Saturday, March 22, 2014

Third Sunday of Lent - 23rd March 2014

The Third Sunday of Lent
23 March 2014

“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Lk. 11: 23
We are reminded by the Church in today’s Epistle (Ephesians 5:1-9) and Gospel (Luke 11:14-28) of the need to choose Christ and not evil. Nowadays, we see how many people compromise the teachings of the Church for their own convenience and suffer tragic consequences. Msgr. Patrick Boylan comments on widespread sinfulness of our time: “On all sides one hears the voices raised against every attempt to check the growth of profligacy, every effort to restrict evil amusements and evil literature. We hear constantly of the ‘sacred rights,’ of freedom—freedom, that is, to disregard the moral code, to follow the blind guidance of passion, to satisfy every form of curiosity, to see everything, to read everything. Popular literature is full of the ‘empty words’ with which all that is seductive to sense is represented as innocent because it is ‘natural, ‘ or ‘healthy,’ or because it ‘develops the personality!’” (The Sunday Epistles and Gospels, p. 191) To counteract this spirit of the world, which Msgr. Boylan points out to us, St. Paul warns us of the dangers of worldliness: “Let no one lead you astray with empty words; for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience.” Eph. 5:6 In the gospel, Jesus is even more emphatic as He condemns the leaders of the Jews for allying themselves with Satan. “He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” Lk. 11:23 Those who are with Christ are in the light; those who choose sin and evil are children of darkness and Satan.

“Walk, then, as children of light.” Eph. 5:8
In today’s Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul reminds his converts to live according to the light of Christ. Hitherto, they were in the darkness of uncleanness and sin. Now they are to be imitators of Christ who sacrificed Himself for them and is a sweet odour to God: “...walk in love, as Christ also loved us and delivered himself up for us an offering and a sacrifice to God to ascend in fragrant odour.” Eph. 5:2 St. Paul warns the Ephesians about immorality and uncleanness: “But immorality and every uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becomes saints: or obscenity, or foolish talk or scurrility, which are out of place;” Eph. 5:3-4 Those who choose these sins will have no place with Christ: “For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (for that is idolatry) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Eph. 5:5 Although St. Paul does not mention the devil by name, it is easy to see that those who choose evil are with the devil and not with Christ.

Two Kingdoms
In today’s gospel from St. Luke, Jesus casts out the devil from a man who was dumb; St. Matthew has the man both blind and dumb. “The Fathers, joining the two, make this man into one of the unhappy beings one could imagine, blind, dumb and possessed by Satan.... Spiritually, this man represents the soul in sin. He who might have been a son of God is now possessed by the devil; blind to the light of truth and dumb so far as singing the praises of God is concerned.” (The Preacher’s Encyclopaedia: Lent and Eastertide, p. 121) Those who do not believe in Jesus and accuse him of casting out the devil because He is a devil are themselves of the kingdom of the devil. After the miracle, some of those present (the Pharisees in St. Matthew’s gospel) said: “By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, he casts out devils.” Lk. 11:15 Jesus reads their thoughts and shows them the unreasonableness of these words: “... Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and house will fall upon house. If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand.” Lk. 11: 17-8 Jesus then goes on to tell them the parable of the strong man: “But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed. But if a stronger than he attacks and overcomes him he will take away all his weapons that he relied upon and will divide his spoils.” Lk. 11:20-22 This stronger man is Jesus Christ who has come to conquer the kingdom of Satan and all his followers. Those who believe in Christ belong to His kingdom; those who do not believe in Jesus and deny His miraculous power belong to the kingdom of Satan.
Returning to Mortal Sin
Very few souls realize the dire consequences of returning to one’s sins after the devil has been expelled either by an exorcism or a good confession: “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through waterless places in search of rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house which I left.’ And when he has come to it, he finds the place swept. Then he goes and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” Lk. 11:24-26 Dom Prosper Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 5, comments on this passage: “But the enemy of mankind never despairs of regaining his prey. His hatred is as active now as it was in the very beginning of the world, and he says, ‘I will return into my house, whence I came out.’ Nor will he come alone. He is determined to conquer; and therefore, he will if he thinks it needed, take with him seven other spirits, even more wicked than himself. What a terrible assault is being prepared for the poor soul, unless she be on the watch, and unless the peace, which has granted her, be one that is well armed for war! Alas! With many souls the very contrary is the case; and our Saviour describes the situation in which the devil finds them on his return: they are swept and garnished, and that is all! No precautions, no defence, no arms. One would suppose that they were waiting to give the enemy admission. Then Satan, to make his repossession sure, comes with a sevenfold force. The attack is made; but there is no resistance, and straightways the wicked spirits entering in, dwell there; so that the last state becometh worse than the first; for before there was but one enemy and now there are many.” Gueranger, p. 251

