Browsing News Entries

Oct. 15, 2018: St. Teresa of Avila

Oct. 15, 2018: St. Teresa of Avila

What is so Special About the Interior Castle?

Question: Dear Carmelite Sisters, would you share why St. Teresa wrote the “Interior Castle” and why spiritual directors refer to it so often? What makes it so special?

Reply: Dear Friend, your question is very timely as the memorial of St. Teresa is celebrated this Saturday. St. Teresa of Jesus (also known as St. Teresa of Avila) was led by the Holy Spirit into a very special friendship with God. Because she cooperated so completely with God’s grace, this friendship grew and St. Teresa entered very deeply into contemplative prayer. Her spiritual director became aware, obviously, of what was taking place within her soul and asked her to write about it. She did write and gave her writings the title, The Interior Castle [It is also known as The Mansions, or Las Moradas in Spanish]. A spiritual classic, The Interior Castle, is often used by spiritual directors today because it is describes things that are, well, indescribable. How so? St. Teresa describes with analogies.

Here is the story of how The Interior Castle came to be written.  She wrote it in 1557 when she was 62 years old. It was finished in a sixth-month time period, but since she was interrupted in her writing for three months, St. Teresa wrote this masterpiece in only three months.

After St. Teresa was commanded to write about her personal prayer, she commented,

“While I was beseeching Our Lord today that He would speak through me, since I had nothing to say and no idea how to begin to carry out the obligation (to write) laid upon me by obedience, a thought occurred to me which I will now set down, to have some foundation on which to build. I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of a very clear crystal, in which there are many room, just as in heaven there are many mansions.” – I Mansions, i; Peers, II, 201)

This discreet statement of St. Teresa, however, was not the entire story.

Father Diego de Yepes, afterwards Bishop of Tarazona, a former friend and confessor of St. Teresa, recorded his personal recollections of his own conversations with St. Teresa. She told him that God Himself, in a vision, gave her the idea of the human soul as an interior castle:

“This holy Mother desired to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, a thing greatly to be coveted both for the sake of seeing and of possessing it. While this desire lasted, she was commanded to write a treatise on prayer, of which she had much personal experience.

On the eve of the Blessed Trinity, while considering what subject to choose for this treatise, God, Who disposes everything in due season, fulfilled her wish and furnished a suitable subject. He showed her a most beautiful globe of crystal, in the shape of a castle, with seven rooms, the seventh, situated in the center, being occupied by the King of glory, resplendent with the most exquisite brilliancy, which shone through and adorned the remaining rooms. The nearer these lay to the centre, the more did they partake of that wondrous light. It did not, however, penetrate beyond the crystal, for everything round about was a mass of darkness and impurity, full of toads and vipers and other venomous animals.

She was still admiring this beauty which, by the grace of God dwells in the soul, when the light suddenly disappeared, and the crystal, wherein the King of glory was still residing, became opaque and as dark as coal, emitting an intolerable odor; the venomous animals, formerly held in check outside, obtained admittance into the castle. The holy Mother wished that everyone should behold this vision, for she thought that no one having seen the beauty and splendor of grace, which is forfeited by sin and replaced by such repulsive misery, would ever dare to offend God.           Fray Diego de Yepes

Now, to more fully answer your question, in The Interior Castle St. Teresa relives each stage of her own prayer journey. She speaks often in the third person, but she is speaking of herself. In the book, she delves into and explains the delicate workings of grace within the soul, including the virtues and vices of each room as well as the temptations of each.

I would dare say that every person can discover himself or herself in one of these seven mansions. Why? Because St. Teresa describes, narrates, penetrates, using images, analogies, even precise terms at times from the state of total darkness of a soul entrenched sin to the state of what she calls the mystical marriage, which is to say, the deepest possible union with God while on earth.

So, there you have it. St. Teresa, who has gone ahead of us on the prayer journey, made a roadmap for us, one that shows roads that most people don’t even know are there —roads lead us exactly where we want to go – straight to God Himself. That roadmap is her book.

Did I tell you about the moat?

Yes, the moat. Because we will have to get out of it and clean ourselves up before we can even think about entering the Castle.

