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Posted on 08/18/2018 22:29 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
About a month ago, Pope Francis gave prophetic words for the Church during the solemn mass of Sts. Peter and Paul, "In Jesus, glory and the cross go together; they are inseparable. Once we turn our back on the cross, even though we may attain the heights of glory, we will be fooling ourselves, since it will not be God's glory, but the snare of the enemy." (Pope Francis, 6/29/18) In the Gospel reading from that day, Peter declares that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” While Jesus applauds Peter for this recognition, very quickly, he chastises Peter for swearing that he will not allow the crucifixion to happen to Jesus. In doing so, Peter became a stumbling block in the Lord’s path and thus Jesus calls him, “Satan.” Pope said, “Like Peter, we as a Church will always be tempted to hear those ‘whisperings’ of the evil One, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission.”
This is the fourth week we’ve heard the discourse on the Bread of Life from Our Lord. The first week, we heard about the miraculous feeding of more than five thousand hungry people. The second week, people seek after Jesus hungry for more physical signs and bread. Last week, Jesus taught the followers to focus on spiritual food that will give eternal life and not on transitory food of this earth. This week, Our Lord explains that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. Throughout this discourse on the Bread of Life, Our Lord is redirecting our hunger for earthly food--earthly fame, glory, power, riches--to hunger for relationship with him. Through this discourse he is awakening within his hearers the thirst and hunger for relationship with Heavenly Father. Without this relationship, we often settle for a poor imitation of his love--lust, pride, gluttony, anger, envy, sloth, and greed. How does the recent news and this Gospel connect together?
With the scandal of former cardinal McCarrick and the grand jury reports on the Pennsylvania dioceses, the past couple of weeks have been a painful reminder to our bishops and priests that we have become stumbling blocks to Heavenly Father’s plan by giving into the temptations of the evil One--lust, careerism, cover-ups, cultures of dishonesty and manipulation. Our Lord has asked his apostles, successors of apostles, and priests to protect, feed, and guide His flock. As a priest and a disciple of Jesus Christ, I’m truly sorry for any harm that was done by my brother priests and church leadership. The abusive acts were criminal and morally reprehensible that betrayed trust and robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. Those who commit such abominable sins certainly turned their back on the Cross and sought after earthly pursuits.
Since the news of the grand jury report, many tried to put in words their reaction. One Catholic journalist wrote, “This is the church I love. The church I was raised in. The church in which I had my child baptized. The church I want to raise her in. The church I look to for guidance. The church I turn to for comfort. The church I’ve worked for. The church I’ve lived for. The church, I hope, I’d have the strength to die for. But I’ve found myself not only becoming frustrated, disgruntled and angry but also sad, heartbroken and remarkably let down by this church...There is a deep, bleeding wound within this church—a wound caused by cover-ups and lies, rampant dishonesty, sickening selfishness and pride, sexual abuse and impropriety and perhaps worst of all, an attitude of ‘let’s quickly dismiss it as something that happened long ago’ as many seem to be going on the defensive to prevent further bleeding.”
Someone asked a priest if it was okay to be upset and angry about this latest scandal. He answered, “Yes! Absolutely!” If we look at history -- from the time of the old testament through today, we will find many times when God was displeased with his shepherds! In the Old Testament, the Lord spoke strong words through the Prophet Ezekiel: “To the shepherds, thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds pasture the flock?...Look! I am coming against these shepherds. I will take my sheep out of their hand and put a stop to their shepherding my flock, so that these shepherds will no longer pasture them. I will deliver my flock from their mouths so it will not become their food.” (Ezkiel 34:2-10) During the 4th century when the church suffered under bad leadership, St. John Chrysostom said, “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.” In those difficult times, the community of faithful took consolation in God’s promise that God himself will provide shepherds after his own heart (cf. Jeremiah 3:15) The 13th century Church and its clergy were also suffering from financial scandal, corruption, and moral laxity when Jesus called a young man named Francis of Assisi, “Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruin.’ Francis exhorted his brothers and faithful to embrace Jesus in the Eucharist as the source and sustenance for their spiritual life. In spite of the sinfulness of priests and bishops, it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we still receive the Eucharist to fill our spiritual hunger. The Eucharist that we receive today is the same Bread of Life that apostles received from the Last Supper. Throughout the history of the Church, Jesus has provided for us the same flesh and blood which is himself to nourish our hunger.
Our Lord himself tells us in the gospel, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Jesus gives himself as the food of eternal life from the Heavenly Father. The Eucharist is life giving because it draws us closer to Jesus; he draws us to the Cross so that so that we may abide with him there along with Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, and John. Jesus is our life and is the means to the life for which we hunger. When we eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood, Jesus lives in us and we live in him. We consume his life in hope and faith that he might consume and change ours. We eat and digest his life, his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his way of being and seeing, his compassion, his presence, and his relationship with the Father.
