Sunday, June 30, 2013

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, June 30, 2013 with Reflections

1ST READING - 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21
16 The Lord said to Elijah: “You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.” 19Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.20 Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please, let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back! Have I done anything to you?” 21 Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel toboil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.
P S A L M - Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
R: You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the Lord, “My Lord are you.” O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot. (R) “I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me.” I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. (R) Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence; 10 because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption. (R)  11 You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (R)
2ND READING - Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. 13For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. 16 I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what youwant. 18 But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life.
Luke 9:51-62
51 When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, 52 and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, 53 but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55 Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they journeyed to another village. 57 As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” 59 And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 60 But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” 62 To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”



I don’t know about you, but at times, I behave exactly like the two hotheads, James and John. Referred to, rather appropriately, as the “sons of thunder,” the two brothers were true to form when they said indignantly, “Do you wantus to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” That was vindictiveness at its best, and at its worst. They probably meant well, for after all, their Master was rebuffed by the Samaritans, whom any true-blooded Jew then did not look too kindly on. The Gospel account is clear. Jesus would not hear any of it. He actually rebuked them.

       I take it they were stopped dead in their tracks. I take it the Lord was teaching them on what it meant to be a loyal follower. Loyalty was a good thing, of course, but obedience to the tenets of discipleship was another.

       As a priest, I have to take a stand on a multiplicity of issues. As a professor of Moral Theology, taking such a stand comes with the territory. It is all part of the package. I cannot stand by idly, while I know that “big ticket items” are being trampled upon, muddled, or lost in the welter ofpartisan politics or sacrificed on the altar of sordid personal economic gain. While I submit a lot of such issues, including and most especially pro-life issues, are intertwined with a train of other big issues like social justice, poverty and business ethics, I am duty-bound by my ordination, and bymy vocation and avocation, to take a stand and take the official side of a teaching Church.

       All these, for one simple reason: I am not the Master. I am not the Lord.  I am but a follower. And although at times, I would rather do a James or a John, and call down “fire and brimstone” from above, I need to do better than to give in to fiery and shallow emotions. I need to take my cue from Him and Him alone. Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you usually give in to the human tendency to act on your emotions, especially negative ones?
Lord Jesus, You showed us Your gentle spirit. May we learn from You.

The First Martyrs of the Church of Rome, pray for us.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

How the world ends—a Catholic perspective

Author David Currie grew up
convinced that one day all
true Christians will suddenly
be snatched up to heaven.

Those unfortunate souls left behind by this
"rapture" will endure seven horrible years
of tribulation, at the end of which Christ will
return to earth for a glorious thousand-year

Today, millions of Christians accept this
end-times theology, assuming—as Currie
did—that the Bible clearly teaches it.
Many plan their whole lives around it.

But after studying Scripture for decades,
Currie has come to see that if you accept
the Bible, you have to reject the rapture.

In Rapture—which
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thorough scriptural study of the rapture—
Currie demonstrates why.

With painstaking thoroughness, he unlocks
the meaning of the key biblical prophecies
that culminate in Christ's Messianic
Kingdom—including those verses in Daniel,
Matthew, and Revelation that rapturists
turn to most.

Marshalling evidence that's as startling as it
is compelling, Currie argues that these
prophecies of war and tribulation don't point
to some still-unrealized apocalyptic future.

Rather, most of them were fulfilled long
ago: the spiritual, priestly Kingdom prefigured
in the Old Testament was inaugurated on
Calvary, consummated in 70A.D. with the
destruction of the Temple, and continues to
exist today . . . in the Catholic Church!

That may surprise you.  Yet, shows Currie,
it's the only conclusion that fits all the
scriptural and historical evidence.

Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves
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if you open your Bible, you'll find that God's plan
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  • Nine ground rules you must follow if you are to make sense of biblical prophecy and relate it to secular events.
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  • A survey of the thoughts of the early Church Fathers about the end-times.
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013


The parish priest of this town doubted the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. One day in the year 1010, while celebrating Mass, the miracle occurred: the wine contained in the chalice was converted entirely into live Blood. At present, the Sacred Relics are preserved in a gothic reliquary from 1426 that contains the altar cloth spotted with Blood, and other relics given from Pope Sergius IV to Saint Ermengol.

