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

Friday, June 20, 2014

XII Sunday in Ordinary Time - A

Jeremiah 20, 10-13; Psalm 69; Romans 5, 12-15; Matthew 10:26-33

Do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows ...

So many worries and troubles every day, so much insecurity in our crazy life, so many doubts and depressing news around ... Where in all this to find peace and joy in life, where is a room for confidence and trust, where a sense of security and comfort in the uncertainty and fears? The world has become a global village without a doubt. And so what? if it is also an ordeal for many, and for others a golden cage?

On one hand-it seems-that people live better and happier, more prosperous and more careless life. So many distractions and opportunities to entertain ... so many huge companies producing only entertainment.

But on the other hand, we are increasingly aware that this "brave and new world" is not so great and not so perfect. We see more and more misery, and very often we are the participants of this. We are experiencing increasing anxiety. I could lose my job and then what? I'm not strong enough, my insurance is not sure, and if I lose my health, who will take care of me? And what will happen if my child gets sick, or wife, or husband, where will I get the money for treatment? Before me; old age, I didn’t put down an appropriate amount of money for old age's security, because there was no chance for it, because I was robbed by the company and who will help me ...? I do not have a pension, which would be enough to satisfy the most basic needs, and what to speak of a happy and prosperous life?

And to that all the answer of Christ in today's Gospel: "Do not be afraid, even the hairs on your head are numbered. Do not worry, you are far more value than many sparrows." May we only know how to confess Him to be the Lord of our life in front of people ...

I wish I could only confess that He is Lord of my life and believe that "even the hairs on my head are counted."

The Lord takes care and He is concerned of everyday life. Please … let me see your care.
And let me not be afraid, because I'm much more important to You than many sparrows.

Alternative homily …

"Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in haven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father."

What a wonderful promise! Jesus gives his instructions to the Twelve and gives them, and us through them, this wonderful promise that is at the very heart of the Christian faith. That really is all we have to do, just declare ourselves to be openly in favour of Christ and his Gospel of love.

It doesn't seem much, does it? And yet if we look at it in another way it is everything. We declare ourselves openly for Christ and of course we then have to start living accordingly. If we do not, but go back to our old ways of life we are giving counter-witness and will have disowned him; this will mean that he will disown us, as he says in the second part of his saying.

The plain truth is that if countless numbers of people down the generations had not openly declared themselves for Christ and suffered the consequences of doing so, and quite often this meant torture and death; then we would not be here today. There would be no Church building; there would be no community of Christians. The Church of today is built on the foundations of those who openly declared themselves for Christ in the past.

A famous man of the world was asked if he was a Christian. His answer was,

"Yes, but not very offensively." He meant that he did not allow his Christianity to interfere with the company he kept or the life of pleasure.

It is a bit like the Spaniard who when asked by a priest if he was a Catholic was quite indignant and said: “Of course I am”. The priest then asked him if he went to Sunday Mass on a regular basis. The Spaniard said, "Father, you know, I'm a Catholic, and not a fanatic."

There are three principal ways we can deny Christ.
We can deny him
-                     by our words,
-                     by our silence and
-                     by our actions.

Each of us has had moments like Peter when the cock crows; moments when we are deeply shamed by our open denial of Christ. We are put on the spot and we openly deny him. “I don’t know Jesus. I am a modern man and not a religious fanatic to manifest my faith in this way.” This is denial by words.

There are other times when we deny him by silence, by our failure to speak up. We see we are out-numbered or we are afraid we will be ridiculed and so we say nothing, but that means that a grave injustice is done, the name of Christ is mocked or an opportunity to witness Him missed.

We also deny him by our actions by living the sort of life that is unworthy of a Christian; by basing our life on lies; by manipulating others; by cruelty; by a life of ease; by pressing down the poor, by neglecting our religious life and religious activities.

Maybe you have all heard of the famous book “Tom Brown's Schooldays”. Tom Brown was very popular at his Public School; he lived with about a dozen other boys in one of the school's dormitories. He was very influential and was the undisputed leader of his gang of friends. One day a new boy came to the school. When it came to bedtime the new boy innocently knelt down by his bed to say his prayers.

Some of the other boys began to snigger, a few others began to laugh and joke, one even threw a shoe at the kneeling boy. That night Tom didn't go to sleep straight away. He lay awake thinking about what had happened to the new boy. He also began to think about his mother and the prayers she had taught him to say each night before going to bed, prayers he had not said since he came to school.

The next night several of the boys were looking forward to having fun with the new boy. But that night something totally unexpected happened. When the new boy knelt down to say his prayers, Tom knelt down also. The whole atmosphere of the dormitory changed.

Jesus tells us that He will declare Himself for those who declare themselves for Him. One of the reasons Jesus made this statement is because bearing witness to Him or not bearing witness to Him can have a profound effect on those around us.

Perhaps the most important area in which this happens is in the home. The deciding factor for Tom Brown was the influence of his mother's example. Because he was so impressed with her faith he in turn gave witness to others and influenced them profoundly. And how it is in our houses? Do we give a witness?

It has been said that every Christian occupies some kind of pulpit and preaches some kind of sermon every day. This is never more true than of parents in the home. Bishop Halder Camara from Brazil used to repeat: “You are the only Gospel some people will ever read. Shouldn’t be this a motto for us all”.

In the course of the last twenty-six years since I was ordained I have talked to thousands of young people. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity I’ve asked them about prayer.

I have been very impressed with the answers and even more so by the depth of their prayer-lives. Mostly they pray because they were taught to do so as young children. But I have been equally saddened by the fact the most of them have told me that prayer is practically a taboo subject in the home.

It is easy and it is truly wonderful to talk to young children about prayer. It is more difficult, but much more rewarding, to talk to teenagers and young adults about prayer.

What many Catholics are lacking is the vocabulary to deal with these things and I think that this is one of the reasons why we shy away from talking about anything to do with religion.

An important thing is to get people talking about their faith and to feel comfortable doing so. How many people would like to share their faith with others? How many are simply embarrassed by such a proposal? Somebody in the past told us that my faith is my private and personal almost intimate and secret matter. And we believe it, and we are ashamed to share our faith.

One of the most important things that ought to be discussed by the members of every family in which there are teenagers is how to make that transition from childhood forms of prayer to ones that are more suitable for adult life.

The most helpful thing for our young people would be to hear how their own parents struggled with this transition. They want to know what prayer is, and how you do it, and how it can give meaning and purpose to their lives.

This is something that really needs to be talked about, this is a duty that no true Christian should neglect, this is precisely the sort of thing that Jesus is referring to when he tells us that we ought to declare ourselves for him in the presence of others.

And what about the moral and ethical problems we are facing in our daily life? Do we dare to talk about this with our kids and teenagers? Do we give the witness to Christ and his teaching, do we acknowledge Him before our own families? Or we rather deny Him in our words, in our action or silence, and in what we have failed to do - also?

For the Corpus Christi Sunday - see below ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Corpus Christi Sunday - this is My Body, ... this is My Blood

Pope Benedict XVI during His homily delivered on last Thursday (the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in Europe) was warning of a "serpentine secularization that penetrates the Church and is manifested in formal and empty Eucharistic worship."

The Holy Father illustrated the importance of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, telling the thousands of pilgrims that this faith "cannot be taken for granted."

"Today there arises the risk of a serpentine secularization even within the Church, which can convert into a formal and empty Eucharistic worship. The celebrations lacking deep participation from the heart that is expressed in veneration and respect for the liturgy can easily slip into an empty and external activism.

The temptation is always strong to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, letting oneself be carried away by earthly activities and worries. The Eucharist is the bread of eternal life of the new world that is given us today in the holy Mass, so that starting now the future world begins in us.

With the Eucharist, therefore, heaven comes down to earth, the tomorrow of God descends into the present and it is as if time remains embraced by divine eternity.

Stay with us, Christ, give to us the gift of yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life. Free this world from the venom of evil, of violence and of hate, which contaminate consciences; purify it with the power of your merciful love." – He prayed.