Until next time …

Oct. 14, 2018 28th Sunday B

Oct. 14, 2018 28th Sunday B

Do you ever pray for a safe and secure life free of any worry? What does a secure and worry-free life look like for you? Some companies have made it their business model to sell a chance to win a version of a “secure life.” For example, I saw a TV ad for a sweepstakes company. The crew knocked on the door of a house ready to present a giant check reading, “You’ve Won $2,500 Per Week for Life!.” Apparently this sweepstakes is real, and real people register to win. The only caveat is that the odds of winning this sweepstakes is about 2.4 billion to one; the odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are better (e.g. 1 in 300 million). One has a significantly better chance of becoming a movie star or to be drafted by the NBA than winning this sweepstakes. Most of us dismiss the notion that money buys happiness and security. However, many of us of may have at least given a thought to, “If I won the Powerball, I would…” fill in the blank. If I won the Powerball now, I would help the folks in Florida, who in the matter of hours, lost their homes, livelihood, and the entire community. If we reflect on why we work so hard and spend so much time worrying, our desire for a secure life may be at the heart. What is evoked in us when Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”? (Matt 6:21)

In our readings today, we encounter two young men desiring for something more than what they already have. Both King Solomon in the First Reading and the Rich Young Man in the Gospel have enough wealth to feel secure and satisfied in their material needs. What more could they need or want? The Rich Young Man asked Jesus for guidance on how he could gain eternal life. He was a religious young man, practicing his faith and not breaking any commandments. He still didn’t feel satisfied. Jews in Jesus’ day regarded wealth as a blessing and opportunity for doing good. When Jesus challenged him to part with his wealth, however, he was saddened and disappointed. For Jesus, the only real source of security is to store treasure in heaven by trusting and loving God with our whole heart, not just partially. The young man was not ready to part with his attachments to his treasures, for it was the heart of his security and social status. He feared that he would not be happy or joyful if he followed Jesus and left behind his treasures. He could not trust Jesus, and thus could not let go of the control of his life. The man left not knowing the peace and joy that only Jesus can give.

The prayer of Moses in today’s Psalm points us to what should be the source of our security and happiness. The beginning of Psalm 90 reads , “Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations...You turn humanity back into dust, saying, ‘Return, you children of Adam!’...Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong; Most of them are toil and sorrow; they pass quickly, and we are gone...Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” The true wisdom is knowing what truly fills and satisfies us, as verse 14 teaches, “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!”

Solomon, unlike the Rich Young Man, asked God for something greater than a throne, a crown or gold. He wrote, “I prayed...pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me...all gold, in view of [wisdom], is a little sand...Beyond health and good looks I loved [wisdom]...all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” Solomon truly understood that to be rich meant to come to know God’s love and to follow in His footsteps. The riches of the Kingdom of Heaven--lasting joy and happiness--are available to everyone, but we must choose to love Our Lord and follow Him. Our prayers, reception of Sacraments, and our love in actions builds up treasure in heaven.

As we follow the Lord, for some the path will be filled with trials and tribulations. When a person is diagnosed with cancer and their neighbor is healthy, doesn’t mean that the Lord favors the neighbor more. When our home is blown away by a hurricane while our neighbor’s home still stands, doesn’t mean that the neighbor was blessed and we were cursed. These works of “storing treasure in heaven” strengthens our trust in God who fills us with peace that no illness, calamity, or disaster can take away. Recently we witnessed another example of faith and trust in the midst of tragedies. On Thursday, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, folks in Panama City with their homes severely damaged still came out to celebrate Mass in a church building which was damaged from the storm. In the midst of tragedies one looks deep within and find inspirations to trust and give God thanks. What do we have to give up to gain eternal life? Do we love the Lord completely with our whole hearts to give up control and follow Jesus even when trials befall us?

Oct. 13, 2018: Our Lady of Fatima

Oct. 13, 2018: Our Lady of Fatima

Quotes of Sr. Lucia (one of the three seers of Our Lady of Fatima)


“When lovers are together, they spend hours and hours repeating the same thing: ‘I love you!’  What is missing in the people who think the rosary monotonous is Love; and everything that is not done for love is worthless.”

