The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Divine Mercy Sunday Year “A”

Today we celebrate the octave of Easter, we are celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy. The celebration of this feast day is really dependent on two people, Saint Faustina Kowalska and Pope John Paul II now Blessed John Paul the 2nd. For over 26 years, Pope John Paul the 2nd shepherded the Church. Many of us hardly even remember any other pope. Young people have never known any other pope other than the present one, Benedict the 16th.

Pope John Paul was the third longest-reigning pope in history, and he is without doubt one of the most extraordinary human beings ever to have walked the face of the earth. The newscasts keep telling us that he was certainly one of the most influential people of the 20th century. The man was absolutely brilliant. Listen to this - when he was elected to the papacy, he spoke 26 languages and dialects. English was considered his eighth-best language, and he spoke it quite fluently. After he became Pope, he learned many other languages so that he could preach to people in their own language.

However, he did have his detractors. It is interesting when you listen to what it is they did not like about him. They did not like what he said and did.

It was not John Paul so much whom they hated, but it was rather the One for Whom he was the Vicar. It was Jesus Christ and His Church that they were opposed to, because John Paul the 2nd always spoke the truth. And no matter how much the people clamored and complained, our Holy Father would not waffle when it came to the truth. This man, in over 26 years, went on over 100 apostolic “pilgrimages,”. He brought Jesus Christ to the world.

You remember the young people chanting: “John Paul II, we love you!” Over and over and over they would sing it. The Holy Father, when they finally ended, lifted his head with a huge smile and he sang back: “John Paul II, he loves you!” The young people erupted in applause. When he went to the Philippines, over 7 million people came to see him. Imagine, 7 million people! That’s quite a crowd for a man who was said to be unable to relate to the average person. And so we have to understand that we have been in the presence of a saint. History will know him as John Paul the Great.

In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord told His apostles that as He had been sent so now He was sending them. Pope John Paul II understood what it meant to be an apostle. The word apostle means “to be sent” or “one who is sent.” He went out and he preached Jesus Christ. We have been so blessed by God to have lived in the presence of a saint, and we need to understand the mercy that God has extended to us in this way. He was truly a man for our time.

What we saw over the last few years of his pontificate is the example of what it is to carry the cross, to follow Jesus to Calvary. Do you remember the words of our Holy Father back several years ago when some of his detractors were trying to tell us that he was too sick to carry on, that his health was so bad that he needed to resign.

What did he say? John Paul the 2nd simply said, “Jesus Christ did not come down from His Cross, and I will not come down from mine.” Right to the very last minute, he refused to come down from his cross and he refused to stop working. In the last days of his life, he appointed new cardinals and new bishops throughout the world, 29 new cardinals who were part of the new election of the next pope.

When we look at this picture of Divine Mercy, underneath the picture of Jesus are the words “Jesus, I trust in You.” We can say those words but that really is something we do not do very well, to trust in Jesus. We all like to say that we trust in Jesus, but when it comes right down to it most of us really do not. Perhaps we are afraid of letting go of things because we are not sure if God is really going to do what He has promised to do. In our practical day-to-day lives, isn’t it true that often we trust far more in ourselves and far more in other people and far more in money and material things than we do in God?

And yet, when we consider this point of trusting in Our Lord, we see that God has made extraordinary promises to us; promises, for instance, of heaven, promises of eternal life; promises that we are going to be united with Him; the promise that our sins are going to be forgiven. When Our Lord appeared to Saint Faustina, He told her of the mercy He wanted to give to the people, if only they would believe. That is our problem: Do we really believe in the promises of Our Lord?

We listen, Sunday after Sunday, and then we walk away, for the most part, unchanged because we really don’t believe. Not only does it sound too good to be true but also we know fully well if we did really believe all that Jesus teaches through His church then we would have to swallow our pride and change our lives; we would have to do something different if we really did believe all that the church teaches.

For example, how many of us believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? Is it really the Body and Blood, the Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself, substantially present? Or is it just a community meal done in memory of Jesus, a mere symbol?

When we come to Mass do we genuflect or bow to the real presence of Christ in the Tabernacle? At the start or end of Mass do we make the sign of the Cross to acknowledge the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Or does our pride prevent us from doing that? The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not dependent upon our belief. It really is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ whether we believe it or not and therefore it deserves to be treated with the utmost respect because it is God Himself. To do otherwise is sacrilege and we bring down judgment upon ourselves – whether we believe that or not.

The existence of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Indulgences is also not dependent upon our belief. God’s judgment and justice is not dependent upon our belief. All of these are real. If we do not believe in them then we must pray for the grace to believe because Jesus said “No one can come to me unless the Father draw him”. Faith is a grace that will be given for the asking. This is our Catholic Faith. This is what we believe.

Likewise, God’s Divine Mercy is not dependent upon our belief. The forgiveness of sins is not dependent on our belief. When Jesus says your sins are forgiven in the confessional – those sins are gone forever – they cease to exist – as if they never existed – whether we believe it or not. But often that’s the problem – do we really believe our sins are forgiven or that we even have sins to be forgiven?

Now as we ponder the mercy of God, we must be very, very careful to understand it in its proper sense. You see, the moment we die and the soul separates from the body there will be no more changing of your mind - it will be too late to be sorry. There will be no repentance on our part after we die. Consequently, there will be no mercy. The mercy of God is known only in this life. Immediately after death comes judgment.

Now, Today is the time of mercy – After we die will be the time of judgment and entry into purgatory, Heaven or Hell. That is the reality. Because of the forgiveness of our sins in this life we will be able to enter into eternal life with God, but the forgiveness of sins happens only here. That is, for mortal sins. Venial sins can be forgiven in the next life, but that may very well mean a long time in Purgatory. What we want is to be able to get to heaven, and God in His mercy has done all of the work for us – except for one thing. We all know that if something is made too easy, it really does not mean a whole lot to us; but if it costs something, if it is something which is somewhat difficult, then it means much more to us.

So there is a cost that is involved. The greatest cost of all, of course, is the very life of Our Blessed Lord Himself. When we look at the Cross and recognize what it cost for our sins to be forgiven, then we realize how grateful we need to be! But there is a cost on our part as well. It is a relatively small cost – actually, a very small cost – yet one that sometimes seems very difficult for some. That is simply to humble ourselves and confess our sins. The longer we wait the more difficult it seems to become. We need to take that first step. We need to confess our sins to the priest.

When you come to confession and you hear those beautiful words from the mouth of the priest, “I absolve you from your sins in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” your sins are gone and you have knowledge that your sins are gone forever – never ever to be heard of again – even on the Day of Judgment. That is the mercy God is offering to His people. He has done everything for us, and He has given to us the means by which our sins can be forgiven. All that He asks of us is to humble ourselves, to confess and turn away from our sins, and to trust in Him.

Today as we listen to Our Lord’s words: "Do not be afraid. Be at peace." We recall then the same words very often repeated by Pope John Paul the 2nd – “Be not afraid”.

In today’s Gospel we are told that the Holy Spirit is breathed upon the disciples and they are given the authority to forgive sin, our sins. When we really know that our sins are forgiven, we can be at peace. We have nothing to fear if we truly believe in the promises of Our Lord. So the Lord comes to us, once again, and He points to His heart. The rays of love flow from His heart depicting, in the two different colors, the waters of Baptism and the blood of Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.

They are the Eucharist and Baptism; the covenant and the celebration of the covenant that each one of us has entered into. The Lord wants us to understand. He wants us to know and to believe. He wants us to be at peace, knowing that our sins are truly, actually, and completely forgiven. These are not just empty rituals we are going through. We don’t just go through the motions of coming here, Sunday after Sunday, and walk out unchanged.

This is a reality that is more profound than anything in the world. It is the true and real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and the actual reality of having your soul cleansed of sin. When you kneel before the priest and hear those beautiful words of absolution, you walk out with the knowledge, the unshakable knowledge, that your sins have been removed from your soul.

They are there no longer. The mercy of God is greater than anything we can do; that is what Our Lord wants us to know. There is nothing we can do that is bigger than Him. He wants, more than anything, to forgive our sins. When we think about the events of the last week that we have celebrated, the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Death, and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to think about what He did.

He took to Himself every single sin that ever had been committed and ever would be committed in the history of the world. He took it all to Himself. He took them to the Cross and crucified them there. Every sin that you and I have ever committed and will ever commit has already been crucified in the person of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He rose victorious over sin and death. There was no more sin affecting Him, it was destroyed. And death was destroyed with it because death is present because of sin, it is one of the effects of sin. The Lord destroyed it so that we are no longer going to be held bound by the bonds of death; we no longer have to live in fear of death.

Why? Because God’s mercy is infinite. His love for you is infinite; it is beyond anything we could ever grasp or imagine. As big as our sins might be, they are nothing for the Lord. If you have confessed the sin, it is gone, it is not there anymore. The Lord looks you right in the face today, as He looked at Thomas 2,000 years ago, and He says, "Doubt no longer, but believe."

Believe because He promised it. Believe because He did it. He nailed that sin to the Cross already. It is over with, it is done. If you have confessed it, it’s gone. That is the mercy of God. His mercy is so that you can have life. His mercy is so that you can be united with Him forever in the next world; so that you can go to Heaven; so that you can be one with Jesus Christ for eternity. That is the mercy of God. That is the promise He has made.

Doubt no longer, but believe. Let your life be changed. We need to be transformed in Jesus Christ because we don’t live merely a natural life; we live a divine life. Sanctifying grace is the very life of God and it has been poured forth into your soul, if you are in the state of grace, so that the life of Jesus Christ can be lived in you. We need to believe that. We need to accept it.

We have the promises of Christ; in those promises, we can be at peace if we truly trust Our Lord and what He has said. When we can be at peace, when we are filled with trust, when we are no longer afraid, then it can be said of each one of us what was said of Thomas when he made that profession "My Lord and my God" : He doubted no longer, but believed. This Sunday afternoon at 3 pm at St. Matthew church we will celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy by first adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Then we will bless and venerate the image of Divine Mercy.

This will be followed by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet together and thereby partaking of those promises made through St. Faustina. All of our sins which we have confessed either eight days before this feast or eight days after it, are forgiven and the temporal punishment attached to them is also removed. Having worthily received Holy Communion on the Feast day of Divine Mercy we will receive a plenary indulgence. It will be like a second baptism. We will be truly born again. If we died then we would go straight into the arms of Jesus. Straight into heaven. No side journies to purgatory.

