Sunday, July 5, 2020

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Come To Me

Today's readings remind us that Jesus came to us, so we have to go to Him now.

In the first reading, we ready how the king will come to us.  A just savior, meek, riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He will banish chariots, horses, the warrior's bow; in other words, He will get rid of wars and battles and bring peace. Let me point out that banishing horses does not mean getting rid of the animal. It means putting an end to using them as means of battle. Remember, in ancient times, horses were used to intimidate enemies. The king here is Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the savior who came. He is the one who is meek and humble of heart. Jesus was the one who rode on an ass or donkey which is when we recall Palm Sunday in the liturgy. Christ is the King. The word Christ means anointed one or the king.Jesus is the king of all. The King of the Universe.

Those of you reading this now may be a citizen of the United States of America. If you are, you of course came off a long celebration of the independence of the nation. July 4th is the day the United States of America celebrates her independence from Britain or the British Crown. This day reminds Americans that their ancestors fought for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They rebelled against a tyranical king in Britain who sat pretty on his throne demanding taxes from the colonists who fled Europe seeking religious freedom. This king was a mundane one. Our true King is the King of Kings and seeks nothing but us and our love. This King gives us true independence, life, liberty and the pursuit of real happiness. In turn, we will praise His name forever, for He is our King and our God. 

The Responsorial Psalm reminds us of this.  God is our King and our God. He is not a tyrant or evil entity seeking to dominate everyone. Rather, He is a loving Father. We should always bless His name and praise it, not out of fear, but out of love. This praising of His name is like when two lovers cannot stop calling each other, texting each other or saying each other's names. It is a bond that goes beyond the physical. So when we praise God's name, we show our deep love for Him. God is good to all. He is compassionate towards all of His works. This means He is there for all of His creation, from the simplest cell to the most complex organism. God is faithful. He never lies. He is incapable of it. This does not mean God is weak. It simply means that since He is truth, there is no room for deception. It just cannot exist in His being. Because He is faithful, He reaches and lifts up those who are bowed down by others. This is why it is important that we live a holy life and seek God's grace always. Our flesh may see all that we are composed of, but there is much more.  The second reading elaborates.

We are not in the flesh, but in the spirit. What does this mean? Are we not flesh and blood?  Covid 19 Coronavirus is surely reminding us today that we are certainly flesh and blood that can easily become damaged, deteriorate and die. However, the second reading is focusing in the spiritual life after we decide to follow Jesus via the Sacraments, a prayer life and just living.  The Spirit of God dwells in us who are baptized. We become spiritually living in that sense. Our focus is now the soul. We live for its salvation. If we do not have the Spirit of Christ in us, then we do not belong to Him. However, this is not the case for us who are baptized and confirmed in the faith. We have the Holy Spirit in us and He will give our mortal bodies life too. This is not only for the last day, but every day. The Holy Spirit gives us the grace or life of God in order for us to grow closer to Him. This is why we must not live according to the flesh. The flesh has many desires and can sometimes be hard to control. However, we must do humanly possible to avoid sin or the occasion of sin. If not, then we remove God's Spirit from our being. We become dead to Christ and alive for the flesh. Flesh is weak and leads to temptation. The word flesh here is not literally skin or muscle, but behaviors related to passions that rely on the physical. These passions can be sexual desires, vices that abuse the body, bad behavior, etc.  Jesus does not force Himself on us. He revealed all that we need to know to seek Him, so we have to do our part. The Gospel today reflects on this.

Jesus says that He too praises His Father who is the Lord of heaven and earth.  The Father gave all things to the Son. He is the only way we can know God, because He is God. No one can know the Father except via the Son.  The Son reveals Him to us. Jesus tells us to come. He invites those who are burdened and tells them that He will give them rest.  This call is not just for those physically working, but for those spiritually working. In other words, Jesus is not necessarily speaking to a construction worker tired from work. Rather, He is speaking to that man, woman or child who is trying his or her best to live a holy life apart from the flesh. This is hard work that is even harder than physical labor. Trying to be holy is not easy. Buying a pyramid or discovering a new physics theorum is much easier. This is because these things already have a blueprint or schema that works for the purpose to reach its intended goal. Being a saint is not so easy in this regard. While we have the Sacraments, Commandments, the Sacred Deposit, prayer etc, each of our lives are different, so the outcomes or path will not be the same for everyone.  St. Francis is not St. Dominic, St. Martin de Porres is not St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Theresa the Little Flower is not St. Thomas Aquinas. While each of these are saints, they reached that level in different ways which involved battles within themselves and the powers of this world. They faces temptations set up specifically for them and their state of mind and soul. So each of these worked heavily and got their rest from Jesus.  Similarly, we struggle here trying to be holy and live a righteous Catholic Christian life and become weary. It takes a huge tow on our physical nature, spiritual nature, emotional and psychological nature. Unfortunately, many of us give up. This is why we have to persevere.  If we stick to Christ and His spirit, the yoke will be easy and the burden light.

Today we are facing a different world. The world is rebelling against God and the Church more and more. In America, despite having the first amendment, Churches are threatened by the state for not following guidelines regarding lock downs. Recently, the attorney for Los Angeles sent a cease and resist letter to the Archdiocese demanding that they suspend public Mass again. These are affronts against our religious liberty granted by the Constitution. However, we know what is behind this. This is the demonic working in the background. Notice how the world became mad after public Mass was suspended.  The Mass is the most powerful prayer on its own. However, when billions are united with it, there is even a bigger display of power and faith. When public Mass was shut down, the demons that run the show behind the scenes became more active. What they fear the most (The Mass), was limited and hidden behind churches and chapels only visible on some social media outlets. We are now seeing the effects. It is no surprise why the statue of St. Junipero Serra was targeted, as well as, statues in the Fatima Shrine in Buffalo New York and other places. A Tabernacle was even stolen in a parish in the south. Now activists are calling for images of Jesus and Mary to be destroyed and march through the streets shouting, "There is no God." Is this merely human frustration due to witnessing a horrific murder of an African American being arrested?  One will be foolish to think this and not see what is really going on behind the scenes. The demonic forces are behind all of this. They are taking advantages of this situation to push God away and intimidate believers. We must work hard, resist the flesh and call on Christ's Spirit to help us.  We much come to Him and He will give us rest.  May Jesus Christ be praised! 


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Sunday, June 28, 2020

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Whoever Receives Me

Today's readings call us to accept Jesus, die to this world and represent Christ in the world with humility. 

The first reading tells us of Elisha visiting Shunem. He visited a woman of influence. At her home, he would often dine. She knew him to be a very holy and a man of God. Because of this, she had a room already prepared with a bed, table, chair and lamp. Out of gratitude, Elisha ask his servant Gehazi if something could be done for the woman. He wanted to repay her hospitality. The servant informed Elisha that she had no son and her husband was getting older. Elisha then promised that the next year she would be with a son.  This reading tells us the importance of being hospitable. Now, this does not mean we have to let just anyone home. We have to be prudent. Dangers are real and people do evil things. When God presents us with a stranger to care for, then we must welcome him or her. God will enlighten us in this regard. God will reward our hospitality.

This brings us to the Responsorial Psalm. We will sing God's goodness forever. God always keeps His promises. We all believe because we have experienced God. Many atheists love to make the claim that believers believer simply because a parent or older person raised us to believe. While there is some truth to this- we do learn things from those who teach us- the intention atheists have when making this statement is to discredit faith. God manifests to us in different ways. We each response accordingly. So in effect, no one teaches us to have faith in God, we grow in it as God gives us grace and we respond to it freely. This is why for generations, the faithful have proclaimed God's goodness and faithfulness. From the first chosen people the Jews, to the people now in the Catholic Church. Each generation has experienced God and His goodness. His kindness is established forever, especially in our hearts.  We are truly blessed and shout with joy. At Mass, we pray and sing "Glory to God!" We are linked to God. He is the Holy One of Israel and our King.

