Pentecost: Veni Sancte Spiritus

Lucas Franchoys, “The Descent of the Holy Spirit in Sint-Janskerk , Mechelen, Belgium.

John: 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Today’s liturgical commemoration and feast of Pentecost reminds us of that great event in which the Holy Spirit imparted upon the disciples the mission to be sent as witnesses of faith and fortitude to the world.

John’s gospel bestows the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation upon the disciples per this outpouring of the Holy Spirit from Jesus during the Easter resurrection experience. This passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit doesn’t allow us to sit idly by out of fear. The wounds that Jesus shows to his disciples remind us of our wounds caused by sin and turning away from God’s love. These wounds can be forgiven and cast aside with the peace that the Holy Spirit brings about. The Spirit of God, the 3rd person of the Trinity, brings about the glorification of God the Father & God the Son to His church. Other words for the Holy Spirit are the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Divine Consoler, and Comforter.

Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

The celebration of Pentecost or Hag Shavuot (festival of the weeks) for the Jewish faithful occurs 50 days after Passover in which a sheaf offering is made. Such a commemoration is one of three festivals marking the occasion for the beginning of the wheat harvest in which the first two loaves of bread made were presented at temple ( It is fitting that the Holy Spirit would come upon the disciples during this time. The disciples were called to be the first fruits of the harvest of the Holy Spirit. It is much like the miracle of a plant or flower that requires good soil, water and sunlight to grow. The Holy Spirit is that key ingredient that helps us to grow. The Holy Spirit is with us for each sacrament celebrated and with us during those other moments in which we as church are going out doing the will of the Father & Son.

While we might be like the early devout Jews in the account from the book of Acts questioning such a miracle, we must revel in the noise from heaven. Oftentimes we have the tendency to let the noise of the world and of the evil one impede our Christian call to go forth and be sent. Our tongues may not be tongues of fire to our brothers & sisters because we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to come rest upon us. We are good at casting judgement and complaining about various matters that don’t resemble the Holy sound of God’s spirit. The sounds that come forth from our own tongues may be negative and displeasing sounds that don’t help us grow as a Church community. It is quite easy to be a skeptic and cynic these days and think that our voice is the only one that matters. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit unites us all to understand the gift that our Lord bestows upon us on this Pentecost Sunday. As St. Paul reminds us: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13).

The hymn from Veni Sancte Spiritus or Come Holy Spirit that is traditionally sung today is a beautiful hymn to reflect on (

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.

Come Holy Spirit!

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Jesus, by Pompeo Batoni, Rome, Church of the Gesù. Own work by Lloydbaltazar retrieved from

Jn. 14:1-12 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”

It is easy to think that God is absent in our life when an evil act occurs in our midst. Many claim that simply praying for someone is a passive affair. However, in John’s gospel of the farewell speech to his disciples, Jesus reminds us of his continued presence.

How can we do the works that Jesus did in a troubled world? When we have a solid relationship with Jesus who was sent by the Father to be the “way, the truth and the life” can we allow the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts to bring about change and action. Prayer leads us to action because it is an act of transformation rather than a passive affair.

Having the faith to get back up when we fall down or something tragic occurs is what is expected of us in the Christian life. The promise that we too will have a dwelling place prepared for us according to Jesus is something to recall on our earthly journey to prepare the way for His return. This dwelling place is not some far off distant heavenly paradise, but is our soul yearning for the Holy Spirit to make a home for us. We are a pilgrim people always on a journey seeking Christ Jesus in our midst to go out and be a disciple to those that need His love. Our duty to become saints by asking God to give us the grace to be a person that has lived a life of heroic virtue is our call.

What does an active prayer life look like? St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said it best: “My vocation is to belong to Jesus, to cleave to Jesus. The work is the fruit of my love and my love is expressed in my work. . . . Prayer in action is love in action.” (,in%20every%20person%20they%20encountered.).

Retrieved from

Prayer in action is love in action. A powerful statement that allowed the Holy Spirit to move Mother Teresa to do great acts of service. We too are called to be “missionaries of charity” heeding the call to go out and be a compassionate and gentle hand as a reminder to those that need us to be instruments of God’s love in the world.

St Teresa of Avila reminds us of our Christian mission with the following:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours

Let our hearts not be troubled this day. Go out, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be a light to others and remind them that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

St. Catherine of Siena

By Andrea Vanni, circa 1400. In the public domain retrieved from

St. Catherine of Siena was born in Siena, Italy in the 1347. From an early age Catherine’s love of God was apparent. She once cut her hair short and fasted in order to avoid marriage as she was in love with Jesus the Christ. Instead of joining the convent, she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic which allowed her to minister to the world. At around the age of 21 she had what she describes as a mystical marriage to Christ (

Excerpt from one of St. Catherine’s letters to Stefano Maconi:

Dearest son in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to thee in His precious Blood: with desire to see thee arise from the lukewarmness of thy heart, lest thou be spewed from the mouth of God, hearing this rebuke, “Cursed are ye, the lukewarm! Would you had at least been ice-cold!” This lukewarmness proceeds from ingratitude, which comes from a faint light that does not let us see the agonizing and utter love of Christ crucified, and the infinite benefits received from Him. For in truth, did we see them, our heart would burn with the flame of love, and we should be famished for time, using it with great zeal for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. To this zeal I summon thee, dearest son, that now we begin to work anew.

I send thee a letter that I am writing to the Lords, and one to the Company of the Virgin Mary. See and understand them, and then give them; and then … And talk to them fully concerning this matter that is contained in the letters, begging each of them, on behalf of Christ crucified and me, that they deal zealously, just so far as they can, with the Lords and whoever has to do with it, that the right thing may be done in regard to Holy Church, and the Vicar of Christ, Urban VI. It weighs upon me very much, for my part, that it should please them to have confidence in this matter, for the honour of God, and the spiritual and temporal profit of the city. Do thou be fervent and not tepid in this activity, and in quickening thy brothers and elders of the Company to do all they may in the affair of which I write. If you are what you ought to be, you will set fire to all Italy, and not only yonder. (

Catherine was declared a saint by Pope Pius II in 1461. She was declared a patron saint of Italy in 1940 by Pope Pius XII in 1940. In 1970 Pope Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church. St. Catherine of Siena was influential in returning the Avignon papacy back to Rome and is known as a Doctor of unity. Her writings called the Dialogues show her deep spiritual enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. (,1970%20by%20Pope%20Paul%20VI.)

Saint Catherine of Siena had very little formal education, yet the Holy Spirit and her Christian witness allowed her to challenge church leaders to rise to greatness and unite.

Tomb of St. Catherine of Siena Sarcophagus of Saint Catherine of Siena by Isaia da Pisa (1447-1464), located beneath the High Altar of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome (

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us.

The Journey to Emmaus: Finding The Risen Lord in our Midst

Emmaus on the Road (Les pèlerins d’Emmaüs en chemin) – James Tissot (public domain) retrieved fromèlerins_d%27Emmaüs_en_chemin)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

I recently attended an ACTS ( retreat that rekindled my relationship with our Lord. It is good for us as Christians to periodically disconnect from the world and go out on a spiritual pilgrimage to let the flame of the Holy Spirit burn bright in us.

Interestingly enough, the readings from this 3rd Sunday in Easter reminds us of our own interior struggles with recognizing the risen Lord in our midst. It is easy to become distracted and worry about the trials of the day without recognizing the beauty that surrounds us and Jesus walking alongside us on that same road to our own Emmaus.

Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:13–15-16).

This conversation debate experience between the disciples show how we can get sidetracked on our earthly pilgrimage and fail to recognize the Lord Jesus in our midst. One of the great things about attending such a spiritual retreat is the disconnection from cell phones and time pieces that inhibit our ability to seek our Lord in prayer each day. The disciples were no doubt confused, fearful and most likely were debating what they had heard about the Easter miracle of the resurrection on the road to Emmaus. Their blindfolds of life prevented them from recognizing Jesus in their midst.

“One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” “And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.” (Lk. 24: 18-21).

The name Cleopas means glory of the father or son of a renowned father from the Greek ( Sometimes our hope and anticipation of what should happen is not always what does occur according God’s divine will. We must continuously humble ourselves daily in order to understand that our desires don’t always match up with the desire of God. In our own journey on our road to Emmaus, do we recognize Jesus in our midst or are we distracted because we aren’t grounded in a good prayer life? Let us humbly approach the Lord this day in prayer and ask His Holy Spirit to dwell in us so that we may see the risen Christ this day.

For those that are Catholic Christians we have the opportunity to commune with our Lord Jesus at every mass and can spend time with Him in Holy adoration. Luke’s gospel reminds us of this first Eucharistic miracle where Jesus was truly present:

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. (Lk. 24 30-35).

Engravings of Jesus Christ in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Prints by Pieter de Jode (II) in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam retrieved fromüs,_RP-P-OB-7820.jpg

If your prayer life and relationship with our Lord is weak, take action now. Get away and turn off the distractions. Commit to the Lord times during the day where you can enter into conversation with Him to allow the risen Christ Jesus to walk along side you on your own journey.

As Psalm 16:11 reminds us, “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” May that joy be with you as you allow His presence to dwell with you.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Mercy is one of those words that holds a certain esteem for the definitions according to Merriam Webster resembles a sacred complexity. One of the definitions is that mercy is “a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion.” Let us reflect on the definition and sacred aspect of Mercy as Christians this week in which the Son of God showed mercy to us that have fallen away from His grace each time we sin against God and our fellow man/woman.

In the 1930s, a young humble Polish nun Sister Faustina, who was in the convent of the Congregation of Divine Mercy was reported to have received various visions or mercy experiences as mentioned in Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. In 2000 Saint Pope John Paul II proclaimed Sr. Faustina a Saint and moved the liturgical season of the second Sunday of Easter a day of divine mercy. In the Gospel reading from John’s gospel chapter 20 verses 19 thru 31, it tells the story of the doubting Thomas called Didymus. The apostles and Thomas are debating about the Lord’s appearance from his resurrection experience. Thomas states that he must not only see the nail marks in his hands and see the wound in his side, but he must touch them to believe. After Thomas’s experience at seeing Jesus appear and His invitation to not only see His wounds, but to put his hands into the nail marks of Jesus is a profound encounter in which Thomas states, “my Lord and my God!” Jesus’s mercy and appearance to Thomas shows of our mission as Christians to reach out to those lacking faith, hope or belief. It means nothing to carry our crosses and avoid the near occasion of sin without mercy. It means nothing to attend church more than others, to pray more than others, to act more influential than others without the needed quality of mercy. The divine healer and our Lord Jesus cared for the outcast, cured the sick & bore the weight of sin for all mankind displays the level of mercy needed for us as Christian disciples. We must bring the message of mercy to those that need it in our troubled world. As Saint Pope John Paul II states in his encyclical Dives In Misericordia, “The more the human conscience succumbs to secularization, loses its sense of the very meaning of the word “mercy,” moves away from God and distances itself from the mystery of mercy, the more the Church has the right and the duty to appeal to the God of mercy “with loud cries” (

We must acknowledge that mercy is part of the Divine Will for His creation and heed the words from St. Pope John Paul II to always proclaim a message of mercy to those that need it.

For those wishing to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, here is a link:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Let the Easter Celebration Continue: Run & Tell The Good News that Christ Jesus is Alive

The disciples Peter and John running to the tomb on the morning of the resurrection by Eugène Burnand, 1889 public domain

As we continue this Eastertide until Pentecost we are reminded that the celebration continues. We have the joy of His resurrection alive in our hearts. We are reminded from the Gospel of Matthew that the disciples ran to tell others the good news:

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples Mt. 8:8).

In Mark’s Gospel chapter 16 verse 9, the evangelist indicates that Jesus “appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” In John’s Gospel chapter 20, we have the image of Mary appearing early outside of the tomb while still dark before the other disciples. We know that Mary holds an important status for Christian salvation history as presented in the story of Jesus’s appearance to her before the others. Simon Peter and the other disciple were only able to view the burial clothes, but did not quite have a sense of what occurred. Mary, on the other hand, does not leave but stays weeping and mourning for our Lord. Two angels appear to Mary and state” Woman, why are you weeping?” Her reply is classic based on our limited perceptions of God’s will in which she replies “they have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him” (Jn 20:14). After such a moment, Jesus appears to her and questions her weeping. Mary for a second time does not understand and assumes such a character is a gardener with her reply “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” The third occurrence Jesus just has to state her name for her human nature to see the divine person of Jesus in which her reply is “Rabbouni” or teacher.

It is remarkable that Mary of Magdala is the ultimate message bearer of this Easter miracle. Jesus sends her on the church’s first mission to proclaim the good news to the other disciples in which he states “go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (Jn 20:17). Mary, although a person with a troubled past and a sinner like all of us, is a remarkable saint to reflect on. Culturally speaking, Jesus gives such an important task to a woman which was not reflective of the time period’s societal decorum. During this time period, women did not possess the same stature as the male dominated society. Secondly, Mary’s revelation of seeing our risen Lord and her encounter at the tomb shows us that possessing a deep love for our Lord can only come from someone that wears one’s emotion on their sleeve. We must soften our hardened hearts and become dependent upon His great agape love to not only weep when necessary, but also to stay vigilant in our faith at all times. Mary’s deep faith and love for our Lord is something for us to consider this day as we try to stand watch and seek the risen Lord who shows us the way to our Father.

Let us be like Mary where we open our hearts and very being to the Lord’s invitation to go and tell others that we have seen the risen Lord. This risen Lord Jesus is not some mystery, but is alive and well. Every time we turn away from our weaknesses and transgressions and weep for Jesus to come to us during those difficult and sad times in our own life is the risen Jesus there for us. From the communion antiphon from today:

Col 3: 1-2

If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, alleluia.

Christos Anesti, Alithos Anesti!

The Greek Orthodox greet one another during the Easter season with the phrase Christos Anesti! (Christ is risen). The response is Alithos Anesti (truly He is risen).

During this Easter season we recall the defeat of sin and death and the glorious resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord. Just as the penitent thief on the cross next to Jesus said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” may we too have that same hope. From our creed we proclaim, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition

Our hope in Jesus Christ our Lord has come to fulfillment for He has conquered death & vanquished our sin & rose from the grave. While we may at times lose hope, and fall into sin, we have the promise that we too may have life eternal if we turn to our Lord. As Pope St. John Paul II once proclaimed, “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song” (

Let us rejoice today for Jesus shows us the hope for eternal life if we place our trust in Him! Let us roll away our own stones that block the love for our God to shine in our life. Let us go rejoicing and spread the good news for today Jesus Christ is risen today, He is truly risen!

The prayer after holy communion in the missal:

Look upon your Church, O God, with unfailing love and favour, so that, renewed by the paschal mysteries, she may come to the glory of the resurrection. Through Christ our Lord.

Holy Week, A Reflection

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry}, Folio 173v – The Entry into Jerusalem (

This week begins Holy Week. With the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and the crowd waving palm branches proclaiming Hosanna in the Highest!

How quickly does this narrative change with the words of Jesus, Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani from Psalm 22:1 meaning my God, my God why have you forsaken me? David’s prophecy from psalm 22:16 is fulfilled in that “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

What will you do this Holy Week to recall the great sacrifice our Lord Jesus has made for us, the poor sinner? This sacrificial gift is available to all, but ours is a choice in which we can choose not to accept God’s grace & forgiveness. We may recall the repentant sinner next to Jesus being crucified on the cross in which he says “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42). Unlike the repentant man, the unrepentant sinner asks Jesus for something else that many of us may be more inclined to ask for “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us” (Lk. 23:39). How easy is it for us to question the ways of the Lord. We are reminded from Matthew’s gospel that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). It is easy just to give lip service to God, but not have a personal relationship with Him in our prayer life. Perhaps we just punch our worship time card and leave everything at the doors of the church? This Holy Week is different where we are called to be attentive. We are called to reflect on the paschal mystery in which Jesus the Christ suffers and dies for us so that we might have life everlasting through His defeat of sin & death.

Perhaps you are like the colt in which Jesus rode into Jerusalem not knowing the reason for your work, but faithfully performing your task? Maybe you are like one of the people in the crowd proclaiming Hosanna in the highest having much fervor only to run away later like Peter when times are tough?

Jesus’s washing of his disciples feet before the Eucharistic meal is a reminder for us of the need to continually turn away from sin and toward the Father’s love in the person of Jesus. We may be like Simon Peter and too proud for the Lord to wash our feet in which we say, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” (Jn. 13:6). This command on Maundy Thursday (mandatum for command) reminds us of Jesus’s words “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If, I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn. 13:13-14).

The Washing of the Feet by Pietro Lorenzetti

As you await the tomb to be opened to celebrate the day of resurrection, will you roll away your own stone for the Holy Spirit to dwell? During this Holy Week let us reflect on our Lord’s great gift of sacrifice and put to death those obstacles that prevent us from becoming closer to Him in prayer, act & deed.

Christ Crucified by Diego Velázquez
Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio

Set aside some prayer time this week. Ask our Lord to remove those weaknesses that interfere with your desire to become closer to Him in prayer. Journey with our Lord Jesus by reflecting on the passion narratives in the gospel. Perhaps, you may wish to meditate on the last words of Christ

Blessings to you for a good holy week.

The Raising of Lazarus: 5th Sunday of Lent & Passiontide Reflection

Today marks what used to be known as Passion Sunday in the pre 1969 church calendar reminding of Jesus’s upcoming suffering & his hiding from those that wished to stone him. The gospel account recalling the death and raising of Lazarus from John 11:1-45 reminds us of the need to put to death those earthly desires and temptations that separate us from God’s love. Many churches may begin to place veils on crosses and other images this Sunday.

Resurrection of Lazarus. Private coll., Athens. 12-13 c. Воскрешение Лазаря retrieved from

John’s gospel informs us that Lazarus is the brother of Mary who anointed Jesus with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair (Jn. 11:2). John’s gospel account recalls the following: “So the sisters sent word to him, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (Jn. 11:3-4). Clearly such an event foreshadows Jesus’s own death and glorification that is about to come. The first reading from scripture from the prophet Ezekiel reminds us of the following “You shall know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and make you come up out of them, my people!” (Ez. 37:13).

If we haven’t been doing well during our Lenten journey, it is not too late to more fully enter into contemplation those things in our life that decay our souls and make us dead to God’s love and our fellow man. There can’t be an Easter without a Lenten trial. We are reminded of our Lord’s human nature when he weeps for his friend Lazarus (Jn. 11:35). Jesus also weeps during his entry into Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41). Such a moment reminds us of God’s great love and care for us in carrying the weight of our inequities and sin on the road to Calvary.

The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us that we are more than mere creations with bodily desires. “But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Rom. 8:9-10).

Let us more fully reflect on those things in our life that extinguish the flame of the light of Jesus & the Holy Spirit that wishes to dwells in us as we prepare for the upcoming Holy Week. Just as the body of Lazarus laid in the tomb, so too our own bodies may remain lifeless when we don’t have the Spirit of Christ on our earthly journey. Perhaps as a Catholic, you haven’t been inside of a confessional in a long time and need to return? The church welcomes you to this sacrament of healing and here is a good resource: Maybe your prayer life isn’t what it should be? Start small each day and ask the Lord to deepen your relationship with Him. Meditating upon the stations of the cross may be a good practice to do as well during this remaining Lenten season

Just as Lazarus came out of the tomb at the Lord’s call, will we do the same for the Jesus who weeps for us? Perhaps we should place a veil on our own crosses which symbolize the darkness, transgressions and moments we turn away from our Lord. The veiling of holy images and statues remind us of the beauty of patiently awaiting for the Lord to roll away our own stones of our tombs during this time of preparation and anticipation. How will we be a sign of hope and resurrection to others on this Lazarus Sunday?

The Sacrament of Baptism: A Gift of New Life

Baptismal Card from my grandparents on the day of my baptism
The Baptismal candle is lit from the Easter paschal candle signifying new life in Christ Jesus and our Lord’s overcoming the darkness of the tomb.
Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter retrieved from

43 years ago, I was baptized into the Christian fold. It is interesting to note that I was baptized only one month after I was born. Such a monumental occasion is cause for celebration. Only recently did I learn that some celebrate this occasion as a baptismal birthday. Such a tradition is appropriate given this sacrament of initiation at which we become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following:

1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification…” Furthermore, 1271 states “Baptism, therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.” (CCC 2nd Edition, USCCB, 3211 Fourth St, NE, Washington DC, 2019, 2020).

It is no wonder why such a sacrament is such an important milestone and why some celebrate the occasion as a “birthday” since we become a new creature per the reference to St. Paul’s epistle to Corinth.

We are reminded in the Gospel that Jesus, the light of the world, was also baptized. In Matthew’s gospel, John the Baptist says to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and you are coming to me?” Jesus in his reply says “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:14-15). Furthermore, this symbolic action by John the Baptist demonstrates Jesus’s mission of redemption to us as God’s son. Matthew describes the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus in the following manner: “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him.” (And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:16-17). Jesus did not need to be baptized, but did so for our benefit (

The upcoming Easter season reminds us of our baptism day where we renew our baptismal promises. It is a good time to reflect upon these promises made each year which are done on the Easter vigil. If we were infants, our parents and godparents made these promises. If baptized as older adults, these proclamations of faith were made. It’s a good time for all to reflect on these baptismal promises, and perhaps on our Christian birthday anniversary in which the introductory rite celebrant reminds us of the following at the rite of child baptism:

“Your families have experienced great joy at the birth of
your children,
and the Church shares your happiness.
Today this joy has brought you to the Church
to give thanks to God for the gift of your children
and to celebrate a new birth in the waters of Baptism.”

Let us recall these baptismal promises on the anniversary of our baptism and at the upcoming Easter vigil as a good reminder of who we are:

Do you renounce Satan? And all his works? And all his empty show?

Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?

Do you renounce the lure of evil,
so that sin may have no mastery over you?

Do you renounce Satan,
the author and prince of sin?

Do you believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?



Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John. David Zelenka 2005

St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary – March 19 Reflection

Image retrieved from

Ancient legend and folklore states that Joseph may have died on March 19th. Various traditions and devotions recalling the life of St. Joseph go back to as early as the 4th century. It wasn’t until 1480 in which Pope Sixtus IV elevated March 19 to an official liturgical feast in the church (–the-spouse-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary.html).

