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June 17, 2018: 11th Sunday Ordinary B

June 17, 2018: 11th Sunday Ordinary B
Click to hear Audio Homily
Many of us in our community have been successful with our vegetable garden this season. In fact, many of you have been giving away to family and friends your bumper crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant and other vegetables. What was your secret to success? Was it the right amount of water or plant food? Was it the sunshine or the right temperature? Those of you with a ‘green thumb’ know that ultimately, a gardener cannot make the seed grow. We can provide the right temperature, water, and fertilizer, yet the growth of a seed into a plant or a tree remains a mystery to us. Certainly we know what will kill a plant — our neglect of providing moisture, sunlight, and nutrients, or spraying weed killer. Our science advancement has given us insight into some of the processes within the plant, but the growth or the thriving of a plant is a secret that is held within the plant itself.

Our Lord likens the growth of the kingdom of God to seeds planted by a farmer. Just as the seed grows in secret, unbeknownst to us, the kingdom of God has already begun its  growth in us. God has made us in His image and likeness and planted the seed of growth and transformation through the Sacraments--Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. God’s plan for us and the whole creation is that His Will be done as perfectly on earth as it is in heaven. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We may delay, hinder, or run away from God’s will for us, yet God unfolds his plan unceasingly in our lives.

There is a temptation in us to superimpose our own desires and plans over that which God desires for us. It’s hard for us to let go of  our attachment to what we desire and to accept and allow God’s desire to be fulfilled in us. St. Bernard of Clairvaux said it this way, “Behold the true sign of a totally perfect soul: when one has reached  the point of giving up his will so completely that he no longer seeks, expects, or desires to do but what which God wills.” How hard it is to reach this state of surrender! Don’t we find ourselves sometimes angry, frustrated, and resentful that something is not going our way? In such times we need to reflect and ask the Lord whether we are more attached to love of self  than to love of God. We need a spiritual inventory to discern if we neglected to provide nourishment and water for our souls--that is, self-denial, humility, desire to please God in all things, prayer, Eucharist, and Reconciliation.

The harvest that Our Lord expects in each of us is true love for God that propels us to carry out His will in all our actions. The harvest that Our Lord expects is to embody God’s love as we relate to our Christian sisters and brothers and as we connect with our neighbors beyond the church. The kingdom of God grows each day as we reach out and help our family, friends and neighbors and when we go beyond our comfort zone to help a stranger in need. Unfortunately, we have too often fallen short of this call, but thanks to the grace of God, we are continually invited to be part of this mission despite our individual and collective failures. We are challenged each and every day to grow in the love of Christ both individually and as a collective church.

Our daily news is full of stories of injustice and violence both at home and abroad. Tragically, hatred, injustice, division, and violence are too often perpetrated against the most vulnerable members of society. In the face of this profound brokenness, the world desperately needs to experience the kingdom of God through the hearts and mind of loving Christians whose mission is to bring Christ’s love to all.  Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to trust that a given situation or a relationship needs our patience in order to see the growth and transformation. Perhaps we could remind ourselves this week to take time to reflect when we encounter situations or persons that we find difficult to deal with. Make a simple prayer such as, ‘Lord, teach me to be patient like a farmer who awaits the harvest after planting seeds. I hope and trust that Your will be done, in Your time and according to Your way in a situation or a person with whom I’m struggling. Give me the grace to cooperate and not hinder Your Will. May Your Will be done, according to Your Word.’  We have a unique calling to continually live out the love that God has extended to all of humanity through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Together, let us seek to grow more fully into that love.

June 13, 2018: St. Anthony of Padua

June 13, 2018: St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony and the mule who knelt down before the Eucharist

A man doubted the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, until he saw this.

By Philip Kosloski
https://aleteia.org/2017/06/13/st-anthony-and-the-mule-who-knelt-down-before-the-eucharist/

St. Anthony of Padua lived during the 13th century and possessed a great zeal for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. One day Saint Anthony heard of a man in Rimini named named Bononillo who did not share the same belief. In fact, Bononillo openly mocked people who believed that Jesus was truly present under the appearances of bread and wine.

St. Anthony tried his hardest to convince Bononillo with the proofs of scripture and argument, but discovered that the man was as stubborn as a mule.

Then St. Anthony received an inspiration. He challenged the wealthy merchant, “If the mule you ride adored the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, would you believe in the truth of the Blessed Sacrament?” Bononillo agreed, but decided to raise the stakes. Bononillo would starve his mule for three days and then bring it to the town square. Saint Anthony would bring the Blessed Sacrament to that same square. The mule then would be put in front of a pile of hay and St. Anthony would stand a few yards away with the Blessed Sacrament. What happened next would decide the victor.

To prepare for the event, St. Anthony fasted for three days, and Bononillo in turn told everyone in the town. Bononillo was convinced that the mule would think nothing of the Eucharist and ravenously eat the pile of hay.

On the day of the test, Bononillo brought his mule and placed the hay under the mule’s nose. St. Anthony came and stood a distance away with the Holy Eucharist. Defying all odds, the mule turned his head and walked over to Saint Anthony. When the mule was close, the animal bent his front legs and kneeled in adoration! When Bononillo saw this miraculous change of events, he immediately knelt down and professed his belief in the truth of the Real Presence.