“The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families… that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”

“Since we all need to pray, God asks of us, as a kind of daily installment, a prayer which is within our reach: the Rosary, which can be recited either in common or in private, either in church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or at home, either with the rest of the family or alone, either when traveling or while walking quietly in the fields. A mother of a family can say the Rosary while she rocks her baby’s cradle or does the housework. Our day has 24 hours in it. It is not asking a great deal to set aside a quarter of an hour for the spiritual life, for our intimate and familiar converse with God.”

Daily Sacrifices

“Putting up with any sacrifices that are asked of us in our day-to-day lives becomes a slow martyrdom which purifies us and raises us up to the level of the supernatural, through the encounter of our soul with God, in the atmosphere of the presence of the Most Holy Trinity within us. We have here an incomparable spiritual richness!”

Message of Fatima

“Hell is a reality. It is a supernatural fire and not physical. It cannot be compared to fire that burns wood or charcoal… Continue preaching about hell because Our Lord himself spoke about hell, and it is in Sacred Scripture. God does not condemn anyone to hell. God gave men the liberty to choose, and God respects this human liberty.”  [Christus Magazine Interview]

“Let us all willingly endeavor to follow faithfully the path that He has mapped out for us. Yes, because it was out of love that God sent us this pressing call from his mercy, in order to help us along the way of our salvation.”

The End-Times

“The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Do not be afraid, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. However, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”

Oct. 7, 2018: 27th Sunday B

Oct. 7, 2018: 27th Sunday B

Have you ever entered into a commitment that was easy? The other day, as I drove by a local gym, I jotted down the phone number and then called it later left a message. My intention was to join the gym for six months. After a day or two, a thought occurred to me: ‘Isn’t this the fourth time that I’m joining a gym? Didn’t I only go a less than a dozen times at each gym and waste all those fees?’ Not willing to make the commitment, I called and cancelled my appointment to sign the contract. By definition, commitment is not easy. Commitment means pledging oneself by vow, promise, or a resolution to faithfully perform some action or dedication to a cause or co-operation with a person or a group. Commitment is a choice to give up choices. Far from limiting, making a commitment actually brings great freedom and depth. No longer are other possibilities a distraction. Once committed, all one’s energy goes into making this commitment work. Our readings for today focus on marriage, and those of us who are single may not feel a connection to the readings. However, we are here today because of the commitment our parents made.  We may be a brother-in-law or sister-in-law because our siblings are married. And we interact on a daily basis with co-workers who are married. So we know that good marriages resulting from commitments lived out faithfully are what brings happy and stable environment for our families and communities.

Marriage, on one level, is a commitment, but it’s much more. It’s a permanent, solemn, and holy covenant between a husband and a wife--a calling or vocation from God to mutually serve each other for the rest of their lives. Is marriage easy? No! Marriage is not easy because it takes effort, ongoing tuneups and re-commitment. It’s like a training program; the goal of the program is to learn to love in the same manner that Jesus loves. And the training regimen involves being tested on our patience, kindness, selflessness, and our ability to give without counting the cost. Was marriage easier in the past compared to now? No. Even in the time of Moses and Jesus, couples separated and divorced.  The Pharisees even challenged Jesus about Moses’ concessions for divorce. Our Lord pointed out that throughout history the hardness of hearts has been the greatest obstacle for a spouse to truly embrace the commitment of being married.

Now, as was then, marriage is challenging because anytime we love someone we run the risk of exposing ourselves to hurt. Even our spouse whom we have chosen and promised to love and spend the rest of our lives together has the power to hurt us.  From the outsider’s point of view, marriages of friends and neighbors seem so perfect. Yet just because a couple is going to church together, to family events, or on vacations does not mean that a marriage is happy or healthy. Beneath the surface or behind closed doors, a couple may not care about each other’s needs, neglect God as part of their marriage, stop communicating, suffer from problems such as substance abuse, gambling, pornography, depression, infidelity, or workaholism. God loves good marriages, but when truth, honesty, and decency are gone from the relationship and when spouses choose to harm each other, the couple’s life together becomes a poor imitation of true marriage.

