Sunday, April 25, 2021

4th Sunday of Easter: Jesus the Good Shepherd, Praise His Name

In today's reading, we read of how Jesus takes care of His own.

The first reading takes place after Pentecost which we will be celebrating soon.  Peter the first Pope is filled with the Holy Spirit. This fisherman who can be called a big coward before receiving the Spirit now has the nerve and courage to speak before a crowd and speak of Jesus.  He tells the people that the miracles they have seen are all done in the name of Jesus Christ. The name "Jesus" means savior and "Christ" means king or anointed one. It is in this name that salvation can only be reached (Acts 4:12).

This name was given by God so that all may come to Him and bend the knee asking for mercy and salvation (Philippians 2:9-11).  Using the name of someone shows that you have authority in that person. This is why the Apostles relied on Jesus' name.  It gave them credibility, power, and authority (John 14:13Acts 4:30). The name of Jesus is so powerful that even the demons of hell cry out and run in fear (Mark 16:17Mark 3:11).  This speaks volumes especially at the time when the people rejected Christ.  The "stone rejected" did become the "cornerstone," as the reading tells us.  This name of Jesus was the Word that created the universe (John 1:3).

In the responsorial Psalm, we are reminded that the stone that was rejected became the cornerstone. We recall how God's mercy endures forever.  Despite (all of us) putting Christ on the cross, God still has love and mercy for us. He welcomes us to repent and turn from our sinful ways in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38). We recall how it is better to trust in God than in men because in the end, it is God who judges us all and God is the one in control, not man (Psalm 146:3Matthew 10:28).

The second reading tells us of something very powerful. We are told that God loves us so much that we are His children! Think about this for a minute. We are children of God - the God of the universe, the creator of all things seen and unseen!  If this does not ring of awesome, then I do not know what does.  We are the children of God and can call God, "father" because of Christ who became one of us through the womb of the Blessed Mother Mary and the Holy Spirit (Galatians 4:6Romans 8:15Hebrews 2:17Hebrews 4:15). As children of God, we must be of the light, not darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:5). This means that we must be free from sin and live as God wants us to live (1 Peter 1:16). Jesus with His authority even taught us a prayer that begins with "Our Father" which should remind us that we are the children of God every time we recite it (Matthew 6:9Luke 11:2). Unfortunately, our friends who share our belief in the Abrahamic God (Jews, Muslims) feel that calling God "father" is blasphemous.  With all respect to them, I find this argument silly. If we are to believe that God created us. Then logically speaking, how are we not going to call God "our Father?" But clearly, today's second reading tells us that the world does not "know us."  The world thinks we are crazy many times.  This is because they do not understand yet. They have not accepted God's grace which will illumine their hearts and minds to understand the reason for the faith (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is why we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost which is coming up soon. The Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us understanding so that the "foolishness" that Christianity may come across as to those in the world can make sense to us (John 14:261 John 2:27).

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus describes Himself as this Good Shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep.  Jesus then tells His parable of a man hired who is not a shepherd. When a wolf comes, the man makes a run for it leaving the sheep at the mercy of the wolf. Jesus tells us that this hired man does this because he works for a salary and does not care for the sheep. He then proceeds to tell us that He is the good shepherd who will stick by His sheep even at the point of dying for them.  "Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?"  Well, not Jesus!  This is a very powerful parable. Here we see how God loves us so much that He is willing to go "through hell" to take us to heaven, metaphorically speaking (John 3:16Hebrews 12:2).  Furthermore, I cannot help to reflect on our shepherds today in the Church.  It is said that there are sometimes cardinals, bishops, and priests etc, who forsake God, the Church, and the teachings for ulterior motives. They see the priesthood or religious life as a career or a step on the ladder of success and power.  Thank God Pope Francis has been addressing this strongly and condemning clericalism. It has no place in the Church or the priesthood/religious life.  Priests - all clergy - and religious must serve God and the people. They must not be in it for the money or "perks" (1 Timothy 6:11Titus 1:7-82 Timothy 2:241 Timothy 3:21 Peter 5:2).  This defeats the purpose of being a priest, bishop or shepherd of the flock. 

