Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump meets Pope Francis



The day finally came.  New American president, Donald John Trump had the honor of meeting the Holy Father, Pope Francis; Vicar of Christ and Successor of St. Peter.  At first, it seemed as if there was tension when both leaders met. Pope Francis is an avid advocate for immigrants, refugees and the poor.  Trump has been known to speak strongly against illegal immigrants, refugees and recently presented a budget that would cut billions to medicaid, welfare and other services that the poor rely on.

After the papal visit to Mexico, Pope Francis was asked about Trump. He said that those who insist on building walls instead of bridges are not Christian. Trump replied that it was unfair for a religious leader to place judgment on others. It is interesting to note that Pope Francis was probably not referring to Trump while on the plane since the question did not directly reference Trump.  In any event, the media and others online went into a frenzy when a photo of Pope Francis and Trump surfaced showing the pope with a "funeral face," as he often refers to it.  The pope is seen next to the US present with a sullen expression.  Immediately, tweets began to fly on Twitter comparing photos between the pope and other world leaders today's photos with Trump.  Photos with a smiling pope were chosen for the comparison for obvious reasons.

Other ignorant "right wing" advocates took to twitter to attack the pope by calling him a Marxist and erroneously claiming that the Vatican has walls in an attempt to make the pope look like a hypocrite for speaking against them  The pope and president exchanged gifts.  Trump vowed to do more to promote peace after meeting the Holy Father.










Source:

https://cruxnow.com/pope-trump/2017/05/24/odd-couple-finally-comes-together-trump-francis-meet/

http://time.com/4792096/melania-ivanka-trump-veil-pope-francis-vatican/?xid=time_socialflow_twitter

https://apnews.com/675ed0d9c9914611b6f7e479ac5b8adb?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=AP

http://abcnews.go.com/International/president-trump-arrives-rome-ahead-meeting-pope-francis/story?id=47582685&cid=social_twitter_abcnp

https://www.yahoo.com/news/jest-pope-francis-asks-melania-trump-feeds-pastries-president-150711739.html

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fatima 100 Year Anniversary: Jacinta & Francisco Canonized!

The day has finally come.  One hundred years ago in 1917, a course of events changed the world. Our Lady, the Mother of Christ appeared to three shepherd children. She would appear to them on the 13th of each month from May to October.  In October, the supernatural event of the "dancing Sun" took place which was witnessed by hundreds of thousands, including atheists, scientists and reporters from major news companies such as the New York Time.

Avelino de Almeida of the O Século newspaper was a witness to the event. The O Seculo paper was known as anti-religious. Almeida wrote that the sun defied all known cosmic laws.  You can read more about the apparitions in my post: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2013/05/our-lady-of-fatima.html.

Pope Francis visited Fatima, Portugal for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions by Our Lady.  He led prayers, invoked Our Lady's intercession and protection.  Today, he canonized two of the young children, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto; cousins of Sister Lucia, the oldest of the three.  This was his homily:


"'[There] appeared in heaven a woman clothed with the sun'.  So the seer of Patmos tells us in the Book of Revelation (12:1), adding that she was about to give birth to a son.  Then, in the Gospel, we hear Jesus say to his disciple, “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:27).  We have a Mother!  “So beautiful a Lady”, as the seers of Fatima said to one another as they returned home on that blessed day of 13 May a hundred years ago.  That evening, Jacinta could not restrain herself and told the secret to her mother: “Today I saw Our Lady”.  They had seen the Mother of Heaven.  Many others sought to share that vision, but… they did not see her.  The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her.  We will have all eternity for that, provided, of course, that we go to heaven.
Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures.  Such a life – frequently proposed and imposed – risks leading to hell.  Mary came to remind us that God’s light dwells within us and protects us, for, as we heard in the first reading, “the child [of the woman] was snatched away and taken to God” (Rev 12:5).  In Lucia’s account, the three chosen children found themselves surrounded by God’s light as it radiated from Our Lady.  She enveloped them in the mantle of Light that God had given her.  According to the belief and experience of many pilgrims, if not of all, Fatima is more than anything this mantle of Light that protects us, here as in almost no other place on earth.  We need but take refuge under the protection of the Virgin Mary and to ask her, as the Salve Regina teaches: “show unto us… Jesus”.
Dear pilgrims, we have a Mother, we have a Mother! Clinging to her like children, we live in the hope that rests on Jesus.  As we heard in the second reading, “those who receive the abundance of the grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17).  When Jesus ascended to heaven, he brought to the Heavenly Father our humanity, which he assumed in the womb of the Virgin Mary and will never forsake.  Like an anchor, let us fix our hope on that humanity, seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father (cf. Eph 2:6).  May this hope guide our lives!  It is a hope that sustains us always, to our dying breath.
Confirmed in this hope, we have gathered here to give thanks for the countless graces bestowed over these past hundred years.  All of them passed beneath the mantle of light that Our Lady has spread over the four corners of the earth, beginning with this land of Portugal, so rich in hope.  We can take as our examples Saint Francisco and Saint Jacinta, whom the Virgin Mary introduced into the immense ocean of God’s light and taught to adore him.  That was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering.  God’s presence became constant in their lives, as is evident from their insistent prayers for sinners and their desire to remain ever near “the hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle.
In her Memoirs (III, 6), Sister Lucia quotes Jacinta who had just been granted a vision: “Do you not see all those streets, all those paths and fields full of people crying out for food, yet have nothing to eat?  And the Holy Father in a church, praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary?  And all those people praying with him?”  Thank you, brothers and sisters, for being here with me!  I could not fail to come here to venerate the Virgin Mary and to entrust to her all her sons and daughters. Under her mantle they are not lost; from her embrace will come the hope and the peace that they require, and that I implore for all my brothers and sisters in baptism and in our human family, especially the sick and the disabled, prisoners and the unemployed, the poor and the abandoned.  Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to God with the hope that others will hear us; and let us speak to others with the certainty that God will help us.
Indeed, God created us to be a source of hope for others, a true and attainable hope, in accordance with each person’s state of life.  In “asking” and “demanding” of each of us the fulfillment of the duties of our proper state (Letters of Sister Lucia, 28 February 1943), God effects a general mobilization against the indifference that chills the heart and worsens our myopia.  We do not want to be a stillborn hope!  Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives.  “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24).  The Lord, who always goes before us, said this and did this.  Whenever we experience the cross, he has already experienced it before us.  We do not mount the cross to find Jesus.  Instead it was he who, in his self-abasement, descended even to the cross, in order to find us, to dispel the darkness of evil within us, and to bring us back to the light.
With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter.  Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love."
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20170513_omelia-pellegrinaggio-fatima.html


The Catholic Church celebrates this canonization. Approval for the canonization came when it was confirmed that a Brazilian boy was cured from a severe brain injury.  Lucas had a nasty fall which caused severe trauma to his brain.  Doctors told his parents that he would not survive.  If he did survive, according to doctors, he would be severely mentally handicapped or would be in a vegetative state. However, after Carmelite nuns prayed to the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco, the boy recovered. He woke up from his coma as if nothing happened.  To date, he is doing well and shows no signs of physical or cognitive ailments.