As a Christian husband and father, I am reminded that Saint Joseph was a humble man that didn’t have much written about him per the gospel writers. Saint Joseph was a man of action & humility that didn’t question his dream and took action despite life’s obstacles. The importance of the angelic messenger coming to Joseph in a dream shows us that Joseph must have been a man of faith & prayer to actually carry out his part of God’s mission for God’s plan of salvation history. Undoubtedly, Joseph’s many nicknames as “terror of demons,” is quite appropriate given his role as a stalwart of the holy family. After all, this is a man who fled with Mary and Jesus from the throes of danger from Herod’s slaughter of the holy innocents to Egypt. Joseph continuously did the Lord’s will without complaint as a pious and devout servant that he was. Most men today would have questioned such things and not have been a humble servant as was Joseph. I myself might have questioned God’s will & certainly would have been fearful to take Mary as my wife.

St. Joseph, Rhineland, TX

Joseph holds a special fondness and place in my heart as not only a saintly role model, but one in which my father’s side of the family had a history with as well. My great grandparents helped to build a church named after the saint in Rhineland, TX. My wife and I were also married at St. Joseph in another city in a Texas town. I also had the opportunity to play this saintly man in a living nativity play one year surrounded by actual livestock (luckily it was a silent part and true to the man who didn’t have much to say in holy scripture). Saint Joseph is patron of many things including the universal Church, fathers, workers, immigrants, unborn children, and a happy death ( Saint Joseph should serve as a role model to all father figures who wish to unite their own families under the protection and guidance of the holy family. One great book one should have is Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father by Father Donald Calloway.

Let us ask St. Joseph for his intercession to always allow our dreams to reflect God’s will. St. Joseph is a saintly hero that takes action no matter how difficult the task with little attention to himself as the guardian of the Holy family. As we prepare to recall this saintly man of humble and pure heart, let us pray the Litany of St. Joseph:

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Offer It Up

A Crucifix that is in our bedroom
An icon reproduction in our home

Like many Catholic Christians, most have a crucifix hanging in their homes to remind them of that great sacrifice that Jesus the Christ, God’s only begotten son, made for us on Calvary.

My mom always used to teach us to “offer it up” in dealing with our struggles and sacrifices. Life is far from perfect and I always pondered the deeper meaning of this phrase. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us an important lesson. The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men” [1 Timothy 2:5]. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men (618)

In other words, we are all part of that mystical body of Christ sharing in His redemptive suffering. Paul’s letter to the Galatians further reminds us that “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…who loved me and gave himself up for me(2:20).

Furthermore, Saint Pope John Paul II reminds us of this term, “offer it up” when he reminds us of the following: “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ” (Salvifici Doloris, 19)

A good prayer to recite during Lent when praying before the crucifix is the following prayer:

Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Your sight,
and with the most fervent desire of my soul I pray and beseech You
that You would impress upon my heart lively sentiments of Faith, Hope, and Charity, with true repentance for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment,
while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself
and mentally contemplate
Your five most precious Wounds;
having before my eyes the words which David in prophecy
spoke concerning Yourself,
O good Jesus:
“They have pierced my hands and feet;
they have numbered all my bones.”

Today, let us offer it up to our Lord as we await with joyful anticipation the resurrection day.

The Temptation of Christ: 1st Sunday of Lent

12th century mosaic, St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

In the Gospel of Matthew we read where Jesus enters the desert to be tempted by the devil after 40 days and nights of fasting. Jesus’s first temptation is to turn the stones into loaves of bread. Jesus rebukes Satan by saying, “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4).

It is easy for us to give in to our earthly desires. Man is not perfect. We are reminded of another instance in scripture where Jesus’s disciples could not keep watch when they were in the garden at Gethsemane. After Jesus returned from prayer he says to Peter, “you could not keep watch with me for one hour?…the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:40-41). We too have those moments where we give in to our earthly desires. Jesus gives us the roadmap to be courageous against such adversity by turning to God’s word in holy scripture to nourish another facet of our being, that of our soul.

While food and drink may temporarily relieve our bodily desire of hunger & thirst, our souls are constantly hungering for truth. Even Jesus’s closest disciples that were in his presence fell short and let their earthly flesh take hold when falling asleep. It is the divinity of Jesus, however, that has enabled us to do something greater in conquering the temptations of this world to be fed by His eternal word that nourishes our souls and of that moment in which we receive Him in holy Eucharist. Jesus reminds us that “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (Jn. 6:35). We must always strive for that spiritual food that will truly satisfy us.

In the second temptation of Jesus , the devil tempts our Lord by asking that he throw himself down from the parapet of the temple and asking angels to save him. Jesus boldly reminds the devil that you shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Mt. 4:7). How often do we approach God in our own life only to treat God as if He were some genie from a lamp granting us wishes? We are reminded of the storm on the Sea of Galilee in which Jesus allowed Peter to walk on water only to have him sink due to his fear of the wind. Jesus tells Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:31). Oftentimes we are like Peter in which we let our fears blind us from the signs that are already there if only we have the eyes of faith as promised to us by the resurrection.

The last temptation of Jesus is one of pride and power. The devil promises Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only he kneel before him and do him homage. Jesus boldly proclaims “Get away Satan! The Lord your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” (Mt. 4:10). We all have that temptation to seek those earthly possessions and riches that grant us a temporary happiness. Even Jesus’s disciples had this temptation when they asked Jesus “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Mt. 18:1). Jesus tells his disciples that “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:4). We too must have the innocence and humility of a child for God’s endless love which is the most prized possession we could ever have.

Together, let us ask for God’s divine intervention in battling those temptations that separate us from God’s love. Let us boldly proclaim this day, be gone Satan!

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to life everlasting. Amen.

What Will You Gain This Lenten Season?

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent. Frafment. The Face of Lent, Pieter Bruegel the Elder Year. 1559 retrieved

As we prepare for another Lenten journey, we may be pondering about what it is we will give up in order to walk alongside our Lord during these next 40 days.

While we may fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays with one meal and two light meals, the church doesn’t require much from us in terms of what we must give up. Such a season reminds us of the necessity to give alms to the poor, enter more deeply in prayer and conduct acts of penance. While we can certainly give up items such as chocolate, coffee, or our favorite television shows, one has to ask what are we gaining by giving up such luxuries?

The first reading from the prophet Joel on this Ash Wednesday reminds us to return to the Lord with full hearts. “Rend your hearts, not your garments…” says the prophet (Jl. 2:13). In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus reminds us not to be like the hypocrites in giving alms in blowing a trumpet (Mt. 6:2). Jesus reminds us to not make our prayer a big production and instead instructs us to “go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Mt. 6:6).

This Lenten season we should be asking ourselves what can be gained in furthering our relationship with our Lord. As John the Baptist reminds us, He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). How will we decrease and humble ourselves so that an increase can be made with growing our relationship with Jesus? Here are some suggestions for this Lenten season for gaining a more deeper relationship with our Lord:

Spend more time in prayer and meditate upon the scripture or daily readings together as a family and the readings before mass.

Unplug from technology and meditate upon the stations of the cross or the 7 last words (phrases) of Jesus (

Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation & make a 40 day commitment to avoid that one repeated sin

Conduct an act of kindness in your family or community and tithe to a local charity with not only money, but your time as well.

Get involved with a faith sharing group

Reach out to a neighbor and invite them to dinner

Read a spiritual book or learn about a spiritual component of our faith

Start a spiritual prayer journal of where you are at now and where you hope to be at the end of 40 days in preparation for the Paschal Triduum

A good prayer to start this Lenten season from Dynamic Catholic is the following:

“God of goodness and mercy, Hear my prayer as I begin this Lenten journey with you. Let me be honest with myself as I look into my heart and soul, noticing the times I turn away from you. Guide me as I humbly seek to repent and return to your love. May humility guide my efforts to be reconciled with you and live forever in your abundant grace. Transform me this Lent, heavenly Father. Give me the strength to commit myself to grow closer to you each day. Amen.”

Love thy Enemy

Michael Pacher – Geißelung Christi,ßelung_Christi4845-_Kunsthistorisches_Museum.jpg

Matthew’s gospel of Jesus asking us to love our enemies is a difficult task for many. To love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us (Mt. 5:44) is something we don’t typically consider when we have been hurt or been served an injustice. It’s a lot easier to resort to the old law of an eye for an eye (Ex. 21:24). I myself have let such animosity dwell in my heart for a wrong done to me by someone, oftentimes holding a grudge or resentment.

Sometimes our enemy might be the person that cuts in front of us in traffic. Perhaps our enemy is the wrong that someone has done to us in our own household? Our enemy might even be our own self and inability to move past our transgressions and seek God’s love. We must remember that it is God that has loved us first (1 Jn.4:19). It is God’s love that enables us to love thy enemy and pray for those that have trespassed against us. After all, prayer is that great communication between ourselves and our God that changes even the most hardest of hearts. When we let go of the hate we have for even the most egregious wrong done to us can love and mercy transform our hearts and possibly those of our enemies as well.

The following text from Matthew’s gospel is a beautiful image to ponder:

That you may be children of your Heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt. 5:45).

Let us eradicate the vengeance, hate & animosity from our hearts (Lev. 19:18) so that we can love freely to bring about His kingdom this day.

God bless.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas’s contribution to philosophy and theology in the 13th century church laid the foundation for medieval Scholasticism to flourish. The writings of old ideas from those philosophers such as Aristotle were not necessarily incompatible with the universal truth of our holy and one God who is the author of all truth.

Labeled the dumb ox for his humility by his peers, it was under the training of Albert the Great that he would become an influential doctor of the church ( Thomas Aquinas’s hymns and liturgical prayers for Eucharistic adoration are profound. One of my favorite hymns taken from the verses of his Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium is the Tantum Ergo used at benediction during Eucharistic adoration:

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Præstet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui. Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty. Amen.

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

The Nativity of Christ

John Chrysostom: On the Birthday of our Savior Jesus Christ, a Sermon

[Translated by Bryson Sewell]

            I see a strange and novel mystery: shepherds sound all around my ears, not piping a barren tune, but singing a heavenly hymn. Angels are singing, archangels are dancing, the cherubim are hymning, the seraphim are glorifying, all are celebrating, since they see God upon the earth, man[2] in Heaven. [I see] the one who is on high lower because of His plan,[3] the one who is below on high because of His love for humanity. Today Bethlehem resembled Heaven: in place of stars it received angels hymning, in place of the sun it contained the righteous One[4] without confining [Him].[5] And do not ask how: for where God wills it, nature’s order is overcome. For He willed it, He had the power, He came down, He saved – all things follow upon God.[6] Today, He who Is[7] is born, and He who Ιs becomes what He was not. For being God, He becomes human, though He did not cease from being God. For He hasn’t become human by separating[8] from His divinity,[9] nor again has He become God by advancing[10] from a human. But, being Word, because He could not suffer [as Word], [11] He became flesh, His nature[12] remaining unchanged. But when, on the one hand, He was born, Jews denied the strange birth, and Pharisees misinterpreted the divine Books, and scribes spoke what was in opposition to the Law. Herod[13] sought the [child] who was born, not in order to honor Him, but to destroy Him. For today they saw [that] all things [were] opposed [to them]. For the psalmist says, “it was not hidden from their children for another generation.”[14]For kings came, in astonishment at the heavenly King, for He had come upon the earth without angels, without archangels, [M. 387] without thrones, without dominions, without powers, without authorities, but walking a foreign and untrodden path, He came forth from an uncultivated[15] womb, neither leaving His own angels deprived of His authority, nor having ceased from His own divinity in His incarnation with us. But kings came to worship the heavenly King of glory, while soldiers [came] to serve the commander-in-chief of power; women [came to see] the one who was born from a man, in order that He might change the woman’s grief[16] into joy; the virgins [came to see] the child of the virgin, because the Creator of milk and breasts, who makes the fountains of breasts to produce naturally flowing streams,[17] received a child’s nourishment from His virgin mother; the infant [came to see] the one who became an infant in order to furnish praise from the mouths of infants; the children [came to see] the child who produced witnesses because of Herod’s madness; the men [came to see]  the one who was incarnated and healed the woes of slaves;[18] the shepherds [came to see] the good shepherd, who lays down His life for the sheep; the priests [came to see] the one who became the high priest in the order of Melchizedek; the slaves [came to see] the one who took the form of a slave in order to honor our slavery with freedom; the fishers [came to see] the one who makes hunters of  people from among fishers; the tax collectors [came to see] the one who appointed an evangelist from among the tax collectors; the prostitutes [came to see] the one who offers His feet to the tears of prostitutes; and, that I may speak but briefly, all sinners came to see the lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world, Magi accompanying,[19] shepherds praising, tax collectors speaking the good news, prostitutes bearing perfume, Samaritans thirsting for the fountain of life, the Canaanite woman with undoubting faith. Since everyone else, then, is exulting, I too want to exult, I want to dance, I desire to celebrate. But I dance, not by striking a lyre, not by shaking a thyrsus, not with flutes, not by lighting torches, but, in place of the musical instruments, I bear[20] the swaddling-clothes of the Christ. For these are my hope, these my life, these my salvation, these my flute, these my lyre. And so I come bearing these, so that, after receiving [the] power of words by their power, I may say together with angels, “Glory in the highest be to God!,”[21] and with shepherds, “And peace on earth, and good will among men.”[22] Today, the one who was inexplicably begotten from [the] Father is born from a virgin, inexpressibly for my sake. But at that time, on the one hand, He was begotten from the Father before [the] ages, as the one who begot [Him] knows. But today, against nature, He was born again, as the grace of the Holy Spirit understands. And His birth on high[23] is real, and His birth below not false, and He was begotten as God from God, and truly the same one was born a human from a virgin. On high He alone is the only begotten from the Only, below the same one, alone, is the only begotten from [the] only virgin. For just as in the case of His birth on high it is impious to conceive[24] of a mother, so also in the case of His birth below it is blasphemous to conceive[25] of a father. The Father begot [Him] without change, and the virgin bore [him] without corruption. For God did not submit to begetting with fluxes,[26] for He begot [Him] in a manner fit for God. And the virgin didn’t submit to corruption when she was giving birth, for she gave birth after a spiritual manner. And so His begetting on high has no explanation, nor does His [M. 388] coming forth in later times endure to be investigated unduly. For today I know that, on the one hand, the virgin gave birth, and today I believe that God begot [Him] out of time. I have learned to honor the manner of the birth with silence, and I have undertaken[27] not to inquire unduly with words. For in the case of God, one ought not to give attention to the nature[28] of the deeds, but to believe in the power of the one who brings [them] about. For there is a law of nature, whenever a woman, after being joined in marriage, gives birth. But when a virgin, after giving birth, without experience in marriage, again appears as a virgin, the deed is beyond nature. Consequently, then, let that which is in accord with nature be investigated, but let that which is beyond nature be honored with silence, not as something that ought to be avoided, but as something inexpressible and worthy of being honored with silence. But grant me pardon, I beg you, if I want to end my sermon in the introduction. For since I am lowly in respect of the inquiry of those who are greater, I do not know how and where I shall turn the rudders of my words. For what am I to say, or what am I to speak? I see the woman giving birth, I perceive the [child] who was born, yet I do not comprehend the manner of the birth. For nature is overcome, and the boundary of order is overcome, where God wills [it]. For the deed did not occur in accord with nature, but the miracle is beyond nature. For nature was nullified, and the will of the Master brought [it] to pass. Oh the unspeakable grace! The only begotten before [the] ages, the intangible and the simple and the incorporeal entered into my contemptible and visible body. Why? So that, by being seen, He might teach, and that by teaching He might lead us to what is not seen. For since humans consider[29] the eye more trustworthy than the ear, they doubt what they do not see, and for this reason He endured to present a spectacle of Himself to their eyes through the body, so that He might destroy their doubt. And He is born from a virgin who is ignorant of the matter. For she did not help bring about what occurred, or contribute to what was done, but she was a mere instrument of His inexpressible power, only knowing what she learned from Gabriel when she asked, “How will this happen to me, since I do not know a man?”[30] And he says, “Do you wish to understand this? The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you.”[31] And how was He with her, and then only a little later from her? [It is] just like when an artist finds great material, He fashions a most beautiful vessel. In this way, too, Christ, when He found the body and soul of the virgin holy, fit out a living temple for Himself, framing the person in the virgin in the manner He willed and, after entering into it, He came forth today, feeling no shame for the ugliness of the nature. Nor did it bring hubris to Him to wear His own work. And the thing that was fashioned gave a harvest of greatest glory, since it was a garment of the artist. For in this very way, in the first molding, it was impossible to frame the human before the mud came into his hands. In this way also it was impossible for the perishing vessel to be altered unless it became [the] garment of the one who made it. [M. 389] But what am I to say, or what am I to speak? For the miracle strikes me senseless. The Ancient of days has become a child, He who sits on a high and lofty throne is placed in a manger, the intangible and simple and uncompounded and incorporeal One is turned about by human hands, He who tore the bonds of sin asunder is entwined in swaddling-clothes, since He will this. For He wants to make dishonor honor, ill-repute to put on glory, the boundary of hubris to show the way of virtue. And so He enters my body so that I might contain his Word. And after receiving my flesh, He gives me His own Spirit, so that by giving and receiving He might procure the treasure of my life. He receives my flesh to sanctify me, He gives me His spirit to save me. But what am I to say, or what am I to speak? “Behold, the virgin will conceive.”[32] No longer is it said that it will happen, but it is wondered at that it has occurred. For it occurred among Jews, among whom it was also spoken, yet it is believed by us, among whom it wasn’t professed. “Behold the virgin will conceive.” The written character belongs to the synagogue, but the possession belongs to the church. The former[33] discovered the writing-tablet, the latter[34] discovered the pearl. The former dyed the wool, the latter put on the purple robe. Judea bore Him, and the world received Him. The synagogue reared and suckled Him, and the church held him and enjoyed the fruit of the harvest. The branch of the grape-vine is with the former, and the grape-cluster of truth is with me. The former gathered in the grape-cluster, and the gentiles[35] drink the mysterious drink. The former sowed the seed of the grain in Judea, and the gentiles harvested the crop with the sickle of faith. The gentiles piously clipped the rose, and the thorn of unbelief remained over for Jews. The nesting flew away, and the senseless [parents] lie near the nest. The Jews interpret the foliage of the written character, the gentiles cull the fruit of the Spirit. “Behold, the virgin will conceive.” Tell me, O Jew, tell me, finally, to whom did she give birth? Have confidence in me, as if with Herod. But you do not have confidence [in me]; I know why: because of the plot. For you spoke to him[36] that he might kill Him. Yet you do not speak to me, lest I should worship Him. To whom did she give birth? Whom? The Master of nature. And even if you are silent, nature cries aloud. For she gave birth, just as the one who was born wanted to be born. It was not permitted by nature, but, as the Master of nature, He introduced a foreign manner of birth in order that, even though He became human, He should not be born as a human, but is begotten as God. Today He came forth from a virgin who overcame nature and passed over marriage. For it was fitting for the ruler[37] of holiness to come forth from pure and holy offspring. For He is the one who, long ago, formed Adam from virgin earth, and from Adam formed woman without a wife.[38] For just as Adam produced a woman without a wife, in this way also today the virgin gave birth to a man without a husband.[39] For He is a human, he says, and who will recognize Him? For since Womankind owed a favor to humankind, since Adam, without a wife, produced a woman, [M. 390] for this reason today the virgin gave birth without a husband, paying off the debt owed to men on Eve’s behalf. For, lest Adam should become arrogant (since he produced a woman without a wife), for this reason the virgin also gave birth to a man without a husband, in order that by the shared miracle[40] He might show the equality of nature. For just as He removed the rib from Adam and in now way lessened Adam, in this way also He formed for Himself a living temple in the virgin, and He did not dissolve her virginity. Even after the removal of the rib, Adam remained whole. And the virgin, too, after the infant came forth,[41] remained uncorrupted. For this reason He didn’t fashion a temple for Himself from some other place, nor did He fashion and put on another body, lest He should seem to insult the dough[42] of Adam. For since the human, after being deceived, became a tool for the Devil, for this reason He recovered him who had been overthrown as a living temple, in order that, on account of the relationship[43] with his Maker, He should remove him from the Devil’s acquaintance. Nevertheless, even though He became a human, He is not born like a human, but is begotten as God. For if He came forth from a common marriage, like me, He would be considered a lie by the many. But as it stands it was for this reason that He is born from a virgin, and even being born He keeps the womb unchanged and guards her virginity without loss, in order that the unusual manner of the conception should become an agent of a great faith for me. And so if a Greek or a Jew asks me whether the Christ, being God in accordance with nature, has become human against nature, I will say, “Yes,” calling as a witness of the argument the undefiled seal of her virginity. For in this way God is overcoming the order of nature. In this way He is the potter of the womb, and the originator of virginity, because He kept the manner of His birth undefiled, and inexpressibly built a temple for Himself, in the manner He desired. Tell me then, O Jew, did the virgin give birth, or not? If on the one hand she did give birth, confess the unusual birth.[44] If she did not give birth, why did you deceive Herod? For you told Herod, when he was inquiring where the Christ was born, that it was in Bethlehem of Judea. Did I know the village or the place? Did I know the worth of the one being born? Didn’t Isaiah mention Him as God? For he says, “she shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.”[45] Did you not, senseless enemies, relate the truth? Didn’t you, scribes and Pharisees, the strict observers of the Law, teach us all the things concerning Him? Did we know the language of the Hebrews? Didn’t you interpret the Scriptures? And after the virgin gave birth, and before she gave birth, lest it seem that you interpret what is said as a favor to God, did you not, when asked by Herod, bring in Micah the prophet as a witness, in order that he might ratify your word? For he says, “And you, Bethlehem, house of Ephrathah, in no way are you least among the leaders of Juda; for from you shall come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.”[46] The prophet spoke “from you” well. For He came forth from among you and He came into the world. For He who Is is advancing, “but he who is not”[47] is created, or is becoming. For Ηe both was, and was before, and always was. But, on the one hand, He always was as God, managing [M. 391]

