We Are So Blessed

Yesterday I brought Communion to one of our homebound parishioners. I, an ordinary Catholic was privileged to carry Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, the King of Kings, Savior of the world to another Catholic to consume. I held God in my hand and gave Him to another. Can we be more privileged? Even Francis of Assisi never did that since he wasn’t a priest.
Do we realize how blessed we are? Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our faith teaches that Jesus is totally present in every Eucharist. The Jesus I carry in my pyx is the same Jesus that healed the leper, multiplied the loaves and fishes, raised Lazarus from the dead and rose from the grave on Easter Sunday. He is not a watered-down version but the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Miracle Worker, Conqueror of Death, King of Kings, Lamb of God, God of Wonders, Light of the World, the Alpha and Omega, Bread of Life, Our Champion, Divine Physician, the Almighty One, the Beloved Son, Creator, Eternal One, Emmanuel, God With Us, Our Healer, the King of Glory, Lord of Lords, the Messiah, the Name Above All Names, Our Provider, Ruler of the Universe, the Rock of Ages, True God and True Man and so much more.
Think about it! How privileged we are to serve Him in such an intimate way! How blessed we are to be able to hold the God of the Universe in our hands and give Him to others. We must never forget how blessed we are or take this privilege and responsibility lightly. We should always do it with reverence and expectancy. After all, God is still in the miracle business.

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Thank God For Your Faith

originally published on Catholic Lane

As you give thanks this Thanksgiving be sure to thank God for your Catholic faith! I hope you realize how truly blessed we are — we have so much more than other Christians.

Begin with the fact that we have the Mass available to us every day, (except Good Friday). Most Protestant congregations meet only twice a week, usually on Sunday and Wednesdays. However for Catholics, Jesus is available in Communion almost every day of the year. Under the appearance of bread and wine we encounter the same Jesus who walked the streets of Palestine, who changed water into wine, healed lepers and the paralytic, raised Lazarus from the dead and fed 5,000 men with a few loaves and fishes. We receive Jesus with all His power. He waits for us to come and receive Him so that He can pour His love and blessings upon us. Not only can we receive Him, but as Catholics we have the opportunity to worship and adore Him in the Tabernacle and exposed at Adoration. At Benediction we are blessed by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Eucharist alone is enough reason to rejoice at being Catholic but there is more. We have been given the awesome gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As Jesus revealed to St. Faustina he is present in the priest who hears our confession. He speaks words of encouragement and guidance. He pours out love and absolution. We don’t have to worry if we were really forgiven. We get to hear the words of absolution. What a great feeling it is to walk out of church after Confession!

Yet there is more. The Catholic Church offers so many ways for Jesus to touch us with His healing power. There are the Sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick, but also the Eucharist and Reconciliation. There are sacramentals such as relics of the saints, medals, holy water, water from shrines like Lourdes. There are healing masses and the laying on of hands, just to mention the most common.

Consider the incredible number of devotions and prayers which help us to draw closer to the Lord. The rosary is a prayer of great power because Jesus chooses to honor the intercession of His Mother. Meditating upon the 20 mysteries lead us through the life of Christ and help us to connect better with Him. We have devotions to the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy both of which were given us by Jesus. Almost every church has the Stations of the Cross which helps us to reflect on Jesus’ Passion. Additionally there are countless novenas, litanies and other prayers.

We can’t forget the awesome gift of Jesus’ mother as our mother. We have Mary and all the saints to join us in our prayers to God. We have the lives of the saints to inspire and guide us. We are blessed by the religious orders they left behind, their writings, prayers, and meditations. There is so much about God and spirituality we can learn from the saints.

If we only understood all the graces available to us we would be amazed. We are indeed a people extremely blessed by God. We have so many unique blessings as Catholics. We have much to be grateful for. This Thanksgiving take the time to reflect on how blessed you are to be Catholic and say thanks to God for this awesome privilege!