Both St. Francisco and St. Jacinta have so much to offer to all of us, especially children and young people in the Church. It is possible to be a saint, even in today's trying times. The apparitions of Fatima remind us that God always prevails and that He is merciful and pours grace upon the world. We must seek Him always; and with the help of Our Lady, we will be successful! As an atheist, the apparitions of Our lady of Fatima was my first real exposure to Marian devotion. Grateful to Mary always for my faith.  I remember learning about them via my friend and beloved pastor, Bishop Francisco and EWTN.  From there, I did my own investigations, read books on the topic both pro and against the apparitions.  I found them to be credible based on my research.  Our Lady tugged my heart closer to her Son and His Catholic Church.  I am always grateful for her.   I am sure you reading this have your story to share and I would love to read them.  Feel free to post below in the comments section.

Many people are often caught up on the secrets of Fatima and chastisements.  While these are important to know as admonitions, we must focus on the real message. God loves us and our sins hurt Him and Our Lady.  We must amend our lives and do better.  We must change this world.  Our Lady spoke out against the errors of Russia, namely Communism which is rooted in atheism.  As a former atheist, I dedicate a lot of time countering the atheist errors that are recycled today in social media.  I even wrote two books criticizing atheism.  One is for teens/adults and the other for children.  You are welcomed to purchase them and learn how to refute atheism and prevent it from growing in your children.









Adult version

Children's version

Atheism is a poison of the mind, heart and soul.  It denies all truth and gets a person caught up in an endless cycle of skepticism that leads to absurd claims.  Pope Francis warned the people at Fatima that living a godless life is dangerous. It can lead one to hell.  As a former atheist, I argue that atheism on earth is like living in hell.  To live life denying everything and never opening the mind to belief via reason is hell.  Skepticism is okay; however, it becomes a poison when it leads to endless denial and a contrarian position that never gives up creating excuses not to believe.  

For example, if someone tells me that they saw a cat jump and I reply that I did not see it so it did not happen, then I can be partially correct in that statement.  Perhaps it did not happen and the person is lying to me. However, if the person shows a photo to me of the cat jumping and I say that maybe the photo is edited or "photo-shopped," then my statement may be correct but improbable.  I would need to experiment on the photo to see if there are signatures on it that show editing.  Lastly, if the person shows me video of the cat jumping and I say the video is edited, the statement becomes even more improbable.  If I continue to deny the event of the cat jumping, then my skepticism becomes absurd and irrational.  

This is the danger atheism poses in the person who subscribes to it.  Once a person lives just to deny supernatural or religious concepts without equal to or greater than evidence that supports his or her denial, then this denial becomes irrational and borderline mental illness.  As a graduate of the sciences, I am obliged to rely on facts and evidence in order to accept things.  Nothing in the Fatima story, to me, presents an obstacle to belief or credibility.  For an atheist to continue to deny things, while claiming to love science, hurts science.  He or she mocks the scientific process.  Science seeks answers, not endless denial.


Congratulations to Portugal, Jacinta and Francisco on this great day!  May they and Our Lady of Fatima pray for us still struggling on earth.   






Source:


















Monday, April 17, 2017

Pope's Easter Message



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter!

Today, throughout the world, the Church echoes once more the astonishing message of the first disciples: “Jesus is risen!” – “He is truly risen, as he said!”

The ancient feast of Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery, here finds fulfilment. By his resurrection, Jesus Christ has set us free from the slavery of sin and death, and has opened before us the way to eternal life.

All of us, when we let ourselves be mastered by sin, lose the right way and end up straying like lost sheep. But God himself, our shepherd, has come in search of us. To save us, he lowered himself even to accepting death on the cross. Today we can proclaim: “The Good Shepherd has risen, who laid down his life for his sheep, and willingly died for his flock, alleluia” (Roman Missal, IV Sunday of Easter, Communion antiphon).

In every age, the Risen Shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the passion – the wounds of his merciful love – he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life. Today too, he places upon his shoulders so many of our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms.

The Risen Shepherd goes in search of all those lost in the labyrinths of loneliness and marginalization. He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness, and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God.

He takes upon himself all those victimized by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labour, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination, and grave forms of addiction. He takes upon himself children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence and exploited, and those deeply hurt by acts of violence that take place within the walls of their own home.

The Risen Shepherd walks beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes. Everywhere he helps these forced migrants to encounter brothers and sisters, with whom they can share bread and hope on their journey.

In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace. May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.

Especially in these days, may he sustain the efforts of all those actively engaged in bringing comfort and relief to the civil population in beloved Syria, so greatly suffering from a war that continues to sow horror and death. Yesterday saw the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees, resulting in the death and injury of many. May he grant peace to the entire Middle East, beginning with the Holy Land, as well as in Iraq and Yemen.

May the Good Shepherd remain close to the people of South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who endure continuing hostilities, aggravated by the grave famine affecting certain parts of Africa.

May the Risen Jesus sustain the efforts of all those who, especially in Latin America, are committed to ensuring the common good of societies marked at times by political and social tensions that in some cases have resulted in violence. May it be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built, by continuing to fight the scourge of corruption and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes, for progress and the strengthening of democratic institutions in complete respect for the rule of law.

May the Good Shepherd come to the aid of Ukraine, still beset by conflict and bloodshed, to regain social harmony. May he accompany every effort to alleviate the tragic sufferings of those affected by the conflict.

The Risen Lord continues to shed his blessing upon the continent of Europe. May he grant hope to those experiencing moments of crisis and difficulty, especially due to high unemployment, particularly among young people.

Dear brothers and sisters, this year Christians of every confession celebrate Easter together. With one voice, in every part of the world, we proclaim the great message: “The Lord is truly risen, as he said!” May Jesus, who vanquished the darkness of sin and death, grant peace to our days.

Happy Easter!

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2017



This item 11543 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org








Source:










Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday: He Has Risen as He Said!

Today is Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday! It is the most important day in the liturgical calendar.  A small baby boy was born unto us on Christmas. He grew, got baptized by John; performed miracles and taught. However, what confirmed all of this was today: the resurrection. During Jesus' time, many men claimed to be the messiah, the chosen one of Israel.

Some even performed 'miracles' which were nothing more than parlor tricks. Magicians like David Blaine would have had a great following in those days because the people were ignorant and could easily be tricked into believing 'tricks;' Jesus, of course, was suspected of being such a fraud or magician. This was why He was heavily scrutinized, especially by the Pharisees and scribes who wanted to keep their monopoly on Judaism. They doubted Him, questioned Him, tried to corner Him and make Him look like a fraud.  