Pope John Paul the 2nd in one of his Homilies on Divine Mercy Sunday prayed:

“Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us always to have this trust in your Son, our Redeemer. Help us too, St. Faustina, whom we remember today with special affection. Fixing our weak gaze on the divine Savior's face, we would like to repeat with you: "Jesus, I trust in You!" Now and for ever. Amen.”

And might we add “Blessed Pope John Paul the 2nd, Pray for us.

God’s name is mercy. Mercy is truly God’s name.

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter – 2011

No resurrection without death

Easter Sunday, the day of Resurrection of Christ is bringing us a double message.

From one side we are joyfully acknowledging that Jesus Christ is risen, that He is the Lord of Life and that His resurrection is for us an assurance of our resurrection.

But we have to keep in our mind the other side of the reality of the Resurrection …

Tell me please what is the necessary and indispensable condition of the resurrection?

Yes … first … YOU MUST DIE!

There is no resurrection if you don’t die. You have to die first.

You have to die to yourself, you have to die to your sins, you have to die to your selfishness, you have to die to your way of life, you have to die to your pride, you have to die to all your worldly and earthly habits. In order to raise up YOU HAVE TO DIE.

The first and basic idea of the Baptism is that through Baptism we are dying to our old selves, we are dying to the world so to be reborn for Christ.

Do I realise this truth? I was baptise as a baby, I didn't even remember that I was baptised but I have to be aware that my Baptism was an immersion into the "death of Christ", that I have to die every day as St. Paul says: "… we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)

There is no other way to raise with Christ … than through death …

And this is also the message of Easter.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Vigil - RCIA

This week, the Holy Father spoke of this sifting at Holy Thursday Mass.

"…as Christ told Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat," today "we are once more painfully aware that Satan has been permitted to sift the disciples before the whole world."

—POPE BENEDICT XVI, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, April 21st, 2011

Where do you and I stand in this sifting? Are we among the weeds or the wheat?

"We too find excuses when being his disciples starts becoming too costly, too dangerous."

It's very uplifting to be with Christ in the moments of glory, it's wonderful to be with Him in the time of exaltation …

If Judas, Peter, and the Apostles fled the Lord in His hour of sorrow … what will I do when the time of sorrow approach?

It's wonderful the liturgy of Easter Vigil … in few minutes time 18 person will receive the Sacrament of Baptism; two will be accepted to the full unity with the Catholic Church, 22 will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and 17 will receive the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time.

What a wonderful achievement? What a time of glory and joyful exaltation …

But my dear brothers and sisters … will you be with Christ when all this will be over and when comes the normal, difficult daily life?

Or "you will find excuses when being his disciples starts becoming too costly, too dangerous, too boring too demanding."

I will quote you only one sentence of Jesus which is repeated three times in the Gospel:

"You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10,22)

The way to the Resurrection goes through Calvary. We have to be aware of this truth.

I wish to all of you - "Happy Easter"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday 2011

We are afraid of suffering and pain. We are scared and terrified of discomfort. We won't like even to listen about it. We search Jesus Christ without cross and very often we find cross without Christ. And this is our misery our disaster.

Elizabeth Leseur a twentieth century saint in a letter to a woman on the verge of losing her eyesight, wrote: "The Stoics say, 'suffering is nothing.' They were wrong. Illuminated by a clearer light we Christians say, 'suffering is everything.'"

She knew what she was talking about. She had married a man who was a dedicated medical doctor, but an unbeliever and well known leader of the French anti-clerical, atheistic movement, who tried to dissuade Elizabeth from her faith. When she tried to share her faith with her husband, he cut her off, sometimes with mockery. Elizabeth bore his insults quietly and even though she was weakened by hepatitis, she worked diligently. In her early forties, she was diagnosed with cancer and for three years, suffered horribly so to finally die in 1914.

When she was dying, she said to her husband,

"Felix, when I am dead, you will become a Catholic and a Dominican priest."

Her husband answered:

"Elizabeth, you know my sentiments. I've sworn hatred of God, I shall live in the hatred and I shall die in it."

After her death, her husband discovered the spiritual journal she kept. It moved him to his depths especially her profound and personal meditations on suffering and cross of Jesus Christ.

Reading through her papers, Felix found her will:

"In 1905, I asked almighty God to send me sufficient sufferings to purchase your soul.

On the day that I die, the price will have been paid.

Greater love than this no woman has than she who lay down her life for the salvation of her husband."

He experienced a profound conversion. He became a Dominican priest and travelled through Europe speaking about his wife's spiritual writings.

Elizabeth Leseur certainly found the ultimate truth about the value of suffering …

"The Stoics said, 'suffering is nothing.' They were wrong. Illuminated by Christ's light we Christians say, 'suffering is everything.'"

So, this Good Friday we learn that through the suffering of Jesus we receive the greatest blessings - forgiveness and true life.

Without Christ … our sufferings can only destroy and annihilate us. Without Christ our sufferings are absolutely senseless. Without Christ the cross -we are carrying on- is senseless and hopeless. Without Christ the suffering and death have no meaning and no significance. Without Christ whole our life is meaningless.

If we join our own sufferings to His, they become means of grace, means of our salvation. Illumined by faith, we can say, "suffering is everything."

