived, always in community and with family. Now Jesus is essentially saying that all things must be centered on him. Friendship with Jesus, following Jesus, communion with Jesus, above all other things, is the fulfillment of Torah. Jesus is claiming to be the Torah, that is, the Way. It is not that Our Lord is destroying the family or society, he is saying that all family and all society will truly become their true selves, their true form, by centering on him. Life itself, according to Jesus, is really found in communion with him. For the Jewish people, life was not first and foremost a biological thing, although that was of course important. The true life, the highest life, real life, was being in communion with God and worshiping him within the community. When Jesus says that whoever loses his life for his sake will find it, he means that being in communion with him and worshiping with his followers is true communion with God and, therefore, real life. In the company of Jesus, family is still the building block of society and stability. But that family is held together and able to become a “building block” because it is built on Christ.

June 21, 2020 – Twelfth Sunday

They will look upon him whom they have pierced (Zachariah 12:10).

We fulfill Zachariah’s prophecy when we gaze on the Crucified and when we venerate an image of the Sacred Heart. On the first Friday of the month we acknowledge God’s love for us. We make reparation; that is, we attempt to make up for our past indifference and ingratitude. We strive to repair and fortify our friendship with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Pius XII wrote an encyclical on the Sacred Heart called Haurietis Aquas, which means: You shall draw waters. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. The pierced Heart of Jesus is the Spring, the fount from where comes the Sacraments and Sacramental Grace. For raised high on the Cross, He gave Himself up for us with a wonderful love and poured out Blood and Water from His pierced Side, the wellspring of the Church’s Sacraments, so that won over to the open Heart of the Savior, all might draw water joyfully from the springs of Salvation.

In the OT, God showed His love for humanity as Creator. Through the prophet Hosea He said He loved them as a father loves his child. When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord says; Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. In Song of Songs He compares His feelings to that of a lover for his beloved. In another place He describes His love to that of a husband who has been wronged. The Old Testament expresses in so many ways God’s love for us, but it was only after the Virgin said; “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to thy word”, that God began to love us with a human heart. A heart that began to beat only 22 days later. The Sacred Heart nestled under the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Heart of Jesus was formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mother. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is intimately associated with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Pius XII wrote: ‘By the will of God, the most Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably joined with Christ in accomplishing the work of man’s redemption, so that our salvation flows from the love of Jesus Christ and His sufferings, intimately united with the love and sorrows of his Mother. It is then, highly fitting that after due homage has been paid to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Christian people, who have obtained divine life from Christ through Mary manifest similar piety and the love of their grateful souls for the most loving heart of our Heavenly Mother.

June 14, 2020 – Corpus Christi

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (John 6:53).

The 20th century spiritual master, Thomas Merton, once said that the reason the world doesn’t have peace is because you cannot have peace with others if you don’t have peace within yourself; and you cannot have peace within yourself unless you are at peace with God. To many it may seem a cliche to say that you must be at peace with God in order to have peace at all. Jesus makes it abundantly clear in this Sunday’s gospel: Without eating and drinking His Body and Blood, there is no life. But you cannot truly eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ (The Holy Eucharist) unless you believe in it. Faith in that Most Blessed Sacrament is plummeting among Catholics. If we want life and peace, we must be missionaries of the Eucharist.

To reinvigorate faith in and love of the Eucharist Cardinal O’Malley has instituted an extraordinary year of grace in the Archdiocese of Boston. From the Feast of Corpus Christi 2020 (June 14) until the Feast of Corpus Christ 2021 (June 3) we of the Church of Boston will be celebrating the Year of the Eucharist. For Jesus, it was a clear point of fact: There is no life apart from his Body and Blood. If we want to move beyond mere surviving and start thriving, we need the Eucharist.

Consider the many, many options in which we have to invest our passions. There are some who have no peace right now because there is very little professional sports to watch. There are some who have no peace because their favorite store is not yet open. We also know there are many who do not have peace because they are not certain that anyone even cares about them at all. If we and the many, many Catholics who have lost their faith in the Eucharist could re-kindle the fire for the Body and Blood of Christ and share that fire with our friends and neighbors, we could have a greater peace. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). The Year of the Eucharist and the Feast of Corpus Christi are opportunities for us to make Jesus Christ and his life and holiness our treasure once again.

May 31, 2020 – Pentecost

Ask and you shall Receive
by Fr. Isaac Abu, OMV

Pentecost is around the corner. Normally, before we celebrate any major event, like birthdays, marriages or anniversaries, some form of preparation is done. It is fitting that every Christian get prepared for the celebration of the birthday of the Church. One great way of doing this, is by praying a novena to the Holy Spirit. We may refresh our minds here, on the importance of novena. Joseph Quinn in the Catholic Encyclopedia says that a novena is “a period  of public or private prayer lasting nine days — either consecutively or once weekly for nine weeks — to make an important occasion obtain a particular grace or offer up a special intention. Novenas have been supported and indulgenced by the Holy See — notably that observed before Pentecost.” Taking into cognizance the physical and spiritual devastating effects of the pandemic, we all need, more than ever, to call on the Holy Spirit to renew us.

We may recall that the better part of the Lenten period and Eastertide was spent in lockdown during which we were socially distanced from one another and from the Church. Providentially, we are reopening gradually during this time prior to the Pentecost! The 7 gifts and the 12 fruits of Holy Spirit are urgently needed to be renewed in our lives especially in this troubled time. Our faith needs to be strengthened, our hope must be enkindled.

Today our Lord assured us with these encouraging words in the Gospel of St. John, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. Let us therefore ask him through our Novena for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us especially on those who have lost hope, who are suffering, lonely and sick.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in us the Fire of your Love. Oh Spirit of God drive away our fears, help us to keep trusting in God. Oh Holy Spirit come and enable us to be steadfast to look into the future with hope. Spirit of the Living God come and teach us, we beg You.

The Lanterian

A Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
by Fr, James Doran, OMV

Jesus said to his disciples:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. The Commandments are a gift to us, and we should keep then out of love because they will make us happy. After Moses explained the Law to the people, he said, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? Dt 4

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

The way to happiness, to blessedness is to follow Jesus’ Commands.

The other big news in this lesson is Jesus promises to send another Advocate. He is the first Advocate. Called to one’s side.  He stands beside to defend you. Jesus will go to the Father and will send Holy Spirit. This lesson was only given at the end of Jesus’ life at the Last Supper. So, this is news to the Apostles.

Holy Mother church is preparing us for Pentecost. Jesus, the first Advocate dwelt with the Apostles, but the second Advocate will dwell in the Apostles. And not only the Apostles but all who are baptized and live in state of sanctifying Grace. ‘Spirit’ means breath. The Holy Spirit is God’s breath in us, God’s life in us. We wear masks now to protect ourselves from breath that carries the COVID-19 virus. We must protect ourselves from the evil spirit of sin with even more diligence.

In our first reading the deacon Philip goes to Samaria to explain the Gospel and baptize. Then he sends for the bishops, St. Peter, and St. John to lay hands on the baptized to confirm the in the Faith. This is important. The protestants rejected the Sacrament of Confirmation because they could not find the word in the Bible. The word is not in the Bible, but the fact is. The word Trinity is not in the Bible either the three Divine Persons are.

CCC 1288 The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.

1285 It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace.89 For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.

Saint Peter says Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence

I encourage everyone to read about the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catechism. Beautiful. It will help you have clearer understanding.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of thy love.

V. Send forth thy spirit and they shall be created.

R. And thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.  O God, who has instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.

A Reflection for the Fifth Week of Easter
by Fr, James Doran, OMV

Preparing a Dwelling Place

The following is part of what is known as the Farewell Discourse. Jesus has just told The Apostles that Peter will deny him and they will all abandon him; and He offers encouragement:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”

Dr. Brant Pitre, who wrote Jesus the Bridegroom says that Jesus is speaking here like a new husband who must prepare a house for his bride.
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.”

He prepares a place for the members of His Bride, the Church.

The Way, the Truth and the Life

“Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said answered,
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Let us not think of a physical place in the clouds. Heaven is the life of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus, Second Person of the Trinity is the road to that relationship so we can dwell with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

“I am the way and the truth and the life.” 
There are many religions that have some particle of truth, but Jesus is the truth, the fullness of the truth, not just a piece. His life, not just physical but supernatural eternal life.

Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” It is no small thing that Philip is asking. You cannot see the Face of God and live. And yet, Jesus said to him:
Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

The Son bears the image of the Father. Christ is the image of the invisible God. God the Father never became flesh.
Pope Francis wrote, “Jesus is the Face of the Father’s mercy.”
“The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

Jesus came to do the Father’s work and after the Passion, Resurrection, Ascension and Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles will continue the Father’s work.  

Greater Works than Jesus’

Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father
Greater works than Jesus’? Is He speaking in hyperbole here? Look what Jesus did: He turned water into wine, healed the sick, He healed some from a distance like the centurion’s son, He fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes, healed a man born blind. Now He tells the Apostles,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father

There is the key! Once He goes to the Father, He will send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will proceed from the Father and the Son Who will empower them to do more than physical miracles like changing water into wine, physical healings and quantitative multiplication of material nutrition. The Holy Spirit will empower them to forgive sins which is more important than physical healing. The Holy Spirit will empower them to baptize which washes away sin and makes us children of God and Temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will empower them to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Incarnate God.

The Sacraments are the works greater than feeding multitudes, healing sick and walking on water.

We are more amazed by physical healings but He Himself said the Apostles would perform greater miracles. His physical miracles foreshadowed the Sacraments. Remember when He pardoned a paralytic’s sins and the onlookers said, ‘who can forgive sins?’. So, to show that He had the power to heal the soul, he healed the body too.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit.

It is the opinion of St. Augustine that “the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,” because “heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away.” He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

You Have to Know Somebody

When He says, “I Am the Way,” that Way comes in the form of the Sacraments. The Sacraments are the road to Heaven; the path to living with the Trinity. To baptize a baby is to make him a child of God forever. To absolve a dying mortal sinner saves him forever.

Holy Mother Church is preparing us for Pentecost. The Apostles will only be able to overcome their fear and powerlessness and get to work when the Spirit comes to them.

Acts 6 Among the Christian there are Greek speaking and Hebrew or Aramaic speaking. The Greek speaking widows are being neglected so the Apostles choose fair minded Deacons to administer to the poor. That way the Apostles can dedicate themselves to preaching the Word while the deacons assist them by dedicating their time to charity, corporal works of mercy. This shows two things. The importance of the Sacraments. The importance of Jesus as the only savior.

CCC 661 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.

If Heaven is the Life of the Trinity and not just some place of natural happiness that we can earn, then the only Way to get there is that a member of the Trinity brings us there.  Jesus is the way, the only Way. (You have to know somebody to get in. You can’t there by your own merits.)

Let us come to know Him — the way and the truth and the life.

Christ’s Easter Gift to Humanity
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy”.  Jesus said that to Sr. Faustinsa.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes His Apostles ministers of Divine Mercy. After showing them His hands, feet and side, He tells them: As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21) Then He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins you forgive are forgiven. The sins you retain are retained. Pope St. John Paul wrote this gift of forgiving sins flows from the wounds in His hands and feet and especially from His side. From there a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity. Remember that scene in the Passion of Christ. When the soldier thrusts the lance into His side, Blood and Water showers, drenches the soldier. There is a statue of that soldier, St. Longinus, at St. Peter’s basilica.

Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and asked her to have a painting done of Himself as He appeared to her.; with two rays of light coming from His Heart which represent the Blood and Water. (Diary, p. 132). The Blood recalls the sacrifice at Calvary and the mystery of the Eucharist; the Water, according the rich symbolism of St. John the Evangelist, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord told Sr. Faustina to put a short but powerful prayer at His feet; “Jesus, I trust in You”.

We must cultivate the strong conviction that He truly seeks to alleviate our suffering. He did not die on the cross to let us fall into Hell. We could end up in Hell only if we choose to lose our souls by refusing conversion.

In his encyclical on Divine Mercy, the Holy Father describes mercy as love:

This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and “restored to value.” The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy that he has been “found again” and that he has “returned to life. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. My efforts to convert are the most concrete expression of my love for Divine Mercy, which is not just an attitude  but a Person. And that Person is Jesus. He is infinite. Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also, infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.

St. John says, “God is love” and Jesus says: “I Am Mercy.”

Jesus is the Incarnation of Mercy. Mercy is Love’s second name, writes Pope St. John Paul!

What is mercy? Love that seeks to alleviate suffering. That’s a good definition if you just think about it.

Divine Mercy, in the person of Jesus, gives us two commandments: First, contemplate Mercy. Look at the image and reflect how God has been merciful to humanity in general. How has He sought to alleviate suffering in your life, in your personal history.

Second, Jesus commands us to be merciful. Practice works of mercy daily. If you keep that in mind, you will find plenty of opportunities especially in these days of health crisis.

Let us invoke our Lady, Mother of Mercy. She gave flesh to God’s Mercy. May she teach us to alleviate suffering. 

Corporal Works of mercy

To feed the hungry

Give drink to the thirsty

Clothe the naked

Shelter the homeless

Visit the sick

Visit the imprisoned

Bury the dead

 Spiritual Works of mercy

To counsel the doubtful

Instruct the ignorant

Admonish sinners 

Comfort the afflicted

Forgive offenses

Bear wrongs patiently

Pray for the living and the dead 

Have your intentions prayed for in a novena of Masses beginning on Divine Mercy Sunday.

A Reflection for Easter Sunday
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24)

This trial that we are experiencing now, will pass.

We celebrate the Lord of History on Easter Vigil when the priest traces a cross on the Paschal Candle, and he says:
Christ yesterday and today
the beginning and the End
the Alpha and the Omega
All time belongs to Him and all the ages
To Him be glory and power
Through every age and forever. Amen

Easter is too important a feast to be celebrated in one day. We lived through forty days of Lent. We accompanied Our Lord isolated in the desert with prayer, penance and fasting. Now we will celebrate the solemnity for eight days; so even on weekdays we pray the “Glory to God in the highest” and say the Te Deum in the Liturgy of the Hours.  The octave of Easter is one continual in spite of sickness and inconvenience.

After the octave (eight days) of solemn celebration, which means the greatest way of celebrating, the Easter season continues all the way to Pentecost. This year it will be on May 31st. God willing we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit together in the Chapel.  Pentecost means fifty. You can see the word “pente”, which means ‘five’ in the word. A pentagon is a five-sided figure. The Pentateuch signifies the first five books of the Bible. So, the Easter season lasts for 50 days.

After that we go back to Ordinary time, (which means it is not Easter time, Lent, Advent or Christmas), but every Sunday is still Easter because we celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death and the dawn of the new creation. The Resurrection of Jesus is an event that never happened before, a unique event in history. Pope St. John Paul called it the fulcrum of history. That is why the priest prepares the Pascal candle on the Easter Vigil saying “Christ yesterday and today; the beginning and the end; Alpha and Omega; all time belongs to Him; and all ages to Him be glory and power through every age for ever. Amen”

Sunday is the Lord’s Day. The Lord’s Day is the lord of days. St. Jerome said, “Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day”. For Christians, Sunday is the fundamental feast day. In generations past it was easier to keep the Lord ’s Day holy. It meant no school, a day of rest in the Christian world so that one could worship and spend time with family and friends.

