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Posted on 06/23/2019 22:52 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
"You fed your people with the food of angels; you gave them bread from heaven, alleluia."
It was winter of 2001 at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church. I was sitting in the sanctuary during a daily mass, altar serving for Fr. Phil Spano as a layman. I just returned from a very moving pilgrimage to Medjugorje, where I received a clear sense that God was asking me to consider the priesthood. I was still wrestling with a bit of selfish thought. 'What about marriage, career, and my parents? Why give up my dreams?'
When communion time began, an inexplicable feeling came over me. It was a desire, and it was not my own. As I saw a multitude of people coming up to Fr. Phil to receive the Holy Eucharist, I sensed a great desire by Someone to feed this multitude. They were hungry--not just for food, drink, health, security, beauty, truth, and peace. They were truly hungry for God. Through the Eucharist, God satisfied their deepest hunger, and I was privileged to feel a glimpse of God's desire.
On this Feast of Corpus Christi, we marvel that the Lord wants to feed us to satisfy our deepest yearning. His yearning is that we share this Good News that Jesus desires to feed all with Himself. While not all can receive the Holy Eucharist, we can feed them with our compassion and mercy. St. Therese of Lisieux gives us simple advice on how to feed others: "Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love."
You satisfy the hungry heart
With gift of finest wheat
Come give to us, O Saving Lord
The Bread of Life to eat
As when the shepherd calls his sheep
They know and heed his voice
So when you call your family Lord
They follow and rejoice
With joyful lips, we sing to you
Our praise and gratitude
That you should count us worthy Lord
To share this Heavenly food
Posted on 06/21/2019 11:31 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 06/16/2019 11:03 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Audio Homily: https://oembed.libsyn.com/embed?item_id=10220561
Posted on 06/13/2019 11:16 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 06/9/2019 20:15 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Audio Homily: https://oembed.libsyn.com/embed?item_id=10105821
I would like for you to think about a period of nine years of your life that made a big difference in your life. Perhaps it was the first nine years after you graduated and entered the workforce, the first nine years of your marriage, the first nine years of your life as a parent, or the first nine years after the loss of a loved one. What joys, sorrows, triumphs, and setbacks do you recall? A lot of things can happen in a period of nine years of a person’s life that can change and transform the person for the better or for worse.
Well over a hundred years ago on a Sunday afternoon, Therese Martin, a 14-year-old teenager, asked her dad if they could have a talk. It was the Feast of Pentecost Sunday, May 29, 1887. Therese begged her father to grant permission for her to enter the Discalced Carmelite Order to become a cloistered nun. The same Holy Spirit that inspired the young teenager with the desire to serve God through a religious order also inspired her elderly father with courage and trust to allow his daughter to leave his side and enter a convent. Therese was accepted by the Carmel Order in Lisieux near Normandy and she stayed there until she died nine years later, at the age of 24. Although she lived and worked behind the cloistered walls of the convent, and from a secular view did nothing outstanding, she was eventually declared a saint, universal patron of the missions, and a Doctor of the Church. What happened to her in those short nine years that transformed her into a saint? Can that kind of transformation happen to us?
For St. Therese the length of time or her own effort is not what transformed her into a saint. She was transformed by the breath of God’s Holy Spirit. She, like many of us, may not have been aware of the work of the Holy Spirit. In order to understand how an ordinary person is transformed by the Holy Spirit, we must go back to the very beginning--back to the Book of Genesis.
Posted on 06/2/2019 10:32 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
For those of you who still receive a printed newspaper, you know it’s a chore sometimes to walk out to the driveway early in the morning and retrieve a poorly thrown newspaper from the wet grass. Wouldn’t it be nice if the paper was right there by the front door when you went to get it? For some of the neighbors of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denham Springs, every morning they’ll find their newspaper delivered right to their door, thanks to Fr. Frank Uter. Fr. Frank has a daily routine of waking up around 4am, praying his morning prayers, and walking a three-mile route around the church. While walking, he ponders about the plans for the day, prays for the persons to whom he will visit, and places newspapers on the doorsteps of parishioners who live around the church. Recently, at his 50th anniversary mass of his ordination, Fr. Frank reflected about his 50 years as a priest. He said that he never asked for a particular parish assignment; rather, he always said yes wherever the bishop asked him to go. Over the past 50 years, he said he was ministered to and affirmed by the very parishioners to whom he ministered.
Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus’ departure from his disciples and ascension to the right side of the Heavenly Father marked the end of his earthly mission and a new beginning for his disciples. His ascension did not mean that Jesus had abandoned his disciples; rather, Jesus would be present to his disciples in a new way—while invisible to their senses, he is at the right hand of the Father interceding and walking with each of his disciples. He told his disciples to wait patiently until he sent them the Holy Spirit to strengthen their faith and commitment. We - the disciples - are to follow Our Lord wherever he goes; in time we will follow Jesus to his Father’s home. His ascension to His Father side reminds us that we have no lasting home on this side of the earth. We are a stranger and pilgrim while on earth and we will not have rest until we are united with Christ in Heaven.
Fr. Frank shared one time that when he was called upon by bishop to move to one parish, only weeks later due to uncontrollable circumstances, the bishop asked if he would go elsewhere instead of the original assignment. Fr. Frank was free and willing to go wherever and whenever, so he did not have difficulty changing course midway. He said in one interview, “Control is an illusion… You can set up a schedule so you can make use of your time, but you have to be ready and understand that you are not in control of your time.” Indeed, as Fr. Frank said, time belongs to God. We are to be available wherever, whenever, and to whomever God sends us. We are not to cling onto passing things of this earth—health, wealth, comfort. We are to fix our minds on what God has in plan for us, praying that we may not resist God’s assignment for us. We are not alone in carrying out God’s work; Jesus is right here with us in a new way to assist, to encourage, and guide our each step.
Our Lord invites us to lift up our hearts to seek always things that are above and not preoccupied with things of earth. The most important thing we can do on earth is to be a witness and an instrument of Jesus. To believe in the Ascension of the Lord, to believe in the birth, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ is life changing for us; no longer are we free-agents for ourselves. Rather, each of us is the very presence of Jesus through our faith and action. Fr. Frank explained at his anniversary mass that wherever he was assigned, he was the presence of Jesus in the lives of the parishioners just as much as parishioners were Jesus to him. In what way can we be the presence of Jesus for our family and workplace?
Posted on 05/31/2019 11:22 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
We should write our own Magnificat
Mary, newly pregnant with our Lord, traveled 70-some miles of rough territory to help her elderly cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren, was in her sixth month of pregnancy. Both pregnancies were miraculous, and both involved key figures in salvation history: John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
When the two women meet, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her womb the second he heard Mary’s voice. In that single moment, our Lord was revealed as the Savior and his cousin became the herald of his coming.
But there’s another moment in the Visitation narrative, the significance of which I believe we often miss.
It’s the Magnificat, or The Canticle of Mary.
After greeting Elizabeth, and humbly accepting her words of veneration, Mary speaks this prayer of praise, greatness, and power.
But, it’s not her own praise, greatness, and power to which she’s referring. It’s God’s.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
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 forever. (Lk 1:46-55)
As is the case in every instance of her life, Mary pointed away from herself and toward God.
The Magnificat is all at once a history lesson, song of praise, and prophetic message. In it, Mary lauded the magnificent things God has done for his people throughout the centuries. She praised him for his might, wisdom and goodness. Then, she accepted the incredible responsibility God had given her – to be called blessed by every generation henceforth.
All without giving herself one iota of credit.
This is exactly how we should conduct ourselves as well.
Of course, we’re not bound to have every generation call us blessed as Mary is. Yet, in similar fashion, God has done great things for us in our lives and has endowed us with his favor and bestowed on us a specific position and responsibility in salvation history.
Because of that, we have our very own Magnificat.
Each one of us has a heritage and history of how God has worked in our life, how he has cared for us and protected us in the past, and how he has led us to where we are at right now. If we look back, we can name occasion after occasion in which he showered us with his mercy and guided us with the strength of his arm.
Each one of us has a long list of gifts, abilities, qualities, and characteristics that are uniquely ours and for which we not only can, but must give praise to God. We are all blessed by God, individually and unequivocally.
The problem is, we seldom stop to take all of this into account.
If we did consider these things as Mary did, we could write our own Magnificat, our own prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and awareness of what God has done for us and what we can do for him in return.
That would be an interesting meditation for this Feast of the Visitation, don’t you agree?
I think that, if you sat down to write your own Magnificat, you’d be amazed at all that God has done for you, with you, and through you in your lifetime. You’d also be amazed at the potential for what he can and will do in the future. And as with Mary, you’d realize that everything, always, points to God.