As we read in today's second reading:

"Jesus Christ though he was the Son of God, He learned obedience from what he suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. "


Thursday, April 21, 2011




When Jesus entered the Upper Room to eat the Passover Meal with His disciples, it would become the night that changed the world. When Jesus broke the bread and shared the wine saying to his Disciples "This is my Body, this is my Blood. Do this in memory of Me" it would become the greatest of Gifts, the Gifts of His Body and Blood. The Gift of Himself. The Apostles realized this fact the very next morning, when they saw their Teacher stretched out on the cross. His Body and Blood given to us for our salvation …

St. Paul was probably one of the first to understand also that Jesus was really present in the Eucharist. Saint Paul saw clearly that when we share in the Body and Blood of Christ and when the words "This is my Body” are said as they are every day throughout this world, in every country, in every parish, in every time and place, we become indeed one bread - one body, the Body of Christ – because He gave us this commandment "Do this in memory of Me".

But, do we really understand and appreciate what this means as we come up to receive the Holy Communion? Do we understand or believe that this is Jesus Christ Himself in His Body and Blood, the Creator and the King of the Universe through Whom everything was made?

Do we really understand what is happening as many of us shuffle up disengaged? It sure doesn’t look like we really understand as we trudge up quietly as if receiving a handout in a bread line then trudge back to our seats perhaps even looking at our watches. I have done that and am ashamed I ever have.

The Angel of Peace appeared before the Children of Fatima holding a chalice in his hands, above which was suspended a Host from which drops of Blood were falling into the chalice. The Angel left the chalice suspended in the air and prostrated Himself before it in prayer. If an Angel can do this … why am I so bling and not able to see the Hidden Reality of the Lord present in the Eucharistic species?

It doesn’t mean we have to fling ourselves to the ground but perhaps we can prostrate ourselves internally as we receive the Holy Communion. Pope John Paul II stated that we “need to cultivate a lively awareness of Christ’s real presence.”

Something very mystical and awe inspiring happens when we receive the Eucharist. Sadly so many don’t understand or believe this.

When Jesus becomes present in the Eucharist He is not alone- He brings Heaven with him. I love the imagery of what St. Padre Pio said about the events of the Eucharist. He said it was “Paradise” and “Our Lady is present at every Mass, along with all the angels and the “whole celestial court.” I must admit I envy these Saints, and I suspect most of our Saints, St. Faustina, St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis, St. Padre Pio each have experienced Eucharist this way. We can too. The evidence has always been there.

There is only one Mass, one Eternal Mass, and only one Liturgy of the Eucharist that is taking place in Heaven all the time, or rather out of time, because Heaven is timeless. So we do not merely attend Mass, nor do we go back in time 2 000 years, but we join with all of heaven and earth in celebrating that one eternal liturgy. Remember what priests proclaim “Now, let us join the choirs of angels as they sing their unending Hymn of praise.”

Think of it at every moment priests and believers throughout the world on every hour celebrate Mass all over the world. We are not alone ... ever …. One writer has said that “we go to Heaven when we attend Mass”.

So, good music or bad music, good homilies or bad, good pronunciation or bad - it doesn't matter. The Eternal Mass matters – as it is always Heaven on Earth joined together when priest celebrate the Holy Eucharist.

What we are experiencing during this time is not our Mass, not our offering, is not a spectacle, not a ceremony, not a common meal … it's rather the moment when the priest is opening to us the gate to Heaven, so that we can participate in this ONE, ETERNAL SACRIFICE of Jesus Christ.

When the priest lifts the Sacred Host in front of you, pause a moment- see into the Host to feel the whole magnificent presence of Jesus and the Trinity, the Angels and Communion of Saints and feel how jubilant they are to join with you in this always present Eternal Banquet, the eternal Sacrifice of Christ.

This is what Jesus instituted during the Last Supper, this is why He gave us the commandment: "Do this in memory of Me."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday April 14

Scripture: John 8: 51-59

Jesus continues to challenge the Jews about his identity. They continue to misunderstand the real meaning of what he says. “Whoever keeps my word will never see death.” This they can only understand in a literal sense. But they see the implication of the words that Jesus is claiming to be more than Abraham or any of the prophets. And they ask: “Who do you make yourself out to be?” This was the same question they asked of John the Baptist (John 1:22) who gave a very different answer.

Jesus makes it perfectly clear to them by talking of his “Father” and then saying that the Father is the one they call “our God”. But he continues by saying that they do not know the Father, although they may think they do. And they do not know the Father because they do not know Jesus. Jesus, however, knows him and keeps his word. Then comes the supreme provocation: “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day: he saw it and was glad.”

To which the Pharisees replied angrily: “You are not fifty yet, and have you seen Abraham?” only to have Jesus make the final claim: “I tell you very truly, before Abraham was, I AM.” Again, Jesus uses the term “I AM” of himself. He clearly identifies himself with God. The Pharisees are horrified by what they regard as terrible blasphemy. The word ‘was’ is used for all that is created, while ‘I AM’ is used only of the Word, co-eternal with God the Father.

“They took up stones to throw at him…” The Pharisees were not able actually to carry out their plan to kill him because his “time” had not yet come. Then we see the words of prophetic significance: “Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.” It is a striking summary of Jesus’ role.