The Kingdom of God
Those who believe in Jesus cry out in praise of Jesus like the woman who praises the mother of Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that nursed thee.” Lk. 11 27 Jesus shows that this is true of His Mother especially because she is obedient: “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” Lk. 11:28 Those who believe in God and keep His commandments belong to His kingdom. These believers will enter His kingdom as they gather graces for eternal life by their faithful obedience.

Sin against the Holy Spirit
In St. Matthew’s gospel account of the miracle of casting out the devil from the blind and dumb man, Jesus says: “Therefore I say to you, that every kind of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven” Mt. 12:31 This is the sin by which a person refuses to acknowledge his sin, and, therefore, will not be forgiven. This is what the Pharisees do in today’s gospel. They blaspheme by saying, “By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, he casts out devils.” Lk. 11:15 They refuse to see the good that Jesus does and accuse Him of evil. If they had acknowledged Jesus’ miracle, they too would have been cured like the dumb man. St. Jerome tells us: “Three miracles in one man; the blind sees, the dumb speaks and the possessed finds himself free of the devil a thing which also happens in the case of those who begin to believe and who, once the devil has been cast out, receive the light and the faith opening their lips in the praises of God.”

Sins against the Holy Spirit
Other sins against the Holy Spirit are: 1. Presumption, 2. Despair, 3. Resisting the known truth, 4. Envy of another’s spiritual good, 5. Obstinacy in sin, 6. Final impenitence. (The Penny Catechism, p. 54) Those who are guilty of these sins have hardened their hearts against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and refuse to see their sins because of their pride. This is the reprobate sense that St. Paul speaks of in the Epistle to the Romans: “And as they have resolved against possessing the knowledge of God, God has given them up to a reprobate sense, so that they do what is not fitting, being filled with all iniquity, malice, immorality, avarice, wickedness; being full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity; being whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, irreverent, proud, haughty, plotters of evil; disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.” Rom. 1: 28-32 This final state of reprobate sinner is a state that will take a miracle of grace to overcome. This is why Our Lady said at Fatima, “Many souls go to hell because no one prays and sacrifices for them.” Let us pray our rosary every day and sacrifice so that many sinners can be saved

Why the Rosary is so important!

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” Pope Blessed Pius IX

“If you persevere in reciting the Rosary, this will be a most probable sign of your eternal salvation.” Blessed Alan de la Roche

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” Saint Francis de Sales

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Holy Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessing.” Blessed Alan de la Roche

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.” Saint Dominic

“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort

“You must know that when you say ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!” Saint Bernardine of Siena

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Second Sunday of Lent - 16th March 2014

The Second Sunday of Lent
16 March 2014

“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear him.” Mt. 17:5

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 17:1-9), we are given a glimpse of the great glory of God in heaven. While His stunned apostles, Peter, James and John look on the transfigured Jesus talks of His coming passion with the Prophet Elias, and the Father of the Law, Moses. It is truly a revelation beyond our earthly comprehension. It is a penetrating (or “rare”) vision of eternity. Jesus reveals the glory of His Divinity as St. John told us in the beginning of his gospel: “And we saw his glory—glory as of the only begotten of the Father—full of grace and truth.” Jn. 1:14. In today’s Epistle (I Thess: 4:1-7) St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they must continue in a life of holiness: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” I Thess. 4:3 Only those who do God’s will and are holy will enjoy the glory of God in heaven. The message of the Transfiguration is that there will be no glory unless we suffer with Christ who died on Mt. Calvary.