The Italian bishops wrote:
“Our grandparents called it ‘the Holy Sabbath’. 
Our parents called it ‘the Sabbath’. 
We call it ‘Sunday’. 
Our kids call it ‘the weekend’.
Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a ‘weekend,’ it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see ‘the heavens.’ So, while they should be ready to celebrate, they are not able because they have made themselves the center of their lives instead of God. We have a duty to give thanks to the Lord and pray to Him in community. In the midst of this crisis we can still celebrate with those we live with and with those are distanced from us thanks to technology. Even a text that says ”Blessed Sunday” is a witness that it is the Lord’s Day and we believe in the Resurrection.” 

“Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life. From the beginning of my Pontificate, I have not ceased to repeat: “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!”.(9) In the same way, today I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us “his day” as an ever-new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human.” –  From Dies Domini by Pope St John Paul II.

This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps 118:24)

Judas and Peter: Despair and Presumption
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

Judas was showing his true colors already six days before the Passover. He had the bad manners to criticize Mary of Bethany for being extravagant in her to devotion to Our Blessed Lord who had brought her brother back from death. “Why wasn’t this ointment sold and the money given to the poor?” complains the thief. Worse than his criticism of the grateful hostess, he had the audacity to criticize or Lord for allowing this generous gesture. Who does he think he is? It’s a wonder the impetuous Peter didn’t slap him with the broad side of his sword.

The point is the temptation to betray Jesus had been gnawing away at Judas for some time despite everything he had seen and received from Jesus. And this troubled Jesus, as St. John notes. He solemnly tells them He will be betrayed by one of them.

There is an interesting dynamic here. In those days and in that place, on important occasions, it was the custom to eat reclining on something like a lawn chair that is leveled. The diner rested on his left elbow and ate with his right hand. This meant that it was easy to lean on the person on one’s left and talk to him without people hearing.

So, after Jesus tells them there is a traitor among them, I can see Peter look at John and with a slight motion of the head indicate to him to ask who it is. John leans back on our Lord’s chest and says, “who is it Lord?”The one to whom I give the piece of bread.”

The morsel which Jesus offers him is a sign of friendship and an invitation for him to give up his evil plan. But Judas rejects the chance he is offered.

St. Augustine comments: “What he received is good, but he received it to his own perdition, because being evil, he received in an evil manner what is good”.

The words “Satan entered him”, means he gave in completely to the devil’s temptation. Off he goes.

Peter declares that he will follow Jesus and is ready to lay down his life for Him. But our Lord knows that Peter is not ready for that. Not yet.

St. Augustine says that our Lord establishes here a delay; He does not destroy hope, indeed He confirms it by saying, ‘You shall follow afterwards! Why are you in haste, Peter? As yet the rock has not made you strong inwardly: do not be brought down by your presumption. Now you cannot follow me, but do not despair, later, you will”. Peter certainly meant what he said, but his resolution was not very solid yet. Later with Pentecost he would develop fortitude based on humility. His denial of his Master would smash his pride and when another opportunity came, he would not consider himself worthy to be crucified as his Master was, but head downwards.

St Bede wrote, “Let everyone draw from this example of contrition, and if he has fallen let him not despair, but always remember that he can become worthy of forgiveness”

Judas despaired. Peter was proud and presumptuous, but despair is worse. Presumption can be crushed but despair…It’s no wonder Jesus wanted these words on His image, “Jesus I trust in you”. Peter could still trust in Him; Judas in despair couldn’t.   

Overcoming Our Fear of Death
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

The woman at the well taught that sin is a kind of thirst. Jesus is the Living Water. The man born blind taught us that sin is darkness. Jesus says, “I Am the Light of the world”. Today’s Lazarus Gospel says sin is death. Jesus says, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”. These Sundays prepare the Catechumens and us for the Passion and Resurrection by showing us who Jesus is. Jesus had friends. He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He used to visit them. When Lazarus became gravely ill, his sisters sent word to their friend Jesus; “Master, the one you love is ill”.  Jesus does not go rushing to his bedside. He has no fear of death. He is not afraid that death will take away his friend. He waits for two days then He tells his disciples; “Let’s go back to Judea”.   His disciples said, “Rabbi they were just trying to stone You and You want to go back there?” He is not afraid. He knows that death can only come to Him when He permits, and it is not time yet.

Bishop Robert Barron says He is flippant about death. He purposely lets his friend die for the Glory of God. To us death seems to be the ultimate evil, the worst thing that can happen to us, but Jesus does not treat it like that. Fear of death influences so much of what we do, but if we really believed that Jesus is stronger than death… if we really believed that death does not have the last say, then the nature of our fear would be transformed. What are you afraid of?  Mt28“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul”. What is to be feared? Jesus was in danger in Judea, but He decides to return and Thomas says, “Let us go with Him and die with Him”. Thomas is no longer afraid to die, (for the moment). And all the disciples agree.

By the time Jesus reached His friends, Lazarus had been dead four days. No mistake about it, he was dead in a sealed tomb. Martha says, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give you”. What faith she has! It is interesting, the conversation. It seems He is teasing her, or trying to draw it out of her. “Your brother will rise.” Martha says, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Some Jews believed that the good would rise at the end of the world.

Then Jesus comes right out with it: “I Am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the One Who is coming into the world.”

Whenever Jesus says, “I AM”, we should be reminded of Moses speaking to God in the Burning Bush. When God told Moses to return to Egypt and bring the Children of Israel out of slavery, Moses says “Who shall I say sent me? What is Your Name? God says, “I Am Who Am”. I Am He Who exists. So St. John the Evangelist does not miss an opportunity to quote Jesus saying “I AM”. I AM the Light. I Am the Good Shepherd. I Am the vine. I Am the Bread of Life. I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. And now that the Jewish people were starting to believe in liberation from the greatest tyrant of all, He declares “I Am the Resurrection.” Martha believes Him, that He is the Christ, Son of God.

George Weigel writes in his Roman Pilgrimage; “we are all Lazarus because of our baptismal resurrection: through the waters of Baptism and the cleansing of sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we, too, are raised; we too, are unbound and our eyes opened; we, too, are set free to live the New Life that cannot be taken away, even by death.”

Jesus is the Light
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

As time passes, I admire ever more Pope Saint John Paul’s inspiration as manifested in the luminous mysteries of the Rosary. The miracle in today’s Gospel shows us once again that Jesus is the Light of the world. As the prologue  of St. John’s gospel affirms; He is the true light, which enlightens every one… Jesus not only gives light to the eyes of the blind man but he illuminates him interiorly and brings him to make an act of faith in His divinity. The blind man once cured expressed his faith in Jesus. Life makes no sense without Jesus. Without Jesus all creation is in the dark. There is no reason for being without Him. Gaudium et Spes (Vatican II) says “Only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light….Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful; apart from His Gospel they overwhelm us”. Sorrow and death overwhelm to such a degree that people lose faith, become depressed, become slaves to sin, reject the truth and choose ignorance and vengeance.   Jesus warns us to allow ourselves to be illumined by the light that is Himself. When the days of His Passion were approaching, Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have light, so that darkness may not overwhelm you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have light believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”Jn 12:35 The disciples were in the dark in respect to the cause of the man’s blindness and sickness and bad things in general. They thought bad things happened because of personal sin or parents’ sins. “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus came to take away sins and illuminate, bring clarity, “I am the light of the world.” He spat on the ground mixed the clay with saliva, put it on the man’s eyes and told him to wash in the pool.

The Pharisees reject the idea of a miracle because they do not want to accept Jesus. The man who was cured accepted Jesus and was rejected by the Pharisees. We who are Disciples of Christ must be prepared to be rejected by His enemies. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it, but His presence among us already involves a judgment, because each person must either reject or accept Jesus. Remember what Simeon said to Our Blessed Mother; “Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that will be contradicted”.

As St. John Paul suggested, we pray for the fruit of the mystery at the end of the decade. Today’s post Communion prayer expresses our petition. O God, Who enlightens everyone who comes into the world, illumine our hearts, we pray with the splendor of your grace, that we may always ponder what is worthy and pleasing to your majesty and love you in all sincerity. Through Christ Our Lord.

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

“Go call your husband and come back”. Why did Jesus say that? The woman wanted His living water. Didn’t He come to give the gift? Didn’t He want to give her the gift of living water, i.e., Divine life? Of course, He did. But the situation of having multiple partners had to be addressed. She was living in sin. She could not receive the living water without repentance and firm resolution to correct her behavior. St. Paul says, He who partakes of the table of the Lord unworthily eats his own condemnation. 1Cor 11:29. In other words, one commits a sacrilege. Matrimony was established between one man and one woman for life. They vow themselves to each other for life. St. Paul says they imitate Christ the groom and His bride the Church. (Eph 5:25-33). Jesus said, He who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. That is why people in second unions, not blessed by the Church are not to receive the Living Water that is Holy Communion.

Some Christian groups say infidelity nullifies marriage. Not true. Just because one breaks the promise to be faithful does not mean that the other person can too. Even when we sin God does not break off His relationship with us. He will invite us back to Him. An important clarification. The Church does not annul marriages. Often we hear people say, “I am hoping that the Church will give me an annulment”. That is an incorrect way of speaking. She may grant a decree of annulment after an investigation, if it is evident that there never was a real marriage between these particular persons. If there was something lacking on the part of the couple; something necessary, psychologically or physically, at the time of the wedding celebration, then there was no marriage.

Various reasons can unfortunately lead to the often irreparable breakdown of valid marriages. These include mutual lack of understanding and the inability to enter into interpersonal relationships. Obviously, separation must be considered as a last resort, after all other reasonable attempts at reconciliation have proved vain. Loneliness and other difficulties are often the lot of separated spouses, especially when they are the innocent parties. The ecclesial community must support such people more than ever. It must give them much respect, solidarity, understanding and practical help, so that they can preserve their fidelity even in their difficult situation; and it must help them to cultivate the need to forgive which is inherent in Christian love, and to be ready perhaps to return to their former married life.

The situation is similar for people who have undergone divorce, but, being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble, refrain from becoming involved in a new union and devote themselves solely to carrying out their family duties and the responsibilities of Christian life. In such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church. Here it is even more necessary for the Church to offer continual love and assistance, without there being any obstacle to admission to the sacraments. (John Paul II: Familiaris Consortio )

Let us pray for all those persons in irregular situations. May they receive the help they need and recognize that Jesus calls them to sanctity. May we all cooperate with his grace for our conversion. May we all drink of the Living Water.

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

In the Bible mountains are always sacred places. If you start telling a story about going up a mountain to a Jewish audience of the 1st century, the people will expect nothing less than a theophany. A theophany is a divine manifestation. But in this episode, God does not come down or send fire, like the Burning Bush or the Storm on Mt Sinai.  Jesus lets His Divinity show forth in His PersonHis FaceHis clothing!

Moses and Elijah who had lived hundreds of years earlier had been prophets who had had mystical experiences on Mt. Sinai. They had never seen His Face but had gotten glimpses of God’s Glory as He passed. Now they can see His Face in the Lord Jesus.

In his document Misericordiae Vultus announcing the Year of Mercy Pope Francis wroteJesus is the Merciful Face of the Father.

“Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said,

This is my beloved Son with Who I am well pleased; listen to Him.’

The bright Cloud is the Glory Cloud that shows the Divine Presence just as the Cloud that settled on the Arc of the Covenant in the desert. Just as the Spirit of God settled on the arc of the Covenant when the Hebrews wandered in the desert, now the Spirit in th eform of the Glory Cloud settles on God the Son.

Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead”.

The disciples  expected the Resurrection from the dead at the end of the world, but they did not understand that our Blessed Lord would rise earlier than that, just days after His death.       

St. Thomas Aquinas says since the Transfiguration points forward to our resurrection, so the Spirit appears as the Bright Cloud. He will give the elect clarity of glory and refreshment from all sorts of evil. Those who are resurrected for Heaven will be enlightened spiritually as well as refreshed physically. No more exhaustion or pain or troubles in the Kingdom. That is why we say, “Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come”.

A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

Christ became poor to make us rich. It’s part of the mystery of the incarnation. He goes into the desert and lives in poverty. Pope Francis says; “it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: “though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor …”. Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things (cf. Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15). He makes Himself one of us, subject to temptation like Adam & Eve, you and me. He permitted Satan to tempt Him. “At the heart of all temptations, is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive Him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives.” Those are words written by Pope Benedict. When we are tempted, we kind of put God on hold, “I’ll get back to You God as soon as I take care of something”

like the woman in the garden. God said they could eat from the trees of the
garden, only the tree in the middle of the garden they were not to touch else they would die. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate and she gave to her husband and he ate.” Isn’t that the way the enemy works in our lives? He falsifies what God has said, raises suspicions about God’s plans and intentions, and finally, portrays God as man’s enemy. Throughout history there will be a constant pressure on mankind to reject God even to the point of hating Him.

St Augustine called it love of self to the point of contempt for God.  Man will tend to see in God a limitation of himself, instead of seeing God as the source of our freedom and the fullness of good.  Temptation takes on an attitude that is practical. “It does not invite us directly to do evil – no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place.” (Benedict XVI)

Temptations to contracept or abort or legalize assisted suicide pretend to show us a better plan than God’s. Temptation claims to speak for true realism: What’s real is what is right there in front of us – power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs. God is the issue: Is He real, reality itself, or isn’t He? Is He good, or do we have to invent good ourselves? A Jesuit named Alfred Delp who was executed by the Nazis, once wrote: “Bread is important, freedom is important, but most important of all is unbroken fidelity and faithful adoration”.

CCC 540 Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.”

By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert. We will be tempted to think we know a better way to do things but we must remember God’s plan is always the best plan. Only His plan brings everlasting happiness.

Be Like Your Heavenly Father Who is Slow to Anger
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

Leviticus says “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus perfects that law saying; “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your heavenly Father… Our Psalm 103 describes our heavenly Father; “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness”. Are you slow to anger? Proverbs 12:16 The quicktempered man makes a fool of himself…

Anger is a passion of the soul. We feel anger when someone hurts us, and we want to get even with the offender. If we do not control the desire for revenge, we offend God. Remember Cain. There is such a thing as just anger that is good and virtuous when there is good reason to be angry and when it is channeled as God wants. Example: When men were disrespecting the Temple by making it a place of commerce, Jesus drove them out saying “you have made the house of prayer into a den of thieves”. He cleansed the Temple, restored order.

Ps4:5 says; be angry but do not sin. Lawful anger does not inspire outrageous words or deeds. If we see a bully harming someone weaker, we should feel anger which should give us the courage to stop the bully. St Thomas says anger can be just and lawful but most of the time it is a striking back with unjustified desire for revenge at someone who has hurt our self-esteem. That kind of anger is inordinate, out of order, evil and sinful. Here are some signs of anger: holding a grudge, harboring resentment in heart against someone, quarreling, silent treatment, insults, violence.

Socrates the philosopher who lived 500 years before Christ was teaching his students one day when one of the young men insulted him publicly. The wise man said nothing at the moment but a few days later he told the young man how wrong it was of him to insult his superior.

The young man asked; “Why did you not correct me at the moment I insulted you?”