What this short story tells us is that Eucharistic presence of Jesus is something miraculous and supernatural. It is a gift that Jesus gave to his Church, one that reason alone cannot explain. Faith is required to hold to such a fantastic belief. It reminds us that what we witness each Sunday (and every day) is beyond our understanding.

The Catechism affirms this fact and declares, “That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that ‘cannot be apprehended by the senses,’ says St. Thomas, ‘but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.’ For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 (‘This is my body which is given for you.’), St. Cyril says: ‘Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie'” (CCC 1381).


St. John Vianney put it perfectly, “If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.”

June 10, 2018: 10th Sunday B


June 10, 2018 10th Sunday B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you ever said to someone, “You must be out of your mind”? Do you remember why you said that to the person? A wealthy father was distraught with his 25-year old son. When his son was 19-years old, the father gave a lot of cash to support his son’s lavish and indulgent lifestyle. His son was a good looking young man, loved parties, loved to instigate evil deeds, and lived it up with life’s luxuries. At the age of 25, the son did a 180 degree turn-around in his life, becoming very pious and religious. He took merchandise from his father’s warehouse, sold it, and donated the proceeds toward church renovations. His father was beside himself when he discovered that his son was taking his goods without consent. The father complained to the local religious leader that his son was out of his mind, and demanded that his son be imprisoned. 

Jesus’ friends and relatives also thought that Jesus was beside himself because of his daily actions and lifestyle. What other explanation could there be for Jesus to abandon his quiet and secure life in Nazareth to become an itinerant preacher, supposedly performing miracles--healing people, driving out demons? Surely this was not the hometown Nazareth boy who grew up learning simple carpentry work from Joseph. Some even accused Jesus of being possessed by demons, for they surmised that such a man of humble background could be giving the appearance of performing exorcisms only by the help of demons themselves. Yet in the face of such opposition, Our Lord was determined to obey and fulfill his Father’s will. Where did he get such courage and resolve? His confidence came from the Holy Spirit who is infinitely more powerful than the devil who has a temporary authority over the earthly kingdom. The Holy Spirit was the power behind Jesus who received authority to release individuals from Satan’s influence and control. With the casting out of demons, Jesus demonstrated that the reign of God has come. 

As baptized Christians are we aware that we too can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill Father’s will? If we have the Holy Spirit with us, why is it that at times we are timid and afraid? Satan, the father of lies, devises a myriad of ways to take away our faith and confidence in God and our obedience to follow God’s commandments. When we ardently desire to please God in all things by prayer, reading the Word of God, regularly going to Confession, and receiving the Holy Eucharist, we are filled with wisdom and light that envelop us with the peace and love of Our Lord Jesus. We become bold in our love for our neighbors--we are ready to overlook faults, forgive, and will the good of the other.

Now back to the 25-year old man I mentioned at the beginning: one day he was filled with such light and confidence that when he encountered a man with a terrible and contagious skin disease that most would find repulsive. Yet filled with confidence and trust in the Holy Spirit, the young man approached the diseased man and kissed his hand with great compassion. The diseased man returned the favor by kissing the young man’s hand. That encounter filled the young man with both great joy and sadness. He was joyful in discovering that he could be an instrument of compassion; at the same time he felt remorseful about the dissolute life he had led thus far in which he wasted his time and energy on trivial and transitory things. He began to spend time visiting the sick in the hospitals and emptying his rich wallet to the beggars on the streets. One day when the young man was in a humble church kneeling in prayer, he felt the eyes of Christ on crucifix gazing at him and heard a voice saying three times, “Francis, go and repair My house, which you see is falling down.” Seeing how the church building in which he was praying needed much repair, he took a horse load of clothes out of his father’s warehouse, sold them, and brought the money to the priest of the church in need of much repair. When Francis’ father found out, he dragged his son to the Bishop of Assisi for justice, demanding that his son return the money. Francis not only gave back the money but also gave up his inheritance and the clothing he was wearing by saying, “Up to now, I have called Peter Bernadone my father...From now on I say only, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven.” Francis was the talk of the town! He was called crazy by many for renouncing his wealthy family and embracing a beggar-like lifestyle, preaching the gospel in the streets. 

We may not be called to embrace such radical poverty and evangelical lifestyle as did St. Francis of Assisi, but all of us are called to demonstrate by our lives the merciful and compassionate love of Christ. We are to implore the Holy Spirit daily to give us the grace necessary to desire the good of our neighbor and their conversion. The world thirsts for the love of Christ, and we are to be his ambassadors and emissaries, knowing that Our Lord is alive in us in the Eucharist we receive. In what ways can we bring Our Lord’s living Word to others? In what ways can we demonstrate our trust, affection, commitment, and  loyalty to Our Lord and show kindness, thoughtfulness, mercy, and encouragement for our neighbors?

June 8, 2018: The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 8, 2018: The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

In honor of the feast of the Sacred Heart, here are some passages from St. Faustina's Diary on Jesus' Heart.