“For God has not called you to uncleanness, but unto holiness.” I Thess. 4:7
In addressing the Thessalonians, St. Paul is aware that they have only been converted for one year, therefore he reminds them not to revert back to their pagan practices of uncleanness; “For this is the will of God, your sanctification that you abstain from immorality; not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God...” I Thess. 4:3 & 5. Only the clean of heart will see God in His glory as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.” Mt. 5:8

Christ destroys death
Jesus has conquered death by His cross and resurrection. St. Luke alone tells us that Jesus is talking to Moses and Elias about His “death, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.” Lk. 9:31. St. Peter does not seem to understand the need for Jesus to suffer and die, and he wants to build three tents there to prolong the glory of the moment: “It is good for us to be here.” Mt. 17:4 Peter’s wish, of course, is not possible because Jesus has come to suffer and die for our sins. He is doing the Father’s will, and this is why the Father is well-pleased with Him: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased; hear him.” Mt. 17:5 . In this scene, we have a theophany, a revelation of God as the Blessed Trinity: the Son is transfigured in glory, the Father speaks, and the Holy Spirit overshadows them in a cloud (like He overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament). What greater confirmation could the apostles have of Jesus’ mission? Pope St. Leo the Great comments on Jesus’ divinity overshadowing Elias and Moses: “He is the one who teaches the truth of prophecy (Elias) through His presence, and makes the obedience to the Commandments (Moses) possible through grace.” Pope St. Leo also tells us that Jesus reveals Himself to the Apostles to remove from them the scandal of the cross which He had revealed to them several days previously when He told them that He would suffer and die and rise from the dead: “…the primary purpose of this transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of Christ’s disciples; the greatness of His glory was revealed to them to prevent their faith from being shaken by the self-abasement of the suffering He was voluntarily to undergo.” By showing the apostles His transfigured Body, Jesus would sustain them for His future suffering and death.

The Glory of Jesus’ Human Nature

Dom Gueranger in his book, The Liturgical Life, Vol. 5 comments on the dramatic action of the Transfiguration on Mt. Thabor: “He (Jesus) therefore leaves the rest of the disciples in the plain near Nazareth, and goes in company with the three privileged ones towards a high hill called Thabor.... No sooner has He reached the summit of the mountain, than the three apostles observe a sudden change come over Him; His Face shines as the sun, and His humble garments become white as snow. They observe two venerable men approach and speak with Him upon what He is about to suffer in Jerusalem. One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the prophet, who was taken up from the earth on a fiery chariot without having passed through the gates of death. These two great representatives of the Jewish religion, the Law and the Prophets, humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness which comes from their divine Master; but they are filled with such a rapture of delight, that they cannot bear the thought of leaving the place. Peter proposes to remain there forever and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses and Elias. And while they are admiring the glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking to them: it is the voice of the eternal Father, proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying: ‘This is My beloved Son!’
“This transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of His glory, lasted but a few moments: His mission was not on Thabor; it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem.” Gueranger, p. 187-9

Suffer for Christ
Like Jesus, we also have to carry our cross in this life. Rather than remain joyful and glorious on Mt. Thabor as the three apostles had desired, we have to suffer with Jesus on Mt. Calvary. St. Paul tells of Jesus’ great joy in carrying His cross: “…Jesus, who for joy set before him, endured a cross, despising shame.” Heb. 12:2 For Jesus, the cross is not shameful or scandalous. It is His glory for He obeys His Father and shows His great love for us. He could have redeemed us with a prayer, a sigh, a tear, a word…, but He preferred to suffer an ignominious death on the cross: “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jn. 15:13 This is why St. Teresa loved the picture of the suffering and thorned-crown Christ. This is why she said, “Lord, let me suffer or die.” St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said, “Lord, don’t let me die, but suffer!” St. John of the Cross wanted the favour of suffering and being despised for Christ: “I wish to suffer and be despised for you!” Cardinal Mercier, in the early part of the 20th century, refused a needle to ease his pain: “No, I will never allow this, because our Lord did not have that when He was in His agonizing pain.” This is the language of the saints.