Despite their best efforts and intentions, some couples suffer the heartaches of separation and divorce. Perhaps a spouse is not interested in having a real marriage, not putting forth any efforts to save the marriage. Perhaps after repeated infidelities or abuses, trust is gone. And barring a miracle from God, there is nothing more that a spouse can do; one may have waited a long time for a miracle, but the other spouse doesn’t seem to want it.  Persons who stay in bad marriages are really good people, spiritual people who care about God and others. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity asking God for direction, some spouses make an agonizing decision to separate. The decision to separate and divorce may seem like the most unloving thing they could possibly do. In actuality, it may be the most loving thing, both for them and for their spouse. One cannot grow in an angry, false, codependent, indifferent relationship.

Whether we are a couple enjoying the fruits of daily commitment,  a couple toiling through challenges, or a couple who is separated or divorced, God is close to you. As Isaiah beautifully wrote, “Thus says the Lord who made you,  who formed you in the womb and will help you:  Do not fear…” (Isaiah 44:2) Through our baptism, we have been assured of Father’s faithfulness, mercy, and love for us. Relying only on our human resolve to remain faithful to our commitments will not be easy. Yet when we ask the Holy Spirit to assist us with His courage and strength, we will not grow weary as we fulfill our commitments as disciples of Christ.

Oct. 5, 2018: St. Faustina Kowalska

Oct. 5, 2018: St.Faustina Kowalska

Why Is Faustina So Important?

On Oct. 5, we celebrate St. Faustina, a saint of extremely humble beginnings. Father Chris Alar, MIC, the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, gave a talk that highlighted St. Faustina's life before she became a revered saint.

"First of all, St. Faustina's life was in many ways dull. It was average. It was ordinary. But is that surprising? No. Because that's exactly the person that Jesus or God always works through."

Born Helena Kowalska, the third of ten children in a poor family from Glogowiec, Poland, she began working to support her family at a very young age.

"She was so poor that she had to share a dress to wear to Mass with her sisters," Fr. Chris said. "So they took turns, dressing for Mass every five weeks."

At seven years of age, she felt a calling to the religious life while attending the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. When she finished school, she wanted to enter the convent, but her parents needed her to work as a housekeeper and nanny to support her family.

But she couldn't ignore the call forever. In 1925, Helena Kowalska flew to Warsaw and approached several convents, asking them to consider her. She was rejected by all but one because she lacked both a dowry and an education. On August 1, 1925, she applied to the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. She was accepted on two conditions. First, that she work as a housekeeper for a large family near Warsaw to cover the expenses. Secondly, that she be a member of the second choir—the choir reserved for the poor and less educated convent members that was responsible for cleaning, cooking, and gardening.

On 30 April 1926,at 20 years old, Helena received her habit and took the name Sister Maria Faustina. Faustina means the "fortunate one or blessed one."

Jim and Deb Joy of St. Catherine's Parish is Hudson, New Hampshire chose to celebrate St. Faustina's Feast Day at the Shrine as a part of Joy's birthday celebration. They were surprised St. Faustina, who is known for her steadfast serenity, struggled throughout her life.

"I didn't realize she faced so many obstacles to give her life to God," Jim said. "She had such happiness, and such a devotion to others, despite all of her suffering."
During his talk, Fr. Chris also explained the Divine Mercy message, which St. Faustina was entrusted to share with the world after Christ first appeared to her in 1931.

"Divine Mercy is not just a devotion, it's both a message and a devotion," Fr. Chris said. "It's interesting because people don't necessarily refer to the same thing when they're talking about it. The Divine Mercy message is the heart of the Gospel. It's Christ himself."

Fr. Chris then said The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering "ABC:"
" 'A' stands for ask for God's mercy. God wants us to approach him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking him to pour his mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B stands for be merciful. God wants us to receive his mercy and let it flow through us to others. Forgive and love your enemy. Jesus told St. Faustina that we most resemble him when we forgive others.

And finally, C stands for completely trust in Jesus," Fr. Chris said, while pointing to the Divine Mercy Image above the altar. "God wants us to know that the graces of his mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive."

