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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

01.01.2016 - Mary - Mother of God

In the fullness of time ...

"God sent his Son, born of a woman ... to redeem those who were under the law."

So at the beginning of the history of salvation is God's will to rescue the man, but also at the beginning of the story is a woman, the Mother, Mary. The beginning of the New Year is an opportunity to prepare plans and projects, to make decisions.

However, today's ceremony directs our attention toward motherhood, because at the beginning of every life is always the Mother. Therefore, certainly not without reason, the Church did establish on January 1 the Feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint John Paul II – Pope not without reason entrusted the new third millennium of Christianity to Mary, the Mother of the God-Man, and also the Queen of Peace.

On December 8th, 2000 he prayed at the Piazza di Spagna in Rome: "Mary Immaculate, we raise our eyes to you, and please, help us in our fight against evil and present our contemporary world to God. Keep us in your motherly care You Beautiful and Holy Virgin! Assist in the ascent of the new millennium, clad in the humility that made you chosen in the eyes of the Almighty. Let the fruit of the Jubilee Year will not be destroyed." These years of the new millennium cannot remain just a memory. Beginning of the New Year, may not be only an opportunity to enjoy our celebrations during the New Year's Eve festivities with champagne. But this is also undoubtedly an opportunity to start anew, under the care of That One, Whom God himself chose to be at the beginning, that is the Mother. Let's use Her intercession, because with Her motherly care, Her support and help at the beginning of each New Year we can really start anew not only a year but the whole of our life. We do not need to fear the Mother. She is the Mother of God, so what can we expect from Her?

Well, that is the beginning, because the first day of the New Year is dedicated to Her. I wish all of you to be accepted with your life in Her maternal care. I pray for you and I ask you to pray for her intercession on my behalf. Happy New Year - with Mary, THEOTOKOS - the Mother of God.

alternative homily

Mary, Mother of God

Is Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ? Yes. Is Mary the Mother of God?  To answer that question we first have to answer the question "Who is Jesus Christ? Our purpose today is not to prove that Jesus is God or that Jesus is man. Given the numerous references in the Bible, as Christians, we take that for granted. Jesus Christ is both God and man. Our purpose today is to look at Jesus Christ in order to answer the question how can Mary be the Mother of God?

The Bible says that Jesus Christ, He who is God by reason of His divine nature, became man by taking unto Himself human nature. That is to say, God – a divine person – took unto Himself a human body with the same structure and functions of the human body which each of us knows so well.

He took unto himself a human soul, a human mind, human feelings and emotions, no different from those with which we are endowed with at birth. And when He did this, He did not thereby cease to be God. God, whose nature is entirely spiritual, into whose make-up nothing bodily enters, whose will power is omnipotent (that is to say all powerful, Almighty), whose mind is omniscient (that is to say all knowing) and whose life had no beginning and no end.

Jesus Christ is both God and man – As God Jesus Christ is infinite, omnipotent, omniscient and eternal. At the same time, Jesus Christ – as man is also mortal (as a human being he must eventually die), Jesus is limited in His physical powers, capable of fatigue and pain, subject to growth in bodily stature and human knowledge. The same as every other man in everything but sin.

This does not mean that His Divine nature became human or that the infallible mind of God became fallible, or that the immortal nature of God became subject to death. At the incarnation the divine was in no way changed into the human. It does mean though that a Divine person really possessed human nature with all of its limitations because a human being, Mary, was His mother.

But because these two natures, Divine and Human are possessed by the same person, Jesus Christ, then Mary who is Mother of His human nature, is rightfully called the Mother of Jesus Christ, and since Jesus Christ is God, she is rightfully called -  Mary, the Mother of God.
Many, however, who speak freely of Mary as mother of Jesus, are hesitant to call her the Mother of God. They shouldn’t be. Otherwise they do not have a full understanding of the meaning of the incarnation. There is no good reason why a divine person, Jesus Christ, who is truly man, could not be conceived and born according to this human nature.