This brings us to the second reading. St. Paul tells us that when we are baptized, we are baptized in Christ Jesus and in His death. What does this mean?  Does not baptism give life?  Yes, it does. However, this life is the new life with Christ, spiritually speaking. Our bodies will still die but will rise again transformed. So in baptism, we die to the world and prepare for our physical deaths, but within Christ's body. At the end of time, we will rise again just like Christ rose from the dead. This new body will not die anymore. Death will die when this happens. This is because sin will be gone. Sin is what brings all the evils and troubles in the world. Baptism makes us dead to sin, dead to this world. This is why we cannot live like this world wants to us live.

Unfortunately, many believes get attached to this life and cannot divorce it from the faith. We must avoid this. We must be in the world, but of Christ. We must be dead to the world, but alive in Christ Jesus.  The things of this world should not influence us. We must be worthy of Christ Jesus. The Gospel for today reminds us of this.  Jesus tells us that we must love Him more that our own parents. This is a big statement. Recently, we celebrated mother's and father's day. We honor these two important people in our lives.  Without them, we would not be here physically. While they are not always perfect, we still appreciate our parents. They are sacred beings to us.

Similarly, when those who have children have them, they loved them immensely. This is why no parent wants his or her child to die before they do. It is literally a death of one's own body, in a sense since we all come from our parent's genetic makeup. It hurts a great deal to lose a child. Two years ago, I met the mother of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz who suffered the great loss of her son. He was brutally attacked at a bodega in the Bronx. His death brought the world to mourn him and angered everyone to bring about justice and change to protect our children. He was only 15 years old and was supposed to graduate this June 2020. Had he been alive, he probably would have had to have a virtual graduation and would have been applying to college or the police academy since he wanted to be an NYPD detective. His death hurt his mom and dad a great deal. I remember being at the funeral home and watching them break down and make all kinds of sounds of deep pain. It was hard to watch. The experience was haunting. So as one can imagine, the love between parents and children is a strong one. Despite this, Jesus says that whoever loves a son or daughter more than Him are not worthy of Him.

Is Jesus being selfish or an attention fanatic? Not at all. Remember, Jesus is God. God created us and gives us what we have. We owe everything to Him. It makes perfect sense that we are to love Him above all things and people. Furthermore, Jesus says that whoever does not take up his cross and follow Him is not worthy of Him. This means accepting the suffering and trials we face in life. He continues stating that whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses it for His sake will find it. This means that whoever makes it big in life will lose it eventually. The ideas of success in this world are not of God. God is not about the prosperity Gospel. There exists no such thing. This is a man-made heresy. Now this does not mean it is bad to be successful in life. What this means is that we must not make life about being successful. There is much more to life. Our success must serve God and one another. Losing our life for Christ's sake means literally that. We lose our lives either via death as a martyr or socially. We are called to suffer and possibly die for the sake of Jesus.  This is why those Catholics who fear the Covid-19 Coronavirus are not paying attention to today's Gospel. They prefer to have Mass suspended and churches closed rather than facing suffering and death for Christ's sake.  We must be open to suffering and even death. It is our calling as Christians. However, that does not mean martyrdom is the only way to die for Christ. This happens socially as well, as stated.  It is no surprise that once you start professing faith in Jesus, you will make enemies. People will not like you. They will pick fights with you, mock you, be suspicious of you. You will lose friends and relatives you thought were close to you. This is another form of losing our life for Christ.

But do not fear. When this happens, it means you have died with Christ and you are dead to the world!  And if you died with Him, you will rise with Him!  This makes us a disciple of Christ. Christ then says that whoever receives you receives me. This means that we are quasi-representatives of Jesus in each person we encounter. That is why we must be careful how we comport ourselves in the world. We must behave as Christ would. Jesus then ends with the idea of receiving someone with hospitality for who they are, a disciple of Christ. This means doing little things. A simply glass of cold water is a big enough gesture to show to a believer. This is because Christ wants us to be simple. St. Francis of Assisi understood this well and is why he sought his order to be minors and not major figures. He was called the "poverello," or little poor man. We too must be like him and not expect great things. A simple cup of cold water is suffice. In turn, we must not reject Jesus nor put anyone or anything above Him. We must present ourselves as in this world but of Christ and accept the cross given to us; whatever it may be.  May Jesus Christ be praised!

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Do not Deny Him

Today's readings tell us about having faith and not rejecting Christ.

The first reading tells us of Jeremiah's anxieties and suspicions. The text itself is a foreshadowing of what Jesus would face from His own people, especially the Pharisees. Jeremiah hears the whispers of the doubters. They plan against him and set up ways to make him stumble and look foolish. Jesus faced the same. The Pharisees sought Him, not to hear His wisdom and seek the kingdom, but to set Him up and make Him stumble. This, of course is not possible, but remember, they did not know He was God.

Despite their many attempts, they failed miserably. However, they did take vengeance against Him as today's reading foreshadows. No one can make God stumble. No one can make God look foolish. It is just not possible. God knows all and sees all. He tests the just and probes the mind and heart. We must trust in Him always and entrust our cause, or our life to Him. This is why we praise God and seek Him, even when things seem out of control. God will answer.

Today's responsorial Psalm expounds on this. We ask the Lord to answer us. For His sake, we bear insult and shame. Part of being a Catholic is bearing trials even from within the Church. Being Catholic does not mean all will go well and everyone will get along with you in a parish. You will find some characters which are good and some which are shady; some who are truthful and others who are disingenuous. I myself have faced several, including from among the clergy and religious life. It sometimes makes us feel shameful. However, we must persevere. Even if we become outcast to our brothers, we must fight on because of the zeal for God's house consumes us. This is how one knows God's grace is working heavily in us. When despite all odds, we continue on without being phased. We must take the insults, from those within the Church and those without. I know I always get insulted by atheists and others who blaspheme God. We must offer it up with the sufferings of Christ crucified.  We must pray to God and God will answer. Even when we feel God is not answering, that in itself is an answer. God hears our prayers, especially those of the poor and suffering. He never abandons them. Though things may seem dark at times, God is always there. The second reading reminds us that sin entered the world through one man and because of this, we all must suffer and eventually die. Death came to us all, both physically and spiritually. Baptism removes the Original Sin that caused this, but the effects still remain. Though our spiritual life begins to live and we must nourish it with prayer and the sacraments, our bodies still break down and we still have to face the wrath of nature at times.

This year, we are all facing the alleged Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic. Some have wondered why God did not remove it. Well we know the answer in today's reading. The sin of Adam and Eve tarnished the world. Things are not functioning as they should. Death is now a part of life. That being stated, we are all subject to disease, aging and viruses. God can overrule them, but this will not always happen unless the virus interferes with an immediate part of His plan that must take effect. So in His wisdom, God allows viruses and other things to play out for our salvation. We do not totally understand it now, but will eventually.  Nevertheless, despite this Original Sin bringing all of this hardship and death, Jesus came to bring life. Adam to Moses, David to John the Baptist all died. However, one died and defeated death by rising again. This is Jesus, the gracious gift to the world and to the universe. Jesus is God, the Son of God the Father and second person of the Blessed Trinity. Today's Gospel tells us not to deny Him or He will deny us. Nothing is a secret to God. God knows it all and all will be revealed. Jesus tells us not to be afraid.

This rings strongly today during this alleged pandemic. We cannot fear this virus or anything else even though it kills the body. Instead we must be worried about what kills the soul and body in Gehenna or Hell. God knows us all and knows what we are doing and what we will do.He knows all of our choices and possible combinations of them. Some atheists and philosophers claim this shows that free will does not exist. However the fact that God knows all the possible outcomes does not take away our ability from choosing either one of them freely. We must make our choices wisely so that they benefit our souls. This means acknowledging Jesus before others. We must never be ashamed of Jesus and the Gospel. We must never be ashamed of the Catholic faith. People will mock us, so be it. People will insult us, so be it. People may even physically attack us, so be it.  All is for the Lord and through Him as we united our suffering to Christ on the cross. We acknowledge Jesus before others best when we live the Gospel in complete holiness, not in hypocrisy or mechanically.  May Jesus Christ be praised! 

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ: Corpus Christi

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, or the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is so much attention given to the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, basically because Our Lord suffered and died for us.  He gave His Body and shed his blood so all can have the doors of Salvation opened to them.

Moreover, Christ emphasized the importance of His Salvific work on the Cross by leaving us the Holy Eucharist.  During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it and distributed among the Apostles saying that they were His Body and Blood.  He instructed them to do this in His memory.  (Luke 22:7-20)  In other words, this meal was not a one-time thing.  It had to continue.

