Father & Son

It’s kind of appropriate that Corpus Christi and Father’s Day have fallen on the same day this year.  In addition to thanking our earthly fathers for their love and care, we can also thank our Heavenly Father for giving us the gift of His Only Son.  Had He not been so immeasurably generous in sending His Son to die for our sins, not only would we not have been saved, but we would never had the joy of being joined to Christ in the intimacy of Holy Communion.  The Eucharist is deeply tied to Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection – indeed we find all three in the Holy Eucharist and at each Mass.

While our sins would have made it impossible for us to share in the life of God, Jesus Christ was sent to remove this obstacle. His death was a sacrifice for our sins. Christ is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Through his death and resurrection, he conquered sin and death and reconciled us to God. The Eucharist is the memorial of this sacrifice. The Church gathers to remember and to re-present the sacrifice of Christ in which we share through the action of the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit. Through the celebration of the Eucharist, we are joined to Christ’s sacrifice and receive its inexhaustible benefits...The eternal high priest Jesus offers the perfect sacrifice which is his very self, not something else…Jesus’ act belongs to human history, for he is truly human and has entered into history. At the same time, however, Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity; he is the eternal Son, who is not confined within time or history. His actions transcend time, which is part of creation. “Passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation” (Heb 9:11), Jesus the eternal Son of God made his act of sacrifice in the presence of his Father, who lives in eternity. Jesus’ one perfect sacrifice is thus eternally present before the Father, who eternally accepts it. This means that in the Eucharist, Jesus does not sacrifice himself again and again. Rather, by the power of the Holy Spirit his one eternal sacrifice is made present once again, re-presented, so that we may share in it.

-From the USCCB’s The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers

So even if you have no father to send a card to today, or perhaps you do but your relationship is broken, don’t lose sight of the most important relationship you can have with a parent:  Your relationship with God the Father.  He longs for our hearts, that we might call upon Him with complete trust and confidence in every trial.  He wants to give us life in the Family that is the Holy Trinity, no matter what our family situation is here on earth.

God’s whole plan for our salvation is directed to our participation in the life of the Trinity, the communion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our sharing in this life begins with our Baptism, when by the power of the Holy Spirit we are joined to Christ, thus becoming adopted sons and daughters of the Father. It is strengthened and increased in Confirmation. It is nourished and deepened through our participation in the Eucharist. By eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ in the Eucharist we become united to the person of Christ through his humanity.  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56)…By being united to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are drawn up into the eternal relationship of love among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…The ultimate promise of the Gospel is that we will share in the life of the Holy Trinity. The Fathers of the Church called this participation in the divine life “divinization” (theosis). In this we see that God does not merely send us good things from on high; instead, we are brought up into the inner life of God, the communion among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the celebration of the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”) we give praise and glory to God for this sublime gift.                              -USCCB

Being adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, we sometimes describe Jesus as the Sun around which our whole universe revolves.  This is really what each soul is called to, no matter their state in life.  While no past age was perfect, and trials, struggles and sin have been present from Eden until now, past ages did have a greater love for the Holy Eucharist.  They made Him the center of their lives, as He is the center of the Church, and this Kingdom-building bore fruit that changed the course of history and set the west apart (read How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, by Thomas E. Woods, for a great explanation of just what I’m talking about).

If the God who pours Himself out like a libation for our salvation is not the center of our universe, the measuring rod by which we measure all we think, do, say, and desire, then we end up with man as the center, and the result is what we have today, a society of selfishness, which puts myself and my own needs before all else.  This way of thinking is at odds with what Jesus teaches us about Himself, His Father, and the Holy Spirit.

This “sublime gift” that is the Eucharist has spurred the saints to pour out their lives and the martyrs to lay down their lives; it has inspired the composition of the most beautiful sacred music; it has driven the construction of awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals, marvelous buildings that, despite their age, still speak to us of the majesty of God.  One of these masterpieces, St. Peter’s Basilica, so overwhelmed a friend of mine that he sent a postcard saying “the fact that man could build an edifice like this is proof to me of God’s existence.”

Love of the Holy Eucharist has been the catalyst for man to create so much beauty throughout the ages, and still there is nothing we can build, sculpt, paint, or compose which even touches the splendor of this mystery:  that God is hidden beneath the veil of bread and wine; that the Eternal Word Who became Incarnate in Mary’s womb is also present in every tabernacle, silent and humble and hidden, just as He was at the Incarnation, and He wants to feed us with Himself.  May God give us the eyes of faith to see and believe.

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 Spirit proceeding
Forth from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honour, blessing,
Might, and endless majesty.
Amen.