Well, Jesus proved them all wrong.  He said He would rise and He did (Matthew 17:23).  Jesus is the resurrection (John 11:25). Even after He died on the cross on Good Friday, the disciples wondered what would happen next. The shepherd was struck and the flock scattered (Matthew 26:31). Things seemed hopeless, but Jesus came back. Notice He appeared to a woman first.  Women are an important part of the body of Christ. In Jesus' day, women did not have much value. Their word was not as strong as that of a man's.  It sounds awful I know, but that was just how people thought back then. We cannot hold that against them because that was their culture. Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus appeared to a woman (Mary Magdalene) and she was the one who told Peter and the rest shows how important women are in God's plan (Mark 16:9). Women have worth.  Their word has value and strength.  They are equals to men. March is the month of Women's history and this fact of Jesus appearing to a woman should be focused on in Christians squares.

The resurrection proved the disciples and others that Jesus was, in fact, the messiah, the chosen one of Israel. Catholicism would not have succeeded if Jesus did not resurrect. Christianity would have just faded just like other cults at the time led by false messiahs. The resurrection validated the new covenant and its beliefs. Think about it. If I today had a group of friends, said that I was the chosen one, spoke eloquently but did not back up my talk with honesty, truth, and authority, then there is no way my group of friends would congregate to develop into a worldwide major religion. It would just die out the instant I became boring to my friends or died and turned to dust.  With Jesus it was different.  Yes, He died like everyone else, but He rose again.  He showed that He was telling the truth. He was no liar. Jesus showed He is the ruler of life and death, of heaven and even hell (1Corinthians 15:27 )!   Death cannot stop Him.  The Romans could not stop Him, The Jews and others could not stop Him.  Satan himself cannot stop Him!  Jesus is the Lord of all!   

God died for each one of us because we have value. We are made in His image and likeness.  He rose again showing He is in control of all things, including death (Romans 14:9). The resurrection is our hope. Death is not the end of it.  Death does not have the final say, Jesus does.  To the world, death seems eternal; but to us, death is just a nap (Wisdom 3:1-9). Jesus rose and His resurrection was a testament to everything He said. This was why people converted.  This was why Catholicism spread around the Roman Empire and elsewhere faster than a virus. Atheists claim Jesus was a myth, but logically speaking, no myth can have so much weight so as to convert so many in such a short time. People convert because something happens; because truth takes hold.  They convert because they see the evidence and it speaks to them.  The resurrection was this evidence, this reason, this 'happening.' The early Christians would not have allowed themselves to be tortured and killed for something that was not legitimate.  Who would?  We can tell by logic alone that the resurrection was factual and historical.  

Let us hope in Christ and await the final resurrection of the dead as we meet our Lord.  Jesus has risen from the dead and He said!  Alleluia!    

Please remember to be generous and consider being a regular donor.  Donate at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus or on the paypal button on this site.  Your help will help me continue this work and expand it.  

 

Here are some reflections from holy writers:




When [Mary] came and said these things, the apostles heard them and drew near to the sepulcher with great eagerness. They see the linen clothes lying there, which was a sign of the resurrection. For if they had removed the body, they would not have stripped it first, nor, if any had stolen it, would they have taken the trouble to remove the napkin and roll it up and lay it in a place by itself apart from the linens. They would have taken the body as it was.
Therefore, John tells us by anticipation that it was buried with much myrrh, which glues linen to the body not less firmly than lead. He tells us this so that when you hear that the napkin lay apart from the linens, you may not endure those who say that he was stolen. For a thief would not have been so foolish as to expend so much effort on a trifling detail.


— St. John Chrysostom

(344 - 407)


Source: "Homilies on the Gospel of John, 85.4," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 11–21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 340-341.





When these men (I mean Peter and John, the writer of this book, for he gives himself the name of the other disciple) heard this news from the woman's mouth, they ran with all the speed they could and hurried to the sepulcher. They saw the marvel with their own eyes, being in themselves competent to testify to the event, for they were two in number as the Law enjoined.
As yet they did not meet Christ risen from the dead, but they infer his resurrection from the bundle of linen clothes, and from that time on they believed that he had burst the bonds of death, as holy Scripture had long ago proclaimed that he would do. When, therefore, they looked at the issues of events in the light of the prophecies that turned out true, their faith was from that time forward rooted on a firm foundation.


— St. Cyril of Alexandria

(375 - 444)


Source: "Commentary on the Gospel of John 12," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 11–21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 341.

 
Hidden first in a womb of flesh, he sanctified human birth by his own birth. Hidden afterward in the womb of the earth, he gave life to the dead by his resurrection. Suffering, pain and sighs have now fled away. For who has known the mind of God, or who has been his counselor if not the Word made flesh who was nailed to the cross, who rose from the dead and who was taken up into heaven?
This day brings a message of joy: it is the day of the Lord's resurrection when, with himself, he raised up the race of Adam. Born for the sake of human beings, he rose from the dead with them. On this day paradise is opened by the risen one, Adam is restored to life and Eve is consoled. On this day the divine call is heard, the kingdom is prepared, we are saved and Christ is adored. On this day, when he had trampled death under foot, made the tyrant a prisoner and despoiled the underworld, Christ ascended into heaven as a king in victory, as a ruler in glory, as an invincible charioteer.
He said to the Father, "Here am I, O God, with the children you have given me." And he heard the Father's reply, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool." To him be glory, now and for ever, through endless ages. Amen.


— St. Hesychius of Jerusalem

(412 - 450)

Source: "Easter Homily, 5-6," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 11–21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 337.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Coptic Christians Attacked in Egypt

On Palm Sunday, a day which begins the Passion of the Christ as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey while the people praised Him with palms, a horrific attack took place in Egypt against Coptic Christians.  Worshipers were gathered at St. Mark's Cathedral with Pope Tawadros II leading the Palm Sunday service when a bomb went off killing many participants.  Not too long before, a bomb had gone off at a parish north of Cairo.  Pope Tawadros II was said to have planned to visit that site before the building he was present himself was attacked.  He is fine, but obviously upset over the attack.  ISIS has claimed responsibility. The method of the attack was via suicide bombers.

The Coptic Church is believed to have been established by St. Mark around 45-50 AD. It separated from the Catholic Church headed by Pope Saint Leo I at the time during of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD after its bishops took a different stance on the nature of Christ (hypostatic union: Jesus' divine and human natures). The Church is a branch of the Oriental Orthodox and is one of the oldest Christian Churches.  Its patriarch, Tawardros II is called "pope" due to the fact that bishops and patriarchs were referred to "pope" or "father" at the time.  Only the pope of Rome is the successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ.

Pope Francis has condemned the attacks during Palm Sunday Mass in Rome. He said, “I express my heartfelt sorrow, and pray that the Lord will convert the hearts of those who sow fear, violence and death, and those who make and traffic arms.” Christians around the world have also offered up their prayers and have condemned the attack.  Security has been increased at local cathedrals and other centers of Christian worship.

