Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015! 
2014 was an interesting year.  We saw new accomplishments in science via Rosetta as well as disasters such as the many storms that have hit several areas around the world.  We saw the economy come back and gas prices come down, but also saw the horrible slaughter of Christians by ISIS, children by the Taliban and many more human tragedies.  We lost many people including well known celebrities such as Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, as well as the many victims of violence in America including two police officers from the NYPD.  Let us not forget the airplanes that have brought about large losses of life.  Every year seems to bring the same: death.   
Nevertheless, we must continue on and make this world a better place.  While we may not be able to control natural disasters via storms, earthquakes and the like; we can control those caused by our own human race.    
Please take this time to reflect on 2014 and see what needs improvement in your life for this new year 2015. Visit, call, message your family and loved ones.  Commit yourself to contributing to the world more positively.  
Enjoy life, but relax on the alcohol. Don’t drink and drive please!
May 2015 bring faith, love, hope, peace, health, prosperity, and joy to all. 
God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.
As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.  Amen

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

AirAsia Flight QZ8501

It happened again.  Another airplane disappeared near the same area where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last sent a message.  Immediately, flashbacks came back to many of us, especially relatives still wondering what happened to their loved ones on flight 370.  However, this case is a bit different.  The weather in the area was extremely bad and according to news reports, the AirAsia pilot requested a change in coordinates and was denied that request.

The plane is believed to have been a victim of the weather which would make even the largest of airliner jets stall or become damage with lightning and heavy winds or even hail.  The days that followed brought about massive searches.  Luckily, it seems debris floating on the Java sea are of the flight. Sonar images also have shown large masses under the water which is very shallow. Unfortunately, among the debris found were also human bodies. The worst was confirmed: no one survived.  It is believed that the pilot attempted to land the plane on the surface of the sea as in the case of the "Miracle on the Hudson" where US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of Canadian geese and lose engine power forcing the pilot to land it safely on the Hudson.  However, the AirAsia flight was not so fortunately as it is believed that the plane went down so hard that it broke apart.

Relatives have been suffering this great lose of life. I cannot imagine the pain these people are going through.  Moreover, I cannot imagine the fear and horror the passengers on the flight felt as their plane was crashing.  Let us pray for all those involved.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas, Mary & the New Year

We celebrate Christmas on December 25 and then New Year's day on January 1. This may not seem like a big deal, but if we think about it then it is. The birth of Christ is celebrated at the end of the year since December is the last month of the year. This celebration runs into the New Year with the commemoration of Mary the Mother of God, the Holy Family, the Epiphany and then the Baptism of the Lord. I have always meditated on this and Revelation 1:8 comes to mind. In Revelation 1:8, Jesus tells John, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Do you see the connection?

We celebrate Jesus' birth at the end of the year; He is the Omega or the End. This celebration continues into the New Year beginning with the one who gave birth to Him, Mary. This continuation of the celebration of Christmas into the New Year shows us that Christ is also the Alpha, or the Beginning. Mary as usual is in the middle of this temporal manifestation of the Divine. This is why she is appropriately called the "Theotokos" or God-bearer. Christ is the Lord of space and time. This is why we use AD (Anno Domini - Year of Our Lord) to designate time. Jesus is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega.

- See more at:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family - Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The family is the basic unit of society. It is no wonder why God chose to use it in His plan for the redemption of all men, women and children.

Joseph is often labeled "the forgotten saint." This is unfortunate because he is the patron saint of the Church, and rightfully so. Just as he protected Christ, he protects Christ's mystical body the Catholic Church.

Joseph was a carpenter by trade and taught Jesus carpentry. At first, Joseph was concerned that Mary had an affair due to her pregnancy. He wanted to secretly dissolve their union. If it wasn't for an angel appearing to him in his dreams, he would have carried through with that plan. This showed that he was a righteous man (Matthew 1: 19-24) in that he did not want Mary to face any harsh punishment as Jewish laws called for at the time. 

Mary as we know, was a virgin prior to bearing Jesus and remained a virgin afterwards. She was preserved from original sin making her the Immaculate Conception Mary followed Jesus all throughout His years on Earth. She would be assumed into heaven and prior to this would also help spread the good news of her Son. Mary is the only human being to be free from sin. She is the model of what every human person must aspire to become - holy. Mary is given special veneration because of this which is called hyperdulia.