Jesus “hid himself”. In his humanity, the Godhead in Jesus, which he has just spoken about, was mostly concealed (except to those with the eyes of faith). St Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises speaks of the divinity being hidden during the terrible hours of the Passion. St Paul in his Letter to the Philippians speaks of Jesus “emptying” himself and taking the form of a slave.

And “he left the Temple”. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil guarding the Holy of Holies in the Temple was split right open, revealed the sacred inner sanctuary to the world. God was no longer there, he had left the Temple. And he now dwells in a new Temple, not a building but a people, the Church, the Body of the Risen Christ.

Lord Jesus, let your word be on our lips and in our heart that we may walk in the freedom of your everlasting love, truth and goodness. Amen

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fifth Sunday in Lent — April 10, 2011

Ezekiel 37.12-14 | Psalm 130 | Romans 8.8-11 | John 11.1-45

Martha, Mary and Lazarus seem to have been the closest friends Jesus had on earth. "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

And now one of the friends He loved is sick …

What did the dying Lazarus think waiting for his friend Jesus who was not coming, despite being sent for with this desperate plea: "Come, I am sick, help me"?

What were the thoughts of Martha and Mary as they washed the dead body of their brother, wrapped him in a shroud, tied bandages to hold it in place, and went through all the rituals of burial? What was happening to their faith in Jesus when men were rolling a boulder to close the entrance to Lazarus' tomb?

The first words with which both Martha and Mary greet Jesus when he finally arrives are the identical: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." That translates into "What kind of a friend are you, Lord? You have healed hundreds if not thousands of complete strangers, even the Samaritans, even infidels, so why not our Lazarus? Your friend Lazarus asked for you and you did not come. Why?" Sound familiar? He?

Is it not what we think very often when the things are not going according to our expectations?

Am I not your disciple? Am I not following your commandments and praying on a regular basis? Am I not witnessing to you? And? You don't listen to me, you are like deaf, indifferent and unresponsive … My mother passed away although I prayed so fervently, my business is not going

Is it something wrong with me or with you? Where is the Almighty God I believe in?

Martha, the practical one, is trying to squeeze some "religious correctness" out of herself: "I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day." She says all the right things - but does she believe them?


Jesus tells her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." If I were Martha, I would have agreed politely, just as she does. Someone would have exploded in pain - "Oh, yeah, sure? He will live? When? How?"

Jesus don't you see that I am disappointed and upset with you?

Oh, my friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary, how can I explain to you the unexplainable? How am I to tell you that I often put the highest demands on my closest and dearest friends, those that I love with all my human and divine heart?

How often through centuries and millennia to come will I have to ask my special friends to trust me and believe me against their human nature, experience and feelings? How many will be invited to share my sufferings and death that many others may be saved? So that we all may meet in my kingdom?


There are five distinct stages to coping with mourning and death. They are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

The first reaction is to deny that the loss has occurred. We know how in such situations we often think that we must be dreaming, that the person who has died will walk into the room in a few minutes, that we simply can’t believe what has happened or that in a few moments the doctors will come tell us something different.

Later on this denial transforms into anger. We begin to accept what has happened but feel angry that this great loss has happened to us and at this particular time. We often blame the doctors, someone who has caused an accident or any other contributory party. We can also be angry with the person who has died or sometimes even God.

We see that even Martha and Mary blamed Jesus for the death of Lazarus. They bluntly tell him “If you had been here he would not have died.”

In the stage of bargaining we say things like ‘take me instead’ or ‘I’ll make some huge sacrifice if only my death or my partner’s death can be delayed’.

During the stage of depression a person often feels emptiness and lack of meaning. They are facing the loss and feel disconnected from ordinary life.

Then finally comes acceptance when we realise that what must be must be. Although the feelings of loss remain strong we understand that things are not going to change and we find ourselves able to face the inevitable.

I’m talking about these stages of the bereavement process because of the great focus on death in our readings today. It is important that we make sense of it. It is important that we have a truly Christian approach to death so that we can face it with hope and not despair.

We all have to die. But the meaning of our death is to be found in the death of Christ on the Cross of Calvary. What happened there transforms our death and this means that it marks not an end but a new beginning.

In our Gospel reading we hear of the death of Lazarus and how Jesus raised him up. But this raising from the dead while an extraordinarily remarkable thing in itself did not mean that Lazarus would live for ever. Lazarus has to undergo death once more.

The account of the raising of Lazarus in the Gospel of John lets us glimpse just how Jesus experiences the ordinary human emotions that we experience. It shows us how he grieved for the death of his friend and lets us see the extraordinary sensitivity and empathy he had towards the suffering of others. And in this case we see how he shows great awareness of the pain that his friends Martha and Mary experienced on the death of their brother.

This incident also gives Jesus the occasion to make that most extraordinary proclamation: ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’

From this we understand that Jesus is the very source of all life and the very cause of resurrection. It is not that when we die Jesus will come along and raise us up in the same way that he did with Lazarus. No, it means that all life comes from him and all life finds its true meaning in him.

Our death is not a mere resuscitation. At funerals people sometimes read a poem about the deceased person being only in the next room and we understand that they are trying to convey that they will still be close to us.

But heaven is about as unlike the next room as it could possibly be. It is a wholly different kind of existence. In the past we talked about getting a ‘glorified body’ when we go to heaven. But these days that sort of language sounds a bit weird.