Deacon Bob Digan also spoke at the event. His wife, Maureen, experienced a miracle that supported the Beatification of St. Faustina in 1993. Maureen had undergone more than 50 operations for lymphedema, an incurable condition in which excess fluid collects in tissue and causes swelling. In 1981, she went to the tomb of St. Faustina in Poland with her husband and their son, Bobby, who was also ill. She asked St. Faustina to heal them, and that night, the swelling in her leg was visibly better and their son experienced improvements as well.
When she returned to the United States, five doctors examined her independently and concluded she'd been healed. The Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints examined the accumulated evidence along with teams of theologians, cardinals and bishops. Her cure was accepted as a miracle caused through Sr. Faustina's intercession to The Divine Mercy.

Jessica Roemischer, internationally acclaimed pianist and guest author, preformed several musical pieces at the event, including, "Amazing Grace." She also spoke about her book, In Duet with God, a book she said she wrote at the Holy Family Shrine at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Her book was inspired by her relationship with a woman named Flora, her nanny when she was a child, who Jessica calls "the saint in her life."

"Growing up with a saint, you never realize you're a sinner, because the saint makes the light seem that much brighter," Jessica said.
Pilgrimage to Poland with Fr. Paul Yi
May 27-June 4, 2019

Oct. 4, 2018: St. Francis of Assisi

Oct. 4, 2018: St. Francis of Assisi


By Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM “FRANCIS: The Journey and the Dream”

To speak of love had never been difficult for Francis until Christ stole his heart. Then there was something so sacred about their relationship that all love became love caught up in Jesus.

When he heard the Gospel read at Mass, it was Jesus speaking directly to him, and every word was a love-word. He swallowed each word and assimilated it into his whole being. He wanted to become one with the Word, to make literally his own the Word of God. This Word of God was its own message, because Jesus was the Word and by becoming a man he had put flesh onto His own message of love. He was the Word. So when Francis heard the Gospels read aloud, it was as if Jesus Himself were entering his ears and filling his whole self with His presence. And the word he listened to took on flesh in Francis himself.

The demands of Jesus were hard, but to Francis they were love-requests and the harder they seemed, the more elated he was that Jesus should ask him. It was a privilege far surpassing any gift that earthly lovers gave one another. And Francis basked in the sunlight and pleasure of Jesus’ company. Had the Lord asked nothing of him, he would have felt small and neglected like a knight who is not trusted with great feats but must be satisfied with helping orphans and widows while the great knights were away fighting huge battles to secure good in the land.

He knew Jesus loved him because He made such terrible demands of him, the most difficult of which were the invitations all through the Gospels to leave everyone and everything for His sake. But the more Francis renounced, the more he possessed, pressed down and flowing over. It seemed that Jesus wanted Francis to give up everything so that He could have the joy of returning it as a gift to Francis. That way Jesus could keep handing back what Francis had first given Him, and there would be an eternal effort to outdo one another in selflessness. They understood each other and were becoming one flesh in a manner that man and woman could never duplicate. And that was love as Francis had hoped it would be. So celibacy for Francis was not something sterile and barren, and he never thought of celibacy anyway, but of virginity, which was more positive and implied something you chose for the Kingdom rather than something you endured because of your role in the church. Virginity brought fullness to Francis because, in renouncing marriage, he did not shrink as a person but grew in his capacity to love more and more people. He moved in a world much larger than the family.

Besides, his identification with Jesus was so absolute and literal that he could never be anything other than a virgin like Christ. Francis thought that Jesus’ own virginity made possible His total love for him, and vice versa. And the paradox in Francis’ life was that his exclusive love for Jesus was at the same time inclusive of all humanity. Again what he had renounced had come rushing down in waterfalls of new capacities for love and giving. And the pool of self was constantly refilled with the fresh and clean water of love that flowed out of Francis in countless streams of attention, affection, and service of others. The living waters of Jesus had become his own, and he thereby became a reservoir of unselfish love for all creatures.

Oct. 2, 2018: The Holy Guardian Angels

Oct. 2, 2018: The Holy Guardian Angels

By Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP

The guardian angels are a proof of how much God loves us. He sends the guardian angels to protect and attend us, especially when we do not know how to take care of ourselves. St. Basil the Great teaches that “beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” (CCC 336; St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III: PG 29, 656B). This prompts St. Jerome (d. 420) to comment, “How great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.”

We need our angelic protectors, explains St. Thomas Aquinas, because, although we can to a certain degree avoid evil thanks to free will, we cannot do so in any sufficient degree. Just as guardians are appointed for people who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel guardian is assigned to each human being as long as that one is a wayfarer.