 

The Institution of the Eucharist

The Holy Sacrament Altarpiece, by Dieric Bouts, is an important piece of Flemish art with an interesting story. The work presents the Last Supper in the central panel, surrounded by four panels showing Old Testament pre-figurements of the Eucharist. It was commissioned by the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament for a church in Leuven, with specific instructions given by the two commissioning theology professors. Unlike traditional depictions of the Last Supper, which show Our Lord announcing the betrayal of Judas, they wanted this painting to depict Our Lord and His apostles at the moment when He first instituted the Eucharist.  You can read more about the piece here.

Eucharistic devotion was very strong in the Southern Netherlands, and there were many confraternities there devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.  In fact, there was a special sort of tabernacle in use in Germany and the Low Countries, called a sacrament house.  The Church prohibited them in the 1860s in order to make reservation of the Blessed Sacrament more uniform in tabernacles, but for 400 years they were in use.  The oldest known example is in this same church, St Peter’s in Leuven, where the Bouts altarpiece is located.  Many sacrament houses were destroyed during the iconoclasm of the reformation, but there are still examples extant, and you also see them in many Flemish paintings, although I must say, I have never really noticed them until now.  A sacrament house was a large tower shaped structure, usually located on the north side of the church, intricately carved, sometimes with stairs and a railing leading up to it, where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.  The door had a grille or lattice, so that the Eucharist could be seen at all times.

For our community, Holy Thursday is an important feast: The beginning of the Sacred Triduum, and the day on which Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist.  His Real Presence is the Sun around which our lives as adorers revolve.  And mixed with the joy of this gift He gives us, we have the sorrow of the Passion, about to begin in earnest after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  For all our PCPA houses this is a sad day because Jesus is removed from the monstrance, removed from the tabernacle, and taken to the altar of repose.  And though we follow him there, the open tabernacle is like a gaping wound, there is no mistaking the empty feeling that takes over the darkened chapel during these three days that He is absent.  We will follow Him to the Garden, follow Him as He is dragged before His many accusers, Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin; we will follow Him to prison, to Pilate, to Herod, and finally, we will follow Him along the Via Dolorosa, and to Calvary.  With Our Lady as Mother and guide, we will accompany Him, in our own inadequate way, throughout the events of our redemption, awaiting His victory over death and hell, and His return to our midst.

Hail Thee, Kingly Heart

sacred heart good shepherd

“I hail Thee, kingly Heart most high.”  This is the first line of the first hymn written in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Summi Regis Cor Aveto, ascribed to Bl. Herman Joseph a Norbertine of the 13th century.  Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find a translation, so we can’t give you more than the first line in English.

Christ and Priest at MassWe intended to talk about the origins of devotion to the Sacred Heart (which grew out of devotion to the Five Wounds, particularly the lance wound in the side of Our Lord), but when we found the above icon, it prompted us to think about all the men who are being ordained to the priesthood and transitional diaconate at this time of year.  Let us pray for each one of them, that Our Lady may form them into true images of her Divine Son, the Good Shepherd.  It is the Divine Love of His Sacred Heart, burning for souls, which prompts Our Lord to seek every lost sheep (that is, each one of us), and He has chosen to do this in a particular way through His priests.  Without the priesthood we could not have the sacraments, most especially the Most Blessed Sacrament, our consolation and our food.

The link between the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart is affirmed in the many Eucharistic miracles which the Church has approved over the  centuries.  In cases where the miracles have been found authentic, scientists examining the host-turned-tissue find human heart muscle!  Most recently in Poland Bishop Kiernikowski has approved a miracle which took place in 2013.  Upon examination “the histopathological tissue fragments were found containing a fragmented part of the skeletal muscle. … The whole image … is most similar to the heart muscle … as it appears under the strains of agony. Genetic studies indicate the origin as human tissue.”

Jesus promised He would not leave us orphans, and so He does not leave us without shepherds, nor without occasional confirmations of His Word and His Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

jesus-precious-bloodIllo fonte me fecunda,
Salva, sana, fove, munda,
Ex te laute qui manavit
Totum hominemque lavit,
In te hasta dum flectitur.

Behold, I Make All Things New

lam_gods

And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people; and God himself with them shall be their God.   And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write, for these words are most faithful and true.    – Rev. 21:3-5

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.18.34 AMDuring our time back at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery following the death of our beloved Mother Angelica, the daily Mass readings used were from the Masses for the dead. Providentially, the above reading for the dead fit perfectly with the Easter octave, as we look forward to the eternal life with God which Jesus opened up for us through His passion, death and resurrection. Two lines from the first reading at Mass that Wednesday of Easter struck me as being so connected to each other, and so fitting as we look back Continue reading

Do This In Memory of Me

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1323 “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'”133

The institution of the Eucharist

1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love.161 In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make Continue reading

Blessed Thanksgiving!

