In his Angelus address, Pope Francis said: “the Eucharist is like the ‘burning bush’ in which the Trinity humbly dwells and communicates itself.” The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Trinitarian Love, where God humbly makes himself present to us.
In the Eucharist, God the Father “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world… that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17). The Father feeds his children by giving them true bread from heaven, which is Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:32), under the appearance of ordinary food. Secondly, God the Son shows us the greater love, that he lays down his life for us on the Cross (John 15:13), re-presented to us in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Finally, God the Holy Spirit bonds us to Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, where we enter into and experience the Father’s love for Christ, Christ’s love for the Father, and their love for each one of us.
We need to correspond to this love. We correspond to the Father’s love by making many acts of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. One way we can do this is by stopping by the church sometime during the day to greet our Lord in the tabernacle or to spend some time in silent adoration. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time, just long enough to show the Father that we believe in the real presence of Christ in the Host: “he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:37,47). By this we experience the Father’s great love for each one of us, and we will sense that he is actively providing for our needs and protecting us from all dangers.
We correspond to the Son’s love for us by attending Holy Mass with great faith and piety. How much it means to our Lord when we go to just one extra Mass during the week. It is a sacrifice, but how can we compare it to the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us by dying for us on the Cross. If he loved us in this way, I can assure you that he will more than repay us for the sacrifice we make by attending Holy Mass. Efforts to attend Mass with greater attention and devotion will manifest that love even more.
And what better way is there to correspond to the Holy Spirit’s love for us in Communion that to receive our Lord well? Making a good confession—cleaning up our soul—embracing a life of virtue, and offering spiritual sacrifices such as work offered to God out of love, invites our Lord into our soul and into our body with an attractive disposition. Frequent confession and fighting temptations to sin, tells our Lord that we are united in heart and spirit to him. Then there will be no barriers to that spiritual oneness as we become one body with him in Holy Communion.
Making Spiritual Communions is a wonderful devotion, wherein we manifest our faith in the Real Presence—thus we feed our soul and prepare ourselves spiritually to receive him. Another way to prepare ourselves to receive him well is by arriving early to Mass and to unite our sacrifices and our intentions to the gifts to be offered on the altar. In this way we offer our body, our work, our efforts to live our faith so that the Holy Spirit may unite that all to Christ at Holy Communion.
Corpus Christi is the feast of our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity really present under the appearance of bread and wine. It is a feast of thanksgiving for the Sacrament of Trinitarian Love for each of us. Let us discover how to correspond to this great gift of Love!
Fr. John R. Waiss
We celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the day when God the Father communicated the Holy Spirit to the Apostles in Christ’s name (see John 14:26), and, just a few days ago, some of our parishioners, school and CCD students received His outpouring in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
After the gift of Baptism (whereby we become God’s children) and the Eucharist (whereby we become one body with Christ), Confirmation is the greatest Gift—the gift of God’s Spirit—whereby God’s New Life comes to dwell in us, conferring upon us a share in Christ mission. This Sacrament gives our lives purpose, a reason to keep living as Confirmation calls us to nurture the new life of grace in us so as to bring others to the joy of knowing true Love: Jesus Christ.
Consider the apostles’ joy on Pentecost. They were “drunk” with the Holy Spirit. All fear and sadness had disappeared as the Holy Spirit moved them to preach the Gospel with boldness to their fellow Jews (see Acts 2). He gives us this same joy at Confirmation as we are sent forth. This joy keeps arising in us over and over again as we serve others, especially when we share our Faith with others; when we see our shared Faith take root in them, bringing them the joy we have received. Graduation is a similar kind of moment. We have eighth graders graduating on to high school, seniors graduating on to college, and college students graduating on to “real” life. This fills them and their families with great joy. With graduation there is a real sense that each on of them is being sent forth anew; they are now ready for new challenges and new opportunities to witness to Christ in a world antithetical to their Catholic Faith.
Just as our Lord prepared his disciples to take on the responsibility to bear witness to him (see John 15:26-27), St. Mary of the Angels’ families and school has been preparing our young people for their mission in the world as witnesses to Christ. Along with the Faith, we have been preparing our young men and women by teaching them the three R’s: “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic” as well as a smattering of History, Science, Foreign or Classical Languages, and perhaps Calculus, in due time. These give our young people the ability to speak to and to engage the world on its own terms.