The heretical doctrines that denied the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist began to spread throughout all of Europe in the eleventh century. The priest of Ivorra, Bernat Oliver, also doubted the reality of transubstantiation. While he celebrated Mass, a miracle suddenly occurred: the wine in the chalice was converted into Blood and poured onto the altar cloth, flowing onto the ground. The Bishop of Urgell, Saint Ermengol, informed of what happened, was immediately brought to Ivorra to confirm the facts in person, which were then reported directly to Pope Sergius IV in Rome. He then signed a Pontifical Bull in which it was certified that a true miracle occurred. The relics of the miracle and the pontifical document were placed under the high altar of the parochial church of Ivorra, titled to San Cugat, and inaugurated in the year 1055 from the Bishop Guillem de Urgell. At present the sacred relics are preserved in a gothic reliquary from 1426 that contains the altar cloth stained with Blood and other relics given from Pope Sergius IV to Saint Ermengol.

In 1663, to satisfy the requirements of the great number of pilgrims that went to venerate the miracle every year, the present sanctuary was built. Even today, after all of these years, on the second Sunday of Easter, an important feast is celebrated, known by the name “la Santa Duda” in reference to the “doubt” of Bernat Oliver, the priest of Ivorra, and the great miracle.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


An inscription in marble from the 17th century describes this Eucharistic miracle which occurred at Lanciano in 750 at the Church of St. Francis. “A monastic priest doubted whether the Body of Our Lord was truly present in the consecrated Host. He celebrated Mass and when he said the words of consecration, he saw the host turn into Flesh and the wine turn into Blood. Everything was visible to those in attendance. The Flesh is still intact and the Blood is divided into five unequal parts which together have the exact same weight as each one does separately.

In 1970, the Archbishop of Lanciano and the Provincial Superior of the Conventual Franciscans at Abruzzo, with Rome’s approval, requested Dr. Edward Linoli, director of the hospital in Arezzo and professor of anatomy, histology, chemistry, and clinical microscopy, to perform a thorough scientific examination on the relics of the miracle which had occurred twelve centuries earlier. On March 4, 1971, the professor presented a detailed report of the various studies carried out. Here are the basic results:

1. The “miraculous Flesh" is authentic flesh consisting of muscular striated tissue of the myocardium.

2. The “miraculous Blood" is truly blood. The chromatographic analysis indicated this with absolute and indisputable certainty.

3. The immunological study shows with certitude that the flesh and the blood are human, and the immuno – hematological test allows us to affirm with complete objectivity and certitude that both belong to the same blood type AB – the same blood type as that of the man of the Shroud and the type most characteristic of Middle Eastern populations.

4. The proteins contained in the blood have the normal distribution, in the identical percentage as that of the serous-proteic chart for normal fresh blood.

5. No histological dissection has revealed any trace of salt infiltrations or preservative substances used in antiquity for the purpose of embalming. Professor Linoli also discarded the hypothesis of a hoax carried out in past centuries. This report was published in The Sclavo Notebooks in Diagnostics (Collection #3, 1971) and aroused great interest in the scientific world. Also, in 1973, the chief Advisory Board of the World Health Organization appointed a scientific commission to corroborate Linoli’s findings. Their work lasted 15 months and included 500 tests. It was verified that the fragments taken from Lanciano could in no way be likened to embalmed tissue. As to the nature of the fragment of flesh, the commission declared it to be living tissue because it responded rapidly to all the clinical reactions distinctive of living beings. Their reply fully corroborated Professor Linoli’s conclusions. In the extract summarizing the scientific work of the Medical Commission of the WHO and the UN, published in Dec. 1976 in New York and Geneva, declared that science, aware of its limits, has come to a halt, face to face with the impossibility of giving an explanation.

The Flesh and the Blood of Lanciano therefore are just the same as they would be if they had been drawn that very day from a living being.