Lastly, Jesus speaks of having other sheep that are not part of this main fold. These are those outside of the Church. Those who have not become part of the Church are still the sheep of Christ. They hear His voice from a distance and reply. Christ calls out to them as well. As Catholics, we must avoid triumphalism or the idea that Catholicism is the best and other faiths are inferior.  This is a bad attitude and pride. Some in the so-called "traditionalist" faction of the Church often cite "extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" or "outside the Church there is no salvation," with the intention of shunning those people outside of the Church as being condemned.  This is a complete misunderstanding of this phrase. This phrase does not mean, "hey world, we are Catholics and if you are not with us you are going to hell."  Instead, this phrase is a reminder that the Church (being the Body of Christ) is the ordinary means of salvation.  The Catechism states:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC 846)

It is not meant to attack Protestants, other Christians or even non-Christians. The Catechism states:

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847)
 

In paragraph 843, it says of the Church's respect for other faiths:

The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332


So clearly, the Church sees the ideas of other faiths as a preparation for the Gospel. God is feeding these people "milk" before giving them the solid stuff (1 Corinthians 3:2).  Christ as the Good Shepherd is calling out to them. Since these sheep are not within His main fold, they hear Him from a distance, so the message may not get fully across which leaves them with the "shadows and images" they rely upon from which to look for God, as the above paragraph of the catechism states.

This shows the mercy of God. He is not a dictator in the sky demanding that we follow the rules or else.  He gives us many opportunities to change our ways and seek Him. We must trust in Jesus the Good Shepherd and remember that we are Catholics and live as such in His name, not our own.  We must not boast about our faith and scare others away (2 Corinthians 10:131 Corinthians 9:16), nor should we believe that we are perfect, holy, or "God's favorites" just because we are Catholic. Instead, we must be humble and share the faith with love; giving a reason for the hope that is in us (Philippians 1:161 Corinthians 13:1-31 Peter 3:15).  By doing this, we will win back our brother imitating the Good Shepherd and can proudly call God "Our Father" (Matthew 18:15James 5:19).  

The current covid 19 coronavirus pandemic we are have brought about many ways for us to help our brother or win him back.  Many are suffering due to this virus, not just due to sickness but also loss of job and way of life.  It has not been easy for all of us. We too at Sacerdotus have felt the impact and had to cut down many services we offer.  The pandemic has opened up new ways for all of us to serve one another.  We now offer live streaming of the Spanish Mass at St. Dominic so that those who cannot participate can join us virtually.  We have also found creative ways to reach others and remind them that God is still with them.  The pandemic and response of the Church have hurt the faith of some people.  Online polls claim many people do not want to return to church.  We must reach out to these brothers and sisters and win them back for Christ.  May the Holy Name of Jesus Christ be praised forever!



Readings:  Fourth Sunday of Easter | USCCB


Message to readers:
Please help fund this work. Hosting this site and running this work is not free. I have to pay for the domain name, materials I mail people, postage, etc.  Moreover, I want to expand Sacerdotus Radio hosted on BlogTalkRadio which costs money, and also want to publish some writings.  Without your generosity, I will not be able to continue this on my $70 a month stipend. Please donate and help me raise the funds necessary to run and expand.   I will probably have to stop this work if I am not able to keep up with costs.  You can donate to our Paypal or purchase items on our store: New tab (teespring.com).  Or you can use the GofundMe this site to make your donation which you can report on taxes as a gift, thanks and God bless: 

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bill 'Rosa' HounSLOW Gets Destroyed On Twitter for Science Illiteracy

After being banned from Twitter while using the account @rosarubicondior for abuse and copyright infringement, Billy Hounslow who uses the stolen alter-ego "Rosa Rubicondior" and pretends to be an atheist is at it again using a new account.  No, this time he is not fixated on me or a Latino high schoolboy. Rather, he is up to his usual ignorant commentary devoid of facts.  Nothing surprises me anymore from this elderly man who is allegedly retired from a health management position and spends his time blogging, tweeting, and writing fictional novels which have dismal reviews.  

Many of you remember "Rosa" from years ago. I challenged him to an honest intellectual debate which he accepted at first and later avoided and ran from.  All of it is documented here: Sacerdotus: Rosa Rubicondior

"Rosa" is one of the most dishonest, disingenuous, and uneducated troll accounts one will ever face on social media.  He will make all kinds of silly claims and rely on himself as an authority. He will defend those claims to the point of getting contentious and abusive. When he gets corrected or embarrassed with facts, he resorts to immature name-calling, slander, libel, and doxing.  This is of course if he did not block you just for contradicting him.  He claims to be an atheist but his content makes atheists look bad. Real atheists have a better grasp of science and philosophy than this elderly bitter and contentious dotard British man who uses his wit and keyboard as a battle arsenal. 