O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image to be painted 
And reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy, 
You bless whoever approaches Your rays, 
And a soul all black will turn into snow.

O sweet Jesus, it is here You established the throne of Your mercy 
To bring joy and hope to sinful man.
From Your open Heart, as from a pure fount, 
Flows comfort to a repentant heart and soul.

May praise and glory for this Image 
Never cease to stream from man's soul.
May praise of God's mercy pour from every heart
Now, and at every hour, and forever and ever. — Diary, 1

O Jesus, eternal Truth, our Life, I call upon You and I beg Your mercy for poor sinners. O sweetest Heart of my Lord, full of pity and unfathomable mercy, I plead with You for poor sinners. O Most Sacred Heart, Fount of Mercy from which gush forth rays of inconceivable graces upon the entire human race, I beg of You light for poor sinners. O Jesus, be mindful of Your own bitter Passion and do not permit the loss of souls redeemed at so dear a price of Your most precious Blood. O Jesus, when I consider the great price of Your Blood, I rejoice at its immensity, for one drop alone would have been enough for the salvation of all sinners. Although sin is an abyss of wickedness and ingratitude, the price paid for us can never be equalled. Therefore, let every soul trust in the Passion of the Lord, and place its hope in His mercy. God will not deny His mercy to anyone. Heaven and earth may change, but God's mercy will never be exhausted. Oh, what immense joy burns in my heart when I contemplate Your incomprehensible goodness, O Jesus! I desire to bring all sinners to Your feet that they may glorify Your mercy throughout endless ages. — Diary,72

Suddenly, when I had consented to the sacrifice with all my heart and all my will, God's presence pervaded me. My soul became immersed in God and was inundated with such happiness that I cannot put in writing even the smallest part of it. I felt that His Majesty was enveloping me. I was extraordinarily fused with God. I saw that God was well pleased with me and, reciprocally, my spirit drowned itself in Him. Aware of this union with God, I felt I was especially loved and, in turn, I loved with all my soul. A great mystery took place during that adoration, a mystery between the Lord and myself. It seemed to me that I would die of love [at the sight of] His glance. I spoke much with the Lord, without uttering a single word. And the Lord said to me, You are the delight of My Heart; from today on, every one of your acts, even the very smallest, will be a delight to My eyes, whatever you do. At that moment I felt transconsecrated. My earthly body was the same, but my soul was different; God was now living in it with the totality of His delight. This is not a feeling, but a conscious reality that nothing can obscure. — Diary, 137.

A great mystery has been accomplished between God and me. Courage and strength have remained in my soul. When the time of adoration came to an end, I came out and calmly faced everything I had feared so much before. When I came out into the corridor, a great suffering and humiliation, at the hands of a certain person, was awaiting me. I accepted it with submission to a higher will and snuggled closely to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, letting Him know that I was ready for that for which I had offered myself.

Suffering seemed to spring out of the ground. Even Mother Margaret herself was surprised. For others, many things passed unnoticed, for indeed it wasn't worth paying any attention to them; but in my case, nothing passed unnoticed; each word was analyzed, each step watched. One sister said to me, "Get ready, Sister, to receive a small cross at the hands of Mother Superior. I feel sorry for you." But as for me, I rejoiced at this in the depths of my soul and had been ready for it for a long time. When she saw my courage, she was surprised. I see now that a soul cannot do much of itself, but with God it can do all things. Behold what God's grace can do. Few are the souls that are always watchful for divine graces, and even fewer of such souls who follow those inspirations faithfully. — Diary, 138

Renewal of vows. From the moment I woke up in the morning, my spirit was totally submerged in God, in that ocean of love. I felt that I had been completely immersed in Him. During Holy Mass, my love for Him reached a peak of intensity. After the renewal of vows and Holy Communion, I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus, who said to me with great kindness, My daughter, look at My merciful Heart. As I fixed my gaze on the Most Sacred Heart, the same rays of light, as are represented in the image as blood and water, came forth from it, and I understood how great is the Lord's mercy. And again Jesus said to me with kindness, My daughter, speak to priests about this inconceivable mercy of Mine. The flames of mercy are burning Me — clamoring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don't want to believe in My goodness. Suddenly Jesus disappeared. But throughout that whole day my spirit remained immersed in God's tangible presence, despite the buzz and chatter that usually follow a retreat. It did not disturb me in the least. My spirit was in God, although externally I took part in the conversations and even went to visit Derdy. — Diary, 177

I am beginning the retreat today, Jesus, my Master, guide me. Govern me according to Your will, purify my love that it may be worthy of You, do with me as Your most merciful Heart desires. Jesus, there will be just the two of us during these days until the moment of our union. Keep me, Jesus, in a recollected spirit! — Diary, 218

O living Host, my one and only strength, fountain of love and mercy, embrace the whole world, fortify faint souls. Oh, blessed be the instant and the moment when Jesus left us His most merciful Heart! — Diary, 223

To suffer without complaining, to bring comfort to others and to drown my own sufferings in the most Sacred Heart of Jesus! ... — Diary, 224