Monday, June 24, 2013


This Eucharistic miracle, whose relic is still preserved in the Benedictine Monastery of Andechs, Germany, is verified by numerous written sources. The authentication took place in Rome in 595 during a Eucharistic celebration presided by Pope St. Gregory the Great. At the moment of receiving Holy Communion, a Roman noblewoman began to laugh because she had doubts about the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated Bread and Wine. The Pope, troubled by her disbelief, decided not to give her Communion and then the Bread turned into Flesh and Blood.

Among the most important works in which this Eucharistic miracle that occurred in Rome in 595 is mentioned, is Vita Beati Gregorii Papae written by Deacon Paul in 787. It was customary in those times to have the Eucharistic bread prepared by the parishioners. Pope St. Gregory the Great was a direct eyewitness to this prodigy.

One Sunday, while celebrating the Sacred Mass in an ancient church dedicated to St. Peter, the Pope was distributing Communion and saw among the faithful in line, one of the women who had prepared the bread for the consecration and she was laughing out loud. Troubled, the Pope cornered her and asked her to explain her behavior. She justified herself by saying that she could not believe that the bread she made with her very own hands could become the Body and Blood of Christ during the consecration. St. Gregory denied her Communion and asked God to illuminate her. Having just finished praying, he saw that part of the bread prepared by the woman became Flesh and Blood. The woman repented, knelt on the ground and began to cry. To this day, part of the relic of the miracle is housed in Anechs, Germany, near the local Benedictine monastery.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Today's Mass Reading - Sunday, June 23, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
10 Thus says the Lord: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 13: On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.
P S A L M - Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
R: My soul is thirsting for you; O Lord my God.
1 [2] O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my fleshpines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water. (R) 2 [3] Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, 3 [4] for your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you. (R) 4 [5] Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name. 5 [6] As with the riches of a banquetshall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you. (R) 7 [8] You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. 8 [9] My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me. (R)
2ND READING - Galatians 3:26-29
26 Brothers and sisters: Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.
Luke 9:18-24

18 Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’ ” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” 21 He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. 22 He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” 23 Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”



The focus of most reflections today would be Jesus’ question: “Who do you say I am?” For once, I would like to do a reverse and focus on its flip side: “Who do you say you are?” The former is all about Him; the latter is all about us.

       Both are questions of great importance. They are questions of identity, and identity affects everything that we are and do. Identity has far ranging consequences. If one does not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, then one’s behavior will be in accordance with that denial or non-acceptance.

       I have been a priest and preacher long enough to know that, in many cases in life, “it takes two to tango.” A capable public speaker performs better on account of what is known as “audience sympathy.” A good teacher becomes even better in the presence of receptive students who are willing to learn, just as much as the teacher is willing to impart knowledge. A good master interacts well with good disciples, and a leader could only lead well in proportion to the subjects’ capacity to show allegiance and loyalty.

       While the Lord’s question to the disciples is, as theologians put it, a “Christological” question, the latter is a simple question that is aimed directly at the heart, not mind, of each one of us. It’s time we also look at ourselves closely as we reflect on this issue of Jesus’ identity.

       Some years ago, a Church leader, speaking about the emerging political problems occasioned by so much “hatred” for the top leader, hit the nail right on the head when he said, “It’s not so much a problem of leadership, as a problem of the led.”

       Let us look at ourselves. I think that for the most part, readers of this book already know and confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior, as Peter confessed. But we do need to ask ourselves: “Who are we as His disciples?” “Who are we as His followers?” That is the question! Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTION: Who are you as Jesus’ follower?
I take my identity from You, Lord. May my life reflect that identity and may it be pleasing to You.

St. John Fisher, pray for us.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

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Thursday, June 20, 2013


This Eucharistic miracle is related in the life of St. Mary of Egypt who lived in the desert for 47 years. The account of her life was written by the Bishop Sofronio of Jerusalem in the 6th century. St. Mary is said to have walked on the Jordan River to reach the opposite bank and receive Communion from the Monk Zosimus.