Hope for heaven
St. Bede, the great English monk, in commenting on this passage of the Gospel tells us that Our Lord “in a loving concession allowed Peter, James and John to enjoy for a very short time the contemplation of the happiness that lasts forever, so as to enable them to bear adversity with greater fortitude.” Commentary on St. Mark, 8:30; Mk 1,3) St. John Chrysostom tells us that we, in time of temptation and difficulty, should think of our heavenly glory: “(There), all is repose, joy and delight; all serenity and calm, all peace, splendour and light. It is not a light such as we enjoy now, and which, compared to that is no more than a lamp placed beside the sun…For there, there is no night, or twilight, heat or cold, or any change in one’s being, but a state such as can be understood only by those who are worthy to possess it. There, there is no old age, or sickness, or anything allied to corruption, because it is the place and the home of immortal glory.
And above all this the everlasting presence and possession of Christ, of the angels…everyone perpetually of like mind, without any fear of Satan or the snares of the devil or the threats of hell or death.” (Epistle to Theodore, 11)

“…regaining lost joy...”
If we want to regain some of the lost joy that we should have in this world when we think of our heavenly home then we need to make a good confession of ours sins. Pope John Paul in his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and Penance, (2 December, 1984, 31, III) tells us that every contrite confession is “a drawing near to the holiness of God, a rediscovery of one’s true identity, which has been upset and disturbed by sin, a liberation in the very depths of one’s self and thus a regaining of lost joy, the joy of being saved, which the majority of people in our time are no longer capable of experiencing.”

“Could you not, then, watch one hour with Me?” Mt. 26:40

St. Thomas Aquinas tells us how very special the Holy Eucharist is: “O precious wonderful banquet that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness......No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it, sins are purged away, virtues are increased and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift.” “Could you not, then, watch one hour with Me?” Mt. 26:40

Why the Rosary is so important!
“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.”
Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” Pope Blessed Pius IX

“If you persevere in reciting the Rosary, this will be a most probable sign of your eternal salvation.” Blessed Alan de la Roche

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” Saint Francis de Sales

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The First Sunday of Lent 9th March 2014

The First Sunday of Lent
9 March 2014
“Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” II Cor. 6:2

Today, the Church gives us the penitential season of Lent in order to prepare us for the glorious resurrection at Easter. In today’s Epistle (II Cor. 6:1-10) St. Paul reminds us of the spiritual warfare that we all face in working out our salvation. “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” Likewise the Gospel (Mt. 4:1-11), teaches us in the three temptations of Jesus to arm ourselves with the grace of God’s Word in order to conquer Satan who is always trying to tempt us to do evil and serve his kingdom. In The Liturgical Year Vol. 5 by Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., we are given the traditional teaching of the Church on how these temptations relate to Lent and the spiritual life.

The Spiritual Battle against the Devil
Dom Gueranger dismisses those commentators of his day (19th Century) and, even more so, in our day that St. Paul is not to be taken literally because he was writing only for the early days of the Church when the Christians were continually facing death. This false interpretation “is full of that discretion which meets with the applause of our cowardice, and it easily persuades us to be at rest, just as though we had no dangers to fear, and no battle to fight; whereas, we have both: for there is the devil, the world, flesh and blood. ....That such a misfortune may not befall us, the Church cries out to us, in the words of St. Paul: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!’” II Cor. 6:2 (p. 131) We have the example of St. Paul who tells us of all the sufferings and the indifference and hatred of some of the Corinthians to his apostolic work: “We give no offense to anyone, that our ministry may not be much patience; in tribulations, in hardships, in distress; honour and dishonour, in evil report and good sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet enriching many, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” II Cor. 6: 3-10 Only by overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil will we attain eternal life.

“The World, the Flesh and the Devil”
In his commentary on today’s gospel, Dom Gueranger tells how we need to overcome our enemies: “We have three enemies to fight against; our soul has three dangers; for, as the beloved disciple says, all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. Jn. 2:16). By the concupiscence of the flesh is meant the love of sensual things, which covets whatever is agreeable to the flesh, and, when not curbed, draws the soul into unlawful pleasures. Concupiscence of the eyes expresses the love of the goods of this world, such as riches, and possessions; these dazzle the eye, and then seduce the heart. Pride of life is that confidence in ourselves, which leads us to be vain and presumptuous, and makes us forget that all we have, our life and every good gift, we have from God.
“Every one of our sins comes from one of these three sources; every one of the temptations aims at making us accept the concupiscence of the flesh, or the concupiscence of the eyes (the world), or the pride of life (the devil). Our Saviour, then who would be our model in all things, deigned to subject Himself to these three temptations.” Gueranger, p. 125

