October 21, 2012 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 21, 2012 

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

WORLDMISSIONSUNDAY

 

“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” 

 “Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words: ‘Full authority has been given to me…; go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.  And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Gospel of Matthew, 28:18-20)

     This last statement of Jesus at the very end of the Gospel of St. Matthew is the beginning of our call to receive God’s love given to us through Jesus in his Church beginning with Baptism.  We are then called to return God’s love by worshipping him in the Sacraments and serving others for His glory – that is our mission. 

     The late Pope John Paul II had reminded us that every Catholic has the “privilege”, “grace” and “obligation” to take part in the global effort for evangelization.  Through our prayers, our personal and financial sacrifices, through the Propagation of the Faith, we affect the lives and faith of people throughout the world.

Fact: St. Therese of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” who is depicted in our statue in the back of church, never went to the “missions” but she offered up her crosses to God, both physical and psychological, in order to obtain blessings of faith for those who did not know Christ.  She is the patroness of the missions, with St. Francis Xavier as patron.

Fact: Catholics now number about 1.3 billion people, about 19% of the world’s population.  To reach the other 7 billion with the Good News of Jesus Christ – the one Savior of the world- the missionary task must be a shared responsibility by each one of us.

Fact: The Propagation of the Faith was founded 189 years ago.  Its first support in 1822 was divided equally for missions inChina and the young Church here in theUnited States (Louisiana andKentucky).

     Your contribution to World Mission Sunday, this weekend of October 20 and 21 is helping the Propagation of the Faith – the Church’s central means and organization of support for the missions – to proclaim the love, compassion and truth of Jesus’ saving grace found in the sacraments.  The Word of God became flesh in the womb of Mary and made his dwelling among us.  The Son of God is now the son of Mary made flesh in the Eucharist to sustain life and bring eternal life to all those who believe, “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” Mt 28:20.

     As baptized disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ and his Church, let us rejoice in this call to know God’s infinite love and salvation in Jesus Christ, and pass on the Good News by serving others – for this is the call of evangelization.

Peace,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

October 14, 2012 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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October 14, 2012 

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  In today’s Gospel, the young man asks this most essential question of Jesus.  Everyone should ask and then humbly accept Jesus’ answer if they are at the age of reason (7years):  “You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” 

     We should know God’s Ten Commandments and meditate upon them, asking God for the grace that all our family members and members of the human family would follow them.  This would bring lasting peace, happiness and harmony into the world until that perfect peace arrives on Judgment Day for those who are truly following Jesus and his Ten Commandments.

    For those who have memorized God’s Ten Commandments of life and love, we realize that Jesus does not repeat them in the exact order found in the Old Testament.  Why?  It seems Jesus does this in order to show the young man that he must deepen his faith in God by being detached from everything and helping the poor.    Jesus looked at him with love and said, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 

     It is also obvious that Jesus leaves out the first three commandments which deal directly with our relationship to God.  “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before; Do not take God’s name in vain; Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.”  These definitely remind us to pray to God daily and to worship him on the weekend Sabbath at Mass…But it must be done with true hearts for the glory of God, not just to attain wealth and well-being!  We must be able to sacrifice for God and participate in the saving mission of divine truth, love and everlasting life!    

    Jesus calls each of us to trust God the Father and follow him into service of providing for and protecting the most vulnerable among us – the unborn babies and the poor.  Jesus assures us that the banquet hall of God’s kingdom will be accessible to those with a humble and grateful heart, for the feast is none other than divine love that has become our food – Jesus Christ in the Eucharist!  We are to dress up in our Sunday best, but most importantly we are to dress interiorly our soul with a contrite heart (Lord have mercy: Kyrie eleison) by praying and living acts of contrition, faith, hope and love.

     I say these prayers as my daily devotion apart from the prayers that I pray in my Divine Office as a priest.  I hope they will profit your journey into the feast of God’s divine love, truth and mercy.  I begin with an examination of conscience, calling to mind my sins with sorrow, and then I pray:

An act of ContritionO my God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart, in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.  I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my live.  Amen.

An act of Faith:  O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I believe that your divine Son became man, died for our sins and will come again to judge the living and the dead.  I believe these and all the truths the Catholic Church teaches, for You have revealed them who can never deceive nor be deceived.  Amen.

 An act of Hope:  O my God, relying on your almighty power, infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain the forgiveness of my sins, the help of your grace and life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ my Lord and Redeemer.  Amen.

