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

The Food that satisfies

On Thursday the world celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  Since in the US it’s transferred to Sunday, we want to share with you today Pope Francis’ homily from a few days ago on Corpus Christi.

“The Lord, your God … fed you with manna, which you did not know” (Deuteronomy 8:2).

These words of Deuteronomy refer to the history of Israel, that God made to go forth from Egypt, from the condition of slavery, and guided for forty years in the desert to the Promised Land. Once established in the land, the Chosen People attained a certain autonomy, a certain wellbeing, and ran the risk of forgetting the sad events of the past, surmounted thanks to the intervention of God and his infinite goodness. Then the Continue reading

Wednesday Audience – Living the Eucharist

At his Wednesday Audience today, Pope Francis continued the theme he began last week on the Holy Eucharist:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the last catechesis I highlighted that the Eucharist introduces us to real communion with Jesus and His mystery. Now we can ask ourselves some questions regarding the relation between the Eucharist we celebrate and our life, as Church and as individual Christians. We ask ourselves: how do we live the Eucharist? When we go to Mass on Sunday, how do we live it?Is it only a moment of celebration, a consolidated tradition, an occasion to meet with one another and feel well, or is it something more? Continue reading

Holy Hour in union with Pope Francis

Last week our Holy Father asked Catholics around the world to unite with him in prayer and adoration in an historic worldwide Eucharistic Holy Hour at 5pm Rome time on June 2.

Below are some pictures from the Solemn Holy Hour held by the Carmelite Friars at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower, here in San Antonio.  It was very moving to be with so many other people, adoring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament in union with Pope Francis.  As we always say, there is no distance between tabernacles.  We may never go to Rome or meet the Holy Father, but today we were closer to him than ever – we were united in the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, a Heart big enough to encompass all of us.

Holy Thursday

As religious especially dedicated to Our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence, Holy Thursday takes on even more meaning. It may seem odd to celebrate just as the Triduum is about to begin, but in our order this day is one of special celebration and solemnity. What took place in the Upper Room over 2,000 years ago is central to our vocations. Where would we be were it not for our Lord’s words “This is my body.” The Heart of the Church is the Eucharist, precisely because it is Christ’s Heart, alive and beating in our midst, feeding us daily.

It has been our community’s custom on this day to ask one another’s forgiveness for any hurts or offenses we may have committed, whether willingly or unwillingly.  Forgiveness is what Christ’s Passion gained for us, it is only right that we should begin the Sacred Triduum by ourselves asking forgiveness.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5:23-24)

Our midday meal is better described as a feast.  The joyful celebration of the day stands in stark contrast to the solemn silence which descends on the monastery after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  We are reminded that the joys of the day exist only in relation to, and because of, the unspeakable suffering and death Our Lord willingly endured for our sake.  Indeed, our vocation, because it is intimately tied to His Eucharistic Presence, could not be without his Passion.