Was Jesus Crazy?
Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  The answer is no. We will see this in today's Gospel.  In John 6:22-69 Jesus gave a long talk about the "Bread of Life."  He goes on to say that the bread Moses gave wasn't the "True Bread." The people asked Him for this "Bread of Life" and He then makes the radical statement that HE is the "Bread of Life" and the "True Bread from Heaven."  The people began to murmur among themselves because they knew Jesus was the son of Joseph, and not to mention that His words were a bit strange and in today's  postmodern world would be interpreted as psychotic and delusional.

However, it gets "stranger," so to speak.  Jesus continues saying that one has to "eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life."  This is when the people really had enough.  Many walked out on Him thinking He was a lunatic or a delusional.  Jesus then turns to His disciples and asks them if they will leave as well.  Peter replies saying that they can't go anywhere else because Jesus had the words of eternal life.  Peter is always the first to speak up or to lead, this shows why the Pope is the first bishop among all bishops of the world.

Real or Symbol?
Moreover, something interesting happens here in regards to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many of our separated brothers and sister in the Protestant faith believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  Let's think about this for a moment: When people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus didn't run in front of them and say "hey, wait a minute, I was joking." Instead, Jesus let them go.  This shows that He was very serious about His flesh and blood being actual things or foods that someone has to consume.  In 1 Cor 10:16  St. Paul reminds the people that the bread and wine are the Lord's Body and Blood.  He never calls them a symbolic representation of them.

Why bread and wine?
In Genesis 14:18 we read about Melchizedek - priest of God and king of Salem- giving Abram bread and wine.  He then blesses Abram.  Jesus uses bread and wine to make the connection to the Old covenant and to show that He is the True Priest who offers the True Sacrifice - Himself.

Bread is a food that is delicious.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body when burned as calories.  It is a food that is easy to make, but does a lot to appease hunger and give nutrients.  Then there is wine.  It is used to party with and used as medicine as well as a disinfectant agent for wounds.

Jesus as Bread and Wine does exactly that to our souls.  He appeases the hunger for God and nourishes the soul.  He brings our souls to jubilation by uniting with it when one receives Holy Communion.  He heals the soul from the harm sin has caused.

One may ask:  at Mass, the Bread and Wine still look, taste, smell, feel like Bread and Wine, so how can it be the Body and Blood of Christ?  Well, God knows us well.  God designed the human body and mind.  He knows that human beings would cringe at the sight of eating raw meat and drinking blood.  How many times have we ourselves have gotten disgusted at looking at our own wounds?  It is not easy seeing blood and flesh in a traumatic form.

A few years ago, there was a big story about the "Zombie" in Miami which involved a man high on "bath salt" drugs who attacked a homeless man and literally ate his face.  People were disgusted at the news and the reality of how a human can even succumb to this evil cannibalistic act.  That being said, God would not give us tangible and biologically tactile flesh and blood to eat and drink in the sense we are used to.  Rather, He would use matter that we are all familiar with and that we enjoy: food and drink.

At consecration, the Bread and Wine do not turn into a piece of meat and human blood with DNA, platelets, red/white cells etc - unless a Eucharistic Miracle has taken place which sometimes does occur.  These are heavily documented.  The outside, or the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, but what it is, or the essence changes.  Think of it this way:  We see leaves on trees.  During spring and summer, they are green.  However, during fall they begin to change colors.  They turn red, orange, yellow and brown.  Now let's think:  which one is the REAL leaf?  At one point it was green, then red, then orange, then yellow and then brown.  The leaf changed colors, so is it the same leaf when it was green?  The answer is yes.  The outside or accidents of the leaf changed, but the essence or what it is, remains the same.  The same with the Bread and Wine at Mass but in an opposite manner.  The outside remains the same (bread/wine) but the inside or what it is changes and becomes the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, we ourselves go through many changes.  Our bodies grow and change as we age; however, our temperament remains the same.

In today's first reading, we read of the mysterious food God gives the Hebrews after they embark on the Exodus to the Promised Land. This "Manna" from heaven gives them sustenance. God provides for His people, even in the desert. There is much speculation on what this substance was, but it was given to the Hebrews to help them on their journey. They ate of it and even stored it for later consumption. Today, many of us were afflicted with hunger, as the first reading says. The Covid-19 Coronvirus restricted Mass attendance nearly throughout the world. Many of us were left without our spiritual nutrition: The Eucharist. This was indeed a desert where we felt abandoned. However, God still provided. Now many of us are blessed to return to Mass in some form or another and can receive the true Bread from Heaven, Jesus Himself in the Holy Communion. This brings us all to shout out praise to God as the responsorial Psalm calls us to.  We praise the Lord as the New Jerusalem.

In today's responsorial Psalm we say, "Praise the Lord, Jerusalem." We glorify God who merits all glory. He has been our strength, even in times of despair, weakness and pestilence.  The Lord fills us with the best wheat. This wheat is Jesus, His own Son who died on a Cross for us. Jesus becomes bread and wine for us to give us life and salvation. He is truly present under the form of bread and wine consecrated by a priest at Holy Mass. This is not a parlor trick or some psychological placebo meant to give us a sense of spiritual satisfaction. This is something that is real.  We see this in the second reading.

Today's second reading reminds us that Jesus is truly present.  St. Paul asks the people of Corinth, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" Here St. Paul is reminding the people that the cup of wine and loaf of bread is truly Jesus Christ. We truly partake in the body and blood of Christ; His entire essence as God and man. Now when he says "we bless," he is not saying that we consecrate the bread and wine. Only the priest can do this. The "we bless" here means that we invoke or seek God to look favorably on us via His presence in the Holy Eucharist. The reading ends with St. Paul saying that "Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."  This is where the word "Communion" comes into play. We are in union with Christ and one another as the Church. So when we received Holy Communion, we not only united with Jesus Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity, but also one another as the One Catholic Church. This is why those who are not Catholic cannot receive Holy Communion. Receiving Holy Communion is also an act of unity with the Catholic Church. So if one is in mortal sin, heresy, outside of the Church via another religion or simply do not believe; one is not in union with the Church so one should not receive. Similarly, a Catholic should never receive any parody of Communion from another Protestant Christian denonmination. Receiving Holy Communion is a profession of faith and a manifestation of unity with the Catholic Church; which means, unity with the Pope and adherance to the Church's teachings. 

Finally in the Gospel, we read how Jesus is serious when He says that the bread is His flesh and His blood is true drink. We touched on this already, but it does not hurt to look at it again. Jesus reminds us that He is the bread from heaven. The first reading links to this. Jesus is not the Manna God sent to the Hebrews. That was regular food for the body. In a sense, it was a preparation for the true bread from heaven, Jesus. This bread is literally Jesus Himself which is given tot he world for the life of the world. The people around Jesus could not understand Him. They argued among themselves showing disbelief. "How can this man give us His flesh to Eat?" This is what they asked each other. They were puzzled, probably disgusted thinking Jesus was promoting cannibalism. However, despite this commotion. Jesus doubles down stating, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat this flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink." One can imagine the faces of the people as Jesus said this. Jesus was not kidding around. He was serious. In today's jargon, "dead serious." Jesus goes on to say, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." This is the very definition of "Communion," or com (with) unus (union: together in oneness). This Communion gives life because it is God Himself who comes to us.  This is the true bread from heaven that gives life.

Corpus Christi is a day to reflect on this and thank Our Lord for remaining with us in hidden form under the appearance of Bread and Wine. Many dioceses and parishes have processions on this day.  They process through the parish area with the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance or Ciborium.  This is an awesome event and I wish every parish and diocese did this.

I also urge you to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and spent time with Him.  Many parishes have Eucharistic adoration for a period of time, sometimes perpetually. As parieshes and chapels are starting to reopen after this alleged pandemic, take the time to visit the Lord and adore Him.

There is nothing like getting lost in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Go visit our Lord, share your life, your activities, your stresses, your desires, etc.  He is there waiting for you. May Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist be praised forever!

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Sunday, April 26, 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter: Jesus in the Eucharist

Today's readings tell us that Jesus is the one we should follow. It also gives us a glimpse of the Petrine office of Peter, the first pope. 