Is Jesus Our King, The Feast Of Christ The King

Christ the King

This Sunday (11/24/13) we will celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We celebrate it every November, usually the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Maybe its proximity to Thanksgiving is the reason we don’t really think about it. Or maybe the fact that Americans have no real experience with kings is the reason we don’t understand this concept. I wonder if we have any idea what the concept of Christ the King really means.
We are used to telling the president what we want him to do. He practically has to beg us to get Congress to pass the bills he wants passed. Our president rules with a lot of wheeling and dealing to accomplish anything and often they fail to accomplish their goals. Being president doesn’t mean they get any respect; often they are ridiculed on the late night talk shows and criticized in every newspaper in the country.
America’s last experience with a king was George III, who helped to provoke the American Revolution. He didn’t have absolute power but was limited by the Magna Carta and Parliament. A lot of the opposition to George III came from the ministers of America who felt we had to leave the British Empire to save us from the corruption of England.
They understood that there was a higher allegiance that we owed, that we served a greater king than George III and we owed him our absolute love and loyalty. They understood that they had a king worth dying for and many did. This king they served was Christ the King.
All Christians are called to serve this king with absolute obedience, allegiance and loyalty. We are to live our lives in service of our king. We live and die for Him not ourselves and not our party.
There are those today who treat Him like the president. He is mocked and criticized. His existence is challenged. Why should we obey Him? True Americans, we refuse to recognize any authority higher than ourselves. We’re Americans, we have rights; we make our own decisions or so we think.
What nonsense! We owe our king everything. We are absolutely nothing without Him. We’ve accomplished nothing on our own. We just think we did.
Without Him we are literally nothing. Our very existence depends on His will. Every oxygen molecule we breathe, every drop of water we drink and every crumb we eat were granted to us by our king. One glance from Him is all it would take to make this country history.
We are in the shape we’re in because we’ve turned our back on Him and ignored Him. We’ve made our own decisions despite what the laws of our king said. Why should things be better? It is only by His mercy that things aren’t worse.
One of the functions of a real king is to protect and take care of his people. Ancient kings like David put their own lives on the line to protect their people. We have a king more powerful than any king in history, more powerful than all of the kings in history combined and queens too. Yet we’ve basically told Him we don’t need Him and kicked Him out of our life. How can we expect His protection?
In ancient times people loved a good king, trusted him and depended on him. In return he protected them and took care of them. They gave him their absolute loyalty, love and obedience. Our king is much more than a good king. Words fail to describe His goodness, love and power. We owe Him even more than any other king. It is only when we return to our king and recognize His authority over our lives will they be straightened out.
This Sunday, examine your conscience. Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is He really your king? Have you accepted His teachings on Abortion, gay rights, marriage, the treatment of the poor and immigrants? Or are you still ruling your own life?

377 Rosaries

This past week we tallied the slips for the Rosaries for Life campaign and 1 stood out. One unknown person said 377 rosaries over a forty day period, almost 10 a day. Think about it! What must this person have sacrificed! Maybe they skipped Dr. Phil, Ellen and Katie or Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger. Who knows but these shows would take about the same time it took to say 10 rosaries.
I have no idea who this person was but suspect based on our parish population that the person is retired, maybe even homebound. What an awesome way to spend a retirement, praying rather than watching the same old shows or trash on TV.
So often we feel powerless or useless, as if life has passed us by and we are incapable of contributing. So often we waste value time complaining about all that is wrong with the world when we could be doing something more worthwhile: praying. How often do we lament the fact that our children have left the faith?
This person shows us what we are capable of and that no one who can pray is useless or powerless. We Catholics possess one of the most powerful weapons in history, the rosary but so often we fail to unleash its power. There used to be thousands of cloistered nuns praying in reparation for sin and for the conversion of the world but not any more. Perhaps the reason the world is such a mess is that no one took their place, not enough people are praying. I suspect most of us can pray more. What would happen if the retired Catholics in this country seriously began to pray more, especially the rosary? Couldn’t we change the world?
We might never be recognized for the miracles that happen as a result of our prayers. People might even think we are crazy for praying so much instead of watching TV. But God knows what we accomplish, God knows our efforts. That is all that really matters.