This does not mean that His mother Mary, like some goddess, would bring His divine nature into existence. It also does not mean that as the mother of a divine person, she existed before him. Christ told us that He existed before Abraham was born. As God, He is eternal; as man, He began to live a human life when Mary conceived Him. Mary did not exist before God.

Catholics get this information concerning Mary and Jesus – not from the Church teaching us as though the Bible did not exist, but rather from the Church teaching us the full significance of what the Bible says about Jesus and His mother Mary. About their relationship and what significance Mary has for us today.

Mary as the Mother of God has an important relationship to you and me in the world today. She is our Mother and as our Mother she continually intercedes for us and leads us to her Son Jesus Christ. Since the early days of the Church Christians have expressed Mary’s relationship to us by addressing her with the title “Our Mother”. This, of course, does not say that she was our mother in the natural sense of the term, but rather it is a real spiritual relationship.

Just as St. Paul in speaking to the Corinthians said “In Christ Jesus, through the Gospel, I have begotten you.” Mary could just as truthfully say to all of us “In Christ Jesus, through my consent to your redemption, I have begotten you”. She was associated in our regeneration by giving us Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ on Calvary said to Mary “Woman, behold your son” and to St. John “Behold your Mother” Jesus was proclaiming this truth.

Mary is our Mother. Christians have always considered St. John as representing in person all those who are redeemed and who look upon Mary as their “Mother”.  And so this scene at the cross is really the origin of our devotion to Mary. Holy Mary, Mother of God, conceived without sin. Yes, conceived without sin and sinless throughout her life. Full of Grace.  God’s Grace.

If you wonder why this freedom of sin at the outset of her life is so important and why Christians have always acclaimed her to have been immaculate and unstained, the reason is that she was sinless in order to be fit to become the mother of the Redeemer. Sinless, she was then worthy to be associated with the Son of God in a most intimate relationship. In Mary there was no shame of sin to reflect on her child. The flesh which the Holy One took from her as His mother was the flesh of one who had never been – in any sense – a sinner.

The absence of sin in Mary meant holiness – a holiness in which she steadily grew. When the time came for the angel of God to visit her, he would salute her as “full of Grace” and “blessed among women.” Never had a messenger from God addressed a human being in such language. There had to be a good reason. There are two important points which must be kept in mind in finding that reason. The first is that – God does nothing by chance or on the spur of the moment. The Eternal God simply does not act that way.

What God does in the world He has planned from the beginning of time.
God did not just happen to send an angel to a small Judean town looking for a nice Jewish girl whom He then selected to be the Mother of the Messiah  - after taking a quick omniscient look over all the others and then making a quick decision – there she is – she’s the one. No, the Virgin Mary, was in His mind from the very beginning. When she came into existence it was to be as the Mother of God. God only needed her approval. It was the first and only time that a son got to choose his own mother.

The second point is that when God gives anyone a task to do, He also gives them the ability and wherewithal to do it right. In other words, God, by His grace, makes us fit to fulfill all that He calls us to do. We need only give our “yes” to God. God, then, who chose Mary to be Mother of Jesus the Messiah, gave Her the grace, the blessedness and the holiness that made her worthy of that great dignity. She was fit to be the Mother of God and to receive God Himself into her bosom. All that was needed was her assent. Mary said “Be it done unto me according to thy word” and the incarnation was achieved.

Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. She is not the Mother of the Trinity but she is the Mother of Jesus. She is the Mother of God. As the Mother of God and as our Mother she continues to intercede for us in Heaven. She continues to lead us to her Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

May God, through the intercession of His Blessed Mother Mary, bless you abundantly in this new year.
Deacon Bernie Ouellette

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year C

Christmas is almost at the gate.

In our homes virtually everything is ready. We have prepared what is needed for celebrating this feast in a lovely and beautiful way.

We are also most probably ready.

In four days there is Christmas Eve.  We will be celebrating the most beautiful and appealing feast of the new life. God will become a member of our human family. This historical fact which took place in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, is even now, two millennia later, a special and extraordinary sign. A sign of God's love and unalterable decision to invite everybody to join Him in heaven.

Since our childhood days, we remember only the good and warm things which happened in our lives.