Nevertheless, the Church speaks like this to try and reconcile two things: the complete otherness of heaven and the risen state and the actual fact of a bodily resurrection. It is not a real resurrection unless we have our bodies, but since after death we are removed from time and space our bodies can’t possibly be anything like those we have now.

There is a lot to think about here and the Church gives us these texts on this Fifth Sunday of Lent to help us to focus on the great miracle of the resurrection that we are preparing to celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Jesus’ last words are very apposite: “Unbind him, let him go free.” Our resurrection is about a release from this worldly existence, it is about entering into the very mystery of God.

The very last stage of the grief process is acceptance. What a great day that will be if when our own death comes we have worked through all our travails, all our doubts and anxieties, and are ready to meet the Lord in spirit of tranquillity and with a deep and reverent acceptance of the will of God.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thursday April 7

Meditation: John 5:31-47

There is one thing we cannot escape noticing when we read the Gospel today is the words “testify” and “testimony.” It almost sounds as if Jesus is talking about a courtroom trial. Only he is not judging the world. No, he is actually taking the part of the defendant!
After breaking Jewish tradition by healing someone on the Sabbath, Jesus is surrounded by hostile sceptics. And who does he name as the primary witness in his defense? None other than God the Father!
Jesus mentions three ways that God testifies on his behalf. The first are the signs and wonders he works. Then there is the “direct testimony” of the Father, which St. John the Baptist received when the Spirit descended on Jesus: “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (John 1:34). And of course there are the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. As Jesus says, Moses was writing of him when he talked of a coming prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15). But it wasn’t just Moses who wrote about Jesus: There are many prophecies referring to the Messiah in the Old Testament.
God’s testimony didn’t end at the cross. It continued even more strongly after Jesus rose again. Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples to go to the ends of the earth with the news of his love and redemption (Acts 1:8). And they went. And the ones they preached to go even farther, down through the generations even to today. And here we are disciples in our own right, called to act as witnesses to our generation.
As frail and sinful as we are, it’s rather amazing to consider the job that Jesus has entrusted to us. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Like Jesus, each of us has God’s word as a powerful witness. We also have the Holy Spirit, who breathes divine life into our own words and example. As long as he is with us, we don’t have to be afraid. We can learn how to sense the Spirit’s leading as we testify to the Lord. We can be his witnesses, bringing his gospel to a new generation of disciples!
Lord, teach us how to testify in the power and anointing of your Holy Spirit. Give us your Words and your heart as we share your Gospel. Amen

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sunday 03 April – 2011

Where are we now? How did we get there?

Gospel: Jn 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

I think personally that today’s Gospel is very pertinent to our present situation. It expresses exactly the theme of our concern: “Where are we now? How did we get there?” We can say we are blind like the man in today’s Gospel, we don’t know where are we going and what is our final destination. We don’t know Jesus Christ –although we pretend or imagine that we do know Him, and we too repeat with the man in the Gospel: “Who is the Son of Man, sir that I may believe in Him?” Look please only how many people who pretend to know Jesus Christ are refusing the fundamental right … the right to life to the unborn? This is only one example of the blindness of our civilisation, of our culture. How we can pretend to know Jesus Christ the giver of life, the One Who is the LIFE itself and -at the same time- accept the situation where the most vulnerable, the most defenceless are executed … 120,000 (one hundred twenty thousands) every day … 46 million every year?

If I claim that I know Him … I am constantly living in blindness and I don’t even realise my situation.

There is a book written by José Saramago, “Blindness”. I read it few months ago. It's a shocking story of a world, the entire world becoming blind.

The book is notable for a few different reasons. First of all, Saramago writes in a manner that can be quite unnerving when you first start reading. He uses very few paragraphs and little punctuation. There are no quotation marks to mark the dialogue, no paragraph breaks for new speakers and many times the speaker is never even identified. It sounds like a complete mess and there are, indeed, times when the story becomes somewhat chaotic. However, it works brilliantly.

The book is dealing with a horrifying idea, that one day the world was infected by a very mysterious sickness of a white blindness ….

Once the blindness has become an epidemic, authorities start rounding up all the people infected and send them to an empty asylum, where they are forced to fend for themselves. No one resides in the asylum to assist them, as they would quickly become infected and blind. Instead, food is left outside for them each day and the premises are secured by armed guards with orders to kill anyone who tries to escape. Every day, new people who have been infected or exposed are brought to the asylum. And finally the whole world is suffering for this horrible illness … everybody is blind.

But do you know what happen with people who become (all !!) blind? The social life stops, all social communications, all services, shops, electricity, water supplies … everything stops … And among the people starts or grows to the enormous and caricatured dimensions … guess what …. ???? CRIME especially sexual crime and lust …

You can imagine what kind of disaster it could be. All blind people are thinking and searching only how to satisfy their two desires: hunger and lust.

Actually reading this book I was sometimes thinking bitterly: “are we really not already in this kind of situation?” Are we really not yet living in one big asylum where these two desires are predominant and the most vital and essential for the life of the whole civilization?

Obviously I am exaggerating or overemphasizing but look please what do we have in all media: TV., movies, internet, newspapers etc. ? what do we have there ? what kind of advertising, marketing or commercial? What kind of movies, stories, news do we have ? What is the driving force of the entire civilization? HUNGER And LUST … Isn't it something frightening ?