The Three Temptations of Satan
Dom Gueranger shows us how the three temptations of Jesus by Satan correspond to “the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life (cf. Jn. 2:16) p. 125: First of all Satan tempts Him in what regards the flesh: he suggests to him to satisfy the cravings of hunger, by working a miracle, and changing the stones into bread. If Jesus consents, and shows an eagerness in giving this indulgence to His body, the tempter will conclude that He is but a frail mortal, subject to concupiscence like other men. When he tempts us, who have inherited evil concupiscence from Adam, his suggestions go further than this: he endeavours to defile the soul by the body. But the sovereign holiness of the Incarnate Word could never permit Satan to use upon Him the power which he has received of tempting man in his outward senses. The lesson, therefore, which the Son of God here gives us, is one of temperance: but we know that, for us, temperance is the mother of purity, and that intemperance excites our senses to rebel.
“The second temptation is to pride: ‘Cast thyself down; the angels shall bear thee up in their hands.’ Ps. 90:11 The enemy is anxious to see if the favours of heaven have produced in Jesus’ soul that haughtiness, that ungrateful self-confidence, which makes the creature arrogate God’s gifts to itself, and forget its benefactor. Here, also, he is foiled; our Redeemer’s humility confounds the pride of the rebel angel.
“He then makes a last effort: he hopes to gain over by ambition Him who has given such proofs of temperance and humility. He shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and says to Him: ‘All these will I give thee, if falling down, Thou wilt adore me.’ Mt. 4:9 Jesus rejects the wretched offer, and drives from Him the seducer, the prince of this world (cf. Jn. 14:30); hereby teaching us that we must despise the riches of this world, as often as keeping or getting them is to be on the condition of our violating the law of God and paying homage to Satan.” Gueranger, p. 125-6

Overcome Satan with the Word of God
“But let us observe how it is that our divine Model, our Redeemer, overcomes the tempter. Does he hearken to His words? Does He allow the temptation time, and give it strength by delay? We did so, when were tempted; and we fell. But our Lord immediately meets each temptation with the shield of God’s word. He says: ‘It is written: Not on bread alone doth man live.’ Deut. 8:3 ‘It is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ Deut. 6:16 ‘It is written: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ Deut. 6:13. This then, must be our practice for the time to come. Eve brought perdition on herself and on the whole human race because she listened to the serpent. He that dallies with temptation is sure to fall.” Gueranger, p. 126-7

Holy Season of Lent
Dom Gueranger again reminds us how the Church prepares us for the glory of Easter Sunday if we are faithful to the example of Jesus Christ: “We are now in the season (Lent) of extraordinary grace; our hearts are on the watch, dangerous occasions are removed, everything that savours of worldliness is laid aside; our souls, purified by prayer, fasting, and alms deeds, are to rise with Christ, to a new life; but, shall we persevere? All depends upon how we behave under temptation. Here, at the very opening of Lent, the Church gives us this passage of the holy Gospel, that we may have not only precept but example. If we be attentive and faithful, the lesson she gives us will produce its fruit; and when we come to the Easter Solemnity, we shall have those sure pledges of perseverance: vigilance, self-diffidence, prayer, and the never-failing help of divine grace.” Gueranger, p. 126 Let us do all that we can during this holy penitential season of Lent. Jesus told us that “...unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner.” Lk. 13:3 Let us deny ourselves in all things as the Angel told the three little children at Fatima: “Make everything a sacrifice!” In this time of great evil in the world Our Lady at Fatima asked to “Pray the rosary,” and “Pray and sacrifice for many souls go to Hell because no one prays and sacrifices for them.” Let us do all that we can this Lent to save our own soul and the souls of our families, our friends and the world.

St. Maximilian Kolbe on Our Lady

"By a special divine grace only Mary, the Mother of God, from the first moment of Her existence, avoided original sin and for this reason became the worthy Mother of the Man-God, who is unlimited purity and infinite sanctity." (SK #1203)

"Whoever does not want to have Mary Immaculate for Mother will neither have Christ the Lord for brother, God the Father will not send him the Son, the Son will not descend in his soul, the Holy Spirit will not form by His graces the mystical body according to the pattern of Christ, because all of this takes place in Mary Immaculate, full of grace, and only in Her." (SK #1295)

"I adore you, O our Heavenly Father, because you placed in the most pure womb of Mary your only begotten Son. I adore you, O Son of God, because you condescended to enter Her womb and you became truly, really, Her Son. I adore you, o Holy Spirit, because you deigned to form in Her immaculate womb the body of the Son of God. I adore you, O Most Holy Trinity, o one God in the Holy Trinity, for having ennobled the Immaculate in such a divine way." (SK #1305)