The first reading begins with Peter taking a leadership role. He "stood up" and "raised his voice." This is important language to understand for us Catholics and our separated brothers and sisters in the faith. We see Peter as the leader here. He takes the role as the spokesman.  He tells the Jews about Jesus the Nazarene. This Jesus was commended by God with mighty deeds, wonders and signs.  Peter is telling the Jews that Jesus was the one sent by God and this was obvious via His works.  This Jesus was delivered up by a set plan God already knew.  Peter tells the Jews that Jesus was killed by them using lawless men. Let me clarify this a bit. This statement does not mean all of the Jews are responsible for Jesus' death. In reality, we all are. Yes, Jews were present screaming out "crucify Him," but not all Jews.  So we have to be careful with this verse and not use it to promote antisemitism. Unfortunately, there are some who call themselves "radical traditionalists" who have hate for Jews. I have read blogs where some have even stated that Jesus, Mary and the disciples were not Jews!  This is just ignorance that leads to silly and hateful rhetoric.  Anyhow, Peter tells the Jews about the importance of Jesus.  He cites David, who Jesus has direct lineage to.  Then He compares David to Jesus.  David was great, was blessed by God but died and his tomb still exists among them, he says. However, Jesus rose from the dead. His tomb is present, but it is empty.  So Peter is basically stating that David etc were all pointing to Christ. Christ is the one we should seek. Everything was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is why in the responsorial Psalm we respond, "Lord, you will show us the path of life." 

Jesus is the way, only He. No one else saves. In Jesus we find salvation, completion and purpose. This is why we bless the Lord and ask Him to counsel us. The Lord should always be set before us. Oh, and what a way we can do this literally with the Holy Eucharist!  Jesus is literally set before us. No other religion can claim this honor. The Lord will give strengthen us and show us the path to life.  This path must be guided by strong morals which lead to holiness. The second reading reminds us that we must invoke God as Father.  Think about this for a moment. God is our Father!  The living real God who made the universe and everything is our Father. This is an entire reflection on its own! And what an awesome one! God who is impartial is our Father.  He will just us according to our works. So this is why we have to conduct ourselves with reverence, respect what was handed down by our ancestors which has been blessed by the blood of Christ. Christ who was known before the foundation of the world. 

Lastly, the Gospel tells us about Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus. The walk was about seven miles. Two of the disciples are walking to Emmaus and Jesus gets close to them on their walk. They did not recognize Him at first. The two were discussing and debating the details surrounding the passion and resurrection. I can imagine that they were still in disbelief over what happened and probably wondering if it were all true. Did Jesus really die? Was He really the King of the Jews? Did Jesus really rise from the dead or was His body stolen? This would make sense considering the disciples were mere humans and still did not fully grasp everything. The Holy Spirit had not come upon them yet. As Jesus walked with them, He pretended He did not know what was going on or what they were debating. They responded, "Are you the only visitor who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?"  He asked, "What sort of things?"  They then told Him about Jesus the Nazarene, or himself and how He died and the tomb was empty.  They added the details of women seeing angels and what not at the site. Jesus then replied to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!  How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?"  Jesus then gives them a Scripture lesson from the beginning of what Jesus as Messiah was all about.

Despite this, they still did not realize that Jesus was the one talking to them, though they did feel a burning within their hearts. It was not until they asked Him to stay with them and Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them that they realized it was Jesus. He then vanished leaving them dumbfounded.  This is important to reflect on. Our Protestant friends adopted the error from Martin Luther regarding using Scripture alone. While the Bible is awesome and necessary, it is not the only thing we need or can use. Scripture is not enough. Notice how when Jesus speaks to the two disciples using Scripture, they did not know it was Jesus. The Scriptures on Jesus being told to them by Jesus did not lead them to realize it was Jesus all along walking and talking to them. How is this possible? Here we have actual recorded evidence on Jesus, yet it did not help reveal Jesus to the disciples.  It was only when He blessed bread, broke it and gave it to them that they realized Jesus was there. 

Does this sound familiar?  If you guessed the Last Supper or the Holy Eucharist, you are correct.  It is only when Jesus has Mass and gives the Eucharist, His body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine that the two disciples realize He is there.  Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. This is not a symbolic gesture Jesus did or a repetition of the Seder meal. When Jesus said "This is my body," He literally meant it. This is why it pains me when I read on social media people's comments regarding Communion and the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus. They insinuate that this virus can spread via Jesus' body and blood. What a disrespect!  While the Eucharist appears as bread and wine on the outside, the substance is literally Jesus Christ.  Ask yourself: Would Jesus allow this to be a conduit for spread of disease?  To suggest that we should stop Communion or change reception of it because of a virus is a lack of faith and an affront to Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament.  Hopefully the closure of churches and chapels will foster a greater desire and love for the Eucharist. I pray that when the churches reopen that they will be filled with people desiring to feel the sweet bread from heaven in the mouths.  It is only in the Eucharist where we truly discover Jesus. Scripture prepares our hearts with the burning just like it did with the two disciples, but the bread is what opens our minds, eyes and hearts to the realize that Jesus is present there.  O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment Thine!


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday: We Need Mercy Today

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is the day that the mercy of God shines greatly over those who choose to receive it.  Our Lord Jesus appeared to St. Sister Faustina of Polish origin in the 30's.  He instructed her about God's mercy and how sin offends God but that sin doesn't have the last say.

God is a just God.  Many Atheists, Skeptics and others question God's wrath which is highly illustrated through words in the Old Testament.

"How can this be a good God?"  they cry out in disgust.  Well God is good.  God has to be just in order for good to have a chance in a world full of evil and sin.

If crimes go unpunished, then we will live in an anything goes society which will eventually collapse.  This is why we have laws and judicial systems in order to keep the common good afloat.  God is no different.  The God of the universe is just and does punish when necessary.  Moreover, this punishment is no different than a parent disciplining his/her child.  We belong to God and He can do whatever He wants with us.

However, the Divine Mercy devotion sheds more light into God's justice.  God above all is merciful.  There is no sin He cannot forgive.  There is no evil that is greater than God's mercy.

Jesus left St. Faustina a chaplet that we should pray everyday at 3:00 PM if possible.  This hour is of course the time Jesus completed His redemptive act on the Cross for all peoples in every time and place.  The chaplet is simple and easy to pray with Rosary beads.

How to pray the Chaplet:

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.

2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:

Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).

4. Conclude with(three times):

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

God is love and wants to forgive us all.  Approach His mercy with faith, hope and love and He will forgive you!  

Today's first reading tells us how the first Catholics lived. They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, or the magisterium of the Church and lived in community. This would be the prototypes of the parish or religious life.  They would also break bread and prayed. This, of course, is the Mass or the Eucharistic celebration of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Many wonders happened among them, or miracles.  All those who believed were united and had all things in common. There was no division or schisms. 

The first Catholics helped each other out. They sold things to help others and shared things to help each other in their need.  There was even daily Mass. First, they went to the temple every day and then broke bread at home.  This was the early Mass. The Catholic Church did not have magestic churches or cathedrals. The church was at home. The Liturgy of the Word was first done at the temple where they heard the Word of God, the Old Testament. There was no New Testament yet. Then they went home and had the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Eucharist was celebrated at private homes and reserved there. This is our history that we should recall and learn about. Some Catholics who called themselves "traditionalists" love to set Trent as the "proper" point that reflects authentic Catholicism. This is silly and ignorant. Before Trent, there was no unified Mass. Each region had its own rite. The claim that the "Latin Mass" is the only rite is just nonsense. 

In fact, the first Masses were in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. Latin came later. The Mass rite from Trent was not used in the early Church. Claims to the contrary is based on poor knowledge and fanaticism. The rites of the Mass have been in development since the early days. It began as the Last Supper, then as what we read today in the first reading and continued to adapt until what we have now: the Extraordinary form and Ordinary Form.  This is only for the Roman Rite of course. Other rites developed in their own way, but all have the two main hinges: Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Mass is not just a place to worship. It is also a place of community. As we read in the reading, the first disciples and followers were unified and helped each other. Unfortunately today, we have many schisms among the faithful. One group says they are the true Catholics because they pray in Latin, while another says they are the true Catholics because they accept Vatican II.  This is not the way to go about the Catholic faith.  