Beautiful Christmas trees, colorful and bright decorations, snow, crèche, visiting members of our family, relatives, specially prepared food, presents and carols … all this is somehow connected with Christmas.

But, we know that all these elements are secondary and nonessential, as long as we do believe that God coming to us in this Divine Baby is the most import_ant reason for the season. And let us be frank, it is difficult.

We aren't becoming sentimental and emotional in celebrating Christmas, but rather cold and dry in keeping Christ in Christmas.

It is difficult because we, the citizens of the twenty first century, have to prepare a place in our daily life for somebody whom essentially we don’t know. We are not able to touch him, to talk with him, to see him. Moreover, God is choosing us to be the witnesses to His Son. He would like to touch others, and be heard by others through us, through the intermediary of our lives. It is because He chose us as His disciples, as His witnesses. Is it possible?

Obviously, if we pass this time of Christmas at the table or in front of the TV screen it will be impossible to be the witnesses to the newborn Christ. We will be celebrating a jolly feast, but we will not get anything deeper from Christmas.

Let us rather see the celebration of the nativity of Christ as a mystery of the new life, a birth of a new member of our family, as a birthday of our Best Friend. Let us find a little bit more time for our families, for God, for prayer, for adoration, just for being human. Let us learn how to see Him in our daily life, how to see His presence in those who are in need, in the normal, even the smallest events of our daily life.

We can give to ourselves the best present, the best gift. We can receive Christ into our life, into our families, into our homes and schools, and into our hearts.

And this is the Birth of God, the Birth of Christ in me.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Second Sunday of Advent – Year C

Let us just imagine a following situation. You got a possibility of organizing a huge marketing operation. You have unlimited financial means and possibilities, but you have to organize the promotion or marketing of faith or religion. You can go wherever you wish, to the schools, molls, public places, halls, shops and theaters just wherever you wish to say only one fundamental truth: "who was and constantly is Jesus Christ? The main object of the marketing is Jesus Christ.

But, an immediate question arises: Is it not too risky? It seems to be not a very good idea, not at all.

Firstly because, you will have none of the very attractive promotions and new products to offer, rather the old stuff, repeated for last 2 thousand years. Packaging is also rather not very attractive, since it is mainly composed by 10 commandments and some old fashioned moral teaching which seems to be not very popular.

Secondly it seems to be a difficult task to get your attention. Many will rather say: "I have too much to do and too much to care for, so I don’t have time for this kind of operation". Others will be rather too shy or intimidated to publicly speak about their faith. Even if we can find a group of volunteers who will be able to go and to perform this kind of marketing company, the effects could be somewhat mediocre, because who would like to listen to, who will be interested at all in this, Gospel message? The presence of the disciple of Christ preaching His Good News on the streets and in the public places will be intimidating or even offending and finally this idea will be classified as a fiasco and too idealistic to be performed in our laicised world.

We get used to the situation that God is tightly closed in the tabernacle and the most comfortable way of expressing our faith is on Sunday in the church and not in our daily life.

And in today's Gospel John the Baptist in a very simple but straightforward (direct) way is calling

"Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,"

Prepare the way of the Lord, but what for? Do these words have any sense and meaning 20 centuries later? What does it mean "Make straight the paths of your life"?

Is Jesus not present in my life? Don’t I come for the Mass every Sunday (o, maybe almost every Sunday)? Do I not convert twice a year during Advent and Lent penitential services, confessing sincerely my sins? Do I need more? What for do I have to convert or to change my life? If I seriously admit that I need a conversion is it not to admit that I am living a messy and disordered life.

What for do I have to convert or to change my life if I think it is good, comfortable and fitting me perfectly?

The answer for this question is only one: I have to convert from my style of live and accept the way of Christ because I cannot and will not save myself, because He is the Saviour and the Redeemer and without Him I am unable to reach Heaven. I have to "make the crocked way of my life make straight", because otherwise they will lead me nowhere. I have to fill our every valley of my greediness and to level every mountain of my pride, because otherwise my selfishness and my pride will devour and destroy me. I have to convert because only Christ is able to liberate me from the slavery of sins. Without Him I can do nothing.