An act of Love:  O my God, I love you above all things with my whole heart and soul because you are all good and deserving of all my love.  I love my neighbor as myself for love of you.  I forgive all those who have injured me and I beg pardon for all those whom I have injured.  Amen.    

     May God continue to bless this faith community with an abundance of temporal and spiritual gifts for God’s glory and the salvation of souls, especially during this Year of Faith. 

Peace in the Risen Lord,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

September 30, 2012 – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 30, 2012 

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time 

“For whoever is not against us is for us.

Our Archbishop John Nienstedt is fulfilling his Apostolic Office with great vigor.  At a recent event, youth gathered for catechesis and to worship God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  At the summit of this event was the Holy Mass.  The following are excerpts of his homily that capture some of the energy generated by our youth who are open to the Holy Spirit:

      Welcome youth of the Archdiocese! Welcome members of the Body of Christ! Welcome my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord! Wow! It is awesome to be with you! Hasn’t this been a fantastic day?

     You know, I got the idea for today in Madrid two summers ago. I was there with the World Youth Day pilgrims from the Archdiocese and we had just a wonderful religious experience. But during those ten days, I also vividly remembered being present in St. Peter’s Square for the very first World Youth Day gathering called by Blessed John Paul II in 1984…I arrived on the platform and such dignitaries as Mother Teresa and Cardinal Martini, may they rest in peace, were present on stage. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a big deal!” Within minutes, the youth from Poland entered the square, carrying the World Youth Day Cross. They handed it off to the youth from Rome, where the next World Youth Day would be held.

     But I also recalled in Madrid…that the Pope wanted World Youth Day to be celebrated every year in the dioceses of the world… So, I came home determined to fulfill that vision and voila! –here we are!  Thank you for being a part of this historic moment…here you are—close to 2,000!

     In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks two questions and gives us a pretty serious challenge. The first question is of a general nature, “Who do people say I am?” It’s a kind of surveying question, “What’s the buzz?”

     But then Jesus gets personal: “But you, who do you say I am?”  Peter, speaking on behalf of the others, gives the penetrating answer of faith, “You are the Christ.” In other words, “You are the Messiah. You come from God. You are the Savior of the world.”

     The difference between these two questions should be an important one for each of us. For it is one thing to know about Jesus—the time when he lived, what he taught, the miracles he performed, the way in which he suffered, died and rose from the dead. All of that is important, yes, but what is so much more essential is that we know Jesus—personally, intimately and directly.

     And that requires that we have an experience of being present to Jesus where we encounter in faith the love and concern that he has for each of us.  After those two questions had been asked and the answers had been given, Jesus poses a demanding challenge: “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow!”

     Well, my dear friends, the struggle for religious freedom goes on today and we are indeed going to be a part of it, and at times, with great cost. As followers of Jesus, we will be called upon to combat poverty, injustice and oppression. We must actively defend the rights of conscience and stand up against the secularism, the hedonism and the relativism of our times. We must make bold stands on even the most controversial issues of our day- abortion, marriage, contraception-even when it impacts on our reputation or good name.

     And that’s where today’s second reading is so helpful. James asks us what faith can possibly mean if it does not result in action…Faith in the True and Living God means being willing to make a sacrifice of myself in order to reach out in loving concern to those around me. This is what our faith demands of us and that’s why it is called the Good News!  My dear friends, here at this altar today, Jesus once again offers the total sacrifice of himself to his Father for us. And we are invited to participate in that sacrifice in order to know not just about him, but to know Him and to love Him. And in doing so, we are invited to offer the sacrifice of our own lives with his in a deep personal act of faith. Come, let us follow him!

                                                                 -Peace,  Father Thomas McCabe

 

September 23, 2012 – 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 23, 2012 

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

 What do we believe about God, anyway?  Fortunately we have the gift of divine Wisdom to help us understand that God is the Father and source of all life.  Most especially, we believe that God has directly created you and every human soul with a plan to receive his grace and thus live freely here below and forever with him and all those who believe and live God’s love and truth.

     In today’s Gospel reading Jesus Christ speaks to our hearts of the importance of protecting every human life so that they may grow in God’s grace, love and wisdom.  To make his point he takes a child from among his disciples and places him in their midst and puts his arm around the child and says: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”  Mk. 9:37.  We are blessed by so many parents, teachers and catechists who have received us in the name of Jesus Christ and have taught us the true faith in love.