the world. But today Ηe came forth, on the one hand as a human, shepherding His people, while also as God, saving the world. Oh good enemies! Oh philanthropic accusers! Who, unawares, made known God born in Bethlehem, who pointed out the Master hidden in a manger, who unwillingly revealed the one lying in a cavern, who, not willing it, were benefactors,[48] who, desiring to conceal, revealed [Him]. Did you see your unlearned teachers? They do not understand what they teach; though they hunger, they offer nourishment; though they thirst, they give water; though they are poor, they enrich. Come, then, let’s hold a festival, come, let’s celebrate. For the manner of the festival is foreign, since the word of the birth is also novel, for today the temporal bond was broken, the Devil was put to shame, the demons fled, death was broken, Paradise was opened, the curse was destroyed, sin has gone out of the way, error has been driven off, truth has returned, the word of piety was spread about everywhere and ran. The citizenship of those above was planted in the earth, angels have fellowship with humans, and humans speak confidently with angels. Why? Because God came to earth, and man in heaven. All things have become mixed-up. For He came to earth, while being whole in heaven. And, being whole in Heaven, He is whole upon the earth. For being God, He became human, while not denying that he was God. Being the impassible Word, He became flesh – for the sake of dwelling among us, He became flesh. For He did not become God, but He was [God]. For this reason He became flesh, so that a manger should receive Him whom Heaven could not contain. For this reason He was placed in a manger, so that He who nourishes all might receive a child’s nourishment from a virgin mother. For this reason the Father of the coming ages holds fast to the virgin arms as an infant at the breast, in order that He might become accessible to Magi. For the Magi came today, and, after they made a beginning in denying the tyrant, Heaven boasts, revealing its own Master by a star, and the Lord, sitting upon the body of a light cloud , hastens to Egypt, to one appearing to flee Herod’s plot, but in truth fulfilling what is spoken by Isaiah, “For on that day Israel will be third among the Assyrians, and among the Egyptians my people will be blessed in the land which [the] Lord of hosts blessed, saying, ‘My people in Egypt, among the Assyrians, and in Israel will be blessed.'”[49] What do you say, O Jew? Has the first become third? Were the Egyptians and Assyrians placed before, and the firstborn in Israel counted afterwards? Yes. The Assyrians will reasonably be first, since they worshipped Him first through the Magi. And the Egyptians are after the Assyrians, since they received Him when fleeing Herod’s plot. And Israel is counted last, since they recognized Him after the ascension from the Jordan through the Apostles. And He entered into Egypt, shaking what had been made by human hand in Egypt, but not indiscriminately, when He closed off the gates of Egypt by the destruction of the firstborns. It is for this reason that He came in today as the firstborn, so that He [M. 392]

might put an end to the grief of the ancient gloominess. And Luke the Evangelist witnesses that the Christ is called the firstborn, saying, “She gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him the manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”[50] Therefore He entered into Egypt in order to put an end to the grief of the ancient gloominess, in place of whips imposing joy, instead of night and darkness giving [the] light of salvation. At that time the water of the river was profane because of the slaughter of the unripe infants. And so He who long ago had turned the water crimson entered into Egypt, and He made the river’s streams to produce salvation, after He purified their defilement and profanity by the power of the Spirit. The Egyptians were in an ill plight, and in their madness denied God. And so He entered into Egypt and filled up God-loving souls with the knowledge of God. And He permitted the river to raise witnesses more endurable than crops. But, on account of the brevity of time, I wish to end my sermon here. And thus I shall end, having completed my sermon, that, the Word, being impassible, became flesh, His nature remaining unchanged. What am I to say, or what am I to speak? I see a craftsman and a manger, and an infant, and swaddling clothes, a virgin’s birth lacking the necessities, all things cleaving to beggary, all things full of poverty. Did you see wealth in great poverty? How He, being rich, became poor? How He had neither a couch nor a bed, but was cast upon a dray manger? Oh poverty, fountain of wealth! Oh immeasurable wealth, bearing the pretence of poverty! He lies in a manger, and He shakes the world; He is entwined in swaddling-clothes, and He will tear the bonds of sin asunder; He hasn’t yet let out an articulate voice, and He instructed the Magi – and moved them to conversion. What am I to say, or what am I to speak? Behold, the infant is entwined in swaddling-clothes, and lies in a manger. Mary is also present, a virgin and a mother. Joseph, too, was present, a father in name. He is called a “husband;” she is called a “wife” – lawful names that lack a union. Understand [this] with me only as far as words are concerned, but not deeds. He[51] was only betrothed, and the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. And so Joseph, confused, did not know what to call the infant. He did not dare to say [that the infant came] from adultery, he couldn’t pour down blasphemy against the virgin, and he didn’t endure to say that the child was his own. For he knew well that he new neither how or from where the child was born – and for this reason a message from Heaven was given to him in his confusion about this matter through the voice of am angel: “Do not be afraid, Joseph. For what is born from her is from the Holy Spirit.”[52] For the Holy Spirit overshadowed the virgin. And why is He born from a virgin, and keeps her virginity undefiled? Because, long ago, the Devil deceived Eve while a virgin; for this reason Gabriel shared the good news with Mary while a virgin. But Eve, when she was deceived, on the one hand, gave birth to a word[53] [that was the] cause of death. But, in contrast, after Mary was told the good news, she bore the Word[54] in flesh, the agent of our eternal life. Eve’s word pointed out a tree, through which she thrust Adam from Paradise. [M. 393] But the Word from the virgin pointed out the Cross, through which He led the bandit[55] (representing Adam) into Paradise. For since the Greeks didn’t believe, or the Jews, or the children of heretics, that God begot [Him] without change and without suffering, for this reason today, coming forth from a body liable to suffering, He maintained the body that was liable to suffering as impassible, in order to show that just as He didn’t dissolve her virginity after He was born from the virgin, in this way also God, His holy substance[56] remaining without flux or change, begot God in a manner fit for God as God. For since humans, after forsaking Him, carved images in human form which they served to the assault of the Creator, for this reason today the Word of God, being God, was seen in human form, so that He might break the lie and secretly bring worship[57] to Himself. And so, let us give glory to Christ, the one who, from pathless ways, made a way, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and into eternity.[58] Amen.


Gaudete Sunday

This Guadete or Joyful 3rd Sunday of Advent we are left pondering the etymology of the word Joy! Merriam-Webster defines joy with both a noun and verb. N. the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. V. to experience great pleasure or delight. (

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy. According to the catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd edition & reference to Paul’s letter to the Galatians joy has a profound meaning. 1832 The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Joy is that disposition that reminds us of the coming birth of a child. Joy is that moment where we see a relative or long lost friend after a long time. Joy is when we make amends for a wrong we have done to others or to God and have that joyful spirit of our Lord’s forgiveness in receiving a solution in the sacrament of reconciliation. Joy is that moment of giving of ourselves or material possessions to see the gratitude on someone’s face where we experience great pleasure or delight.

For the prophet Isaiah (35) joy is described as follows where “the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.”

According to St. Augustine, joy can be as simple as the eternal Word (Son of the Father) making sense of those voices from those such as John the Baptist who have prepared the way for Jesus.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Sermo 293,3: PI, 1328-1329)

The Voice is John, the Word is Christ

John is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever.

Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine.

In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find a place also in  yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine.

When the word has been conveyed to you, does not the sound seem to say: The word ought to grow, and I should diminish? The sound of the voice has made itself heard in the service of the word, and has gone away, as though it were saying: My joy is complete. Let us hold on to the word; we must not lose the word conceived inwardly in our hearts.

Do you need proof that the voice passes away but the divine Word remains? Where is John’s baptism today? It served its purpose, and it went away. Now it is Christ’s baptism that we celebrate. It is in Christ that we all believe; we hope for salvation in him. This is the message the voice cried out.

Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ. The voice was thought to be the word. But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offense to the word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him.”

To prepare the way means to pray well; it means thinking humbly of oneself. We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.

If he had said, “I am the Christ,” you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself.

He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.

This week, let us rejoice in the Lord for He is to come. Just as the magi followed the star and rejoiced at their finding and the shepherds came from the field to see His radiant incarnation, we are joyful.

As the popular kid friendly Christian song I’ve Got the Joy by composer George William Cooke indicates, will we have that joy, joy, joy down in our heart because we’ve got the love of Jesus to stay?

Advent – Making Room Within The Inn of Our Hearts for the Christ child Jesus

As many Christians prepare to think about shopping for Christmas gifts, decorating with lights and the secular push to conform with society, it’s good to ponder the seasons of life. Let us await with gentle patience the coming of Jesus, the Christ child. Making room within the inn of our hearts during the penitential time of Advent is crucial for a spectacular incarnation to occur for us on this earthly pilgrimage. Such a season not only reminds us of the first coming of our Lord & King Jesus born in a manger, but of the time when He will return with the second coming.

This first week of Advent reminds us of the need to have hope. We are to be watchful and to be on guard. As Matthew’s Gospel chapter 24 reminds us, we are to stay awake for we do not know when the Son of Man will come.

Will we make this season of Advent one where we prepare the way for the Lord? We oftentimes think that Lent is the time for penance, but Advent is a penitential time of preparation as well. Such a season reminds us of the need to give alms, declutter, attend the sacrament of reconciliation and increase our prayer. Just as in Luke’s gospel describing that there was no room for Jesus and the holy family in the inn, will you make this advent season one where there is room in the inn of your heart?

Advent songs:

An Attitude of Gratitude In The Christian Life

Image courtesy of Praise. I will praise Him is a painting by Graham Braddock which was uploaded on September 5th, 2016. Retrieved from

It’s that time of year again where many in the United States will prepare to gather around table with family & loved ones commemorating different traditions of displaying a day of thanksgiving. Those in Canada and elsewhere already celebrated. Such a day recalls the thankfulness from those early pilgrim people settlers for being blessed with the hospitality of the Wampanoag tribe for they knew all too well what it was like to be grateful for the bountiful rewards from mother earth. Such a tradition of giving thanks was done in many households with an agrarian society for those seasons of life where peoples were grateful for a bountiful harvest. It wasn’t until 1863 in which President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving and the day becoming a federal holiday under President Franklin Roosevelt.

Such a tradition of giving thanks and having an attitude of gratitude reminds us of our own calling as Christian disciples in which being grateful permeates our call to discipleship. President Lincoln, in issuing the proclamation in the midst of a civil war stated “To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God” ( Lincoln put his trust in God’s providence and acknowledged that even the most hardest of hearts could be grateful.

It’s so easy to be negative & curse our condition and the way our life turned out. We may complain that we weren’t gifted with certain possessions or a lifestyle we think we should have had compared to others. Perhaps, we are dealing with infirmities, financial distress, family issues or something we wish wouldn’t have occurred for us. Nevertheless, such a mindset does no good. We should take solace in knowing we were knitted in our mother’s womb and made in His image (Ps 139) as unique beings. We are ensouled beings on a mission to go out and be grateful while spreading the good news of Jesus to prepare others for His kingdom. Being grateful for that great prize awaiting us with the choirs of angels & saints with such a loving and wonderful paradise awaiting us should make any heart grateful.

Before Jesus asked for His Father’s help in the raising of his friend Lazarus, he reached out to Father God and proclaimed “Father, I thank you for hearing me” (Jn. 11:41) How often do we give thanks to God each morning we are blessed with another day? Is our daily prayer simply one of petitioning God to remove those crosses without being grateful for the graces He has bestowed on us?

The Hymn of Thanksgiving for God’s Everlasting Love from Psalm 136 should remind us of the necessity for us living the Christian lifestyle to be grateful:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

To give God thanks is akin to recalling our most favorite Christmas present or birthday present received. God’s grace is a gift that we should all be thankful for because it is a gift multiplied to a magnitude that is beyond reason for God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s grace for His creation endures forever.

Within the Catholic milieu we are reminded that the word Eucharist comes from the Greek for thanksgiving. We give thanks each and every time within the holy liturgy in which the Spirit turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus. We give thanks for those gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit in the sacramental life.

Being able to be thankful for not only the thorns in life, but the beautiful flowers that God gives us epitomizes the Christian life. Turn to the Lord God this day and give thanks. Being grateful not only changes our mindset, but gives us a spiritual demeanor that transforms others around us despite any crosses that might come our way.

A good thanksviging prayer that you might pray this day is the following from the Hallow site (

Today, let our attitude be one of gratitude for God’s love endures forever.

The Presentation of The Theotokos, the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Temple

Retrieved from

From a sermon by Saint Augustine

By faith she believed; by faith, conceived

Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Saviour was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her – did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.

Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power, and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.

The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent – the most eminent – member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine – our head is God.

Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfils the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.

Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? “Of Mother Church,” I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.

From Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the eternal Father. (From the communion antiphon at the mass today, cf. Lk 11:27).

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Retrieved from

Who is the ruler and king of your life? Is it God, in the second person of the Trinity, King Jesus? Perhaps something in this earthly life separates us from our best self as adopted sons and daughters of God (Rom. 8:15, Gal 3:26)? If we recall, the greatest commandment that Jesus gave us while on earth when answering the teachers of the law, it is to “love the Lord your God with all your soul, mind and all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Such a simple didactic summarizing the totality of the law written upon our hearts should remind us of what a most wise and merciful ruler we have in Jesus.

Today the Catholic church recalls Jesus Christ as being the Lord and King of the Universe (both earth and heaven). The recognition of such a memorial within the liturgical calendar was first initiated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to be celebrated in late October. Pope St. Paul VI later changed the liturgical commemoration of Christ the King to the Sunday before the start of the Advent season which is appropriate given the salvific gift that our King came to bestow on His people.

It is so easy to get caught up in the limited vision of life here on earth and forget our true calling as disciples of Jesus. Life can be messy and is filled with strife, anxiety, vice/sin, and a world that is far from perfect. Being able to prepare for the upcoming liturgical season of Advent that follows, where we enter into a penitential state of life for the preparation of the light and majestic glory to come to us with the coming of the kingly Christ child is one that reminds us of what today’s solemnity is all about. By reflecting on the first coming of Jesus as a lowly baby born in a manger is quite a different perspective compared to our typical image of earthly kings. After all, Jesus was not born to a wealthy earthly king in a castle crib, but to a carpenter from Nazareth, and to a lowly woman named Mary who was chosen to bear the new ark of the covenant.

This King of ours was met with resistance from the very start when earthly king Herod wanted to kill our King Jesus for his mortal quest for power without regard to the eternal life all of us have awaiting us in the kingdom of heaven. His crown was one of thorns being placed on his head. His rings were nails being driven into his hands and feet. Our king’s ultimate price was his having to shed his blood for the salvation for all of His creation for our King’s love is infinite with no earthly limitation.

On this day, let us humbly and prayerfully reflect on how we can ask Jesus to come into our life and be the ruler of our heart and very soul. May we be transformed by our King’s ruling benevolence and love He has to bring about peace and joy to his chosen people. As the composer, Father Martin B. Hellriegel, reminds us of with his liturgical song coming out before the rise of the third reich in Germany and World War II, we should be reminded of the following (

Christ Jesus Victor!

Christ Jesus Ruler!

Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

All Saints & All Souls Day

Image retrieved from

As the church prepares to celebrate the current liturgical commemoration of Hallowtide, we are reminded of our own eschatological end goal. Those saintly men and women that have gone before us are “witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom” according to the Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church 2683 and Hebrews 12:1. As St. Paul reminds us in his epistle to the Hebrews, “let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.”

Let us be cognizant of what these three days symbolize for us in the Christian tradition per theologian Dr. Scott Hahn:

  1. the Church Militant on earth warring against the powers of hell (All Hallows’ Eve)
  2. The Church Triumphant sharing in the glory of Christ in heaven (All Saints)
  3. the Church Suffering in purgatory being purified from the effects of sin (All Souls)

As the great musical artist Lois Armstrong reminds us of with his jazz rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In, we too should strive for the eternal phrase on our lips of “Oh Lord, I want to be in that number.”

As the apparition of Mary, mother of God reminds us of with the Fatima revelation and popular prayer after the rosary decade, let us too boldly proclaim; “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need of your mercy.”

May all the saints and holy men & women of God be united with us during our earthly pilgrimage this day. Amen

Ending The Fear And Liturgical Practice of Mask Wearing & Hand Sanitizers

Photo credit retrieved from

As we approach the changing seasons of the year and head into the upcoming liturgical commemorations of All Saints & All Souls Day, how do we approach viral contagions in light of our celebration of the Divine Liturgy?

The Covid pandemic and fear from such a viral contagion separated us from the traditions of the Divine Liturgy of the Mass. Such anxiety while filled with good intentions regarding the safety and general welfare of our physical body didn’t address the well-being of our souls. The spiritual desire to be physically connected with our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus was a yearning many felt when the Act of Spiritual Communion prayer by St. Alphonsus Liguori was not enough during a period of lockdown. The lockdown and isolation was difficult for many individuals and families where the home became the domestic church. I recall seeing the joyful expressions on many faces of my fellow churchgoers when they were able to return to worship. Unfortunately, we are not a people of isolation and require those physical grace filled encounters we receive in the sacramental life to help nourish our souls. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal describes the sign of peace during the mass in this manner…

“The Rite of Peace follows, by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament” (82,

It seems that some are fearful to shake the hand of our neighbor next to us in the pew without putting sanitizer on our hands. I myself recalled that deep anxiety and fear of catching something from our neighbor by making a habit of using hand sanitizer before receiving holy communion. My interior conscience and lack of giving an outstretched hand at the sign of peace conflicted with my desire to see my neighbor for who they were as a human being created in His image. I am reminded of Jesus and other saintly figures that saw the inner God given soul of the human condition versus the label of the earthly sickness or disease someone had. Such an example is seen within the isolated leper colonies who were seen as outcasts for the longest time throughout history.

Photo from

Mt. 8: 1-3 When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately.

The other synoptic gospels describe this cleansing of a leper experience in Mark’s gospel chapter 1 and Luke’s gospel chapter 5. How can we overcome such fear in our life and seek to go beyond the human condition of illness, disease and turmoil to focus on the spiritual welfare and inner peace of our spiritual communities and homes of worship?

First off, we should be thankful for God’s gift of developing in us our immune system and body’s natural ability to heal itself. Of course, those among us that have weakened immune systems should take extra precautions, but not to the extent that they become a habit where we fail to acknowledge the dignity of the human being instead of a microbial annoyance.

Psalm 91:5-6 reminds us not to fear disease.

“You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day. Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.

When attending the holy sacrifice of the mass and seeing liturgical ministers utilize hand sanitizers, I can’t help but think of the old adage, “what would Jesus do?” Would Jesus have used hand sanitizer in his words to the apostles at the last supper?

Mt. 26:26-28 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.

Life happens & we must ask for God’s grace & benevolence to comfort us when we are sick or have an illness. The divine healer, Jesus the Christ, is always prepared to show us His mercy when we ask for healing strength. We are reminded of St. Francis and his vanity in his younger days in wanting nothing to do with those with a skin disease until God’s grace changed his view with his encounter with someone with leprosy ( Perhaps, saintly figures like Saint Damien of Molokai, the Belgian priest and missionary who tended to the leper colony, thereby contracting and succumbing to the disease himself ( might place doubt and fear for us earthly vessels destined for a higher purpose? When we cast aside our earthly limitations & fragility to focus on God’s love during the Divine Liturgy will we find ourselves in a better place.

Let us go forth today and not be fearful of pestilence or plague. As the hymn from The Summons by John Bell reminds us, will we kiss the leper clean? (

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen

St. John Paul II, Pray For Us

Claudio Luffoli—AP/REX/

For many Catholics in my generation that grew up with our beloved pope, John Paul II is a beloved servant of God and saint that many will not forget as we reflect upon the many achievements from this great holy man of God.

Pope John Paul II was the most traveled pope, having paved the way for the church’s mission to go forth and bring Christ’s light to others ushering forth a “new evangelization” (

John Paul II gave us hope. He gave us by God’s grace, new mysteries of the rosary with the Luminous mysteries in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae with the biblical accounts of the Baptism of Jesus, Wedding at Cana miracle, Proclamation of the Kingdom by our Lord, Transfiguration event and Institution of the Eucharist by bestowing on us contemplative events in the life of our Lord for us to reflect more deeply upon (

John Paul II taught us forgiveness when he forgave his assassin who shot him who later converted to Christianity (

Pope John Paul II visits with Mehmet Ali Agca in a Rome prison Dec. 27, 1983. Their meeting came two years after Agca was arrested for shooting the pontiff in St. Peter’s Square. The pope publicly forgave his assailant. In 2000 Italy pardoned Agca and returned him to his homeland, Turkey. (CNS file photo by Arturo Mari) (Feb. 25, 2005)

St. John Paul II reminded us of the sanctity of all life with his Theology of the Body imagery and reflections (

For a man who achieved so much during his life and lost a great deal, St. John Paul II continues to show us the way to heaven and to the saints in glory by his example and way he lived his life. Having lost his father at the age of 20 and his mother and siblings at a young age, St. John Paul II grew up during the totalitarian takeover of his native Poland by the Nazis and later communist regime and dedicated his life to God as a priest (

Many journalists and modern day scholars attribute the fact that St. John Paul II was instrumental in breaking down the walls of communism ( St. John Paul II is a pope that reminded us that no barrier was too great in bringing the image of Jesus to the ends of the earth and was truly a millennial pope for the ages.

St. John Paul II’s last words were “Let me go to the house of my Father” (

Let us recall the words from our beloved papa, “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ!” (

Let us ask St. John Paul II to pray for us from the heavenly choirs of angels this day as we labor in the Lord’s vineyard here on earth. Let us recall the words from St. John Paul II from his Angelus message in 1986 in which he proclaimed “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song” (

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. St. Pope John Paul II, pray for us and look upon us this day as we strive to do His will. Amen.

Memorial of St. Luke the Evangelist

Image retrieved from

Today the church commemorates the memorial of St. Luke, the gospel writer and author of the Gospel and book of Acts. He was most likely trained as a physician and healer and was a Greek gentile being associated with St. Paul & Barnabas per the Acts of the Apostles account. St. Luke is the patron of physicians and surgeons with a writing style that represents a healing and merciful aspect to the fallen. It is believed by scholars that St. Luke may have been born a slave trained to be a healer to provide services to a wealthy family as a resident family healer for which his writings show a sense of social justice and compassion (

The unique item about St. Luke in the synoptic gospels unlike the others is St. Luke’s inclusion of the Magnificat of Mary from Lk. 1:46-55

Image retrieved from

Another item to reflect on is the encounter of Lazarus with the rich man for which all of us have a moral obligation to be of assistance to others regardless of our station in life or the appearance of our suffering and impoverished among us:

St. Luke’s image is often portrayed as that of a winged ox assigned by St. Jerome and St Irenaeus for it represents the old sacrificial offering image in the temple. St. Luke’s Gospel recalls the presentation of Jesus in the temple and the closing of Luke’s gospel tells of the destruction of the temple and the end times. Of course, we also recall all of the gospel writers were assigned symbols per Revelation 4:7 of a lion (St. Mark), ox, (St. Luke) man (St. Matthew) and eagle (St. John) to which St. Jerome’s presentation differed a bit from St Irenaeus (

St. Luke reminds us of the nature and actions of our Lord Jesus, the Divine Healer in his writings to us. He reminds us of Mary’s fiat and her role with what we can become as Christians. May we look to St. Luke’s gospel this day to go out and be another Christ to our brothers and sisters in need.