We must pray each day for the grace to die to self and seek the good of others. And as we receive Eucharist today, let us remember to pray for abuse victims and their families. We especially call upon St. Francis of Assisi to intercede in rebuilding our Church.
Posted on 08/15/2018 02:31 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 08/14/2018 02:33 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan priest, missionary and martyr, is celebrated throughout the Church today, August 14.
The saint died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, during World War II, and is remembered as a “martyr of charity” for dying in place of another prisoner who had a wife and children. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982.
St. Maximilian is also celebrated for his missionary work, his evangelistic use of modern means of communication, and for his lifelong devotion to the Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.
All these aspects of St. Maximilian's life converged in his founding of the Militia Immaculata. The worldwide organization continues St. Maximilian Kolbe's mission of bringing individuals and societies into the Catholic Church, through dedication to the Virgin Mary.
St. Maximilian, according to several biographies, was personally called by the Virgin Mary, both to his holy life and to his eventual martyrdom. As an impulsive and badly-behaved child, he prayed to her for guidance, and later described how she miraculously appeared to him holding two crowns: one was white, representing purity, the other red, for martyrdom.
When he was asked to choose between these two destinies, the troublesome child and future saint said he wanted both. Radically changed by the incident, he entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans at age 13, in 1907.
At age 20 he made his solemn vows as a Franciscan, earning a doctorate in philosophy the next year. Soon after, however, he developed chronic tuberculosis, which eventually destroyed one of his lungs and weakened the other.
On October 16, 1917, in response to anti-Catholic demonstrations by Italian Freemasons, Friar Maximilian led six other Franciscans in Rome to form the association they called the Militia Immaculata. The group's founding coincided almost exactly with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.
As a Franciscan priest, Fr. Maximilian returned to work in Poland during the 1920s. There, he promoted the Catholic faith through newspapers and magazines which eventually reached an extraordinary circulation, published from a monastery so large it was called the “City of the Immaculata.”
In 1930 he moved to Japan, and had established a Japanese Catholic press by 1936, along with a similarly ambitious monastery.
That year, however, he returned to Poland for the last time. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and Fr. Kolbe was arrested. Briefly freed during 1940, he published one last issue of the Knight of the Immaculata before his final arrest and transportation to Auschwitz in 1941.
At the beginning of August that year, 10 prisoners were sentenced to death by starvation in punishment for another inmate's escape. Moved by one man's lamentation for his wife and children, Fr. Kolbe volunteered to die in his place.
Survivors of the camp testified that the starving prisoners could be heard praying and singing hymns, led by the priest who had volunteered for an agonizing death. After two weeks, on the night before the Church's feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the camp officials decided to hasten Fr. Kolbe's death, injecting him with carbolic acid.
St. Maximilian Kolbe's body was cremated by the camp officials on the feast of the Assumption. He had stated years earlier: “I would like to be reduced to ashes for the cause of the Immaculata, and may this dust be carried over the whole world, so that nothing would remain.”
Posted on 08/12/2018 20:39 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 08/9/2018 10:31 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 08/6/2018 02:55 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
By Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.
One of the Bible’s names for the God is “El Shaddai” or “God of the Mountains.” And from the very beginning of salvation history, we see that mountains are a special place to communicate with Heaven. Abraham ascends Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son (Gen 22). God reveals his name and to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 3). Moses later receives the 10 Commandments on that very spot (Ex 31:18). Elijah returns to the same mountain, also known as Horeb, to hear what God’s “still, small voice” has to say (I Kg 19:8).
So it is no surprise that Jesus brings his three “pillars” (Gal 2:9) with him up a high mountain to experience a special moment of communion with the Most High.
It is this event that is commemorated by the Church each year on August 6. As tradition has it, Mount Tabor is the place. Rising from the plain of Jezreel, its summit provides a spectacular view of all of Galilee. But what Jesus intends for Peter, James, and John to see is not the countryside. He wishes to provide them a glimpse of who He really is.
Jesus is a carpenter from Nazareth, true. He must have looked much like any other Jewish craftsman of that time and place. That much could be seen by the naked eye. But this exterior appearance of his ordinary humanity was a veil hiding something more extraordinary–his glorious divinity. So on Tabor, God pulls back the veil. Moses and Elijah appear. These heroes of old had long since passed out of this world and gone to God. So what does it say about Jesus’ identity that they appear on his right and his left?
Jesus’ clothes suddenly appear dazzlingly white, “whiter,” notes Mark, “than the work of any bleacher could make them.” The first reading for the Feast of the Transfiguration tells us the significance of this. Daniel sees a vision of the “Ancient One.” How does he appear? With clothing that is snow white. Then one like “a Son of Man” comes on the clouds to receive dominion, glory and kingship from the Ancient One.