Fear not. He is no threat to anyone but himself and any children who may be near him. As stated before, he has some fixation or fetish with Latino teen boys from high school based on his writings.  He has no intellectual skills and relies on sophism and banal atheistic arguments long destroyed by theologians, philosophers, and scientists. This form of engagement on his part leads to failure and gaffes constantly.  Well, recently, he added to his list of failures and gaffes.  

On April 20, 2021, he posted a tweet that got him roasted and destroyed by Catholics, Protestants, and even other Atheists!  He like many of us celebrated the achievement of NASA flying a small drone on Mars for a few seconds.  While this may not be much of an achievement in the short run, it is in the long run as it tells us more about Mars and how to operate machines capable of aviation.  The problem with Hounslow's (and I emphasize slow for obvious reasons) is that he made a false conflation fallacy in his tweet.  He claims that Science does things or has achievements while Religion does not.  Look at his tweet:


The tweet is hilarious and sad at the same time. It shows the academic sloth and cognitive lethargy typical of "Rosa." Sometimes I feel he may be a Protestant Christian pretending to be an atheist in order to defame atheists or harm atheism.  No serious atheist would tweet such nonsense devoid of historical facts.  If you were offended by the ignorance of this tweet, you were not the only one.  Here are some of the many "burns" Billy got from others who called out his nonsense:



As you can see, Billy got destroy with facts from all sides of life.  His nonsensical tweet was destroyed and with speed.  These kinds of comments cannot exist on social media.  Today we have a problem with false information or "fake news" as the former president coined.  This false information is believed by many, unfortunately.  To make the claim or even suggest that religion and science are entities that exist contrary to each other or apart from each other is absurd. It is even more absurd to claim that religion fostered nothing good and that science somehow defeats it in this endeavor when science comes from religion; the Catholic religion to be exact!  Some atheists may claim that science existed before and may name philosophers from Greece.  The problem with this assertion is that what the Greeks practiced was not science per se. They did try to figure things out in nature. However, they did so using tenacity. Tenacity in science is a primitive form of the scientific method, so to speak. Basically, it is the reliance on previous ideas, theories, or beliefs and building upon them without ever questioning them or testing them. Tenacity is well displayed in the episode of Star Trek the Next Generation entitled Thine Own Self.  



In this episode, Lieutenant commander Data who is an artificial lifeform or android is sent to the planet Barkon IV.  Due to the Prime Directive, or a law that prevents advanced civilizations from interfering with or revealing themselves to less advanced ones. This law exists to allow a less advanced civilization to naturally evolve. Anyhow, Data is on this planet which is set in a time similar to that of the pre-industrial world on Earth. The people dress and behave like those in the Renaissance period on Earth.  Data is there to recover radioactive contents from a probe that crashed on the planet. While doing so, he is damaged and suffers memory loss. Data wanders around with the radioactive contents until he enters a village.  The people believe he is some snow creature from the mountains and is afraid at first. Eventually, they trust him.  One village then sells the radioactive contents which the people use as jewelry.  Without them knowing, the contents are slowly killing them as one would expect something radioactive to do.  They get sick and believe Data cursed them with some magic. Talur, a female polymath who works as a scientist, teacher, and doctor begins to study the situation. She studies Data and the radioactive contents. However, the method she uses to study is tenacity. She relies on previous knowledge to come to conclusions. Data slowly begins to regain his memory and with that his more advanced science skills and begins to find a cure for the people who are suffering from radioactive poisoning. Talur begins to realize that her methods do not work and are primitive. Data uses the scientific method we use now which comes from Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon.  

That being stated, when atheists claim that the Greeks already had science, they are not factual. The "science" they had was tenacity based on philosophy and some empiricism. Other civilizations had and used the same method. It was Tenacity that brought Galileo into problems. When he challenged the ideas universities held, this caused friction because they followed tenacity as their method. Tenacity eventually paved the way to the scientific method we all use today. By this, I mean that scientists still use previous works of science to build new ideas on and to challenge those previous works. This is science.  Science builds upon what was there already or completely challenges, revises, or throws it out based on evidence and the facts that fit the evidence.  So that being stated, science, as we know it today, comes from the Catholic Church.  Friar Bacon formulated the method we use today which has brought about many discoveries and ideas. The Catholic Church funded science and scientists. In fact, many of her clergy and religious members worked in science. The Catholic Church runs the oldest observatory in the world!  A priest named George Lemaitre formulated Cosmic Inflation or the "Big Bang Theory" (not the comedy show)! Without these, atheist physicists like Sean Carroll, Stephen Hawking, or Lawrence Krauss would not have anything to work within their work today.  

