Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category

A True Story of Pain, Transformation, & Hope

August 20, 2015

My hometown friend, pro-life speaker Katie Stelter, spoke at our parish’s youth group this evening. Her story was made into this powerful docudrama, Metamorphosis:

Our Lady’s Wisconsin Message: The Meaning of the Two Trees

September 25, 2014

In the Garden of Eden, there were many fruit-bearing trees, but Genesis mentions only two by name: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. By partaking of the Tree of Life the human race could keep living forever, but the Lord warned that to eat from the other tree would mean our certain death. On October 9th, 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared near Green Bay to a 28 year-old Belgian immigrant named Adele Brise while she was walking eleven miles home from Sunday Mass. Interestingly, Our Lady chose to appear to Adele not in a church, or a thousand other places, but between two trees: a Maple and a Hemlock.

Maple LeavesYou’re familiar with the beauty and goodness of the Maple. In the fall, its leaves turn the most striking colors, and in the spring its sap yields sweet syrup. But do you know about the Hemlock tree? The poison that the Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to drink came from this plant. Ingesting just six or eight fresh Hemlock leaves can kill a healthy adult. The Maple is a tree of life while the Hemlock is a tree of death. Mary, the New Eve, stood between the two.

Three Conium Maculatum (or Poison Hemlock), Cedar Bog, Champaign CoMary told Adele, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.” Our Lady’s message between the two trees is akin the words of Moses, who told the Israelites: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land….

Peshtigo Fire MapApparently, Our Lady’s warnings were not sufficiently heeded. In October of 1871, exactly twelve years later, disaster came. Both in terms of size and number of lives lost, the Peshtigo Fire remains the worst recorded forest fire in U.S. history. Between 1,200 and 2,400 lives ended in that firestorm which saw, according to an eyewitness, “large wooden houses torn from their foundations and caught up like straws by two opposing currents of air which raised them till they came in contact with the stream of fire.” This seems to be the punishment due to sin that Mary spoke of, yet this does not mean that everyone who perished in that fire was condemned. We should remember that at harvest time, the wheat and the weeds are pulled up together in a moment, but their future fates are not the same. Once uprooted, the good are gathered and kept in the barn, while the bad are thrown away forever.

The firestorm came and surrounded the shrine of Our Lady, where hundreds had come for refuge with their families and herds, beseeching her intercession before God. As many as fled to her there were saved. The shrine’s consecrated earth was an emerald-green island in an ocean of smoldering ashes as far as eyes could see.

Mary, the Queen of Heaven, prays for the conversion of sinners and she wishes you to do the same. You receive Holy Communion, and that is well. But you must do more. Begin by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation regularly, because it is powerful for growing in holiness. The sinner whose conversion you are most responsible for is your own.

Our Lady’s Message in Wisconsin: Conversion & Catechesis

September 18, 2014

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2010, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help located about sixteen miles northeast of Green Bay, Bishop David Ricken endorsed our country’s first Church-approved Marian apparition:

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

Crowned M - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WI155 years ago, a lovely blond-haired lady clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars around her head, appeared to a 28-year-old lay woman named Adele Brise. Adele asked the lady who she was and what she wanted. She answered, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation…”

This was the core of Mary’s message: for sinners to be converted and for children to be catechised. Yet Adele hesitated and asked how she was to teach the young when she knew so little herself. Mary replied, “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.” After Adele’s encounter, her father built a small chapel on the site and Adele went about fulfilling her entrusted mission for the rest of her life. Exactly twelve years after Mary’s message came the terrible Peshtigo Fire which still ranks as the worst fire disaster in U.S. history. By a miracle, all who fled to Mary’s shrine for refuge were saved.

Our Mother, the Church, teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children in the Faith. This means that whether our kids go to CCD or Catholic school, family is the first and foremost teacher of life’s most important lessons. But how often do we talk to our children about Jesus and Mary, or teach them about what they should know for salvation? I suspect that many feel intimidated like Adele Brise was because they think they know too little. Yet Mary reassures us that anyone can begin teaching children the simple, precious lessons that will stay with them and bless them forever. As our children grow, we also must grow in the Faith, exploring the what’s and why’s of the Church’s teachings and living them out in our lives. Catechesis without conversion is in vain.

The Virgin Mary’s message to Adele Brise remains timely for us today: Pray for the conversion of sinners… Offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

Theological Gifts & Obligations — Tuesday, 15th Week of Ordinary Time

July 15, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! … For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

In the visitation of Jesus Christ, Chorazin and Bethsaida had advantages that no people before them had ever enjoyed. The Word of God was before them, but they did not accept him. Incarnate love was among them, but they did not embrace him. The hope of the world was in their midst, but they did not change their ways.