     Jesus established his Church on St. Peter and the other Apostles and called them to share in his ministry of teaching about God and his Kingdom of truth and love.  We are called to continual learning of our faith and grow in our effectiveness of sharing it with others, with the guidance of the successors of the Apostles, the Pope and the Bishops of today, and the power of true love found in Christ’s community.

50 years ago, October 11th, 1962, the Pope and the Catholic Bishops united to him, opened the Second Vatican II Council with prayer to the Holy Spirit.  The Pope and the Bishops of every nation met inRome,Vatican City, which is the central location of Christ’s Church, to address the concerns of the Church and the world.

     In the opening Message to Humanity, the Council Fathers issued this: “The Fathers of the Council to All Men:  We take great pleasure in sending to all men and nations a message concerning that well-being, love and peace which were brought into the world by Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God, and entrusted to the Church.

     “For this is the reason why, at the direction of the most blessed Pope John XXIII, we successors of the apostles have gathered here, joined in single hearted prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, and forming one apostolic body headed by the successor of Peter.

     “May the Face of Christ Jesus Shine Out:  In this assembly, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we wish to inquire how we ought to renew ourselves, so that we may be found increasingly faithful to the gospel of Christ.”

     This process of renewal continues in our everyday life as individual Christians and as a Church as the Holy Spirit leads us into new insights and new approaches in living out the natural and supernatural law of God’s love and truth for creation and salvation.  Catholic teachers and catechists help in this mission.

20 years ago October  11, 1992, Pope John Paul II approved and promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church which is the norm of helping all pastors, teachers and catechists to summarize and systematically pass on the faith.

     The Catechism begins by quoting the Gospel of John, “Father…this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Jn 17:3  It also quotes fromSt. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy 2:3-4:  “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.”

     As we prepare for the Year of Faith which begins Oct. 11, 2012 to celebrate these two important anniversaries, we want to honor all those teachers and catechists who faithfully taught us about Jesus Christ and his plan of salvation.                                     

Peace,                                                                                                                                

Father Thomas McCabe

 

September 16, 2012- 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 16, 2012

Catechetical Sunday

 “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

                                 What good is faith if it does not have works?  It is dead.

 The fresh beginning of a new school year brings many memories to my mind and heart.  I remember the anticipation of meeting new friends and meeting new teachers.  I remember wondering how much homework I would be getting and if I would make the A Squad in  sports, particularly basketball and football, my two favorite sports.

 One of my favorite teachers in grade school was Mr. Campbell.  He had served in the army and had a picture of himself as a thin, worn soldier who was willing to put his life on the line to defend his country.  He was one of the blessed ones that survived WWII and I was deeply impressed by that.  He said that it was God who kept him safe, and that “there were no atheists in fox holes.”

 I had to ask him about that word “atheists”, and what that phrase meant.  He told me that when people who do not believe in God confront death, they begin to realize the great gift of life that comes from God and they hope they survive the war, and if killed, that God will be bring them to heaven.

 I remember being amazed at the fact that some people are “atheists”.  I was amazed that they could not see the beauty of God’s gift of life. I remember God’s many gifts:  the birth of a child on a summer day – my little brother Matthew being brought home by my smiling parents and his baptism; the blowing snow while sipping hot chocolate with my brothers and sisters near the fire place in our living room; the sign of peace at Mass and the reception of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and praying for my family and friends; helping my mom deliver meals on wheels; all pointing to God and the fact that without good works, faith is dead, which we read in the Letter of St. James 2:17.

 Mr. Campbell was a very jovial, relaxed teacher, but he still was a teacher who had expectations.  In one class, he saw that we were not taking him and our studies seriously and the following day he gave us a pop quiz on the subject of English.  I was given a wake-up call when I saw that I had received a big red “F” on my paper.  From that moment I realized that I had better pay attention as a student, and count my blessings that I had such an opportunity in this country to succeed.  Responsibility took on new meaning.  I had to work at meriting a passing grade.

In a different class, we were assigned to make a design by using a protractor.  I made three curving hills and it dawned on me to put a cross on each hill with the largest in the center.  I made a large sun with radiating lines and then wrote, SON OF GOD, all in straight lines.  It was a moment of inspiration, but when it was returned to me with an “F” on it. I was stunned.

Of course, in the public school I could mention God only in some classes.  My teacher said that I had failed because I did not follow the instructions closely enough since I had made words.  It did not matter if they were all straight lines; the assignment was only to be a design made by the protractor.  I tried to explain that I only used the protractor.  My teacher finally showed mercy and gave me a “C” but did not allow it to be displayed among the other students’ designs.