Moreover, most of the craters on the moon and other planets are named after priests and other Catholic religious!  To claim that religion and science are enemies or that science somehow is doing more than religion is just ludicrous and shows a lack of knowledge on whoever makes such claims.  Theology along with philosophy brought about the formation of science with its inquiry methods and audacity to question the questions and seek beyond what the 5 senses show us.  

I wrote books on atheism and how science refutes it. In them, I provide information on the history of science and its Catholic roots. You can purchase them here:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/atheism-is-stupid-sacerdotus/1123159474

https://www.amazon.com/Answering-Atheists-Theists-Hurry-Sacerdotus/dp/1792985495/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1619598846&sr=8-5


For informaon on Friar Roger Bacon, OFM:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/roger-bacon/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Roger-Bacon

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705416/

https://www.rogerbaconacademy.net/leadership/who-is-roger-bacon/

https://iep.utm.edu/bacon-ro/

https://www.timelineindex.com/content/view/1435

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/renaissance-reformation/baroque-art1/beginners-guide-baroque1/a/francis-bacon-and-the-scientific-revolution

https://medium.com/st-ambrose-press/fr-roger-bacon-a-franciscan-and-the-forefather-of-the-scientific-method-22a90794226e


Catholic Scientists and Contributions to Science:

https://www.catholicscientists.org/

https://catholic-link.org/16-catholic-scientists-who-have-made-amazing-contributions-to-science/

https://aleteia.org/2018/05/25/these-5-catholic-scientists-shaped-our-understanding-of-the-world/

https://www.shu.edu/mission-ministry/society-of-catholic-scientists.cfm

https://stfrancis.clas.asu.edu/article/roman-catholic-scientists


For Info on Tenacity:

https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/57731_Chapter_1.pdf

http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/4856/1/Peircef%5B1%5D.pdf


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Sunday, April 18, 2021

3rd Sunday of Easter - Jesus Saves Always

It is now the third Sunday of Easter. Today's readings focus on the person of Jesus. Catholicism is all about Jesus. We often mention His Mother Mary, the Angels, biblical personalities, and saints, but each of these focuses on Christ and is relevant in Him.

The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles or the New Testament. Typically, the first reading is from the Old Testament. The reason why it is structured this way is to tell the story of Christ. We read from the Old Testament as a preparation for Christ who we await for during Advent and receive on Christmas.

Then we read how the words of the Old Testament are fulfilled during Jesus' ministry as we enter Ordinary time.  During Lent and Holy Week, we read of how these same Scriptures fulfill the mission of Christ to suffer, die and rise from the dead.  Finally, during Eastertide, we read from Acts which tells the story of the new covenant founded on the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ (Matthew 26:28).  This new covenant is us, the Catholic Church!

In this first reading from Acts, we see Peter taking leadership once again demonstrating his primacy as the first of the Apostles or the Pope. He tells the people before him and us today hearing the word that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of our fathers glorified His servant Jesus. Here, Peter is making it clear that there is one God and that this God has been preparing the world for Christ (Romans 10:4). Christ was indeed the Messiah the Jews were waiting for (Micah 5:2).  However, most of the Jews at the time (especially temple officials) did not see this (John 4:22John 9:18).  In their ignorance, they mocked Christ and preferred that a murderer named Barabas be released rather than the "author of life" who is Christ (Mark 15:7John 18:40). Peter clarifies that they did this out of ignorance recalling Jesus' words on the Cross (Luke 23:34). He continues by telling the people that the things that happened to Christ had to happen (Acts 17:3Luke 24:26). They fulfilled what the prophets had announced centuries before.  Now that the people have witnessed that Christ was indeed the real deal, Peter calls them to repent and convert. This reading leads into the Psalm which calls for God to shine His face upon us.

In the responsorial Psalm, we ask God to be there for us when we call upon Him. We ask God to have mercy and pity on us.  This Psalm calls on God to reside in us and bring us peace of mind and heart which can only come from God.  It echoes the blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. This Psalm brings us to the second reading which is also from the New Testament.