Consider how much more understanding we have of Christ and his teachings than they, how much we have experienced the love of Christ and his people, how many prophesies of Christ we have seen fulfilled. How much more cause do we have to respond to him with faith, hope, and love; how much more of an obligation. As St. Bonaventure said:

“Three things are necessary to everyone regardless of status, sex, or age, i.e., truth of faith which brings understanding; love of Christ which brings compassion; endurance of hope which brings perseverance. No adult is in the state of salvation unless he has faithful understanding in his mind, loving compassion in his heart, and enduring perseverance in his actions.”

Peter & Judas — Wednesday, 14th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

July 11, 2014

Judas Iscariot and the chief priests and elders at the temple, their money on the floor.Readings: Hosea 10, Matthew 10:1-7

The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter,  … and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

What was the difference between Peter and Judas? Both were full-fledged apostles (although the Gospels always list the twelve apostles with Peter first and Judas last, much like how the Lord’s Prayer begins with “our Father” and ends with “the Evil One/evil.”) Was the difference that Peter believed Jesus was a good man and Judas did not? No, for Judas said after betraying Jesus, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” Was the difference that Judas was a sinner and Peter was not? No, for at one of their first encounters, Peter “fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.'” In the Passion, Judas betrayed Jesus and while Peter denied him three times beside the charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard. The vital difference between Peter and Judas was in their ultimate responses to their sins.

Judas fled and fell into utter despair. Like those in our first reading who “cry out to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall upon us,’ Judas welcomed dark oblivion. After the resurrection, when Peter was fishing in his boat, Jesus appeared on the shore. Though Peter was lightly clad, he did not run and hide like Adam and Eve in shame, but swam to Jesus enthusiastically. At that second charcoal fire, Peter professed three times that he loved Jesus.

Let us follow Peter’s example rather than that of Judas and encounter Jesus in the confessional. For those who love Christ, hope in Christ, seek Christ, and run to Christ, will find his mercy.

Excuses Are Always Easy To Find — Thursday, 3rd Week of Lent

March 27, 2014

Readings: Jeremiah 7:23-28, Luke 11:14-23

One the easiest things in the world to find is an excuse. People can always find a seemingly good reason to do a bad thing, or a bad reason near at hand not to do something good. We like to rationalize and justify what we already desire.

Some in the crowd were made uncomfortable by Jesus, so they dismissed his obvious power to do good as a cunning trap of the devil: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord describes those too stubborn to turn to heed his voice or change their bad path as “stiffened-necked.”

Let us pray for those who “have stiffened their necks,” that they may have enlightened minds and open hearts, and for ourselves, to recognize and renounce our own weak excuses. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Converting Sinners — Friday, 1st Week of Lent

March 14, 2014

Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28, Matthew 5:20-26

Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

The scribes and Pharisees wrote off the tax collectors and prostitutes as having no hope of salvation, yet Jesus pursued and prayed for these sinners. In the first century, one of the Church’s greatest persecutors became one of its greatest apostles, Saul of Tarsus, also known as St. Paul. In the last century, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who killed thousands as an abortionist and helped to mislead millions as a co-founder of NARAL, went on to become a powerful pro-life advocate. God still rejoices in sinners turning from their evil way, and for us today, part of surpassing the scribes and Pharisees in righteousness means praying for and pursuing the conversion of sinners.

Ninevites & Israelites — Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent

March 12, 2014

Readings: Jonah 3:1-10, Luke 11:29-32

Jonah did not care much for the Ninevites. He preached the simple message God had given him, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” but his heart was not really in it. Yet by the end of the first day of Jonah’s three walk through the city, his words had spread through the city like the rumor of a fire. Everyone, from the king to the cattle, repented and were saved. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, loved his people profoundly and spent three years preaching throughout Israel with a wisdom greater than Solomon’s, yet many Israelites disregarded him.

Are we being converted like the Ninevites Jonah preached to, or remaining unconverted like the Israelites Jesus criticized? The grace of conversion is indeed a grace, but we can ask God for this grace and be open to it. We are now in the midst of our forty days; let us heed and respond to Christ’s words.

The Meaning of Ashes — Ash Wednesday

March 6, 2014

Both the atheist and the Christian will agree on this: we came from dust and to dust we shall return. Apart from God we have no hope, for we are dust and ashes.

The ashes on our forehead are not a beauty mark. They point to the ugliness of the sins within us. Yet they are also an appeal to God that he would wash us clean.

Fire, like sin, consumes all it touches. Our ashes are a sign of all we have lost or harmed by sin. However, Old Testament sacrifices were also offered up to God by fire. Our ashes are also a sign of our desire to sacrifice ourselves entirely to him.

We receive ashes on our forehead in the shape of a cross; ashes because we are sinners, and a cross because we are Christ’s.

Penance Service Rosary Meditations

April 20, 2011

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there and he and his disciples entered it. He took along Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, and began to experience sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My heart is nearly broken with sorrow. Remain here and stay awake with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer. “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” In his anguish he prayed with all the more intensity, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. Then he rose from prayer and came to his disciples, only to find them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? ”

When Peter, James and John fell asleep that hour in the garden, they let Jesus down, but Jesus still loved them. When we sin, we also let Jesus down, but Jesus still loves us, too. Let us all make good confessions, and pray attentively, in this hour with Jesus.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

When it was morning, those who had arrested Jesus bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. Now for Passover, the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, a revolutionary, a robber and a murderer, called Jesus Barabbas. (The name Barabbas means “son of the father.) When they had assembled, Pilate said to the crowd, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?” They answered, “Barabbas!” Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

Whenever we sin, we choose a Barabbas instead of Christ. Jesus promises us that choosing Him will make us the most happy, but when we choose to do what’s wrong, we disbelieve Him, and choose someone or something else to make us happy. With our confession and these prayers, let us recommit ourselves to always choosing Jesus Christ, who suffered whips for love of us.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside of their fortress and gathered the whole army around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

For as much as those soldiers mocked Jesus, let us now honor Jesus sincerely through this decade of the Rosary, with our hearts full of sorrow and thanks.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

They took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. As they led him away, they laid hold of a man named Simon who was coming in from the country. They put a crossbeam on Simon’s shoulder for him to carry behind Jesus. A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him.

During this decade of the Rosary, let us imagine ourselves helping Jesus to carry His cross. By being with Him and knowing how He felt, this will help us to love Him more. And who knows, perhaps our prayer will travel through space and time to help lighten, even just a little, the burden that He carried.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

They brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha (which is translated Place of the Skull) and crucified Him there. At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Finally, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

The forgiveness of our sins is so easy for us. When we go to confession and it is brief and painless. But let us always remember this: the forgiveness of our sins is so easy for us in the confessional because Jesus let the forgiveness of our sins be so hard on Him on the cross. Let us thank Him and honor Him for this great gift.

Lenten Penance Service Homily

April 15, 2011

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Sadly, all of us have sinned. Each of us is guilty. Now a sin is more than just an innocent mistake or a misunderstanding. (There is in guilt in those things.) The truth is that each of us at times have sinned by knowingly choosing to do what is wrong instead of doing what is right. With every sin, we hurt each other. We also hurt our relationship with Jesus, who is entirely good, and the most deserving of our love. All of us are guilty. We have all committed crimes against God and our neighbors. So what shall we do?

Like the two criminals in the gospel we just heard, this morning we have the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ, in the sacrament He gives us. But like which of those two criminals will we be in His presence? The first criminal didn’t acknowledge or care about his own sins. He tried to ignore his terrible situation and treated Jesus on the cross like a joke. However, the second criminal, who tradition calls the Good Thief, acted wisely and well. He recognized in Jesus Christ the one person in the whole world who could really help him. This guilty man praised Jesus for his goodness and asked for Him for His mercy. And Jesus forgave him and promised him great things.

On behalf of Jesus Christ, I beg you this morning to make a good confession, heartfelt confession of your all sins. Jesus said to the Good Thief, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Like the Good Thief, Jesus wants you to know the blessings of His complete forgiveness today.

Close At Hand — 3rd Sunday of Advent—Year A

December 14, 2010

Today, the third Sunday of Advent, we light the pink or rose-colored candle because today is Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” means “rejoice” in Latin and we hear this call in the opening antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” Now that we are about halfway through this purple, penitential season, the Church is reminding us that Advent is also a time for joy. Though we await Him, “the Lord is near.”

This Guadete Sunday, we have extra cause for joy. As you may have heard, this week, a shrine in Champion, Wisconsin, 10 miles northeast of Green Bay, is now our country’s first Church-approved Marian apparition site. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, this happy news was announced by Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay:

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

151 years ago, a lady clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars around her head appeared to a 28-year-old lay woman named Adele. Adele asked the lady who she was and what she wanted, and the lady answered, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation….”