 At ourHolyCrossCatholicSchoolyou can find our students giving God glory through their service projects and using Bible verses in their art work, in their singing, in their science projects; all of which helps us to keep God in our hearts and minds as the greatest Artist and Author of life, peace and salvation.  Thank you for all your support of ourHolyCrossCatholicSchool. 

 Peace,

Father Thomas McCabe

September 9, 2012-23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 9, 2012 

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

GRANDPARENT’S DAY 

“He has done all things well. 

He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The Church throughout the centuries has always been a place of worship and celebration,  a place of great mourning for our sins and the sins of others, as well as a place for forgiveness, mercy and jubilation for sins  forgiven.  At the center of our faith is the Cross.  The Cross made holy by Jesus’ sacrificial love. We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Cross on Friday, September 14, 8:00 AM Mass here (also, 8:15 AM Mass at Holy Cross School).  Jesus often speaks to his disciples in paradox, “If you want to save your life, you must be willing to die for me and the Gospel.”       

Saul persecuted the first Christians until Jesus visited him in a blinding light, knocking him to the ground.  “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Only after Saul was confronted with his sin was he able to repent from his blindness of heart.  He regained his sight after being prayed over by the Christian Ananias, who immediately baptized him into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus knows that we will be persecuted when we stand up for the truth of God, but allows this because the suffering we endure for and with him will be used to convert the hearts of many people.  Saul becameSt. Pauland was able to write the Christians atCorinth, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” -1 Cor. 1:18

St. Paul continues, “When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or wisdom.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified…and my proclamations were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

 “Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor the rulers of this age who are passing away.  Rather, we speak of God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory…” –1 Cor. 2:1-7.

St. Paul also reminds them of their role: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it.  But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the ‘Day’ will disclose it.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work…” -1 Cor. 3:10-13. With fervent love for God and neighbor, let us fulfill our Christian duties and amass the treasures that will withstand the fire.

Sincerely in Christ,

Father Thomas McCabe

September 2, 2012 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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September 2, 2012 

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time   

“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.”                                                                                               

     Jesus is the Perfect Teacher who inspires us to pass on the Catholic Christian faith.  Fathers James, John and I are excited about starting another school year at theCatholicEducationCenter, which houses both ourHolyCrossCatholicSchooland Religious Education Program.  Jesus is at the heart of both of these institutions.

     Fr. James and I, along with our Principal Lisa Reichelt and our part time Director of Religious Education Kathy Chlan (pronounced “kline”) were able to meet with our school teachers and some of our catechists to offer our thanks and encouragement as we prepare for another great year of passing on the faith.   This time of orientation for our teachers, catechists and ourselves, gave us an opportunity to get to know one another and share our faith in Jesus, as well as their desire to pass on this faith to our students.

     All of us are looking forward to collaborating with the parents of our students in order to grow in our Catholic faith, the fullness of faith, which includes hope and love.  Divine faith, hope and love are the three theological virtues that we receive at our Baptism and of which we need to nurture and maintain until our death in order to be received into heaven. 

     I think most Christians are aware of God’s infinite love for them and how their faith is a gift from God, the Father of lights, “with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change,” of whom we hear about in today’s second reading from the Letter of St. James.  I think most Christians believe the following statement from the same sacred letter:   “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.”  This is God’s sanctifying grace that makes our soul open to God.

     The divine word was “planted” in us.  This is such a beautiful beginning of our faith, when our parents in collaboration with the priest, or deacon or even bishop, said “Yes” for us at our Baptism when indeed, through the power of Jesus as head of his Church, the minister of Baptism planted these three spiritual seeds within our soul: divine faith, hope and love.

     However, this is only the beginning.  St. James goes on to explain that we need to live out this word of faith; that it must mature along with the person in order to be the source of salvation.  St. James is inspired to write: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

     In today’s Gospel according to St. Mark, we read how Jesus had preached: “You disregard God’s commandments but cling to human tradition….Hear me, all of you…From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.   All these evils come from within and they defile.”

      This list of objectively mortal sins “defiles” a person, and without true repentance a person in this state of sin would not be admitted into heaven.  But what about “deceit”, does that mean any lie is a mortal sin that kills God’s sanctifying grace within us?  No, unless it is a lie with regard to serious matter which would put a person in physical or spiritual danger.  What about the sin of “arrogance”( which means arrogating to oneself authority one does not have)?

     Unfortunately, there have been a few renegade priests, ministers and lay people who disregard Jesus’ teachings on some serious moral matters, and although they might not commit the sin, they give their approval for others to do so.  They will be forever “defiled” unless they repent and let Jesus and his Church be recognized as the authority of salvation.