In the second reading, John is telling us not to sin.  He reminds us that we have an Advocate or a mediator with the Father.  This mediator is Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5-6).  Some of our separated friends in the Protestant faith often cry foul when they see us praying to Mary or referring to her as a mediator. However, they do not understand that Mary intercedes on our behalf to her Son Christ, not the Father (John 2:1-12). Mary does not take the place of Christ, nor would she want to do so since she clearly stated that she is the "handmaid of the Lord," not the Lord's Lord (Luke 1:38).  Moreover, John tells us that Christ is expiation for our sins, or reparation personified. In his book, "Jesus of Nazareth," Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes of expiation:

"The Greek word that is here translated as 'expiation' is hilasterion, of which the Hebrew equivalent is kapporet.  This word designated the covering of the Ark of the Covenant.  This is the place over which YHWH appears in a cloud, the place of the mysterious presence of God.  This holy place is sprinkled with the blood of the bull killed as a sin-offering on the Day of Atonement --the Yom ha Kippurim. The thinking here is that the blood of the victim, into which all human sins are absorbed, actually touches the Divinity and is thereby cleansed -- and in the process, human beings, represented by the blood, are also purified through this contact with God.." (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p. 39)  


The Pope Emeritus who celebrated his 94th birthday the other day continues to describe how St. Paul uses the same word, "hilasterion" to describe Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross (Romans 3:25). Jesus in His passion and death took on the sins of the entire world and of all peoples in every time from Adam until the last person to be born in the future before the final judgment (2 Corinthians 5:15).  According to Pope Benedict XVI who cites from Origen, the remains; particularly the skull of Adam was buried where Christ was crucified:

"Concerning the place of the skull, it came to me that Hebrews hand down [the tradition that] the body of Adam has been buried there; in order that 'as in Adam all die' both Adam would be raised and 'in Christ all will be made alive'. (Origen - Commentary on Matthew, 27.32)"


Christ's blood would then seep down and "wash" the skull or remains of Adam as a sign of expiation. Moreover, John tells us that in our observance of the commandments, we know Christ (Matthew 19:17John 14:15).  If we do not keep the commandments, then we are just liars and the truth is not in us.

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of Christ once again appearing to His disciples.  They are startled at His presence which brought Him to ask them "Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?"  The disciples did not have the Holy Spirit at the time. That being said, despite Christ walking among them, they still did not truly comprehend this or anything else (Luke 18:34). Doubts and anxiety were always present.  Once again, Christ shows them that He was really the one who was Crucified and offers them to see and feel his flesh since the disciples apparently had a fear of ghosts and ghosts do not have flesh and bone.  Meanwhile, as they looked in amazement, Christ asks them if they have anything to eat.

They bring Him a piece of baked fish. This is allusory to the fact that the disciples are called to be fishers of men and must bring the catch back to Christ (Matthew 4:19).  This "piece of baked fish" represents the people the disciples "fish from the deep" (Luke 5:4).  Christ eats this fish showing that the catch becomes part of His body (Colossians 1:181 Corinthians 12:27).  Lastly, Christ reminds them that everything that was written by Moses, the prophets, Psalms, etc had to be fulfilled.  Christ, they open their minds so that they can understand the Scriptures and put two and two together, so to speak.  He reminds them that His suffering and resurrection had a major purpose; namely, the repentance of sins and the forgiveness of them.  The disciples are to begin their journey of faith by spreading the Gospel everywhere.  We too are called to do the same.  This is especially true during this covid 19 coronavirus.  Many have suffered great loss and need to be reminded that God has not forgotten them.  

May Jesus Christ be praised!


Readings:  Third Sunday of Easter | USCCB





Message to readers:
Please help fund this work. Hosting this site and running this work is not free. I have to pay for the domain name, materials I mail people, postage, etc.  Moreover, I want to expand Sacerdotus Radio hosted on BlogTalkRadio which costs money, and also want to publish some writings.  Without your generosity, I will not be able to continue this on my $70 a month stipend. Please donate and help me raise the funds necessary to run and expand.   I will probably have to stop this work if I am not able to keep up with costs.  Please go to this site to make your donation which you can report on taxes as a gift, thanks and God bless: 
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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Divine Mercy Sunday: Mercy Is Needed

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 '30s.  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 that 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 on 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 every day 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. These 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 majestic 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 are 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 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 a 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.  We must make use of the Sacrament of Penance regularly.  

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 of 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!


You can purchase Divine Mercy shirts, masks, etc at our store: https://teespring.com/stores/sacerdotus-store




Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday: The Resurrection - Jesus Conquers

Today is Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday!  It is the most important day in the liturgical calendar.