Jesus is the Son of God and the second person of the Blessed Trinity. God the Son took on flesh and became a human in all things except sin (Hebrews 4:15). As a child, Jesus was obedient to His parents. However, He always put His Father in heaven first. We see this in the account of Jesus in the temple. (Luke 2:41-52) Jesus wanders off from His parent's sight and enters the temple. In the temple, He begins speaking to the teachers, asking questions and answering questions as well. The teachers and others were surprised at His knowledge and ability to speak as a teacher Himself (Luke 2:41-52).

Mary and Joseph found Him there and were upset that He wandered off. Jesus simply replied that He was doing His Father's business and asked why did they search for Him as if they were supposed to know what He would be up to.  I recommend reading the Holy Father's Pope Benedict the XVI's new book, Jesus of Nazareth - the Infancy Narratives (ISBN: 978038534605. The Pope goes more in deal in his scholarly style. It is very informative if you want to know more about Jesus' boyhood.

This feast day not only highlights the Holy Family, but reminds us what a family should be. In today's world where the family is under attack by those who wish to create it in their image; we must look at the Holy Family and renew family life. Mothers should imitate Mary, Fathers should imitate Joseph. Children should imitate Jesus who despite being God was always obedient to His parents. What an image is that right? The Creator obedient to the created.


In today's first reading, we have a choice to read from Sirach or Genesis. The reading from Sirach tells us that God is the one who preordains families. He "sets a father in honor over his children; a mother's authority he confirms over her sons."  The reading elaborates that children must honor their parents as the Commandments state (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2). Doing so will atone for sin and store up riches in heaven. Respect and obedience to parents is extremely important (Colossians 3:20). We must care for our parents even when they grow older.  Sometime people like to dump their parents in nursing homes and forget about them.  This is not what God wants (in regards to forgetting them).  He wants us to care for our parents and never forget them (1 Timothy 5:8). In our parents is the image of our Father in heaven (Leviticus 19:32). The reading from Genesis tells us the story of Abram who God made a covenant with him. His name would become "Abraham" which means "father of many nations." He also promised Abraham that his wife Sarah would become pregnant in her sterile state and the son would be named Isaac which means "God laughs." This reading tells us the importance of being a parent.  It is a mandate from God.  God gives men and women this ministry of love, which is how I call it. He blesses couples with children (Psalm 127:3). 

As with the first reading, there are two options. In the first option for the responsorial psalm, we are reminded that those who walk in God's ways will be blessed.  Those of us who follow God's will enjoy the fruit of our hard labor.  Our families will be blessed and our lives will be filled with prosperity.  The second option reminds us that God remembers His promise forever.  God has never broken a promise to man. When He says He is going to do something, He will do it.  Sometimes it may not be right away because our time is not the same for God (2 Peter 3:8). This Psalms tells us how God kept His covenant with Abraham and his descendants

In the second reading, we have three options. Two from Colossians and one from Hebrews. In the first option, we are reminded to be humble and to forgive one another.  We must also admonish one another when we go astray. As Catholics, we must be and live in peace with one another. This fulfills the second great commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).  The reading also reminds wives and husbands to give each other of themselves fully in love, mutual respect and subordination.  They must not be bitter with one another and must remember what is proper with God. Children must also respect their parents. This pleases God.  The reading also warns parents not to provoke children so as to discourage them or make them rebellious.  Communication is necessary in family life. The second option for the second reading is the same as the first, but leaves out the instructions for married couples and children.  The third option reminds us of the story of Abraham and how he was faithful. His faith was so great that he suspended the ethical as philosopher Kierkegaard put it in his work "Fear and Trembling."  Abraham put himself over human ethics in order to serve God after God commands him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. How many of us are willing to go that far for God? Abraham is called the "Father of Faith" because of this. This ties in with the Holy Family in that Mary too obeyed in faith and took on the role of being the Theotokos, or God-bearer without knowing what she was getting herself into since many would have suspected her of being unfaithful to Joseph, and we know what happened to women back then who commit adultery (Leviticus 20:10).

Finally in the Gospel, we also have two options from Luke.  One reading is simply just shorter than the other.  However, both tell the story of the Presentation of the Lord.  Jesus is presented in the Temple as it was customary in the Hebrew faith. While there, the righteous Simeon tells Mary and Joseph that Jesus is the savior who will save the world but will cause the rise and downfall of many. He will be a sign of contradiction and promised Mary that her heart would be pierced with a sword. He did not mean a literal sword, but was prophesying the sorrow Mary would feel as she would watch her Son suffer the passion (John 19:26-27). This Gospel tells us of the role the Holy Family played. Both Joseph and Mary prepared Jesus for His ministry by teaching Him the Jewish faith, the dignity of work as a carpenter, and the importance of family life. They are a model for all families. Today the family  is under attack. Certain agendas want to remodel the family in their own image and this must be stopped. The Holy Family is whom we are to look at in order to keep our own families stable and holy.   