Over 30 Coptic Christians were killed in the blasts.  The total may increase if those wounded succumb to their injuries.  Those present describe the carnage as immense.  Worshipers had blood-covered palms in their hands; the blood of modern martyrs!  Let us pray for our Coptic brothers and sisters.

































Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday: He Suffered For Us

Before I begin the reflection.  I want to announce that at the end of 2017 I will have to suspend this ministry due to lack of funds.  The content will remain up for as long as it can be sustained, but will not be updated.  

I was hoping and trusting on the Christian good-faith nature of fellow Catholics to help me run this work via donations.  Unfortunately, not many have responded which is disheartening and unfortunate.  

Our Church tries so hard to form the consciences of baptized Catholics and it seems that we need to do more work.  It seems a large portion of Catholics today just want to receive and not give back to the Church in order to help her.  This is why many parishes are closing throughout the world. Going to Mass, sitting in the pews is not enough. Catholics must participate and help the Church financially and in their professional capacities in order to fulfill Christ's command to go out throughout the world and preach the Good News.  

I created "Sacerdotus" after a bishop I worked for called me that due to my vocation to the priesthood and my use of ornate surplices like Solanus Casey.  The nickname stuck, so I used it for Christ and the Church.  Via "Sacerdotus," I reached out to those out in the deep who have left the Church or were never part of her.  This includes atheists due to the fact that I was one myself. After Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called on priests, religious, seminarians and lay people to make use of social media, I created a Twitter account and later on, profiles on other networks. The popularity of "Sacerdotus" grew and shocked me. A religious sister on Twitter advised me to start a blog, which I did.  

With only $10, I bought Sacerdotus.com and the site began to grow, now worth over $2,000.  I started with 12 views and now am about to reach 1 million, thanks be to God!  As mentioned before, I hoped for fellow Catholics to help me due to the fact that I am in formation and cannot afford to go into debt.  The Church cannot allow seminarians or religious to have debt or this will burden their respective communities/dioceses.  This is why I asked for help.  Some responded, but not many and not frequently.  

In response, I tried offering an advertising service and that helped for a bit.  To supplement this, I began to write books hoping Catholics and other will buy them to help me offset expenses. Unfortunately, the response to the books has not been what I expected.  It seems as if Catholics just do not care about the faith or spreading it.  I am hoping this is not the case.  Moreover, it is mind-boggling to me that some Catholics contribute to other alleged "Catholic" sites which are based on gossip, conspiracy theories, distortion and slander of the Holy Father, yet, seem to not want to help Catholic sites that truly are faithful to the magisterium, do not slander the pope and focus on evangelization.  My content is geared around Catholicism, Science, Philosophy and other worldly issues in order to "go out into the deep" and fish for those far away from the Church.    

I am hoping that "Sacerdotus" was helpful to you reading this. So far, there have been over 20 converts due to the content on "Sacerdotus," whether here, in my books or podcasts/broadcast.  As I write this, I am in NYC and will be participating in liturgies receiving atheist friends into the Church! I call this a true success despite not having enough funding to continue expanding this work.  I hope that in the future, readers will be more generous and understand my situation and help me continue and expand this work.  Donations will help me with expenses and are not for restitution or "payment" of services offered.  This is not a business, nor do I want it to be.  I genuinely just need some extra help from my brothers and sisters in the Catholic faith.  Any amount is truly welcomed.  God will reward you. Please consider donating and becoming a benefactor by donating monthly, bi-monthly etc.  This will allow me to continue this work and expand it so I can reach more people via many channels. You are a part of this work as well. One of the differences between "Sacerdotus" and Catholic Answers or EWTN is that you can directly help in this work. You can offer an article to be posted on Catholic Faith Sharing or can join me live on my broadcasts and podcasts.  Catholics Answers, EWTN or any other Catholic site will not allow this.  I am not attack them, please do not misinterpret me. They have been instrumental in my own conversion.  What I am pointing out is that our work here is more open and truly a grassroots effort that excludes no one unless there is conflict between the person's views and that of the Church.  So again, please do not let "Sacerdotus" disappear, please donate and become and regular donor.   

***
Please help this ministry by donating via PayPal or Www.gofundme.com/Sacerdotus.  Your gift will help me continue this work and expand it.

You can also help by purchasing my books. My latest book, "Introduction to the Catholic Church" will truly benefit Catholics and others who are curious of the Catholic faith. You can purchase it in paperback for $12 or Kindle Ebook for $9.99.
seehttp://www.sacerdotus.com/2017/02/new-book-introduction-to-catholic.html









REFLECTION:

Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. Today we remember the Passion of Christ. Jesus entered Jerusalem while the people shouted Hosanna and threw Palm branches in his path.  The King of the Jews, the King of Kings, the King of the Universe and anything else beyond is about to suffer for us all.

Hosanna is an exclamation of supplication in a moment of emotion. The Palms are a sign of victory and joy. The people celebrated the Triumphant entry of the King of Kings into Jerusalem. Ironically just a few days later some of these same people will call upon Pilate to crucify Him.
Zechariah 9:9 prophesied this day. The account of the story is read prior to the procession with the palms and comes from Matthew 21: 1-10. In the Catholic Church, red vestments are used to symbolize the blood Jesus would shed as a result of His entry into Jerusalem. One procession with palms is done. Palms are used for the procession; however, other kinds of greenery can be used in its place, according to the Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy. These sacramentals are meant to remind us of Christ and His passion. They are not magical items or meant to bring about superstitious beliefs. The Directory states: "Palms or olive branches should not be kept as amulets, or for therapeutic or magical reasons to dispel evil spirits or to prevent the damage these cause in the fields or in the homes, all of which can assume a certain superstitious guise. Palms and olive branches are kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ, the messianic king, and in his Paschal Victory."    

The first reading during Mass is from Isaiah which is connected to Jesus. It reflects on how Jesus is a gifted speaker who spreads the Good News yet offends many or stirs up a commotion among the people. Because of this, He is beaten, his beard is plucked and He is mocked. This reading is a foreshadowing of the Passion of Christ. 
Despite being abused by the people, Jesus returned no insult or attack (1 Peter 2:23). He braved it all for the sake of all (Isaiah 53:4Matthew 8:17). Jesus was truly obedient, even unto death.  Today we live in a world where Christ’s message is not popular. Priests, religious, laity, and even our separated Christian brethren face all kinds of hardships just for speaking the name of Christ and what He stands for. The Word of God is being criminalized in many parts of the world.  This opposition shows us how bad the world dislikes Christ and religion. Elsewhere in the world, Christians are being killed just for believing in Christ.  While things may seem bad and scary, we must not fear. God is with us. We must be strong and not give in to the pressures of the world and preach Christ in season and out of season (2 timothy 4:2). Like Christ, we must bear it all for the sake of salvation. God is with us, no one can stand against us (Romans 8:31). It may seem like God has abandoned us and this is why the responsorial Psalm begins with this phrase. This Psalm is another foreshadowing of Christ’s passion. Christ Himself felt abandoned by the Father. However, this is not so. God was there present comforting Him and us as well who struggle today.
Finally, the Gospel tells the account of Jesus’ arrest and His last supper where He instituted the Holy Eucharist.  Christ defined for all the true meaning of the Passover meal by breaking bread and sharing wine which are His body, blood, soul and divinity. Like with the Hebrews during Passover, this meal protects us from the plagues in the world and prepares us for the Exodus to our spiritual promised land (Exodus 12:1-14).  The journey will not be easy.  We will be attacked by the world and will walk through the desert of life (Matthew 10:18Exodus 13:18).