"Who are you, o Lady? Who are you, o Immaculate?...You are not just a creature, you are not just an adoptive daughter, but you are the Mother of God and not just an adoptive mother, but the true Mother of God." (SK #1305)

"For all eternity, O Immaculate, God will call you 'My Mother'…He who established the fourth commandment will honour you for all eternity, always…Who are you, o Divine Lady? He Himself, God Incarnate, loved to call Himself, 'the Son of Man'. But men did not understand Him. And today as well, how few are those souls who understand Him, and still how imperfectly they understand Him." (SK #1305)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quinquagesima Sunday, 2 March 2014

Quinquagesima Sunday
2 March 2014

“And if I distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing.” I Cor. 13: 3

In this last Sunday before the holy season of Lent, the Church gives us scriptural readings that are most appropriate for this penitential season. In the Epistle (I Cor. 13:1-13), St. Paul tells us of the importance of charity in the spiritual life: “And if I distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing.” I Cor. 13:3 Without charity, we are nothing, even if we could perform miracles, prophesy, and have faith to move mountains. In the Gospel (Lk. 18:31-43), Jesus, who is charity itself (cf. I Jn. 4:16) cures the blind man who, according Pope St. Gregory the Great, represents the human race: “The man born blind of whom the Gospel tells is surely the human race. Ever since man has been turned out of Paradise in the person of our first father, he has not known the light of heaven, and therefore has suffered through being plunged into the darkness of condemnation.” Jesus speaks to the Apostles about His impending passion and death on the cross to prepare them for the ultimate proof of His love for the human race. This is why He is headed for Jerusalem: “Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and all things that have been written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished...and after they have scourged him, they will put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again.” Lk. 18:33 With charity and the cross, we see the two great teachings of the spiritual life, not only for Lent but also for the whole of the liturgical year. Sadly, many are blind to the importance of charity and the cross. This is why the miracle which Jesus works on the blind man (whose name is Bartimeus in St. Mark’s Gospel) is most significant; he is blind but so also are the Apostles who do not understand that Jesus must suffer to enter into His glory. The blind man has faith in Jesus and is cured. The Apostles will only see the truth of the cross after the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The people of Corinth are also blind and this is why St. Paul has to tell them how important charity is in comparison to the charismatic gifts of tongues, prophesy, knowledge and even faith. If we are going to enter into the truth of charity and the cross, we too need a miracle of grace which only Jesus can give us. Charity and the cross go together and cannot be separated; without charity, the cross is purposeless and the cross without charity “profits nothing.” I Cor. 13:3

Without Charity, the Cross is nothing
Dom Prosper Gueranger in his classic work, The Liturgical Year Vol. 4 comments on today’s epistle: “How appropriate for this Sunday is the magnificent eulogy of charity, here given by our apostle! This virtue, which comprises the love both of God and of our neighbour, is the light of our souls. Without charity we are in darkness, and all our works are profitless. The very power of working miracles cannot give hope of salvation, unless he who does them has charity. Unless we are in charity, the most heroic acts of other virtues are but one snare more for our souls. Let us beseech our Lord to give us this light. But let us not forget that, however richly He may bless us with it here below, the fullness of its brightness is reserved for when we are in heaven; and that the sunniest day we can have in this world, is but darkness when compared with the splendour of our eternal charity. Faith will then give place, for we shall be face to face with all truth; hope will have no object, for we shall possess all good; charity alone will continue, and, for this reason, is greater than faith and hope, which must needs accompany her in this present life. This being the glorious destiny reserved for man when redeemed and enlightened by Jesus, is it to be wondered at that we should leave all things, in order to follow such a Master? What should surprise us, and what proves how degraded is our nature by sin is to see Christians, who have been baptized in this faith and this hope, and have received the first-fruits of this love, indulging, during these days, in every sort of worldliness, which is only the more dangerous because it is fashionable. ...If there be charity within our souls, it will make us feel these offences that are committed against our God, and inspire us to pray to Him to have mercy on these poor blind sinners, for they are our brethren.” Gueranger, p. 188-9