Let us pray to the Holy Family to help all families of today rediscover family life. Divorce has to disappear. Children must not suffer having access to only one parent. So-called "same sex" unions must be dissolved and the family must be respected as naturally composed of one man, one woman and child(ren). Children must not be avoided or treated as a commodity. They should also respect their parents and elders. 

O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rafael Ramos Laid to Rest

Talk about the funeral of all funerals in New York City.  Today, police officer Rafael Ramos who was assassinated last Saturday was laid to rest.  Over 35,000 police officers from all over the 50 states and even Canada as well as other civilians came to the funeral. The Evangelical worship edifice only sits 800 so the rest were lined up for blocks outside.  I am from New York and have never seen a funeral with so many people and so much display of military style salute.

In attendance were vice president Biden, governor Cuomo, mayor Di Blasio, former mayor Giuliani, the family of slain officer Liu and of course the Ramos family.  The family did not speak at the funeral service. Politicians and the pastors of the Christ Tabernacle sect spoke instead giving words of encouragement to the family. Commissioner Bratton announced that both police officers would be promoted to detective posthumously.  The now Detective Ramos was also officially named a chaplain as well.  He had been studying in the chaplaincy program for the NYPD and was set to graduate the day he was assassinated. The speakers at the funeral described Ramos as being a man of faith who thought of his job as part of God's work. The Ramos family were visibly in pain, especially the older son Justin who had a face of anguish. The younger son Jaden seemed to be holding in his emotion.

Unfortunately, the ceremony was tarnished by some foolish officers who turned their backs at the jumbo-trons as mayor Di Blasio spoke. This was in poor taste in my opinion. Now the media is focusing on this instead of the life of Detective Ramos. These officers should get suspended in my opinion. They should have waited until both officers were laid to rest in order to continue their childish behavior.

In any event, the ceremony was amazing.  I have never seen anything like it in regards to a police officer ceremony.  There was even a fly over with helicopters in formation. Over 400 officers on motorcycles lead the procession to the cemetery. With the exception of the back-turning cops, the ceremony was dignified and gave a respectful and solemn farewell to the Puerto Rican officer who was assasinated just for being NYPD.  Kudos to each speaker and the pastors who did an excellent job using their words to comfort us all.  Kudos to the organizers both at Christ Tabernacle and the NYPD.

Thank you Detective Rafael Ramos for your dedication and service. You will not be forgotten.  May God bless your soul and give you the rest you deserve. You have made Christ proud for as He said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)"

Some images from the funeral:


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Urbi et Orbi 2014 - Pope Francis

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!
Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, is born for us, born in Bethlehem of a Virgin, fulfilling the ancient prophecies. The Virgin’s name is Mary, the wife of Joseph.
Humble people, full of hope in the goodness of God, are those who welcome Jesus and recognize him. And so the Holy Spirit enlightened the shepherds of Bethlehem, who hastened to the grotto and adored the Child. Then the Spirit led the elderly and humble couple Simeon and Anna into the temple of Jerusalem, and they recognized in Jesus the Messiah. “My eyes have seen your salvation”, Simeon exclaimed, “the salvation prepared by God in the sight of all peoples” (Lk 2:30).
Yes, brothers and sisters, Jesus is the salvation for every person and for every people!
Today I ask him, the Saviour of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution. May Christmas bring them hope, as indeed also to the many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, children, adults and elderly, from this region and from the whole world. May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigours of winter, return to their countries and live with dignity. May the Lord open hearts to trust, and may he bestow his peace upon the whole Middle East, beginning with the land blessed by his birth, thereby sustaining the efforts of those committed effectively to dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
May Jesus, Saviour of the world, protect all who suffer in Ukraine, and grant that their beloved land may overcome tensions, conquer hatred and violence, and set out on a new journey of fraternity and reconciliation.
May Christ the Saviour give peace to Nigeria, where [even in these hours] more blood is being shed and too many people are unjustly deprived of their possessions, held as hostages or killed. I invoke peace also on the other parts of the African continent, thinking especially of Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and various regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I beseech all who have political responsibility to commit themselves through dialogue to overcoming differences and to building a lasting, fraternal coexistence.
May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children. May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week. May he be close to all who suffer from illness, especially the victims of the Ebola epidemic, above all in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. As I thank all who are courageously dedicated to assisting the sick and their family members, I once more make an urgent appeal that the necessary assistance and treatment be provided.
The Child Jesus. My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence. I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born. Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods. Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit today enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us, to each man and woman and to all the peoples of the earth. May the power of Christ, which brings freedom and service, be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war, persecution and slavery. May this divine power, by its meekness, take away the hardness of heart of so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference, the globalization of indifference. May his redeeming strength transform arms into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness. Then we will be able to cry out with joy: “Our eyes have seen your salvation”.