Guardian angels regulate us and move us to good by instructing us, by assisting us in prayer, by warding off demons, and by preventing both bodily and spiritual harm. St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. 395) tells us that “the Lord of the angels procures life and peace through his angels for those who are worthy.” And St. Ignatius (first century) adds, “It is characteristic of God and his angels that in their activity they give true joy and spiritual exultation, while removing the sadness and affliction that the enemy excites.”

Father Simon Tugwell, O.P., describes the distinctive help offered by the angels: They cannot give us the warm, animal, emotional kind of support that we get from other human beings, but the very simplicity of their spiritual vision can help to alleviate the complexity of our animal life.

The purity of their praise can come to our assistance when we are bogged down in the turmoil of our sensuality or our emotions and can find no way through. When we are weighed down by our corruptible flesh, we can be lifted up, like our Lord in Gethsemane, by the spiritual joy of the angels. St. Edith Stein assures us, “It is their bliss to be allowed to cooperate in God’s dispensing of graces.”

My good Guardian Angel, you have been appointed by God to be my protector and shepherd, leading me to life and peace. Thank you for your guardianship. Without the benefit of your angelic care, I would be left to the custody of my own feeble resources. You delight in dispensing God’s graces to aid me in my salvation.

Regulate my life and move me to the good. Instruct me that I may live by the enlightenment of heaven. Assist me in prayer. Ward off demons that would threaten me, and remove the sadness and affliction brought on by the enemy. When weighed down by my emotions and fleshly things, lift me up and let me share your joy. Protect me from all bodily and spiritual harm.

Please forgive any times I may have neglected you. With trust in your angelic protection, I offer you my intentions: (mention your request here).

Oct. 1, 2018: St. Therese of Lisieux

Oct. 1, 2018: St. Therese of Lisieux


Thérèse desired to be a saint, she wanted to love with all her being, but she was faced with her own limitations and her inability to change by her own efforts. She wanted to avoid discouragement, which is the main danger in the spiritual life. Father Libermann, a Jew who discovered Christ and then became a priest and a founding member of the Holy Ghost Fathers, used to say: “Discouragement is the downfall of souls!” Therese needed to find a little way, a new, simple way, of living the Gospel: an elevator to take her to Jesus. 

Therese went to the Scriptures to look for the answer. She could have found it in the Gospel directly. After all, there is a very clear pointer to such an elevator in Jesus’ words: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” That text could have been her starting point. But she went to find it in one, or rather two, passages from the Old Testament. Let’s continue reading: Then I looked in the holy books for some sign of the elevator that I desired, and I read these words that had come forth from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is very little [and Thérèse underlined these words] let him come to me.” 

Who was the “little one” that Scripture speaks of? It was Thérèse herself, fired with a great desire for holiness but suffering over her own powerlessness, anguished to find herself so weak and small. What was God saying to this “little one”? Not “You need to improve. I’m not happy with you—what you’re doing isn’t enough!” But the opposite: “Whoever is little, let him come to me! Don’t be scared … come!” This is no other than the invitation “Come to me” that we find in the Gospel. “All you who labor, who are bent under the weight of your burden, who find the demands of the Law too heavy, come to me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

Thérèse continues: So I came, guessing that I had found what I sought. Wishing to know, O my God, what you would do for the little child who answered your call … In response to this invitation, the little child came to God simply and trustingly. What would happen to her? I continued my search and this is what I found … 

Thérèse then offers a second quotation from Scripture, a magnificent passage from Chapter 66 of Isaiah. It revealed what God would do for the little child, the person who wanted so much to be a saint, who saw herself as being so poor and imperfect and suffered over it, yet came to God anyway. Would God accuse her of her faults? No, he was going to console her: “As a mother caresses her baby, so I will comfort you; I will carry you at my breast and rock you in my lap!” 

God was going to console her, telling her: “Don’t worry, don’t be discouraged by your weaknesses.” We soon see why: “It is precisely through your weaknesses, in your poverty, that I will act with my power; what you can’t do with your own strength, I will do.” 