As we share the joy of our young people as they are being sent forth, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide them and set them on fire with love for God and their neighbor. May Today’s good citizens of the family, community, and Church become Tomorrow’s good spouse-parents, friend-leaders, and saint-apostles. May they too have an impact on their family, friends, and the world.
Fr. John R. Waiss
Last week we spoke about how God instituted Marriage in the Old Testament, that it is between a man and a woman, because this is how God wants it. We noted that the family—man, woman and children— is the foundation of society.
When Jesus comes to earth he raises the union of man and a woman, both baptized, to the level of a Sacrament, one of these seven gifts that God has given to his Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Sacrament of Marriage in this way: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (CCC 1601).
Pope Francis in The Joy of Love teaches us:
“The sacrament of Marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual, or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since “their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church…Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church, consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment” (The Joy of Love, 72).
The Holy Father continues; “The sacrament is not a ‘thing’ or a ‘power’ for in it Christ himself ‘now encounters Christian spouses… He dwells with them. Gives them the strength to pick up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens.’” (The Joy of Love, 73).
“The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: ‘so they are no longer two, but one flesh’. They ‘are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving’. This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together” (CCC 1644).
There are many quotes in Scripture that tell of the indissolubility of marriage, one of them is: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9).
Let’s pray for all families, that God watch over them and protect them.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney
People today seem to be questioning what is a family?
The first two chapters of the book of Genesis tell us very clearly what the family should be and how it should be structured: “Then God said: ‘Let us make mankind in our image and likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, over all the wild animals and every creature that crawls on the earth’. God created man in his image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1: 26-27).
In the second chapter of Genesis, verse 18 we read: “Then the LORD said, ‘It is not good that the man is alone. I will make him a helper like himself.’” It then continues speaking about the creation of Eve and says in verse 24: “For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also tells us about the fundamental structure of the family: “A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.” (CCC 2202).
It is not for the government or society in general, to change the structure of the family. It is God given, and to attempt to change it causes society to destroy itself. The task of the political community is to protect the family and to be sure that the culture in which we live promotes the family as God has planned it. (cfr. CCC 2211).
Pope Francis warns us:
“The Synod Fathers noted that ‘cultural tendencies in today’s world seem to set no limits on a person’s affectivity’; indeed, ‘a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity does not always allow a person to grow to maturity’. They also expressed concern about the current ‘spread of pornography and the commercialization of the body, fostered also by a misuse of the Internet, and about those “reprehensible situations where people are forced into prostitution’. In this context, ‘couples are often uncertain, hesitant and struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of their affective and sexual life. A crisis in a couple’s relationship destabilizes the family and may lead, through separation and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening its individual and social bonds’. Marital problems are ‘often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic for the Christian life’” (Amoris Laetitia #41).
Let’s each of us pray for our own family and for all families, and realize that with God’s grace and clear doctrines to what a family is, so much good can be done to society.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney
The Second Vatican Council reminds us that Baptism is a call to sanctity and apostolate—a call to be a disciple.
A disciple is someone who follows Jesus to the most blessings and consequences. Is someone who takes Christ as his or her model and imitates Him. Is walking in the footsteps of the Master answering the question “what would Jesus do?”
In the same way that Jesus summoned the twelve apostles and later called upon seventy two more, He is calling us today. He is asking us to preach, to evangelize and to liberate the world from unclean spirits, to be active followers, bringing the good news and contributing in the construction of this Kingdom here on earth.
In our Baptism we were chosen to be part of God’s plan. We become adopted children through Jesus Christ. Sealed with the Holy Spirit, we were invited to be human beings (to be stewards of our humanity), to be Christians (to take care of our spiritual life), and to a vocation (to the life style in which the above is exorcised).
But what does discipleship looks like? Just look around. It looks like you, and this is the essence of our community. It looks like the parents who are trying to raise their children with Christian values. It looks like the senior members of our community who pray for a better world. It looks like our youngsters who struggle to do what is right in a society that encourages them no to do so. Discipleship is not limited to the walls of the church. It extends to our community, our neighborhood and our society. It means to treat anyone, regardless of their creed, ethnic origins or socio-economical position, with charity, justice and love. Just like Jesus did.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney