Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent

What is Advent?
We are now in the holy season of Advent where we prepare for both the coming of Christ at Christmas and the second coming at the end of time.  It is a spiritual period in which to meditate on these two mysteries and prepare for them.  We use the wreath and 4 candles to mark down the 4 weeks before Christmas.  

Three of the candles are purple and one is pink.  The purple symbolizes preparation through penance and prayer.  Purple is also used during Lent.  Another way to see it is purple is a physical sign of healing. When we get hurt, the injury becomes purple.  During the time of healing, it remains purple until it clears up.  Sin hurts us and we need time to heal from it by using the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Indulgences and a genuine Spiritual life.  

The pink is for the third Sunday or Gaudete Sunday which means "Sunday of Joy."   We are joyous because we are getting closer to Christ's birth.  As each week goes, we light the candle that corresponds to that week.  

Today's readings

In the first reading from Isaiah, we read about humanity calling out to God.  We call out, "return for the sake of your servants."  Moreover, we complain, "why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Many atheists today often say that as technology has evolved, miracles have decreased. In other words, they claim that we do not see miracles like those from the Old Testament and New Testament in today's post modern world because there are ways to document it and study them. With this they imply that the miracles that Sacred Scripture and Tradition inform us about were nothing more that fantasy; hyperbole meant to capture the mind of Bronze age people. Atheists do not understand that these miracles were meant to authenticate those men who God chose to speak for Him on Earth. Without these miracles, no one would have paid any mind to Moses etc (2 Kings 1:10, Luke 4:36–37, Acts 5:12). These miracles were a "head-start" or "push" for faith to take hold in the world.  This does not mean God does not perform miracles today or in recent times. Take the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima or rewind back into the distant past to the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Both of these apparitions served to bring about conversion or reversion. Had the Blessed Virgin Mary not appeared to Blessed Juan Diego, Mexico would not be a Catholic nation today. Moreover, had the apparitions of Fatima not taken place, then Fascism and Communism would have taken over Portugal and Europe as a whole.

The first reading reminds us that God has literally let us "wander" to the point that we "harden our hearts so that we fear [Him] not."  This tells us how God respects our free will.  He will not impose Himself on us.  If we want no part of Him, then He will not force Himself on us. We must call upon God to "return." We must ask Him to "show His face" and rescue us because we are in ruin.  This reading ties in to Advent because this season is a season of waiting in darkness, so to speak.  We await the coming of our Lord.  Our world is in darkness still and will only become truly perfect when Christ returns.  We cry out to God as we wander around asking Him to return to us.  Like the Prodigal son, we have abandoned the father believing we can do it on our own and have failed (Luke 15:11-32). That arrogance of having the illusion that we can take on life by ourselves comes to an end when life "beats us up."  We lose ourselves, believe and do all kinds of crazy things (Romans 1:24-25). When we wander from God, we begin to mock Him.  How many times have atheists mocked God?  All over the internet we see memes or photos mocking Christ, the Blessed Trinity and what not.  Their hearts are harden to the point that they do not fear God or have respect for God.  This all changes when they wander too far.  God allows their venting.  It is a process that allows them to realize that without God they are nothing. They turn into arrogant creatures who live off of mockery and diatribe, instead of love and hope.  This in reality is a sign of their existential frustration.

This is where the responsorial Psalm comes in which responds to the first reading where we say, "Lord, make us TURN to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved."  The first reading tells the story of humanity wandering off and disrespecting God.  It loses hope, hits "rock bottom," so to speak and them realizes it needs God. So we then cry out to God to get us to return to Him and to show us His face so we can be saved.

St. Paul in the second reading from Corinthians reminds us that we are in God's grace. We know of Christ and have confirmed His works, history and person via testimony; not only of others but of ourselves as well. He reminds us that we are not "lacking in any spiritual gift."  Despite living in this crazy world, we still have God with us and He continues to pour out His gifts of the Holy Spirit on us in order to weather the storm that is life on Earth as we await Christ at the end.  We are reassured by St. Paul that God is faithful and that we will be in fellowship with His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally in the Gospel we are reminded that we must be on alert.  The end of time will come when we least expect it.  Christ will come like a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 16:15).  We must not sit idle believing that we are "saved" just because we have accepted Christ as our personal Lord an Savior (Matthew 7:21).  This is not what Christianity is about.  We must put our faith into work (James 2:14-26). Part of that work is to spread the Gospel around to others and especially within ourselves.  This is why we have the Sacraments.  They prepare us with the "robe" for that day when Christ will come (Matthew 22:11-13). Christ can come at any moment.  No one knows the day, hour or minute (Matthew 24:36). Now this day is often painted as a "gloom and doom" thing.  The end of time should not be a scare tactic.   We should see it as what it really is: God returning.  God is coming back to us and showing us Himself. No more will the atheist say, "show me the evidence."  No more will the doubtful Christian say, "what if there is no God and I am wasting me life on this?"  No more will some philosophers and nihilists say, "God is dead, we have killed Him!"  We will all say, "Lord have mercy!"  This will not be a scary time, but an awesome time.  We will know who God truly is.  We will know who we are, why we are, where we are.  No longer will science, theology, or philosophy be needed because we will see the personification of truth and wisdom.  Until this day happens, we gather now in the season of Advent and cry out "maranatha" - "come O Lord!"    