Socrates answered, “Because I was full of anger at that moment and words said in anger are not well spoken. Corrections should be made with a tranquil spirit”.

Proverbs 12:16 The fool immediately shows his anger, but the shrewd man passes over insult. The wise say that the best remedy for wrath is to wait. It is better not to act or speak while in a rage because it is difficult to think clearly. Is there anyone who does not regret having said or done something in a moment of anger?

The quick-tempered man makes a fool of himself, but the prudent man is at peace.

Jesus says imitate your Heavenly Father Who is slow to anger.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. Sirach 27:30 Wrath and anger are hateful things yet the sinner holds them tight. Cherish no grudge says the 1st reading. We cherish a letter. a photograph, a memory, a spouse. Anger clouds the intellect and causes us to trample on the rights of others. Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins; also called the Capitol Sins because they are the source of sins. Bishop Fulton Sheen called them the Seven Pall Bearers of the soul: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth. Quarrels, physical attacks, cursing, holding a grudge, harboring resentment in the heart against someone, the silent treatment, and uncharitable speech are some of the fruits of anger.

If we are prone to anger, we must find out why. Be vigilant and pray to overcome the tendency. Anger is the result of offended pride that cannot bear contradiction. Whatever the offence may be and whoever the offended, we must convince ourselves that God has permitted it. A Benedictine monk said, “The memory of an injury received must not be constantly renewed”.

When we find ourselves renewing old injuries we should pray. The Memorae, the Prayer to St. Michael and The Lord is My Shepherd are suggestions.

Jesus says; “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”. Let us strive to be like our Heavenly Father, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

Keeping the Commandments
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

When the rich young man asked Jesus; What must I do to have Eternal Life? Jesus says keep the Commandments.  Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. He completes it, perfects it. He elevates it to a higher Law. Just as Moses brought the Law down the mountain to give to the people, Jesus led the people up the mountain to receive the more perfect Law. Remember He told His disciples; Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

He does not want just an exterior show of politeness. He wants conversion of heart and virtue. He not only prohibits murder but unjust anger and insults.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,” our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral. Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” … If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”

Raqa means brainless fool or moron. He does not forbid the emotion, but He forbids consenting to that emotion by words or deeds to harm.  

But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Adultery is not only illicit relations but surrender to lustful thoughts. Again, it is not the passion that our Lord prohibits but the consent to fantasizing or entertaining oneself with immoral thoughts.

If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna

He uses hyperbole to make a point and get our attention. Custody of the eyes is already in the 9th Commandment; Do not covet your neighbor’s wife. 10th, Do not covet your neighbor’s goods. 

If your mobile device causes you to sin throw it away or at least put a filter on it. Better to lose that device than contaminate your memory, pervert your imagination and have your self thrown into Gehenna. With closest

Be the Salt of the Earth, Be the Light of the World
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in Heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. Our Blessed Lord is preparing His disciples for persecution. He reminds them that the prophets were persecuted because the heroic patience and sufferings of the saints gives us courage and comfort in our sufferings. We are not alone. St. John Chrysostom says Our Lord sooths the fears of His followers by mingling praises with His instructions saying, “You are the salt of the earth. (verse 13). You are the light of the world (verse 14).”     

Salt preserves food from corruption; it brings out its flavor and makes it more pleasant. A selfish, self-centered self-indulgenced life is insipid. Self-centered life gets boring. Dante portrays Lucifer as miserable, sad and turned in on himself since he is the one who said Non serviam”; I will not serve. We were made to know, love and serve God in this life and be happy forever with Him in the next. If we don’t, we will not be happy.

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are examples of how we can be salt and light. Comfort the sorrowful; Bear wrongs patiently; Forgive all injuries; Pray for the living and the dead.

 “I see now,” writes St. Therese, the Little Flower, “that true charity consists in bearing with the faults of those around us, never being surprised at their weaknesses, but edified at the least sign of virtue. I see above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of our hearts: ‘nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house.’  It seems to me that this lamp is the symbol of charity; it must shine out not only to cheer up those we love best but all in the house”.

Pope Francis’ in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, writes; “The good news is the joy of the Father who desires that none of his little ones be lost, the joy of the Good Shepherd who finds the lost sheep and brings it back to the flock. The Gospel is the leaven which causes the dough to rise and the city on the hill whose light illumines all peoples. The Gospel has an intrinsic principle of totality: it will always remain good news until it has been proclaimed to all people, until it has healed and strengthened every aspect of humanity, until it has brought all men and women together at table in God’s kingdom.”

So, let us not hide our faith. Don’t be afraid to bless yourself and say grace before meals at a restaurant. Don’t be ashamed to stand up for life and the Gospel in public. Blessed are you who do good works to glorify your Heavenly Father.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

Why did St. Joseph and Holy Mary take the Baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem? Because every first born male, whether a boy or an animal was considered as belonging in a special way to God. You find it in the book of Exodus of the Old Testament, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”. If it was an animal, it was sacrificed. If it was a baby boy, an animal was offered up as a substitute.

Additionally, in the Book of Leviticus it reads that after a woman gave birth, she was not to come to the Temple for 40 days. Then there would be a purification service and sacrifice offered so she could participate in the Temple again. Our Lady does not need purification from the birth of Jesus. He is the one who will purify the whole world, but our Lady obeys the law, and participates in the fulfillment of the promises.

Our first reading needs a little explaining. Malachi was speaking to the Jews who had come back after the exile. They had rebuilt a modest Temple to replace the glorious Temple the Babylonians had destroyed. The people, since they had been away from their home land, were not as fervent as before. That happens to Catholics too when we get away from home; whether we immigrate to another country or just go away to college.  The Israelites were not as faithful to their religious obligations. Their attitude about worship and God’s law became lax. For example, they offered lame and blind animals in sacrifice instead of healthy ones. How often we offer God what is left over. Or we pray or go to Mass if we have time. They needed someone to bring them back to a true love of God, obedience and true worship. The people needed to be cleansed, purified. Malachi says; “Who will endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? He is like the refiners fire…” That is intended to be frightening. He will purify, refining the people so they offer due sacrifice to the Lord. Then they will offer sacrifice that will please the Lord as in the days of old, as in years gone by. Who can endure? Who can stand when He comes into the Temple? But then how does He come? As a Baby in His Mother’s arms!  How ironic. Mary, who is “full of Grace” comes to be purified. Joseph will offer turtledoves for sacrifice, but Jesus would eliminate the need for future animal sacrifices since He would be the Victim, the true Lamb of God.

Eastern Christians call this feast “The Encounter.” Simeon and Anna encounter the Temple’s Lord in a fragile baby of poor parents. Almighty God encounters His people in a gracious, gentle, non-threatening way. Simeon is righteous, devout, and looking for the consolation of Israel. His whole life is orientated toward God, he gives God the best of himself, not leftovers. He awaits the consoling God. Simeon is a man of hope and expectation. The Holy Spirit has promised him that he will see the Christ before he dies. Our Lady lets him hold her Baby for a moment, and he praises God.

Simeon calls Jesus Light for the Gentiles, (non-Jews), and Glory of the Jewish people. He illumines our minds and lights up our way in this world unto eternal life. Then Simeon has some sad news. He addresses the young Mother. “Behold this Child is destined for the rise and fall of many, a sign of contradiction…Your own soul, a sword shall pierce as the thoughts of many hearts are revealed.”  When Mary would learn what men thought of her child, it would wound her heart. It started with Herod and then all those people who would reject Him till they crucified Him. Pope John Paul called this a second Annunciation. St. Gabriel’s annunciation was about the Incarnation. Simeon’s annunciation has to do with Redemption. The Mother of Christ shares in His suffering. We are called to imitate Anna who worshiped day and night and spoke of the Child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel.

Christ Calls His Apostles
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Who are called by Christ to be fishers of men? Peter and Andrew; James and John and all baptized. In the rite of baptism, after the handing over of the candle, the priest touches the ears and mouth of the child saying; “The Lord Jesus, who made the deaf hear and the dumb speak, grant you in His time, to listen to His Word and proclaim the Faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.” Jesus wants us to hear His Word and proclaim the Faith. This is to Evangelize. Today many say; “I do not speak of holiness because I am not holy.” It is as if a doctor said: “I do not speak of health because I am not healthy.” Saint José María Escrivá, one of the most important apostles of the twentieth century, founder of an immense movement of lay apostles called Opus Dei, was asked to describe himself by saying what he thought about himself as an apostle. He replied: “I am a paper envelope carrying great divine messages. God writes His messages and casts them into that envelope called an ‘apostle’, to take them to their recipients. Once the messages are received, one can throw the envelope in the trash. I am a sinner who loves Jesus Christ and wants to make Him loved by many others. The important thing is not that they love me or appreciate me but love my Lord Jesus Christ. I do not want anyone to outdo me in loving the Virgin Mary, because, I have come to realize that God squanders His spiritual aid, especially on those who love the Blessed Mother.

Father García Herreros, a notable apostle of television and radio in Colombia, the promoter of the charismatic movement throughout America, a true man of God, said that his spiritual director told him: “The first condition for apostolate is: “Love, love much, love God, be enthusiastic about Jesus Christ, love your neighbor very much and show him that you love him, and you will see that the apostolate progresses. ” It is necessary to leave a mark on history and the best thing for this is to get excited about Jesus Christ and get others excited about Him. We should all have the “mania” to talk about God, that is Theophoros, God bearer; St. Christopher carried Christ. Father García said; “What I ask is that one speaks to me of God and of eternity. The rest bores me. I am not afraid of death, nor kidnapping. The only thing of which I have terrible fear is that I don’t love Jesus Christ enough.” Pope St. Paul VI said: “The first one who has to be evangelized is the evangelizer. Let yourself be evangelized every day by listening or reading, so that you can evangelize better. To be evangelizers we need to be evangelized.

A Puerto Rican Blessed, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, better known as Charlie, said: “Good friends, good books! … stars that illumine thought, flowers to perfume the heart.” Charlie was a layman who died in 1963. He strove to make people understand how beautiful the Catholic Faith is. Speaking of apostolate, he said; “The best apostolate is always the example of life. … The saints have not been men without spirits, without blood in their veins, without strong impulses, without struggle. But men pervaded with love.”

Saint John Newman, converted from Anglicanism to the Catholicism, said: “Each apostle must tell himself; ‘God has entrusted me with a job that has not been entrusted to anyone else. He created me to serve Him on a special mission. He did not create me to do nothing. I will do my job. I will do well. I will trust God wherever I am and how I am. If I am sick, my illness can be used to convert sinners. If I am humiliated, my humiliation may be useful to transform a hardened heart. If I am suffering from any other discomfort, that annoyance that I suffer can be used by the good God to sanctify some soul. He does nothing vain and knows for what good purpose he has allowed all this to happen to me.” “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”

The Lamb of God
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Why did John call his cousin Jesus Lamb of God? John was the son of Zechariah who was a priest of the Temple. Every day one of the priests would beg God’s pardon for his sins and the sins of the people by sacrificing a lamb and burning it up on the altar. John knew that Jesus would be sacrificed to take away our sins. Jesus is the Victim without defect. In the Roman Canon the Catholic priest prays to the Father: “we, Your servants and Your holy people, offer to Your glorious majesty from the gifts that You have given us, this Pure Victim, this Holy Victim, this spotless Victim, the Holy Bread of eternal Life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”

In our hymn, Glory to God in the Highest, we pray, “Lord God, Lamb of God Son of the Father, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” This short Gospel tells us a lot about Jesus and John’s knowledge of Jesus. John says, “He is the One of Whom I said, a man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because He existed before me.” John was born six months before his cousin, but John knew Christ, as Son of God, existed before him.

John did not say that his baptism would change people or deliver them from sin but, “the reason why I came baptizing with water was that He might be known to Israel…I saw the Spirit come down like a Dove from Heaven and remain upon Him”. John’s work was to prepare sincere seekers for the long awaited Christ. John’s baptism came to an end. Jesus took over. John knew it would happen. He had said I must decrease. He must increase. John says; “I saw the Spirit come down like a Dove from Heaven and remain on Him”. The Holy Spirit had always been with the Son of God, but here the Dove Spirit came down on Jesus to indicate he was the Messiah.

Today’s first reading from Isaiah was chosen to go with this Gospel because it describes God’s servant Who is so ready and willing to serve. He is made glorious in the sight of the Lord. This Sunday we are following up on the Baptism of the Lord. “Now the Lord has spoken Who formed Me as His servant in the womb…and My Lord is now My strength. It is too little for You to be My servant …I will make You a light to the nations.” It reminds us of Simeon’s canticle.

Psalm 40 responds to the reading; “Sacrifice or offering You wished not but ears open to obedience”, Father, You don’t want animal sacrifice, “Behold, I come. ..It is prescribed for Me, to do Your will O my God is My delight.” Jesus does not offer animal sacrifices as the priests of old. He offers Himself!  “This Pure Victim, this Holy Victim, this spotless Victim, the Holy Bread of eternal Life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.”

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt smeared lamb’s blood on their doors to protect their first born from death. They were saved by the blood of lambs. That incident was a prefiguring of Christ, the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. St. Paul wrote, “Christ our Pascal Lamb has been sacrificed” (1Cor. 5:7).

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

John the Evangelist wrote about his vision of Heaven. The Angels worshiped
Jesus and sang; “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and
riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

The Epiphany Sunday of the Magi is always followed by the Baptism of the Lord Sunday because this mystery is part of the Epiphany. Remember that Epiphany means manifestation of God. The Holy Trinity is manifested like never before. God the Father’s voice was heard from Heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” God the Son appeared in human form and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.  (Luke 3:22)

John was very popular, yet he was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness at the River Jordan instead of downtown Jerusalem. Why? The River Jordan was the place where the Exodus from Egypt ended. It is the place where the Israelites entered the Promised Land. After all those centuries, the Twelve Tribes of Israel were reduced to one or two Tribes that were now governed and oppressed by the Roman Emperor and a puppet king, Herod, who had no right to rule over Israel since he was not of the family line of King David. The people knew that the time had arrived for a new Exodus, a new Moses, an anointed one to liberate them from the Romans and their own sin.

They thought John might be that anointed one. The word Christ means anointed one. Remember, David was anointed with oil by Samuel. Anointing meant that one was chosen by God to lead. The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.   John knew what they were thinking so he sets them straight. “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.” (Luke 3:16)

It was a slave’s job to remove somebody’s sandals. John tells the people that there is an infinite difference between his baptism with plain water and Christ’s, which would be a baptism with Holy Spirit and Fire. Saint Luke, in Acts, describes the coming of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire. John’s baptism was important to get people prepared; he got them to repent. His baptism was a sign that people wanted to have their sins washed away. But it was not a sacrament. A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give Grace. Supernatural Grace is the Life of God in us. It is like transfusion of God’s life into us. That is why parents should not delay baptizing their children.

Canon 867 §1Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.

Reflection for the Epiphany
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Epiphany means manifestation of God’s love for us. This manifestation got the attention of these magi who lived a thousand miles away.

Who were these magi? Scripture scholars say they came from Persia, modern Iraq and Iran. A large church was built in Bethlehem in the 4th century. A fresco depicted the Magi as Persians. That was fortunate since in 614A.D. the Persians invaded Palestine and destroyed every Christian church except this one because it had the fresco of the Magi dressed as Persians.