Once the Lord said to me, Act like a beggar who does not back away when he gets more alms [than he asked for], but offers thanks the more fervently. You too, should not back away and say that you are not worthy of receiving greater graces when I give them to you. I know you are unworthy, but rejoice all the more and take as many treasures from My Heart as you can carry, for then you will please Me more. And I will tell you one more thing — take these graces not only for yourself, but also for others; that is, encourage the souls with whom you come in contact to trust in My infinite mercy. Oh, how I love those souls who have complete confidence in Me — I will do everything for them. — Diary, 294

O my Jesus, my only hope, thank You for the book which You have opened before my soul's eyes. That book is Your Passion which You underwent for love of me. It is from this book that I have learned how to love God and souls. In this book there are found for us inexhaustible treasures. O Jesus, how few souls understand You in Your martyrdom of love! Oh, how great is the fire of purest love which burns in Your Most Sacred Heart! Happy the soul that has come to understand the love of the Heart of Jesus! — Diary, 304

When I become immersed in the Lord's Passion, I often see the Lord Jesus, during adoration, in this manner: after the scourging, the torturers took the Lord and stripped Him of His own garment, which had already adhered to the wounds; as they took it off, His wounds reopened; then they threw a dirty and tattered scarlet cloak over the fresh wounds of the Lord. The cloak, in some places, barely reached His knees. They made Him sit on a piece of beam. And then they wove a crown of thorns, which they put on His sacred head. They put a reed in His hand and made fun of Him, bowing to Him as to a king. Some spat in His face, while others took the reed and struck Him on the head with it. Others caused Him pain by slapping Him; still others covered His face and struck Him with their fists. Jesus bore all this with meekness. Who can comprehend Him — comprehend His suffering? Jesus' eyes were downcast. I sensed what was happening in the most sweet Heart of Jesus at that time. Let every soul reflect on what Jesus was suffering at that moment. They tried to outdo each other in insulting the Lord. I reflected: Where does such malice in man come from? It is caused by sin. Love and sin have met. — Diary, 408


March 21, 1935. Often during Mass, I see the Lord in my soul; I feel His presence which pervades my being. I sense His divine gaze; I have long talks with Him without saying a word; I know what His divine Heart desires, and I always do what will please Him the most. I love Him to distraction, and I feel that I am being loved by God. At those times, when I meet with God deep within myself, I feel so happy that I do not know how to express it. Such moments are short, for the soul could not bear it for long, as separation from the body would be inevitable. Though these moments are very short, their power, however, which is transmitted to the soul, remains with it for a very long time. Without the least effort, I experience the profound recollection which then envelops me — and it does not diminish even if I talk with people, nor does it interfere with the performance of my duties. I feel the constant presence of God without any effort of my soul. I know that I am united with Him as closely as a drop of water is united with the bottomless ocean ... — Diary, 411

June 3, 2018 Corpus Christi - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

June 3, 2018 Corpus Christi - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Click to hear Audio Homily
Click to hear song "Ave Verum Corpus"
Click to hear song "I Am the Bread of Life"

Have you ever gone to a place where you had no interest or desire to be whatsoever? I remember the European trip my family took when I was a college student where we went into numerous churches, cathedrals and basilicas. As a lapsed Catholic and a self-professed atheist at that time, I could not handle going into yet another church because it was repetitive - they all looked alike- and boring. My heart was hard like a rock, closed to receiving any graces. Even after we had visited the basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy and stood by the great saint’s grave, I had the thought, “I hope we don’t go into another church like that.”  It reminds me of what my 11-year old nephew Pio told to his mother on their family pilgrimage to Fatima and Spain last year, “Mom, if we’re going on another trip like this in the future where we go into so many churches, I want to stay home.”

As Catholics we know by faith that the Holy Eucharist we receive at Mass is the true body and blood of Christ. Consider for a moment: when I receive the body and blood of Christ, do I know that I’m receiving an amazing gift of grace that will continue to transform me, or has receiving the eucharist become so routine that I’m not touched at all?  As with all relationships when we become too familiar with someone, there is a risk of taking the person for granted or of not putting forth the effort to keep the spark alive. Take for example in marriage, when after being married for a year, did the newness wears off and the daily routine sets in; do you look at your spouse like when you were dating? How disappointed would your spouse be if you went away for a weekend without so much as a phone call? The same can happen to our attitude of heart toward Jesus in the Eucharist. Do we take for granted that Jesus is always there for us, and presume that Jesus won’t care if we neglect to come to him at weekend mass? When we choose attractive or exciting things of this world over encountering Jesus in the Eucharist, are we missing an opportunity to grow in our love for him? As with any relationship, after staying away awhile from Jesus--either from not engaging in prayer or receiving Eucharist--our love and affection for Our Lord cools and becomes distant. The spark is no longer there. Similar risks exist for priests. When a priest falls in love with the worldly allurements and stops praying or reading scriptures, then celebrating Mass becomes routine and burdensome. Celebrating Sacraments no longer gives the priest any joy.  