With these thoughts I wish you all a Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sony Cancels "The Interview"

There probably hasn't been a movie in history with so much drama surrounding it which wasn't in the movie script itself.  The movie "The Interview" which is a comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Joung un was set to be played in movie theaters on Christmas day.  All was well until Sony Pictures was hacked.  Information was stolen and posted online, including emails from top executives who said some nasty things about actors and even the president.

In the days that followed, threats were made to Americans and Sony if the movie was not pulled completely. Due to these threats, many theaters chose to not play the movie on December 25 which forced Sony Pictures to cancel the screening altogether. Many complained about this decision including the president of the United States who saw it as a censorship of free speech. North Korean officials denied being involved in the hacking and even offered to help America figure out who did it. However, the FBI insisted that it was the work of North Korea whose leader is afraid of mockery and satire of himself.

Well after this, Sony Pictures decided to put the show back on, so to speak.  "The Interview" will be screened in about 200 theaters across the nations. Many are calling this a victory for free speech. It is believed that this decision was the result of a mysterious internet outage that North Korea is facing. President Obama has said that America would respond but never elaboration. Many believe the internet outage was the work of Americans.

I am glad that Sony decided to screen the film. Having cyber bullies force someone to do something is just horrible and against the principles of freedom that Americans enjoy. Nevertheless, some people are skeptic and believe that many this was all a stunt to get people interested in the movies.  Others believe that maybe North Korea shut its own internet off.  Who knows?


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pope Calls Curia Out

The Holy Father Pope Francis squared up to the Church bureaucracy that has been attempting to stifle the ministry of the Catholic faith for centuries. He told a group of Cardinals, Bishops and Priests who work in the Curia that they have "spiritual Alzeheimer's" and that they forgot that their true calling is to "be joyful men of God."

Ouch!  Those are fighting words! :)

He then proceeded to list 15 sins that he has noticed in the Curia and that he wants atonement and reparation for in the coming year 2015.  Among them were the "terrorism of gossip" which he claims can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood."  Also, "cliques" which he said can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body."

I applaud Pope Francis for being bold and admonishing the sinner, so to speak. He is absolutely correct. For far too long there has been an atmosphere of gossip, careerism, thirst for power and cliques which has destroyed the spiritual lives of both clergy and lay. Instead of seeing the Bride of Christ, the world is seeing the "whore of Babylon" who sleeps with the world. This is not what the Catholic Church should look like. We should not make our fallen human nature the way of life.  Instead, we must replace it with Christ as the way of life.

It bothers me to see Catholic clergy and lay bloggers attack the Pope and others because they see them as "liberal" while they describe themselves as "conservative." The Church is not about liberals or conservatives.  This clique nonsense has to stop. We are ONE body in Christ with different functions within that body. There shouldn't be competition, gossip or anything of the like in this body. The Pope is correct in describing this as a Cancer.  Cancer is a mutation of cells which alienates itself from other cells eventually outgrowing and destroying those cells.  Normal and healthy cells work together.

Let us pray for a renewal in the Church starting from the top down.  Let the "trickle-down holiness" begin.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Rogue Priest?

It pains me to write this post because it is about two people that I have great respect for. Nevertheless, I will try to be fair.

Has Father Pavone Gone Rogue?
Cardinal Dolan in a letter voiced his concern that Father Frank Pavone of Priests For Life is nto cooperating with him after the Vatican had him do a study or apostolic visit on the organization. He wrote in a letter:

“My requests of Father Pavone were clear and simple: one, that Priests for Life undergo a forensic audit; two, that a new, independent board be established to provide oversight and accountability,”
“Although Father Pavone initially assured me of his support, he did not cooperate. Frequent requests that he do so went unheeded. I finally asked him to comply by October 1st. He did not,” 

This is not the first time Father Pavone has been in hot water with bishops.  Ordained in New York, he was appointed to work at Priests For Life under the episcopacy of the late John Cardinal O' Connor. During that tenure, he and the Cardinal had several disputes. It is not end there.  When Edward Cardinal Egan took over as archbishop of New York in 2000, the dispute continued as Cardinal Egan appointed Fr. Pavone to work in a parish and he refused to do so insisting that his work was to be at Priest For life.