St. Luke, pray for us.

Prayerful Worship & The Liturgy of The Word & The Eucharist – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Reflection

This Sunday evening for the 29th Sunday of ordinary time, my family and I had an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit. Typically, as with most of our fellow Catholics, we usually sit in the middle section or back of church out of sight and do tend to go through the motions. Instead, we ventured to the third pew with an up close encounter with a large hanging crucifix displaying a large corpus of Jesus. Such a reminder of Jesus having given his life for our transgressions was needed this day as previously all three of us had gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation the day prior.

The Holy Spirit was definitely working through me as I was in my element going through all the reverent motions with prayer hands and was attentive and listening to every word and action. I could also sense the priest was enlivened by the Spirit with his homily. The first reading was about Moses and the aspect of prayer from Exodus chapter 17 in which the prayerful Moses had to have his hands raised to the heavens in order to be successful against the ruthless Amalek for an Israelite victory. Of course, if his hands dropped, Amalek had the better of the fight, but if his hands were raised by Aaron & Hur, Joshua had the victory. The Gospel of Luke chapter 18 reminds us of the duty to pray without ceasing and the parable of the merciful judge and the widow.

The greatest aspect of this experience was from the reflection from the second letter of Paul to Timothy. Paul states that “All Scripture is inspired by God.” The priest at mass reminded us that the Greek for inspired translates to breath and exhalation in English. He stated that when we attend mass, we should be reverent and attentive not only to the holy reception of communion, but to the readings and the Word of God that exhales the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds in listening to holy scripture. Oftentimes, I have been one of those Catholics that have gone through the motions, let my mind wander and simply punched the Holy Communion time card without giving it second thought. Today’s experience was different and definitely coincidental as I reminded my family in the car ride to church that going to mass was a heaven come down to earth experience. To say the least, the priest definitely seemed to be speaking to us personally with an up close view that made the hair on my neck tingle.

While the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the reception of Holy communion is certainly the climactic part of our worship experience in receiving Jesus’s body & blood, the homilist reminded all of us that we should not be late in arriving to listen to the proclamations of the words from scripture being read. After all, Jesus is the Word and logos come down from heaven (Jn. 1) & our ears, minds & hearts should be fed with His word & breath as well. The exhalation of God’s word is present with us during the Liturgy of the Word just as it is present with the internal reception of the holy communion and the two are not mutually exclusive. Both parts of the liturgy are equally important for a proper encounter with the Divine Godhead.

Nevertheless, no matter what your troubles or concerns of the day are, sit up front and reverently allow the Spirit to work through you and your family for the mass. It is so easy to want to sit in the middle or the back of church for fear of little children not behaving, or because we are thinking about a Sunday sports game or grocery list to be taken care of after church. It is inherently important that we come to mass with a sense of reverence and devotion for the Spirit to really move us. As a dad and husband struggling in this earthly life to bring not only himself, but his family to heaven to be saints, such an experience of not being ashamed or present to be up close & personal during the Divine Liturgy is a typical habit that is difficult to break. After all, is not our path to sainthood the removal of those earthly distractions toward a more perfect unity with our God? Such an experience of being more attentive and preparing one’s family for mass will energize one for the grueling earthly week of labor & life ahead for us to have the strength to persevere.

It’s definitely a plus when your 8 year old child says that “Jesus was extra yummy” in the parking lot to the car & was sad that we had been dismissed to go forth.

Just like Moses, let’s have those hands lifted high to Heaven during our liturgical worship experience. If we need an Aaron or Hur or sturdy rock (pew) to assist, let it be done.



The Practice of Frugality & Stewardship

The Misers, by 17th century Flemish painter David Ryckaert III

We have all heard the adage that “time is money” which is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin in his writings of Advice to a Young Tradesman. Such an idiom of course means that our time lost can’t be regained. The book of Proverbs has a similar connotation relating to agricultural labor in which “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who pursues worthless things lacks sense” (Prov 12:11).

Recently, I had the conversation with my daughter concerning a need versus a want. It was a good lesson for her to recall that not many of us live by, including myself. A year ago, our family made the decision to discontinue our Amazon Prime account. I was tired of seeing the over usage of delivery drivers sending packages that were nice to have that we didn’t really need. How easy it is for us as a society to click a couple of buttons and automatically buy a product only to be discarded or forgotten about later. It is easy to spend our money on items we want, but items that we don’t need.

We made the decision to discontinue the only steaming service of Netflix last month. We are a family of cord cutters not spending on cable tv or other streaming services. The reason is not necessarily one of frugality, but one of priorities. Of course, such subscriptions do cost money, but such an attempt was not necessarily to live frugally, but to make wise choices with the time spent together as a family. The money and time we lose by pursuing our independent pursuits and own self-serving vainglory by being glued to an electronic piece of equipment is a habit that can misplace one’s priorities.

Conversely, it can be easy to be so frugal so as to not be good stewards. I know of some people that are so frugal they become what are known as penny pinchers where the joy of living is taken away. Storing up a certain amount of treasures on earth does nothing for us in the afterlife. The Gospel of Matthew reminds us to “not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20-21).

As Peter’s epistle reminds us “each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10). How can we best utilize our precious time and financial resources God has given to us this day?

Take for example the joy of cooking together instead of paying for takeout. How much of one’s household budget is spent on coffee, take-out and other luxuries that can be used for a greater good such as a donation to a local charity, someone in need such as our neighbor, or savings in an emergency fund? Of course, one could argue the money spent toward an establishment supports the wages of another, but not at the cost of being indebted to overindulgence. One source calculates that an average of 40% of American household budgets are spent on takeout (

Another item one should take into consideration is limiting screen time at the dinner table and also during times of leisure. According to Insider Intelligence, an average of 4 hours and 30 minutes are spent on digital media and electronic devices ( Acknowledging one another’s presence without the use of a distraction should be considered.

The subject of debt as being antithetical to the virtue of being good stewards and being frugal with our precious gifts God has given us is something to be considered as well. As St. Paul reminds us we should “ owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). Ensuring that we are not slaves to our credit cards or other financial constraints is crucial for our ability to be good stewards. Ensuring that an emergency savings fund is established for those trying times so that we can give the best version of ourselves is important in the religious life. US household debt is now at $16 trillion ( What kind of society could we live in without a debt crisis?

Lastly, the abuse and tendency of us as a society to overconsume and obtain more than needed is a major problem. According to one source, the average American contains nearly 300,000 items in their home with 1 in 20 being clinical hoarders (

Image from The Grapes of Wrath

Let us examine our roots so that they may flourish and bear good fruit for the wellbeing of not only ourselves, but for one another as well. As the prophet Jeremiah reminds us of, “He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of the drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit” (Jer. 17:8)

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels; watch over us we pray

For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thes. 4:16

Today the church recalls the archangels Raphael, Gabriel and Michael. These mighty messengers from God have a very special purpose in God’s plan of salvation and divine revelation for us. We too have our own guardian angels that work on our behalf. All three religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity recognize the concept of angels and their importance (Hopler, Whitney. “Angels According to Multiple Religions.” Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021,

I myself can recall those times in my life where nothing other than a miraculous encounter from God & message was sent such as driving a 6 hour stretch from college and instances that kept me awake & guided me on my path. So too, does Raphael, Gabriel and Michael hold a special place for us as Christians.

Michael Rev. 12:7 “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.

Gabriel Lk. 1:26-28 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Raphael Tobit 12:15-17
“I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord. Greatly shaken, the two of them fell prostrate in fear. But Raphael said to them: Do not fear; peace be with you! Bless God now and forever.”

If we saw an angel, we would probably faint or be taken aback since they are beings directly from the heavenly abode. As St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us, there are different classifications of angels with Archangels following in three ranks with principalities and angels.

Retrieved from

From the entrance collect (prayer):

O God, who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen

Intentional Christian Communities & a Reflection on the Life of St. Vincent de Paul

Image by George Prout (1913-2016) within the Vincentiana Collection at the Archives and Special Collections Department of DePaul University

Be united with one another, and God will bless
you. But let it be by the charity of Jesus Christ,
for any union which is not sealed by the blood
of Our Savior cannot perdure. It is therefore in
Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ, and for Jesus
Christ that you ought to be united with one
another. The Spirit of Jesus Christ is a spirit of
union and of peace. How can you attract people
to Christ if you are not united with one another
and with him?
St. Vincent de Paul
(Abelly, book II, c. 1, 145)

On this memorial of St. Vincent de Paul who is the patron of charitable organizations and co-founder of the Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity, we recall God’s greatest gift to us in our life which is one of service and stewardship to our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and God our Father. Growing up as a peasant with a lowly life with many siblings, St. Vincent had a unique intellectual ability and saw the role as a future cleric as a means for a better life. He was declared a saint under Pope Clement XII and Pople Leo XIII declared him patron of all charitable causes.

Unbeknownst to this lowly servant of God, Vincent was moved in working with the impoverished in the 17th century in small French parish towns and hearing confessions where his charism in serving the most needy was enlightened by the Holy Spirit to start a great movement that is thriving today. Vincent himself in first becoming a priest at the age of 19 had no idea how his life would change from his early preconception of obtaining a better life with the comfort of an educated scholar and cleric. In ministering to galley slaves and poor peasants during much of his ministry, the call to service of God’s most needy was brought to fruition. There is some legend according to Vincent himself that he was enslaved for a short period by Barbary pirates in his travels and was indebted due to some expenses owed.

relics of St. Vincent de Paul in the chapel on Rue de Sevres

In many respects, the passage from the Book of Acts is a good passage to reflect upon regarding living in an intentional Christian community:

Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common, they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need” (Acts: 2:43-45).

How do we live the Christian life today? Do we donate our unwanted possessions to the St. Vincent de Paul charity or do we make an extra effort to do more? Living as Christians within an intentional Christian community context requires extra effort. As James’s epistle reminds us of, “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change” (James 1:17). Living as intentional Christians and having intentional Christian communities require us to step out of our comfort zone to do more and recognize Christ Jesus in our neighbor regardless of our station in life or theirs.

Open my eyes

Open my eyes that I may see the deepest needs of men, women and children
Move my hands that they may feed the hungry;
Touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing;
Teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers;
Let me share my possessions with people in need;
Give me the care that strengthens the sick;
Help me share in the quest to set prisoners free;
In sharing our anxieties and our love,
Our poverty and our prosperity;
We partake of your divine presence. Amen.



St. Pio of Pietrelcina O.F.M. Cap., Pray for Us

Image retrieved from

About Padre Pio:

Letter from Padre Pio To Raffaelina Cerase, May 19, 1914

Stones of the eternal dwelling

With unceasing blows of healing chisel and careful stripping away, the divine Artificer seeks to prepare stones to build an eternal dwelling – as our mother, the holy Catholic Church, full of tenderness, sings in the hymn of the office for the dedication of a church. And that is true.

  Every soul destined for eternal glory can be considered most aptly as a stone for building an eternal edifice. The builder who seeks to put up a dwelling in the best way should first polish the stones that will be used in the construction. He does this with blows of hammer and chisel. In the same way, our heavenly Father works on chosen souls who, from all eternity, by his supreme wisdom and providence, have been destined for building up the eternal dwelling.

The soul, if it wants to reign with Christ in eternal glory, must be polished with hammer and chisel strokes, which the divine Artificer uses to prepare the stones, that is, the chosen souls. What are these hammer and chisel strokes? Darkness, my sister, fears, temptations, sadness of spirit and spiritual fears, which reek like a sickness, and bodily discomfort.

  Give thanks to the infinite piety of the eternal Father who, in this way, leads your soul to salvation. Why not glory in these benevolent conditions from the best of all fathers? Open your heart to the celestial doctor of souls and, full of confidence, surrender yourselves into his most holy arms: as a chosen one, he leads you to follow Jesus closely on Mount Calvary. With joy and emotion in my soul I ponder how grace is working in you.

  Do not forget that the Lord has arranged everything your souls experience. Do not fear causing God harm or injury. It’s enough that you know that in your whole life you have never offended the Lord who, on the contrary, has been honoured more and more.

  If this benevolent Spouse of your soul hides from you, he does so not, as you think, because he wants to take revenge on your wickedness, but because it tests your fidelity and constancy even more, and, besides, heals you of some diseases not considered as such by carnal eyes, that is to say, those diseases and faults to which not even the just person is immune. Indeed, Scripture says in the book of Proverbs: “Seven times a righteous man falls”.

  Believe me, if I did not see you so afflicted, I would not be as happy, because I would think that the Lord wanted to give you fewer gems. Get rid of, as temptations, the doubts that assail you. Also expel the doubts with regards to the purpose of your life: to do that is not to listen to the divine summons, and to resist the sweet invitations of the Bridegroom. All these things do not come from a good spirit but from a bad one. These are diabolical ploys that try to separate you from perfection or, at least, hinder the journey towards it. Do not lose heart!

  Whenever Jesus shows himself, give him thanks. If he hides, give him thanks: all are touches of his love. I wish you to give up your spirit with Jesus on the cross, when he says: “It is accomplished”.

(retrieved from the Divine Office of Readings Universalis site to be used as prayerful reflection

St. Matthew, Apostle, & Gospel Writer

Image Retrieved by

Mt. 9:9-13 As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

It is remarkable that the apostle and gospel writer, St. Matthew, would mention his profession & humble call to follow our Lord. The synoptic gospel writers St. Mark & St. Luke also mention the call of Levi or Matthew in their accounts. St. Luke adds a further detail noting that a banquet in St. Mathew’s home was given:

Lk 5:29 Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.

As St. Bede mentions regarding the banquet that St. Matthew held, “he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love” (Bede, the Venerable, Hom. 21: CCL 122, 149-151, excerpt from Office of Readings of the Divine Office).

In many respects, the taking & giving of earthly wealth and the occupation of a tax collector were not professions of prestige. St. Matthew knew from the invitation to follow Jesus that he had to act. How do we act and respond to God’s call in our life? Is there some earthly fear holding us back? The lure and temptation to allow mammon to become our “god” by accumulating power and wealth is a real temptation to those of us who are sinners & sick among us in need of healing. As our Lord reminds us in another account, when responding to the Pharisees in paying the census tax we should “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (Mt. 22:21). The gospel also reminds us of the insurmountable and eternal truth of God where heaven and earth may pass away, but the words of Jesus shall never pass as a reminder to all of us (Mt. 24:35). Matthew heeded the words of Jesus to come & follow him.

While we may stray from the path and allow temptation & other worldly concerns to separate us from God’s invitation to follow Him, let our hearts be ready for the banquet for the Lord to enter where our faith & love are present.

St. Matthew, pray for us.

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ by Salvador Dalí. Image © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Lk. 14:27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

1 Pet. 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Gal. 6:14 “But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which* the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

From the office of readings, A Discourse by St. Andrew of Crete:

Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be cancelled, we should not have attained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.

Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honourable.

The Dignity of Labor

Retrieved from The Angelus 1857

In the United States of America, Labor Day is acknowledged as a national holiday in which President Grover Cleveland signed the act into law in 1894 (

From scripture, we are reminded of God’s plan and work in the creation narratives with the role that man plays toward this goal.

Gen. 2:3 “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.”

Gen. 2:5: …there was no field shrub on earth and no grass on the field had sprouted, for the Lord God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground.”

Gen. 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken…”

It is oftentimes easy for us Christians to lack empathy and find meaning in the dignity of our labor. Do we simply work for a paycheck, for our own prestige, or vainglory? As 1 Cor 12:20 reminds us there are many parts but the same body regarding imagery about the various tasks and talents God has given to us in building up the one body. So to is our labor from the lowly office clerk in a cubicle to the person sweeping the floors. Our work has meaning and dignity not just from our labor, but from our interactions made with others in which we are made in His image. In Friends Of God, St. Josemaría Escrivá states that “in our inner life, in our external behavior, in our dealings with others, in our work, each of us must try to maintain a constant presence of God…(Friends of God Homilies, Scepter Publishers, Princeton NJ 1981, p.23)

The earliest monastic tradition and motto of the Benedictines of Ora et labora or prayer and work is also a great reminder of what labor means for us as Christians. Joan Chittister, OSB describes Benedictine spirituality in this manner in which work doesn’t define the Benedictine charism. She states that a Benedictine quest and single minded search for the Divine is what defines such a vocation where “creative and productive work are simply meant to enhance the Garden and sustain us while we grow in God (p. 214).” “In today’s culture in which people are identified more by what they do than what they are, this is a lesson of profound importance. Once the retirement dinner is over and the company watch is engraved, there has to be something left in life that makes us human and makes us happy or life may well have been in vain (pgs. 214-215).” (Chittister, Joan, The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality For The 21st Century, Crossroad Publishing, New York, 1992).

The noontime & evening bell and recitation of the Angelus prayer is a good tradition to take up as our labor should always be mindful of the sanctification for which God glorifies us (see history of the Angelus After all, Mary’s fiat and perfection at saying yes to God’s work of bringing forth our Savior & Lord Jesus is a great prayer devotion to practice…

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Let us give thanks to the Lord God this day for the dignity and sanctity of our labor. As Paul so eloquently reminds us of in his communication to Timothy, so to can the verse be applied to us where “the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil & bring us to life everlasting. Amen.

Memorial of the Queenship of Mary, mother of God…Maria, Regina pacis, ora pro nobis!

The Coronation of Mary depicted in mosaic tile the Rosary Walk and Garden from The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

In his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the memorial of the Queenship of Mary following the 8th day after the feast of the Assumption (

Hail, holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The Narrow Gate: Our Path to Heaven

Image retrieved from

What is the narrow gate? Jesus clearly speaks of a consequence for our actions where the saving grace and heavenly promise of being with Him in paradise is not a choice for everyone.

Our personal encounter with Jesus, the Good Shepherd, show us that our God is merciful in many encounters. Why is Jesus displaying a contrary image that is difficult for many to grasp? I am reminded of the story preceding this week’s gospel passage in Luke chapter 10 of Martha and Mary. Martha was concerned about the earthly affairs & preparations for Jesus’s entrance. Mary recognized the divinity of Jesus in her midst & wanted to sit before the Lord & listen. While we can all be like Martha at times and be anxious about our earthly affairs, we must be more inclined to be like Mary & have a personal encounter with Jesus to sit before Him and listen in prayer.

This week of carrying my cross proved to be difficult due to some painful joint & mobility issues. My desire to serve where my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak proved to be a major roadblock. The narrow gate that Jesus speaks of seemed out of reach, but even in the midst of my pain the Lord was wanting to reveal Himself to me. Why some have a harder time & are prone to more earthly suffering than others is the continuous reminder that God wishes for us to go before Him in prayer. The same can be true where life is going well and everything is in sync and the narrow gate is difficult to spot. Our forgetfulness of the need to go before the Lord in thanksgiving for all that we have received is a conundrum of the spiritual life.

It is quite easy to give lip service and punch our weekly worship time card. As Mark’s gospel reminds us, the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mk. 2:27). We must allow the day of the sabbath to permeate our very being and continually seek out our Lord in prayer, in our family units, and workplaces each and every day.

The narrow gate is only narrow because the sheep don’t recognize what is on the other side. While the grass may look greener at the entrance to the wider gate, it can be tempting to not want to enter or seek out the narrow gate. The narrow gate path is less appealing with roadblocks, less than pleasant greener pastures along the way and a more obscure entrance. However, it is that difficult Christian journey as disciples where ours is not one of convenience or leisure. The promise of love & life saving nourishment of the greener pastures beyond the narrow gate is one that our Lord wishes us to enter. It’s quite easy to compartmentalize aspects of our life including a place for having a relationship with God. Christian discipleship is an ongoing commitment that require us to be prepared for being able to seek the narrow gate when it is our time to be called before the Lord at the end of our earthly life. The carrying of our earthly crosses is not easy, but the reward for entering through the narrow gate instead of the easier and wider gate will be worth it. Turn to the Lord this day and always. Let us ask Jesus for guidance, wisdom & perseverance at being able to recognize the path to the narrow gate.


Lk 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Turn to the Spirit

Retrieved from

As I contemplate the world’s turmoil today and the increase of so many societal issues, it is undoubtedly due to our inability to listen to the third person of God, the Holy Spirit. Per the Greek for pneuma, the imagery of a gentle breath from God in the silence to give us new life and our inability to allow His presence to enter is the conundrum for many issues we face today.

We have turned away from God and allowed idol worship of something other than God to permeate our very being. It is unfortunate that the Covid lockdown increased our thirst for increased technology as a means of pleasure and entertainment versus true family time and prayer centered activities.

The second component is the degradation of society where the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth are more prevalent than ever before. Conversely, the seven capital virtues of chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, patience & humility are worth taking up. Our road as Christians is an arduous one and I am certainly a sinner that wishes to be a saint in the making that is writing this blog reflection.

Self care of our soul is needed now more than ever.

My men’s faith sharing group is covering Acts. The disciples of Jesus were doing the same miraculous acts of Jesus. We too can receive that same spiritual gift to not only go & follow Him but allow miraculous encounters of God to work through us and in us.

We must ask the gentle breath of the Holy Spirit to breathe new life in our souls. We must abandon our vices and turn to those virtues worthy of our mission as human beings made in His image.

One cleric in his homily provided the image of an altar candle being extinguished by removing the chemical reaction of oxygen and candle wax extinguishing the flame. Our souls are candles from God that need the Holy Spirit’s oxygen to avoid being burnt out. Will you turn to the Spirit to keep your soul’s flame bright this day?

A good prayer attributed to St. Augustine is the following:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.


The Lord’s Prayer Reflection

“Grace,” the Minnesota state photograph, taken by Eric Enstrom c.1920 and colorized by Enstrom’s daughter, Rhoda Nyberg. Retrieved from

The ‘Our Father’ prayer is a common prayer we say all the time when we gather in communal worship and with each other. The Our Father is our Christian calling card and is the great ecumenical prayer uniting many Christians despite differences in theological interpretations. Such a prayer reminds us of our need to follow His will be done before being granted our petition for our daily bread.