Addressing his remarks to priests, the Holy Father said: "Becoming the Eucharist: let this be our constant desire and commitment! So that the offer of the Body and Blood of the Lord we make upon the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our own lives. Every day we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord the free and pure love that makes us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses to His joy. What the faithful expect from a priest is the example of authentic devotion to the Eucharist. They like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus, as did the saint 'Cure of Ars' whom we will especially recall during the imminent Year for Priests".

"Aware that, because of sin, we are inadequate, yet needing to nourish ourselves from the love the Lord offers us in the Eucharistic Sacrament, this evening we renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Such faith must not be taken for granted!

Today there is a risk of insidious secularisation, even inside the Church. This could translate into a formal but empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking that involvement of the heart which finds expression in veneration and respect for the liturgy.

There is always a strong temptation to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, allowing ourselves to be overcome by earthly activities and concerns".

 "With the Eucharist heaven comes down to earth, God's tomorrow descends into the present moment and time is, as it were, embraced by divine eternity".

Eucharist the center of our life

Two Sundays ago we celebrated Pentecost and last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Blessed Trinity and now we commemorate the Blessed Eucharist. There is a certain logic in this sequence of celebrations.

Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church and on the Feast of the Blessed Trinity we look at the very nature of God himself. Today in the Feast of Corpus Christi we examine how God continues to make himself present to his Church, how he sustains and nourishes us. And he achieves all this principally through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Incoherence, inconsistency of our life

While we cannot judge another person's soul, still we recognize that those involved in certain actions should not come forward for Communion.

You may have heard about bishops admonishing certain politicians not to receive Communion. In this instance the politicians had taken public stands promoting abortion. Since one is Democrat and the other Republican, clearly the bishops are not acting in a partisan manner. Still, the bishops' action surprised some people. What business, they ask, do the bishops have telling someone they should not receive Communion?

The popular perception sees caring liberal bishops welcoming Catholic politicians regardless of their abortion orientation to receive Communion while heartless conservative bishops use confrontation at the altar rail as an opportunity to embarrass and harass political leaders who cross them on their hobbyhorse of opposing a woman's 'right to choose'.

From the earliest days of the Church, receiving Holy Communion unworthily has been forbidden; forbidden out of concern for those who would make such unworthy communions.  St. Paul in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians wrote: "Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27-29)
From this perspective, Bishops who treat Catholic politicians who support abortion as if they were in full communion with the Church are neglecting their pastoral concern and charity for their wayward spiritual children.
The November 2007 video shows Cardinal Arinze eliciting much laughter and applause when he made the analogy, "To the person who says, 'Personally I'm against abortion, but if people what to do it, I'll leave them free', you could say, 'You are a member of the senate or the congress, personally I'm not in favour of shooting the whole lot of you, but if somebody else wants to shoot all of you in the Senate, or all of you in Congress, it's just pro-choice for that person, but personally, I'm not in favour.'

Actually, the bishops were acting out of a long tradition. St. Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves carefully before receiving Communion. Otherwise instead of receiving a blessing they might bring condemnation upon themselves. And St. Paul identified at least one person who should not be part of the Church's communion. St. Paul was not acting on his own. Jesus practiced a similar tough love.

Part of our problem - at least in the United States - is that we have lost the sense of coherence between Communion and the rest of ones life. I would like to mention this Sunday that other acts also exclude a person from Communion. For example, a couple living together without sacramental marriage should not come forward for Communion. If someone has missed Sunday Mass without a sufficient reason, they should not receive Communion until they have gone to confession. At their annual meeting, the American bishops published a document titled "'Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper': On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist." It gives specific guidance on who may receive Communion and when a person should refrain.

The bishops were careful to stress that you and I should not set ourselves as judges of those who come forward for Communion. For example, a couple may not be in a sacramental marriage, but they may have made a special pledge to live as brother and sister. That would between them and their pastor. If one does have a concern about whether someone else should refrain from Communion, the first thing to do is to pray. Maybe you are not the right one to approach that other person. Maybe God will sense someone else on account of your prayer. And maybe he will open a door for you to gently guide the other person. It would be a great act of love.

In today's Sequence, St. Thomas mentions that some receive Communion for salvation, others to their damnation. The greatest thing you can do for another person is to be an instrument setting them on the path to salvation. That is what the bishops were doing when they admonished Catholic politicians who are promoting abortion. We are not here to make people into Democrats or Republicans. We are here to help people become saints. Someday the Republicans and Democrats will be as long forgotten as the Whigs and the Know Nothings. But the saints will shine like unquenchable stars.

This Sunday we celebrate the great gift of Communion. Let's humbly ask the Lord that we may receive him in a way that will lead us to salvation.

The Church is the Body of Christ

For the Child:

Thanksgiving after Receiving Holy Communion

Dear Jesus, I believe that You are present within my heart.
You said, "This is My Body and My Blood."
And I know You love me and want to be with me.
From my heart, I thank You for all You have given to me: my life, my parents, my health, Baptism, protection, and all that I have.
Make me more grateful still.

Generous Lord, I ask for still more: Protect my soul and body.
Be good to those I love. Grant me this special favor. (mention it here)
Watch over me and make me good and happy.
Jesus, I promise to receive You often in Holy Communion.
Remain with me, dear Jesus, today and always.
Never leave me in life and be with me in the hour of my death.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

some (completely free) thoughts on today's Solemnity ....

Holy Scripture
Christ the Son of God - the ultimate revelation of God reveals in the New Testament the truth about the Three-One God?

God - loving and merciful Father (what is the essence of fatherhood?) - Matthew 6:14, Matthew 6:32, Matthew 7:11, Matthew 18:19, Lk 6:36, Lk 11:13, Lk 12:30, Jn 16 27

God – Son Saviour and Redeemer  (what is the essence of sonship?) - Lk 19:10, Jn 3:17, Jn 12:42

God - the sanctifying and comforting Spirit of God (God's love has been poured into our hearts Romans 5:5) sent by the Father and the Son - John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:13

Father, Son and Spirit are one - John 10:30, John 10:38, John 14:10-11

Philosophy ...
Person - (πρόσωπον [Greek - prosopon], Lat. Persona) - originally, both in Greek and Latin word meant "mask", which was assumed by the actors in the ancient theater. One actor to represent the various characters could in turn assume many masks.

See more at:
Peter Jaroszyński, "A person: from the mask to self",

Latin persona - Boethius (480-524) in the treaty "On the person of Christ and His two natures" gives the classic definition of a person: individua substantia rationalis naturae - individual substance of the rational nature.

God has only one nature: "Deus Caritas est" 1 John 4:8, Ipsum Esse subsistens (Asseitas Self-subsistent Act of Existence, Subsistent Act of Existing Itself) - Thomas Aquinas.
see more: St. Thomas Aquinas’s Concept of Ipsum Esse Subsistens -

Can we say that God is "three individual substances of the same nature"?

In God there is no difference. The Father has no origin, the only begotten Son is eternally generated by the Father, the Spirit is the gift of the Father and of the Son, He is the embodiment of Their mutual love - "Deus Caritas est" 1 John 4:8.

Holy Trinity Sunday

Talking about the mystery of today’s Solemnity we have to have in our mind the fundamental truth: „God is God and I am notI will never be able to understand God, because if I understand God I will be God.”

Tertullian, the theologian from the third century gives us a very interesting image of the Holy Trinity. He says: “Imagine high in the mountains a source, inaccessible and hidden high in the mountains. Nobody ever had seen it but we know that it exists because we see the streams, and the river coming out of this source. Finally the river finishes in the ocean. All three have the same nature, the source is the water, the river is the water and the ocean is the water. In the source we have the image of God the Father, in the river –which is revealing the source- we have the image of God the Son, and finally in the ocean -which comes from the source and the river- we have the image of God the Holy Spirit, the Ocean of God’s Love.

As we progress through the liturgical year we take in turn the wonderful sayings and miracles of Christ, we contemplate the great events of salvation, the birth of Christ, the Last Supper, his passion and death, his resurrection and ascension into heaven, the birth of the Church at Pentecost, the Eucharist on Corpus Christi.

But today we contemplate the greatest mystery of all, the Blessed Trinity, the source of all that was, is and is to come. Today we contemplate the inner mystery of God himself. And I use my words advisedly; we contemplate the mystery of God.

We contemplate —what else can we do in the face of God but contemplate. To contemplate is to turn our gaze on him, to empty our hearts and minds of all other thoughts. In contemplation we become aware of his majesty, his glory, and wonder at his greatness and the extraordinary depth of his love.

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen." Simple, isn't it?  We learned that prayer when we first began to come to Church.  Perhaps our parents helped us put our fingers in the holy water font and bless ourselves as we said it.  It's the prayer with which we begin and end all our prayers.  It's the prayer with which we begin and end the Eucharist as well.  What a great reminder it is!

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always been in existence ... will always be in existence.  It's a mystery that we cannot fully understand. Even though it cannot be fully understood, it can be lived and appreciated.

God is Father, the one who made all things and keeps them in existence.  God created the world we live in and all the wonderful things we can enjoy.  He created us and gave us dominion over the world.  God calls us to take good care of the world as well, and pass it on in good shape to the generations that come after us.  We can help God in his continuing work as well.  We can respect the gift of our sexuality and be faithful to our vows.  We can cooperate with God as he creates new life within us and charges us with the responsibility of raising our children as children of God.  What a wonderful privilege.  What a hard job!

God is Son.  God love us so much that he gave us his son to reveal God's love for us.  Jesus was the word of God made flesh.  He lived the love of God for us and taught us to do so.  He helped to open our minds to higher things and to accept our higher calling.  He died and rose again that we might have life, forgiveness and the courage to live as God's children every day.  We can receive Jesus, body, soul and divinity every time we go to Mass.  We become what we eat, the very body of Christ here on earth.  What greater love could God have for us than to give us his Son?

God is Spirit.  The love of the Son for the Father and the Father for the Son was expressed in the Holy Spirit.  That Spirit of God calls us to live as sisters and brothers to one another.  We become one body in Christ and become indeed the body of Christ in the world we live in.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit give us the courage and strength to do each day what we need to do as we strive to live as children of God.  Those gifts are awesome indeed. If we cooperate with the Holy Spirit others will be amazed at the lives we live.

God as Trinity is too complicated for us to fully understand.  It is described as a "mystery."  Our minds are just not large enough to grasp it. But we can live that mystery each day, as we are thankful and responsible for creation, as we follow the example and light of Christ, as we draw upon God's strength to do good things in God's name.

This week we can reflect upon these truths and live as thankful children of God.  We can open ourselves to receive God's gifts that we can build up the body of Christ.  We can reject the kind of gossip and negative talk that can tear down others and weaken Christ body here on earth.  Have a good week!

Rublev's Holy Trinity icon reveals the deepest meaning of the mystery of the church as the communion of life with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit around the Eucharistic table of love. The tree of Mamre by which the Lord appeared to Abraham and Sarah is in the background of the icon. It calls to mind the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden, and also the tree of the cross -- the ultimate revelation of divine self-giving love made present for us in the Eucharist. The icon reveals the highest ideal and challenge of human existence. We are called to reflect in the church, in our families, and in our world the communion of love, which is the true nature of God. This is the glory and the joy for which we are created.

A story has it that the fifth century Augustine of Hippo was taking his summer holiday along the North African seashore.
Walking along the water's edge on a delightful day, he was pondering the mystery of the Trinity. All this genius was getting for his efforts was a severe headache. Finally he thought he was coming close to breaking the code of the mystery.  He was about to shout, "Eureka!"
Suddenly at his feet was a boy of five The bishop asked him what he was doing. The youngster replied, "I am pouring the whole ocean into this small hole." Augustine said, "That's nonsense. No one can do that." Unintimidated by the towering giant above him, the child replied, "Well, neither can you, Bishop Augustine, unravel the mystery of the Trinity." Then he disappeared.