Are We Listening To False Prophets?

When you read the book of Jeremiah you may be struck by the number of false prophets who delivered exactly the opposite message God sent through Jeremiah. In fact many of the true prophets of the Old Testament had to compete with false prophets. So often the message these false prophets issued was exactly what the king wanted to hear and the result was disaster. In the case of Jeremiah Jerusalem was destroyed rather than saved by surrender to the Babylonians or Chaldeans as the book calls them.
This makes me wonder. Are we plagued by false prophets today and if so who are these false prophets? What is their message today? Are their genuine prophets today? Do we ignore them the same way Jeremiah was ignored? There are definitely a lot of people claiming the gift of prophecy today on the Internet and there are also a lot of people who claim to speak for God or the Church involved in politics. Who really speaks for God? How do we decide?
A good rule of thumb is to study the message in light of Scripture and Church tradition. As Hebrews 13:8 say “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow”. His message will not change. What was immoral will not become moral and what was moral will not become immoral. Anything that contradicts the teaching of Scripture does not come from God.
At the same time anything that contradicts the teaching of the Church over the course of centuries will not be from God. Modern arguments by Catholic groups for the right of Choice or for gay marriage are examples of false teachings or prophets. I know many conservative Catholics would easily agree but what about some of the conservative positions related to immigration, the poor or materialism? Is it not possible that we need to examine these positions in the light of Scripture?
Most conservative Catholics would consider Pope John Paul II to be a modern-day prophet. They look at his strong defense of life and defense of the family but do they realize that he wrote a great deal critical of both communism and capitalism, that he considered materialism to be more dangerous to souls than communism? How many of us heard him when he spoke for the poor and exploited of the world? How many of us only heard what we wanted to hear?
Do we realize that along with their worship of false gods like Baal God was critical of the Israelites greed and exploitation of the poor? He talks about how they ignored his law for the freeing of slaves every seventh year in Jeremiah. In Amos they are condemned for their false scales as they cheat the widowed. Greed was one of the things He condemned them for? How many of our modern-day prophets on the American scene truly reflect this? So often we get caught up in politics and support one party over the other when in reality all political parties have deviated from the teaching of God. We can not blindly support either party but must examine each position and issue in light of Scripture and the teachings of the Church.
If you look at the Internet you will find a host of “prophecies” claimed to be from God. How do we decide what is true? Some of them make sense in terms of Scripture. In the Old Testament Israel was punished for it sins and its refusal to repent. Isn’t it logical that modern man would also suffer the consequences of its sins? Isn’t it also logical that God would send people in and out of the Church to call us to repentance?
But isn’t it also logical that God would want the focus to be on the message of repentance and His mercy rather than the messenger? Didn’t God promise mercy even in the book of Jeremiah if they repented? Didn’t He promise to spare the destruction of Jerusalem if they listened to Him and surrendered? Didn’t He promise to spare their lives? Didn’t He promise to remember the Covenant and bring back His people after seventy years and didn’t He do that? Didn’t He save Judah and Jerusalem from the Assyrians when they repented?
I sometimes wonder if these modern-day prophecies are truly reflective of God. There can be no doubt that modern humanity is a sinful people. There can be no doubt of our need of repentance? You have to wonder if we haven’t reached the point where we may be worse than the people of Noah’s time. But do these prophecies on the Internet yield fruit? Do they bring us to repentance and the Sacraments? Do they lead us to prayer and trust in God or do they lead us to stockpile supplies and weapons?
If you look at the messages of Mary which have been ruled valid all of them lead to repentance and conversion to a deeper prayer life and more frequent reception of the Sacraments. They lead to a greater trust in God and a more simple holier way of life. Does this not fit with what God has done in the past? Isn’t this what God would want? Isn’t this what the Church has been calling for over twenty centuries? Don’t the approved messages of Mary always point to Jesus and the Holy Trinity? Do any of the so-called prophets on the Internet do the same? Do they lead people to repent, to conversion and a more frequent reception of the Sacraments or do they simply lead to fear and selfishness?