We are told that when St. Mary was 12 years of age she left her parents and went to Alexandria. There she led a very dissolute life for 16 years. One day she came upon a ship
about to set sail with different groups of passengers. She inquired who they might be and where they were going. She was told they were pilgrims sailing toward Jerusalem for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. She decided to join them. When on the feast day she tried to enter the church, she was seized by a mysterious force. Fearfully she raised her eyes to an image of the Holy Virgin and was overcome with a deep sorrow for the sinful life she had led until that day. Only then was she able to make her way into the church and worship the True Cross. She did not remain in Jerusalem. “If you go across the Jordan you will find peace” was the message of the Madonna. The following day after her confession and Communion she made her way across the Jordan to the desert of Arabia.

There she lived for 47 years in solitude encountering neither men nor beasts. Her skin shriveled, her hair was long and white, but the promise of the Virgin proved true, she found
her peace of soul. One day she met up with the Monk Zosimus and asked him to bring her Communion each year. One year Zosimus arrived with the Eucharist, but Mary did not show. In great sorrow Zosimus prayed: “Lord, my God, King and Creator of all, do not deprive me of my desire, but grant that I may see this holy woman.” Then he thought, “Now what will I do if she appears, there is no boat around to get me across? I will not achieve my wish.” While he gave into these thoughts, Mary appeared on the opposite shore and Zosimus was consoled. Then he saw her make the sign of the Cross over the water and walk out on it as though it were dry land. When 12 months had passed Zosimus returned but was unable to find the mummified remains of the saintly penitent. A lion had dug her grave and buried the body.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Table of Plenty

This song has given me inspiration at times when I'm financially down. It reminds me of a God who provides, a God who is rich and merciful and who takes care of his children.

by Dan Schutte

Come to the feast of heaven and earth!
Come to the table of plenty!
God will provide for all that we need,
here at the table of plenty.

1. O come and sit at my table
where saints and sinners are friends.
I wait to welcome the lost and lonely 
to share the cup of my love.

2. O come and eat without money;
come to drink without price.
My feast of gladness will feed your spirit 
with faith and fullness of life.

3. My bread will ever sustain you
through days of sorrow and woe.
My wine will flow like a sea of gladness 
to flood the depths of your soul.

4. Your fields will flower in fullness;
your homes will flourish in peace.
For I, the giver of home and harvest, 
will send my rain on the soil.

EUCHARISTIC MIRACLE - 3rd-5th Century, SCETE, Egypt

The account of this Eucharistic miracle goes back to the first centuries of Christianity and is found in the apothegm of the Fathers of the Desert who lived in the desert after the example of St. Anthony, Abbot. A monk had doubts regarding the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine consecrated at Mass. After the consecration the Infant Jesus was seen in place of the Bread. Three companion monks witnessed the same appearance.

In the sayings and deeds of the Fathers of the Desert, we find the description of an ancient Eucharistic miracle. Fr. Daniel the Faranite attests: “Our Fr. Arsenius told us of a monk of the Scete who was a hard worker but lacked instruction in the Faith. In his ignorance he would say: ‘The Bread we receive is not really the Body of Christ, but is a symbol of that Body.’ Two of the more experienced monks heard his statement and, aware that he was a good and pious monk, decided to speak to him since they attributed his words to his ignorance and not to malice. So they informed him: ‘What you are saying contradicts our Faith.’ The accused replied: ‘Unless you can show me evidence, I will not change my mind.’ The older monks told him: ‘We will pray to God about this mystery and we believe God will show us the truth.’

“A week later, on Sunday, all went to the church. At the consecration, in place of the Host, a Young Boy was seen. When the priest raised the Eucharistic Bread an angel appeared with a sword and pierced the Boy and when the priest broke the Host, Blood ran into the chalice. At the Communion, the angel took Bloodied Particles from the Host and brought them to the monks to receive. At this the doubter cried out ‘Lord, I believe that the Bread is Your Body, and that Your Blood is in the chalice.’ Immediately the Bloodied Flesh he had in his hand became the Eucharistic Bread and he communicated reverently.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


In the Cathedral of St. Quintinus in Hasselt is exposed the relic of the Eucharistic miracle that took place in Herkenrode in 1317. During the course of the centuries, many tests were done to ascertain the miraculous preservation of the consecrated Host from which Blood flowed. We recall the test done in the 18th century by the Apostolic Nuncio Carafa and the Bishop of Liège or the one done by the Archbishop of Malines during a visit of the Archduchess Isabel. In the cathedral we also find numerous paintings depicting the miracle, done by a pupil of Jordaens, Jan van Boeckhorst.