Furthermore, we read how Judas is there present during the meal. He sells out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas is the first to leave the first Mass at the Last Supper.  How many times do we see people leave Mass early? Perhaps we may have done it ourselves? We are imitating Judas the betrayer when we leave Mass early. In doing so, we make whatever we are leaving Mass for more important than Christ. Granted, there may be emergencies we may have to attend to, but this is where faith comes in. God will take care of any emergencies for us. 
Moreover, we continue reading how Christ tells the disciples how they will flee when He is arrested. Each boldly claims that he will not leave Christ. How many times have we been vain in thinking that we have total control of faith? How many times have we thought that we control grace in us? It is God who sustains our faith and nourishes us with His grace (James 4:6). We only cooperate by the suspension of our free will in order to submit to God’s will.  Christ then goes to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He cries tears of blood showing the pain and anguish He was going through.  We again see Christ’s humanity. He is one of us! He is the perfect Adam we must imitate (Romans 5:12-181 Corinthians 15:45).  However, like the disciples, we often fall asleep when we are in His presence. Instead of praying, we slack off and get distracted to the point of dosing off. We must avoid this by asking God to teach us how to pray and give us the strength and demeanor to be in His presence to pray even when our human frailness gets in the way.  It is in prayer that we unite with God.

Lastly, we continue reading how Christ is taken to trial. The Son of God, God Himself is treated like a criminal. He is sentenced to be killed by way of Crucifixion. His crime is love (John 3:16). Christ came to save all, first to His own people the Jews. Ironically, it is sometimes our own that betray us. We must avoid being like the Jews of Christ’s time who were with Him, saw His works and still wanted no part of Christ. Like the Jews in the desert, they saw His works and still did not want to believe (Psalm 95:8). Christ is then made to go through a horrible death. First He is made to carry a heavy cross. Throughout the way, He is mocked, spat on, hit and falls down three times for the sins of the past, present and future (Hebrews 13:8). He dies on the cross and is buried. God is dead!

Today, this phrase still echoes among western societies throughout the world who have lost their Christian roots and especially in universities teaching our youth. Some believe philosopher Nietzsche to have coined the phrase “God is dead,” but this has existed way before his own birth. Christ is nailed to the cross and dies. The people of His time said, “God is dead.” The Son of God who performed miracles and preached the good news dies. We know that in reality He is still alive (Revelation 1:18). Man can kill God because God allows it out of love. Today’s age of secularism, atheism, and relativism shout, “God is dead, we have killed Him!” However, God is alive and well. He rose from the dead showing He is the God of the living and dead (Romans 14:9). He is the one who IS; who is dependent on no one for existence (Exodus 3:14).
We must not be like the Jews of the old covenant who saw and still did not believe, nor do we want to be like the Jews in Jesus’ times who like their ancestors saw Christ’s works yet did not believe as well. They even proclaimed Him as their king by throwing palms onto His path only to reject Him and call for His execution days later. We should not be like them. We must never lose faith nor let the world silence it as it grows more hostile to religion.  Today we lift up our palms, not like those hypocrites in the Gospel reading before Mass, but like those in Revelation 7:9 who see the Lamb of God, hold their palms out to Him in joy and wear clean white robes showing they are made spotless by the blood of Christ shed for all during His Passion.
Palm Sunday is upon us. Raise your palms high and let the world know that we are Christian and will not be silenced.  We are in Christ and no one can stop us.  We are the Easter people who defy all odds in the name of Christ the Lord (Philippians 4:13).    
May Christ teach us how to live and suffer in faith. He suffered for us all showing that each human life has worth and is sacred.  When I say each human life, I mean every one including non-Catholics, those who hate us, those who do not trust us, those who call themselves pro-abortion, gay, lesbian, transgender, atheist, agnostic or indifferent.  Jesus is the King of all and suffered for all because all people have value and God loves all so much that He wanted humanity redeemed.  Let us shout Hosanna to the King with sincerity and remain with Him through good times and bad times until the end of time comes.  May Jesus Christ be praised!


Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040917.cfm






Here are some reflections from holy writers:



Let us run to accompany Christ as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us…
Let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory.
Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children's holy song: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel."

— St. Andrew of Crete
(650 - 740)

Source: Office of Readings, Oratio 9 in ramos palmarum: PG 97, 990-994.



If Jesus reign in my soul, in your soul, meant that he should find it a perfect dwelling place, then indeed would we have reason to despair. But Jesus makes do with a poor animal for a throne…There are hundreds of animals more beautiful, more deft and strong. But it was a donkey Christ chose when he presented himself to the people as king in response to their acclamation.
For Jesus has no time for calculations, for astuteness, for the cruelty of cold hearts, for attractive but empty beauty. What he likes is the cheerfulness of a young heart, a simple step, a natural voice, clean eyes, attention to his affectionate word of advice. That is how he reigns in the soul.

— St. Josemaría Escriva
(1902 - 1975)

Source: Christ Is Passing By, 181.


When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the whole city is in agitation. People are asking themselves, "'Who is this?' And the crowds [say], 'This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee'" (Mt 21:10-11).
This was not the first time that the people recognized Christ as the king they expected. It had already happened after the miraculous multiplication of the loaves, when the crowd wanted to carry him in triumph. Jesus knew however that his kingdom was not of this world; for this reason he had fled from their enthusiasm. He now sets out for Jerusalem to face the trial that awaits him. He is aware that he is going there for the last time, for a "holy" week, at the end of which the passion, cross and death await him. He faces all this with complete willingness, knowing that in this way the Father's eternal plan will be fulfilled in him.
Since that day, the Church throughout the world has repeated the words of the crowd in Jerusalem: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord". She repeats it every day while celebrating the Eucharist, shortly before the consecration. She repeats it with particular emphasis today, Palm Sunday.

— Pope St. John Paul II
(1920 - 2005)



Source: Homily on March 23, 1997.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

5th Sunday of Lent: Open Your Grave & Rise!


Today’s readings deal with Faith and the Resurrection.