A small baby boy was born unto us on Christmas. He grew, got baptized by John; performed miracles, and taught. However, what confirmed all of this was today: the resurrection. During Jesus' time, many men claimed to be the messiah, the chosen one of Israel.

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

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

The resurrection proved to the disciples and others that Jesus was, in fact, the messiah, the chosen one of Israel. Catholicism would not have succeeded if Jesus did not resurrect. Christianity would have just faded just like other cults at the time led by false messiahs. The resurrection validated the new covenant and its beliefs. Think about it. If I today had a group of friends, said that I was the chosen one, spoke eloquently but did not back up my talk with honesty, truth, and authority, then there is no way my group of friends would develop into a worldwide major religion. It would just die out the instant I became boring to my friends or died and turned to dust.  With Jesus it was different.  Yes, He died like everyone else, but He rose again.  He showed that He was telling the truth.  He was no liar. 

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

Do not let the stupidity of atheism put doubt in you.  Today is April's Fools Day and is the holiday of Atheists (Psalm 53:1).  Only a fool denies God exists.  Only a fool denies Jesus existed among men and rose from the dead. If the resurrection did not happen, Catholicism would have failed within days after the crucifixion.  Remember, there were charlatans going around Jerusalem claiming to be the Messiah.  These had their own following. However, these cults died out because their founders were not the Messiah.  Catholicism grew via the Apostles because what happened surrounding Jesus was true.  Think about it.  Would you believe me if I told you that someone rose from the dead after a week?  I think your answer would be a big NO!  The idea sounds and IS crazy.  Human beings have not changed much in regards to being skeptical about these extraordinary claims that defy nature.  Yet, an extraordinary event did happen and people believed it.  This was because the event really happened.  If Jesus did not rise from the dead then Christianity would not have been so successful. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key to everything.  It is the solemnity of all solemnities, the feast of all feasts.  Christmas, Jesus' baptism, temptation, transfiguration, crucifixion, etc would mean nothing if Jesus did not rise from the dead. 

Jesus proved that all He was about was true.  He is the Lord of life and death.  Today during this alleged covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, we are suffering great losses of life.  The resurrection is a reminder that death does not have the last say.   'Let us hope in Christ and await the final resurrection of the dead as we meet our Lord.  Jesus has risen from the dead and He said!  Alleluia!  Jesus conquers!  

    

   

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Easter Vigil

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, an open tabernacle with no one inside, and 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. The 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.  Now vaccines are being injected into people without being thoroughly vetted.  Some only have protection up to 6 months as new variants of the virus mutate.  It is just madness what is going on.  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 experiment 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 the 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 attracts 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 the 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 dark 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 wintertime 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 affect 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 into 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 has 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. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday

"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 officials, Good Friday is not the same.  Most 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 are good to promote the faith and aid those who cannot attend Mass, to force everyone to rely on it is disturbing and unfortunate.  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 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.  A year after the onset of this pandemic and we still have no science showing the mass or Sacraments as conduits for the spread of Covid 10 coronavirus.  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 superstitions.  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 by 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 about 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 of 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 in 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!

       

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday

 


"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 'You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'" 
-John 13:12-16

Today is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. We recall how Christ celebrated the Seder meal or Passover which commemorates the events in Egypt during the Exodus (Exodus 12). During this ritual, Christ added something.  He washed the feet of his Disciples.  Here we have the Son of God and the second person of the Blessed Trinity washing the feet of creatures He created who constantly offend Him with sin. This shows the humility of God that He would serve the servant giving us all an example to follow (Philippians 2Matthew 11:29). Holy Thursday should remind us of serving others and being merciful (1 Peter 4:10Galatians 5:13-14).  Jesus even commanded that we serve others and wash one another's feet (John 13:12-14). Notice that He did not place any conditions on this service. I mention this in light of recent events surrounding the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Bishops have closed churches and are denying the Sacraments to the people.  They are contradicting Christ's demand for service to others.  Joining the bishops are many Catholics who agree with their decision which is devoid of faith in God.  They are complicit in this sin.  The Church does teach in the catechism that we can be an accessory to the sins of others.  The Catechism states:

Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.
CCC 1868


An older text from 1888 goes into more detail:

"Nine Ways of being Accessory to another's Sin.
By Counsel
By Command
By Consent
By Provocation
By Praise or Flattery
By Concealment
By partaking
By Silence
By defense of the Ill Done
A MANUAL OF PRAYERS for the use of the Catholic Laity (copyright 1888)

How do we get around this? Well, I thought of the lesser of two evils model which posits that we choose what is least damaging. Only God is our judge and can read our hearts (James 4:12Psalm 75:7Psalm 139:23-24).  We can pray to God making it clear that we are not endorsing the decisions surrounding the alleged pandemic, but are serving the "least of our brethren," so to speak (Matthew 25:40). This is one way of getting out of the dilemma of being an accessory to the sin of another. We can also admonish the sinner with mercy and compassion (2 Thessalonians 3:15). There are ways of telling people that what they are doing offends God in a way that does not come across as judgmental or demanding. I believe this ties into today's Holy Thursday ritual.