Posted on 05/26/2019 22:10 PM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
Posted on 05/13/2019 11:18 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
“Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” (M 175)
The spontaneous fiat of the shephers, 'the Lady welcomed [...] as the first fruits of her Message "(CVM 36), is confirmed by the Virgin with an intense light that penetrated the innermost dephts of the children, making them see themselves" in God, who was that light"(M 175). This light, in which they will also be immersed in June, will prepare them to welcome the Secret revealed to them in July: in a succession of images unveiled by Our Lady, the little shepherds grasp the idea that God's heart is caring for the human history; that sin consists in being indifferent to God's heart; that God is merciful and is always in search of man entangled in his dramas and misfortunes; and that those who embrace the light of God's heart are invited to participate, by prayer and sacrifice, in His care for humanity.
On the first immersion in that light, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, still savoring the echoes of the depth they had experienced, decided not to tell anything of what happened. But Jacinta, strongly affected by the beauty of the Lady and full of an irrepressible joy, cannot refrain herself. She is the first herald and messenger of this newfound divine joy communicated by the Lady. And like the disciples of Emmaus (Lk 24,32) who, in front of the paschal mystery, had a burning feeling in the chest, she will confess to her friends: "I had inside me something that would not let me be silent" (M 45).
The news of the apparitions of the Lady of the Rosary soon will make its way. And the number of those who, as pilgrims, come to the Cova da Iria will certainly increase; and so the children will have much to suffer at the hands of those who doubted or opposed them. Already in the first encounter, almost as if to confirm the children fiat, the Lady had assured them that they would have much to suffer. As was the case with prophets (Jer 1:19), the vocation of the little shepherds accepts suffering as an integral part of their mission. They will be, for many, accused of fraud and greed. Even their own families, except perhaps the father of Francisco and Jacinta, fear they are spreading a lie and are afraid for their life. At home, and everywhere, they are subjected to visits and to incessant and strenuous interrogations.
But the greatest trial and affliction would occur on August 13. On the morning of that day, the children are surprised by the visit of the Municipality of Ourém Adminitrator, a well-known mason and freethinker. After having questioned them in their home and at the rectory, because he wanted at all costs to know the secret they insisted on keeping concealed, the Administrator, in a tricky and deceitful way, proposes to lead them to the the Cova da Iria, but in fact conveys them to Ourem. There he insists on pressing the kids to unveil their secret, and even reached the point of locking them, for a while, in a cell with other prisoners, and of uttering the threat of making them fry in olive oil. Francisco's innocent reply radiates peace and joy: “If they kill us, it’s all the same! We’ll go to Heaven!”(M 146).
Handed back to their parents on August 15, they will encounter the White Lady on the 19th, in Valinhos, and in September and October, in the Cova da Iria. A large crowd gather in this last apparition – thirsty for God or simply curious - and witness a sign, as the Lady had promised. But for the children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, the last encounter becomes a permanent reminder that they are called to transform their lives into a blessing (Gen. 12.2).
"I will give you shepherds after my own heart" (Jer 3:15)
The life of the shepherd children no more ceased to be paced and measured by God's heart. The fiat uttered to the Lady more brilliant than the sun was constantly renewed by the innocent desire of Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta to intensify in their lives the passionate affection for God. The presence of God became, for them, sacred ground and, like Moses, barefoot in front of the burning bush (Ex 3.2-12), their intimacy is transmuted into an act of adoration in the presence of that inner light, which is God, which burns without consuming. That's the ineffable secret strengthening them. This Sacred Bush burning in their chest awakens them, as once did to Moses, for the mission of caring for those who live in the slavery of sin and ingratitude. And so, in sight of all others, they are the presence of God's light and also, before God, mediators in behalf of all others. Their lives become a constant offering of everything they are and do – however slight – for the love of God and in favour of sinners.
Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia's lives assume this vocation, that is inseparably contemplative, compassionate and announcing. But each of them will take on, with a particular and greater accent, the specific nature of their calling.
Francisco, moved by his inner eye sensitive to the Spirit's light, listens to the call to worship and contemplation. Sometimes, he took refuge behind a rock or on top of the mountain to pray alone. Other times, he remained in the parish church, for long hours, in the intimacy of silence, to keep company with Jesus hidden in the tabernacle. There he persisted in prayer, thinking about God, absorbed in the contemplation of the unfathomable mystery of God who comes to meet man. Francisco, and only he, with the eyes of his heart, becomes aware of the sadness of God before the suffering of the world, suffers from it and wants to comfort Him (M 145). The little shepherd, who had not heard both the Angel and Mary, but had only seen them, is the most contemplative of the three children. In his life, it is almost as if contemplation springs from attentive listening to silence that speaks of God, to silence in which God speaks. Francisco's contemplative disposition consists in letting himself to be inhabited by the unspeakable presence of God – “I felt that God was within me, but I did not know how!” (M 142) - and this presence was to be transfigured into prayerful reception of the others. In Francisco comes to the fore a life of contemplation.