The first reading is from the prophet Ezekiel and tells us of how God brings life to those in the grave. God says that He will raise the dead of Israel and bring them back to their land. Because of this, they will know that He is God. He then promises that He will put His spirit in them. This is an allusion to the resurrection of Christ. As we know, Jesus was crucified, died and was buried (1 Thessalonians 4:14). However, He rose from the dead. We read in Matthew 27:50-54 how the dead walked out of their graves and entered Jerusalem. This event must have been frightening for those who witnessed it.  However, it was not a scary scene like in “The Walking Dead” series. This event was foreshadowed in the first reading where God says that He will raise the dead of Israel and because of this the people will know that He is God. Ironically, in Matthew 27:54, the centurion and those with him said, “Truly this man was God’s son.” God is the one who restores life to us both spiritually and physically.

This brings us to the responsorial psalm which begins with a cry out of the depths to God. It is a prayer asking God for mercy, redemption and renewal. When we sin, our spiritual lives slowly die. There is nothing worse than a spiritual death. The human being becomes immoral, not knowing right from wrong.  He or she is lost in darkness and because of this, begins to fall not knowing where he or she is going. The Psalm reminds us that God is the one who saves us. He is the one who brings us out of the depths of the spiritual grave. We must trust in Him.

The second reading from Romans tells us that we cannot truly please God if we are in the flesh, or in sin. It is only in living in the Spirit that we truly please God because we are restored with God’s grace. St. Paul makes it clear that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, then we do not belong to Him. When we sin, we die spiritually and physically. This is why St. Paul tells us that the “body is dead because of sin.” Because of sin, we are open to all kinds of ailments and diseases. Original sin damaged creation and all things exist without the perfection it had prior to the fall of Adam and Eve. Christ will restore our lives to what they were supposed to be. He rose from the dead and will give life to our bodies and entire existence as well.

Finally, the Gospel tells us about Lazarus who is the brother of Mary who anointed Jesus with perfumed oil as well as Martha. Lazarus is extremely ill; basically at the point of death. Jesus is told of the illness and replies that the illness Lazarus is going through is not to end in death but will serve as an example of the glory of God. In other words, Christ was telling them that He will be using this opportunity to show God’s glory via a miracle.  Jesus then plans to go back to Judea where He had some problems with the people. The disciples advise Jesus not to go because the people will stone Him. Jesus then reminds them that those who walk in light do not stumble basically reminding them that He will be safe. Then He tells them that Lazarus is “asleep” and He will awaken Him. They thought He was referring to sleep, but Christ was referring to the fact that Lazarus had passed away. Jesus knew this despite not being at Lazarus’ home. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Martha and Mary met with Jesus and Martha voiced her frustration to Him telling Him that if He had been there that Lazarus would still be alive.

Nevertheless, she still has faith that whatever Christ asks of God will be granted. Martha believes in the final resurrection on the last day and Jesus replies saying that He is the resurrection and the life and that those who believe in Him even if they die will live. Christ then asks Martha if she believes Him and she replies, “Yes, Lord” showing her deep faith. Martha then calls Mary to tell her that Jesus is there and is asking for her.  Mary approaches Christ and falls to His feet voicing her frustrations as well just like Martha did. Next we see Jesus showing His human side. Despite being the Son of God and the second person of the Blessed Trinity, He becomes “perturbed and deeply troubled” when He sees Mary crying and the Jews who were there crying as well. He then asks to be taken to where they had laid the remains of Lazarus and they take Him.  Once again we see Jesus shows His humanity. He begins to cry as well. Here we have God crying. The Jews present ask Jesus “could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died? The people are complaining as well just like Mary and Martha did. Jesus is perturbed again we read, but goes to the tomb to see Lazarus’ body. Martha tries to stop Jesus saying that there will be a stench because the body has been there for four days. Jesus reminds her that God will show His glory via the death of Lazarus and calls out “Lazarus, come out!” The dead corpse once lying in state comes to life and walks out. Imagine the scene for a moment. A man is dead for four days and all of a sudden walks out still wrapped in bands like a mummy of sorts. Had it been me witnessing this, I probably would have run faster than the cartoon character “Road Runner” and would have been screaming like Mariah Carey!

However, the scene should not bring fright. It was not a scene of a zombie movie or “The Walking Dead” series (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Lazarus woke from his sleep as Christ said he would. This Gospel shows not only that Christ is God and that God has power over life and death, but also shows Christ’s humanity and genuine love. We also see how the people get frustrated that Jesus did not act quickly in either preventing Lazarus from dying or raising him from the dead.  How many times do we get frustrated when we pray for something and God does not grant it right away or perhaps not in the way we wanted? This is a natural reaction because we still do not see the full picture. We are like little impatient kids who feel that waiting just one minute is like a lifetime, so we get frustrated. Our doubts grow just like atheists who see children suffering in the world and quickly declare God as non-existent or uncaring. Those who let this impatience get the best of them eventually doubt and fall into atheism believing God to not exist.  Yesterday was "Aprils' fools day" and the atheist's holiday (Psalm 14:1). We must not be like this.

Like Martha and Mary we must have faith. Christ understand us. He shares our joys and pains as we read in the Gospel how He wept despite being God who can do anything (Isaiah 53:4). God does care. He understands what we go through everyday. This is what is unique about the “God of Christianity” as atheists and academics describe Him. The “God of Christianity” IS GOD. He is not a distant deity who demands sacrifices and does not interact with the people. Christ is with each of us and shares with us our joys and our pains. The Gospel today is preparing us for Easter Sunday where Christ Himself rises from the dead. Death is something we all suffer. It is hard to get over the death of anyone, family or friend. However, it is our faith in Christ who is the resurrection and life that keeps us focused and of sound mind. We cry and are sad yes, this is a normal human response that even Jesus went through (John 11:35). However, we relax and know that death is not the end. Jesus is the resurrection and the life and will bring back to life those who believed in Him as St. Paul tells us in the second reading.  We must open up the graves that are our lives without God.  Without God, we are like a rock that is inert, dead and lifeless.  God gives us life.  We must seek Jesus in order to obtain life for Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6)!  May Jesus Christ be praised!


Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040217.cfm


Please help this ministry by donating via PayPal or Www.gofundme.com/Sacerdotus.  Your gift will help me continue this work and expand it.


You can also help by purchasing my books. My latest book, "Introduction to the Catholic Church" will truly benefit Catholics and others who are curious of the Catholic faith. You can purchase it in paperback for $12 or Kindle Ebook for $9.99.
seehttp://www.sacerdotus.com/2017/02/new-book-introduction-to-catholic.html










Here are reflections from holy writers:





But what was the message sent by his sisters? "Master, the one you love is ill." They did not say, "Come," for the intimation was all that was needed for one who loved. They did not venture to say, "Come and heal him," nor did they venture to say, "Command there, and it shall be done here."
And why would it be any different with them if, on these very grounds, the centurion's faith was commended? For he said, "I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant shall be healed." These women said nothing like this, but only, "Master, the one you love is ill"—as if to say: It is enough that you know. For you are not one that loves and then abandons.