At the Last Supper as Our Lord broke the bread and gave a cup of wine to his disciples, he said, "Take it; this is my body...This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” At each mass we represent and relive the Last Supper and Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. As we hear these words each time, what can we do to keep them from becoming so familiar that they don’t mean anything to us? Perhaps we could use our imagination to place ourselves at the table with the Apostles at the Last Supper or stand next to Blessed Mother at Calvary before crucified Christ. Perhaps we could recall all the gifts we received and remember that we received them because of the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can also learn about and contemplate Eucharistic miracles that Our Lord has given us over the centuries to help us to marvel the gift of the Eucharist.

I recently had a conversation with someone who went on a tour of Italy. The person described going into a beautiful cathedral in the city of Orvieto. He took photos of the interior and came out thinking that it was pretty but not particularly exceptional. I asked him if he saw the display of Eucharistic miracle in that cathedral which occured in the year 1263. He said he didn’t know such event happened in that cathedral, and he was so disappointed in missing the treasure of that cathedral. In 1263, a visiting priest stopped in a church not far from the Cathedral of Orvieto to celebrate mass. The priest had begun to doubt that the Eucharist was truly the Body and Blood of Christ. Right before the “Lamb of God,” he broke the host as the ritual prescribes, and astonishingly the host in his hands began to bleed over his hands and on the corporal. The people beholding the miracle in front of their eyes, started to shriek. Unable to hide this phenomenon, the priest interrupted the Mass and went to the Cathedral where Pope Urban IV was in residence. After the Pope completed an investigation of the blood stained corporal, he declared it a Eucharistic miracle and displayed the miraculous blood stained corporal in one of the chapels at the Cathedral of Orvieto. The Pope instituted a new feast Corpus Christi (the one we’re celebrating today) and commissioned St. Thomas Aquinas to compose Eucharistic prayers and hymns to commemorate this special feast. St. Thomas wrote the opening prayer we prayed at the beginning of mass and five beautiful hymns for this feast day, including the Lauda Sion, Panis Angelicus, O Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo Sacramentum, and Adoro Te Devote.

Just as the priest involved in the Eucharistic miracle of Orvieto was amazed at the wondrous grace happening before his eyes, we need to keep our sense of wonder alive as we enter into the celebration of the Eucharist. Before Mass, we need time to settle down and clear our minds of to-do’s, sports scores, and daily routine, so that our minds and hearts will be fully open to the graces available. During Mass we should be grateful for what God has done for us and for our families. The Psalmist wrote,  “How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.” We embrace the cup of salvation--that is, trials and sufferings of daily life--remembering that we have been baptized into His passion and death. Whether facing good or bad moments, we utter blessings and thanksgiving in our prayers. The Eucharist received should then be lived out in our lives in helping others, bringing Jesus’ Good News to our co-workers, and spending time in prayer, perhaps in front of the Blessed Sacrament at our adoration chapel. When we make Jesus in the Eucharist our center of our lives daily, then we will keep the spark in our relationship with Our Lord.

May 31, 2018 Feast of Visitation - 10th Priestly Anniversary

May 31, 2018 Feast of Visitation - 10th Priestly Anniversary

Have you ever been asked to make a move or a change without any time for preparation, without room for negotiation, or without a chance to leave options open? Can a choice or a commitment made in such a situation ever be joyful or life giving? Let’s consider Blessed Mother’s situation at the Annunciation. A young girl is greeted by Archangel Gabriel’s news of a change in her life that she never could have anticipated — that she would be with a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the young Blessed Mother found the angel’s greeting troubling, perhaps she experienced fears and doubts. In that short moment, she doesn’t negotiate or argue; she responds with her fiat and her faith--that she is the Lord’s servant, so let it be, God will provide. Often when we make a decision or commitment, we would like to have all the facts on hand, all the permutations of scenarios mapped out, and an exit strategy planned. Her miraculous pregnancy is beyond comprehension for all of us. Her response to the angel shows us that for some events in our lives, we can only understand them through faith and hopeful trust.

Her travel in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth shows us that Blessed Mother was filled with joy of what God is doing for her and her cousin. Elizabeth, too, was surprised by her miraculous and unexpected pregnancy. Through the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth knew that her cousin was with a special child. Elizabeth didn’t doubt or argue to grasp how this all could be happening. She responded with faith. Blessed Mother’s Magnificat shows us that her response of faith is focused on God and Our Savior. "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name...He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever." She trusted in God, and not in herself or the world around her. Looking through the life of Blessed Mother, we can see that God who gives us all we need, brings us safely through all that we encounter.

How different that is from what most of us experience in life. We cling to the things of this world, trusting that they will get us through everything--everything that money can buy. Yet Jesus taught us a great paradox of faith, that when we try to hold to what we think is precious, we end up losing everything. But when we let go and give away in trust, then we gain everything. When we let go of material things, or drop masks, then we allow the Lord to grow closer to us.

I have shared with you over the past several years, my story of how I walked far away from Our Lord. I tried to grasp the dreams that the world and the evil one offered me, dreams that has no part with God. But I knew something was missing. It was through my mother’s prayers, my own recollections, and other events in my life that I was drawn back to life with God. It was the encounters with Blessed Mother that pointed me to the ultimate purpose and the joy of my life--to proclaim the love of our lord and savior Jesus Christ and to bring Christ to others.