They were seekers of wisdom; they want to know the truth. They think about important things. Pope Benedict wrote in his book, The Infancy Narratives, they were on the lookout for the true star of salvation. They were not just astronomers. They were wise men, searching for God; they loved wisdom. They were not just seeking intellectual knowledge, but they sought to understand knowledge in its fullness. They sought the Creator of creation. They represent the religions and science moving toward Christ.

Pope Benedict says in a way they are successors of Abraham who set off on a journey in response to Gods call. They are like Socrates who questioned above and beyond conventional religion toward a higher truth.

St. Mathew does not say how many there were but three have been represented in art because three gifts were mentioned. They have often been portrayed as African, Asian and European to represent all peoples; in the kingdom of Christ there are no distinctions of race and origin. In Him and through Him, humanity is united, yet without losing any of the richness of variety. Some artists have portrayed them as representing the phases of human life – youth, maturity and old age. Each stage of life finds its true meaning walking close to Jesus.

The key point is this: the wise men from the East are a new beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout history. Benedict says they represent the inner yearning of the human spirit, the dynamism of religious and human reason toward Him.

God the Father announced the birth of His Son by this sign in the sky. People were used to looking at the sky; the stars were easier to see. It caused them great joy. When they found Him they fell down and worshiped the Child as divine. The gifts are not as practical as the Holy Family would need at the moment but they reflect three aspects of the mystery of Christ: gold for a King, incense for God and myrrh pointing to the Passion. After the Crucifixion, Nicodemus brought myrrh, among other ointments, for the anointing of His Body.

What does this feast do for us? It gives us reason to worship God with joy. It helps us to realize how very blessed we are. I do not have to buy a camel and leave my homeland, risking my life, to find the true King, Son of God. His star is right there by the Tabernacle. Instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, He receives my prayers, sacrifices and work: my life.

The Magi found Him with Mary His Mother and so do we. She is the Star of the New Evangelization.

Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Did you ever notice how problematic the families in the Bible were? The first couple sinned and then Adam blamed Eve. She blamed the serpent. Neither assuming the responsibility of their actions. Their sons can’t get along and Cane kills his own brother. One of Noah’s sons was very disrespectful of his father. Remember how Sara was jealous of her polygamous husband, Abraham. (Polygamy caused a lot of problems). Remember the envy among Jacob’s sons and how they sold Joseph into slavery. Moses was at times despised by his brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam. David disgraced his family committing adultery and homicide. Tobit and Job suffered in their relationships with their wives. Why are all these found in the Holy Book? They certainly show us that family life is not easy and that our actions have consequences. We have heard a lot about the dysfunctional family; the family that does not function well.

What is the function of the family? What is the family supposed to do? You know that Saint John Paul II wrote a letter to families some years ago, and he says the mission or function of the family to create an environment in which each member may develop his talents and pursue his vocation. God gave each person a vocation. The family should help each one to discover and realize that vocation. Not only the children and youth but the adults and the aged also should have the opportunity to develop their potential. The family should provide conditions for each member to develop physically, intellectually and spiritually. Not just children but also the grownups need to continue to realize their potential as God will. The Holy Father has written eloquently on the dignity and the mission of the elderly. They have an important role to play. Their experience of life and their wisdom will help the other members of the family. Let’s look again at the reading from Sirach 3:15. In time of tribulation it will be called to your advantage, like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins. St. Paul shows us how to make the family work by being compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another and forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven each of us. He says put on love which is the bond of perfection. Let the peace of Christ control your hearts. Be grateful. Gratitude cures many spiritual emotional ailments. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. It seems to me if the Word of God is to dwell in us richly, we need to read it more than once a week.

Pope Francis says: Today our gaze on the Holy Family lets us also be drawn into the simplicity of the life they led in Nazareth. It is an example that does our families great good… Let us remember the three key words for living in peace and joy in the family: “may I”, “thank you” and “sorry”. In our family, when we are not intrusive and ask “may I”, in our family when we are not selfish and learn to say “thank you”, and when in a family one realizes he has done something wrong and knows how to say “sorry”, in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these three words… I would also like to encourage families to become aware of the importance they have in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, first passes through the family to reach the various spheres of daily life. Let us fervently call upon Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St Joseph her spouse. Let us ask them to enlighten, comfort and guide every family in the world, so that they may fulfil with dignity and peace the mission which God has entrusted to them.

Put to the Test: Advent Quiz

1. Which Old Testament prophet is featured during the Mass readings in Advent?

A. Jeremiah

B. Isaiah

C. Ezekiel

D. Esther

2. Who is the “voice crying out in the desert” from the Gospels?

A. Andrew the Apostle

B. Joseph

C. Elijah the Prophet

D. John the Baptist

3. Which Advent saint’s name means “Light”?

A. St. Lucy

B. St. Agnes

C. The Immaculate Conception

D. St. Barbara

4. During Advent which regular part of the Mass is not said?

A. The Kyrie

B. The Epiclesis

C. The Gloria

D. The Agnus Dei

5. Which saint of Advent was present at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea?

A. St. John of the Cross

B. St. Nicholas

C. St. Francis Xavier

D. St. Ambrose

Answers: 1. B; 2. D; 3. A; 4. C; 5. D

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

John was in Herod’s dungeon because he defended marriage. Herod had a wife. He was married to the daughter of an Arabian king. He was also living with his brother’s wife, Herodias. John the Baptist and Jesus criticized Herod’s immoral life because he was a public figure, a national leader causing scandal, giving bad example. As a Jew, he should have been observing the Law: “you shall not have intercourse with your brother’s wife for that would be a disgrace to your brother” (Leviticus 18:16).

So, John is in prison; and remember, he had disciples. The day after John baptized Jesus a couple of his disciples started to follow Jesus. However it seems that not all of John’s men were convinced that Jesus was the long-awaited “Messiah”; so John sends them to ask, “Are you the One?”

Jesus says; “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” These were signs of the Messiah. See the first reading. He was not recognized by many because they were looking for a powerful military leader not a humble miracle worker.

I am sure John rejoiced when his followers recognized Jesus as the Messiah. This was John’s mission — prepare people to receive and believe in Jesus. As he said, “He must increase, and I must decrease. I am not worthy to untie His sandals.” Jesus loved John and appreciated everything John was doing for him. After his followers left, Jesus praises John. He recognized his penitential life, living in the desert. Jesus calls him “more than a prophet.”

In the second reading St. James says, “Do not complain brothers about one another that you may not be judged. The Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”. Those who speak in the name of the Lord must be patient. Pope Francis speaks of joy and patience. He encourages us not to give up when we have to deal with difficult people and situations. Stick with it. John did not let himself be overcome with discouragement in the dungeon. He told his followers who came to visit him, “Go to Jesus and see what He is doing. Ask Him if He is the One.”

We can all get down in the dumps, but we do not have to stay there. St. Ignatius says, “don’t give in to spiritual desolation.” Fight and know that God is with you even if you cannot feel His presence. He is with you. He permits you to suffer trails for a while for your own advancement in the spiritual life. Trials can convert us and help us grow in virtue.

A Reflection for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Many years ago, I read an article in the Catholic Digest about a priest who was sunk in despair and total spiritual desolation. He could experience no joy in prayer. He felt that no one was listening like there was no one there to care. He lay awake one long night feeling the horror of meaninglessness. All of a sudden, came to him the words “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” He felt warmth and joy. He prayed those words as if she were listening to him and he felt that she was listening. He continued to pray those words throughout the night and in the morning, he got up refreshed. This priest never again experienced that despair.

Immaculate Conception means that, unlike the rest of us, Mary was conceived without original sin. The sin of Adam and Eve was passed on to the rest of mankind like a hereditary disease but when the Joaquim and Ann conceived, God preserved their child from the contamination of that original sin through the merits of Christ’s future sacrifice. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace.” In fact, in order for Mary to be able to accept the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be full of God’s grace.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception states: The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

By the grace of God, Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

December 8 is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception and is a holy day of obligation except when the date falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, in which case we celebrate the feast on Monday, December 9, and it is not a holy day of obligation.

Why do we have these holy days of obligation? Three reasons: 1.to recall the mystery, 2.to thank God for the mystery, and 3. so that it will bear fruit in our lives. The fruit of this solemnity is that we grow in Faith by believing that God created Mary full of Grace so that she would be a most fitting mother of the Divine Son. Another fruit is an increase of charity. As we consider and celebrate what God has done for us, we experience His love for us, and we love Him in return. Hope is another fruit bearing virtue since we grow in conviction that Mary intercedes for us and that Our Lord purifies us so that we may enjoy eternal life with Him in Heaven.


Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

The Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. Our Blessed Lord wants His disciples to know that they must be ready at all times for death and judgement. In the Gospel, He recalls the example of Noah: God wished to purify the earth of evil men. Noah and his family were good. God loved them and told them to build an arc to save themselves. Noah prepared for the flood while the wicked, who never even thought of God, perished when the flood came.

How many of us are ready to die? We do not know when we will die, so we need to be always prepared. Stay in the grace of God. Be a friend of God. We do not know when we will die. Every year we unwittingly pass the anniversary of our death yet to happen. That should not frighten us, but it should help us get ready. Be vigilant.

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be
broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not
expect, the Son of Man will come
.” (Matthew 24:43)

Jesus often says strange things to get our attention. Here, He compares Himself to a thief! We should not live in fear of judgement if we are living as God wills.

St. Paul also reminds us and the Romans that judgment is coming. “Throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” What are works of darkness? He spells it out for us: “orgies, drunkenness, promiscuity and lust, rivalry and jealousy.” Instead let us put on the armor of light, that is, put on Jesus Christ.

If you are performing works of darkness, you should be afraid; afraid enough to change. Throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.                          

A Reflection on the Feast of Christ the King
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Viva Cristo Rey! In 1917, the Masonic Mexican government weakened the Catholic Church in Mexico by outlawing parochial education and closing all seminaries and convents. They also prohibited worship outside the physical borders of the church.

Religious groups were no longer allowed to own real estate, thus nationalizing all Church property.

It became illegal for priests and nuns to wear religious garb and the priests lost their rights to vote and to free speech. They were not allowed to criticize the government or even comment on public affairs in religious publications.

The closing of seminaries began during the Mexican Revolution, leaving nuns and priests with no place to live or work. The government also ruled that only Mexican-born clergy would be allowed to remain and participate in religious activities in Mexico. By 1917, hundreds of religious had been expelled from Mexico or had fled the country.

The Catholic Church did not want to retaliate violently against the government, so from 1919 to 1926, they obeyed the laws. Then, in 1926, President Calles introduced legislation which fined priests $250 ($3700 in today’s money) for wearing religious vestments and imprisoned them for five years for criticizing the government. Archbishop of Mexico, José María Mora y del Río, declared that the Catholic Church could not accept the government’s restraints. On July 31, 1926, the archbishop suspended all public worship by ordering Mexican clergy to refrain from administering any of the Church’s sacraments.

Some Catholics, called the Cristeros followers, felt that the only way to fight the government was to take up arms. They were willing to become martyrs for their freedom of religion.

Experts on this revolution describe the Cristeros attending field Masses, dressed in sandals and white garments and armed with machetes. They knew that soldiers could attack them with machine guns at any time.

Many priests were martyred while celebrating Mass by being shot or beheaded. In a last affirmation of their faith, the Cristeros would shout, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long Live Christ the King!) as the firing squads took aim and shot them down. Many times, they forgave their assassins as they died.

On November 11,2005 in Guadalajara, 13 men were beatified, that is the Church officially recognizing them as blessed examples of virtue: three priests and ten laymen, including a 14-year-old boy.

From the Synod on Youth: José Sanchez del Rio was born in 1913 in Sahuayo, Michoacán, México. He was the third of four children. José loved his faith and grew up with a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. When José was twelve years old, the Cristero Wars began in Mexico. Even though he was too young to join the rebellion, José desperately wanted to be a Cristero and stand up for his faith. He begged his mother saying, “Mama, do not let me lose the opportunity to gain Heaven so easily and so soon.” He was eventually allowed to join the effort as a flag bearer.

During a battle José was captured and was asked to deny his faith and the Cristero cause. José refused and was tortured terribly. Refusing to renounce his faith angered the government soldiers so much that they cut off the bottom of his feet. As José was forced to walk through town, he recited the rosary, prayed for his enemies, sang songs to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and proclaimed, “I will never give in. Vivo Cristo Rey y Santa Maria de Guadalupe!”

A Reflection on the Resurrection and Final Judgement
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

One day when I was in 2nd grade, my dad was driving me to St. Michael’s school. I asked, “Dad, when will come the end of the world?”

I was disappointed that he did not give me a straight answer. He said that the world ended at different times for different people.

One of my classmates had recently lost his father who was a police officer in the line of duty. My dad said the world had ended for that man.

But I wanted to know when the whole world would end. When would Jesus come again?

The Catechism that we studied in religion class said He was coming at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead. In the Creed we say, “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

When will the resurrection of the dead take place? The resurrection of the dead would take place at the end of the world. I wanted to know when that would be.

In today’s Mass the prophet Malachi says, “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of hosts.”

But if we are prepared, we don’t have to worry. The Lord says, “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

How do the dead rise? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
997 What is “rising”? In death, the separation of the soul from the body, the human body decays and the soul goes to meet God, while awaiting its reunion with its glorified body. God, in his almighty power, will definitively grant incorruptible life to our bodies by reuniting them with our souls, through the power of  Jesus’ Resurrection.
998 Who will rise? All the dead will rise, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”

I still do not know when that will be, but Dad was right in so far as this world ends, in one sense, for those who die. They await the end of the world, the Resurrection and Final Judgement, Heaven or Hell.

Osvaldo Cavalcante
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Brothers and sisters:
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.
2Thes 2:16

When I was a missionary in the Amazon region of Brazil, I knew a fisherman named Osvaldo Cavalcante. He was a fervent Catholic, had a large family but he spent a great deal of time alone on the river and lakes fishing. He had a small wooden boat, just big enough to hold a large wooden box inlayed with Styrofoam. He had no electrical power besides a battery, so he would fill his box with ice at the town icehouse and add fish to it as he caught them. Since we lived almost on the Equator, the sun came up at six and went down at six o’clock year-round. That makes for long nights.

I was impressed with Osvaldo’s knowledge of the moon. He always knew when it was waxing or waning; he knew what time it would appear and for how long. He had time to study it. He seemed to have no vices. One virtue was to read the Bible and pray the Rosary. He could recite long passages so as to put me to shame. He always read aloud whether he was alone or not.

One time when he was far from town, he tied up his boat at an isolated village and seated in the boat he started to read. And a fellow came down with a pail and he heard him, and he asked, “Is that the Bible you’re reading?” Osvaldo affirmed that it was. The man carried the bucket back up to the house and said, “Hey there’s a fisherman down there reading a Bible”. He and five others went down to the river’s edge and they asked Osvaldo, “May we listen to you read?”

Certainly.” So, Osvaldo read on and on till he got tired.

Those people had a thirst for God. We all have a thirst for God. Some of us look for Him in the wrong places. Some make pleasure their god, or money. Some make vengeance their god, or drugs. We know we are incomplete.