     God is the ultimate author of the Word of God, the correct translation of the Bible, and Jesus is his Perfect Teacher who inspires us to stay close to his word of divine faith, hope and love found substantially in his Catholic Church.

Peace,   Fr. Thomas McCabe

August 12, 2012 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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August 12, 2012

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

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                  Why do things happen the way they do? Was I predestined to be here in this time and place?  Is there such a thing as “predestination”?  Predestination of people and events is a profound mystery of our faith.

                                     We believe God sees and knows all, and to the extent that we share in his life we begin to increase our knowledge, even fore-knowledge, but never reach God’s perfect knowledge.  Only God knows all the options and tendencies of people’s choices.        

     Predestination is caught up in cause and effect, the nature of God’s creation and his plan of salvation.  For example, If I eat well and exercise, I will be healthier than if I do not.  If I pray, fast, give alms to the poor and study the Catholic Christian faith I will grow spiritually.

     As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, no one is predestined to hell, but it is up to us to choose to follow Jesus into heaven.  Only one human person always chose to say “Yes” to God perfectly.

     The greatest human person and predestined event is the Blessed Virgin Mary and her assumption body and soul into heaven.  God called Mary to share everything with her divine Son, who chose her to be his Mother.  He did this so that we could share in God’s divine life of grace and salvific service to mankind by uniting ourselves to Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, as Mary did by saying “Yes” to God’s will.

     We therefore celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary, August 15, by recalling how Mary’s predestination is the destination of all who follow the faith of her divine Son, Jesus Christ in his Church.

     Although Mary’s Assumption was held by early Christians, it was not until November 1, 1950 that Pope Pius XII defined this doctrine as a dogma which must be held by every Catholic as a central and thus pivotal doctrine of divine faith.  We believe this dogma because God has revealed it for the purpose of having us reflect on the destiny to which God calls each person.  Our souls and our bodies are created to be temples of the Holy Spirit, just as Mary’s still is and perfectly so in heaven.

     From the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII we read: “In their homilies and sermons on this feast the fathers [of the Church, those early Catholic Christian Bishops] and great doctors spoke of the assumption of the Mother of God as something already familiar and accepted by the faithful… Scripture portrays the loving Mother of God, …as most intimately united with her divine Son, and always sharing in this destiny…Hence, the august Mother of God, mysteriously united from all eternity with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a virgin inviolate in her divine motherhood, the whole hearted companion of the divine Redeemer who won complete victory over sin and its consequences, gained at last the supreme crown of her privileges –  to be preserved immune from the corruption of the tomb, and like her Son, when death had been conquered, to be carried up body and soul to the exalted glory of heaven, there to sit in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the ages.”

Praise God we have such a wonderful Savior in Jesus and a glorious Mother to intercede to him for us! Let us choose to follow Christ and his Queen Mother into the eternal destiny of heaven.

 Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe

 

 

August 5, 2012 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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August 5, 2012

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parish Festival

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

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      This summer month of August is a time of inspiration.  The word “august” means to inspire awe and wonder.

      St. Augustineis one of the greatest Bishops and Doctors of the early church.  He lived up to his name.

       The reason we can claim him as our own is because his mother, St. Monica, persevered in faith and prayed for him.  She is the patroness of married women and all Christian Mothers.  We celebrate her feast day on August 27, the day before her son’s feast day on August 28.

     St. Monica was born inNorth Africanear Carthage of Christian parents in the year 332 AD.  When Monica was old enough she would draw wine for the household.  She soon gave into imbibing and was found relishing a cup of wine until someone called her a wine-bibber.  She repented and was soon baptized, living a very disciplined life of discipleship.

     She was given in marriage to Patricius, a pagan who had some natural virtues.  However, he had a terrible temper and was a difficult spouse.  Monica grew in her reliance on Jesus, and through her patient prayers, Patricius was converted and baptized one year before his death.

     Monica and Patricius had two sons and a daughter.  The eldest was Augustine, who was gifted with natural cleverness, but who kept putting off his baptism, since his father only converted when Augustine was 17.

     Two years later, Augustine’s pleasure seeking led him to embrace the Manichean Heresy.  He went toRomeand then toMilan,Italywith his mother following after him with prayers, fasting, tears and eyes raised to heaven.