In our lives, we like to leave options open. It gives us a feeling of being in charge or in control. But there is a more excellent way; there is no greater joy than to accompany Blessed Mother on her fiat and hopeful trust in Heavenly Father in this life. Every one of us has a vocation, a unique something that only we can do in the providence of God. The same God who called us to this unique vocation will repair and make straight our false steps in living out our vocational commitments. Do whatever Jesus tells you, is what Blessed Mother told the attendants at the Wedding at Cana. We ask this good Mother to help us to live in trust of Jesus and not to rely on our calculations. Let it be. We are the Lord’s servants, and the Lord will provide.

I cannot adequately express in words the joy and love I have known over the last 10 years as a priest in being so close to the heart of Jesus. It is a great privilege as I stand at the altar at each Mass to know that Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and the Saints are present as we represent the Last Supper and Calvary. I would have never experienced the privilege of entering into the joys and sorrows of the lives of so many parishioners at St Louis King of France, St. Aloysius, Mater Dolorosa, Our Lady of Mercy, Immaculate Conception in Denham Springs, and especially at Ascension, St Francis, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor had I remained an engineer. I may have made some missteps that caused hurt which I’m truly sorry. My longing is for each of us to know the depth of God’s love for us and the suffering that Christ endured for us so that we may be united to God forever in eternity. My longing is for each of us to be compassionate as Our Lord is compassionate. I assure you of my love and prayers.

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The Following Letter was sent from my mom (2005) when I was in seminary. I read this letter at my First Mass of Thanksgiving, the day after priestly ordination, at Our Lady of Mercy on June 1, 2008

My beloved son,
Time is passing so fast that you are already 32 years old.  When you and your sister were young, I wished the time would pass more quickly, yet already I am 70 years old. 
When you told us that you were going to the seminary, my heart was pierced with pain. Yet, now I feel so at peace and grateful to the Lord. 
I would have never thought that the day would come when many mothers are envious of me.  Perhaps the Lord is now blessing me with this special grace for the way I was being generous with others.  

My dear son, pray and study diligently. My prayer to the Lord everyday is that you receive the grace to deliver well God’s message to your parishioners. I pray and hope that you will be a good disciple of Christ and you will become more like Christ through the virtues of chastity, poverty, and obedience.  

Your mother. 

May 27, 2018: The Most Holy Trinity

May 27, 2018: The Most Holy Trinity
In my family home in Dallas are two thick genealogy books, written in a mix of Korean and Chinese, that chronicle how our family came to be. It is a great mystery how the love and commitment between generations of husbands and wives over several hundred years have formed the roots of the Yi family. It is a great mystery too, to ponder about the love in the Divine Family: the great love that Heavenly Father has for the Son and the great love the Son has for the Father is another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit. The foreshadowing of this inner divine mystery is contained in the Book of Genesis when God said, “Let us make man in our image and likeness.” However, we Christians believe Jesus came to reveal the fullness of truth of who God is as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are made by God, made for God, and live in God; we are made by God’s love, made to love God, and to live this love for others. Thus the mystery of why we are on this earth, what we are to do on this earth, and where we are going, begins to make sense when we understand God as the Holy Trinity. We believe in God who created us, redeemed us, and graces us continually. So it can be said that our life is a Trinitarian life. What does it mean to live a Trinitarian life? 

I bear resemblance to my parents in the way I look, talk, and behave; I have a distinctly Korean look, the personality and the voice of my parents. Likewise, through our adoption by Heavenly Father through the Paschal mystery, each of us bear the image and likeness of this Divine Family of Holy Trinity, capable of enjoying the divine life here and now. However, the privilege of enjoying this divine life comes with responsibilities. 

Our Lord reminded us, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Our Lord has commissioned us to be spouse, parents, teachers, community leaders, and spiritual guides for others. Our Lord has empowered us to be the light and the salt of the world, living not by the worldly principles but by the Beatitudes and Ten Commandments. It is through this commissioning that we raise our families to be good neighbors, to reach out to those in our communities who are in need. Our Lord himself was not sitting in his nice home talking about his Father; rather, he walked and journeyed with others, reaching out everywhere he went-- including talking with despised, misunderstood, and unloved persons. 

At times we Christians are tempted to turn away from the Heavenly Father and to look to things of this world for happiness and pleasures even though the worldly things will pass away. We need to be reminded as Moses reminded the Israelites, “This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper…” 

The feast of the Holy Trinity is an invitation for us to redirect our lives in deeper relationship with the Divine Family of the Heavenly Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We come to Mass to reconnect us to the life of the Divine Family. In the liturgy, we praise the love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who are the source and foundation of our faith. It’s time for us to listen in prayer to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who invite us to silent and intense prayer, to commit to enriching our everyday relationships with others with patience, understanding, and compassion. May the Holy Spirit who dwells in us guide and direct us through the intercession of the Blessed Mother to true happiness and eternal life with the Heavenly Father.