As a doe longs for running streams,
So, my soul longs for you, my God
. Psalm 41

A Reflection on Indulgences
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

When I was 14 I had a paper route between five and six in the morning. I would load the papers into the bags on my bicycle and pedal around the neighborhood. One of my customers was very particular about wanting his paper on the porch, not beside it but on it. One morning I threw the paper and it hit the storm door and broke the glass. I heard it break but I was not going to wake the man up to tell him I broke his storm door. So I went home, and then went off to school. When I got home after school, there was a message waiting for me. With fear and trembling I called the man, wishing I had called him first. I was afraid he was going to yell at me, cancel his subscription and complain to the newspaper; my family would be mortified. You can imagine how a 14 year old worries.

I identified myself and he asked me if I broke the glass. I admitted I had. He was very civil. He must have perceived my anguish because he tried to put me at ease, saying “accidents will happen”. He was not going to cancel, he was not going to register a complaint. “But you will have to pay half the price for the glass.”   “That’s all?”, I thought. Wow. I was really getting off easy.

That’s the way sin is. We sin and if we are sorry, God forgives us. If it’s a mortal sin we have to confess. And we are forgiven, we are still friends with God, but we still have to pay a penance.

Why? Because every sin has two effects. First, it distances us from God, it cools our love for Him. Secondly, it creates an attachment to the sin committed. It becomes a vice. So even after we are forgiven, there is a residual attachment and tendency to repeat the sin. How do we get rid of that? Penance. Not just the little penance that the priest gives us in confession. That’s just for starters. We have to take it upon ourselves to do something more, like Zacchaeus who was not afraid to humble himself by climbing a tree in order to see Jesus. He promised to give half his property to the poor! And if he had cheated anybody, he would pay back 4x the amount. And Jesus was pleased.

Jesus appreciates the extra effort. Just as He appreciated the tears and extravagant generosity of the woman who wept over his feet and dried them with her hair. If we do not do sufficient penance for sins that we have confessed before we die, we get rid of that residual attachment to sin through purification in Purgatory. This purification frees us from what is called “temporal punishment” of sin. We should not think of this punishment as coming from God but as a consequence of the nature of sin. If I eat too much, it is not God who punishes me with a stomach ache.

The Catechism says conversion and great charity purifies the sinner and cancels the temporal punishment. The Christian that strives to purify himself and become holy is not alone. Every Christian is united to the Mystical Body of Christ. There is a bond of charity between the saints in heaven, the souls in Purgatory and us on earth. And between us there is an exchange of holy things. One’s holiness profits another well beyond the harm that one’s sin could cause others. The holiness of Christ and His merits, the prayers and good works of Our Lady and the saints who followed Jesus — this holiness is the treasure of the Church. This treasure, this reservoir of holiness can help the Christian who is struggling to purify his soul. An indulgence is a gift of part of this treasure to cancel temporal punishment. We can gain indulgences for certain prayers and works of charity for ourselves and for the souls in purgatory.

Pope St. Paul VI promulgated a document called the Handbook of Indulgences. During the first 8 days of November, we can gain an indulgence for the souls in purgatory every time we visit a cemetery to pray for the dead. It could be a plenary indulgence if we confess and go to Communion, pray for the intentions of the Pope and are free from affection for sin. That means one really detests his sins. “O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins…” Those words mean something. They are not just filler.

So let us gain indulgences for our deceased. They will return the favor. “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.”

Why We Venerate the Saints
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

We venerate the Saints because they love God. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (957), We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!

We venerate the saints because they have undivided devotion toward God. Here on earth, we are afflicted with laziness, distractions, difficulty in concentration, and lack of fervor in prayer; but in heaven, our brothers and sisters are freed of the distractions of the body. The Saints love us because they are full of charity and they know that God loves us, and they want us to be good and holy and give to God the worship He deserves. We are part of the same family and they pray that we succeed in our pilgrimage. They are cheering for us in our battles against temptation. They want us to be victorious and join them in glorifying God forever. God wants all to be saved, so the Saints pray for that.

St. Thomas has some interesting doctrine on the Saints. He poses a question about whether the saints pray for us. Thomas writes, some men say that since the saints in heaven pray for us, the prayers of the greater saints would be more efficacious; and so we ought not to implore the help of the lesser saints‘ prayers but only of those of the greater saints.

Thomas answers the objection. It is God’s will that inferior beings should be helped by all those that are above them, wherefore we ought to pray not only to the greater but also to the lesser saints; else we should have to implore the mercy of God alone. Nevertheless it happens sometimes that prayers addressed to a saint of lesser degree are more efficacious, either because he is implored with greater devotion, or because God wishes to make known his sanctity.

From Hebrews 12: Therefore; Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith.

The Importance of Prayer
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Jesus told his disciples and us the parable in this Sunday’s Gospel about the importance of praying without becoming weary; without losing heart; pray without giving in to discouragement. Saint Alphosus Ligori said; without prayer we are defeated by temptation; we are dominated by fear. We cannot persevere in doing good. Our work cannot bear good fruit without prayer.

We come from God, we depend on Him and we will go to Him. It only makes sense that we should be continually talking and listening to Him. We should all recognize that the Holy Spirit is inviting each one of us, today, to spend more time in prayer. It is His Will that you heard the story of Moses with arms raised up in prayer. It is His Will that you heard Jesus tell the story of the widow who would not give up crying out for her rights.

Among all the activities that we can engage in there is none that can profit us more than prayer. In this business you never lose and you always win. Prayer is a source of energy that aids us in all occasions. We do not receive more help from Heaven because we don’t pray better and more often. God has in His hands the solution to every problem. He waits to grant what we need if we do not get tired of asking. He awaits the right moment.

He wishes to help us not because we are good but because He is good. He does not love us because we deserve it but because He is love. It is His nature to love us. He is generous and forgiving and compassionate. He knows what we need but He wants us to ask. Some graces He grants us without our asking.

The sun came up for me without my asking but there are other graces that we need to ask for. For example, Jesus reminds us to pray for vocations. “The harvest is great but the labors are few; pray then that the owner of the harvest will send more workers”.

1 John 5:14: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. Blessed John Paul continually taught that peace could not be accomplished solely through human endeavor. We must always pray to God. Prayer is the key that opens the door to heavenly blessings and prayer is the key that locks out the enemies of my soul.

Prayer is a gift, a virtue, an art.

Parents, God-parents, and Grandparents, teach your children how to pray. I remember the first time my father on his way to his construction job drove me to the bus stop for school. He prayed the morning offering which I was hearing for the first time. “O my God I offer Thee this day, all I think and do and say uniting all to what was done on earth by Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen”. I felt I had received a treasure. Seeing one’s father pray is an impressive thing, especially if he gets on his knees. If your Dad is your hero, it is a wonderful example to see him talk to God. I remember Dad praying the Rosary with Mom and us children. I remember the first time that it dawned on me that they were repeating the same prayer, Hail Mary! I remember the first time my Mom on the way to see the dentist stopped at church to light a candle. She said that candle burning was like a prayer that would keep going even after we left the church. Precious memories.

John Brook wrote an intro to The Divine Office called The School of Prayer. “A child learns to write by copying the shape of the letters the teacher has carefully written out. The teacher writes a line and underneath the child copies the example of the teacher. That is precisely how we learn to pray, how we come to know God. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. We learn to pray by taking the prayers inspired by the Spirit and copying them, following the movement of the Spirit with mind and heart.” The author writes that he used to suffer deep depression “and for months on end I could not pray. If I tried to pray I only fell inward into despair and empty silence.” Then he started reading a prayer book every morning. “It was like being winched slowly out of a pit.” The Creed, “the psalms and other prayers expressed my own longing for forgiveness and for God’s peace in a way I could never do on my own.” Let us ask the H.S. with our Lady’s intercession for the habit of prayer.

St. Francis on the Eucharist
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

A Pew Research survey has found that just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus.”   At the time of St. Francis, 1181-1226, there was, throughout the Church, a widespread apathy among
believers about the Faith and most especially about the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist.

Pope Innocent called for a Church Council in 1215; increasing respect for the Eucharist was one of the important goals of the Fourth Lateran Council. Francis was 34 years old and he was at the Council.

Francis expressed the view that the Eucharist was the best way to continue Christ’s Incarnation and presence in the world.

St Francis saw that in the Eucharist Jesus emptied Himself in a humble and simple form to give Himself to us. The Eucharist is also the measure in which we may return our gratitude to Christ for dying for us.  St. Francis wrote many prayers and letters about the Eucharist. Through him, we see how God raises up saints in times of crisis.

St. Francis said: “In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.” We cannot see Jesus with our own eyes but through the Eucharist.

He also said: ” O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread. Consider, brothers, the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him,  and be humbled that you may be exalted by Him.  Do not therefore keep back anything for yourselves that He may receive you entirely who gives Himself up entirely to you.”

Let us ask St. Francis to pray for all those Catholics who do not believe, that they will ask for and receive the gift of Faith.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Life

From The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

 The Response is: Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of all Life,
help us to respect human life from the moment of conception
to the moment of natural death. R.

Mary, Mother of Compassion,
You showed us how valuable a single life can be;
Help us to guard and protect the lives of all people entrusted to our care. R.

Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus,
with St. Joseph you formed the Holy Family.
Guard and protect all families in this earthly life; R.

Mary, Mother Most Holy,
You sanctified the vocation of motherhood;
Pour out your heavenly aid on all mothers and help them to be
holy. R.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows,
Simeon’s prophecy foretold that a sword of suffering would pierce your heart;
Bring comfort and hope to all mothers who suffer over their
children. R.

Mary, Full of Grace,
You had a choice in responding to God’s call;
Help us always to say “Yes” to the will of God in our lives,
And strive always to do whatever he tells us. R.

Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted,
Pour forth your heavenly grace on all who are in need of God’s healing,
Especially those involved in abortion;
Help them to experience the love and mercy of Christ, your Son. R.

Mary, Intercessor and Advocate,
We lift up the poor, the displaced, the marginalized and vulnerable members of society;
Help them to never abandon hope, but to place their trust in the God who gave them life. R.

Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate, you bore in your womb him whom the heavens cannot contain;
Help us to bear witness to Christ by the example of our lives
And show the world the extravagant love of God. R.

Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To you we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer them. Amen.

A Reflection on the Guardian Angel
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

In the Bible, the word Angel means messenger, a pure spirit, close to God to adore Him and follow His orders and deliver messages to humans.

As early as the 2nd century, Origen said; “We Christians believe that God assigns an angel to each of us to guide us and protect us.”

It was the Catholic Church in England that first celebrated the feast of the Guardian angels. That famous prayer, “Angel of God, my guardian dear…”   dates from 1111.

In 1608 the Pope made the Guardian Angel feast universal for the whole Church and put it on Oct 2nd.

St Bernard, in the year 1010 gave a sermon on the guardian angels saying:

1st Respect his presence, by behaving ourselves.

2nd Be grateful for his help, for his help is so much more than we can imagine.  

3rd Trust in his help, for he is more powerful than the demons that attack us and our passions which betray us.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

331Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him…”

191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”

192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”

193Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.
203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.

The Catholic Way: Archangels

A Reflection on the Parable of the Dishonest Steward
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Charity, William Adolphe Bouguereau

It might be the most surprising of parables and difficult to understand at first glance. The job of the steward was to take care of the house and business of some wealthy land owner. This steward was caught squandering the property so the owner told him he was going to lose his job. The steward said to himself, “What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.” And he falsifies invoices so the people who owe his boss have their debts slashed so he makes friends who will take care of him.

How do we think the owner will react? Well he does not react as we expect. The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently! Instead of becoming angry, he admires his cleverness. Nobody would react like this. This what makes Jesus’ stories unique. They catch our attention. We are all stewards. How are you using the goods entrusted to you? Material goods and spiritual goods.

“For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

As we have heard before, we must not become too attached to things. As St. Gregory said, “Don’t let your possessions possess you.” Give it away.

Jesus gives advice: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

What is He saying? How am I to make friends with dishonest wealth so as to be welcomed into eternity? The Fathers of the Church, the first Gospel commentators, say that when one is generous with the poor you make friends who will help you get into Heaven. That is what we can learn from the dishonest steward. We are not supposed to imitate his dishonesty but his prudence. He planned his future. We ask ourselves if we use the things of this world to gain eternal life.

 “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

Imagine if we worked at our personal sanctity and salvation like politicians scheme to get elected or businessmen to make money or athletes to win. Strive to enter the narrow gate

The first reading from the prophet Amos warns us that God gets angry with those who ignore the poor. The wealthy say, “We will fix our scales for cheating, and the poor for a pair of sandals.” The Lord has sworn, “Never will I forget a thing they have done!” The exploiter thinks money is more important than love of God or love of the poor.

Today’s Psalm reflects the theme: Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.                                                          

The Gospel acclamation reminds us that we are poor and see how He has treated us. Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became a weak little Baby. He became a poor Carpenter condemned to death. He became a piece of Bread to be consumed, to make you rich, in Grace, to give you a heavenly Home. Let us imitate Him. St. John Chrysostom said; “The wealthy help the poor by alms, the poor help the rich by praying for their salvation”. True wealth is not what we keep but what we share.

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

A Reflection on the Stabat Mater Prayer
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Stabat Mater means ‘the Mother stood’ as she remained under the Cross. This is the name of an ancient hymn that is traditionally prayed on September 15th, feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Here are just a few of the stanzas:

 At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last

The day after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. God willed that His Son die on the Cross to redeem us and save us and He willed that Christ’s Mother stand close by and share His suffering.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Mary participated in the Passion of her Son. Mary’s grief and our sufferings are given meaning as they are united to Christ Crucified. He could save us alone by His infinitely Precious Blood, but He wills that we participate. As the prayer after
Communion says, “we may complete in ourselves for the Church’s sake what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

 Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died. 

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live. 

From Lumen Gentium: She stood in keeping with the divine plan, suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself, with a maternal heart, to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth (#58).

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.


At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blest,
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs.
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother: fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the Cross with thee to stay;
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath, 
In my body bear the death 
Of that dying Son of thine. 

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swooned
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.


A Reflection on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Celebrated on September 8)
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Mary the dawn, Christ the perfect Day. The dawn prepares us for the day. If you have ever had to work the grave yard shift, you know how good it is to see the dawn, when the eastern sky starts to lighten up. You know the day is coming.

The liturgical prayers call Mary of Nazareth “the Dawn that precedes the Sun of Justice, the long awaited Messiah.” If the Jews had known that this baby girl, daughter of Joachim and Ann was to be the mother of the Messiah, they would have been overjoyed. But who knew? Few recognized the Savior, much less His Mother. But a few privileged, humble folks were inspired by the Holy Spirit and recognized the Dawn.

When she was a young expectant mother, Elizabeth recognized her. The baby, John, that she was carrying, perceived the approximation of the Dawn and the Sun of Justice when Mary greeted Elizabeth. He leapt with joy and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out …”Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

St. Elizabeth was thrilled. Mary, as the litany says, is the Cause of our joy. Jesus came to Elizabeth through Mary. He came to us through Mary. And Jesus was able to come to us through Mary because she believed. As Elizabeth said, “Blessed is she who believed that the things promised by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Let us ask of our Lady for that blessing. Let us joyfully ask her to help us believe that all that has been promised us by the Lord will be fulfilled.

Mary the dawn, Christ the perfect Day.
Mary the Gate, Christ the perfect Way.

33 Days of Mary

The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ

September 1, 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II with the German invasion of Poland.

Pius XI was the pope during the preceding years, as Europe spiraled into turmoil with the rise of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Atheist Communism. His papal motto, “Pax Christi in Regno Christi” (“The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ”), illustrated his work to construct a new Christendom based on world peace. He wrote encyclicals on the evils of the rising political movements of the time, including Divini Redemptoris on Atheistic Communism.

The following is excerpted from Divini Redemptoris, in which the pontiff (using “We” in reference to himself) speaks of preserving our Faith in the face of an increasingly anti-Christian society. Eighty years on, we can still apply these words to the challenges we Catholics face today:

As in all the stormy periods of the history of the Church, the fundamental remedy today lies in a sincere renewal of private and public life according to the principles of the Gospel by all those who belong to the Fold of Christ, that they may be in truth the salt of the earth to preserve human society from total corruption.

We cannot deny that there is still much to be done in the way of spiritual renovation. Even in Catholic countries there are still too many who are Catholics hardly more than in name. There are too many who fulfill more or less faithfully the more essential obligations of the religion they boast of professing, but have no desire of knowing it better, of deepening their inward conviction, and still less of bringing into conformity with the external gloss the inner splendor of a right and unsullied conscience, that recognizes and performs all its duties under the eye of God. We know how much Our Divine Savior detested this empty pharisaic show, He Who wished that all should adore the Father “in spirit and in truth.” The Catholic who does not live really and sincerely according to the Faith he professes will not long be master of himself in these days when the winds of strife and persecution blow so fiercely, but will be swept away defenseless in this new deluge which threatens the world. And thus, while he is preparing his own ruin, he is exposing to ridicule the very name of Christian.

The State itself, mindful of its responsibility before God and society, should be a model of prudence and sobriety in the administration of the commonwealth. Today more than ever the acute world crisis demands that those who dispose of immense funds, built up on the sweat and toil of millions, keep constantly and singly in mind the common good. State functionaries and all employees are obliged in conscience to perform their duties faithfully and unselfishly, imitating the brilliant example of distinguished men of the past and of our own day, who with unremitting labor sacrificed their all for the good of their country. In international trade-relations let all means be sedulously employed for the removal of those artificial barriers to economic life which are the effects of distrust and hatred. All must remember that the peoples of the earth form but one family in God.

At the same time the State must allow the Church full liberty to fulfill her divine and spiritual mission, and this in itself will be an effectual contribution to the rescue of nations from the dread torment of the present hour. Everywhere today there is an anxious appeal to moral and spiritual forces; and rightly so, for the evil we must combat is at its origin primarily an evil of the spiritual order. From this polluted source the monstrous emanations of the communistic system flow with satanic logic. Now, the Catholic Church is undoubtedly preeminent among the moral and religious forces of today. Therefore the very good of humanity demands that her work be allowed to proceed unhindered.

To hasten the advent of that “peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ” so ardently desired by all, We place the vast campaign of the Church against world Communism under the standard of St. Joseph, her mighty Protector. He belongs to the working-class, and he bore the burdens of poverty for himself and the Holy Family, whose tender and vigilant head he was. To him was entrusted the Divine Child when Herod loosed his assassins against Him. In a life of faithful performance of everyday duties, he left an example for all those who must gain their bread by the toil of their hands. He won for himself the title of “The Just,” serving thus as a living model of that Christian justice which should reign in social life.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saints Monica and Augustine

Today, 27 August, we commemorate St, Monica and tomorrow we will be commemorating St. Augustine, her son: their witnesses can be of great comfort and help to so many families also in our time.

Monica, who was born into a Christian family at Tagaste, today Souk-Aharàs in Algeria, lived her mission as a wife and mother in an exemplary way, helping her husband Patricius to discover the beauty of faith in Christ and the power of evangelical love, which can overcome evil with good.

After his premature death, Monica courageously devoted herself to caring for her three children, including Augustine, who initially caused her suffering with his somewhat rebellious temperament. As Augustine himself was to say, his mother gave birth to him twice; the second  time  required  a  lengthy  spiritual travail of prayers and tears, but it was crowned at last with the joy of seeing him not only embrace the faith and receive Baptism, but also dedicate himself without reserve to the service of Christ.

How many difficulties there are also today in family relations and how many mothers are in anguish at seeing their children setting out on wrong paths! Monica, a woman whose faith was wise and sound, invites them not to lose heart but to persevere in their mission as wives and mothers, keeping firm their trust in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.

As for Augustine, his whole life was a passionate search for the truth. In the end, not without a long inner torment, he found in Christ the ultimate and full meaning of his own life and of the whole of human history. In adolescence, attracted by earthly beauty, he “flung himself” upon it – as he himself confides (cf. Confessions, 10, 27-38) – with selfish and possessive behavior that caused his pious mother great pain.

But through a toilsome journey and thanks also to her prayers, Augustine became always more open to the fullness of truth and love until his conversion, which happened in Milan under the guidance of the Bishop, St Ambrose.

He thus remained the model of the journey towards God, supreme Truth and supreme Good. “Late have I loved you”, he wrote in the famous book of the Confessions, “beauty, ever ancient and ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me and I was outside of you, and it was there that I sought you…. You were with me and I was not with you…. You called, you cried out, you pierced my deafness. You shone, you struck me down, and you healed my blindness” (ibid.).

May St Augustine obtain the gift of a sincere and profound encounter with Christ for all those young people who, thirsting for happiness, are seeking it on the wrong paths and getting lost in blind alleys.

St Monica and St Augustine invite us to turn confidently to Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Let us entrust Christian parents to her so that, like Monica, they may accompany their children’s progress with their own example and prayers. Let us commend youth to the Virgin Mother of God so that, like Augustine, they may always strive for the fullness of Truth and Love which is Christ: he alone can satisfy the deepest desires of the human heart.

August is the month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Below is an excerpt from a 1986 address by St. John Paul II.

We see symbolized in the heart of Mary her maternal love, her singular sanctity and her central role in the redemptive mission of her Son. It is with regard to her special role in her Son’s mission that devotion to Mary’s Heart has prime importance, for through love of her Son and of all of humanity she exercises a unique instrumentality in bringing us to him. The act of entrusting to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that I solemnly performed at Fatima on May 13, 1982, and once again on March 25, 1984 at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, is based upon this truth about Mary’s maternal love and particular intercessory role. If we turn to Mary’s Immaculate Heart she will surely help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future.

Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the heart of her Son, for as the Mother of Christ she is wholly united to his redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said “Do whatever he tells you”, Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the heart of Mary we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of our Savior.

The act of entrusting ourselves to the Heart of Our Lady establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are. This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfilment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world.

33 Days of Mary: 33 Reflections by the saints on Our Lady

A Reflection on the Feast of the Assumption, a Holy Day of Obligation
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

This Thursday, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is a holy day of obligation.

Why do we have these holy days of obligation during the week? Three reasons: 1) to recall the mystery, 2) to thank God for the mystery, and 3) so that it will bear fruit in our lives.

The mystery is that God took His Mother to heaven, not just her soul but also Her body. Why? Because She was and is the Mother of God, conceived without sin.  He could not let this body that conceived and nurtured and carried His Divine Son decompose in the ground. We celebrate it every year so we do not forget. We have short memories. If we stop celebrating a certain event, after a couple hundred years we forget.

We celebrate so that it will bear fruit in our lives. How? It gives us hope, that just as God took care of His Mother, He will take care of us. “In My Father’s House there are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.” Mary is the model of all Christians. What happens to her should happen to us. Her bodily Assumption into Heaven anticipates our bodily resurrection and bodily presence in Heaven.

It will be a great family reunion. Just as He willed to be reunited with His Mother, He would not deny us the joy of being reunited with our loved ones, as long as we do not deny Him.

And if we have denied Him by mortal sin, we have the sacrament of Confession that reconciles us to Him.

So, the fruit of this feast is that we hope and strive to be worthy of His Father’s house and we can be sure that our Blessed Lady will aid us with her prayers.

So, let us thank God for this mystery. The greatest act of thanksgiving that we can offer is the Sacrifice of the Mass, the perfect sacrifice of praise. John Paul II says: “in it the Son of God unites redeemed humanity to himself in a hymn of thanksgiving and praise. Let us remember that the Hebrew word todah, translated “praise”, also means “thanksgiving”. The sacrifice of praise was a sacrifice of thanksgiving. At the Last Supper, in order to institute the Eucharist, Jesus gave thanks to his Father; this is the origin of the name of this sacrament.” Eucharist means “thanksgiving”.

Click to view our schedule for the Feast of the Assumption

A Reflection on the Transfiguration (Feast day: August 6)
by Fr. James Doran, OMV        


Who were the three who accompanied Jesus to the mountain? Peter, James and John. And who accompanied Him to the Garden after the Last Supper, saw Him sweat Blood and see Him captured? Peter, James and John.

Jesus invited these three to see His Transfiguration in order to prepare them for the Crucifixion. They were going to have to see His humiliation in His Agony. This vision on the mount would prepare them for that.

He took them up the mountain to pray. Jesus seeks to get away from the crowds to pray. There are times for liturgical prayer and common prayer but there must be time also for listening. More than twenty times the Gospels tell us that Jesus went off to pray. Sometimes on the mountain, in the desert… at times very early in the morning, often at night…He sought solitude so that He could be with His Father and pray.

Prayer is necessary for children of God, in order to know His will and gain the strength to do His will. That is why we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament between Masses here at the chapel. Communication with God is fundamental for friendship with God. If you want to follow Christ you have to speak with Him and listen to Him. Intimate friends tend to imitate each other, have common interests and attitudes. Those who are intimate friends with Jesus and the saints develop similar
, which we call virtues.

While Jesus was on the mount, He prayed and was transfigured. He allowed His divinity shine through His skin and clothes. His face shone with glory. The disciples would never forget that scene.

St. Pope John Paul included the Transfiguration among His luminous mysteries. The light enables us to see. The Transfiguration illuminated the disciples about the Person of Jesus. It was a manifestation of His divinity.

Two holy men from the Old Testament appeared with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They represent the Law and the prophecies about the Messiah, which are fulfilled in Jesus. They speak with Him about His coming Passion and death that will take place in Jerusalem. Jesus wanted to show His friends that His death is part of the Divine plan. The Passion and Crucifixion are the way to Salvation. The Apostles do not understand but they are so happy to see Jesus in His glory so Peter says; “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here…” Peter was thinking of the Jewish custom of setting up tents outside the city of Jerusalem for those who came from other places for the feast of Tabernacles. It was God’s plan that Jesus be raised on the cross to save us. It is the plan of God that we also carry our cross after Jesus. Through our participation in the Passion and cross we will reach holiness and glory. There is no other way.

The Father speaks out; “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” This is a light to our understanding. Jesus is the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not created, consubstantial with the Father. He is a divine person with a divine nature and a human nature.

Pope St. John Paul suggested that as we finish each decade of the Rosary we ask for a particular fruit concerning the mystery just meditated on. As I pray the mystery of the Transfiguration I usually ask for an increase in the virtue of prayer or a greater love of prayer. Prayer is a virtue. The word virtue is another word for a good habit. We wish to do and experience what is good as often as we can.

St. Peter inspires me to make this request when he said “Lord it is good that we are here”. Yes it is good that we are here in the Presence of God that we be aware of His Presence. How good it is love frequent and prolonged prayer. I think it was Fr Ignacio Larranaga who said that there is inertia to prayer. The more we pray, the more we want to pray. The less we pray, the less we want to pray.   So, let us pray much this Lent and ask for the grace to love prayer even when it is hard. And if you spend much time with God, He will transfigure you and make you like His Son, Jesus. He will give you hope in your own times of suffering. Suffering and death do not have the last word. “Lord let Your Mercy be on us, as we place our trust in You.”

On God the Father
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV

Lord teach us to pray. Certainly the Apostles knew how to pray the Psalms and had frequented the synagogue but they must have seen Jesus pray and they knew John had taught his disciples to pray, so they wanted to pray better. That is a good example for us. We should wish to pray better. The quality of our relationships has a lot to do with our communication. We need to progress in our communication with God. That is why spiritual reading is so important; reading Scriptures, even the lives of the saints and Catholic radio can help us think about God and speak with Him and appreciate Him. Communication with someone so infinite is not easy that is why few people really pray unless they need something. It is so easy to put prayer aside which is putting God aside for something else. Pope Francis has spoken about this as worshiping idols.

Jesus knows it is not easy to pray, that is why He says; “Don’t give up. Persevere”. Some folks don’t get what they ask for immediately so the give up and say prayer does not work. Patience is important. Remember our Lord taught us the Our Father. Sometimes fathers say “no” or “not yet” or “I don’t think that would be a good idea”. Notice that Jesus tells us that before we start asking for things we say “Thy will be done”.

Prayer is an expression of faith. If prayer is not easy, well faith is not easy. Prayer is listening and talking to God as Abraham did. We present our needs to the Lord and recognize that He has the last word and not us. So it takes humility. Pope Francis says we tend to think we are the center of the universe. We make of ourselves an idol. St Paul Philippians 3 says; “Their god is their belly”. Brothers, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as you have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

God desires for us eternal happiness not fleeting pleasure. He made us to know , love and serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next. What we want at times is not compatible with His plan. “If I were a rich man…”

Remember the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”? Reb Tevye sings:
If I were a rich man,
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.
Lord who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am.
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?
If I were a wealthy man.

God’s last word is our eternal happiness. He knows how to bring us to His kingdom. We just have to cooperate.

On the Story of Martha and Mary
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV

Only in Luke. If it were not for St. Luke, we would not have this lovely look into the social life of Jesus. The Gospel of John said Jesus loved Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus. John tells us how he raised him from the dead. Later, Martha threw a thanksgiving banquet in Jesus’ honor. Mary anointed Him with precious perfume.

On this particular occasion in Luke’s Gospel, Martha wants Our Blessed Lord to tell Mary to help her. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the servingTell her to help me.” Martha must have felt very familiar with our Lord to make such a complaint and demand!

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” Dr. Brant Pitre, the scripture scholar says: The Greek word is perispaō, it literally means pulled away. The word in our lectionary translated as ‘anxious’ is closer to ‘pulled away’ or ‘distracted’. Martha you are pulled away about many things. For example, when your phone rings at Mass, you are pulled away. Your focus on the prayer is pulled away to the phone. Martha has been pulled away from the one thing necessary, Jesus, by the burden of much serving. She is trying to do too much. While Mary sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. To sit at a wise man’s feet was the proper place of a student. When St. Paul wanted to introduce himself, he said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God.” Acts 22:3

Hospitality is a virtue. The first reading is all about the hospitality Abraham and Sarah offered to the Mysterious strangers and the couple was rewarded by a long-awaited child. Martha was rewarded also. Jesus gave her a truth. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Dr. Brant Pitre; The Jews had a saying; Have sages frequent your house. Sit in the dust at their feet and drink in wisdom. So here in Martha’s house she has Jesus, Wisdom incarnate. Wisdom in the flesh. Our Lord is inviting her to be present to Him and not be pulled away by, anxious about many things.

The responsorial Psalm is also about hospitality, God’s hospitality. LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy mountain? He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. One who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.

Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; by whom the reprobate is despised, while he honors those who fear the LORD.

Who lends not his money at usury and accepts no bribe against the innocent. One who does these things shall never be disturbed.

Matthew 7:21-23:  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Galatians 5:19-21:  the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Scapular

July 16 is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Mount Carmel in the Holy Land is the site of the first community of Carmelites, who took their name from the mountain. They were Christian hermits who lived on the mountain in the late 12th century. They built a chapel in the midst of their hermitage and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin whom they referred to in a chivalrous way as “the Lady of the place”.

July 16 is also the feast of the Scapular of Mount Carmel. On this day in 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, General of the Carmelites at Cambridge, England. She showed him the scapular and promised supernatural favors and her special protection to his order and to all persons who would wear the scapular. To obtain the indulgences and other benefits promised to those who wear the Carmelite scapular, a person must be invested by a priest and must lead a consistent Christian Life. (From catholic.org)

From Sisters of Carmel:

1.What is Our Lady’s promise in wearing the Brown Scapular?
“Whoever dies invested with this Scapular shall be preserved from the eternal flames. It is a sign of salvation, a sure safeguard in danger, a pledge of peace and of my special protection until the end of the ages.”

2.What are the conditions requisite for gaining the Our Lady’s promise of the Brown Scapular?

-To observe exactly what has been prescribed regarding material, color, and shape of the Scapular.
-To be enrolled in the Scapular by a priest.
-To wear it continually.

Please note that there are no special prayers or good works that are necessary to receive the promise. The Scapular is a silent prayer that shows one’s complete consecration and dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Scapular is a devotion whereby we venerate Her, love Her, and trust in Her protection, and we tell Her these things every moment of the day by simply wearing the Brown Scapular.

3. Who may be invested in the Brown Scapular?
All the Catholic faithful should be enrolled. It is customary for children to be enrolled after their First Holy Communion. Even infants can be invested.

4. How do I enroll in the Brown Scapular?
Any priest can enroll or invest you in the Brown Scapular.

July is the month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Christ. Below is a reflection on the Precious Blood by  Fr. James Doran, OMV: 

St. Peter wrote: Conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. (1 Pt 1:18)

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He took on flesh, He took on a human nature so that He could suffer and die to redeem us. In order to die His soul had to leave the body. The Blood had to be separated from the Body.

Fr. Hardon, S.J., wrote that Jesus could not die of sickness because sickness is a result of our sinful nature. Since Christ had no sin, the only way He could die was to bleed to death.

St. Peter wrote that you were ransomed; bought back. Since we sinned we incurred a heavy debt. The debt was death. But all the deaths in the world could not pay the debt we owe to God because He is infinite. The offence against an infinite Being is infinite.  Only an infinite Being could pay the price.

Peter, the first Pope, says you were redeemed not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the Precious Blood of Christ. He mentions silver and gold because they are generally believed to be the most incorruptible materials that exist. We are redeemed by the Precious Blood. It is Precious because it is the Blood of God.

When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the Body and the Blood of Christ under the appearance of the Consecrated Host. When we adore the Blessed Sacrament, we worship the Precious Blood of Jesus, the price of our Salvation.

Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father,
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God,
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls,
save us.

Saintly Americans

One way to view America’s history is through the stories of native-born saints, blesseds, venerables and servants of God. Bellow are brief portraits of some American saints and those on the path to sainthood:

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 –1821, New York), known as Mother Seton, is the first native-born American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She was an Episcopalian who, out of her love for the Eucharist, had converted to Catholicism after the death of her husband. She founded the first order of religious women in America, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, and became the co-founder of the first free Catholic School in America.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656–1680, New York) was an Algonquin-Mohawk laywoman who converted to Catholicism. After being pressured to marry, Kateri fled her village, was baptized at the age of nineteen and took a perpetual vow of chastity. Though she carried scars from smallpox, it was reported that within hours of her death, her scars had completely disappeared. St. Kateri is the first Native American to be canonized.

St. Katherine Drexel (1858-1955, Pennsylvania) is the first saint to be born an American citizen. During an audience with Pope Leo XIII in Rome, she asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming. He replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” The young, educated heiress from Philadelphia, did just that. She gave up worldly things to serve Native Americans and African Americans, founding schools and missions in more than a dozen states.

St. Solanus Casey (1870 –1957, Wisconsin) was a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was one of the founders of a soup kitchen in Detroit, founded to feed Detroit’s poor during the Great Depression, which is still in operation today. St. Solanus is the newest American saint and the first native-born man to be canonized.

Bl. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez (1918–1963, Puerto Rico) was a catechist who is the first Puerto Rican, first Knight of Columbus and first Caribbean-born layperson in history to be beatified. He was dedicated to restoring Catholic liturgical customs that had been abandoned over generations, notably the Easter Vigil which he felt had lost its ancient character as the focal night of the Christian year. “Vivimos para esa noche” (We live for that night) is inscribed on his tomb.

Bl. Stanley Rother (1935 –1981, Oklahoma) was a priest and martyr. In 1968 he applied and was assigned to the missions in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, serving the Tz’utujil people who were descendants of the Mayans. He briefly escaped the civil war raging in Guatemala and went back to Oklahoma but, saying that “the shepherd cannot run”, returned to minister to his people until he was assassinated by militant forces in July of 1981.

Ven. Augustus Tolton (1854 – 1897, Missouri) was born to enslaved parents. During his childhood, his family made it to freedom in Illinois. An Irish immigrant priest, Fr. Peter McGirr, gave Augustus the opportunity to attend parochial school, to the objections of his parishioners. Later, Augustus was rejected by every American Seminary to which he applied. He eventually received formation in Rome where he studied Latin and Greek and became fluent in Italian. He was ordained to the priesthood, becoming the first African American priest. He returned to Illinois and went on to establish the Negro “national parish” of St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Chicago, built, in part, through a donation from St. Katharine Drexel.

Servant of God Emil Kapuan (1916 – 1951, Kansas) was a priest, Knight of Columbus and United States Army captain who served as an Army chaplain in Burma during World War II and in Korea during the Korean War. He was captured and died in a prisoner of war camp. Before his death, he tended to his fellow prisoners, giving away his own food, and boosted their morale. Among his awards for service and valor are the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Medal of Honor.

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

As Saint Augustine put it: “no one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it.”

How do we show adoration? As soon as we enter a Catholic church, we look for the red sanctuary lamp and we acknowledge the Real Presence of our Lord by genuflecting or profound bow. Genuflection goes back in pagan use to pre-Christian days.  It was a common form of reverence to kings and emperors.

It did not come into common use in the Church until possibly the year 1000 AD when it had lost its pagan associations and, in the west, had begun to replace the profound bow as a sign of reverence to the presence of the Lord, the heavenly monarch. This certainly is reflected in medieval Christian art.

The genuflection is an extension of the gesture of kneeling.  Jesus fell to his knees in the garden of Gethsemane and we see the gesture of kneeling in prayer reflected throughout both Old and New Testaments. Jesus says to the woman at the well that the Father seeks worshipers in the spirit and truth.

The word that Scripture uses is ‘prostrate’, which literally means to bow one’s whole body to the floor; to prostrate oneself and to kiss the feet or the hem of the garment or the ground before the one being reverenced, which is more demonstrative than a simple genuflection!

Why are gestures, whether kneeling or standing or bowing, important?

C.S. Lewis makes the point in his Screwtape Letters , that we are not souls trapped in bodies.  We are incarnate spirits.  What I do with my body I do with my soul.

To bow, to kneel, to bend the knee are all gestures of submission.  I
cannot defend myself when I am on my knees.  It is a gesture that means I am absolutely open to the will and power of God.  So, to kneel and to genuflect are very appropriate gestures before Christ whom we claim as King of all.

Melchizedek was king and priest of Salem, Jerusalem where they adored the one true God the Creator. Melchizedek blessed Abram, (not yet Abraham), who gave him a tenth of all he had as an act of collaboration in worship. A priest is one who offers a sacrifice to God. Melchizedek was a type or prefigure of Jesus, Who consecrated bread and wine into His Body and Blood. Jesus did this in anticipation of His Sacrifice on Calvary where He would shed all His Blood to pay our debt and save us from Hell. He chose to die in order to save us and St. Paul wanted us to remember that when he wrote, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

This is not a service. Protestants have services. We have the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass. Infinitely different. In memory of His blessed
Passion, Resurrection and Ascension we offer from the gifts that God has given us; “this pure Victim, this holy victim this spotless Victim, the
holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation”.

After all He has done for us, He continues to serve us. He come to
nourish us and heal us. St Teresa of Avila said it is impossible in this world for all subjects to speak to the king. As for the poor, the most they can hope for is to speak with him by means of some third person. But to speak with Christ the King there is no need of third persons, for everyone that wishes can find Him in the Most Holy Sacrament and can speak to Him as much as they want. He does not appear in all His glory so as not to frighten us, so that we can go to Him in confidence. He continuously invites us: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest”.

O Sacrament most Holy,
O Sacrament Divine,
All praise and all thanksgiving,
Be every moment Thine

Read this week’s Lanterian

A Reflection on the Trinity and Father’s Day
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Last week we celebrated an event — Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to give the Apostles the courage to carry out their mission; to forgive sins and to preach.

We have celebrated other events lately; Easter and the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven. But today we celebrate a truth, a Catholic doctrine, that God is three persons, one God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one mind, one will and one power. When we baptize, or bless ourselves, we do not say in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit but in the Name. The Name is singular because the three persons are one God, one power. They are distinct Persons but they are so intimately united that they are never separated.   The Father eternally begot the Son. That means the Son has always existed with the Father. It is not as if the Father existed first then the Son came along later. No they are all eternal. And they have loved one another forever. We were created in the image of God. We are able to think, like God. We are able to remember, like God. We are able to love, like God. Today is Father’s day. All fatherhood comes from God the Father. I found something interesting on Father’s day:

From Alveda King’s blog (Her father is Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King, son of Martin Luther King Sr.) :

“ Daddy gave me my name. Al (after him) Veda (life) Celeste (to get me as close to Heaven as he could he said). The name King spans
generations, from Africa and Ireland, and my mother’s father was part Native American. My Daddy gave me so much during his lifetime, that there isn’t room to tell all. I miss him so much.

My Daddy and Granddaddy saved me from abortion in 1950. My mother Naomi Barber King was a young woman starting her first year in college, and she was approached by the Birth Control League (which later became Planned Parenthood) with literature about “women’s rights.” They were saying that a baby in the womb was a “lump of flesh” and that women didn’t have to stay pregnant if they didn’t want to. Abortion was illegal in those days, so a procedure called DNC was recommended. Mother’s mother, Big Mama Bessie wasn’t buying this, so she took Mother to see my grandfather, Daddy King. Granddaddy told Mother, “Neenie, they are lying to you. This isn’t a lump of flesh, she’s my granddaughter.

My grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., twice said, “No one is going to kill a child of mine.” The first time Daddy King said this was to my mother, who was facing an “inconvenient pregnancy” with me. The next time, I was facing a pregnancy, and told him about it. In both instances, Daddy King said no, and saved his seed.

Tragically, two of his grandchildren had already been aborted when he saved the life of his next great-grandson with this statement. His son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety. “How can the “Dream” survive if we murder our children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. In the hands of the mother is the fate of that child —whether the child lives or dies — a decision given to the mother by Roe v. Wade. That choice, the final choice of whether the child lives or dies, should be left to God, Who ultimately says “choose life!”

Today we don’t celebrate the event that made our dads fathers. We celebrate if they are fathers in truth. We celebrate them if they are truly fathers.

Pentecost and Mary
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

A few years ago, my nephew sent me an email to ask a question: a theological question, a question on Mariology. What could the Holy Spirit do for Our Lady if she was already perfect?

I was reminded of that question as I prepared today’s Mass.

What happened to the Mother of Jesus after He as ascended into Heaven? Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Apostles returned to Jerusalem and devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and His relatives.

Mary prayed with these men who Her Son had chosen to spread His Word. She prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit because they were not yet ready to face the world. He did not leave them as orphans.

She knew all about the Holy Spirit since He had already descended upon her at the Annunciation, He overshadowed her and brought about the Incarnation — the conception of Jesus. Since she had already experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit, she could appreciate Him more than anyone. It was the Spirit that made her a mother and Mother of the Savior. Unlike the others who were waiting in fearful expectation, she helped them get ready to receive the Paraclete. It was appropriate that she receive a renewed gift of the Spirit. The first time, she became Mother of Christ. This time she received the gift of spiritual motherhood. The disciples needed her intercession and love.

Mary is the image and model of the Church. Pope St. John Paul wrote that she waited for “Pentecost and implored a multiplicity of gifts for everyone, in accordance with each one’s personality and mission…Just as in the Incarnation the Spirit had formed the physical body of Christ in her virginal womb, in the upper room the same Spirit came down to give life to the Mystical Body” of Christ.

Pentecost is the fruit of the Blessed Virgin’s constant prayer. For this reason, Christians have had recourse to her throughout the ages.

Our Lady passed on to the disciples her memories of the Incarnation, the infancy and the hidden life of Jesus as a precious treasure. She helped to make Him known as nobody else knew Him.

Pope St. John Paul explains; “We have no information about Mary’s activity in the early Church, but we may suppose that after Pentecost her life would have continued to be hidden and discreet, watchful and effective. Since she was enlightened and guided by the Spirit, she exercised a deep influence on the community of the Lord’s disciples.”

So, what did I tell my nephew? Mary was a perfect Mother to her Son Jesus, but she again needed the Spirit’s help to become Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of the Church. He did not leave us as orphans.

Come, Creator Spirit

On the Holy Spirit
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

When the Father sends His Word, He always sends His Breath.

In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable.

To believe in the Holy Spirit is to profess that the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial with the Father and the Son: “with the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified.”

Spirit – ruah (in Hebrew), breath air, wind.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies us, makes us holy, strengthens our friendship with God.

He teaches us how to pray, as St. Paul wrote: “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”

He helps us understand the Scriptures, He gives priests the power to forgive us our sins, “Receive the Holy Spirit, the sins you forgive are forgiven.” Often, in the confessional, I give out a little card with this prayer of St Augustine to the Holy Spirit:

Breathe in me, o Holy Spirit that all my thoughts may be holy. (Ps 104: May the Lord be pleased with my thoughts for only in Him do I find joy.)

Act in me, o Holy Spirit that my work too may be holy. May it be God’s work, God’s Will. I reject Satan and all his works.

Draw my heart o Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy. I do not want to desire anything evil.

Strengthen me o Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy. “You will receive power when the HS comes upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem to the ends of the earth”.

Guard me then o Holy Spirit that I always may be holy. Be holy, God-like, Christ-like.

He is the comforter but His job it not to make us comfortable. He wants to set us on fire; St. Alphonsus calls Him a happy Fire.

Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts

The Feast of Ascension of the Lord
By Fr. James Doran, OMV

What does the feast of the Ascension mean to you?

It means that the risen Jesus, after forty days visiting the disciples, ascended into heaven to take His proper place as the second person of the Blessed Trinity. There, He continues to intercede for us. He is the eternal Priest.