When we draw closer to the Lord and acknowledge His holy name before all else, our hearts and souls will benefit. As the catechism 2761 of the Catholic Church indicates, the Lord’s Prayer is the summation of the whole gospel ( The acknowledgement of the doxology ending with granting God power for His is the kingdom, power and glory is mentioned in the Didache and was part of the rite early on per catechism 2760 The doxology of the Lord’s Prayer also reminds us of David’s prayer in which David blesses the Lord God recognizing that all riches and glory are from God (1. Chron. 29:10-13).

As St. Thomas Aquinas acknowledges in the Summa Theologiae, (ST IIIa, Q21) “prayer is the unfolding of our will to God, that He may fulfill it” ( Such is the awesome promise found in Luke’s gospel 11:9 about asking and receiving, seeking and finding, knocking and having doors opened.

Does the power of prayer grant us everything we desire or should our prayer be about what we desire for God’s will working in our life? Our communal mission we are on as Christian disciples is about bringing forth His will & kingdom in the here & now vs. waiting for the Parousia (2nd coming) to take place. Heaven is not some far off place, but a state of being in which we prepare for now on this earthly journey each & every time we recite this prayer. Fundamentally the Lord’s Prayer is about placing our trust in our God & allowing His kingdom to flourish within our daily lives. As John’s gospel reminds us, He is the living bread come down from heaven (Jn. 6:51) and He is the living water (Jn. 7:37).

The most difficult aspect for many is being dependent on His will vs. our own per the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. The other most difficult aspect of this prayer is the forgiveness of not only our trespasses, but those who trespass against us. After all, our hearts must be hearts of flesh not made hard as that of stone per the prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 36:26). Being able to forgive and become dependent on something other than our sense of self or ego is a difficult task, but one only needs to gaze upon the corpus of our Lord Jesus hanging upon the cross to be reminded of the great sacrifice. It was He who knew no sin that became sin for our sake that we might become “the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

As our Lord reminds us, some of the best prayer times are in the silence of our rooms with only us and God where we are sincere (Mt. 6:6). Today, let us more profoundly reflect on the Lord’s Prayer and let His will be done both on earth as it is in heaven.

The Eric Estrom photograph showing the humble man that posed for the photo Grace in the small mining town of Bovey, Mn. would become Estrom’s greatest work ( For me, such a portrait symbolizes the Our Father.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Solemnity of St. Peter & Paul

O Peter, who were named by Christ 

The guardian-shepherd of his flock, 

Protect the Church he built on you 

To stand unyielding, firm on rock.

Apostle of the gentiles, Paul, 

The greatest witness of them all, 

You turned to Christ, the risen Lord, 

When out of light you heard him call.

Unseen, eternal Trinity, 

We give you glory, praise your name, 

Your love keeps faith with those who fall: 

Through time and change you are the same.

(Hymn retrieved from Lauds Divine Office per the Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal)

The Sacred Heart of Jesus & A Heart for Life

Sacratissimum Cor Iesu

On this day of the solemnity of the sacred heart of Jesus, we are reminiscent of the love the Son of Man has for all of creation. The filial love of the persons of the Father & Son bring forth the life giving Holy Spirit that is bestowed upon all of God’s creation. From what started in the medieval period with devotions to the memory of the passion & suffering of our Lord & His most precious wounds to the focal point of the life giving organ of the heart allowed this memorial to come to fruition. The mystical experiences of those such as St Gertrude the Great and St. Margaret Mary paved the way for this memorial of the sacred heart of Jesus. Led by the Holy Spirit, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the church to the most sacred heart of Jesus in his encyclical of a holy year in Annum Sacrum in 1889 (

We are reminded in John’s gospel of a detail not mentioned in the other synoptic gospels where blood & water flow from the side of our Lord at being pierced by a lance (Jn. 19:34). As Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews reminds us, it is blood that purifies & without blood that is shed there is no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22). The life giving water that nourishes us & cleanses our death from sin in the sacrament of baptism is a reminder of the water that flows from the side of our Lord. Per the story of John the Baptist who baptizes us with water while Jesus baptizes with the fire of the Holy Spirit (Mk. 1:8) reveal an important Christological reflection about the fullness of Jesus’s humanity and divinity. God became one of us where his human flesh becomes a sacrificial offering of pure love to intermingle with His beloved human creation made in His image.

Today also marks a U.S.A. Supreme Court decision where the law of abortion & taking of life is questioned by jurists in robes of honor. No matter what side of the political fence one is on, we must all admit that life is a precious gift when seen within the lens of a loving & compassionate heart of God in the person of Jesus. John’s gospel reminds us that “there is no grater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” (Jn. 15:13). We must and should do better as Christian disciples. Much of society is a consumeristic & narcissistic society. We hold that life is about convenience and blissful hedonistic tendencies where we ignore our elderly, impoverished & weakest among us in order to achieve self-love. We are all about having choices, free will & reign of our very being and bodily form until we come to the stark conclusion of our need for dependence toward something greater than ourselves. We may preach about the sanctity of life until we are repulsed by our neighbor that holds a different view than ours. We may be likened to the parable of the Good Samaritan where we can easily cite our platitudes and rules for how we ought to live life instead of how we should live our life. It is easy to scoff at the misfortune of our fellow man while following the “law” where we are akin to the priest & Levite passing by the half dead victim in our midst that was robbed on his way to Jericho (Lk. 10: 29-37).

We must have a heart for all life from womb to tomb. Do we truly commemorate the sacred heart of Jesus by carrying our daily crosses and being dependent upon His agape love? This love of Jesus is meant to be shared with everyone for we are all formed and knitted in our mother’s womb and are wonderfully made (Ps. 139:13-14).

Let us unite our hearts to His most sacred heart & cherish all life by our actions, prayers & very being to live more piously and humbly this day.

Retrieved from

Corpus Christi…the Body of Christ

Jn 6.35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

In a world that is longing for more and that is seeking real nourishment, our spiritual food is found with the reception of holy Eucharist. Jesus reminds us of such a gift in the bread of life discourse in John’s gospel chapter 6. Jesus reminds us that anyone who partakes of His flesh and blood remains in Him & He in them (Jn. 6:56).

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd edition states, the reception of holy Eucharist completes our initiation into the church where we as a community participate in our Lord Jesus’s sacrifice (Catholic Church 1322). The reception of holy Eucharist is more than a symbolic gesture for us Catholics. As St. Pope Paul VI in Lumen Gentium proclaims, the sacrament “is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life” (LG 11).

The convert and theologian to Catholicism Scott Hahn reminds us that the participation at Mass is more than the quality of music, preaching, or liturgical style and is a “heaven on earth” experience (Hahn, 1999, The Lamb’s Supper The Mass As Heaven On Earth. Image, imprint of Crown Publishing Group p. 5).

Just like Thomas’s faith at seeing the risen Lord, our bold proclamation at receiving Jesus’s body and blood should be “my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28).

How do you view this most sacred gift in receiving Jesus in your life, or is the reception of Holy Communion simply a symbolic gesture?

The Gospel from Luke chapter 9 at the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish reveal an important aspect in which almost five thousand men were fed – they were all satisfied. Will you be like one of those hungry individuals in Luke’s gospel and come away satisfied after receiving holy communion?

Jesus is the new manna (Exodus) that came down from heaven. He wishes to dwell in us each and every moment we attend the Mass and boldly proclaim Amen at the response of receiving the Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to life everlasting.

O Most Holy Trinity, Undivided Unity

Jerónimo Cósida (1570), The Holy Trinity (located Cisterian Monastery of Tulebras, Spain)

The unique renaissance fresco painting of Jerónimo Cósida’s The Holy Trinity capturing the face of Jesus with three faces symbolizes the mystery of this occasion. The Latin message for ‘non est’ or ‘it is not’ followed by the unique centering of ‘est’ for ‘it is’ in the above image portrays such a mystery of our faith. Oftentimes, we can get caught up in the logic of the Holy Trinity and how it is even possible for the Lord to reveal such a nature for our limited human understanding to grasp. Such questions were posed to the early church and addressed during various church councils. Those such as Pope St. Damasus I with his tome of the Holy Trinity in fully embracing the mystery of the Triune God is one example. Such theological disagreements and schisms concerning the filioque theology of from where the Spirit comes and ensuing disagreements ( in the eastern and western churches further occurred over time.

From the beginning of the creation story, we see the unity and plurality of the interchange of language connotations being used with the use of El and Elohim. In Genesis, the singular El in which God did various things compared to the symbolism of the Trinity in Genesis 1:26 in which Elohim is used is presented in the following verse in “let us make man in our image” is given. The hermeneutical debate over such translations and the intent of language in the scripture ( will continue to this day. In other Old Testament readings such as in Exodus 3:2, we see the natures of Father & Spirit taking the form of a fire in the bush in which reason and logic defy any human understanding. Moses could not grasp how a bush was not consumed by fire, hence the spiritual revelation of God as a burning bush is made. How can Moses directly set his sight on God without being struck down in fear? How are we to understand such events or even begin to ponder God’s nature?

With the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan in which the Spirit comes down upon Jesus, the mystery of the revealed triune God is made manifest. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus and the voice from the heavens proclaims, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). Such a moment reminds us of our baptismal call as Christians in which we are sealed by the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that removes the stain of sin on our heart.

In order to fully embrace such a mystery of the Trinity, we should look to our own self and the mystery by which we are created in God’s image. We are told various lies about how we are defined by our skin color, allegiance to a political party, allegiance to a certain nationality, or to our own sexual identification to fully identify with who and what we are. While such external components and characteristics are important for living an earthly life; they are only a mere facade that separates us from our true ontological destiny. We are even told that we must use certain gender pronouns in order to feel complete and be made whole as if it would change our human nature.

What if such external traits and characteristics didn’t matter in light of our true destiny of being reunited to our Triune God? Perhaps we should let go of our distractions and roadblocks in life to seek the awe and wonder of the mysterious and holy trinitarian Godhead? By rediscovering the ousia (substance, being, essence) of the reasons we were made in order to more fully appreciate the mystery of the Trinity is a first step in such a faith journey. The Gospel of John speaks of the Spirit of Truth coming to the disciples at the appointed time.

When will the Spirit of truth come to you and overshadow you so as to reveal His nature and purpose for your life, or will you be caught off-guard? Fundamentally in seeking out the nature of the revealed persons of God in understanding the Trinity is about our relationships we form with others. It is clear that Jesus intends for us to be action makers and difference makers when the Spirit of truth may come upon us. The early church was met with much adversity and most were martyred for the faith that led them to start this Christian movement (Jn. 15:13…no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend).

Oftentimes, our blindness due to sin and various imperfections allow us to lose sight of such mysteries of our faith. Our minds wander and our logical and inferential brain can interrupt our quest in wanting to try and decipher God’s very nature instead of having an introspective look at our own nature. We think we can conquer the greatest heights and unlock the various mysteries of the earth in which we assume we are the masters of our own fate. The commemoration of the Most Holy Trinity is about remembering God’s nature revealed to us in every sacrament, word and deed in which we are sealed by the trinitarian Godhead. In all that we do, both in liturgy and in life, we are blessed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each and every time we remember to mark ourselves with the sign of the cross, the sign in which God sends forth His only begotten Son to save all of mankind and pour forth His Spirit of truth is our mystery we recall today. Such a mystery of our faith journey is one of love, dependence on God’s mercy, and petition to align our life to recalling His very nature as being three in One in undivided unity per the liturgical song O God, almighty Father. (See composition and history by Irvin M. Udulutsch It matters not if we will ever make sense of the Trinitarian mystery of God’s nature, but only that we continue on our journey of faith in how we resemble God’s love in our personhood to others. God is still guiding us through our earthly pilgrimage toward our heavenly destiny. We should attempt to resemble our best self just as the Triune God resembles His loving presence to us throughout salvation history to the present.

From the Collect prayer in the missal used today:

God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Pentecost: A reflection on the Holy Spirit

Depiction taken from St. Peter’s Basilica by Peter Gallo courtesy of

Pentecost is Greek which means the “50th day” after Easter in the church calendar. Such a festive occasion recalls the “birth” of the Church. Holy scripture in Acts chapter 2 in the New Testament recalls the coming of the Holy Spirit enabling those disciples that were gifted with tongues of fire to proclaim a language the devout Jews were able to understand. The Jews questioned how these Galileans, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, et. al might speak a language that could be universally understood.

One may reflect on Old Testament writings in Genesis, chapter 11, in which the Lord God didn’t like the tower being built to the heavens. God confused their language to cast misunderstanding to the people so that the tower would not come to completion. This tower is Babel for which we have the definition of confused noise. One might attribute such an occurrence to “baby babel” in which God our Father had to intervene for His children.

Comparing these two scripture accounts has a theme of communication and revelation. It is that filial love relationship between God the Father & God the Son that creates that outpouring of the Holy Spirit to reveal His saving mission to us in the world. The Holy Spirit was made manifest after God revealed Himself in the second person of Christ Jesus to show us the way to salvation.

As I reflect on this idea of communication and revelation I am left with the following: we can’t necessarily see the Holy Spirit, yet know that the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is made manifest to us in the sacramental life and works of God (Opus Dei). For myself, I recently had some strange coincidental situations where I was in prayer asking for guidance. Only later did God reveal the help I needed through the works of others in a subtle manner that can be attributed to divine providence and grace working in my life.

Have you ever had that moment that made you think and wonder about how miracles or situations occur during trying times only to attribute such an instance to fate or good luck? Perhaps, you may be looking for signs from God and fail to hear the gentle whisper of the Spirit because you are busy creating your own Tower of Babel?

Recently, I attended a perpetual Eucharistic adoration for a few hours only to be emboldened and energized by such an amazing turnout at my local parish. It was great to see so much fervor. My wife, Angela, was also was spiritually energized by such a turnout. Those humble moments spent on our knees in prayer during the quiet times of contemplation are the workings of the Holy Spirit to help us decipher and revel in the spiritual noise and music of our Lord! Let us not question the noises of the Spirit like the Jewish skeptics but prepare our hearts and souls for those moments when tongues of fire might enlighten us. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day and allow His Spirit to dwell in you as being made in His image.

God’s Mercy Endures Forever

Image retrieved from

There was another mass shooting that took place today here in the States that appeared to be a racial hate crime with 10 souls having perished and left this earthly life. May God bless them & keep them, and bring comfort to their families as they mourn their tragic loss.

Catholic churches have also been desecrated with one parish in Tx having had their tabernacle stolen with the sacred hosts of Christ Jesus being lost. The tense battle with the pro life vs. pro choice movement & Roe v Wade abortion legal debate has intensified. The Russian-Ukraine situation, rising inflation, baby formula shortages and other worldly matters are a lot to bear. There is definitely a lot of anger, fear and turmoil in the world today and one may wonder what can a Christian do during such times? Psalm 136 reminds us that God’s mercy endures forever. It’s definitely difficult to find that mercy in troubling times and one may even doubt His existence.

I can recall instances in my life where I even questioned God’s existence because it seemed that I was lost in a spiritual desert. I can also recall those times in which there was a competing dualism of wanting to do good, but turning to evil habits, vices or sins because they were “easier” than following the other path. I always recalled that when I atoned for such sins, God’s presence of peace, goodness & love were still waiting for me. The sense of a spiritual battle and ability to re-channel my very being when my crosses to bear and graces to share were (are) struggles that were made manifest. At one point in my life, I remembered reading Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” which is an excellent read for an eternal pessimist seeking to be an optimist. Such a work encourages one to change their mindset.

Nevertheless, it was not until I discovered centering prayer techniques that help tremendously to this day. While we can change our thought processes, oftentimes we must suspend such thoughts for true contemplative & centering prayer to occur. Letting go of one’s thoughts, fears and worldly temptations to reflect, meditate and enter into deep contemplation is a powerful practice. By focusing on the silence and seeking to be in union with our majestic & overpowering God is the goal.

Oftentimes we can become apathetic to our surroundings without taking time to “smell the roses” or enjoy those moments that make us see God’s presence working in our life.

As C.S. Lewis once mentioned, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship” (The Weight of Glory).

As John’s gospel chapter 13 reminds us, Jesus gives us the new commandment to love one another as He has loved us to make our presence known as Christian disciples.

When the world is crazy, and turmoil in our own life is weighing heavily upon our soul; turn to the silence. We must not lose sight of our mission to go out and be another Christ (anointed servant) to others. Bringing God’s love & mercy to those among us that we may not necessarily like or agree with is our mission. To the driver of the car that cuts in front of you in traffic; to person that cuts in front of you in line…bless them with your kindness. To the one that curses you with vile language; to the one that steals from you or does harm to you; bless them with your kindness. Turn thy cheek when life deals you a difficult deck of cards. Vengeance & hate are contrary to the teachings of the Torah as found in Leviticus 19:18 in which scripture reminds us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and not hold a grudge against anyone.

As another passage from John’s gospel reminds us of, we must be bearers of good fruit for all of us have been appointed to go out and bring His message of mercy (love) enduring forever to others.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us everlasting life.

St Mark the Evangelist

Image from Emmanuel Tzanes, c 1657

Today in the Catholic church’s calendar, St. Mark the Evangelist is recalled in prayer today. History indicates that his gospel may have been one of the earliest writings completed sometime around 70 ad (

When I was to be confirmed and had to choose a saint name, it was Mark that I chose. Some attribute his name to John Mark (Acts 12:25) The image of the strength of a winged lion representing this saintly man (imagery is also taken from Ezekiel’s prophetic account in 1:6-10) was a choice any young man might pick for a saintly confirmation name.

It was not until later that I began to enjoy the simplicity of this gospel’s message that are full of climactic moments in the life of Jesus. The literary style of Mark’s gospel are definitely way different with much more detail given than the other synoptic gospels of Matthew and Luke’s gospels.

St. Mark is also the patron of Venice Italy. It is believed that on his journey, he made it to the shores of Venice. Legend states that upon his arrival he was greeted by an angelic messenger whom stated “Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum” (Peace be with you Mark my evangelist, here your body will rest) (

The reading from 1 Peter 5:12-14 describing Mark’s encounters with Silvanus are interesting to note :

“ I write these few words to you through Silvanus, who is a brother I know I can trust, to encourage you never to let go this true grace of God to which I bear witness. Your sister in Babylon, who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son, Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ.”

A prayer on this day from the collect of the Roman Missal:

O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

St. Mark, pray for us.

Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Alleluia!

Resurrection by Andrea Mantegna (1457-1459)

Our hope in Jesus Christ our Lord has come to fulfillment for He has conquered death & vanquished our sin & rose from the grave. While we may at times lose hope, and fall into sin, we have the promise that we too may have life eternal if we turn to our Lord. As Pope St. John Paul II once proclaimed, “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”

Let us rejoice today for Jesus shows us the hope for eternal life if we place our trust in Him! Let us roll away our own stones that block the love for our God to shine in our life. Let us go rejoicing and spread the good news for today Jesus Christ is risen today, He is truly risen!

Good Friday

Image from National Gallery, Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens
Image caption: Andreas Pavias, Icon of the Crucifixion

“He was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed” (Is. 53:5).

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper by Peter Paul Rubens

Today marks the beginning of the Triduum (the 3 liturgical days of our church year) and God’s eschatological plan of salvation for us. His unconditional agape love for us from the washing of the feet of His disciples to the institution of the Eucharist marks that great moment where He gives us Himself in the form of bread & wine becoming truly present. Jesus is the true manna come down from heaven (Jn. 6:33-35).

Today, let us recall that everlasting gift that Jesus gives in this great agape meal as we enter into recalling His paschal mystery. The start of this holy liturgical celebration that is brought to fulfillment today with a new command or “mandatum novum.” Jesus asks us to do this act in memory of Him for this sacred liturgy shows us that He is always present in the gift of the Eucharistic meal we will share together that gives our soul true nourishment. Come to the banquet of life and love one another as He has loved you.

Spy Wednesday

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Pact of Judas (1308-1311)

Are we like Judas in our life by valuing money, or our selfish inclinations above our love for God & our neighbor? Today during Holy Week is Spy Wednesday for it recalls the scripture account in which Judas secretly betrayed Jesus by collecting 30 pieces of silver from the Jewish high priests.

Our Procession into Holy Week

‘Livre d’images de madame Marie,’ Hainaut or Brabant ca. 1280-1290 ( Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 29r) Palm Sunday
The Entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, (1844 by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin).

As we process with our Lord Jesus upon His entry to Jerusalem, how do we view our spiritual journey during this Passion week? Perhaps, we are like the colt that is “tethered upon which no one has sat” per the gospel of Luke. Such an animal doesn’t know what is going on & knows only one mission in life – to transport things upon their back. The colt only knows that its mission per Luke’s account is to transports Jesus, God’s son, to that destination where He will give us life eternal upon that cross! We too may be like that humble colt in transporting our very self with Jesus, not exactly knowing the exact destination or true nature of the mission, but we simply carry out the task that we are accustomed to doing. Perhaps, we are the crowd waving the palm branches proclaiming, “Hosanna in the highest!”? Maybe we have been blessed with a miraculous encounter or had a good Lenten season with our Lord and our faith is strong as we approach this Holy Week? Maybe we will have our faith shaken & deny Jesus like Peter through that selfish desire, habit or sin that separates us from being strong in our faith this week?

Perhaps, our faith is not strong due to a loss, particular suffering or tragedy that has occurred that makes us question where God is with our hardship and sorrow?

Turn to our Lord in prayer today and let us proclaim, “Hosanna in the highest”! It is Christ Jesus, He who saves, that will cast aside our transgressions if we place our trust in Him & atone for our sin this Holy Week. A good practice this week may be to reflect and pray concerning the wounds of Christ. Perhaps, you will attend or perform the stations of the cross within your family home, or attend a veneration of the cross service? Commit to the Lord this week in prayer & ask Him to rid those items in your life that can’t be brought forth in His glory on our resurrection day.

Holy Wounds prayer link:

Stations of the Cross:

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Undergoing the Test as Christian Believers

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We’ve all been in that place where trying times may test our very soul & shake our faith & belief in all that is good and of God. I myself have encountered those difficult moments that make me question God’s existence in a crazy & messed up world. Faith and fortitude are difficult virtues to keep in such an unforgiving & politicized world. We find alter egos of human imperfection running rampant that detract in our ability to trust in God during trying times. The gift of silence and hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit (Elijah, 1 Kings:19) is a difficult feat to master in our 21st century global economy where everyone is “connected,” or disconnected for that matter. We oftentimes see apathy being the norm with much of society not caring about one’s condition. Mankind was meant to be in communion with our Father God, and our fellow human being, and not isolated.