May 22, 2018: St. Rita Cascia

May 22, 2018: St. Rita of Cascia

The Story of St. Rita of Cascia

EARLY LIFE
Rita was born in the year 1381 in the village of Roccaporena, near Cascia , Italy . Her parents, Antonio and Amata Lotti, considered her birth a very special gift from God, for Rita was born to them as they were already advancing in age. As a young girl Rita frequently visited the convent of the Augustinian Nuns in Cascia and dreamed of one day joining their community. Her parents, however, had promised her in marriage, according to the custom of the day, to Paolo Mancini, a good man of strong and impetuous character. Rita accepted her parents’ decision, resolved to see this as God’s will for her.

MARRIED LIFE

The young couple was joined in marriage and soon twin boys were born to them. Rita found herself occupied with the typical concerns of a wife, mother, and homemaker of Roccaporena, while Paolo was employed as a watchman for the town. In Cascia, as elsewhere, a great rivalry existed between two popular political factions, the Guelphs, and the Ghibellines. As a minor official of the town, Paolo often found himself drawn into the conflict, and the strain that this caused probably accounts for the tension, which he sometimes brought into the Mancini household. By her prayer, patience, and affection, however, Rita was able to ease the stress and worry her husband experienced, but she was not able to shield him altogether from the dangers to which society exposed him.

DEATH OF HUSBAND AND SONS

One day as Paolo was returning home from work he was ambushed and killed. The pain which this unexpected and violent death inflicted upon Rita was only compounded by the fear she felt that her two teenage sons, moved by the unwritten law of the “vendetta,” would seek to avenge their father’s death. Rita’s only recourse was to prayer and persuasion. As it happened, the death of both boys from natural causes a short time later removed them from physical and spiritual danger. Despite her great burden she could still thank God that they had died in peace, free of the poison of murder to which hatred and revenge might have otherwise drawn them.

PEACEMAKER

Now alone in the world and without family responsibilities, Rita once more turned her thoughts to the desired vocation of her youth, that of joining the Augustinian Nuns of Saint Mary Magdalene Monastery. Some of the religious of the community, however, were relatives of the members of the political faction considered responsible for Paolo’s death, and so as not to tempt the harmony of the convent, Rita’s request for admission was denied. Fortunately, she was not to be easily dissuaded from following what she knew to be God’s plan for her. She implored her three patron saints — John the Baptist, Augustine, and Nicholas of Tolentino to assist her, and she set about the task of establishing peace between the hostile parties of Cascia with such success that her entry into the monastery was assured.

THE GIFT OF THE THORN

At the age of thirty-six Rita pledged to follow the ancient Rule of Saint Augustine. For the next forty years she gave herself wholeheartedly to prayer and works of charity, striving especially to preserve peace and harmony among the citizens of Cascia. With a pure love she wanted more and more to be intimately joined to the redemptive suffering of Jesus, and this desire of hers was satisfied in an extraordinary way. One day when she was about sixty years of age, she was meditating before an image of Christ crucified, as she was long accustomed to doing. Suddenly a small wound appeared on her forehead, as though a thorn from the crown that encircled Christ’s head had loosed itself and penetrated her own flesh. For the next fifteen years she bore this external sign of stigmatization and union with the Lord. In spite of the pain she constantly experienced, she offered herself courageously for the physical and spiritual well being of others. During the last four years of her life Rita was confined to bed and was able to eat so little that she was practically sustained on the Eucharist alone. She was, nevertheless, an inspiration to her sisters in religion and to all who came to visit her, by her patience and joyful disposition despite her great suffering.

THE ROSE

One of those who visited her some few months before her death — a relative from her hometown of Roccaporena — was privileged to witness firsthand the extraordinary things wrought by Rita’s requests. When asked whether she had any special desires, Rita asked only that a rose from the garden of her parents’ home be brought to her. It was a small favor to ask, but quite an impossible one to grant in the month of January! Nevertheless, on returning home the woman discovered, to her amazement, a single brightly-colored blossom on the bush where the nun said it would be. Picking it, she returned immediately to the monastery and presented it to Rita who gave thanks to God for this sign of love. Thus, the saint of the thorn became the saint of the rose, and she whose impossible requests were granted her became the advocate of all those whose own requests seem impossible as well. As she breathed her last, Rita’s final words to the sisters who gathered around her were, “Remain in the holy love of Jesus. Remain in obedience to the holy Roman Church. Remain in peace and fraternal charity.”

DEATH

Having faithfully and lovingly responded to God’s many invitations to her in the course of her seventy-six years, Rita returned to God in peace on May 22, 1457. Her body, which has remained incorrupt over the centuries, is venerated today in the shrine of Cascia, which bears her name. Her feast is observed on the anniversary of her death, 22 May.

https://st-rita.org/the-story-of-st-rita-of-cascia/


https://youtu.be/ZGMgq_8s134

May 20, 2018: Pentecost B

May 20, 2018: Pentecost B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you seen recently in the news the power of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii? We’ve seen the fire power of spewing molten lava destroying homes and the volcanic eruption that sent an ash cloud 30,000 feet in the air. The effect of the eruption was such a contrast to the normally tranquil, peaceful, and beautiful landscape of Hawaii. The folks living near Kilauea must wonder each day what will unfold with the volcano.