Lord, help us to recognize the true prophets, those that call us like Isaiah, Amos, Jeremiah and Ezekiel to repentance and conversion. Help us to ignore those who seek to pull people along the wrong path or to draw attention to themselves. Help us to truly repent and receive the Sacraments as often as possible. Amen

The Abortion Battle Isn’t Over!

October, the month of the rosary and the Pro Life Rosary Campaign, is over. Then things will quiet down until January with the various state marches and the National March for Life. There will be various prayer vigils before the march. In the spring there will be a new Forty Days for Life Campaign.
The sad reality is that many of the people who participated in the Rosary for Life Campaign will basically be uninvolved until next October. Why? How are we going to defeat abortion if we stop praying? We need to keep on praying as long as there are abortions legal or not in this country. We are in a war and we can’t stop fighting. The Pro Abortion forces aren’t going to stop pressuring and throwing money at politicians just because October is over. We need to keep up both the spiritual and political battles as well.
Maybe after a month of rosaries people are tired but can’t we say one decade a day? When I taught seventh grade my home room managed to pray a decade every morning. Normally students wouldn’t like saying the rosary but it is a different story when they pray to save the lives of babies. By the end of the year we had said twenty rosaries per person. For most classes that would be four to five hundred a year. If you had one hundred students old enough to say the rosary they could say two thousand rosaries a year. Think also of the possibility of developing a life time interest in life issues.
Why can’t adults do the same and say at least a decade for life a day? It will take less than five minutes and in a year they would have said seventy-three rosaries for life. Diocesan goals of forty thousand rosaries would be surpassed by deaneries and some of the larger parishes. How hard is it to spend five minutes a day in prayer? Most people spend longer than that in their car listening to the radio.
If we are going to be successful in ending abortion we need to expand our prayer focus beyond the political sphere. A few years ago an abortion clinic put a letter in their windows for the people praying against abortion to read trying to confuse the issues. One thing they said was to “pray for universal health care, a living wage and affordable child care”.
True we should pray for these things but we should also be praying against the culture of sexuality that causes high school and middle school children to become pregnant. That includes all of the TV shows and movies that make kids think that they aren’t normal if they’re not having sex. Sex should not be presented to children as an acceptable activity outside of marriage. Sex should not be used to sell cars, alcohol, cigarettes or sports magazines.
We have to be praying for a change in our culture. We also have to be fighting for a change. Part of that includes our behavior. Whatever we watch becomes acceptable as far as kids are concerned. If our children see us watching Soaps then they will do. If a sleazy talk show or reality show is okay for us then it is okay for our kids. We have to boycott the trash even if it means not watching much TV. As long as the trash is on selling sex to our kids, kids will be active.
We have to pray and fight not only against the politicians, judges and laws but also the social and economic climate that contributes to so many abortions. We have to do more than promote abstinence we have to change the culture where kids think premarital sex is normal and abstinence isn’t. We have to stop putting sex in our kids’ faces all the time.
Sadly, that means some of the people we will go up against won’t be the liberals but also some members of corporate America who will do anything to sell their products.
The truth is that no matter who gets elected it will take decades to change the laws of every state. If there is one more pro life judge on the Supreme Court the realistic expectation is that abortion will be turned over to the states to regulate and we will be fighting battle by battle, state by state. As long as some states permit abortions it will continue. We also have to reduce abortion by reducing the demand by reducing pregnancies. This requires changing the culture and that requires a whole lot more prayer than we can do in a month.

Lord, help us not to weary of praying for life. Help us also to take a stand against the culture of sin in our society. May more people join us. Amen

This was previously published on Catholic Lane and by the Christian Action News.