For myself, the discernment of leaving Catholic seminary formation was a difficult choice. Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” was a memory in which I tried to seek wisdom from such a decision being made. The choice one makes at the present moment does not come to fruition until later and must be viewed with a lens of retrospection and interior self-awareness. The spiritual test of discernment and choice I made brought about goodness in my life as a Christian disciple. In answering the call of service as a married man, I was blessed to have found my amazing wife, Angela. It was God’s grace that made finding my soulmate possible. It is through that spiritual choice that we make in communion with our God that allows our best self to shine. My daughter Abigail was a blessing for my wife & I. Abigail is a Hebrew name meaning “my father’s joy.” God definitely allows beauty & goodness to shine through trying times when being faced with making a choice under His guidance.

Another instance I can recall in my life’s spiritual journey is in having a major medical incident occur as a newlywed within a year of marriage. We also had a newborn child that made the timing inconvenient. I questioned why our Lord would take me away from my family with an illness that I didn’t think I deserved. Oddly enough and by some wondrous circumstance was a book by St. Josemaría Escrivá left in my hospital room entitled “The Way, Furrow & The Forge.” St. Josemaría also created the Opus Dei movement, or “Work of God.” This movement looks at the charism of the Spirit being present in all facets of our daily life. After all, the Creator truly works among all of us as we are all created in the image & likeness of God (Gen.)

While I am always trying to ward off those demons & encounters that seek to vanquish my soul & relationship with our loving God, I am reminded of the following image from scripture in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 4. Jesus calms the storm despite our own fears of facing chaos in troubled waters. His disciples, while in the actual presence of the Son of Man, still had great fear. No matter how bleak our situation may be, God’s outstretched arm, with the gift of peace & mercy are waiting for us.

Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (1633).

As we await the Easter miracle & continue our spiritual battle to seek that which is good & pleasing to God; let us call to our Lord who seeks to be present on our journey to overcome those moments in which we turn away from His presence.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Anima Christi

Crucifixion by Andrea di Bartolo

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.

St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary – March 19 Reflection

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Ancient legend and folklore states that Joseph may have died on March 19th. Various traditions and devotions recalling the life of St. Joseph go back to as early as the 4th century. It wasn’t until 1480 in which Pope Sixtus IV elevated March 19 to an official liturgical feast in the church (–the-spouse-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary.html).

My sister Emily will be professing her vows of matrimony when she is betrothed to her soul mate Cody on the feast day of St. Joseph. Through the intercession of Saint Joseph, pray for them and all married couples. They are now expecting their first child, thanks be to God.

As a Christian husband and father, I am reminded that Joseph was a humble man that didn’t have much written about him per the gospel writers. Joseph was a man of action that didn’t question his dream and took action despite life’s obstacles. The importance of the angelic messenger coming to Joseph in a dream shows us that Joseph must have been a man of faith to actually carry out his part of God’s mission for His plan of salvation history. Undoubtedly, Joseph’s many nicknames as “terror of demons,” is quite appropriate given his role as a stalwart of the holy family. After all, this is a man who fled with Mary and Jesus from the throes of danger from Herod’s slaughter of the holy innocents to Egypt. Joseph continuously did the Lord’s will without complaint as a pious and devout servant that he was. Most men today would have questioned such things and not have been a humble servant as was Joseph.

For myself, Joseph holds a special fondness and place in my heart as not only a saintly role model, but one in which my father’s side of the family had a history with as well. My great grandparents helped to build a church named after the saint in Rhineland, TX. My wife and I were also married at St. Joseph in another city in a Texas town. I also had the opportunity to play this saintly man in a living nativity one year surrounded by actual livestock (luckily it was a silent part and true to the man who didn’t have much to say in holy scripture).

St. Joseph, Rhineland, TX

As we prepare to recall this saintly man of humble and pure heart this coming March 19, let us pray the Litany of St. Joseph and ask for his intercession to always be a dreamer and a person that takes action with our faith no matter how difficult the task.

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

This Is My Chosen Son, Listen to Him (Lk. 9:35)

Image from Rafael Sanzio, The Transfiguration (1516-1520)

The story of the Transfiguration moment for this Sunday’s gospel in which Jesus takes Peter, John and James up to the mountain to pray is reminiscent of another account in Luke’s narrative in Luke chapter 22 of the Agony in the Garden narrative. In both accounts, the disciples fall asleep while praying.

How often do we also “fall asleep” and fail to grasp who this Jesus is in our own life? What will our moment look like when we awaken from our slumber and God reveals to us that moment of transfiguration for us? Will we be able to awaken from our slumber to recognize our relationship with Jesus as God’s beloved Son, or will we still be asleep?

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen

Lifting One’s Mind to God & Suspending Judgement

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Have you ever viewed an image of Jesus on the crucifix or seen a work of religious art and wondered why Jesus, or one of the many saintly figures have their eyes fixed in an upward direction? There is an ancient practice of suspending one’s judgement that we should re-examine this Lenten season. Eyes and minds fixed toward a heavenly direction should be the consideration.

We are all familiar with the Gospel account of the “stop judging that you may not be judged” (Mt. 7:7) imagery. Removing a splinter from our own eye before we can judge our fellow man is a huge obstacle in the spiritual life. However, what does this really mean in the Christian life, especially during Lent?

Oftentimes, we make many judgement calls during the day as part of our work, personal life and leisure time. We are exposed to various opinions and pre-conceived judgements that distract from our calling as Christians. The bombardment of voices we hear on television and social media form implicit biases that remove the dignity and respect for our fellow man. During the political season we receive numerous flyers and messages regarding platform campaign messages that add to distractions in which we let our reptilian brain take hold, thereby adding to the allegorical meaning of Plato’s cave imagery.

The early church doctor, Thomas Aquinas had something to say about our mind and intellect in his Summa Theologiae. Aquinas states, “I answer that, In the present state of life in which the soul is united to a passible body, it is impossible for our intellect to understand anything actually, except by turning to the phantasms” (

St. John Damascene and the 2nd edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2559) has a beautiful quotation that reminds us that “prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God” (

Therefore, in order to venture out into the desert mystical experience this Lent, we must cast aside our anxious thoughts, worries, and mental distractions. Our inability to continuously go before the Lord in prayer when our thoughts separate us from the transforming grace of God are roadblocks in the spiritual journey.

St. Teresea of Avila speaks of the necessity of mental prayer in The Way of Perfection. Those holy men and women that have gone before us had the same struggles that we do today in the Christian life. However, our 21st century problems and concerns are definitely more manifest and troublesome with all of the distractions that we must cast aside.

One can associate suspending judgement with the following imagery: A stained glass window in a church is not illuminated unless the light shines to illuminate the glass. The same can be said with a dirty windshield while driving at a certain time of day in a particular direction where the road ahead is not as clear as it should be. Our minds are similar components in living out our Christian faith. How can the mind and heart turn to God unless we cast aside those thoughts that don’t allow the light and grace to transform our very being? As Jesus reminds us, He is the light of the world that shines in the darkness (Jn. 8:12). We must not let the petty distractions of our thoughts cast us into the darkness where the light of Christ Jesus wishes to dwell in our minds and hearts.

Let the crown of thorns that our Saviour was adorned with bless our minds and hearts to more heavenly matters this day. Let us set aside this day those cognitive distractions to re-center ourselves in prayer by His saving and merciful presence.

As Paul’s epistle to the Romans states, “do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen

ECCE AGNUS DEI – A Reflection for our Lenten Journey

Image taken from artist rendering for St. Paul Church, Richardson rendition of sanctuary space

John’s response as one of the first disciples utters a bold proclamation in the portrayal of the account of the gathering of the first disciples of Jesus. John states, behold the “Lamb of God.” (Jn 1:36) is a truly remarkable account of what our mission can be for us this coming Lent. The writer then states that the two disciples who heard John issue these words of acknowledgement at being able to recognize the divinity of our Lord Jesus, then decide to follow Him as well. The above image was taken from St. Paul Church in Richardson in which our Lamb of God was slain for our transgressions. It is a great image that reminds us to always look at the corpus (body) of the crucified Christ before we can turn to the image of our risen Lord. The reason why we must acknowledge our suffering and pain and the hardship of the Christian life is because we can never know change. The transformation of love and joy, or the ability of the miracle of grace to transform our minds and hearts to turn back to God is an amazing moment that allows us another view outside of our own independence to a place of dependence. Turning to our Lord when life is easy without hardships is oftentimes taken for granted for, we are great about asking God for things in petition, but not so great about thanking God for those blessings. Christian suffering is the great paradox for it can lead us to a better place if we allow it to permeate our very being.

This Lent will no doubt usher in a different experience. From a worldly experience in having gone through a major pandemic with much illness and death to a conflict with Russia and Ukraine to other events in our lifestyle is quite a lot to deal with. One always has to ask, why does our Lord God allow suffering, chaos and turmoil to occur? Such a question has been asked since the dawn of age. Much of human suffering can be attributed to the suffering we put on our fellow man instead of placing our complete trust and dependency in our Lord God. Why is there evil in the world? Is it the devil or some diabolical figure? For rabbinical Jewish scholars, the concept of ‘Yetzer hara,’ or the ‘evil inclination’ for us to turn away from the will of God is the reason for much of our misery.

Another parable we may wish to reflect on is the healing of the centurion’s servant in Matthew chapter 8. The centurion reminds us that we should place our trust in Jesus in which he remarks, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8). Another component of human suffering is that sometimes we don’t know the reason why nor the time according to our schedule for when such trials and hardships will occur. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 is a great reminder regarding the seasons of life to take to reflection during this Lenten season.

Let us cherish these seasons of our life no matter how difficult. When we are able to have the faith of John in which he proclaims, behold the Lamb of God, the same Lamb of God who has removed the stain of sin, suffering and death can we come to a place of peace, hope, love and joy. Let us listen to the Lord in the silence and speak when it is necessary to speak.

Our Lord Jesus Christ wishes to be with us this Lenten season and we must place our trust and guidance in His compassionate mercy when our own cross of life becomes too heavy.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen

The Wedding at Cana

The events in the first few chapters from the Gospel of John show us that it is necessary to reflect on our own eschatological plan for salvation as it relates to the high Christological foundation that Jesus has in our own life.

Starting with the baptism of Jesus, we are reminded that his participation in our humanity requires his full participation in God’s ability to partake of those spiritual moments to become part of our human condition as beloved adopted sons and daughters of God. The mystery of being cleansed by our own baptismal holy water and removing the stain of sin remind us of the importance of the sacrament of baptism. The wedding at Cana miracle from the set of readings on this second Sunday in ordinary time is a foreshadowing event that is a reminder of water being used as a sign of our baptism and the wine representing our Lord Jesus’s blood that was shed for the sin of mankind. During the holy mass and before the gift of wine is transformed, the deacon or priest quietly recites the prayer after placing a drop of water into the wine in which he prays “by the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in His divinity who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” This mysterious hypostatic union event and mystery where God is needed to walk among us to share in our human condition by ultimately suffering for all of mankind on the cross at Calvary is a great reflection to ponder in prayer.

When we think about a wedding party, we oftentimes forget of the importance in continuing to support and pray for the couple as they fulfill their sacramental obligation of service to each other. Perhaps as an alternate wedding gift, we can also pledge a bible, or offer to pray for the newlyweds as they begin their spiritual and earthly service to one another.

Saving the best for last wine in the gospel of John’s story is more than living in the moment, but it is about the totality of the marriage bond and covenant throughout the entirety of the couple’s life together. After all, the marriage encounter reminds us that both the groom and the bride will have those challenging moments where they are called to be strong Christian witnesses in their bond to each other. Any good marriage will have crosses to bear and graces to share. Saving the best wine for last reminds us of our mortal quest to become eternal sons and daughters of God in heavenly paradise as the ultimate goal. Some may say that after the first few years of marriage, the blissful love dwindles, and the spark goes out. Any good marriage will recall that the love of Jesus and His example as the ultimate bridegroom should serve as an example to our own marriage. As a husband, if I am not striving for my spouse to one day see the face of God and become one of the many saints in heaven, I have failed in my duty for I should constantly strive to be a model that leads her closer to Christ Jesus.

As St. Paul reminds us in the 1st book of Corinthians, chapter 13, love is patient and kind and is always one of self-sacrifice. I was reminded by my pastor recently about the mystery of why God gives us the gift of free will. Why would God allow us to choose the good and the bad? Why would man or woman be able to choose adultery, hate, jealousy, or finances over the love of the marriage covenant to each other? Divorces are more commonplace than they were previously, and it is something we must work to overcome as a society. My pastor stated that if we don’t know how to sin and fall in order choose the bad, we will never know what it means in order to love God and choose the good. The parable of the prodigal son in which the son is ashamed by his transgressions of squandering his inheritance and eating filth with the swine is one that we should recognize in the marriage bond where the sin of the spouse and shortcomings of one another as being united in holy matrimony will always come to light. I should have no secrets when it concerns my wife, for we are one. Learning to forgive one another and have the wisdom and fortitude to return as a couple to the Lord in prayer should be a healthy action of any marriage bond.

Returning to the mystery of the wedding at Cana and the countless times that my wife has journeyed with me on the road to Calvary where we both have endured some sacrifices; I am deeply humbled. Her forgiveness of my transgressions where I fell short with my words or actions in performing the duties of my marriage covenant are one example that reminds me of the love of Jesus the Christ. No matter what happens, Jesus will always give us the best wine no matter how bleak and miserable things may appear. The wedding party at Cana reminds us that the Lord’s love endures forever, and we should be ready to receive the best wine when it is our time.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

In His Love & Light

Our Calling Card as Christians

Brother Solanus Casey, by Doris Faulkner

Have you ever received a Christmas card or other greeting card in the mail and not really paid attention to the message? Have you ever let those humble saints that walk among us pass you by without taking notice? After watching the recent Christmas special of The Chosen in “The Messengers” ( and reflecting on the way they portrayed Joseph as a humble servant of God and Mary in their dialogue with each other, it is apparent that oftentimes we miss the message God gives us.

Recently, I learned that my step-grandmother Doris had passed. What I fondly recall about her was her kind heart and humility. When I would visit my grandfather who would have the occasional noontime nap and wait for him wake up from slumber, I would spend time chatting with my “Memaw” Doris. I recalled that she seemed to have a good soul and spirit about her as I reflect back on our conversations about everyday life. When my first “MeMaw” passed, Doris was there to continue to serve as a great matriarch to both families. Her ability to send out greeting cards and remember small occasions such as birthdays was a fond memory. She was a woman of great talents who could quilt, paint and had a love for many crafts and hobbies that would keep her busy. My wife Angela, a fellow quilt maker, loved her soul and spirit as well. Doris enjoyed life to the fullest and was kind enough to give me one of her art pieces of Blessed Solanus Casey, a Capuchin servant of God (

Most of all, my grandfather Jack found her after his wife Thecia passed. Doris brought many years of great joy to his life as demonstrated with the great dance picture from my wedding. They traveled together and had many great adventures in their twilight years.

Dance for Joy

The one message that I always took for granted was the simple signatures in the cards I received where she would sign “Love & Light.” This Christmas season is one of love & light where God humbles His very essence to bestow on us the gift of Jesus, the Son of God made light for all the world. (Jn. 1). We will enter into this Christmas season where we reflect on the Visit of the Magi (Mt. 2) and their visit to the newborn king where they saw his star at its rising.

Next time you receive that Christmas card, stop and look for the message that makes you ponder our earthly blessings we have received as disciples of our Lord. Let us slow down and reflect on those moments that make us want to dance for joy. Your servant Doris reminded us of this during her earthly life. May His “love & light” bring you peace and consolation this season.

Third Sunday of Advent & Our Lady of Guadalupe Reflection

Miracles occur each & every day. Four years ago, my wife & I closed on a house that was a closer commute to our church we were married in. Our house faces east in the same direction of the location of the church in which the congregation faces toward Jerusalem & the holy sacrifice of the mass. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe ruega por nosotros. #Joy #3rd Sunday of Advent. Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, pray for us. This is the miracle regarding the intercessions of the saints, including our blessed mother intervening for us on our behalf. By their grace and guidance they turn us toward and prepare our joyful hearts for the coming of our Lord Jesus. May we always be ready and watchful.

May the Lord Bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to eternal life. Amen.

Advent Reflection – Preparing Our Hearts for the Lord

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Oftentimes in life we are a society that is rushed for time. We let the secular calendar and anxiety of life creep up on us like a thief in the night, taking away our sense of purpose and belonging in this world as human beings created in His image.

We are also an advanced human species having such luxuries with the false notion that we can be the masters of our own fate. We oftentimes forget or take for granted who is in charge of our true destiny as Christians. It is easy to think that we can plan and prepare for any outcome that may come our way and trust in our own self to be prepared. Sometimes we might try to look for signs, or question events in our life without seeing the small miracles of the Holy Spirit that are there for us in the quiet and stillness of our soul.

The advent season (Latin for coming) and advent wreath is a recent tradition coming from the medieval ages. Such a tradition used to symbolize the pagan sun god to return during the winter solstice. Christians utilize the symbolic wreath as a tradition in which the circular evergreen represents eternal growth and life for which God’s plan of salvation has no limit. The purple candles and vestments represent prayer, penance and a call to be ready for the royal King of kings to come. The lighting of each candle allows us to recognize God’s plan for salvation both in the first coming with the miracle of the Incarnation of His Son Jesus and the second coming for which He will come again (Hope of the world/Prophecy candle). The other respective candles symbolize Love (Bethlehem Candle); Joy (Rose for Shepherd’s candle); Peace (Angel’s candle); and an optional white candle for the light of Christ (Jn. 1:5).

During this Advent season let not the anxiety and secularism of Christmas as a season creep up on us. We should commit to not let our lives be one of “drowsiness” or “drunken stupor” and allow His coming to catch us like a trap and be surprised by His return. Luke’s gospel reminds us that we should always remain vigilant & prepared when the Son of Man might come again. For Jesus to truly come into our life this Christmas season we must empty our hollow shell to make our mangers of our heart ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We must get rid of the “flashy lights” and secular idols that clutter our soul. Being able to acknowledge our complete dependence on the mystery of a lowly baby born in a manger who came to save His people as God’s son made flesh for the world is contrary to our own definitions of independence. After all, this baby would come to save His people by becoming a sacrificial and saving victim for the sin of all mankind. In order to truly prepare for the mystery of this season, let us acknowledge our weaknesses and human fragility. Let us be awake and vigilant for coming tribulations and trials that may occur in our life.

We are a people of hope who have great faith that the light of Christ may illuminate the darkness of our very soul and of the world. Take hope, for this light of Christ Jesus is brighter than any secular “Christmas” light bulb. This season, may our soul and entire being recall the gifts of hope, love, joy and peace which are symbolic of Christmastime and the coming of Jesus, the word made flesh.

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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Who is the ruler and king of your life? Is it God, in the second person of the Trinity, King Jesus? Perhaps something in this earthly life separates us from our best self as adopted sons and daughters of God (Rom. 8:15, Gal 3:26)? If we recall, the greatest commandment that Jesus gave us while on earth when answering the teachers of the law, it is to “love the Lord your God with all your soul, mind and all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Such a simple didactic summarizing the totality of the law written upon our hearts should remind us of what a most wise and merciful ruler we have in Jesus.

Today the Catholic church recalls Jesus Christ as being the Lord and King of the Universe (both earth and heaven). The recognition of such a memorial within the liturgical calendar was first initiated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to be celebrated in late October. Pope St. Paul VI later changed the liturgical commemoration of Christ the King to the Sunday before the start of the Advent season which is appropriate given the salvific gift that our King came to bestow on His people.

It is so easy to get caught up in the limited vision of life here on earth and forget our true calling as disciples of Jesus. Life can be messy and is filled with strife, anxiety, vice/sin, and a world that is far from perfect. Being able to prepare for the upcoming liturgical season of Advent that follows, where we enter into a penitential state of life for the preparation of the light and majestic glory to come to us with the coming of the kingly Christ child is one that reminds us of what today’s solemnity is all about. By reflecting on the first coming of Jesus as a lowly baby born in a manger is quite a different perspective compared to our typical image of earthly kings. After all, Jesus was not born to a wealthy earthly king in a castle crib, but to a carpenter from Nazareth, and to a lowly woman named Mary who was chosen to bear the new ark of the covenant.

This King of ours was met with resistance from the very start when earthly king Herod wanted to kill our King Jesus for his mortal quest for power without regard to the eternal life all of us have awaiting us in the kingdom of heaven. His crown was one of thorns being placed on his head. His rings were nails being driven into his hands and feet. Our king’s ultimate price was his having to shed his blood for the salvation for all of His creation for our King’s love is infinite with no earthly limitation.

On this day, let us humbly and prayerfully reflect on how we can ask Jesus to come into our life and be the ruler of our heart and very soul. May we be transformed by our King’s ruling benevolence and love He has to bring about peace and joy to his chosen people. As the composer, Father Martin B. Hellriegel, reminds us of with his liturgical song coming out before the rise of the third reich in Germany and World War II, we should be reminded of the following (

Christ Jesus Victor!

Christ Jesus Ruler!

Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

Are You Prepared for the final hour?

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The lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time before the feast of Christ the King is a great foreshadowing of apocalyptical literature. As Mark’s gospel chapter 13 verses 24-32 indicate, no one knows the day, or hour for which the “great tribulation” will appear except for the Father.

Coincidentally, in the Book of Daniel, chapter 12, Michael the guardian angel and great prince will arise during a time of great distress. Those “who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace (Dan. 12:2)”

We as Christians should not fear the second coming and final judgement. Anxiety and worry does no good unless our life is not rooted in knowing our loving and benevolent God. During the month of November where the Church recalls the saints in glory who have gone to heaven and those souls that have gone before us that may be awaiting heavenly paradise; we must take heart from Daniel’s passage where we are awake and fully conscious of our life here with God while on earth.

I oftentimes ponder that the final judgement will be one of choosing a false façade of those empty sins and temporal luxuries that are an allusion as compared to choosing that which is of God. We must always be ready to empty ourselves, acknowledge our shortcomings, and be prepared through prayer, charity and fasting for when the time will come. The last part of fasting not only includes food and nourishment for our bodies, but fasting from those actions that separate ourselves from the love of God and our neighbor or family. We can fast from technology that separates our relationship with others. We can fast from using unwise words that hurt others. We can fast from the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.

Let us not worry about when the time will come, but be awake, and ready to recognize our most loving God when it is our time. May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Reflection on the Sacrament of Matrimony & Christian Mission of the Church

The cycle of readings in scripture takes its selection from the new testament of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians chapter 5 in regard to the symbolic relationship of a husband being head of his wife just as Jesus Christ is head of the church. As such, a husband’s role is to care for his spouse through selfless acts of love and acknowledgement just as the wife is to do the same.

“A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” is a great passage from Paul. The mystery of the hypostatic union of God becoming man in the person of Jesus is comparable of when man and woman create a life through a sacred act of love. The Sacrament of matrimony is also a covenant moment where the two become one in the eyes of God and the church.

It is oftentimes easy to let the newlywed experience become a thing of the past and let that love dwindle. The promises of fidelity, chastity and selfless sacrifice should always be the ultimate goals of any marriage. As a Christian married man, I have oftentimes fallen short in such commitments to my wife. It is only by ridding myself of the sins of pride, selfishness and other desires that weaken the marriage bond that make a marriage work. I take solace in acknowledging that Jesus is the perfect bridegroom example. The ultimate mission of marriage is to lead each other to heaven with our loving God. May the Lord bless all married couples as they seek to model the sacred gift that is symbolic of Christ being head of His church.

The Bread of Life & Gift of the Eucharist

image retrieved from:

The nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary time continues to take the cycle of readings from John’s Gospel, chapter 6 with an excerpt from the Bread of Life Discourse. Last week, there was the story of the multiplication of the loaves. This week, we have the bold proclamation from Jesus revealing His divine nature in which he remarks “I am the bread that came down from heaven (Jn 6:41).

The old testament reading from the first book of Kings chapter 19 has Elijah the prophet giving up hope and wanting to perish under a broom tree for lack of hope. Strengthened by a hearth cake, a jug of water and appearance from an angel, Elijah is commanded to eat such nourishment, but decides to lay back down. Only with the prodding of an angel does he eat and drink again to miraculously venture out to Mt. Horeb for 40 days and nights.

The old phrase we are what we eat holds true for our reflection on the Eucharistic miracle every time we partake of Jesus’s body and blood made holy for our commemoration feast acknowledging the bread of life come down from heaven at every mass we celebrate. In some ways, the duty for us to go out on mission after receiving such life giving food is found with the prophet Elijah when he goes out on his journey after partaking on such holy food and water a second time.

Oftentimes, I am inclined to take such holy nourishment after receiving holy communion for granted without thinking about how such heavenly food that enters my body and very soul can transform my daily life and Christian mission. Just like Elijah, some days it is easy to just want to sit under a broom tree and “wait for the pangs of death.” However, our hope is not lost with the sacrament of the Eucharist where Jesus comes down and is truly present in the bread and wine that becomes His body and blood. We must always be ready to give thanks after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, but also remember that to go forth and do the work of the church in our homes and communities is part of receiving such divine nourishment.

A good prayer that I have found helpful in my own journey after receiving the Eucharist is the Anima Christi (Soul of Christ).

(Prayer retrieved from

May we always be ready to be thankful for such a gift we receive at every mass where heaven comes down to earth. After receiving holy communion, let such spiritual food empower and enkindle in us the mission to go forth and proclaim the good news by our thoughts, words and actions in our homes, communities and workplaces.

May the Lord bless us, and protect us from all evil this day. Amen.

The Transfiguration of our Lord

Image retrieved from

Oftentimes in life we don’t have the full and complete picture and are oftentimes blinded by our human condition. I imagine that Peter, James and his brother John had no idea who Jesus really was as portrayed in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 9 verses 2-10 when being led up to the mountain only to see Jesus’s clothes become dazzling white.

Having Elijah and Moses appear alongside Jesus by symbolizing the prophets and the law respectively show us of the importance of such an occasion. Peter provides the classic reply and must have been dumbfounded at such an event as he remarks it is necessary to make three tents for Elijah, Moses and Jesus.

The cloud that comes down and casts a shadow over them with the Lord God’s voice saying “this is my beloved Son, listen to him” is a powerful statement that acknowledges our own limited human senses. How often do we take time out of our busy day to really listen to the Lord in prayer? Are we blinded by the distractions of the world where we fail to hear, see and discern that transfiguration moment acknowledging the need for God’s grace in our own life?

Let us ask the Lord to help us to acknowledge the Son of God and His saving presence on this day. The miracle of the Transfiguration and Jesus’s fully human and divine nature has been made manifest in our own life and eschatological plan of God’s saving grace for us. May we awaken our senses in prayer and conversation so that we may not be caught off guard.

St. Joachim & Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Image retrieved from Caption credit: Lippi, Filippino: The Meeting of Joachim and Anne Outside the Golden Gate of Jerusalem
The Meeting of Joachim and Anna Outside the Golden Gate of Jerusalem, tempera on panel by Filippino Lippi, 1497; in the National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen.
Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark); (Public domain)

What is a grandparent and what role do they play in the faith of their children and grandchildren? Not all are blessed to have known their grandparents, however yesterday was the church’s newly minted World Day of prayer for Grandparents and the elderly ( Such a day of prayer and remembrance also coincides with the memorial of the saints, Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Not much is known about Joachim and Anne other than from folklore and apocryphal writings. What we do know is that God’s plan of salvation history and the ability for all of us to become saints one day is shaped and molded in our hearts by those who surround us. The parents of Mary and her ability to say yes to God’s will must have had a profound impact in her upbringing. Oftentimes, we as a culture are not able to cherish the importance of our grandparents and elderly among us, oftentimes casting them aside as a burden when they are not able to care for themselves later in life.

Today, let us ask God to bless our grandparents and elderly among us so that they may show us the way to God. One fond memory I had of my late grandfather was his carrying of his daily missal to mass (with the bible readings for the Sunday), which was a reminder to always prepare for each and every mass with fervor and preparation.

Saint John Damascene offers this reflection on the parents of Mary, the theotokos (God-bearer) of our Lord Jesus:

Joachim and Anne, how chaste a couple! While safeguarding the chastity prescribed by the law of nature, you achieved with God’s help something which transcends nature in giving the world the Virgin Mother of God as your daughter. While leading a devout and holy life in your human nature, you gave birth to a daughter nobler than the angels, whose queen she now is. Girl of utter beauty and delight, daughter of Adam and mother of God, blessed the loins and blessed the womb from which you come! Blessed the arms that carried you, and blessed your parents’ lips, which you were allowed to cover with chaste kisses, ever maintaining your virginity. Rejoice in God, all the earth. Sing, exult and sing hymns. Raise your voice, raise it and not be afraid. (Retrieved from the Office of Readings in the Roman Breviary and Orat. 6 in Nativitatem B. Mariae V. 2, 4, 5, 6: PG 96, 663, 667, 670).

St. Anne and Joachim, pray for us and enable in our grandparents and elderly among us the same chaste and fervent example you bestowed upon your daughter, Mary.

St. Mary Magdalen: A Reflection

Image retrieved from:

Today the Roman Church remembers the life of St. Mary Magdalene, formerly a person whose title was associated with the “penitent.” It is reported that St. Thomas Aquinas gave Mary the title of “Apostle of the Apostles” (–mary-magdalene–disciple-of-the-lord-.html). On July 22 of 2016, Pope Francis elevated the day to a Feast to “stress the importance of this faithful disciple of Christ” (–mary-magdalene–disciple-of-the-lord-.html).

In Mark’s Gospel chapter 16 verse 9, the evangelist indicates that Jesus “appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” In John’s Gospel chapter 20, we have the image of Mary appearing early outside of the tomb while still dark before the other disciples. We know that Mary holds an important status for Christian salvation history as presented in the story of Jesus’s appearance to her before the others. Simon Peter and the other disciple were only able to view the burial clothes, but did not quite have a sense of what occurred. Mary, on the other hand, does not leave but stays weeping and mourning for our Lord. Two angels appear to Mary and state” Woman, why are you weeping?” Her reply is classic based on our limited perceptions of God’s will in which she replies “they have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him” (Jn 20:14). After such a moment, Jesus appears to her and questions her weeping. Mary for a second time does not understand and assumes such a character is a gardener with her reply “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” The third occurrence Jesus just has to state her name for her human nature to see the divine person of Jesus in which her reply is “Rabbouni” or teacher.

It is remarkable that Mary of Magdala is the ultimate message bearer of our salvation and hope in the Lord. Jesus sends her on the church’s first mission to proclaim the good news to the other disciples in which he states “go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'” (Jn 20:17). Mary, although a person with a troubled past and a sinner like all of us, is a remarkable saint to reflect on. Culturally speaking, Jesus gives such an important task to a woman which was not reflective of the time period’s societal decorum. During this time period, women did not possess the same stature as the male dominated society. Secondly, Mary’s revelation of seeing our risen Lord and her encounter at the tomb shows us that possessing a deep love for our Lord can only come from someone that wears one’s emotion on their sleeve. We must soften our hardened hearts and become dependent upon His great agape love to not only weep when necessary, but also to stay vigilant in our faith at all times. Mary’s deep faith and love for our Lord is something for us to consider this day as we try to stand watch and seek the risen Lord who shows us the way to our Father.

May the Lord Bless us and protect us from all evil this day. St. Mary of Magdalene, pray for us. Amen.

When I am weak, then I am strong

The second letter to the Corinthians chapter 12 verses 7-10 today has a reflective image from St. Paul in which he acknowledges that God’s grace is sufficient for us despite our weaknesses and “beatings” from Satan.

In a sense, on this sabbath day and remembrance of our independence as a Nation, we should strive for this deep-seated reflection of God empowering us and our Nation with grace that should be fervently asked for in prayer each day. The Gospel passage from Mark chapter 6 verses 1-6 has an interesting paradox in which the people question the works of Jesus and Jesus’s response of “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” The lessons from scripture teach us that we should never strive to live within our comfort zones in order to receive the graces and gifts from God. As an American nation in these great United States, oftentimes we become accustomed to certain luxuries and levels of comfort we take for granted, especially in our surroundings we know.

On this day, let us ask God to continue to not only bless our Nation, but give us the grace to go forth and proclaim the good news both within our community and beyond. Comfort and the status quo don’t coincide with the needed spiritual mission we should undertake in order to bring Jesus into not only our own hearts with our weakness, but outside of our homes in ministering to others. If the Son of God was looked with skepticism and lack of trust by those he grew up with in His home town of Nazareth, then we should take note to always be ready to not lose sight of our own spiritual mission despite earthly tendencies and feelings. by family, friends and neighbors. On the US currency is the caption “In God We Trust” that should always be on our hearts, minds and sleeves each day. Paul was fully aware of placing his trust in our Lord despite his previous life of sin and persecution of the Christian people. We should always be ready to fulfill our mission as Christians and as those who live within the increased secularization of our world and Nation to always be ready to answer the call to proclaim the good news to others whenever possible.

May the Lord bless us and protect us from all evil this day. May our United States of America continue to represent the ethical and moral obligation to the weak and impoverished. May we as citizens of the USA, but more importantly citizens who long for a place in Heaven who are made in His image with unalienable rights and duties endowed to us by our Creator seek to answer the call to mission and service no matter how difficult it may be.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Image retrieved from: 5 Beautiful Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Every Catholic Should Know | (

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercyLord, have mercy
Christ, have mercyChrist, have mercy
Lord, have mercyLord, have mercy
God our Father in heavenhave mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the worldhave mercy on us
God the Holy Spirithave mercy on us
Holy Trinity, one Godhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, Son of the eternal Fatherhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Motherhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, one with the eternal Wordhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, infinite in majestyhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of Godhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most Highhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heavenhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, aflame with love for ushave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, source of justice and lovehave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and lovehave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, well-spring of all virtuehave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, worthy of all praisehave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all heartshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, treasure-house of wisdom and knowledgehave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, in whom there dwells the fullness of Godhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleasedhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, from whose fullness we have all receivedhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, desire of the eternal hillshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, patient and full of mercyhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, generous to all who turn to youhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holinesshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, atonement for our sinshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with insultshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, broken for our sinshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, obedient even to deathhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, pierced by a lancehave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolationhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrectionhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliationhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, victim of our sinshave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, salvation of all who trust in youhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, hope of all who die in youhave mercy on us
Heart of Jesus, delight of all the saintshave mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the worldhave mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the worldhave mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the worldhave mercy on us
Jesus, gentle and humble of heart.Touch our hearts and make them like your own.

Let us pray.

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who glory in the Heart of your beloved Son
and recall the wonders of his love for us,
may be made worthy to receive
an overflowing measure of grace
from that fount of heavenly gifts.
Through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

Prayer retrieved from Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus | USCCB

Holy Trinity Sunday

Image retrieved from on May 30, 2021: “Mosaic tiles depicting the Most Holy Trinity and various saints are seen in the Trinity Dome at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. CNS photo.

Today, in the Church, we look at the nuisances of the mystery of the Holy Trinity and reflect on our own ontological nature as being made in His image as human beings. While it is impossible to fully understand the mystery of the Trinity and God-head that are one in three, yet three in one through their filial relationship to one another; we can learn the lessons from scripture.

Paul’s epistle to the Romans chapter 8 verses 14-17 indicates that we are called to share in the adoption of the Spirit of God by being “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” The mystery of Jesus’s hypostatic union of human flesh being joined together with God the Father is another mystery that bears some fruit. It is through the culmination of His passion, suffering and resurrection made manifest by His paying the ultimate sacrifice on a cross that reflects our own human creation mystery story. As human beings, we may recall the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis with the first and second creation stories. We know that our imperfect human nature and fall from His grace resembles our own mystery that should be sorted out. Paul does not shy away from the fact that the Christian life is one that is not easy with trial and tribulation being a given in order to share in that adoption of God the Abba (Father).

The Holy Trinity as expressly mentioned Matthew’s Gospel chapter 28 recalls the mission for the 11 disciples to go out to all nations “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In order for us to truly understand the mystery and divine nature of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, we should turn to ourselves to understand our place within the area of salvation history and revel in who we are as human beings. The image of the Holy Trinity mosaic as displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has an image of God the Father offering an outstretched hand to Jesus, His Son, with the image of the Holy Spirit pouring forth above them in the image of a dove.

In some sense, we must offer our outstretched hand to God the Father in times of trouble. We must always remember as Catholic Christians to never shy away from the sign of the cross as a mystery that is inclusive of our mission to partake in that mystery of His infinite and filial love as displayed with His Son who taught us what such a mystery was all about.

In Saint Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem Father Son and Spirit section number 9, we see that with this mandate to baptize others with the Trinitarian formula, “it gives sanctifying grace as a supernatural gift to man.” “Through grace, man is called and made capable of sharing in the inscrutable life of God.” (Retrieved May 30, 2021

Let us always try to acknowledge and be accepting of such graces that may come to us in our life and cherish the Sacrament of our own baptism and baptismal promises. We should never lose sight of the fact that through this great mystery of the Holy Trinity is the knowledge that the mysterious relationship of three persons in one is love made eternal for each and every one of us no matter what crosses we bear on this earthly realm.

7th Sunday of Easter or Feast Day of Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ Reflection

Image retrieved from the Laudario of Sant’Agnese; Pacino di Bonaguida (Italian (Florentine), active about 1303 – about 1347); about 1340; Tempera and gold on parchment; Leaf: 44.4 × 31.8 cm (17 1/2 × 12 1/2 in.); Ms. 80a (2005.26); No Copyright – United States (

The popular praise and worship Gospel Song, Lord I Lift Your Name on High by songwriter Rick Founds encompasses the totality of God’s plan for salvation history in a great song that one can teach their young children, especially as we explore the mystery of Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven. Our end goal is of course to recall the mystery and miracle of Jesus’s ascent to go and be with His Father, which is also our ultimate goal while here on earth. Jesus did indeed come to the earth to show us the way to His Father God and “from the grave to the sky, Lord I lift your name on High” is a message that we Christians should always boldly proclaim on our life’s journey (Lord I Lift Your Name On High | Divine Hymns Contemporary Songs).

Florentine artist Pacino di Bonaguida’s image is a great reflection piece that portrays our own sense of mission as followers of Jesus with His apostles having their eyes fixed to heaven. Our own human condition reveals that same imagery as our ultimate eschatological and ontological goal as being made in the image and likeness of God is to always yearn for the day that we ultimately be in complete communion with God in heaven one day.

Our choice through our very will is to either praise His mighty works as exemplified in Psalm 47 in which “God mounts the throne amid shouts of joy” or to turn our eyes elsewhere toward those things in life that are not of God.

The optional lectionary reading from Ephesians chapter four proclaims our mission in which some our called through the grace of Baptism and our calling in life to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip holy ones to build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12). The Good News from Mark’s Gospel, is a great Gospel passage that firmly states our sense of mission, purpose and urgency. In the Great Commissioning of the Apostles, Jesus the Christ states the following, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16: 15-16).

By our very free will we have the option of having our body and soul glorified with our merciful God and Father in Heaven, or we can choose the path of condemnation and a potential life without God. It is our choice and responsibility to use His grace and His love which are gifts given to use and His love is unlimited no matter where we are at in life. It was by His ultimate sacrifice in which His blood was poured out for us as an expiation for the sin of all mankind by acknowledging we are finite creatures dependent on a higher power and higher calling. Our call of course is to always have our eyes fixed upon Heaven as our final destination on our journey as spiritual human beings.

Let us remember that no matter how difficult our life may be while here on earth, we must remember that Jesus, God’s Son made flesh for the world, gave His life over to Sin and defeated such destruction. He showed us the way as a reminder that we will never be abandoned and should not lose hope. His kingdom is both on earth and in heaven and one day we should anticipate His coming and most benevolent judgement. We are an Easter people and a path to mercy and salvation is open to us through the mission of the Church which is each one of us through our calling as a Christian people. We must be good stewards of His earthly kingdom, ushering in a call to conversion, repentance and action-filled relationships with our Lord. We don’t want to be caught off guard and not recognize the Son of Man when he comes again. It is through prayer, reading of scripture and the seven spiritual and corporal works of mercy that will more closely unite us with our beloved Lord as most in life truly yearn for His loving embrace.

As Saint John of The Cross proclaimed so eloquently in his writings”

As each soul nears heaven differences will dissolve to such a sublime extent that when the heart looks upon any object in this world it will cry ‘Beloved’ and passionately run into an embrace with me (Editor Starr, Mirabai (2008). Devotions, Prayers & Living Wisdom Saint John of the Cross. Boulder, CO: Sounds True Inc.).

The popular Gospel praise and worship song

The Spirit of Truth

What is the Spirit of truth that Jesus speaks about in John’s Gospel?

When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears and will declare to you the things that are coming.” Jn. 16:13

The foreshadowing of the ascension of Jesus to Heaven and message to his apostles reveal a startling acknowledgement that we as a Christian people must always be watchful and ready, despite not having the existing sensory perception to distinguish His will at the present moment.

As Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 2 verse 14-15 acknowledges, “Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything, but is not subject to judgment by anyone.”

We as a Christian people must always be ready to equip ourselves with prayer and spiritual armor to be on guard to await the times in our life when the Spirit of truth may speak to us. We must strive to be a spiritual person instead of a natural person per Paul’s classification of our end goal in his epistle to the Corinthians. It is oftentimes easy to get caught up in the distress and temptations of the messed up and fallen world we find ourselves in. For those that are hearing impaired that use hearing aids to listen to the sounds around us, we too must use our own spiritual “hearing aids” to listen to and prayerfully discern the Spirit of truth that may come to us when we least expect it. How can communication with our Lord occur if our spiritual ears, mind, heart and soul are not experienced in learning to be in communion with our God? Speaking to our Lord and listening to His voice each day through prayer, biblical and spiritual reading reflections and other acts of contemplation are needed so we are not caught off guard by our limited understanding of the spiritual realm. Prayer and the spiritual exercises of increasing the fortitude of our souls is oftentimes a lost art in our world today.

In many respects, what will the sound of the Spirit be like? Perhaps, it will be like Elijah’s experience in the reading of 1 Kings, chapter 19 in which our Lord is not present in a mighty wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a whispering sound?

As Jesus lets us know in John’s Gospel, the Spirit of truth will glorify Him and “take from what is mine and declare it to you” (Jn 16:15). Let us prepare for the graces and gifts that our Lord may provide us with this day and each moment we have while on earth. We must always be thankful for the gifts, relationships and moments we have each and every day despite our not being able to understand the Spirit of truth in our limited human understanding.

Come Lord Jesus and come Holy Spirit into my very being and senses this day so that I may be always attentive for the moment that your grace may empower me to comprehend the Spirit of truth.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Good Shepherd Sunday: Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Image retrieved from: Jesus: The Good Shepherd ( “The image above is from the stalls of the Thisle Chapel in Edinburgh’s St Giles Cathedral. “

Today’s readings in the Catholic church during this Easter season are oftentimes known as “Good Shepherd” Sunday per the selection from sacred scripture. Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We must always remember to pray for our men and women called by God that receive the spiritual call to imitate Jesus as the Divine Shepherd.

In the Gospel passage from John, chapter 10 verses 11-18 Jesus proclaims the following:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

The message from John’s Gospel is a great reminder that we must all unite behind the common goal of bringing others closer to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Oftentimes, as human beings, we are much like sheep. We tend to lose focus of the important aspects of our Christian life and wander off into danger. We let the petty distractions of the world and vainglory dull our senses and higher calling of being an Easter people with eyes always pointed to God and the Parousia or second coming. We are one Christian church despite the many rites, denominations and faith traditions that should always seek the goal of evangelizing others as our primary call. Bringing our fellow “sheep” closer to knowing who our great and awesome God is through the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, should be our ultimate task. Today, as we reflect on the good news, are you like the hired shepherd that wishes to flee and run from danger? Perhaps, we are not ready to have steadfast courage to face the many wolves in our life and possibly lay down our very own life for the “sheep”, or our brothers and sisters in need of His saving mercy in distress or danger?

According to the Vatican, “Globally there is one priest for every 3,373 Catholics in the world. But the ratio is one priest for every 5,534 Catholics in the Americas and one priest for every 5,101 Catholics in Africa. There are 1,784 Catholics per priest in Europe, 2,137 Catholics per priest in Asia and 2,437 Catholics per priest in Oceania.” ( We must pray for a bountiful harvest where more will answer the call.

Let us pray for those who work in the Lord’s harvest, that they may fully imitate our Good Shepherd, who bring life to others in a troubled world. Let us examine our own Christian worldview and take up our mission to not only serve others, but to boldly and courageously fend off the wolves that distract us from our mission. May we bring our brothers and sisters closer to knowing Him through our very actions, words and deeds this day for Jesus is our Good Shepherd.