But what does this feast mean to you? Does it make you joyful? Opening prayer: “make us joyful”! Why should you be joyful? Because His victory is our victory. He is the head of the body, the Church. Where the head goes, the body follows. And we are members of His Body as long as we do not separate ourselves from Him by committing mortal sin.

We hope to follow Him into the new creation. His ascension is our glory and our hope! For the first time a man entered heaven! Jesus, true God and true man. We were not created to live forever on earth, but to live forever in heaven. He told His friends that He was going to His Father’s house and that He was going to prepare a place for each of them, and each of us. So that should make us joyful. Think about it. Jesus is preparing a place for you.

“I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you also may be .” “All you peoples, clap your hands, shout to God with shouts of gladness. Sing praise to God sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praise.” We have more of a reason to be happy than the psalmist.

Love is to desire the best and highest good; and if we love anyone, we wish salvation for that person.   That is why Jesus told the disciples to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved!”

Salvation is not automatic. The Gospel must be taught and lived. We might become discouraged at times because we are weak. But we must continue to hope. Why? Because Christ is on our side. Because of His merits, because of His intercession with the Father we are able to attain justice and reach sanctity of life.

The Church may indeed experience difficulties; the Gospel may suffer setbacks, but because Jesus is at the right-hand of the Father the Church will never know defeat. Christ’ victory is ours.

Let us “be deeply conscious of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death.   Realize that the strength of Christ is greater than our weakness. Try to understand and share the joy that Mary experienced in knowing that her Son had taken His place with the Father.

Let us renew our faith today in the promise of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has gone to prepare a place for us, so that He can come back again and take us to Himself.

Schedule of Masses for Ascension Thursday

On this Sunday’s Communion Antiphon
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

Communion antiphon for the 5th Sunday of Easter: I am the true vine and you are the branches, says the Lord. Whoever remains in Me, and I in him, bears fruit in plenty, Alleluia!

How close can God get to you?

Jesus says He is the grape vine and you are the branch. He wants us to be aware of the intimate connection.  The branch gets its nourishment from the vine. And He expects you to produce fruit with that precious Blood.

It is not just a matter of belonging to the Church but living the life of Christ, the life of grace, which is the nourishment which passes on to the believer and enables you to bear fruit.

This image of the vine also helps us to understand the Mystical body of Christ in which all the members are intimately united to the head and thereby united to one another.

Our Blessed Lord describes two situations: those who are still joined to the vine externally but yield no fruit, and those who do yield fruit but could yield more. The epistle of St. James carries the same message when he says that faith alone is not enough.

Faith is the beginning of salvation and without faith we cannot please God, it is also true that a living faith must yield fruit in the form of deeds.

As St. Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love”. It is not enough to be baptized and make your profession of faith externally; you have to share in Christ’s life and cooperate in His work of redemption. “He prunes the one who bears fruit so that it bears more fruit”. In other words, God is not content with half-hearted commitment, so he prunes.

Fr. Cantalamessa has an interesting comment on pruning.

You may know that when you prune a grape vine liquid leaks out and drips.

But why does the vinedresser prune the branch and make the vine “weep,” as is usually said? For a very simple reason: If it is not pruned, the strength of the vine is wasted; it will bear perhaps more bunches than it should, with the consequence that not all will ripen and that the rating of the wine will be lower. If it remains a long time without being pruned, the vine even becomes wild and produces only vine tendrils and wild grapes.

The same happens in our lives. To live is to choose, and to choose is to deny oneself. The person who wants to do too many things in life, or cultivates innumerable interests and hobbies, is dispersed, and will not be outstanding in anything.

One must have the courage to make choices, to put some secondary interests to one side to concentrate on the primary. To prune!

Read this week’s Lanterian

Divine Love
by Fr. James Doran, MV

A good saint to mention on Mother’s Day is St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Born in Italy, 1922, she became a pediatrician, she married had three children. When she was pregnant with her fourth, she was found to have a non-malignant tumor on her uterus. The doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the tumor. Gianna opted for the removal of the tumor, wanting to save her child’s life.  After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. She told her husband, “This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may be able to save one or the other – I want them to save my baby.” The baby Gianna Emmanuela was delivered by Caesarean section, but Gianna died of septic peritonitis 7 days later, April 28, 1962. At her canonization, at which were present her husband and children, Pope Saint John Paul called her “a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.”

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Last month an essay by Emeritus Pope Benedict was published. He wrote about the crisis in the Church and how to respond.

“The power of evil arises from our refusal to love God. He who entrusts himself to the love of God is redeemed. Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.”  Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He teaches us to love God. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” What is Eternal Life? In the Nicean Creed we pray …I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

In the Apostles’ Creed we say ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen. What do we mean by ‘life everlasting’? The Catechism says; By life everlasting we mean that there will be another existence after this present life. Who are rewarded in Heaven? Those are rewarded in heaven who die in the state of grace and have been purified in purgatory, if necessary, from all venial sin and all debt of temporal punishment; they will see God face to face and share forever in His glory and happiness. The greatest joy in Heaven is the BEATIFIC VISION. This is the sight of God.   The word beatific means blissfully happy. Rapturous, joyful, ecstatic. This seeing God is called beatific because it completely fills with joy those who experience it.

The great Dominican Father, Garrigou-Lagrange wrote; They know and love God to their utmost capacity and are known and loved by God in return. The Beatific Vision will satisfy completely and supremely all our desires. This what Jesus, the Good Shepherd wants to lead us to. Having God, we shall never wish for anything else.

Read this week’s Lanterian

The May Magnificat
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

MAY is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathizing
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

Madonna and Child, Marianne Stokes

Christ’s Easter Gift to Humanity
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

“Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy.” Jesus said that to Sr. Faustina.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes His Apostles ministers of Divine Mercy. After showing them His hands, feet and side, He tells them: As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21) Then He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins you forgive are forgiven . The sins you retain are retained. Pope St. JP said this gift of forgiving sins flows from the wounds in His hands and feet and especially from His side. From there a wave of mercy is poured out over all humanity. Remember that scene in The Passion of the Christ when the soldier thrusts the lance into His side? Blood and Water showers — drenches the soldier. There’s a statue of the soldier, St. Longinus, at St. Peter’s basilica.

Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and asked her to have a painting done of Himself as He appeared to her; with two rays of light coming from His Heart which represent the Blood and Water.(Diary, p. 132). The Blood recalls the sacrifice at Calvary and the mystery of the Eucharist; the
Water, according the rich symbolism of St. John the Evangelist, makes us think of Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord told Sr. Faustina to put a short but powerful prayer at His feet; “Jesus, I trust in You.

We must cultivate the strong conviction that He truly seeks to alleviate our suffering. He did not die on the cross to let us fall into Hell. We could end up in Hell only if we choose to by refusing conversion.

In his encyclical on Divine Mercy, the Holy Father describes mercy as love:

This love is able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and “restored to value.” The father first and foremost expresses to him his joy that he has been “found again” and that he has “returned to life. This joy indicates a good that has remained intact: even if he is a prodigal, a son does not cease to be truly his father’s son; it also indicates a good that has been found again, which in the case of the prodigal son was his return to the truth about himself.

Conversion is the most concrete expression of the working of love and of the presence of mercy in the human world. My efforts to convert are the most concrete expression of my love for Divine Mercy, which is not just an attitude but a Person. And that Person is Jesus. He is infinite. Mercy, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also, infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father’s readiness to receive the prodigal children who return to His home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the cross and resurrection of Christ.

About the Image of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Novena of Masses Schedule

Easter Day
by Fr. Jim Doran, OMV

The timid became courageous. Remember Joseph of Arimathea? He was a disciple of Jesus but in secret, for fear of the Jews. Then there was Nicodemus, the man who at first came to Jesus at night because he did not wish to be seen.

Well. these men who were previously fearful now boldly confess themselves as Disciples of Christ, not only with words but with action. They attend to His body with exquisite refinement and generosity. Joseph of Arimathea got permission from Pilate to collect the body. That had to take guts. He might have been killed on the spot by the Romans or the Jews. But he did it.

And Nicodemus did us a big favor. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds of it.

Myrrh is a very expensive aromatic resin and aloe juice is extracted from the leaves of the aloe plant. They were used in the expression of veneration for the dead.

The Navarre Bible commentary says, “After piously taking our Lord’s body down from the cross, they…perfumed it and wrapped it in a linen cloth, covering the head with a sudarium or napkin. But because of the Sabbath rest, they were unable to anoint the body with balsam, which the women planned to do once the Sabbath rest was past.”

Jesus, in fact, praised Mary, sister of Lazarus for anointing him at Bethany and foretold in a veiled way that his body would not be embalmed. There would not be time. This detail of the myrrh is important. It would make the linens stick to the body.

When she discovered the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene said, “they have taken the Lord away and we don’t know where they have put Him.” Peter and John came running, noticed the linens and knew that no thief had done this. If thieves had taken Him, they would not have bothered to pull the linens off Him. That would have been too much trouble in a hurry and in the dark.

They would not take the trouble to roll up the head cloth and put it in a place by itself. They would have taken Him away as He was. Remember when Lazarus was dead in the tomb, Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth”? The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages. And his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said, “untie him and let him go.” Lazarus couldn’t do it by himself.

The disciples saw and believed. Remember that they did not yet understand the Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

St. Augustin says, “The Apostles had heard Jesus predict his death and Resurrection time and again, but they were so accustomed to hear parables from Him, that they took this for a parable and thought He meant something else.”

Now it dawns on John. Jesus really rose from the dead. He must have felt a comforting presence then, knowing that Jesus was not dead. The disciples did not look for Him; they went back to their homes. Jesus is in control of the situation. He will come and find us.

Mary Magdalene kept searching and weeping. And Jesus met her and consoled her.

He comes to us, too, in the Sacraments. Our Savior promised, “He who eats my Body and drinks My Blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” Jn 6:54

I conclude with a quote from Saint Pius X. He wrote in his catechism “just as Jesus Christ through His resurrection began a new and immortal and heavenly life, so must we begin a new life according to the Spirit, once and for all renouncing sin and everything that leads us to sin, loving only God and everything that leads to God.”

About the Image: Three Marys at the Tomb of Christ

Good Friday — Mother Mary
 by Fr. James Doran, OMV

It is a terrible thing for a parent to watch their own child die. I saw it. I saw how my mother grieved as my 24-year-old brother languished and died. We priests see it very often in our work.

As Jesus hung there, He knew that His Mother was undergoing unspeakable anguish as she watched His life blood flowing away. The extent to which Mary was suffering must have been more painful to Him than His wounds.

We have four accounts of the way Jesus died. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each wrote about the Crucifixion, but only one of them tells us that Jesus was concerned about His Mother. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that the sky got dark and that there was an earthquake; but John tells us that Jesus, seeing His Mother and the beloved disciple standing nearby, said to His Mother, “Woman, behold your son” and to the disciple He said, “Behold your Mother.”

Of all the Christians, all the followers of Jesus, the most favored are those who receive His Mother. By giving us His Mother to be our Mother, He demonstrates His love for His own to the end. As we heard in yesterday’s Gospel, “He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end.” He had already given His Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament. His Mother was all He had left to give. Jesus enjoyed Mary’s maternal love during His 33 years and He wanted His disciples to share in this love because Mary brings us to Jesus. She teaches us docility and humility. She teaches us how to love and follow her Son.

Venerable John Paul II wrote: Since the disciple takes the place of Jesus in regard to Mary, he is invited to love her as if she were truly his own mother. It is as if Jesus were saying to him, “Love her as I have loved her.”

“From that hour the disciple took her into his home.” So, John took care of her and so must every disciple of Jesus have a place for the Mother of Jesus in their hearts.

May we all appreciate this great gift which Christ Crucified gave to us by leaving His own Mother as our Mother. That was our Lord’s dying wish.

Easter Triduum at the Chapel

A Reflection on the Gospel of the Woman Taken in Adultery
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They wanted to trap our Lord. Dt 22:22 says: If a man is discovered lying with a woman who is married to another, they both shall die, the man who was lying with the woman as well as the woman. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel. In light of this text, they want Jesus’ opinion

If Jesus says to let her go. He would be accused of breaking the Law of Moses. If He says to go ahead and stone her, He would be arrested for violating the Roman Law. Only the Romans could put someone to death. His enemies think they have Him trapped.

Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. Does Jesus do this to show indifference? Perhaps He is fulfilling Jeremiah 17:13: O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. Perhaps He is writing the names of those men who have turned away from Him the Fountain of Living Water. he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, …

There is no accuser left to condemn her. He has no sin but according to the Law one person cannot condemn someone to death. Our Lord has created a situation so she cannot be condemned to death. He does not break the Law. He gives her another chance, as He does for us every time we confess. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

[L]ook at the way our Lord’s answer upheld justice without forgoing clemency. He was not caught in the scare his enemies had laid for him; it is they themselves who were caught in it. He did not say the woman should not be stoned, for then it would look as though he were opposing the law. But he had no intention of saying: ‘Let her be stoned’, because he came not to destroy those he found but to seek those who were lost. Mark his reply. It contains justice, clemency, and truth in full measure… What is this, Lord, are you giving approval to immorality? Not at all. Take note of what follows: “Go and sin no more.” You see then that the Lord does indeed pass sentence but it is sin he condemns, not people. One who would have approved of immorality would have said: ‘Neither will I condemn you. Go and live as you please; you can be sure that I will acquit you. However much you sin, I will release you from all penalty, and from the tortures of hell and the underworld’. He did not say that. He said: ‘Neither will I condemn you’: you need have no fear of the past, but beware of what you do in the future. ‘Neither will I condemn you’: I have blotted out what you have done; now observe what I have commanded, in order to obtain what I have promised. — Augustine, Homilies on the Gospel of John, 33.6-7

The Woman Taken in Adultery, Oil Painting by Guercino

A Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

The 4th Sunday of Lent is called “Laetare” due to the Gregorian antiphon of the Introit of the Mass taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah:

Lætare, Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum lætitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestræ.

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says: Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) the use of flowers on the altar of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-colored vestments are also allowed instead of purple.

The collect for Laetare Sunday: O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Lent at the Chapel

The Solemnity of the Annunciation – March 25, 2019
by Fr. James Doran, OMV

She says “Fiat.” We say “Amen.”

Pope St. John Paul makes an interesting comparison between Our Blessed Lady’s FIAT and our AMEN. The Angel Gabriel explained God’s plan and invited Mary to accept. She replied, “Fiat” (“Let it be dome according to your word”). Almighty God wanted to come into Mary’s body and soul, and she said “Fiat”.

During the Eucharistic prayer, we hear Jesus’ invitation: Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you. At Communion time, the priest elevates the Sacred Host and proclaims, “The Body of Christ.” And the recipient responds, “Amen.” (“So be it.” “I accept.” “I believe.”)

We can imagine that after the Angel left her, Mary, knowing that the Son of God dwelt in her, newly conceived, must have felt a profound sense of gratitude. She must have felt enveloped in the Divine Presence. And so should we express profound gratitude and be attentive to Whom we have just received in body and soul.

There are many prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion to help us if we need it, like St. Thomas Aquinas’ Adoro Te Devote. The translation, by Fr. Gerard M. Hopkins:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory’s sight. Amen.

Pope St. John Paul:
In a certain sense, Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation, Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.

As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.