We are called by Christ to "wash another's feet."  Remember, He never specified whom to wash, but said, just go do it!  God is the only one who can change minds and hearts (Ezekiel 36:26).  The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind in this situation as well (Luke 10:25-37). In this story, Jesus is questioned by a lawyer who asks Jesus, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life," Jesus replies asking this man, "What is written in the law?"  The lawyer begins to cite from Leviticus 19:9-18 & Deuteronomy 6:5 which states to love God and neighbor. Jesus tells him that he is correct, but the lawyer then asks Jesus, "And who is my neighbor" to which Jesus replies with the parable,


"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion,  and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'"  

Jesus then asks the lawyer who does he think was the one who was neighborly to the victim of a robbery to which the lawyer replies, “The one who showed mercy on him.” After hearing this answer, Jesus tells the lawyer to do the same.

Here in this parable, we see a man who is a victim of a robbery. A priest or "man of God" saw the man there laying beaten and humiliated and moved to the other side, completely avoiding this victim of a crime. Next, a Levite passed by and did the same. A Levite had a special religious status in the tribe of Levi.  Despite this role, the Levite passed by the injured victim of a robbery.  However, a Samaritan comes by and stops to help him and even pays an innkeeper and requests that this innkeeper cares for him and even offers to pay any additional expenses the victim of the robbery may incur. The Samaritans were a rival group of the Jews at the time of Jesus. They were not expected to help their counterparts.  This is why this Samaritan is described as the "Good Samaritan."  Jesus used a Samaritan to tell His story to show that we must break past our differences and focus on the person by serving him or her.

In the washing of the feet, we see this transcendence of two "rival" entities: God (Jesus) representing holiness and perfection, and the disciples representing sin and imperfection. The uniting force is love. As Catholics, we are called to love others, even those who hate us and want to oppress us (Matthew 5:44). We are not called to be enemies of the LGBT, Atheists, Muslims, or anyone else who thinks and acts differently. In fact, we are called to serve them (Galatians 5:13).

After the events of the Last Supper, Jesus went to pray at the garden of Gethsemane.  While praying, He suffered greatly to the point of crying blood. The pain, anxiety, and depression were so great that we cannot even imagine how it must have felt. Jesus felt abandoned. This was His human nature with its weaknesses. Remember, Jesus was human in all things except sin. He felt pain, had emotions, had a body with many bodily functions to deal with, and so on.  After He prayed, Jesus found the disciples asleep. They could not watch one hour with Him in prayer.  Shortly after, Judas came with an entourage seeking to arrest Jesus.  After His arrest, the disciples ran off except John. Simon Peter, the first pope denied Him three times. Despite witnessing the works of Jesus, Peter denied Christ saying he does not know the man.  Today, humanity is being plagued with the Covid-19 coronavirus which is being labeled a pandemic. 

Despite being less contagious and deadly than the common flu, this virus is being presented as some kind of apocalyptic plague that will wipe out humanity. The exaggeration and panic have to lead to a frenzy that has brought about the literal closing of nations, economies, and even religion. Catholic bishops closed churches and suspended public liturgies out of fear that the people would be infected.  Despite no evidence at all of the contagion ever spreading in Mass or via Sacraments, the bishops listened to secular authorities and alleged medical professions who have pushed shoddy science and faulty models on society.  Along with the bishops, many priests, religious and laity have supported the closure of parishes and suspension of the Sacraments. Like the other disciples 2,000 plus years ago, these disciples today are cowards who ran away from Jesus. They, like Peter, denied Him. We know Jesus is God. We know what God is about. How can we even dare to think God would allow the spread of contagion via the Mass and Sacraments?  This is bad theology, not to mention, a deviant manifestation of faith.  A year has passed since this pandemic began on March 11 and the numbers have not been as near as projected.  Doctors and other medical professions have been playing it by ear instead of giving exact science.  Variants continue to appear, and despite this happening, the pandemic is not as widespread as the media portray. Cities are opening up, people are having parties and the like and we are not seeing the massive infection rates.  What happened?  Was all this exaggerated?  Where is the faith of our leaders?  