Friday, November 28, 2014

Roberto Gomez Bolanos dead at 85

This summer we lost a comedic genius in the person of Robin Williams and now the world has lost another one from Latin America.  Roberto Gomez Bolanos passed away today at the age of 85 after suffering heart failure.  Bolanos was known for his comedy program which featured him and other actors taking on different roles.  Some of the well known roles he was known for was "El Chavo del Ocho," "El Chapulin Colorado," etc.

These characters are a staple in Latin culture.  Recently, an animated version was produced as well as a toy line of "El Chavo del Ocho." The death of Bolanos made social media news, even becoming the number 1 trending topic on Twitter. This shows how Bolanos has touched the lives of many throughout the generations that have passed.

Bolanos was born on February 21, 1929 in Mexico City to Francisco Gomez Linares and Elsa Bolanos Cachos.  As a youth, he loved to box.  However, dues to his short stature, his boxing career did not go professional. During his college years at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Bolanos studied engineering.  However, he worked in advertising and not in engineer.  This is where he would learn how to do script-writing.  His amazing acting skills would earn him the nickname "Chespirito" which means "little Shakespeare."  

Later on, he would star in his own program where he would get into character playing several personalities which would become iconic in Latin America.  Generations of people would grow up watching this program which is still aired in syndication on Spanish networks.  His comedy was clean, funny and original.  This is lacking in today's comedy program both in American and Spanish networks.

Rest in peace!



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks Be To God

Psalm 136

God’s Work in Creation and in History

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who spread out the earth on the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who struck Egypt through their firstborn,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who divided the Red Sea[a] in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,[b]
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and killed famous kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
a heritage to his servant Israel,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
O give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BICEP2 Wrong on B-Modes

Last spring of 2014, an American team of physicists used BICEP or the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization telescope in Antarctica to look for evidence for cosmic inflation. As you may know, most physicists, astrophysicists and cosmologists believe the universe began in a dense hot state which expanded, cooled off and began to form galaxies, stars, planets etc.  This is called "Cosmic Inflation" or colloquially, "The Big Bang."  The theory came from a Catholic priest named George Lemaitre.

To date, this is the strongest theory out there in regards to the creation of the Universe; however, it is extremely difficult to detect such expansion or calculate what happened prior to Planck time. This is where BICEP2 comes in.  The team searched for polarizations or "B-modes" which are twists of gravitation waves or ripples.  Scientists conducting this study thought they discovered these B-modes and everyone broke out into celebration: "We finally have more solid evidence for Cosmic Inflation!" See:

Well, the European team replied, "hold up, wait a minute, something is wrong."  They are now arguing that these B-modes detected could be anything from the movement of large galaxies, other bodies in space or even dust from our own galaxy. The European team presented a paper to peer-review showing their evidence that, in fact, the American team got it wrong.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Ferguson Decision - Darren Wilson Not Indicted

As expected, officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for the death of 18 year old Michael Brown.  After evidence was presented such as the presence of blood from Michael Brown found in the patrol car as well as the conflicting witness reports, it was pretty much set in stone that Wilson would not be charged.

Since 11 AM, news of a decision was presented on the news but Ferguson officials decided to wait until late at night reveal the decision. Many criticized this move because it would lead to bigger crowds and possibly more rioting and civil disorder as seen back in August.


St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch who was originally asked to step aside from the case gave the decision.  Many in Ferguson believed that McCulloch would be biased because he has family in the police department. Moreover, his arguments to the grand jury seemed to have been worded to make the case for Wilson, some are criticizing now. However, McCulloch emphasized that the witness reports given were faulty. They were contradictory and some witnesses even recanted stating that they heard the story from other sources and were not there themselves during the shooting. According to McCulloch, no probable cause was found to indict Wilson.

Wilson in the days leading to the decision was working out the details with the police department regarding his resignation. This made some wonder if he was resigning because he was going to be exonerated.  That speculation turned out to be true. Shortly after the decision, the crowds that had gathered were in a state of shock.  Then when reality sunk in, things were thrown at police in riot gear. A police car was vandalized, and then a few others were set on fire. Police retaliated by shooting gas and bean bags at the crowds. This angered them more and stores were broken into and looted. Several of them were even set on fire and are still on fire.  Firefighters who tried to turn off the flames fled after gunfire was directed at them. Even private vehicles are being set on fire at a car dealership.  Social media calls from religious leaders and others went on deaf ears.  Many clergy were also not present.

Furthermore, the protests were not only in Ferguson but all over the United States. In New York City, thousands took to Union Square and walked to Times Square. Commissioner Bratton was even attacked with fake blood that was thrown at his face. Another Caucasian dressed in business attired was hit with something that caused a massive gash on his forehead. In Washington DC, President Obama spoke at 10 PM and urged all to remain calm. Ironically, as he said this, the protesters without viewing him on a monitor, got even more violent. In one instance, Obama said that throwing bottles does noting to help the situation and people began throwing bottles almost at the same time that he said it. CNN and other media at the scene were gassed by police and attacked by protesters. Bottles and trash were thrown at them. One reported even got him on the head with a rock while live on TV! A police officer has been shot as well.

Ferguson is burning and the people are obviously making the nation known that they are angry. Wilson thanked his supporters and conservatives such as Coulter celebrated his exoneration which caused more anger. Minorities are crying foul at the decision believing it to be evidence that Black lives do not matter and that law enforcers will always win.

The evidence used during the deliberations was released, see:  Images of Officer Wilson were also released where he claims to have been hit on the face by Brown. His testimony also states that Brown looked like a raging demon and he felt like a kid wresting Hulk Hogan due to the size of Michael Brown.  

Here are some tweets with more information:



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