Thérèse did not say all this in the passage we are looking at; it’s a summary of what she would explain elsewhere. But I believe that these were the mysterious words of consolation God addressed to her. “Instead of bearing your poverty as a handicap, an obstacle, accept it and welcome it as a grace.” This is her revolution, her novelty. It is at one and the same time a new way of looking at God and a new way of looking at ourselves, a way of reconciliation with ourselves in all our weakness and poverty. 

- By Fr. Jacques Philippe, “The Way of Trust and Love”

Sept. 30, 2018: 26th Sunday B

Sept. 30, 2018: 26th Sunday B

In your opinion, what types of people seek after God? Is it only those with religious upbringing or the ones brought up as Christians?  A religious sister shared her experience of attending a symposium for religious sisters. The theme for the convention was, “Be prophetic witnesses in the world.”  At the convention center, there were more than 500 sisters from 60 religious orders. There were two other conventions going on simultaneously at the facility. One was a cheerleading convention, and the other was a tattoo and body art convention. As she passed by the booths at cheerleading convention, she was struck by the human desire to encourage someone in their efforts and a desire to tell someone that we are with them in their endeavor. When she was walking by the tattoo and body art convention, a young woman with tattoos all over her body was passing by the sister but with her head turned away, hoping to avoid the gaze of the religious sister. The sister, as she looked on the young woman, remarked, “That’s amazing!” The young woman breathed a sigh of relief and struck a conversation with the sister. The woman told the sister that beauty is fleeting, nothings lasts, and that no one sees it again. As the sister was listening to the young woman’s explanation about why she wears art on her body, she was struck by the young woman’s desire for permanence, commitment, and a great desire for infinite beauty that does not pass away.

The deepest desires of our hearts--whether a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist--is to belong, to be loved and cherished. God has placed this profound longing in all of his children. Yet do we see others with such an attitude or are we excluding others who are not ‘one of us?’ Mahatma Gandhi was once attracted to Christianity and decided to attend a church service in Calcutta, India to learn about Jesus. At the entrance of the church, ushers stopped him to inform him that only the high caste Indians and whites were allowed in. Since Gandhi belonged to neither category, he was turned away. Was the Christian church living out its mission when it excluded a man whose desire was to get to know Jesus?

The mark of a Christian is to see others through the eyes of the Heavenly Father. Even though they may not agree with our theology, values, or lifestyle, the goodness of God is present and active in them. Do we recognize that God works through all kinds of people? During many catastrophes we find people of all walks of life - believers and nonbelievers - coming together to relieve the suffering of others. I’m certain that during the aftermath of the 2016 flood, had someone said “I don’t believe in your church but I want to help”, that none of us would have turned him away. So, are we we judging and excluding people or throwing up roadblocks in their way because they don’t necessarily agree with our beliefs or point of view? When Our Lord learned that disciples stopped a man from performing exorcism in Jesus’ name because he didn’t belong to the disciple’s group, Jesus admonished them not to prevent him. Like the disciples, we can overlook the good work that God is accomplishing through others because they seem to not belong to ‘one of us.’

The Gospel calls us to reflect on our attitudes and behavior. Does it reflect Our Lord’s inclusive love? The religious sister who recognized the beauty and goodness in the young woman with tattoos allowed herself to be an instrument to radiate God’s gentle compassion. Through our baptism, we have been called to be another Christ to others. “Be the prophetic witnesses in the world.” We are not only to be good persons but to be a brother or sister to others, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or political views; to be a prophet means to proclaim in words and actions that Our Lord Jesus Christ came to save and redeem all through his passion, death, and resurrection. Discipleship to Jesus is not some personal privilege to be jealously guarded. We are called to recognize and appreciate the good work of the Holy Spirit done in others.

Sept. 29, 2018: Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Archangels

Sept. 29, 2018 : Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great Feast day of the three Holy Archangels of God, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. They are the ones who are God’s chief Angelic servants, as mentioned by St. Raphael himself, that he is one of the seven Holy Archangels that are always in presence of God. Each one of them are tasked with particular areas in which God entrusted to their care His creations, especially us mankind.