 

The first Mass in St. Augustine, FloridaPraying each one of you have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving today!

Our first Thanksgiving in San Antonio was in 2008 – here’s an article from our diocesan newspaper from way back then, by then-Archbishop Gomez (now archbishop of Los Angeles).

THANKSGIVING DAY, A DEEPLY CATHOLIC HOLIDAY

For most Americans, Thanksgiving Day is a special day, where we celebrate family unity. In fact, families get together on Thanksgiving more often than on any other holiday, including Christmas, and according to retailers’ statistics, this is the day when the most food is consumed in the country.

But besides the traditional family get-together and the big meal, there is also the religious meaning of this holiday, that is present since its origins. According to tradition, the pilgrims celebrated the first meal of thanksgiving in 1621, together with a group of natives to give thanks to God for the abundance of the harvests in the new world.

With time, this celebration became a national event, finally sanctioned by President George Washington himself. Today, we Catholics, celebrate Thanksgiving not only as a national holiday, but also as an authentically Catholic holiday.

I say that this is a truly Catholic celebration because even before the “first” Thanksgiving celebration on U.S. soil in 1621, on April 30, 1598, in Texas, Don Juan de Oñate had already declared officially a “Day of Thanksgiving,” commemorated with the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

????????Oñate did what is essentially Catholic: to celebrate the Eucharist, a word which comes from the Greek term Eukaristein, and which means, precisely, “thanksgiving.”

In fact the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life,” (CCC 222); and then it adds that this involves, “living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: ‘What have you that you did not receive?’ ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?’”(CCC 224).

This is the reason why, although Thanksgiving is not a day of obligation on the Catholic calendar, the liturgical calendar of the church in the United States celebrates it with the solemnity of two readings — one from the Old and another from the New Testament — and with a symbolic reading of the Gospel of Luke: the passage of the “Magnificat” proclaimed by the Most Holy Virgin Mary, in which she recites one of the most beautiful and profound thanksgivings to the infinite love of God: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness… The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Lk 1:41-55)

Although the Virgin Mary experienced it in a unique and privileged way, we can offer our thanksgiving to God, because he has given us more than we imagine or deserve, simply because, as our Holy Mother tells us, he has done great things for us, and holy is his name.

That is why we Catholics should not only celebrate Thanksgiving with a deep sense of prayer, gratitude and joy, but the celebration this day should lead us to remember that our lives as Catholics are a constant act of thanksgiving, through our daily activities, all of which should give glory to God, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist, which, as the Catechism says, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving.’” (CCC 1360)

This weekend we begin the special season of Advent. Through it, we prepare to receive the supreme gift from God: his own Son, who became one of us to reconcile humanity.

I pray with all my heart to our Mother, who was always grateful to the Lord, to fill our hearts with thanksgiving, in preparation for the great mysteries of Christmas.

Continue reading

Ego-centric vs Christo-centric

The ego-centric way vs the Christo-centric way.  Do I make God the locus of my life, or do I try to force Him to conform to my ways.  This is the constant struggle which each one of us, like St. Peter in today’s Gospel, must face. But in undertaking this struggle, decreasing more and more so that the Lord can increase in us, we become evermore conformed to  Christ.  It doesn’t come easy, though, which makes it rather unpopular.  

Pouring out my life like a libation is a lot harder than taking the path of least resistance against myself and just doing what makes me “happy.” And because of our fallen nature, it’s not always easy to recognize that we are being self-centered or self-serving in our relationship with God.  The truth is, God desires so much more for us than just being “happy.”  The list of what He wants to give us could take up an entire book, but a good place to start (which is the first thing that comes to mind) is from one of the psalms: “fulfillment and endless peace in Your presence.”   That’s just a little morsel of what God wants to pour into our souls here on earth and in eternity.

Now that you’ve seen the ego-centric way to “serve” God, read The Pope’s Sunday Angelus address, below, for a far better guide on how to conform to Christ, not the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, Good Morning!

In the Sunday itinerary with the Gospel of Matthew, we arrive today at the crucial point in which Jesus, after confirming that Peter and the other eleven had believed in Him as the Messiah and Son of God, “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly…,and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (16,21).

It is a critical moment in which Jesus and the disciples’ way of thinking emerges. Even Peter feels compelled to reproach the Master, because he cannot attribute such a shameful end for the Messiah. Continue reading