Because of this, Fr. Frank sought to be transferred to the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas.  His transfer was accepted and he continued his work in the Pro-Life movement there. However, when the bishop of Amarillo retired and Bishop Patrick Zurek took over, the problems began in Texas with Bishop Zurek suspending Fr. Frank.  Bishop Zurek's complained that Fr. Frank was not transparenta about Priests For LIfe finances and found other problems with the group.  He also wanted Fr. Frank to work as a diocesan priest since that is what he was called to do and went to seminary for. Fr. Pavone appealed to the Vatican and the Vatican sided with him. What happened next was troublesome to me. Fr. Frank said that he will not be cowed by any bishop.  A priest whether diocesan or religious must be obedient to the local ordinary which is the Bishop. His defiance is unbecoming of a loyal son of the Church in my opinion.

Now the Vatican had Cardinal Dolan conduct an apostolic visitation and things went downhill from there.  Cardinal Dolan claims that Fr. Pavone would help him in this investigation and they refused to do so. Cardinal Dolan found that Priest For Life has a big deficit and also problems with mismanagement. Since Fr. Pavone refused to work with Cardinal Dolan in the recommendations and investigation, Cardinal Dolan cut ties with him and Priests For Life.

The whole situation is disturbing indeed.  Not only is Fr. Pavone being disobedient, but his supporters are attacking Cardinal Dolan for doing what the Vatican asked of him. They have been trying to make this into a "control" issue. This is not it at all.  All priests must be obedient to their bishops. They cannot do whatever they want in regards to ministry or dictate their appointments. Priests For Life is not above the Vatican or Canon Law. It must comply with any investigation or apostolic visits the Vatican orders be done.  Most likely, the Vatican will probably punish Fr. Pavone for his disobedience since he is openly defying them as well. Both Popes Francis and Benedict XVI made it clear that Catholics cannot get caught up in movements such as the Pro-Life one as if that is what the Church exists for. I understand Fr. Pavone's passion to fight against abortion, but his obligation is to Holy Mother Church and above all, Christ.  He cannot be this rogue priest going around defying bishops and getting his way.  Perhaps a lengthy suspension and a sabbatical to a life of prayer would be best if Fr. Pavone continues this behavior.