For the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem, the days following Jesus’ Ascension had been a time of uncertainty. They were fearful of persecution by Jewish leaders and yet they were told by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem for the arrival of the Advocate. Most likely the disciples, similar to the residents living near Kilauea, were wondering what would unfold next. Imagine the surprise of the disciples and Blessed Mother in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit arrived in a powerful way... with a rush of mighty winds and tongues of fire resting on each disciple! Each of them received and experienced the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling Jesus’ message to them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)

Do we believe that we also have received power from on high? At baptism, the Blessed Trinity--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--made its home in us and made us adopted children of God with the right to call Him Father. His love, a love beyond telling, raises us closer to His heart to a union beyond our wildest dreams. We need not envy the Apostles at their Pentecost, for the Sacrament of Confirmation we received was our own personal Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon us in a special way, with varied gifts and graces that enable us to imitate Jesus. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to us as tools and means to accomplish the will of the Heavenly Father. However, are these gifts of the Holy Spirit dormant or active like the Kilauea Volcano? In order for the power of the Holy Spirit to be alive, we must be aware and exercise these gifts. A power that we are not aware of is no power at all.

The main power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us is love--love of God and neighbor. The power of the Holy Spirit manifests itself through our exercise of the gifts that help us love God and neighbor. Like any gift we receive for our birthday or wedding; if we don’t unwrap it and just put it in the closet, it’s of no use for us. If we unwrap it but just put it on the shelf, it’s still of no use to us. We must be aware of the gifts we received and use them. For example, during a time when we may be tempted to stray from what is right, the Gift of the Fear of the Lord inspires us to reverence God and keep us from giving into temptation. When our neighbor demands more time and love than we can handle, the Holy Spirit gives us the Gift of Piety to be patient with our neighbor. When we feel too weak spiritually to accomplish the tasks that God has given us, the Holy Spirit strengthens us with the Gift of Fortitude. At times when we are unsure of decision making, the Holy Spirit provides us the Gift of Counsel to decide what is God’s Will for us. When we are too attached to things of the world, the Holy Spirit helps us detach with the help of the Gift of Knowledge. When our faith is weak, the Holy Spirit increases our faith by giving us the light through the Gift of Understanding. At times, the Holy Spirit makes us aware of His abiding presence through the Gift of Wisdom.

Jennifer Commeau (ACH student) along with Ms. Susan Jumonville (Ascension Church Coordinator of Religious Education) and Ms. Carol Pearce (ACH teacher) praying with Ms. Angella. (Photo Courtesy of Halen Doughty of Donaldsonville Chief)
These Gifts of the Holy Spirit were powerfully exercised recently by the sophomore class of Ascension Catholic High School when they went on a field trip. They visited three elderly adults, bringing them flowers, balloons, and smiles. One lady they visited had recently lost her son, and the students’ singing of the hymn Amazing Grace and their presence to her brought tears of comfort to her. When the group left the lady, one student ran back to pray with her. The student shared with the lady that she lost her mom recently, and while it was very difficult time for her, God saw her through. The student powerfully witnessed what we profess in the Creed, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.”

What keeps us from exercising the Gifts of Holy Spirit which we all have received? No one should be jealous or envious of others because Heavenly Father has given each of us all that is necessary to fulfill His will for us. With our Sacrament of Confirmation, we have been commissioned to be ambassadors for God to the world, to witness Our Lord and spread the Good News. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave, the same power that can calm a raging sea, the same power that command the dead to wake--lives in us. When we realize that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, and if we exercise the Gifts of the Holy Spirit daily, we are changed and the world is changed. May we imitate Blessed Mother and the Apostles who exercised the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to the fullest by their complete surrender and trust in the Father. The power of the Kilauea volcano is massive and impressive, yet its power pales in comparison with the power we have received from the Holy Spirit. The volcano will one day pass away, but those with the gifts of the Holy Spirit will prevail and transform the landscape of this earth in more powerful ways. Let us ask all the angels and saints to reawaken our awareness of the power of love we have received from the Heavenly Father and not be afraid to exercise them to the fullest for love of the Father and our neighbor.

Day 9: Saturday, May 19, 2018 Novena to the Holy Spirit

Day 9: Saturday, May 19, 2018
Novena to the Holy Spirit

OPENING PRAYER:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

On the faithful, who adore.
And confess you, evermore.
In Your sevenfold
gift descend.
Give us virtue’s sure reward.
Give us your salvation, Lord.
Give us joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

Acts 2:1-5
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one
place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind
came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were
sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that
separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were
filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues
as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in
Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were
bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own
language.

V: Renew your wonders in the Church of our day and in
each one of us, as by a new Pentecost.
Increase in us the desire to receive all that you desire to
give us, we pray to the Lord.
R: Lord, hear our prayer.

CLOSING PRAYER:
Come Holy Spirit,
Renew your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost.
Grant to your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of the successors of Saint Peter and the Apostles, it may advance the reign of our Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace.- Amen