On July 25, 1317, the pastor of the church in Viversel was called to the bedside of one his parishioners who was seriously ill, to receive the holy sacraments. Upon his arrival at the house of the sick person, he rested his handbag containing the consecrated Host on a table at the entrance and went to hear the confession of the sick person. One of the family members, curious about the handbag, opened it without being noticed. From it he pulled out the pyx, opened the cover and put his hand into it. As soon as he realized that inside there was a Host, he put everything back in order. In the meantime, the priest came out from the room of the sick person to take out the Host with which to give him Communion. He took the handbag with the pyx inside, and when he opened it he saw that the Host he himself had consecrated during Mass was stained with Blood and was in some way stuck to the linen that covered the bottom of the container. Troubled and panic-stricken with the excuse that he had forgotten something, he rushed out of the house and went to the pastor of nearby Lumen to tell him what had happened. The latter advised him to bring the Particle to the Abbey of Herkenrode. It was August 1, 1317.

The priest left, taking the pyx with him. Along the road, extraordinary things happened. As soon as he arrived at the Benedictine monastery, he showed everybody the Host stained with Blood. Then, the face of Christ crowned with thorns appeared on the Host. This was attested to by numerous witnesses. In the Cathedral of Hasselt there is a painting in which there is depicted a flock kneeling as the priest, carrying the sacred relic, passes by. In this place, called Sacramentsberg, a chapel was built as a perpetual memorial. From that time on, “the Blessed Sacrament of the Miracle,” which had been placed in a reliquary and exposed to public veneration, more than once protected the monastery of Herkenrode from fire. The reliquary of the miracle was kept at the Abbey until 1796, and in 1804, it was transferred to the Church of St. Quintinus in Hasselt.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hope for the Gospel of Life in America