Lastly, during this night Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist. He did not abolish the old ritual of the Passover but fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17). The Holy Eucharist just like the Passover meal provided protection from death (Exodus 12:23). This is because we are given the bread of life who is Jesus, that allows us to live forever (John 6:35).  A few years ago, renowned Agnostic astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson made some comments conflating the Holy Eucharist and Scientology as "crazy." He said in the interview,


"So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?" - http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/31/neil-degrasse-tyson-defends-scientology-and-the-bush-administration-s-science-record.html

Here we see his ignorance regarding Catholicism. First, I know of no one in the Catholic Church who calls Scientology or any other differing view "crazy."  The Catechism has this to say regarding other faiths, not in union with the Church:

"818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272 
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276) 
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm

Moreover, as a former atheist, I can state with sincerity that the idea of the Holy Eucharist is "crazy." I say this with all respect, of course.  Let me explain why:  God is known to do things foolishly, illogically, and completely contrary to how we think things should be done and this foolishness of God, in reality, is wiser than anything a man can formulate (1 Corinthians 1:25). The Holy Eucharist is one of these "foolish" ideas which really is wise and shows God's genius. During the Last Supper, Our Lord took bread and wine, blessed it, and distributed it 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 has to continue.

Was Jesus joking around when He said that bread and wine were His Body and Blood?  
The answer is no.  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 was not 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 world would be seen as psychotic.

However, it gets "stranger..."  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.  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 - but that is another blog post.

Moreover, something interesting happens here in regards to how serious Jesus was about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Many of our separated brethren believe the Holy Eucharist is a symbol and not literally Christ's Body Blood Soul and Divinity.  However, when people started abandoning Jesus for saying that one has to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus did not 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 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.

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 that can be served with literally every food on Earth.  It has a lot of carbohydrates which in turn gives a lot of energy to the body.  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.  It was even used as medicine and 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.

Transubstantiation
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 buzz in social media regarding the "Zombie" in Miami.  A man who was high on "salt" - a drug - 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 human flesh and blood to eat and drink in the material sense. 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.  The outside of 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.

Silly Neil, what's the deal?

So we can see how "God's foolishness/stupidity" and "craziness" are wisdom for us. God uses bread and wine because He understands us. He understands that no one is going to literally eat human flesh and blood.  As God, He can transform bread and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity without making it into a disgusting cannibalistic rite.  This is because with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Moreover, Neil Degrasse Tyson is the one who is crazy for thinking that tachyon particles or hypothetical particles believed to travel faster than the speed of light (186,282 miles per second) exist and can cause Cherenkov radiation, which is another hypothetical scenario where light creates a "sonic boom" effect if something forces it to go faster than it normally does, breaking its barrier.

So in closing, we must serve one another despite our differences, even if they hate us. Our Lord gave us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament and we should make every effort to visit Him and communicate (receive Communion) with Him while in the state of grace; and yes Tyson, the Holy Eucharist is "crazy" but this craziness reflects the wisdom of God which trumps the nonsense we human beings posit via materialistic philosophies and scientific ideas based on overactive imaginations.

Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.  He gives us Himself completely so that we can have the grace necessary to love Him and one another.  Holy Thursday is not just about the Eucharist or the priesthood.  It is also about service to others.  Loving others is a mandate for every Catholic.  We are a community on this planet; brothers and sisters who have our origin in Adam and Eve.  Therefore, we must care for one another.  I know this is hard, but no one said it would be easy.  Nothing in Christianity is easy.  This is one of the reasons why it is worthwhile.  It challenges us to be superhuman; to be the ubermensch or "Superman" as philosopher  Friedrich Nietzsche coined it.  This can only be accomplished with the grace of God.  Reason and love come to work in the person of Jesus Christ.

On this Holy Thursday, let us focus on Christ and service to one another. We cannot deny the Sacraments to the people of God. This contradicts the very essence of Jesus' command that we "wash each others' feet" and serve one another.  We cannot be like the disciples who ran away or like Peter who denied Our Lord.  We must have faith and be an example to the world. Closing churches and denying the Sacraments shows the world that what we believe is a sham.  Let us vow to do better with how we reflect Christ to the world.   

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