     InMilan, Augustine encountered the great bishop there, St. Ambrose.  He became a Christian but did not yet become a Catholic Christian through baptism.  St. Ambrose was impressed by Augustine’s natural abilities, but was more impressed by St. Monica’s supernatural faith, prayer and works, and praised her often in front of Augustine.

     At last, in August 386, Augustine announced his complete acceptance of the Catholic faith.  Although St. Monica was trying to arrange a marriage for her son,St. Augustine, age 32 decided to live a life of celibacy after his baptism by St. Ambrose on Easter, 387 AD.  He began to live a life committed to fasting, prayer, good works and meditating upon God’s law and other Christian writings.

     Soon after his baptism, St. Monica grew ill.  St. Augustinewrites this in his famous autobiography, Confessions, which gives us great insight into our ever ancient, ever new Catholic faith in the lives of the saints.

     “The day was now approaching when my Mother Monica would depart from this life; you knew the day, Lord, though we did not…  We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gaze steadily upon us and spoke…’One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord where ever you may be.’  Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.”

     As prayerful as St. Monica was, she knew that she needed further prayers and sacrifices from her sons in Christ to enter into the fullness of heaven.  Even though Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, she believed as all Catholics and saints likeSt. Augustinebelieved, that those who have been baptized in Jesus can share his divine life, his ministry, his meditation for the living and the dead.  Jesus Christ is the only Mediator who cleanses us of sin and fills us with grace, but he has called us to share in his ministry through Baptism and the Eucharist.

– Sincerely, Father Thomas McCabe

July 28, 2012 -17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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July 28, 2012

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For thus says the Lord,

“They shall eat and there shall be some leftover.”

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      When we hand over our gifts to Jesus with faith, hope and love in our hearts, great things happen.  The divine or theological virtues of faith, hope and love (charity) are essential in seeing God work in our lives.

     The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines virtue: “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good.  It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself.  The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.” (Paragraph # 1803)

     God is the ultimate good, and God in Jesus Christ can completely transform us into truth and love through which we are able to help others attain salvation – communion with God and others.  Thus the spiritual life and the moral life are intimately connected.  This spiritual intimacy is what we long for in our relationships: true love and the love of truth of which Jesus Christ provides for us through his Church.

     The Saints lived lives of heroic virtue because of their intimate union with God and the people around them.  August 1st marks the Memorial Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguouri, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, whose brilliant intellect shed much light on the unbreakable connection between the spiritual and moral life of man.  What a man truly believes will guide his thoughts and actions.  His or her thoughts and actions might fail to meet the standard of belief out of weakness, but never will the truly religious man deny the standard of Christ.  A holy person always strives for greater holiness, because he humbly acknowledges God’s infinite holiness and man’s sinfulness.

     St. Alphonsus was declared a Doctor of the Church, the highest honor among the Saints, because of the spiritual healing his ardent service brought to the members of Christ’s Church and the world.  He wrote: “All holiness and perfection of soul lies in our love for Jesus Christ our God, who is our Redeemer and our supreme good.  It is part of the love of God, to acquire and to nurture all the virtues which make a man perfect…

     “Since God knew that man is enticed by favors, he wished to bind him to his love by means of his gifts…And all the gifts which he bestowed on man were given to this end (the complete love of God)…He made all…out of love for man, so that all creation might serve man, and man in turn might love God out of gratitude for so many gifts.

     “But he did not wish to give us only beautiful creatures; the truth is that to win for himself our love, he went so far as to bestow upon us the fullness of himself.  The eternal Father went so far as to give us his only Son.  When he saw that we were all dead through sin and deprived of his grace, what did he do?  Compelled, as the Apostle says, by the superabundance of his love for us, he sent his beloved Son to make reparation for us and to call us back to a sinless life.”

     God holds nothing back.  That is why his All Loving, All Truthful, Life Giving presence for some is heaven, and for others it is hell.  For us on the way to heaven through this broken world it is a purgative adventure, an illuminating experience that calls us to give ourselves passionately and completely to God and to others as is humanly possible, with the assistance of his grace of our particular vocation.  That is why the Holy Eucharist, Jesus, is central to our lives.  We desire that full giving of God, and we hunger to be able to give ourselves completely back to God through Christ.

     That is why a Christian man and woman give themselves passionately and completely to one another in the marital embrace without holding back, without contraception, because they want to experience the new life of God who is the Other, who is the source of complete Love, Life and Truth of one another.

     We ask St. Alphonsus, patron of confessors and moral theologians, to help stir up our authentic spiritual life, a life striving to live completely the virtues of faith, hope and love within Christ and his Catholic Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe