9th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II Meditations & Homily Builder

May 29, 2016

Monday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Evil desire causes the world’s corruption; the injustice, theft, and murder in the vineyard.
  • The tenants were unfaithful, vicious, ignorant, rash, fickle, disloyal, and cold, for they lacked love.
  • Though the prophets and God’s son were slain, they now dwell and abide with the Most High,

Petitions:  Loving Stewardship, Renters, Justice


Tuesday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Like Jesus’ either/or-defying answer, we’re to “wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God.”
  • As gold is perishable even though tested by fire, money will not outlive this creation. (1 Peter 1:7)
  • Jesus’ patience gave the Pharisees, the Herodians, and Caesar a chance for salvation.

Petitions:  Active Contempatives, Corrupted Leaders, Generosity


Wednesday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Timothy had greater knowledge of the Scriptures and of God’s miracles than the Sadducees.
  • We are confident that the God of the living is able to guard the life entrusted to us forever.
  • Jesus was unashamed to testify to the resurrection, for there was nothing to be ashamed of.

Petitions:  Young Priests, Courageous Testimony, Beloved Dead


Thursday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Notwithstanding history’s “first” commandment, Jesus was a celibate workman for God.
  • Faithfulness to him requires not only external sacrifice, but love for God and neighbor.
  • Jesus was not “disputing about words,” but answering questions that mattered.

Petitions:  Catholic Apologists, The Falsely Accused, Civility


Friday, 9th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful,” but the Word Incarnate is richer.
  • Remaining “faithful to what you have learned” allows mysteries to be unveiled to us.
  • All religious Christians will be persecuted, but all enemies shall be placed under his feet.

Petitions:  Scripture Study, Our Persecutors, Patient Endurance


Prayers of the Faithful / Petitions / Intercessions (Year C)

May 28, 2016

1st Sunday of Advent, Year C (November 29, 2015)
2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C (December 6, 2015)
Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2015)
3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C (December 13, 2015)
4th Sunday of Advent, Year C (December 20, 2015)
Christmas (December 25, 2015)
Holy Family (December 27, 2015)
Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2016)
Epiphany (January 3, 2016)
Baptism of the Lord (January 10, 2016)
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (January 17, 2016)
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (January 24, 2016)
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (January 31, 2016)
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (February 7, 2016)
Ash Wednesday (February 10, 2016)
1st Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 14, 2016)
2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 21, 2016)
3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 28, 2016)
4th Sunday of Lent, Year C (March 6, 2016)
5th Sunday of Lent, Year C (March 13, 2016)
Palm Sunday of Lent, Year C (March 20, 2016)
Holy Thursday (March 24, 2016)
Easter (March 26-27, 2016)
Divine Mercy Sunday (April 3, 2016)
3rd Sunday of Easter (April 10, 2016)
4th Sunday of Easter (April 17, 2016)
5th Sunday of Easter (April 24, 2016)
6th Sunday of Easter (May 1, 2016)
Ascension / 7th Sunday of Easter (May 8, 2016)
Pentecost Sunday (May 15, 2016)
Holy Trinity Sunday (May 22, 2016)
Corpus Christi Sunday (May 29, 2016)

May 29th Parish Bulletin

May 24, 2016

The St. Wenceslaus parish bulletin for the Feast of Corpus Christi on May 29th, 2016.

Rules for Spiritual Discernment

May 23, 2016

By St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

Rules for becoming aware and understanding to some extent the different movements which are caused in the soul, the good, to receive them, and the bad to reject them…

First Rule. In persons who are going from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is ordinarily accustomed to propose apparent pleasures to them, leading them to imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses a contrary method, stinging and biting their consciences through their rational power of moral judgment.

Second Rule. In persons who are going on intensely purifying their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, the method is contrary to that in the first rule. For then it is proper to the evil spirit to bite, sadden, and place obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, so that the person may not go forward. And it is proper to the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing and taking away all obstacles, so that the person may go forward in doing good.

Third Rule. The third is of spiritual consolation. I call it consolation when some interior movement is caused in the soul, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord, and, consequently when it can love no created thing on the face of the earth itself, but only in the Creator of them all. Likewise when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one’s sins or for the passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly ordered to His service and praise. Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one’s soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord.

Fourth Rule. The fourth is of spiritual desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to low and earthly things, disquiet from various agitations and temptations, moving to lack of confidence, without hope, without love, finding oneself totally slothful, tepid, sad and as if separated from one’s Creator and Lord. For just as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts that come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts that come from desolation.

Fifth rule. The fifth is in time of desolation never make a change, but be firm and constant in the proposals and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which one was in the preceding consolation. Because as in consolation the Good Spirit guides and counsels us more, so in desolation the bad spirit, with whose counsels we cannot find the way to a right decision.

Sixth rule. Although in desolation we should not change our first proposals, it is very advantageous to change ourselves intensely against the desolation itself, as by insisting more upon prayer, meditation, upon much examination, and upon extending ourselves in some suitable way of doing penance.

Seventh Rule. Let one who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, so that he may resist the various agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can resist with divine help, which always remains with him, though he does not clearly feel it; for the Lord has taken away from him His great fervor, abundant love and intense grace, leaving him, however sufficient grace for eternal salvation.

Eighth Rule. Let one who is in desolation work to be in patience, which is contrary to the vexations which come to him, and let him think that he will soon be consoled, diligently using the means against such desolation, as is said in the sixth rule.

Ninth Rule. There are three principal causes for which we find ourselves desolate. The first is because we are tepid, slothful or negligent in our spiritual exercises, and so through our faults spiritual consolation withdraws from us. The second, to try us and see how much we are and how much we extend ourselves in His service and praise without so much payment of consolation and increased graces. The third, to give us true recognition and understanding so that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to attain or maintain increased devotion, intense love, tears or any spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and so that we may not build a nest in something belonging to another, raising our mind in some pride or vainglory, attributing to ourselves the devotion or the other parts of the spiritual consolation.

Tenth Rule. Let the one who is in consolation think how he will conduct himself in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for that time.

Eleventh Rule. Let one who is consoled seek to humble himself and lower himself as much as he can, thinking of how little he is capable in the time of desolation without such grace or consolation. On the contrary, let one who is in desolation think that he can do much with God’s sufficient grace to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.

Twelfth Rule. The enemy acts like [an unvirtuous] woman in being weak when faced with strength and strong when faced with weakness. For as it is proper to a woman, when she is fighting with some man, to lose heart and to flee when the man confronts her firmly, and, on the contrary, if the man begins to flee, losing heart, the anger vengeance and ferocity of the woman grow greatly and know no bounds. In the same way, it is proper to the enemy to weaken and lose heart, fleeing and ceasing his temptations when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things confronts the temptations of the enemy firmly, doing what is diametrically opposed to them; and, on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself begins to be afraid and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so fierce on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with such growing malice.

Thirteenth Rule. Likewise he conducts himself as a false lover in wishing to remain secret and not be revealed. For a dissolute man who, speaking with evil intention, makes dishonorable advances to a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wishes his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him very much, when the daughter reveals to her father, or the wife to her husband his false words and depraved intention, because he easily perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun. In the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wishes and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to one’s good confessor or to another spiritual person, who knows his deceits and malicious designs, it weighs on him very much, because he perceives that he will not be able to succeed with the malicious undertaking he has begun, since his manifest deceits have been revealed.

Fourteenth Rule. Likewise he conducts himself as a leader, intent upon conquering and robbing what he desires. For, just as a captain and leader of an army in the field, pitching his camp and exploring the fortifications and defenses of a stronghold, attacks it at the weakest point, in the same way the enemy of human nature, roving about, looks in turn at all our theological, cardinal and moral virtues; and where he finds us weakest and most in need for our eternal salvation, there he attacks us and attempts to take us.

8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II Meditations & Homily Builder

May 22, 2016

Monday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Only through God’s mercy do we have ‘a new birth, an inheritance, and a waiting salvation.’
  • Like our faith, water is more precious than gold, for our future life would be lost without it.
  • Peter and the rich man saw Jesus, but we today are not deprived of his teaching, trials, or presence.

Petitions:  Vocations, Teachers, The Heavily Burdened


Tuesday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Israel’s prophets were writing “all the ends of the earth” destined for “salvation by our God.”
  • The Spirit of Christ, who inspired the prophets, also foresaw the Gospel’s promises fulfilled.
  • A child’s obedience and holiness, brought to maturity,  is one hundred times rewarded.

Petitions:  Reluctant Converts, All Lands, Family Members


Wednesday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • As “a spotless unblemished Lamb,” Jesus is led to the temple to offer his “precious Blood.”
  • Like Pharaoh Ozymandias’ glory, “flesh is like grass,” but what is the Lord’s remains imperishable.
  • God reigns as king, blessing with food and teachings,  without lording his authority over us.

Petitions:  Bishops, Builders, True Perspective


Thursday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • As “aliens and sojourners” in this world, Christians will face rebukes like Bartimaeus.
  • But like a mother to a newborn’s cry, Jesus responds to the blind man’s great thirsting desire.
  • Unlike others, Jesus has mercy on his neighbor as he walks the Good Samaritan’s road. (Luke 10:30)

Petitions:  Universal Priesthood, Against Scandal, For Infants


Friday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • “[T]he judgment [begins] with the household of God…” (1 Peter 4:17)
  • By setting up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, they made the temple inhospitable for the nations.
  • As each Christian has received the gifts of faith and mercy, use them to serve one another.

Petitions:  Effective Preaching, Crop-Friendly Weather, Effortless Prayer


7th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II Meditations & Homily Builder

May 16, 2016

Monday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Jesus comes down the mountain with mighty wisdom from above.
  • The Lord’s ‘perfect, trustworthy, right, clear, pure, and true’ words prevail over evil.
  • Prayer will drive out spirits of jealousy and selfish ambition among us.

Petitions:  Faith, Special Needs Families, Prayer


Tuesday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • His disciples argued who was greatest because they coveted, envied, and did not understand.
  • As resisting the Devil causes him to flee, so the Lord’s timely question silenced their feud.
  • “Humble yourselves before the Lord,” like a child, in Christ’s likeness, “and he will exalt you.”

Petitions:  Church Unity, World Peace, Openness to Life


Wednesday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Mighty deeds may be accomplished in the name of the Lord, if he wills it.
  • The actions of a Christian arrogantly disregarding God’s will, speak ill of him.
  • Instead of complaining, the one who does not follow ought be told the right thing to do.

Petitions:  Separated Brethren, Entrepreneurs, Discernment


Thursday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Better to hand over what is not yours than to be thrown into fiery Gehenna or the deadly sea.
  • “These little ones” are children, but also laborers; the poor, the voiceless, and the vulnerable.
  • The millstones of “God grind slowly; yet they grind exceeding small.” (Longfellow’s “Retribution”)

Petitions:  God’s Little Ones, Just Wages, Manual Laborers


Friday, 7th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Wedding vows are solemn promises, so let your “I do” mean “I do.”
  • “Do not complain, [husbands and wives,] about one another,” for “the Lord is kind and merciful.”
  • The Lord became one flesh with us, “because the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

Petitions:  Eucharistic Devotion, The Seemingly Abandoned, Sanctified Speech


6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II Homily Builder

May 15, 2016

Monday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Some doubt against their will, but others doubt willfully to reject the Lord.
  • God gives “generously and ungrudgingly” to all who are willing to receive.
  • Jesus’ boat was not adrift, but harnessed the wind to go where his Father willed.

Petitions:  Greater Gifts, Atheists and Agnostics, This Generation


Tuesday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Jesus’ veiled language was not to mislead the disciples, for “he himself tempts no one.”
  • Like with temptation, one who strives to understand Jesus “will receive the crown of life.”
  • Recalling God’s previous mighty works helps us to endure temptation.

Petitions:  Understanding Divine Revelation, The Hungry, Enduring Temptation


Wednesday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” for we are slow to see things as they truly are.
  • Jesus practiced pure religion, working great goods not to be showy, but for goodness’ sake.
  • When beholding others, do not forget that Jesus died on a tree for each one of them.

Petitions:  Charitable Apostolates, True Sight, The Disabled


Thursday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Since Jesus is our Christ, he rightly to makes the distinction: “Get behind me,” i.e., follow me.
  • Jesus models how the “poor” in spirit, wealth, and power become “heirs of the Kingdom.”
  • If we “look to” Jesus in our lives and neighbor our “faces may not blush with shame.”

Petitions:  Christian Discipleship, Inequality, Fraternal Correction


Friday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

  • Jesus and Abraham’s sacrifices were works of faith for new covenants in power. (Genesis 22)
  • Even the demons believe “Jesus is Lord,” but they do not serve or follow him and are condemned.
  • Works without faith end in death: what does it profit to gain the whole world and lose one’s life?

Petitions:  Vocations, Non-Catholic Christians, Refugees and Homeless


Captain America, St. Thomas More, & the Spirit of Truth

May 14, 2016

In the new blockbuster movie Captain America: Civil War the titular hero is discerning an important decision when he hears this message in a church:

“Compromise where you can. And where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right, even if the whole world is telling you to move. It is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say, no. You move.”

Captain America - No, You MoveAs I watched in the movie theater, that bit about the tree struck me as odd. Trees bend and can be cut down, but pillars of iron or stone mountains don’t budge. I later discovered that these movie lines were adapted from a famous comic book speech Captain America once spoke to Spider-Man:

“When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — ‘No, you move.’”

Did you spot the difference? “Plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth.” That’s not only more beautiful, it’s also an allusion to Old Testament imagery. Psalm 1:3 says:

“[The Just Man] is like a tree planted near streams of water that yields its fruit in due season, whose leaves do not wither, and whatever he does prospers.”

And Jeremiah 17:8 says:

“[Those who trust in the Lord] are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit.”

These verses teach that the just man who is rooted in the Law (or the Truth) of God prospers, and that those who trust in the Lord prevail against adversity.

I wish that Hollywood had included the fuller quote in the new Captain America movie—not only because it’s better writing, not only because it echoes Sacred Scripture, but because it better reflects the truth about where Truth comes from. My all-time favorite film disappoints me in a similar way.

A Man for All Seasons - St. Thomas More at TrialA Man for All Season won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Picture, but its depiction of its hero, St. Thomas More, falls short of perfection. In the movie, as in real life, Thomas More suffers unjust imprisonment for refusing to swear an oath recognizing King Henry VIII as the supreme head of the Catholic Church in England. The movie’s screenwriter, the agnostic Robert Bolt, drew on More’s own writings to craft some fantastic dialogues, but Bolt somewhat misrepresents the saint’s true motivations.

In one scene, Thomas More’s friend, the Duke of Norfolk, asks why he won’t just “give in.” Thomas answers, “I will not give in because I oppose it—I do—not my pride, not my spleen, nor any of my appetites, but I do—I!” The real St. Thomas More’s motivations are portrayed more accurately in the scene at his trial. He tells the court:

“The indictment [against me] is grounded in an act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the law of God, and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which no temporal person may by any law presume to take upon [himself.] This was granted by the mouth of our Savior, Christ himself, to Saint Peter and the Bishops of Rome whilst He lived and was personally present here on earth. It is, therefore, insufficient in law to charge any Christian to obey it.”

The real St. Thomas More refused to sign the King’s oath because he saw in it a denial of Christ. He preferred to die rather than lose Heaven; and he did go on to die, thereby gaining Heaven. But Robert Bolt has his Thomas More conclude his courtroom speech like this:

“Nevertheless, it is not for [refusing the King’s] Supremacy that you have sought my blood, but because I would not bend to the [King’s re-marriage]!” (In other words, “No one is going to make me act contrary to my own self-will!”)

The real St. Thomas More was not standing up against the world for individually-chosen truth. (More opposed heretics when he served as King Henry’s High Chancellor.) He knew that Truth and right and wrong are not things we create for ourselves. We receive them, as water from a river. They do not flow from us as their source. The real St. Thomas More was a champion for the Truth which comes from God.

So how can we be faithful to the Truth which comes from God? How can we be planted like trees beside the River of Truth that flows from God? By prayerfully welcoming the Holy Spirit.

At his interrogation before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus says: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (In the Holy Trinity, the Father is the Speaker, Jesus is the Word, and the Holy Spirit is the Voice) But Pilate refuses to listen. He retorts to Jesus, “What is truth?” He rejects the Spirit of Truth and walks away.

Later, at his Ascension, Jesus instructs his disciples to remain in Jerusalem until they are clothed with power from on high with the Spirit of Truth who will teach them everything and remind them of all he has told them. Unlike Pilate, the disciples listen to Jesus and obey him. Some 120 persons (including the apostles, the Virgin Mary, some women, and some male relatives of Jesus) gather together and all devote themselves to prayer. They pray for nine days—the Church’s first novena, and on the tenth day, on the Jewish feast of first fruits called Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, comes and fills them.

St. Peter PreachingOnce the Spirit’s fire touches their heads, the disciples know what to say and they are unafraid to say it. Previously they had been hiding behind locked doors, but now they go out into Jerusalem’s crowded streets praising and preaching Jesus. This new-found wisdom and courage are gifts from the Holy Spirit, who empowers them to begin reaping the Church’s first fruits from the world. Observe well what the disciples do, for we are called to do the same: they listen to Jesus and obey him, they gather together and pray, they receive the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and gifts, and then they go forth to speak and act powerfully in the world.

In the Gospel of John, on the last and greatest day of one of the Jewish feasts, Jesus stands up in the temple area and exclaims, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” Here the Gospel writer adds: “He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive.”

The Holy Spirit is our River of Living Water. As trees planted beside him we will prosper, and by being rooted in him we will prevail against adversity. In Holy Mass let us pray to receive the Spirit wholeheartedly and to be clothed with his power. And then, filled with the Spirit of Truth, even if the whole world tells us to move, we will have the words and courage to stand our ground. By the Holy Spirit, we can be heroes for this world in desperate need of heroes, in the likeness of Captain America, St. Thomas More, and the apostles after Pentecost.

May 22nd Parish Bulletin

May 10, 2016

The St. Wenceslaus parish bulletin for Holy Trinity Sunday on May 22nd, 2016.

May 15th Parish Bulletin

May 10, 2016

The St. Wenceslaus parish bulletin for Pentecost Sunday on May 15th, 2016.

An Ascension & Mother’s Day Homily

May 8, 2016

The Belly of a Woman with Child

Today, two great celebrations providentially align: the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven and Mother’s Day. After his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days teaching, instructing, and preparing his disciples for their new life ahead. The number 40 often appears in the Bible in relation to times of preparation.  Noah spent 40 days and nights on the ark as the waters of the flood were renewing the world. Moses and the Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the desert before God’s people entered the Promised Land. Before beginning his public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting in the desert. And after his death on the cross, Jesus’ body spent (by tradition) 40 hours in the tomb awaiting the resurrection. The number 40 also has a place in your life story as well. Each of you remained 40 weeks, more or less, within your mother’s womb being prepared for a new life. I ask you to reflect on that time.

Attached to your mother’s vine you grew into the mature fruit of her womb. You were nourished and grew within her. You were never far from her heart or mind. You existed within her, connected to her at the center of your being.  (Your belly button marks the spot where you were once attached to her.) She fed you with her very self. She provided for all your needs. Apart from her you could do nothing. You remained in her and you found your rest within her.

In the womb, at those earliest stages of life, our minds did not comprehend very much, but what if you could have understood then everything that your mother was doing for you? Surely you would have directed your thoughts to her often.  And, from time to time, you would have turned to her with the eyes of your heart to bask in her love for you.

What if, imagining further, that you could have spoken with your mom when you were in her womb? Wouldn’t you have taken the opportunity to speak with her every day? Wouldn’t you have thanked her with a deep gratitude and let her know how much you love her? I suppose a baby could ignore its mother in such as situation and continue to live on, at least biologically, but the child would be deprived without this first and special relationship with mom.

As you and your mother would continue to talk throughout the days and months of pregnancy she would eventually present you with a most-frightening prospect. She might put it this way, “My child, soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of your life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a whole world of people and things you have never known before. Once you are born, you will meet me in a new way.

You might say, “I’m scared! I don’t want to go—not now, not ever!” But she would reassure you, “I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be back again where you are now. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right here with you. So don’t be afraid, it’s going to be O.K.