On Twitter, I read a tweet from someone replying to another Catholic who said the Pre-Vatican II liturgy created an atmosphere of ignorance among the laity where they just sat and prayed the Rosary at Mass without understanding what was going on.  The replier stated that understanding was not necessary, that people go to worship God.  While that is partially true, the replier failed to understand the need for community. The Church is a family, a community. The first reading tells us the importance of communal life. We are the Body of Christ with distinct parts working within one system. One part cannot work independently of the other. There has to be community.  In this community, we worship God and give thanks, as the Responsorial Psalm tells us.  

We go to God's how and recall how His mercy endures forever. Today this is significant in that the homes of the laity have become small churches.  Like in the first century, Catholics are praying at home. We recall God's mercy on this day especially, Divine Mercy Sunday.  We are reminded of God's compassion.  The second reading tells us of this great mercy of God which gives new birth and hope.  It reminds us that we have an inheritance in heaven and the importance of faith during trials.  The Gospel tells us of Christ appearing to the apostles after His resurrection. He tells them "peace be with you." We all need peace today. So many are afraid and worried about the covid-19 coronavirus and the economic impacts it has caused. These are not to overshadow the loss of life and the fact that many families did not say goodbye to their sick loved ones and are now unable to have a proper funeral and burial for them.  The whole situation is horrible.  Nevertheless, they bring us to our knees to ask God for mercy.  God replies to us with "peace be with you."  The world cannot give peace, only God.  Jesus in the Gospel gives the apostles the power to forgive the sins of others.  

Many Protestants believe confession is a man-made idea. They think the popes and priests made this up. The truth is that Jesus gave us this Sacrament of Penance.  We must make use of it by going to confession and receiving absolution and the peace of God that comes with it.  I know many of you reading this, if not all, can attest to that sense of peace and relief one feels after confession. You come out of the "box" feeling brand new and at ease. It feels like an internal massage that released the tension and stress sin brought to the body and soul. Confession is awesome and I recommend it.  Before psychotherapies existed, there was confession which brings healing both spiritually and emotionally. Lastly, we read of Thomas doubting that Jesus was truly before Him. Jesus tells him to put his finger in his wounds. Thomas, in a sense, represents atheists, skeptics and agnostics who need to "see evidence" or have empirical pronouncements that reflect actual reality.  Jesus invites us to get closer to Him and feel His wounds. It is His wounds that bring us to strong faith because we see how much God loved us. We can find God in nature and the awesomeness of the universe, but we can find God truly in the wounds of Christ. Those wounds express: God is Love.  

This is why Thomas replied, "My Lord and my God!"  We experience the Divine Mercy when we approach Jesus and feel His wounds. It is no wonder why Jesus appeared with two rays in the image. Those rays come forth from His wounded heart.  Jesus is always working in us. This is why in the Gospel we read that Jesus did other signs, so many that they were not recorded.  Not everything is in the Bible. The Gospel reminds us this. Jesus did many more things which we may never know about until we meet Him face to face and He reveals everything. In the meantime, let us take advantage of God's Divine Mercy, go to confession and try very hard to live in unity and community. Let us learn the roots of our Mass and faith and not designate set points in time as the point of authentic Catholic faith or Liturgy. The Catholic Church is a work in progress.  Let us pray to the Divine Mercy for the world today plagued with this mysterious virus which may be nature at work or even man's meddling with genetics. Only God can save us from nature and ourselves.  Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on us!  We need mercy today!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil Reflection - The Darkened Church

Today is Holy Saturday and the Catholic Church has its Liturgy of Light.  Ironically, this Liturgy will be reflected in dark churches with empty pews.  You can read more about the liturgy here in this older post.

The Easter Vigil with its Liturgy is supposed to reflect the Light of Christ bringing life to the Church. Jesus died on Good Friday and rose on Easter Sunday.  Without Christ, the Church is a desolate dark place without any meaning or purpose.  It is a barren wasteland with missing crucifixes, open tabernacle with no one inside, an extinguished Sanctuary Lamp and an undressed altar.  These aesthetics mystically reflect the Church today with empty pews. The Church is dark. The people are gone. Where are they?  Where is the faith?  This Lent and Holy Week is one to remember. The whole globe was forced to give many things up.  Everyone is being reminded that we are indeed dust and to dust we shall return. Covid-19 Coronavirus has led to many deaths due to complications. While the flu kills more, this virus seems to be more aggressive. This along with the media distortions and aloof tone of the government have forced many to panic.  Science has failed. Government has failed. Even religion has failed. No one knows what to do.  Medical professionals and government officials are playing a guessing game. Each day they give contradictory information.  The bishops and many others have fallen into the frenzy as well without ever questioning.

They blinded accepted conclusions that were not based on accurate science. Catholics have demonstrated that they are susceptible to the Milgram experiement where people blindly followed orders to shock another person simply because someone in authority told them to. Their morals, objectivity and reasons seemed to have vanished.  This is true darkness.  The Church is indeed dark today.  The closing of parishes and suspension of Masses without strong evidence to do this is disturbing. There is no record in history of contagion spreading via Communion or the Mass. None at all. Despite this, our bishops blindly followed commands from officials.  Even atheists who are fond of "separation of Church and State" have gone deaf and blind as the State interferes with the Church.  What is going on?  Is the ushering in of the antichrist or the warning of Garabandal?  We cannot know for certain. However, there is indeed something on the cosmic spiritual level going on here.  It makes no sense to close churches while allowing liquor stores, abortion clinics and supermarkets to remain open. 

In many areas, the latter attract more people than Mass!  Yet, the Mass is deemed as not essential and a conduit for disease to spread.   The Easter Vigil reminds us that without Christ, the Church is nothing.  Christ is the light of the world.  Covid-19 has reminded man that he is not in charge.  Science is not in charge, government is not in charge.  Not even religion is in charge.  We need Jesus.  This is not the time to close parishes and suspend the Sacraments where we encounter Jesus directly.  We need the light.  The Easter Vigil demonstrates how the light of Christ brings life to the Church. 

 The ceremony begins with a darken church building.  The celebrant meets the people outside with a fire.  He will bless this fire and prepare the Paschal or Easter candle.  The fire is then used to light the candles symbolizing the Light of Christ.

What is light?  Physics tells us that it is electromagnetic radiation made up of photons that is detectable by the
human eye as well as the eyes of other organisms.  It is composed of many wavelengths, not all of which are capable of being detected and processed by the human eye. The human eye can only detect the spectrum of wavelengths from about 650 nanometers where red is present and about 400 nanometers where violet is detected.

Light is the fastest substance in the universe traveling at 186,282 miles per second. Light presents to us spatial and temporal information of things around us. Matter in the universal absorbs and reflects light waves.  Depending on the charges of particles in an object, light is absorbed and some of it is reflected back allowing our eyes to see the object and its color(s) when the light enters the eye into the cones which process the information in the brain.  Nothing can travel faster or as fast as it. Despite this knowledge of light, we still do not truly understand it. However, light is extremely important for life to truly evolve and progress in nature.

In Scripture, light is mentioned many times.  As a matter of fact, it is first mentioned in the third verse of Genesis chapter 1. God says "let there be light." Prior to this, the author describes existence as dark and desolate. Darkness is something most of us do not like. When we are in the dark, we get moody, depressed and sleepy. Our energy drains from our bodies and we feel lethargic especially during winter time when there is less light.  Psychologists call this "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or "Winter Blues."  This goes to show how powerful light and darkness are.  They effect us in many ways. As the weather warms in spring and we see more daylight, we get cheerful and have a "bounce in our step." Light livens everything up.

Darkness may seem powerful.  It engulfs everything. However, it blinds and creates dangerous scenarios. Despite this, light is so powerful that it stands out even in the darkest area. The stars in the sky shine brightly against the darkness of the universe. These stars are light years away and despite this, their light reaches our eyes here on Earth. The light from our own sun takes 8 minutes to reach us, yet it is powerful enough to warm our planet and illuminate the material that composes it.