— St. Augustine
(354 - 430)

Source: "Tractates on the Gospel of John, 49.5," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 11–21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 3.



Do you see her faith? Do you see her undoubting mind? She affirmed in two ways that he was God and the Giver of life, even though she was led astray on account of her simple nature: "If you had been here," she said. What are you saying, Martha? Your reasoning is false. For he was there and he has been and still is present everywhere.… "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." Do you see how she believed him to be God and able with his power to restrain death and to raise the dead? For she was saying, I know that if you had been here, death would not have prevailed.

— St. Andrew of Crete
(660 - 740)

Source: "Homily 8 on Lazarus," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 11–21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 12.



When Martha professed her faith in Christ and wiped out by her reverent confession whatever blame there was in womanhood, a message is sent to Mary, because without Mary death could not be banished or life be restored. Let Mary come; let the one who bears the name of his mother come so that humanity might see that as Christ dwelt enclosed in the Virgin's womb, so too to that extent the dead will come forth from the underworld, the dead will come forth from the tombs.
— St. Peter Chrysologus
(380 - 450)

Source: "Sermon 64.2," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 11–21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), 18.









Sunday, March 26, 2017

Laetare Sunday-4th Sunday of Lent: He Opens Eyes!

Today is "Laetare" Sunday or "rejoice" Sunday/Sunday of Joy. Celebrants at Mass have the option to use rose colored vestments today just as in Gaudete Sunday during Advent.  This Sunday is a day to rejoice and remind ourselves that our austere penance during Lent is almost coming to a close and the events that define Christianity are about to come, especially Resurrection Sunday.  This Sunday tells us, "we're almost there, so don not quit now."

Today's readings introduce interesting themes; in particular, faith, the true Shepherd and Redeemer, and "God is in control."  God opens our eyes!

The first reading tells us about the Lord telling Samuel to get ready with his horn of oil because He has already chosen the king for His people. Samuel was the last Hebrew Judge and the first of the major prophets in Israel. God tells Samuel to find the new king from among the sons of Jesse who he is supposed to anoint with the oil in the horn.

Samuel looks at the sons and goes one by one assuming he chose the right one, but God tells him no. Human beings are prejudicial beings. We love to judge people based on appearance, or "lookism." Samuel was no different. He believed a leader/king should be of lofty stature and assumed a particular son with that characteristic is who God had chosen. However, God says, "Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.  not as man see does God see, because man sees the appearance,but the Lord looks into the heart." These are powerful words we should meditate on by themselves. God looks at the heart, not at how we look. We should do the same.  Instead of judging people by profiling them, we should look at their heart - their personality.

After Samuel went trough seven sons trying to find out which one God had chosen and learning none of them were the one, Jesse introduces Samuel to the youngest who was a shepherd tending sheep.  The kid's name is David. David is described as being handsome and ruddy, obviously young but God chose him. Jesse and David of course are the descendants of Jesus the Messiah. The choosing of this young kid who is a shepherd is a prefigurement of Christ Himself. Jesus is to be the Good Shepherd and is also the Son of God. Even in an early age Jesus was doing God's work ( Luke 2:41-52) making a link to David who was the youngest and was chosen. This should remind the youth in the Church that they are indeed important and should take an active role in their respective parishes.  The Catholic Church is not for the "old" only.  Older Catholics must never despise or be condescending towards the youth (1 Timothy 4:12).

In response to the first reading, we read from the most famous and well known Psalm of all found in chapter 23 which begins with "The Lord is my shepherd." This Psalm connects both David and Christ. It speaks of how God is the shepherd and takes care of His own. He annoints with oil and fills the soul with grace (my "cup overflows"). God is indeed our shepherd and we should always have trust in Him. Last Sunday's first reading was about the Hebrews doubting God in the desert believing Moses to be some con artist who dragged them out to die. We should not be like them. Trusting God will bring "goodness and kindness" for the rest of our lives.

As shepherd, God guides us on our path which is dark. The second reading from Ephesians tells us about this. We were in darkness and now are in the light of the Lord, the reading begins.  St. Paul tells us that we should continue living as children of the light. He reminds us to do what is pleasing to God and avoid the things that are in darkness. Christ is the light (John 8:12).

Without light, we cannot see physically speaking.  The same applies spiritually. Today we live in a world that is adopting atheistic existential nihilism which originated from Nietzsche et.al and claims that life is meaningless, has no purpose and that we create our own "destinies." This philosophy, while claiming to liberate man has done nothing more than bring him down and imprison him in despair and psychological and spiritual oblivion. We are rational beings with free will and intellect; however, this does not mean we can guide ourselves. When we leave human beings to be an end in themselves, they guide each other in darkness and without proper vision in this environment, they all fall into the hole (Matthew 15:14).  Only Christ can show us the way even in darkness.  Only He can guide the way so that we won't fall into the hole.

The themes of light and darkness are touched upon in the Gospel. We read in the Gospel how Jesus performs one of His "strangest" miracles recorded. Jesus passes by and sees a man who has been blind since birth.  The disciples ask Him if this man is blind because of his sins or his parent's sins.  Jesus replies, "neither he nor his parents sinned" and goes on to tell them that his disability exists in order for God to show His works. The disciples are holding to the idea that people who are disabled are in that state due to their sins. This brings to mind the "Moral Model" in disability studies which claims it is the fault of the disabled person that he/she is in that state and that this has to do with divine punishment. Jesus obviously disagrees.

Jesus then does something that is both strange and disgusting, in human terms.  He spits on the ground and makes clay with it.  Then he smears the clay made with spit on the man's eyes.  He then instructs the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam.  When the man did as he was told, he came back with full vision.  Those in the neighborhood could not believe it and were saying to themselves "isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?"  They were in shock that this man is now able to see after they have gotten used to seeing him in a blind state begging for money.  Immediately they questioned him and brought the man to the Pharisees.  The Pharisees upon learning that Christ healed this man on the Sabbath declared that Christ is not of God. They made the Law in the Old Covenant into a god, so to speak.  The Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around (Mark 2:27).  The rest of the story tells us how the Jews did not believe and even questioned the beggar's parents who testified that he indeed was born blind. Then there is a debate on who Christ really is and His intentions.

This Gospel has so many things I can write on, but will briefly get into them.  First, the Gospel reminds us that we are born blind or spiritually blind.  Atheists often make the claim that we are "atheists by default," I refute this here: Atheism as Default Fails.  We are not "atheist" at conception but are merely spiritually blind.  In fact, atheist and anthropologist Dr. Pascal Boyer wrote, “A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith.”  Faith is hardwired in us. After Baptism, we start to regain our sight as we grow in faith and grace.  This is why the man only gets sight after he washes himself in the Pool of Siloam.  Once we have life in Christ can we truly begin to see like the beggar did.  Second, Jesus in this story shows us how God does not discriminate. He sees the beggar who is blind, probably dirty and smelly, yet still approaches him.  God does not judge by appearance as 1 Sam 16:76 states.