Blindness of the Body and the Soul
Today’s Gospel sets before us additional examples of two types of blindness: the most apparent is that of the blind man at Jericho; the second blindness is that of the Apostles who cannot understand what Jesus is saying about His coming passion and death. In the passage for today’s gospel in St. Matthew (and also in St. Mark), the mother of two of the Apostles, James and John, wants her sons to “sit one at thy right hand and one at thy left hand, in thy kingdom.” Mt. 20:21. Ironically, this is right after Jesus spoke of His coming passion. The blind man is cured, but the Apostles will not be cured of their blind ambition until the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost when they will realize that Jesus had to suffer death and rise again in order to redeem mankind. The Apostles were blinded by their hopes that Jesus would establish an earthly kingdom in which they would be leaders of the people. The blind man recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Lk. 18:38. Even when he is told to be quiet, he cried out all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Lk. 18:39 Jesus recognizes His faith and asks him what he wishes. The blind man said, “’Lord, that I may see.’ And Jesus said, to him, ‘Receive thy sight, thy faith has saved thee.’” Lk. 18: 41-42.

“Lord, that I may see.” Lk. 18:41
The lesson for today’s gospel is that we all need to cry out with the blind man, “Lord, that I may see.” Lk. 18:41. He was physically blind, but he could see spiritually that Jesus could cure him. The Corinthians in today’s Epistle are blinded by their charismatic gifts and fail to see the need to practice charity. The Apostles are blinded by ambition and fail to see the need of the cross. Only with charity, does the suffering of the cross take on its fullest meaning: “...and if I give my body to be burned, yet do not have charity, it profits me nothing.” I Cor. 13:3. St. Augustine remarked: “It is not the martyrdom that makes the martyr, but the motive for it. A fanatic can give his life for a cause which is not right or just.” (The Preacher’s Encyclopaedia, p. 686)

What is Charity?
St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that charity is the most important virtue for the Christian. It is better than all the charismatic gifts: “And I point out to you a yet more excellent way, If I should speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have charity, I have become a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And If I know prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith to remove mountains, yet do not have charity, I am nothing...” I Cor. 13:1-2. Charity encompasses all the virtues: “Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickedness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I Cor. 13:4-7 There is nothing greater in this world than charity, and there is no explanation of charity better nor more lyrical than St. Paul’s: “Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy ...”

Ash Wednesday, 5 March 2014
“Remember, man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” (cf. Gen. 3:19)
Blessed Ashes will be distributed at the 7:30 A.M Mass and at 7:00 P.M. Mass. In the evening, after the distribution of Ashes, confession will be available. Let us make this Lent a season of penance and prayer for our world. Our Lady said at Fatima that “whole nations could be annihilated.” This is certainly possible in these times when nation threatens nation. Let us meditate on these words from II Chronicles 7:14: “...if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn away from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

First Friday: 7 March 2014
Now is a good time to continue (or begin) the devotion to the “Nine First Fridays” of the Month. The Sacred Heart of Jesus promised to St. Margaret Mary: "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment." There is no better way of honouring the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus than in receiving Holy Communion on the “Nine First Fridays.”.

St. Maximilian Kolbe explains how to achieve heaven even here on earth.

“In any case, those who on this earth have had a chance to taste in advance a little bit of heaven can get some idea of what it will be like. Now everyone can have this experience. All he needs to do is to go to confession with sincerity, diligence, a deep sorrow for his sins and a firm resolve to amend his life. He will suddenly feel a peace and happiness compared with which all the fleeting, unworthy pleasures of this world are really an odious torment. Let everyone seek to come and receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with proper preparation. Let him never permit his soul to remain in sin, but let him purify it immediately. Let him do his duty manfully. Let him address humble and frequent prayers to God’s throne, especially through the hand of the Immaculate Virgin. Let him welcome his brethren with a charitable heart, bearing for God’s sake the sufferings and difficulties of life. Let him do good to all, even his enemies, solely for the love of God and not in order to be praised or even thanked by men. Then he will come to understand what it means to have a foretaste of paradise; and perhaps more than once he will find peace and joy even in poverty, suffering, disgrace and illness.”

“…regaining lost joy ...”

Pope John Paul in his Apostolic Exhortation, Reconciliation and Penance, 2 December, 1984, 31, III tells us that every contrite Confession is, “a drawing near to the holiness of God, a rediscovery of one’s true identity, which has been upset and disturbed by sin, a liberation in the very depths of one’s self and thus a regaining of lost joy, the joy of being saved, which the majority of people in our time are no longer capable of experiencing.”