Food and sex … this is everything and everywhere in our contemporary life. And if you try to talk with people about religion, God, moral norms, commandments or anything else the majority behaves like affected by this white blindness … they seem to see, they pretend to be sound and healthy … and in reality they are blind and unhappy.

Is it not the proper diagnosis of our contemporary world? It’s sad, it’s depressive, gloom and grim but let us be honest … this is the reality of our contemporary world.

St Paul in today's second reading is telling us:
"Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light, …"

Are we really the light in the Lord? Do we really live as children of light?

The humanity is lost and in a very deep danger, knowing not where to go. We are all like the bling people in the Saramago’s book. Who is right, who can help us if everybody is blind, and where is the sound and healthy teaching? We are tempted by different kind of “saviours” who promise us a direct and immediate access to heaven, an instant salvation, but basing only on our natural and human resources or on some enigmatic and mysterious practices. All those “saviours” finally deny the saving power of Jesus and refuse to recognize what St. Peter states strongly:

“There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4;12)

And St. Paul affirms clearly:

“When Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, we proclaim Jesus Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles ...” (1 Cor 1;22)

We have to go back to Jesus Christ, because only He is able to heal us!!!

So, we should try – first at all- to establish a kind of diagnosis or analysis of the present situation and see what the dangers are, but also what are our expectations?

Pope Benedict XVI writes:

"The most important pastoral priority of our own times is the correct formation of believers' consciences, because ... in the extent to which the idea of sin is lost, so unfortunately the sense of guilt increases, which it is then sought to eliminate through inadequate palliative remedies."

What our real blindness is … we do not see and we do not recognise our sins …. This is our sickness, our blindness … our most dangerous disease …

At first I was rather astonished and ready to rebuke this kind of negativistic vision of the world. It cannot be so bad. We have still some good examples of faith and morality. We cannot see all in these black and dark colours. But later on I read two very famous sentences from Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI:

• “Do not be afraid! Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ! Open your hearts, your lives, your doubts, your difficulties, your joys and your affections to his saving power, and let him enter your hearts. "Do not be afraid! Christ knows what is in man. He alone knows it".
John Paul II on 22 October 1978
• “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything.” Benedict XVI at the inaugural Mass of His Pontificate (24 April 2005)

And yet!!! We are afraid of Christ, believing in Him we don’t believe Him, we don’t trust Him, because we do not know Him! We are creating our own false ideas of God, we are indeed creating the idols and we are afraid of them. Few months ago came to me a man who was a prospective RCIA member. And he told me frankly:

“Father I would like to join the Catholic Church, I would like to become a disciple of Christ, I am fascinated by His teaching, I read many books and articles about Catholicism but ... you know ... I am afraid when I think about all those commandments, obligations, restrictions and rules I have to observe and follow. All what I should do and what I cannot do. You can do this and you cannot do that ... this is forbidden, this is a sin, and so on and so on .... I am afraid to become slave of all this stuff.”

Does he really know something about Christ, does he really know something about Catholicism?
Was he really fascinated by the teaching of Christ? If he knew he should know what Jesus said:

“you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (J 8,32).
Is it not rather similar to the situation when somebody says: “I would like to become married, I love my fiancée, I would like to have kids, but I am afraid of all those obligations, I am afraid of losing my freedom, I am scared that I will be no more able to go with my friends ... and above all I am afraid of dirty baby diapers.”

What this man know about marriage, what does he know about love, about family live, about parenthood? Does he really love his fiancée or he loves rather himself? Is it not very often our situation, our conviction? Do we really know Jesus Christ and His Good News? Don’t we create some kind of idols in our lives? Are we sometimes not the victims of our own idolatry? We create our own image of God, our own image of Christ according to our needs, choosing only what fits

We are tempted to follow the relativism of the world and see ourselves as the center of the universe. When we say that our choices in life depend on our own desires, not on what is objectively right or wrong, or, more, when we say that we determine morality ourselves, we act as though we are little gods. And if God doesn’t follow our expectations we behave like a woman in the joke I heard few days ago:

A woman phoned God and bitterly said she didn't understand Him and she is very upset with Him. God replied, "Good, madam. That makes us even." Then He hung up.

Pope Benedict has written about the plague of relativism, as modern man sacrifices principals to his own selfish desires. Who are we to tell God what is right and wrong? Who are we to tell God that He needs to accept our choices even if they are against objective morality? We do not have the right to tempt our God.

This is our blindness; this is the “supermarket mentality”. As bishop Fulton Sheen used to say in the Church we behave like in the salad bar or in the supermarket …
I choose, I pay, I have the rights to change if I am not happy …

Is it not exactly how do we see God and our religious life and practices?

What are those “inadequate palliative remedies?” Just as we said above: “the enigmatic and mysterious practices, salvations through our own rituals, or Gnostic knowledge”, salvation without Jesus Christ, rescue without Rescuer, freedom without Truth, liberty without Liberator.

This is what we can find in many other -SO CALLED– churches

I saw somewhere on the internet an advertisement of one of this “mega churches”:

“You are welcome into our church
We have the very good air-conditioning,
Cushioned pews
And we don’t talk about Hell”

This is what people will be certainly searching for or expecting … and some pastors (unhappily) will try to provide this kind of “nice service”.