The Paschal candle reminds us of light.  Christ is the light.  We all walked in darkness as Isaiah 9:2 says. As I stated before, darkness is dangerous. Without light, we get disoriented and our brain has a difficult time processing spatial information by using stored memories of an environment and sounds. Psychologists call this "Sensory Deprivation" or "Spatial Disorientation."  Most of us have lived in our homes for many years and know it well.  However, this familiarity changes when we try to walk in the dark. We will stumble on things or crash into a wall most of the time.  Our souls when they are in darkness stumble as well (John 11:10).  We do not know where we are at and walk about until we fall in sin.

In today's world full of atheistic existentialism and relativism, we are getting lost in strange philosophies that push God away in favor of man's formulations of morality and his social constructions.  This is the "new god" that is blinding many societies today into rejecting the reality of life in the womb and setting aside the natural complementary union between a man and woman for counterfeit unions (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Jesus, the Light of the World (John 9:5) came into the world to illuminate humanity (John 1:4) and it still rejects this light in preference of the darkness (John 3:19).  The human being is stubborn in this way.  Evil and sin always seem to be "fun" while good and holiness is the pastime of boring people or prudes.  This is the Concupiscence in us driving us to incline towards the bad (CCC 405).

The Easter Vigil reminds us of this.  The church building is dark. We are in the dark without Christ. Despite this immense darkness, the small flame from the Paschal Candles is enough to light the way as we enter the church building.  This small flame allows us to enter without stumbling.  As the people light their candles from the Paschal Candle, the light grows more intense and we begin to see each other's faces more.  The light of Christ restores the image of God in us.  The light we receive must not be hidden, nor should we fall back into darkness for we are children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5). 

We must go out into the dark world and illumine it just like each star illumines the night sky despite being small in appearance in contrast of the immense darkness of the universe.  Our Christian lives must be witness to Christ Jesus.  This is why Pope Francis has been centering his Papacy on Christian witness.  The light that we receive from Christ must not be so bright that it blinds others.  Nor should it burn them to the point of scaring them away.  We must be humble and present the light of Christ with love.

Christ is indeed the light that continues to shine even in this dark world.  He is risen!  He is with us and will return at the end of time.  Let us spend our lives on Earth bringing the light of Christ to the world.  We must have faith and not hide.  Jesus is the light of the world.  He is the Lord of death and life.  He defeated death.  Jesus commands the seas and winds, the molecules of water and wine, the nerves of the blind, crippled and dead. How can we believe that He has no command over viruses or pandemic events?   This is a lack of faith.  Let us believe truly in the resurrected Christ.  Christ can do all things.  Let us trust in Him and seek his light. 

Exorcism Pray of St. Michael Written by Pope Leo XIII


Jussu Leonis Pp. XIII editus
Acta Sanctae Sedis vol. XXIII

In nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Exsurgat Deus et dissipentur inimici ejus: et fugiant qui oderunt eum a facie ejus. Sicut deficit fumus, deficiant: sicut fluit cera a facie ignis, sic pereant peccatores
a facie Dei.
Judica, Domine, nocentes me: expugna impugnantes me.
Confundantur et revereantur quaerentes animam meam.
Avertantur retrorsum et confundantur cogitantes mihi mala.
Fiat tamquam pulvis ante faciem venti: et angelus Domini coarctans eos.
Fiat viae illorum tenebrae, et lubricum: et angelus Domini persequens eos.
Quoniam gratis absconderunt mihi interitum laquei sui: supervacue
exprobraverunt animam meam.
Veniat illi laqueus quem ignorat; et captio quam anscondit, apprehendat eum: et
in laqueum cadat in ipsum.
Anima autem meam exsultabit in Domino: et delectabitur super salutari suo.
Ad Sanctum Michaëlem Archangelum.Precatio.
Princeps gloriosissime cælestis militiæ, sancte Michaël Archangele, defende nos in prælio et colluctatione, quæ nobis adversus principes et potestates, adversus mundi rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritualia nequitiæ, in cælestibusus. Veni in auxilium hominum, quos Deus creavit inexterminabiles, et ad imaginem
similitudinis suæ fecit, et a tyrannide diaboli emit pretio magno. Præliare hodie cum beatorum Angelorum exercitu prælia Domini, sicut pugnasti contra ducem superbiæ luciferum, et angelos ejus apostaticos: et non valuerunt, neque locus inventus est eorum amplius in coelo. Sed projectus est draco ille magnus, serpens antiquus, qui vocatur diabolus et satanas, qui seducit universum orbem; et projectus est in terram, et angeli ejus cum illo missi sunt.
En antiquus inimicus et homicida vehementer erectus est. Transfiguratus in angelum lucis, cum tota malignorum spirituum caterva late circuit et invadit terram, ut in ea deleat nomen Dei et Christi ejus, animasque ad æternæ gloriæ coronam destinatas furetur, mactet ac perdat in sempiternum interitum. Virus
nequitiæ suæ, tamquam flumen immundissimum, draco maleficus transfundit in homines depravatos mente et corruptos corde; spiritum mendacii, impietatis et blasphemiæ; halitumque mortiferum luxuriæ, vitiorum omnium et iniquitatum.
[Ecclesiam, Agni immaculati sponsam, faverrrimi hostes repleverunt amaritudinibus, inebriarunt absinthio; ad omnia desiderabilia ejus impias miserunt manus. Ubi sedes beatissimi Petri et Cathedra veritatis ad lucem gentium constituta est, ibi thronum posuerunt abominationis et impietatis suæ; ut percusso Pastore, et gregem disperdere valeant.]
Adesto itaque, Dux invictissime, populo Dei contra irrumpentes spirituales nequitias, et fac victoriam. Te custodem et patronum sancta veneratur Ecclesia; te gloriatur defensore adversus terrestrium et infernorum nefarias potestates; tibi tradidit Dominus animas redemptorum in superna felicitate locandas. Deprecare Deum pacis, ut conterat satanam sub pedibus nostris, ne ultra valeat captivos tenere homines, et Ecclesiæ nocere. Offer nostras preces in conspectu Altissimi, ut cito anticipent nos misericordiæ Domini, et apprehendas draconem, serpentem antiquum, qui est diabolus et satanas, ac ligatum mittas in abyssum, ut non seducat amplius gen tes. Hinc tuo confisi præsidio ac tutela, sacri ministerii nostri auctoritate [si fuerit laicus, vel clericus qui ordinem exorcistatus nondum suscepit, dicat: sacra sanctae Matris Ecclesiae auctoritate], ad infestationes diabolicæ fraudis repellendas in nomine Jesu Christi Dei et Domini nostri
fidentes et securi aggredimur.
V. Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversæ.
R. Vicit Leo de tribu Juda, radix David.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos.
R. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
[si fuerit saltem diaconus subjungat V. Dominus vobiscum. R. Et cum spiritu tuo.]
Deus, et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, invocamus nomen sanctum tuum, et clementiam tuam supplices exposcimus ut, per intercessionem immaculatæ semper Virginis Dei Genitricis Mariæ, beati Michaëlis Archangeli, beati Joseph ejusdem beatæ Virginis Sponsi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli et omnium Sanctorum, adversus satanam, omnesque alios immundos spiritus, qui ad nocendum humano generi animasque perdendas pervagantur in mundo, nobis auxilium præstare digneris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica, in nomine et virtute Domini Nostri Jesu + Christi, eradicare et effugare a Dei Ecclesia, ab animabus ad imaginem Dei conditis ac pretioso divini Agni sanguine
redemptis + . Non ultra audeas, serpens callidissime, decipere humanum genus, Dei Ecclesiam persequi, ac Dei electos excutere et cribrare sicut triticum + . Imperat tibi Deus altissimus + , cui in magna tua superbia te similem haberi adhuc præsumis; qui omnes homines vult salvos fieri et ad agnitionem veritaris venire. Imperat tibi Deus Pater + ; imperat tibi Deus Filius + ; imperat tibi Deus Spiritus Sanctus + . Imperat tibi majestas Christi, æternum Dei Verbum, caro factum + , qui pro salute generis nostri tua invidia perditi, humiliavit semetipsum facfus hobediens usque ad mortem; qui Ecclesiam suam ædificavit supra firmam petram, et portas inferi adversus eam nunquam esse prævalituras edixit, cum ea ipse permansurus omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem sæculi. Imperat tibi sacramentum Crucis + , omniumque christianæ fidei Mysteriorum virtus +. Imperat tibi excelsa Dei Genitrix Virgo Maria + , quæ superbissimum caput tuum a primo instanti immaculatæ suæ conceptionis in sua humilitate contrivit. Imperat tibi fides sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et ceterorum Apostolorum + . Imperat tibi Martyrum sanguis, ac pia Sanctorum et Sanctarum omnium intercessio +.
Ergo, draco maledicte et omnis legio diabolica, adjuramus te per Deum + vivum, per Deum + verum, per Deum + sanctum, per Deum qui sic dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret, ut omnes qui credit in eum non pereat, sed habeat vitam æternam: cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare: desine Ecclesiæ nocere, et ejus libertati laqueos injicere. Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis. Da locum Christo, in quo nihil invenisti de operibus tuis; da locum Ecclesiæ uni, sanctæ, catholicæ, et apostolicæ, quam Christus ipse acquisivit sanguine suo. Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei; contremisce et effuge, invocato a nobis sancto et terribili nomine Jesu, quem inferi tremunt, cui Virtutes cælorum et Potestates et Dominationes subjectæ sunt; quem Cherubim et Seraphim indefessis vocibus laudant, dicentes: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
[si fuerit saltem diaconus subjungat V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.]
Deus coeli, Deus terræ, Deus Angelorum, Deus Archangelorum, Deus Patriarcharum, Deus Prophetarum, Deus Apostolorum, Deus Martyrum, Deus Confessorum, Deus Virginum, Deus qui potestatem habes donare vitam post mortem, requiem post laborem; quia non est Deus præter te, nec esse potest nisi tu creator omnium visibilium et invisibilium, cujus regni non erit finis: humiIiter majestati gloriæ tuæ supplicamus, ut ab omni infernalium spirituum potestate, laqueo, deceptione et nequitia nos potenter liberare, et incolumes custodire digneris. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias libertate servire, te rogamus, audi nos.
Ut inimicos sanctæ Ecclesiæ humiliare digneris, te rogamus audi nos.

 ***Et aspergatur locus aqua benedicta

Domine, iniquitatem neque memineris parentum; non vosmet ipsos defendentes pro peccatis nostris, (Tobias III, III).

Ora Oratio Dominica:

Pater noster qui es in coelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut  in coelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
et ne nos inducas in tentationem
sed libera nos a malo.  Amen

† in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen



In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

Psalm 67 Arise God, may His enemies be scattered and those who hate Him flee from His presence.
As smoke disperses, so may they disperse; as wax melts before the fire, so will the impious perish before God.

Psalm 34 Lord, fight against those who attack me; combat against those who wage war against me.
May those who persecute me to death suffer defeat and be shamed. Return the sword full of confusion to those who plot my harm. May they be like dust before the wind when the Angel of the Lord destroys them. May their path be dark and slippery, when the Angel of the Lord persecutes them. Because without motive they tended webs of death, without reason they set mortal traps for me.
May an unforseen disaster surprise them, may the net they hid entangle them; may they fall in the same trap they set for me.
My soul rejoices with the Lord and will enjoy its salvation. Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now and always, world without end. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Michael Archangel
Most glorious Prince of the Celestial Militia, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the fight we maintain combating "against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the malignant spirits dispersed through the airs" (Ephesians, 6, 12).

Come to the assistance of "men whom God has created incorruptible in His image and likeness" (Wisdom 2, 23) and rescued at such "a high price" (1Corinthians, 6, 20) from the tyranny of the devil.

With the Hosts of the Good Angels fight today the battles of the Lord, as from time inmemorial You fought against Lucifer, leader of haughtiness and fighter against his own apostate angels. They all cannot prevail and have lost their places in Heaven. "The great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent named devil and Satan, the seducer of the entire world; he was precipitated to the earth and with him all his angels also fell" (Apocalypse 12, 8-9).

From here it is that the ancient enemy and homicidist has arisen with vehemence. Disguised as the "angel of light" (2 Corinthians, 11, 14) with the escort of all his malignant spirits he surrounds and invades the entire earth, and is installed in all places, with the purpose to erase therein the Name of God and of His Christ, to attack and snatch the souls destined for the crown of eternal glory, to destroy and lose them for ever. As the most filthy torrent of evil, the malignant dragon poured over those men with depraved minds and corrupted hearts, the venom of his malice: the spirit of lying, of impiety and of blasphemy; the lethal breath of lust, of all vices and iniquities.

Those enemies most crafty and sly have filled with bitterness and sadness the Church, spouse of the Immaculate Lamb. They have given Her wormwood to drink; they have placed their impious hands over everything that for Her is most dear. Where the Seat of Saint Peter and the Cathedral of the Truth has been erected to be a light for the nations, they have erected the throne of domination of impiety betting that with luck, having struck down the pastor, they can disperse their congregation. Oh invincible champion, help the people of God against the perversity of the spirits that attack them and give them the victory!

The Holy Church venerates you as Her guardian, patron and protector; be the glory that you are as Her defender against the toxic terrestrial and infernal powers; God has entrusted to you the souls of the redeemed to place them in the state of their deserved supreme happiness. Plead to the God of Peace that He crush Satan beneath our feet, so that he may no longer retain men captive nor harm Your Church. Offer our prayers to the Most High so that without any delay the mercies of the Lord may descend on us (Psalsm 78, 8), and hold captive the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan and, once enchained, cast him into the abyss so that he may never again be able to seduce the nations (Apocalypse 20).

After this, confident in your protection and patronage, with the sacred authority of the Holy Mother Church, we dispose ourselves to reject the pestilence of the diabolical frauds, confident and secure in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our God and Lord.

V. Here is the Holy Cross of the Lord! Be gone, flee, enemy powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered.
V. May Your mercy, Lord, come over us.
R. As we hope in You.
V. Lord, listen to our prayer.
R. And may our clamor reach You.
V. May the Lord be with you.
R. And with Your Spirit.

Let us Pray
God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we invoke Your Holy Name and we implore suplicatingly Your clemency so that, by the intercession of the always Immaculate and Virgin Mary Mother of God, of the Archangel Saint Michael, of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Most Holy Virgin, of the Apostles Peter and Paul and of all the Saints, that You deign to lend us Your efficacious aid against Satan and all the putrid spirits that roam throughout the world so as to harm the human race and for the perdition of souls. Amen.

(At the "" make the sign of the Cross)
We exorcize you, all malignant spirit, satanic power, attacks of the infernal adversary, legion, concentration and diabolical sect, in the Name and Virtue of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to leave and flee from the Church of God, from souls created in the image of God and redeemed by the Most Precious Blood of the Divine Lamb.
From now on, do not venture, most perfidious serpent, to deceive the elect and sift them like wheat. The Most High God commands this to you, to whom, in your insolent arrogance you still pretend to resemble, "He who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy, 2).
God the Father commands you.
God the Son commands you.
God the Holy Ghost commands you.
The Majesty of Jesus Christ, God’s Eternal Word made man, commands you.
He, Who to save our race, which became lost due to your envy, "humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death" (Philippians, 2, 8);
He, Who has built His Church on firm rock and revealed that the powers of hell would never prevail against Her, because He will dwell with Her all the days until the end of the world" (Saint Matthew, 28, 20).
The sacred Sign of the Holy Cross commands you,
and also the virtue of All the Mysteries of the Christian Faith.
The august Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, commands you who, by her humility from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, crushed your proud head.
The faith of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of all the other Apostles command you.
The blood of the Martyrs and the pious intercession of all the Saints command you.

Thus, cursed dragon and all diabolical legions, we adjure you by the Living God, by the True God, by the Holy God, "Who so loved the world that He handed over His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but live the everlasting life" (Saint John, 3); stop deceiving human creatures and feeding them the poison of eternal perdition; stop harming the Church and setting traps against Her liberty.

Begone, Satan, inventor and master of all fallacy, enemy of the salvation of men. Place yourself before Jesus Christ in Whom you have found none of your works. Place yourself before the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the same One acquired by Jesus Christ with His Blood.

Humble yourself below the All-Powerful Hand of God. Tremble and flee as we invoke the Holy and terrible Name of Jesus, before which all hells tremble, to which the Virtues, Powers and Dominations of the Heavens submit, which the Cherubim and Seraphim praise unceasingly with voices saying: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, the God of the Armies.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto You.
V. May the Lord be with You.
R. And with Your Spirit.

Let us pray
God of Heaven and of the earth, God of Angels, God of Archangels, God of Patriarchs, God of Prophets, God of Apostles, God of Martyrs, God of Confessors, God of Virgins, God Who has power to give life after death and rest after work, because there is no other God outside of You, nor can there be any other than Yourself, Creator of all things, visible and invisible, of whose reign there shall be no end: we humbly supplicate to You that Your glorious Majesty may deem to free us efficiently and guard and heal us, keep us healthy, safe and sound from all power, chains, lies and malice of the infernal spirits. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

V. From the snares of the devil,
R. Deliver us, O Lord.
V. Make it be that Your Church serve You with secure liberty,
R. We beg You to hear us.
V. Deign to humble all the enemies of Your Church,
R. We implore You: hear us.

(Holy water is then sprinkled in the place and on those present where we have prayed this prayer.)

Lord, do not remember our wrongdoings nor those of our parents; do not take revenge for our sins (Tobias 3, 3).


Our Father, Who are in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your Will be done
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday Reflection: Jesus Abandoned Again

 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16

Today billions of Christians throughout the world are supposed to be commemorating the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  However, due to the exaggerated policies of governments and Church official, Good Friday is not the same.  The people are forced to be at home and watch "services" on television or social media.  This faux attempt at worship is troubling. While live streaming and television is good to promote the faith and aid those who cannot attend Mass, to force everyone to rely on it is disturbing and unfortunately.  It encourages spiritual sloth.  Worship in Christianity has to be physical and communal. Let me be clear. This is not an attempt to disgrace or shame anyone. It is just a collective sigh of disappointment exhibited by many Christians of all denominations.  As a former atheist, faith is something that I have grown to love.  It was not easy, but it happened. To see our bishops, priests, religious and laity encourage the closing of churches and suspension of the Sacraments hurts a lot.

It makes me and many others wonder what faith exists on earth?  We all know that we are flesh and flesh is weak.  We will get sick, get hurt, get killed etc. No one is Superman or the Brightburn character. No one is Hulk or Thanos.  Even Jesus faces the pains and weaknesses of the body. He was human in all things except sin. However, we must understand that while we are subject to nature and its qualms, this does not mean God will not protect anyone doing His will.  It is just not rational to think that Jesus would allow His Eucharistic presence to become a conduit for disease. It is just not rational to think that Jesus would allow a contagion to spread during His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  This is just absurd to think.  Nevertheless, there are some who literally believe this can happen despite absolutely no evidence of it in history.  Once again, Jesus is abandoned by His alleged disciples today. Jesus is an often misunderstood person in history.  

Christ Jesus, the prophesied Messiah came not as a warrior of politics, but of love.  As an atheist, Good Friday was a hard concept for me to understand.  As I get older, I grow in its meaning.  At first, it seems like a bunch of superstition.  Christians worship a man who died on a Cross - big deal right?  What is so important about this?

Many Catholic parishes and other Protestant sects have processions reenacting the Stations of the Cross or "Via Crucis" as it is called in Latin.  These are the events that took place as Jesus carried the Cross eventually meeting death at Golgotha.  Christians and Popes have described this act as an "act of love."  How is carrying a cross in a humiliating and painful way eventually leading to death be an "act of love?"  Why would God use this to redeem the world?  Is God crazy or a masochist?  Any true atheist or skeptic curious about the Christian faith would ask these and more.  Death entered the world due to the sin of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:14).  It is via death that Christ brings life and grace to all (Hebrews 2:5-18).

Love hurts most of the time.  How many times have we had a lover who we tried to impress with flowers, chocolates and what not only for it to go sour later on?  Love is so good but can be bad, we often think.  Love hurts.  We give so much to a person and that person may not give as much back, if anything at all.  John 3:16 is often quoted and is perhaps the most quoted passage from the Bible.  It says to the effect that God loves the world so much that He sent His only son.

God sent His son Jesus for all of humanity.  This is the greatest love of all (John 15:13).  This act makes no sense to those who are limited in reasoning.
For Christ to lay down His life for all of us shows the extent to which God will go through in order to show that He seriously loves each one of us.  Jesus is willing to go through hell, so to speak, in order to show that we are loved and never abandoned.  This spoke volumes to me as an atheist.  Other gods or conceptions of gods that man has used to define the one reality of God present these beings as egoistic, limited and unconcerned of the affairs of men.  In many instances, people were sacrificed for these conceptual gods. With Jesus, He becomes the sacrifice for man recalling how Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac his son after getting the command from God (Genesis 22).  Even philosopher Kierkegaard regarded this command and act as a "suspension of the ethical."   

However, Abraham was about to do this act out of love and faith.  Naturally, God was not going to allow him to kill his only son.  He was merely testing him to show that Abraham was not tainted by the rituals of paganism in his time which called for human sacrifices.  This story is also a foreshadowing of God sending His own Son to be the sacrificial lamb.  It is a preparation for love personified in the person of Christ giving His life for all of us.

We know Jesus was betrayed by Judas with a kiss.  A kiss is most likely the universal symbol for love and affection.  We use this physical symbol to show love to our parents, other relatives, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, and even people we have just met.  It is a simple gesture that is quick and sends the message that we are close to the recipient.  The kiss of Judas has an interesting context here.  It is a kiss of betrayal and hypocrisy.  Here we see two kinds of love presented: genuine agape love, and selfish love.  Jesus is giving His life for all, including Judas.  Judas is giving "love" via a kiss but only for his own ulterior motives which are 30 pieces of silver.

In today's world, we see so many broken relationships.  Love is given conditions in order to function in society.  Many of us look for looks instead of hearts.  Our partners have to look a certain way, act a certain way, or have a certain amount in order for us to consider even meeting or dating.  It has gone even more bizarre with the promotion of same-sex unions which completely negates the psychological and biological function of courtship in the natural world.  Love is being twisted to serve the self instead of others.  This is what I call the "Judas effect."  Today we often love in order to get something in return.  Love becomes a stock bond which we gamble to see what we gain and what losses we cut.  Marriages dissolve because of financial reasons or changes in personal desires - again selfish motives.  Calls for "marriage equality" are pushed down our throats in the name of love that cannot give of itself via reproduction and that promotes unions only of the sake of seeking rights to a partner's assets - again selfish motives.  It is no wonder why so many couples break up and so many marriages go down the path of divorce and why love and marriage have become a circus for the egotistical.  Our society has lost the love Christ preached and presented today on Good Friday over 2,000 years ago.

Christ gave Himself for us without condition.  He died for each one of us as we are.  Jesus did not care how we looked, what we had, who we associate with or who we are deep down.  Jesus died on the Cross because we are part of God's family and He loves us.  He is our brother and God the Father is our Father.  Good Friday should remind us of this.  We should not go to Good Friday liturgies and just go through the routines of the rites without adsorbing their meanings.  The events of today have so much wisdom for us to grow as human beings, not only in grace and spiritually, but also psychologically and socially with one another.

Jesus is the "just man" foreshadowed by Plato in his Republic (Book 2, 361e, 362a), "...the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified."  He is the model for all humanity to follow.  We all want love and want to love.  Jesus is the only one who can show us how through His Word and example.  God is indeed love (1 John 4:8).   We should return the favor by loving Him unconditionally. This Lent and Holy Week has been filled with a deep spiritual meaning.  Covid-19 Coronavirus has shown the world that man is not in charge. Science is not in charge. Government is not in charge. Not even religion is in charge.  Perhaps Covid-19 was meant to bring humanity to its knees to remind the species that there is a God and He will not have much more of its nonsense.  Let us reflect on this Good Friday what it means to love God and suffer; yes, suffer.  Many do not like the word, but it is part of Christianity.  So a Christian can attempt to hide from a silly virus, but life will come with something else for him or her to suffer.  This is why we must reflect on suffering and why it matters in the Christian life.     

I ask the Lord to bless you via my relic of the True Cross.  Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world!



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