St. John Paul II gave an audience on this:
Priestly Obedience Is an Act of Charity 
General Audience — August 25, 1993 
The communion desired by Jesus among all who share in the sacrament of Orders should appear in an altogether special way in priests' relations with their bishops. On this subject the Second Vatican Council speaks of a "hierarchical communion" deriving from the unity of consecration and mission. We read: "All priests, in union with bishops, so share in one and the same priesthood and ministry of Christ that the very unity of their consecration and mission requires their hierarchical communion with the order of bishops. At times in an excellent manner they manifest this communion in liturgical concelebration as joined with the bishop when they celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice" (PO 7). Clearly, the mystery of the Eucharist also appears here as a sign and source of unity. The sacrament of Orders is connected with the Eucharist. Orders establishes the hierarchical communion between all those who share Christ's priesthood: "All priests," the Council adds, "both diocesan and religious, by reason of Orders and ministry, fit into this body of bishops and priests, and serve the good of the whole Church according to their vocation and the grace given to them" (LG 28).
This bond between priests of any type or rank and the bishops is essential to exercising the priestly ministry. Priests receive from the bishop sacramental power and hierarchical authorization for this ministry. Religious too receive this power and authorization from the bishop who ordains them and from the one who governs the diocese where they exercise their ministry. Even when they belong to orders that are exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishops in regard to their internal governance, they receive from the bishop, in accordance with the norm of canon law, the mandate and consent for their involvement and activity within the diocese. Exception must always be made of the authority by which the Roman Pontiff, as head of the Church, can confer on religious orders or other institutes the power to govern themselves according to their own constitutions and to work on a universal scale. In their turn bishops regard priests as their "necessary helpers and counselors in the ministry and in their role of teaching, sanctifying and nourishing the People of God" (PO 7).
Because of this bond of sacramental communion between priests and bishops, presbyters are a support and instrument of the episcopal order, as Lumen Gentium states (cf. n. 28). In each community they continue the bishop's action and in a certain way represent him as pastor in various areas.
By virtue of its same pastoral identity and sacramental origin, the ministry of priests is clearly exercised under the authority of the bishop. According to Lumen Gentium, it is under this authority that they lend their efforts to the pastoral work of the whole diocese by sanctifying and governing that portion of the Lord's flock entrusted to them (cf. LG 28).
It is true that presbyters represent Christ and act in his name, sharing in his office as the one Mediator, according to their degree of ministry. However, they can act only as the bishop's co-workers, thus extending the ministry of the diocesan pastor in the local communities.
Spiritually rich relationships between bishops and presbyters are based on this theological principle of sharing within the framework of hierarchical communion. Lumen Gentium describes these relationships as follows: "On account of this sharing in their priesthood and mission, let priests sincerely look upon the bishop as their father and reverently obey him. And let the bishop regard his priests as his co-workers and as sons and friends, just as Christ called his disciples now not servants but friends (cf. Jn 15:15)" (LG 28).
Here Christ's example is the rule of conduct for bishops and presbyters alike. If he who had divine authority did not want to treat his disciples as servants but as friends, the bishop cannot consider his priests as servants in his employ. They serve the People of God with him. For their part presbyters should respond to the bishop as demanded by the law of reciprocal love in ecclesial and priestly communion, that is, as friends and spiritual "sons." The bishop's authority and the obedience of his co-workers, the priests, should thus be exercised in an atmosphere of true, sincere friendship.
This duty is based not only on the brotherhood existing among all Christians by virtue of Baptism and on that arising from the sacrament of Orders, but also on the word and example of Jesus. Even in triumph as the resurrected one, he lowered himself from that incomparable height to his disciples and called them "my brothers," declaring that his Father was "theirs" too (cf. Jn 20:17; Mt. 28:10). Thus, following Jesus' example and teaching, the bishop should treat his co-workers, the priests, as brothers and friends, without diminishing his authority as their pastor and ecclesiastical superior.
An atmosphere of brotherhood and friendship fosters the presbyters' trust and their willingness to cooperate and work harmoniously in friendship and in fraternal and filial charity toward their bishops.
The Council spells out some of the bishop's duties toward presbyters. Here one need only mention them: bishops should take the greatest interest they are capable of in the temporal and spiritual welfare of their priests; they should foster their sanctification and be concerned for their ongoing formation, examining with them problems that concern the needs of their pastoral work and the good of the diocese (cf. PO 7).
Likewise, the presbyters' duties toward their bishops are summarized in these words: "Priests, never losing sight of the fullness of the priesthood which the bishops enjoy, must respect in them the authority of Christ, the supreme shepherd. They must therefore stand by their bishops in sincere charity and obedience" (PO 7).
Charity and obedience are two spiritual essentials which should guide their conduct toward their own bishop. It is an obedience motivated by charity. The presbyter's basic intention in his ministry can only be to cooperate with his bishop. If the priest has a spirit of faith, he recognizes the will of Christ in his bishop's decisions.
Understandably, obedience can sometimes be more difficult, especially when different opinions clash. However, obedience was Jesus' fundamental attitude in sacrificing himself, and it bore fruit in the salvation that the whole world has received. The presbyter who lives by faith knows that he too is called to an obedience which, by fulfilling Jesus' saying about self-denial, gives him the power and the glory of sharing the redemptive fruitfulness of the sacrifice of the cross.
Lastly it should be added that, as everyone knows, today more than in the past, priests' cooperation and thus their union with the bishops are required by the pastoral ministry because of its complexity and vastness. As the Council says: "This union of priests with their bishops is all the more necessary today since in our present age, for various reasons, apostolic undertakings must necessarily not only take on many forms but frequently extend even beyond the boundaries of one parish or diocese. No priest, therefore, can on his own accomplish his mission in a satisfactory way. He can do so only by joining forces with other priests under the direction of the Church authorities" (PO 7).
For this reason "presbyteral councils" too have tried to structure and organize the consultation of priests by their bishops [1] . On their part, presbyters participate in these councils in a spirit of enlightened and loyal cooperation, with the intention of helping to build up the "one body." Individually too, in their personal relations with their own bishop they should remember and keep in mind one thing above all: the growth in charity of each and every one, which is the fruit of self-sacrifice in the light of the cross.
[1] Â  cf. 1971 Synod of Bishops, Ench. Vat., IV, 1224

I hope both parties can work things out and that Fr. Pavone once again realizes that he is a Catholic priest and not the Pro-Life movement's Al Sharpton.  As a priest, he can do much more for life than as head of Priests For Life.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fourth 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 that 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: 

Here we are in the fourth and last week of Advent. Jesus is almost here.  The day of His birth is just around the corner. Since it is so near, the Church reminds us of how it all started.