That was the core of Mary’s message: the need for sinners to be converted and for children to be taught the faith. But Adele hesitated, and asked Mary how she was to teach the young when she knew so little herself. Mary replied, “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.” After that encounter, Adele’s father built a small chapel on the site and Adele went about fulfilling her mission from Mary for the rest of her life.

The Bride of Christ, the Church, teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children. This means that even if your children go to Catholic or public school, you are their first and foremost teacher in the important lessons of life. But how often do our parents talk to their children about Jesus or Mary, or teach their children about what they should know for salvation? I suspect that many parents are intimidated because, like Adele Brise, they feel like they know too little. But Mary reassures us that we can all teach our children simple but important lessons in the faith that will remain with them and bless them forever.

Like Mary said, teach them the sign of the cross and how to approach the sacraments. At Mass, whisper in their ears, “Look, Father is holding up Jesus,” and on the way home in the car, ask them what they learned from the homily. Have interesting conversations with your children about the faith. Ask them, for example, if they think that Jesus likes sports, ask them what they think Mary’s favorite prayer is, or ask them what they think Heaven is like, and then share your answers with each other. And, perhaps most importantly, teach your children how to pray, by praying with them daily.

Though you know enough already to teach your children a great deal, you must always keep learning yourself. As your children mature in age, you must also mature in your understanding of the faith. Explore why we as Catholics do what we do, and learn why the Bride of Christ, our Mother, teaches as she does. For example, why do we make the sign of the cross? We do it at the open and close of our prayers and you’ve done it since you were little, but now consider more deeply what it means.

Its words and gestures encapsulate our faith’s most central mysteries. It confesses the Trinity and trances our redemption through the cross of Jesus Christ. We pray not “in the names,” but the “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” for God is three persons who are one in nature. [†] From the Father descends the Son, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love between them. Tracing the cross on ourselves, [†] we recall how the Father sent the Son to save us, and how the Holy Spirit now acts through our lives with power.

To pray this prayer, for it is a prayer, calls upon God to be powerfully with us. It is to say: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I ask you to be near me, here and now.” In the face of temptation or evil, this sign declares, “I belong to neither to the Devil nor the world, I belong to Jesus Christ.” So much is contained in this simple prayer and gesture. It can be taught to a child, yet meditated upon for a lifetime. And this is just one element of our faith. There is always more to explore.

Let us rejoice today, for the apparition of Our Lady of Champion reminds us, that even in Wisconsin, the Lord is near,  and [†] we can call upon Him at any time. Let us teach the faith to our children, so that they will remain near to Him and call upon His name.

The Glorious Mysteries, Meditations with the Saints

October 27, 2010

The 1st Glorious Mystery:
The Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead

St. John Bosco, an Italian priest, founded a famous school for boys in the mid-1800’s and is the patron saint of students. He is known to have worked many miracles, but one from 1849 stands out. Returning from a journey, he learned that Charles, a 15 year old student, had died. He went immediately to the teenager’s home where the family informed him that Charles had been dead for over 10 hours. The body was laid out in the living room, already dressed for burial.

Fr. Bosco asked everyone to leave except the mother and the aunt. After some time in silent prayer, he cried out: “Charles, rise!” Charles emitted a long sigh, stirred, opened his eyes, stared at his mother and asked, “Why did you dress me like this?” Then, realizing Fr. Bosco was present, he told him how he had cried out for him and how he had been waiting for him. He exclaimed, “Father, I should be in hell!” He told of how a few weeks before he had fallen into serious sin. Then he said he had a “dream” of being on the edge of a huge fiery furnace, and as he was about to be thrown into the flames, a beautiful lady appeared and prevented it. She said, “There is still hope for you, Charles. You have not yet been judged.” Then he heard the voice of Fr. Bosco calling him back.

Charles asked Fr. Bosco to hear his confession. After his confession, the mourners filled the room again, and Fr. Bosco said, “Charles, now that the gates of heaven lie wide open for you, would you rather go there or stay here with us?” A profound silence filled the room. Charles, with tears in his eyes said, “I’d rather go to heaven.” Then he leaned back on the pillows, closed his eyes and breathed his last.

Unless Jesus’ Second Coming happens first, each of us here will die, and rise. As we meditate on Jesus’ resurrection, let us consider how ready we are to meet Him.

The 2nd Glorious Mystery:
The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven.

St. Padre Pio is another Italian priest from not so long ago who also worked remarkable miracles. During WWII, Allied planes flew bombing raids over Italy. Almost all of the centers of the region were subjected to repeated bombardment, but no bombs ravaged the town of San Giovanni Rotondo. Every time the aviators approached that place, they saw a monk flying in the air who prevented them from dropping their bombs. Understandably, reports of this flying friar did not amuse the superior offices.