This is not to blame anybody and make us guilty but rather to recognize sincerely our present situation. What is the most dangerous situation of a patient? When he denies his sickness, when he tries to neglect it and to say everything is OK, I am not ill.
Following the texts of St. Paul I would like to show that there is a “fundamental hostility between the World and Christ.”

Few weeks ago I got a letter from one of those organisations sending different type of advertisements, bulletins and booklets. In the letter I read:

“There is no doubt you feel the increasing intrusion of godlessness in every aspect of public life: godlessness in governments; godlessness in economics; godlessness in the universities; godlessness in the courts; godlessness in the sciences; godlessness in the news media; and even godlessness in once-Catholic families.

It is a godlessness that quickly turns into a tangible hostility to religion.

And all this is basing on the most innocent and at the same time the most dangerous idea: “If you feel good, just do it!” There is no sin; there is no need of feeling guilty, because GOD LOVES EVERYBODY. Whatever you do God loves you and He will pool you to Heaven by your hairs.

How did we get here? Since late ’60 was growing the mentality of: "If you feel good … just do it".

*********** LIBERALISM ************

One of the most dangerous and perverse mentality … the way to self-destruction

Some fundamental canons of liberalism … which is so widely spread even among Catholics

- I do what I like and nobody has the slightest right to correct me.
- any correction of my behaviour is an unauthorized intrusion into my privacy and an attack on my freedom, because I don't do anything wrong,

- God made me free and nobody (even God) has the right to restrict my freedom either by commandments, orders, prohibitions, or moral standards. Any commandments are at best only wishful thinking on their part that I could - but I absolutely do not have to - obey,

- The concepts of sin, guilt, good and evil are pointless and senseless if it's just me who decides what is right and what is wrong. What is usually called “sin” can be understood as some small mistakes resulting from the present situation and circumstances and not being subject to any moral judgment,

- The call to repent, change my life, correction, improvement etc., is idiotic and a misunderstanding, since God has created me free and He loves me just the way I am. It’s not me who has to repent and change anything in my life, rather others have an obligation to accept me as I am, following the magnificent and central principle of tolerance,

- I decide; “what, when and how” I will perform any religious practices and nobody has the right to expect me to obey any liturgical, moral, social or any other rules. Any claims in this regard are unfounded and devoid of any virtue,

- I do the favour to God that I love and adore Him, and really, He should just be happy that I sometimes even visit the church or even that I sometimes pray,

- Priests, and in fact all the clergy in general are a gang of thieves, a bunch of careerists and perverted deviants, or at best a company of harmless and unrealistic idealists without any connection at all to reality. Their requirements are unrealistic, perverse, and calculated to oppress and humiliate all free thinking people,

- The church is a human structure, which should be subject to continual evolution to better meet the needs of its members, and if not, it should be changed and replaced by a more democratic institution which is more supporting and cherishing to the people,

- I don’t know why I have to write all this, since it is so obvious, natural and easily understood. Those who do not understand it and do not recognize it are still living in medieval times, bothering themselves and others with their stupid and useless moral standards...

So, maybe let us stop by there? We answered in a very painful way the questions:
Where are we now?
We are somewhere-nowhere …. We don't even know where are we because we are blind?

We desperately need Jesus Christ to cure our blindness, to be the Light of our life …

Friday, April 01, 2011

Thursday March 31

Scripture: Luke 11:14-23

What is the best protection which brings lasting security to our lives? Scripture today tells us that true peace and security come to those who trust in God and obey his word. The struggle between choosing to do good or evil, yielding to our will or God’s will, God’s way or our way, cannot be won by human strength or will-power alone. Our enemy, the devil, conspires with the world and our flesh, to lead us into hurtful and sinful desires. St. Peter tells us: our enemy, the devil prowls the earth seeking the ruin of souls (1 Peter 5:8-9). God offers us grace and protection if we are willing to obey his word and resist the devil.

Jesus’ numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the work of evil. Jesus himself encountered with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry. He overcame the evil because of his obedience to the will of his Father. Some of the Jewish leaders reacted strongly to Jesus’ healings and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could he get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan’s power? They assumed that he had to be in union with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God.

Jesus answers them with two arguments. There were many exorcists in Palestine in Jesus’ time. Therefore Jesus retorted by saying that they also incriminate their own kin who cast out demons. If they condemn Jesus they also condemn themselves. In his second argument he asserts that no kingdom divided against itself cannot survive for long? We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. How can a strong person be defeated except by someone who is stronger? Jesus asserted his power and authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God. Jesus’ reference about the finger of God points back to Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh and his magicians who represented Satan and the kingdom of darkness (Exodus 8:19). Jesus claims to be carrying on the tradition of Moses whose miracles freed the Israelites from bondage by the finger of God. God’s power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God’s kingdom has come.

Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. There are two kingdoms in opposition to one another: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God’s word, we open door to the power of sin and Satan in our lives. If we want to live in freedom from sin and Satan, then our house, our life and all we possess must be occupied by Jesus where he is enthroned as our Lord and our Saviour.

O Lord, grant us, we beseech you, patience in troubles, humility in comforts, constancy in temptations, and victory over all our spiritual foes. Grant us sorrow for our sins, thankfulness for your benefits, fear of your judgment, love of your mercies, and mindfulness of your presence; now and forever. (Prayer by John Cosin)