St. Michael the Archangel is the Archangel tasked with the leadership of the heavenly host of Angels, as the Prince of the Heavenly Host, the armies of Angels, in the constant spiritual warfare that rages around us for the sake of our souls. St. Michael has always stood at the forefront of this great battle ever since the time of the War in Heaven as shown through the Revelations of St. John.

St. John saw a vision of the great War in Heaven, of the time when Satan, then known by the name Lucifer, most brilliant and mightiest among all the Angels of God, fell into his pride and greed, and rebelled against God seeking to take over the reign over Heaven and all creation. In that process, one third of all the Angels followed Satan’s lead and also rebelled against God. But one Angel rallied the other Angels in the battle, and it was told that it was St. Michael the Archangel who was the one to lead the Angels into battle against Satan and his forces.

The name Michael means, ‘Who is like God’, and this is a perfect rebuke of Satan’s prideful rebellion against God. Satan rebelled because in his pride, he thought that he could be like God, and he could take over God’s role, overcome by pride in his perfection and brilliance. But St. Michael showed Satan his proper place, by defeating him and his fellow rebel angels, and by the power of God, casting them out from heaven.

St. Michael also appeared to Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, just after he took over the leadership over the people of God and leading them into the land promised to them and their ancestors. Through St. Michael, God reassured Joshua and the Israelites, that He would be with them throughout their journey and struggle to gain the land promised to them. God Himself would fight alongside His people and they would gain what was promised to them, should they remain faithful to Him.

Meanwhile, St. Gabriel the Archangel was sent to Mary, the Most Blessed Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the small village of Nazareth. He was sent to her to announce to her the Good News of God, the final fulfilment and completion of God’s long awaited plan to save His people, by the sending of His own Son, the Divine Word of God, into this world, which would be fulfilled through Mary. Mary was to become the Mother of the Messiah, and therefore, become the Mother of God.

St. Gabriel himself revealed this wonderful news to Mary, and at first while Mary was amazed at what she had just heard from the Archangel, she obeyed the will of God and allowed herself to be part of the great plan of salvation God had revealed through St. Gabriel. And it was also likely St. Gabriel who revealed a similar message of hope to the father of St. John the Baptist, Zechariah, in the Temple, about the upcoming birth of St. John the Baptist, Herald of the Messiah.

The name of Gabriel means, the Strength or Might of God. This is a reminder that with God at our side, we should not need fear anything or any foes, and hope should arise anew in our hearts, knowing that God will provide for us and that He will never abandon those who have been faithful to Him. That was why He sent St. Gabriel the Archangel to announce the Good News of His salvation, the message of hope, to renew the people’s trust in God’s strength and might, by which He will save them all.

Lastly, the third of the three great Archangels, St. Raphael was mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which was the account of the journey of Tobit, an Israelite who went into exile with his countrymen during the years after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. The Book recorded the account of Tobit’s suffering and anguish, when he faced rejection even from his own countrymen and then suffering from blindness.

God sent His Archangel, St. Raphael in order to heal Tobit, as well as another person, Sara, daughter of Tobit’s relative, who was also hounded by the demon Asmodeus. She was also in great distress and almost wanted to take her own life because of what the demon had done to her, killing all the men who had taken her as wife. But she prayed to the Lord, asking Him to listen to her plight, just at the same time as Tobit also prayed to God, asking for His help and mercy.

St. Raphael was sent to bring about healing and liberation to each one of them, and God showed His wonderful love and mercy through His Archangel, whose name means, the Healing of God. Sara was freed from the demon Asmodeus, and was married to Tobias, Tobit’s son, who accompanied the disguised Archangel during his journey. And Tobit was also healed from his blindness as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we have seen from the great blessings we have received, the inspirations we have gained from each of the three great Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, whose feasts we celebrate this day, let us all remind ourselves that God is always with us, and we can always trust in His healing, love and mercy, for indeed, Who is like Our God, though Mighty and All Powerful, but filled with so great love and compassion for us all, His children.

Let us ask the glorious Archangels to be our guide and intercessor, to pray for us and to protect us from the dangers of evil, from the forces of Satan and all those seeking our downfall. May they continue to watch over us and be our guardians and sources of hope, reminding us of our need to love the Lord, to be true to Him and to be ever faithful through all of our deeds and actions in life. Holy Archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, Archangels of God Most High, pray for us all. Amen.