Bernardo Rosini, a general of the Italian Air Force, recounts this story: “One day, an American commander wanted to lead a squadron of bombers himself to destroy the German arms depository of war material that was located at San Giovanni Rotondo. The commander related that as he approached the target, he and his pilots saw rising in the sky the figure of a friar with his hands held outward. The bombs released of their own accord, falling in the woods, and the planes completely reversed course without any intervention by the pilots.”  

Someone told the commanding general that in a convent at this town, there lived a saintly man. At war’s end, the general wanted to go meet this person. “He was accompanied by several pilots… He went to the convent of the Capuchins. As soon as he crossed the threshold of the sacristy, he found himself in front of several friars, among whom he immediately recognized the one who had ‘stopped’ his planes. Padre Pio went forward to meet him, and putting his hand on his shoulder, he said, `So, you’re the one who wanted to get rid of us all!’”

As we meditate on the Ascension of Jesus, to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, let us pray that He would establish justice and peace, in this country and the whole world, in our time.

The 3rd Glorious Mystery:
The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

We usually don’t associate India with Christianity, but that nation has over 24 million Christians.  That’s about as many people as live in Texas, our second largest state. If you were to ask them how the faith reached their land they would point to St. Thomas the Apostle.

What led St. Thomas, who at first refused to even believe in the Good News, to travel over 2,500 miles to bring them the Gospel? It was not merely seeing the risen Christ. Jesus knew His disciples would need more to strengthen them then merely their memories of Him. St. Thomas journeyed because the Lord had sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to fill them with gifts, like wisdom, courage, and zeal.

If we are in the state of grace, God the Holy Spirit dwells in us too, and He wants to empower us with His gifts. As we meditate on the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us pray for whatever spiritual gift that we need the most.

The 4th Glorious Mystery:
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

No Church, in the East or the West, claims to contain the body of St. Mary. This is because “the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This is because Jesus would not suffer Mary, His sinless, faithful beloved, to undergo corruption.

Death is a consequence of human sin, and without human intervention, as in embalming or mummification, our dead bodies will ordinarily experience its corruption. But, sometimes, the Lord preserves the dead bodies of his saints, to give a sign of their holiness, and to show that death is not all that awaits us.

Among the numerous saints whose incorrupt bodies you can still see today are:  St. John Bosco, St. John Vianney, St. Catherine Laboure (the visionary of the Miraculous Medal), St. Bernadette Soubirous (the visionary of Lourdes), and St. Maria Goretti.

As we meditate on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, let us pray for purity in our lives.

The 5th Glorious Mystery:
The Coronation of Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth

Once, when St. Maximillian Kolbe was a boy, his behavior began trying his mother’s patience. She said in exasperation, “Maximillian, what will become of you?” As St. Maximillian writes, “Later, that night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.” St. Maximillian would receive both crowns, as a holy Franciscan brother, and as a victim of the Nazis at Auschwitz, were he took the place of another innocent man who was condemned to die.

Jesus crowns his holy ones. He wills that those who share in His sacrifice should also share in His glory. As we meditate on the Coronation of Mary, let us pray to accept whatever crowns of burden and glory the Lord wants to give to us.

Prepare Yourself—Wednesday, 30th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

October 20, 2010

If you knew for a fact that you were going to die, or that Jesus was coming again,  one month from today, how would you begin living your life differently?

  • Would you pray more? 
  • Would you work harder to do good deeds?
  • Would you resolve to crush lingering vices?
  • Would you forgive enemies?
  • Would you show greater love toward people in your life?

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

This is much is certain: someday we will die, or we shall live to see Jesus return ‘at an unexpected hour.’ So, let us commit ourselves by the grace of God  to living in such a way now that if someone were to ask us what we would do differently if the end of the world or the end of our lives were near, we could honestly answer, “Nothing. Nothing at all.”

The Rot Inside — Tuesday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

October 13, 2010

St. Paul says in the first reading that “the works of the flesh are obvious.”  If so, then why does Jesus have to point out the sins of the scribes and Pharisees, whose sinfulness “are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk”? It’s not that Jesus is pronouncing “woe” upon people unaware that they have sins, the problem is these people think that their hidden sins are no big deal because of their outward practices and appearances.

As long as we are at ease with “immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like,” in our lives we will not enter the Kingdom of God. Even if we do not end up in Hell because of them, we will certainly have to wait on the doorstep to Heaven in Purgatory until these sins are rooted out. Let us crush these sins in our lives like the cancers that they are.