Third, here is an interesting connection as well in regards to the clay.  We read in Genesis 2:7 how God creates man from the clay of the Earth.  Jesus uses clay to heal the man.  Think about this for a moment. If pottery is broken, how is it repaired?  We use clay to repair it. God made man out of the clay of the Earth and sin broke him. Christ comes and uses clay with spit to "fix" broken man. Christ makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We must approach Christ with faith and trust in Him.  He will restore our sight and guide us as our shepherd through the "valley of the shadow of death" which surrounds this world.  God is always in control.  Despite Original Sin ruining nature, God still fixes it and guides it to perfection in Him.  He is the Redeemer, the Savior who restores the Image of God in us with His light.  Today we rejoice with the "blind beggar" and shout out for all to hear: "I do believe, Lord."  Let us allow Jesus to open our eyes so we can see clearly.   May Jesus Christ be praised!


Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032617.cfm


Please help this ministry by donating via PayPal or Www.gofundme.com/Sacerdotus.  Your gift will help me continue this work and expand it.

You can also help by purchasing my books. My latest book, "Introduction to the Catholic Church" will truly benefit Catholics and others who are curious of the Catholic faith. You can purchase it in paperback for $12 or Kindle Ebook for $9.99.
seehttp://www.sacerdotus.com/2017/02/new-book-introduction-to-catholic.html










Reflections from holy writers:



We have just heard that Jesus gave sight to the man who was blind from birth. Do you wonder? Jesus is the Savior. He did something in keeping with his name, for by his kindness he restored what he had given to a lesser degree in the womb. Now when he made his eyes less powerful, surely he did not make a mistake, but he deferred it for the miracle.
Behold, why Christ delayed when he made the eyes less powerful in the womb. Do not think that the parents of that blind man had no sin and that the blind man himself, when he was born, did not contract original sin; because of the fact of original sin even very little children are baptized. However, that blindness was not due to the sin of his parents or due to the sin of the blind man, but in order that the glory of God might be made manifest in him. For when we are born we all contract original sin, and still we are not born physically blind. That blind man was prepared as a salve for the human race. He was bodily restored to light, in order that by considering his miracle we might be enlightened in heart.

— St. Caesarius of Arles
(470 - 543)



Source: "Sermon 172.1," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 320.



Again, I ask you: What is he trying to convey to us by spitting on the ground, mixing his saliva with clay and putting it on the eyes of a blind man, saying, "Go and wash yourself in the pool of Siloam (a name that means 'sent')"? What is the meaning of the Lord's action in this? Surely one of great significance, since the person whom Jesus touches receives more than just his sight.
In one instant we see both the power of his divinity and the strength of his holiness. As the divine light, he touched this man and enlightened him. As priest, by an action symbolizing baptism he wrought in him his work of redemption. The only reason for his mixing clay with the saliva and smearing it on the eyes of the blind man was to remind you that he who restored the man to health by anointing his eyes with clay is the very one who fashioned the first man out of clay, and that this clay that is our flesh can receive the light of eternal life through the sacrament of baptism.
You, too, should come to Siloam, that is, to him who was sent by the Father, as he says in the Gospel: "My teaching is not my own; it comes from him who sent me." Let Christ wash you, and you will then see. Come and be baptized, it is time; come quickly, and you too will be able to say, "I went and washed"; you will be able to say, "I was blind, and now I can see." And, as the blind man said when his eyes began to receive the light, you too can say, "The night is almost over and the day is at hand."

— St. Ambrose
(333 - 397)

Source: "Letter 67.4-6," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 325-326.





Do you see how boldly the beggar speaks with the scribes and Pharisees? It shows how strong truth is and how weak falsehood is. Truth, though it grasps only ordinary people, makes them to appear glorious; falsehood, even when it is among the strong, shows them to be weak. What he says is like this: you do not pay attention to my words; therefore, I will no longer speak or answer you when you question me continually to no purpose. You do not want to hear in order to learn but so that you can lay insults over my words.

— St. John Chrysostom
(344 - 407)

Source: "Homilies on the Gospel of John, 58.2," quoted in Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 332.



Labels

Catholic Church (442) God (305) Atheism (230) Jesus Christ (211) Jesus (207) Bible (170) Pope Francis (163) Atheist (140) LGBT (127) Science (110) Liturgy of the Word (103) Christianity (83) Rosa Rubicondior (75) Pope Benedict XVI (73) Abortion (71) Gay (64) President Obama (55) Prayer (54) Vatican (38) Christian (36) Physics (35) Philosophy (33) Blessed Virgin Mary (32) New York City (32) Christmas (31) Psychology (30) Women (29) Politics (28) Biology (26) Liturgy (26) Baseball (24) Religious Freedom (23) Pope John Paul II (21) Space (21) Holy Eucharist (19) Pro Abortion (19) priests (19) Evil (18) NYPD (18) Supreme Court (18) Child Abuse (17) Pro Choice (17) Evangelization (16) First Amendment (16) Protestant (16) Police (15) Donald Trump (14) Christ (12) Death (12) Health (12) Priesthood (12) Astrophysics (11) Blog (11) Marriage (11) Pedophilia (11) Poverty (10) Racism (10) Theology (9) Vatican II (9) Divine Mercy (8) Human Rights (8) Illegal Immigrants (8) Muslims (8) Personhood (8) September 11 (8) Autism (7) Condoms (7) David Viviano (7) Easter Sunday (7) Ellif_dwulfe (7) Evidence (7) Gender Theory (7) Gospel (7) academia (7) Apologetics (6) Barack Obama (6) Big Bang Theory (6) Humanism (6) Jewish (6) Morality (6) Pentecostals (6) Traditionalists (6) Babies (5) Cognitive Psychology (5) Cyber Bullying (5) NY Yankees (5) Spiritual Life (5) The Walking Dead (5) Angels (4) CUNY (4) Donations (4) Ephebophilia (4) Eucharist (4) Gender Dysphoria Disorder (4) Holy Trinity (4) Podcast (4) Pope Pius XII (4) Evangelicals (3) Hispanics (3) Pluto (3) Pope John XXIII (3) Sacraments (3) Baby Jesus (2) Dan Arel (2) Death penalty (2) Encyclical (2) Founding Fathers (2) Freeatheism (2) Hell (2) Massimo Pigliucci (2) Oxfam (2) Penn Jillette (2) Pew Research Center (2) Plenary Indulgence (2) Catholic Bloggers (1) Cursillo (1) Dan Savage (1) Divine Providence (1) Eastern Orthodox (1) Fear The Walking Dead (1) Pentecostales (1) Pope Paul VI (1)