Our life in our mother’s womb is like our life in Jesus Christ. You are attached to Him as to a vine. You are nourished and grow within Him. You are never far from His heart or mind. You exist within Him; you live and move and have your being in Him, connected to Him at the center of your being. He feeds you with His very self in the Eucharist. He provides for all your needs. Apart from Him, you can do nothing. You remain in Him and can find your rest in Him.

Knowing and believing this, shouldn’t we direct our thoughts to Him often? Shouldn’t we, from time to time, turn to Him with the eyes of our hearts to bask in His love for us. We have the ability to talk with Jesus Christ whenever we want in prayer. We should take the opportunity to speak with Him every day, thanking Him out of deep gratitude and telling Him how much we love Him. A person who ignores Him will still continue to live, at biologically, but they will not be fully alive without this primary and special relationship with Christ. We must to pray every day if we want to remain in Him and bear much fruit.

We don’t want to die and that’s perfectly natural. But Jesus says to us, “Soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of your life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a whole world of people and things you have never known before. Once you die, you will meet me in a new way. I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be back again where you are now. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right there with you. So don’t be afraid, it’s going to be O.K.

Was Jesus afraid when he ascended into heaven? In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his died Jesus was anxious and distressed at the sufferings before Him. But at the Ascension, as he rose high above the ground, I do not think He was afraid at all. He was beyond all fear and He was going home. The anecdotal evidence of near death experiences indicates that for friends of God the journey beyond this life is peaceful and joyful. A friend of mine once went into cardiac arrest and had a vision like that of going home. When they defibrillated her heart in the Emergency Room and brought her back to into this world she felt quite angry and tore off the wires they had stuck on her skin because she so much wanted to go back to where she had just been.

As our mothers would have told us before we were born from womb into world, and as Jesus tells us before our birth from this life to next, we do not need to be afraid. Instead let us live in gratitude and peace. Today, let us thank God for the life, love, and tender care we have received from our mothers and through Jesus Christ. May God bless our mothers and may Jesus Christ be praised.

The Old Covenant’s (Surprising) Last Seven Prophets

May 6, 2016

A prophet is someone enlightened by God to reveal his message. Each Sunday, we familiarly proclaim that the Holy Spirit has “spoken through the prophets,” but the identities of the seven last Old Covenant prophets (as seen in the Bible) may well surprise you.

#7 :  The Author of 2nd Maccabees

Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, yet the Bible’s books do not always appear in chronological order. Our separated Protestant brethren would identify Malachi as the last prophetic book in the Old Testament, but the Church’s Bible includes seven books which they exclude. The last of these is 2nd Maccabees, written during the 1st century BC.

The author of 2nd Maccabees, who chronicles the Jews’ successful rebellion against their Greek persecutors, does not seem to know he writes by divine inspiration. In his closing remarks he adds, “If [this story] is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do.” (15:38) However, neither does St. Paul appear to grasp that his letters to the churches would be revered on the level of Genesis, Joshua, or Daniel. This shows that God can use us in amazing ways, in perfect accord with his will, even if we fail to recognize it at the time.

#6 & #5 :  St. Zachariah & St. Elizabeth

The Visitation by BlocZachariah and his wife, Elizabeth, are old and childless. But the Archangel Gabriel appears to Zachariah in the Temple and says that they shall have a son. Although he knows that God has blessed with children elderly and barren couples of old, Zachariah disbelieves the message. In response, he is put on a forty-week silent retreat. Zachariah becomes mute and apparently deaf as well (since his neighbors and relatives will later resort to making gestures to ask him the name of his newborn son.) Though he cannot tell his pregnant wife of their unborn son’s great mission, Elizabeth receives insights from the Holy Spirit.

When she hears the greeting of her visiting relative, Elizabeth is “filled with the holy Spirit” and cries out in a loud voice, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” The Blessed Virgin’s belly has not yet begun to grow, but Elizabeth prophesies and confirms to Mary that she is indeed pregnant with a boy who is “the Lord.” (Luke 1)

The Holy Spirit also seems to reveal to Elizabeth the name of her child: “John,” a name unfamiliar to her family. At the naming ceremony, Zechariah regains his voice, confirms her word, and “filled with the holy Spirit, prophesie[s]” through the canticle which bears his name. This holy, prophetic couple would ready their son for the great mission prepared for him by God.

#4 :  The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Philadelphia, 1898.The Archangel Gabriel declared unto Mary that she would conceive the Son of God by the Holy Spirit. But is Mary a prophetess? Unlike Elizabeth and Zachariah, Luke’s Gospel does not say Mary, “filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied,” or “filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice.” However, as Fr. Raymond Brown observed, the Annunciation to Mary shares the biblical form of a prophetic calling (like those of Moses, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel before her):

(1) An Encounter with God or His Angel
(2) An Introductory Word
(3) A Call or Commission
(4) Objection(s) to the Message
(5) Reassurance by God or His Angel
(6) A Sign is Given

In her later canticle, Blessed Mary speaks a prophesy which remains fulfilled in our midst: “Behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” Mary is a prophetess, filled with the Holy Spirit, who bears God’s Word.

Simeon Holding the Baby Jesus in the Temple as His Parents Look On#3 & #2 :  St. Simeon & St. Anna

When the baby Jesus’ parents brought him to the Temple for the first time, they were met by Simeon and Anna; she was “a prophetess” and  “[t]he holy Spirit was upon him.” Simeon “came in the Spirit into the temple,” took Jesus in his arms, and declared him “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” Anna likewise came forward at that very time and “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2)

Simeon may have been advanced in years, but “it had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.” Anna, for her part, was an eighty-four-year-old widow who “never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.” Anna and Simeon show us how the old can bless the young through sharing the word of the Lord they have personally come to know.

#1 :  St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist PreachingWe do not know exactly how many Old Covenant prophets God inspired after the author of 2nd Maccabees. (A case might be made for the Bethlehem shepherds and the Magi as well.)  But we do know that John the Baptist represents the last Old Covenant prophet, the forerunner to the New Covenant Christ. He is “more than a prophet,” Jesus says. “All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. … Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11)

At baptism, each Christian is entrusted with a prophetic mission. As those enlightened with God’s ultimate revelation, we are to share this Word. As great as it is to proclaim Christ’s coming, to proclaim his triumph is still greater.

May 8th Parish Bulletin

May 4, 2016

The St. Wenceslaus parish bulletin for the Ascension / 7th Sunday of Easter on May 8th, 2016.

May 1st Parish Bulletin

May 4, 2016

The St. Wenceslaus parish bulletin for the 6th Sunday of Easter, May 1st, 2016.

The Eight Beatitudes at the Movies

May 2, 2016

At the start of his Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew 5) Jesus lists qualities which describe the blessed in his Kingdom. These eight Beatitudes are models for living our lives. On the silver screen, the fictional characters in these eight classic films manifest the Beatitudes:

Phil Connors in Groundhog Day: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The arrogant self-sufficiency of Bill Murray’s character must be humbled before he can turn the corner towards living the perfect life by loving truly.

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Most characters in The Sixth Sense: Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. In this film, both the living and the dead suffer great losses, but they ultimately receive their peace.

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George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life:Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” Jimmy Stewart’s character repeatedly sacrifices his big dreams (of college, of riches & fame, of an around-the-world honeymoon) to save the little Building & Loan of Bedford Falls. By the end of the story, George realizes that he is truly “the richest man in town.”

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“Juror 8” in 12 Angry Men: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. The eighth juror (played by Henry Fonda) shows how a principled advocacy for the truth can change minds and bring about true justice.

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Jean Valjean in Les Misérables: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Having received mercy, the former criminal Jean Valjean practices mercy, and so is saved.

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Forrest in Forrest Gump: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Forrest is “not a smart man, but [he] knows what love is.” His simple virtue and true devotion toward his friends blesses their lives together.

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Mary & Bert in Mary Poppins: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Julie Andrews’ Mary (with assistance from Dick Van Dyke’s Bert) delights in serious play to help heal the Banks Family.

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Terry Malloy & Fr. Barry in On the Waterfront:  “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”  The courageous actions of Marlon Brando and Karl Malden’s characters prevail against the mob and manifest that ‘Jesus Christ is here on this waterfront.’

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