In the first reading from Samuel, we read how King David is bothered that he is living in a house of cedar while the ark of the Covenant where God was is in a tent. He finds that troubling because: 'how can he (David) be living in a palace while the Lord God who did everything for him is out there in a tent as if He were camping in the woods?' The prophet Nathan replies to David that he can do whatever he wants because God is with him.  However, God spoke to Nathan.  Knowing that David wanted to build a house for God, the Lord reminded Nathan who is the real builder. He reminds Nathan and tells him to also remind David that it was He who "took you from the pasture.. cared from the flock; was commander of the people of Israel; went before them, destroyed their enemies.." and so forth.  In other words, God is saying, "you want to build a house for me?? I was the one who did everything and I can do it myself."  Now God is not being an ingrate here.  He is simply reminding David, Nathan, Israel and all of us today that He is the one who does it all. There is nothing we can offer to God that is truly our own, for all comes from Him (James 1:17John 1:3).  Think about it.  Would a gift of an Iphone to the late Steve Jobs be truly a gift?  No it would not because he was the one who invented them and had those devices made. So, how can one build a house for God if all in this universe belongs to God and He allows things to be built or destroyed? Moreover, God states that He will establish a house for David and that when the time is right, a heir will come who will be His Son and He will be His Father.  Sounds familiar?  Who do you think this guy God is talking about is?  If you guessed Jesus, then you are correct!  Jesus is this heir who will be this descendant of King David (Matthew 1).  This is why the Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ.  The Gospel of Matthew was written for the Jews Per Se.  Its audience was meant for those of Jewish descent so that they could understand who Jesus was and why He is important.

The responsorial Psalm responds to the first reading saying that "forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord."  What is this goodness?  Well the Psalm tells us.  It is about God being faithful to us.  Just think about this for a moment.  The God of the universe is faithful to these little creatures made of carbon, water, iron, proteins, calcium and other compounds - human beings.  Why?  Because He loves His creation (John 3:16).  The Psalm reminds us that God made a covenant with David and swore that his throne will be established and will last for all generations.  

In the second reading from Romans, St. Paul reminds us that our faith is manifesting.  The prophetic writings and faith that has been passed on was fulfilled in Jesus Christ so that all nations of the world will come to the obedience of faith in God. God kept His promise.  Jesus Christ was born over 2,000 years ago and established the new covenant in His blood which is the Catholic Church. This Church is spread throughout the nations.  It is universal and excludes no one.  From the Tree of Jesse sprung the branch that would capture the entire world. 

Finally in the Gospel, we read how the first reading from Samuel is fulfilled.  The archangel Gabriel is sent from God to Mary who lived in town called Nazareth. She is a virgin and betrothed to Joseph of the house of David.  Notice the Gospel emphasizes this link of David and Joseph and in doing so, connects this to King David and the promise made to Him by God.  This Virgin is named Mary and the archangel greets her with powerful words, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you!"  Sound familiar? It is the beginning of the "Hail Mary" prayer.   The word here in Koine Greek is "kecharitomene" which means "full of God's grace." It is the passive participle of "charitoos" which means "to pour on or fill with grace." This means that Mary was literally "full of God." There was no room for sin or anything evil because God took its place.  If I tell you that a glass is full of water, then that means there is no more room for anything else. This is why the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was the Immaculate Conception. She was conceived without original sin. 

Moreover, Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive an important child who she is to name Jesus.  This child will be called the Son of the Most High and will be given the throne of David His father. Notice how this is connected to the first reading in Samuel.  God told Nathan that He will build a house and rise up a heir of David who will be His Son.  Now since Mary's Son is a heir, then this means that He is King since He is inheriting the throne of King David. Mary in her innocence asks how this is possible since she is a virgin and has had no relations with a man.  The angel responds that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her resulting in the child being the literal Son of God.  The Gospel ends with the angel telling Mary that her relative Elizabeth will bear a son in her old age. This will happen because with God nothing is impossible. These are powerful words indeed!  