by Father John McCloskey

The Holy See is celebrating Blessed John Paul's landmark encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) June 15-16. Issued in 1995 and dated March 25 to coincide with the Feast of the Annunciation, The Gospel of Life is considered by many to be the best of an impressive set of 16 encyclical letters from his papacy, and perhaps his most heartfelt.
It makes sense—does it not?—when we consider his own life experiences in twentieth-century Europe. His father had fought in a senseless world war that produced tens of millions of casualties. Besides toppling the Czar and establishing atheistic communism in Russia, that war set the scene for an even bloodier one a mere 20 years later, which mowed down millions throughout the world.
This brings us to consider what progress, if any, our own country has made in creating or recovering a "Culture of Life" since Blessed John Paul issued his encyclical. After all, the pope himself identified a "conspiracy against life" involving government, international organizations, and the mass media—and we know from our own experience that the mass media spare few opportunities to depict pro-life people as enemies of freedom and progress.
Please don't shoot the messenger of bad news, but I have to be honest with my opinion about the successful spread (or lack thereof) of the Gospel of Life in the United States. Since the introduction of "the Pill" (read Mary Eberstadt's recent book on the subject) around 1960, the United States has been in an ongoing free-fall as regards the inviolability and dignity of the human person, with no sign of turn-around in the near future.
To quote from Pope John Paul II: "the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man [is] the eclipse of the sense of God and of man." This results in "a practical materialism, which breeds individualism, utilitarianism, and hedonism." Quality of life is seen purely as material well-being (consumerism, pleasure, etc.), with no spiritual or religious dimension. Suffering must be avoided at all costs. People are considered not for what they "are" but for what they "have" or "produce." The first victims of this materialistic mentality "are women, children, the sick or suffering, and the elderly."
Face it folks, the United States is no longer a Christian country.
We already have the most liberal abortion laws in the world, responsible (at a minimum) for tens of millions of deaths, with the morning-after pill now available at your local pharmacy for teenage girls and younger. Pope John Paul II was a prophet, but even he might have been startled by the pace at which we are embracing the culture of death in all forms.
Pornography is the most profitable and watched form of "entertainment." Marriage is being redefined not as a covenant between man and wife, with one of its purposes being the procreation of children, but as more or less whatever one wants it to be: men contracted to men, women to women, and maybe bestiality down the road. I shudder to think of where it may all end, especially when our collapsing population is already at the lowest rate in American history. And who can disingenuously doubt that universal euthanasia for the incurable will become common with the help of our new "health" plan?
But wait—is there hope? Yes, even though God only promised a rose garden to Adam and Eve (and they blew it, as we well know, seeing that we still suffer the consequences). However, we have the promise that someday, after the final judgment, we will inhabit a new heaven and a new earth with the company of the Holy Trinity, Our Lady, and all the saints.
I look forward to it, but in the meantime we have work to do. The future is always bright for faithful Catholics, and it is an honor and a privilege to be foot soldiers in the Battle for Life in this country. All is not lost for us and our country, since HE is on our side.
Blessed Pope John Paul the Great (who we may piously hope may be proclaimed a saint before the year is out!) has told us what to do. The question to ask ourselves is: Are we doing what he told us—with faith, hope, and charity, and without faltering?
Let's turn again to the lessons of the encyclical: "We need first of all to foster, in ourselves and in others, a contemplative outlook," developing a habit of prayer linking ourselves with God. Then comes action, "our support and promotion of human life" by "personal witness, various forms of volunteer work, social activity and political commitment."
The "structure of sin" that threatens human life must be dismantled. We must commit ourselves to changing unjust laws that permit violence against life. Such laws are not inevitable (look at what some governors are doing in states like Gov. Sam Brownback's Kansas). Finally, we must raise our children as Christians. The witness of Christian families is vitally important in building a new Culture of Life.
First appeared on Truth and Charity Forum, June 2013.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, June 16, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13
Nathan said to David: “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king of Israel. I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your Lord’s house and your Lord’s wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. 9Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you took his wife as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’’’ 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.”
P S A L M - Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11
R: Lord, forgive the wrong I have done.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered. Blessed the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile. (R) I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not. I said, “I confess my faults to the Lord,” and you took away the guilt of my sin. (R)You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me; with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round. (R) 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just; exult, all you upright of heart. (R)
2ND READING - Galatians 2:16, 19-21
16 Brothers and sisters: We who know that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for ifjustification comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing.
God loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Luke 7:36-8:3
36 A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. 42Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. 47 So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 But Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 8:Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God.  Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.



A very old book that touched me deeply as a greenhorn in college was entitled That Man Is You by Michel Quoist. The whole book was based on this exchange between Nathan and David, where the latter was confronted with the truth: “You are the man!” I remember feeling convicted as I read and re-read the pages of the book. Like in his other books, Michel Quoist was hitting homeruns with his well-chosen lines.

       I remember, many years ago, inviting the city mayor to an important event in the school where I was rector. Without being explicitly told to make a speech, he somehow found his way to the podium, grabbed the microphone, and gave an impromptu speech that lasted unbearably long. At the end of the bombastic speech, the only question that everyone had was: “What did he say?” (“Ano raw?”) He talked much, but he really did not tell us anything.

       This Sunday’s readings are not about talking, but about telling it like it is. It is about naming the sin and naming the sinner: “That man is you, David,” hollered Nathan. But the best part is this. David himself named it. He claimed it. And that was what he needed to tame it. It is called acceptance, which eventually paved the way for repentance.

       The sinful woman in the Gospel did not talk at all. But her actions spoke louder than words. She communicated sorrow and repentance. She cried and poured out copious tears at the Lord’s feet and proceeded to wipe them dry with her hair. Everyone in the room must have bated their breath so as not to miss any detail in this unfolding drama — the very same drama that we all live on a daily basis, given the fact that the just man sins seven times a day.

       Jesus told her like it is — He named it clearly. “Your sins are forgiven. And this is called grace.” Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you tend to talk much but not talk straight? Do you also tend to justify your actions instead of being responsible for them?
Teach me, Lord, to name my sins and claim them as my own, so that I could tame them and repent of them genuinely.

St. John Francis Regis, pray for us.

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