Little Jacinta translates the joy, purity and generosity of faith, welcomed as an offering of God's heart, and difused through the chores and trifles of her life as a simple girl, into a sacrifice acceptable to God (Romans 12, 1) in behalf of humanity. The force with which the divine light broke in and invaded her child's life seizes her definitely with a new dynamic and ardent desire of sharing her joy. The purity of her mirthful heart longs and wants that everyone may enjoy, grateful and pure, the presence and the gladness of God's heart. This eagerness to share the ardent love she felt for the hearts of Jesus and Mary made her grow and become solicitous for sinners. All the small details of her grazing day, all the discomforts of the unending questionings and interrogations to which she was subject, all the distresses of her illness were an occasion and motive of an offering to God for the conversion of sinners. Other times, she shared her food with the poor, offering this abstinence in sacrifice, as a sign of giving her life for the love of God and humanity. This pray and suffering for love "was her ideal, and she could speak of nothing else» (M 61). Her joy was to live immersed in the love of the suffering Christ, in the manner of St. Paul: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church "(Col 1:24). The fire she had in her chest radiated and would, certainly, expand inasmuch as it did not contagiate, through the theological dynamics of prayer and sacrifice, all men and women, particularly the ungrateful ones, that is, all those who do not welcome the grace. Jacinta's vocation is compassion.
Lucia welcomes the mission to evangelize, to make known the good news of God's mercy, responding to the merciful God's desire to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (M 175). Early and in good time Lucia understands that in the core of the devotion to the Immaculate Heart is the transforming power of God's mercy. And there she discovers her vocation to be a living memorial of the "greatness of the Divine Mercy" (M 190). In a way similar to Israel, called to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49.6), Lucy's life becomes a living testimony of the designs of mercy that God has for humanity. From her humble life as shepherdness until the closure of her religious consecration, Lucia is the witness who quenches herself in order that light of the Secret of God's mercy shine without interruption, as already definitively revealed by the Son and remembered at Fatima. In her we can catch a glimpse of the faithful witness of a gift, that is accepted and offered to the world.
Posted on 05/13/2019 11:16 AM (Homilies of Father Paul Yi)
To want and choose that which leads us into a deeper relationship with
Our Heavenly Father means that we must recognize the voice and the presence of Our Lord, the Good Shepherd, in the ordinary choices we face every day. We the disciples of Jesus are the faithful sheep that belongs to Jesus and listen to his guiding voice. Granted, it is not easy to listen to his voice in today’s environment. We get distracted by things around us--swirling desires pull us in all sorts of directions. Only listening attentively in prayer will we hear what our Good Shepherd has to say to us.
Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She answered, "I listen." So Dan asked the question in another way and said, "Well then, what does God say?" Mother Teresa smiled and said, "He listens." Dan was confused and didn’t know what to say. Mother added, "And if you don't understand that, I can't explain it to you." In prayer two friends listen attentively to each other; it’s not a one way communication. God listens to us attentively like a Good Shepherd, listening to our deepest desires and yearnings. We in turn listen, not just say lots of words. We listen for his thirst for love of us. Perhaps if we listen attentively, we will hear the following:
“I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you. I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it could be Me, I am there. I await even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter. I come - longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds. I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts.” (Fr. Joseph Langford, “I thirst for you”)
When we truly listen to Jesus in prayer, we will gradually want and choose what matters most to Heavenly Father. We will deepen our desire to satiate Jesus’ thirst for us. Rather than impulsively go and do whatever we want, we instead desire to heed Jesus’ call to us, “follow me,” to go where Our Shepherd wants us to go. For our young people graduating, in due time you will encounter persons you are attracted to marry. Or perhaps, you will feel an attraction to a consecrated life to priesthood or religious life. In these attractions, one must pray deeply to hear the genuine invitation from Our Good Shepherd to follow His lead rather than to be swept away by emotions. By your prayerful discernment, you will be participating in an adventure which the Lord has in plan for you.
There is no greater joy than to risk one’s life for the Lord. We ask our Good Shepherd to give us a heart and ears open to His call. When he calls us to follow His path, we need to trust Him and not yield to our fears and preferences. Like the disciples who left their nets and boat behind when they were called, when we trust the Lord’s invitation and follow Him, the Lord promises the joy of a new life that can satiate our deepest yearnings.