On Tabor, a cloud comes and overshadows Jesus and a Voice from the Cloud proclaims that this particular Son of Man happens to be the beloved Son of God.
What we have here is what is called a “theophany,” a manifestation of God. It is revelation, first of all, of the divinity of Christ. What the creed says about him could be viewed as a commentary on this very episode: “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.” But it is also a manifestation of the entire Trinity. The cloud that overshadows the apostles is the same one that overshadowed Mary. It is the glorious cloud of the Holy Spirit out of which the Father’s voice resounds. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, one God in three persons, prefigured in Daniel’s vision, revealed in the Transfiguration.
Suddenly, after a brief prostration, they get up and see only Jesus, looking the way he had always looked. The veil was now back in place.
The five senses are wonderful gifts from God. But they are limited nonetheless. Often we make the mistake of thinking that reality is nothing more than what our senses perceive it to be. So God gives us occasional mountaintop experiences, glimpses into realities that our senses can’t normally detect. Jesus is always divine, regardless of his everyday human appearance. Jesus is always accompanied by saints and angels even when he appears to be alone. It was the entire Trinity who opened the eyes of the man born blind, even though it was only Jesus’ hand we could see touching the man’s eyes.
Even though it’s much easier to forget such things and live according to what everybody can see, faith is remembering such moments of revelation and building our lives upon them.
Copyright 2017 Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Posted on 08/5/2018 14:07 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
The other day, on Facebook, there was a video post that simply read, “Do you know this person?” It was a home security camera footage of someone wandering and rummaging through a carport. At the end, the stranger in the video disappears off the camera clutching expensive equipment and tools. The person posting the video was rightfully angry and frustrated that someone stole their personal possessions for which they worked so hard. It is frustrating that the very things we value can disappear without our consent. Something similar happened to a couple living in Redding, California one night last week, when they evacuated their home with little more than their medication, photo albums, and a set of clothes. The next day they returned, only to find a heap of ashes where their house once stood. How is it that the very things we worked so hard for can disappear before our eyes?
Here is a simple question to test whether we have prioritized the Kingdom of God over perishable things of this earth. When we wake up in the morning, what is the first thing on our mind? Is it preoccupied with thoughts of work, the responsibilities of the day, or the anxieties that we carried over from yesterday? Is our mind so wrapped up in the things of earth—bigger homes, better vacation, creature comforts—that the thought of God has no place in it? I don’t just mean praying the prayer book, but being the hands and feet of Jesus; in other words, being the bread of life for someone else. Jesus gave us an amazing example of loving by becoming “bread” to enter into everyone’s lives—by making himself edible, he became food and nourishment for others. His life became a sacrificial love for others. Can we also be bold enough to become nourishment for others? Can we love in such a way to make others feel nourished by our love? Can others be comforted, uplifted, and understood by our patience, gentle guidance, and empathy?
Posted on 08/4/2018 12:27 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Below is n excerpt from a homily by St. Jean Vianney on Lukewarmness. The spiritual life is a battle, a struggle – if we love, we want to be better. This is how we are meant to approach Confession, our examination of conscience, our prayer, and our fasting. We should never say, “I won’t go to hell for that.” We should say, “how can I run towards heaven?”
Lukewarmness and Confession
A lukewarm soul will go to Confession regularly, and even quite frequently. But what kind of Confessions are they? No preparation, no desire to correct faults, or, at the least, a desire so feeble and so small that the slightest difficulty will put a stop to it altogether. The Confessions of such a person are merely repetitions of old ones, which would be a happy state of affairs indeed if there were nothing to add to them. Twenty years ago he was accusing himself of the same things he confesses today, and if he goes to Confession for the next twenty years, he will say the same things. A lukewarm soul will not, if you like, commit the big sins. But some slander or back-biting, a lie, a feeling of hatred, of dislike, of jealousy, a slight touch of deceit or double-dealing — these count for nothing with it. …
Lukewarmness and Work
In the morning it is not God who occupies his thoughts, nor the salvation of his poor soul; he is quite taken up with thoughts of work. His mind is so wrapped up in the things of earth that the thought of God has no place in it. He is thinking about what he is going to be doing during the day, where he will be sending his children and his various employees, in what way he will expedite his own work. To say his prayers, he gets down on his knees, undoubtedly, but he does not know what he wants to ask God, nor what he needs, nor even before whom he is kneeling. His careless demeanor shows this very clearly. It is a poor man indeed who, however miserable he is, wants nothing at all and loves his poverty. It is surely a desperately sick person who scorns doctors and remedies and clings to his infirmities.
Prayer of St. Jean Vianney
I love You, O my God, and my only desire is to love You until the last breath of my life.
I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving You, than live without loving You.
I love You, Lord and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally...
My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath.
Posted on 07/31/2018 12:58 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 07/29/2018 02:03 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)