Pray for all priests that they may receive God’s grace to be good and holy priests. Pray for those discerning a vocation to the priesthood and religious life. Sometimes we may not like certain priests at a parish – have you prayed for them lately or provided words of encouragement? According to a study conducted by the Catholic Project at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC regarding burnout, “the report says that 45% of priests surveyed reported at least one symptom of ministry burnout, unevenly distributed between diocesan (50%) and religious (33%) priests. Only 9% exhibited severe burnout, the report says, but the report’s authors cautioned that younger priests were significantly more likely than older priests to experience burnout.” (

One of the prayers we should recite that is attributed to Saint John Vianney, the patron of parish priests, is the following retrieved from (

Prayer for Priests by Saint John Vianney
God please give your Church today many more priests after your own heart. May they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd.
May they wholeheartedly devote themselves to prayer and penance;
Being examples of humility and poverty;
Shining models of holiness;
Tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God;
Zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments.
May their loving devotion to your Son Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary his Mother Be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry.

Friends of the Holy Land

By Brendan Metcalfe

The goal of Friends of the Holy Land is to secure a resilient and enduring Christian community in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan. The pandemic has hit hard in this area as around 70% of Christians rely on tourism for a living. For a second year there have been no pilgrims visiting at Easter, in fact many in these vulnerable communities have been without income since March 2020. In response we have recently launched our Pentecost Challenge, a virtual pilgrimage from Bethlehem to Nazareth which allows participants to fundraise as they discover rarely visited Christian communities in the West Bank. You can find more information at:

I was hoping that you would share news of this event among your network of friends and family. Perhaps you can get a team together? Participants will discover ancient Christian communities rarely visited. Also, if you click on the link below and provide your information, I will make sure to keep you up to date with our news. I hope we can see better times soon as we gradually emerge from lockdown through the summer.

Keep well. Best wishes, Brendan Metcalfe

No Vaccine for Martyrdom

By Tom Grossman, Jr., Special Contributor

I thought it important to use my friend Tom’s testimony who agreed to be a guest contributor to this blog site. God bless, Eric – The Street Evangelist.

No Vaccine for Martyrdom

Image taken from:*8R7o5qYvZ3U-1Cd4Y_ZrNQ.jpeg

In the Gospel for this past Sunday, we see that Jesus comes to the disciples as they are in a sense quarantined in fear of death! Jesus in His power comes to give them the strength of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. He breaths on them and says receive the Holy Ghost! Jesus does not allow them to remain gripped by the fear and the threat of death. This however was a very true threat; the pandemic of martyrdom would eventually wipe out over 90% of Jesus’ first apostles.

Unlike with our current crisis the likelihood of them dying was almost guaranteed! The only cure for this martyrdom was to deny Christ and pinch incense to false Gods. The disciples were at first terrified by the possibility of loosing their lives. However, after this interaction with Jesus in the Gospel and the decent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the threat of death was not as concerning to the early church as saving the souls of the world.

These weak and doubting disciples were transformed into powerful pillars that stood not afraid to lay down their lives for the sake of the one that gave His life for all. Fast forward 2000 years and the church and its leaders are faced with a similar fear of death. What is our response? Do we shut down, abstain from mass, deny the faithful the sacraments? Surely now is time to rise up and face the Son. Let him breath on us!

Death where is your sting?

When we move to a place where we do not fear death because it has been defeated, only then will we truly operate as the glorious saints of old, ones that loved not their lives so much as to shrink from death. Those who love their lives will lose them, but those who lose their lives for His sake will find life eternally!

If you want to follow Him pick up your cross! Lose your fear and get infected by the Holy Spirit!

We can’t put our hope in the government, a vaccine, or doctors who won’t save our souls. We have to turn from our sin and fear, for the kingdom of God is truly at hand! Are you ready to stand courageous (Romans 8:18-19)? For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God

The five truths of human existence and a reflection on Divine Mercy Sunday

Mercy is one of those words that holds a certain esteem for the definitions according to Merriam Webster resembles a sacred complexity. Number three is especially true for how often do we “show compassionate treatment of those in distress”? Let us reflect on the definition and sacred aspect of Mercy as Christians this week.

Awhile back, a homilist reflected on the four truths of our existence as God’s creations within this context: 1. We will die. 2. There will be judgement. 3. We may go to heaven. 4. We may go to hell. The homilist then mentioned that the choices we make in whether to follow God and carry our crosses with him were the groundwork for the Christian life.

The Catholic Church believes that the graces we receive from God and the faith we hold should bring about good works. St. Jame’s scripture of “faith without works is dead” (James:2:14-26) demonstrates such an idea in which Christianity is not a passive affair. After all, Philippians 4:13 summarizes our inheritance in this divine plan in which it is God who strengthens us. As Paul so eloquently puts it we are all spiritual adopted beings per Romans 8:14-17. I posit that the fifth truth that we should reflect on as spiritually adopted sons and daughters of our God, is the quality of mercy.

In the 1930s, a young humble Polish nun Sister Faustina, who was in the convent of the Congregation of Divine Mercy was reported to have received various visions or mercy experiences as mentioned in Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. In 2000 Saint Pope John Paul II proclaimed Sr. Faustina a Saint and moved the liturgical season of the second Sunday of Easter a day of divine mercy. In the Gospel reading from John’s gospel chapter 20 verses 19 thru 31, it tells the story of the doubting Thomas called Didymus. The apostles and Thomas are debating about the Lord’s appearance from his resurrection experience. Thomas states that he must not only see the nail marks in his hands and see the wound in his side, but he must touch them to believe. After Thomas’s experience at seeing Jesus appear and His invitation to not only see His wounds, but to put his hands into the nail marks of Jesus is a profound encounter in which Thomas states, “my Lord and my God!” Jesus’s mercy and appearance to Thomas shows of our mission as Christians to reach out to those lacking faith, hope or belief. Today, divine mercy is about recognizing the five truths. The five truths are: death, judgement, heaven, hell, or mercy. It means nothing to carry our crosses and avoid the near occasion of sin without mercy. It means nothing to attend church more than others, to pray more than others, to act more influential than others without the needed quality of mercy. The divine healer and our Lord Jesus that cared for the outcast, cured the sick & bore the weight of sin for all mankind displays that level of mercy to the doubting Thomas.

Of course even if one does not believe in the tradition of the divine mercy devotion (given the devotion and works of Sr. Faustina were placed on the church index of banned works at one point in time), a reflection on the sacred heart of Jesus may be appropriate as well.

The Acts of the Apostles is a great account of what life was like for an early church community of believers. The early Christian community claimed no possessions and shared all in common. One might assume that such a movement was a form of communism. That assumption would be mistaken for under communism such a movement creates societal class warfare and creates gaps in the ruling oligarchy and the other citizen class that is subject to one rule. Such a system of government is not merciful. Instead, the writer of Acts describes how there were no needy among them and that any house or property owners would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sale to put them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed according to need. We learn that from Thomas, that God will come to us and comfort us and take off the blindfold. It is not our eyesight of seeing it through our lens, but seeing our very life and existence through God’s eyesight and His lens. Mercy is that great agape love experience. Our choice of heaven and it’s promises will be extended to us if we allow His mercy to enter our very core. This is our choice, to radically allow the blood of his wounds to not only wash over us and cleanse us, but to allow the Holy Spirit to move us to show others His mercy and His grace filled love. Saint Maria Faustina, God’s “apostle of Divine Mercy” who lived during a time before the rise of fascism & communism & the start of World War II is that example where God blesses us with those gentle reminders to do more with our life with the graces we receive. Matthew’s gospel in which Jesus reminds us not to keep our light hidden under a bushel basket, but to display it on a lamp stand to light the whole house is a good reflection (Mt. 5:15).

Today, let us reflect and pray for God’s mercy to enter us and transform us as we minister to our fellow man/woman on this Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus I trust in you to come fill my heart and soul this day with your mercy. Transform me and lead me to bring that mercy to others. For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Amen.

Responding to Receiving by Peter Cao, devoted husband & father

Responding to Receiving

By Peter Cao, devoted husband and father

I found writing the last reflection piece in the evening such a wonderful way to use time I would otherwise have spent preoccupied with my future financial state of affairs, or anxiously mulling over my day after I had already completed a thorough nightly examen. Fr. Antonin-Gilbert Sertillanges profoundly asserts in The Intellectual Life that “To speak is to listen to one’s soul and to the truth within it. To speak alone and wordlessly, as one does by writing, is to listen and perceive truth with a freshness of sensation like that of a man who rises early morning and holds his ear to nature”1 and I would add “to God.” What is it about cultivating this intellectual life that is so appealing? After a year of really diving into our rich Catholic faith during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am convinced that in order to develop our relationship with God, we need to seek Him through not only what He has revealed to use through Divine Revelation but also to seek Truth through avenues like the beautiful works of His faithful. This should be one of our responsibilities in responding to the gifts we have been bestowed with. In my first reflection, I wrote about ways that we can be more open to receiving; I want to take this time now to write about what this should motivate us to do.

Responsibility to Seek the Truth

One of the marvelous things about the Catholic faith is that in addition to Sacred Scripture, we have the Sacred Traditions to draw from. St. Irenaeus once wrote “When, therefore, we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek among others the truth, which is easily obtained from the Church. For the Apostles, like a rich man in a bank, deposited with her most copiously everything which pertains to the truth; and everyone whoever wishes draws from her the drink of life.”2 In addition to the teachings of the early Church Fathers, we also have contributions from saints, philosophers, theologians, religious, and more modern Catholic writers throughout our rich history that can nourish our hearts, minds, and souls; but only if we are receptive. Making the time to sit still, intentionally reflect and meditate, and truly open our hearts and minds to the Truth; can be a difficult endeavor in the noisy world we live in. But it can bear much fruit, allowing us to wield them as tools to mold a more humble heart and follow a more virtuous Christian lifestyle. It will also open our eyes to the wonders of God’s creation and his presence in everyone and everything around us. I remember diving into some of G.K. Chesterton’s works starting with Orthodoxy and then being totally engrossed in Dale Ahlquist’s The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of G.K. Chesterton, savoring each and every chapter line by line. Initially, I thought I was attracted to the wisdom and clarity of writing. I have come to believe that going past the superficiality of the style of writing, I was attracted to Truth and that this search has brought me closer to God.

How does one get started then? I am embarrassed to admit that I fit the stereotype of the Catholic who is fairly ignorant of Sacred Scripture. I have read through plenty of commentary about the Bible like for example the works of Professors John Bergsma and Peter Kreeft, but have skirted around the actual Word of God. It took me 36 years to finally make a serious attempt at reading through the Bible. This is not to say I have not tried to do so in years previous. Since the rekindling of my faith about 5 years ago, I have picked whichever books that interested me at the moment. This usually meant I stuck with the more relatable New Testament readings. I labored through these books using the Ignatius Study Bible, which was filled with insightful footnotes that linked to other parts of Sacred Scripture, included allusions to Sacred Tradition with quotes from the early Church Fathers, and also tied in teachings from the Catechism, remaining faithful to the Magisterium. I would also have weekly discussion meetings with our parish’s men’s group where we would go through a few chapters at a time. Surely, this period bore much fruit, but it felt like a slog at times, where I focused not so much on God’s Word and how it was speaking to me during the pertinent season of life, but became too much of a purely intellectual exercise. And in staying away from what I perceived was the less relatable Old Testament, I was also missing the big picture in seeing Sacred Scripture through the lens of Salvation History. With this conviction, this year I discovered Fr. Mike Schmidt’s The Bible in a Year podcast where he uses the The Great Adventure Bible timeline to go through the Bible in 365 days. In addition, since the birth of the Church a little over 2 millennia ago, we have at our disposal so many great spiritual works to deepen our faith and fuel our love for Christ. A great resource that compiles many of these works is Mike Aquilina’s A Year with the Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living.

What I have discovered recently is that you may not be in the right stage to dive through some of these works. For example, I can say that currently in my state of life as a relatively new father, I am reading through many books that encourage me to step up into the role of leadership and embrace the true masculine role that God has called me into. Such books include Joseph’s Way: The Call to Fatherly Greatnessby Devin Schadt, St. Joseph and his World by Mike Aquilina, Leaving Boyhood Behind by Jason Craig, and Fire and Light: Learning to Receive the Gift of God by Fr. Jacques Philippe. On the other hand, there are a few books that I just could not enter into, but that I could imagine later enjoying as I spiritually mature in life – namely, the autobiographical works of St. Theresa of Avila and St. Therese de Lisieux. In addition to choosing well, Fr. Antonin-Gilbert Sertillanges also admonishes us to read little – to read intelligently, not passionately, that “the passion for reading which many pride themselves on as a precious intellectual quality, is in reality a defect; it differs in no wise from other passions that monopolize the soul, keep it in a state of disturbance, set up in it uncertain currents and cross-currents, and exhaust its powers.”1 This passage struck me deeply, as it came during a time when I was voraciously seeking out intellectual material to fill the time that was now available during my Exodus 90 adventure, when the ascetic practices freed me from previous attachments like social media. However, I soon found myself anxiously reading through Peter Kreeft’s philosophical Socrates’ Children and eventually with a copy of Plato’s Five Dialogues lying on my bookshelf, likely never to be read. Indeed, it is important that one reads to think, in other words “the reader, if in a certain way he must be passive in order to open his mind to truth and not to hinder its ascendency over him, is nevertheless called on to react to what he reads so as to make it his own and by means of it to form his soul.”1 It is important to realize that in seeking the Truth, we are not only responsible in finding opportunities to do so, but also in the way and method we employ to go about doing so.

Responsibility to Be Generous with our Neighbors

Our response to receiving gifts should be one of gratitude, and that gratitude should be reflected in our generosity with our neighbors. This notion was not received openly during my early adult years. I developed a habit of taking, amassing, hoarding – feeding the never-ending depths of my ego. A veritable Ebenezer Scrooge with avarice as my right-hand man, I entered into utilitarian relationships and thought only of how I would benefit. What a rude awakening I was in for when I entered into the role of husband and father, where space both physical and emotional was now shared. Enter our Catholic faith, and we are called into the sacrificial role as disciples of Christ and servants to our family. Mother Teresa once said that “I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”3 To combat my inner selfishness, I had to work hard to develop the virtue of generosity. This does not mean carelessly throwing away money, which can lead into the vice of prodigality. In Dante’s Inferno, the greedy occupy the 4th circle of Hell, where they are encumbered by heavy weights and spend an eternity trotting along a circular path colliding and arguing with the spendthrifts before turning around and repeating the same at the other end.

What are some practical ways to exercise generosity? The answer to this question lies with the proper orientation of how we view our current resources. If we accept the truth that everything we have is ultimately from God, we then should view ourselves as being stewards of these resources. The resources include not only our material property but also our time and our talents. Ordered properly, the exercise of generosity should be willingly undertaken in a spirit of what we have borrowed and been given, rather than what we have achieved or produced ourselves. Again, this notion was difficult for me to accept because in my formative years, I was very proud of my achievements, many of which were done at the expense of people around me. But this search for more honor and more money left me unsatisfied, not at peace. I learned early on that volunteer experiences during my teenage and young adult years made me feel good in the moment, but it was not sustained because sometimes it was done with the wrong motive or was done from a place of comfort. I was chasing a feeling, and the opportunities to do so were far and few between. Reflecting over the past few years, I think some of the genuinely joyful moments were those when I made small sacrifices for those around me, when I said a little word of encouragement or went out of my comfort zone so as to make someone else more comfortable. I am reminded of the Little Way of St. Therese. We do not need grand gestures to live the holy lives of saints. Fr. Lawrence Lovasik writes that “the little acts of kindness, the little courtesies, are the things that, added up at night, constitute the secret of a happy day.”4 During my nightly examen, if I can identify a moment when I was generous, I consider it a day well spent. In addition to our time, we must too strive to be generous with our money, to tithe appropriately to our parish and help those who are less fortunate. And we must strive to be generous with our talents, to nurture the talents we possess so that we can build up the Kingdom of God. I would hope that my writing will be used for the glory of God, keeping in mind that despite the difficulty at times to get the words on paper, “To father some intellectual work is to sow a good and fruitful seed. Every work is a wellspring!”1

He is Risen!

The weeks leading up to Holy Week, culminating in the glorious Easter Sunday, have been such a blessing to me and my family. I have observed some changes for good but also realize that this is a work in progress. The virtuous life requires practice and a breaking of old habits. One of the core sins of mine is pride, the roots of which have grown deep. Developing the exercise of seeking Truth and generously giving has guided me towards the path of humility, whereby I can properly view my relationship to God and to Neighbor. These two exercises are by no means mutually exclusive either – in our habitual pursuit of learning, we enter into a depth that transforms us by its shaping of our moral lives and lives with others. Professor Zena Hitz points to Dorothy Day as a prime example of this transformation – “Her sympathy for human beings depicted in books has transferred into real people, not automatically – for…alternative paths were possible for her – but because of her hard thinking about her own life and the lives of others, thinking driven by her deepest desires.”5

I think of this process as a way to fortify my faith, so that in Christ I will not only survive but continue to thrive during the many inevitable trials of life. However, this requires much dedication, as St. Clement of Alexandria once wrote “Some people who think themselves naturally gifted don’t want to touch either philosophy or logic…[or] natural science. They demand bare faith alone – as if they wanted to harvest grapes right away without putting any work into the vine. We must prune, dig, trellis, and do all the other work…I say you’re truly educated if you bring everything to bear on the truth. Taking what’s useful from geometry, music, grammar, and philosophy itself, you guard the Faith from assault.”6 Let us therefore approach the Easter season with hope that God will grant us the grace to die to our old selves and be transformed into true soldiers of Christ.


  1. Sertillanges, A.G. (1992). The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. Catholic University of America Press.
  2. St. Irenaeus (c. 130-200 AD). Against Heresies.
  3. Mother Teresa (1997). In the Heart of the World. MJF Books.
  4. Lawrence, Lovasik (1962). The Hidden Power of Kindness. Sophia Institute Press.
  5. Hitz, Zena (2020). Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life. Princeton University Press.
  6. Aquilina, Mike (2010). A Year with the Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living. Saint Benedict Press.

Good Friday: The Defeat of Sin and Fulfillment to New Life

Image taken from

Oftentimes, as I ponder over the meaning of Good Friday when reflecting on the mystery of the cross as our instrument of salvation, I can’t help but think about the two that were crucified alongside with our Lord and Savior on that hilltop known as Golgotha or “Place of the Skull” in Hebrew. Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24 verses 39 to 43 has the image of both the impenitent and the penitent sinners being brought to justice alongside our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How often do we view ourselves as that impenitent person that refuses to let our past go and learn how to forgive and love as Jesus did while on earth? How often do we refuse to let God’s grace transcend our very being and permeate our entire core? The penitent sinner in Luke’s Gospel asks Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. How often, do we lay down our own thoughts, desires, temptations and idols to follow Jesus more closely not only on Good Friday, but all days that our Lord has blessed us with while we are on this earth?

I oftentimes ponder if the Christians of today would recognize the Christians of the past? The Christianity of today is more simple in that one can pick and choose such tenets of faith to abide by that don’t necessarily require the same sacrifice of martyrdom as seen with the early Christian community. In order to be bold and proclaim the Good news of Jesus Christ on this day and all days, we must be willing to be like the individual hanging next to Jesus. We must be willing to lay down all of our fears, worries, misgivings, temptations, idols and other earthly possessions that hold us back to follow Jesus more closely. As disciples of Jesus, we must be willing to not only seek out the lost sheep, but also till the soil for the fruits of the earth that will bear forth life in His bountiful love.

Let us remember a hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas on this day: “O Saving victim, opening wide the gate of heaven to man below! Our foes press in from every side: Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow!” (Thigpen Paul Manual for Spiritual Warfare North Carolina: Tan Books, 2014, p. 214).

Today, let us draw near to the Lord and ask Him to give us the strength and the grace to turn to Him always and during our last hour, whenever that hour might be.

Holy Week: Acknowledging Our Weakness to Follow Him and Lift up our cross to new life

This week marks the greatest week in the history of the Christian church. From the Judeo celebration of Pesach marking the Exodus event, the Seder meal commemorates the paschal full moon starting on March 27 sundown and ending Sunday April 4 to the start of Holy Week this week. We see the plan of God’s salvation history and saving grace to the nations through the fulfillment of both the old testament and new testament in that great filial love between the Father and Son that brings forth the gift of the Holy Spirit on our churches this week.

Recent weeks have brought forth much tragedy with mass shootings, renewed debates in regard to man’s innate desire to defend oneself and other liberties. Nation states and global powers are more divided than they ever were before and as a Christian or other spiritual follower, one must question how we survive in such a world? The Hindi sage Sri Ramikrishna once remarked that we are like many paths leading to the same summit. In many respects, the culmination of salvation history has unfolded within the Christian milieu and tradition with the readings in the Catholic rite from Mark’s Gospel with Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem and His last trial and tribulation of asking His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane that He might not undergo the test. With Jesus, we not only see his full humanity, but also His full divinity in the fulfillment of our true eschatological self and dueling sense of being made in the image and likeness of God, yet turning against His will and being dependent on ourselves. The Jewish rabbinical texts from Genesis as seen with the creation story, the testing of Abraham, Noah, and killing of Abel by Cain leads us to believe that all is lost. However, the idea of “yetzer herah”, or evil inclination per the Hebrew transliteration speaks volumes for our human condition when Peter slices off the ear of the centurion for his continued doubts in our Lord’s ability to save us and transform our human condition and fragility.

We must always remember that Jesus’s message to His apostles and disciples of this present age can be seen with the passage from Johns gospel chapter fifteen, verses twelve and thirteen in that
“the greatest commandment is to love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”

We must always be able to be open to change within our spiritual journey and look at the power of the cross and vanquishing of sin and death before looking to the mystery of the Resurrection and being brought to new life. With the gift of God’s grace comes great responsibility to transform not only ourselves, but the world we live in. How will you conquer the power that binds you this week in the crosses that you bear in this life?

We must remember that before we approach the miracle of the Resurrection of our Lord during the Easter season, we must remember to put aside our dependence in our human ego and pride and truly follow Him by being dependent on His love and transforming power as His gift of the paschal lamb come down from heaven in the second person of the trinity. Come and follow the Lord no matter what difficulties, anxieties or problems you have faced and He will give you rest. Pax Christi. Lumen Christi. Jesus I trust in You.

Come Holy Spirit into my heart and soul each and every day so that I may be radically transformed by your grace which is enough for me. Amen.