Mary shows her faith in God by accepting and saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  These are also familiar words found in the Angelus prayer.  The Virgin birth was foretold in Isaiah 7:14.  Many atheists have a problem understanding this "Virgin birth" thing.  However, it is not impossible, naturally and biologically speaking.  We have seen "virgin births" in nature via Parthenogenesis.  Since God created this world including Mary's body, then what is to prevent Him from allowing Mary to conceive a child in a virginal state?   The answer is nothing for with God nothing is impossible as Gabriel stated to Mary.  Mary is an example to all of us.  She shows her confusion at first which is normal, but trusts that God is good and allows Him to do His will. God respects our free will and does not force Himself on us. 

So in today's readings we are reminded of the promise of this "Son" who would inherit King David's throne. This Son would be the Savior of the world. The Catholic liturgy beautifully links salvation history via Sacred Scripture. Let us all gather now and pray "maranatha," asking the Lord to come as we celebrate His first coming 2,000 years ago which we commemorate on Christmas.  Together with King David, the prophet Nathan, St. John the Baptist, the Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph let us shout: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Officers Down! 10-13

Officers Ramos and Liu 

One of my fears just came true after hearing some protesters demanding cops be killed and having cops as friends.  Two police officers were killed in cold blood on Myrtle and Tompkins Aves in Brooklyn by a deranged man, Ismaaiyl Brinsley from Georgia who first shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore and then headed to New York City.  He posted on Instagram that he was going to "give wings to two pigs" using hashtags encouraging to shoot or kill cops.  He wrote:

“I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours...Let’s Take 2 of Theirs, This May Be My Final Post...I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket.
#ShootThePolice #RIPErivGarner #RIPMike Brown.”

Police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu had no chance to draw their weapons.  They probably didn't even see Brinsley coming as they sat in their patrol car.  He aimed at their heads with a silver gun which he posted an image of along with the words above on Instagram.  Commissioner Bratton looked visibly emotional, eyes watery.  Mayor Diblasio as well looked emotional.

Police officer Liu was a newly wed and Police Ramos turned 40 on December 12 and has a 13 year old son who still did not process what happened to his beloved dad.  The whole thing is just heart breaking.  The attack was apparently done in retaliation for Michael Brown and Eric Garner based on the Instagram posts.  Brinsley ran to a crowded subway platform where he shot himself in the head.  

I will update this as I learn more.  It is a sad day.

UPDATE: 12/21/14
According to news reports, Brinsley had a troubled past being arrested numerous times and a record for gun possession.  He had broken into his ex girlfriend's apartment and shot her after attempting to commit suicide.  His ex girlfriend had tried to stop him, but he shot her instead of himself.  Then he called her mom and said he shot her accidentally.  It is believed that he used her cell phone to do so.  Next he would board a bus from Baltimore to New York City.  While in New York, he approached some gang members and asked their affiliation.  He then told them to add him to their Instagram accounts because he was going to do something big and then discarded the phone at the Barcalay's Center. After this, he walked by the patrol car where both officers Ramos and Liu were eating lunch. He came by the passenger side and shot them both in the head execution style.  They did not have any time to react at all.  After the assassination, a postal worker followed Brinsley in his truck and when he saw police officers, he notified them.  They then went after Brinsley who ran into a subway station where he shot himself in the head.

Some people reported that a group of hecklers were applauding at the death of the officers and shouted at police officers present, "good for you."  I have not confirmed this, but it is going around on the internet. A makeshift memorial was created near the scene and keeps growing with flowers, candles and other items.  Prayers were held Sunday evening for the officers and their relatives.  The cousin of Police Officer Ramos seemed to show pity for the coward who took his relative's life.  He said that "we forgive you" and that Brinsley was a troubled man.  This forgiveness is an awesome display of Christianity.  Police Officer Ramos' Facebook lists him as studying at an Evangelical Seminary.  Perhaps he may have been a minister as well in the Evangelical sect. (UPDATE 12/22/14: He was studying to be a chaplain) His Facebook ironically had as his last post a blue imagine which is used when police mourn for their fallen brothers.  This is dated December 18.  Other images on his profile had badges of fallen officers and Biblical or religious messages.

This news has touched everyone.  The New York Yankees are even offering to pay for the education of Ramos' kids.  However as usual, some one always has to take this tragedy and make it into a political game.  PBA president Lynch and conservative political pundits are accusing DiBlasio, Sharpton and protesters of being accomplices of this double cop murder.  

Some images I found:
Patrol car where PO Liu & Ramos were gunned down

Attacker Ismaaiyl Brinsley

Dead corpse of attacker

Dead corpse of the attacker Brinsley

Ramos' son Jaden Ramos posted his reaction on his instagram. He is only 13



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