Monthly Archives: May 2017

7th Sunday of Easter

For today’s homily, please watch the video below:

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St. Philip Neri, (1515-1595)

St.-Philip-2

Philip Neri, whose feast is celebrated today, is an interesting saint. Some rank him with Peter and Paul, founders of the church of Rome, because Philip  helped restore the  Roman church then reeling from the Protestant reformation.

Philip came to Rome as a young man and fell in love with the city’s history and holy places. He spent long hours in its ancient churches as a priest and roamed the catacombs of St. Sebastian where early Christians were buried. He became a regular guide for pilgrims searching for their spiritual roots. A familiar figure on Roman streets, he engaged ordinary people, especially the young, who warmed to his cheerfulness and found hope in his simple words. He listened to them.

Uncovering  forgotten lessons in the art and monuments of the city, Philip became a guide and inspiration to saints like Ignatius Loyola, Charles Borromeo and Pius V. He made new friends by sharing the beauty of the holy city, especially  the great churches of St.Peter’s, St.Paul outside the Walls, St. Lawrence, St. Sebastian, Holy Cross, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major, still the major pilgrim churches of the city today.

Protestants at the time were turning from theology to history to back up their claims against the Catholic Church, and Philip encouraged Catholic historians like Caesar Baronius to research the history of the church with fairness and accuracy. Baronius once said of him: “I love the man especially because he wants the truth and doesn’t permit falsehood of any kind.” He also supported Galileo: “The bible teaches the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.”

Philip thought that church reform could come about best by  seeking the beauty of faith in its art, music and tradition. He promoted study of church history at a time when the Catholic Church needed to examine its traditions and roots. He brought gentleness, cheerfulness and friendship to Christian reform at a time when fierce controversy between Protestants and Catholics was the norm.   He was unassuming. A biographer said “ his aim was to do much without appearing to do anything.”

He died in Rome on May 26, 1595, at eighty years of age.

The great scholar John Henry Newman was attracted to Philip Neri and entered the religious society he founded, the Oratorians.

Here’s one of his prayers I like: ” Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow.”

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The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven

Homily

 

 

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The Guide Back

This Wednesday’s Gospel ( Jn 16: 12-15 ) our Lord continues to tell His disciples about the Holy Spirit.

“ I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth,. He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Lately I am suffering from a slight disconnect with my intimate friend, Jesus. It’s as if I “ cannot bear “ what He has to tell me. So many outside problems seem to stand in the way of my prayer. Yet I know that Jesus is with me all the time, even when I find myself pushing Him aside. Thank heavens for the word of God. When I read today’s short Gospel as if Jesus is personally talking to me, I am filled with hope and consolation.
Jesus seems to tell me that even though lately our dialogue seems lacking, He is sending His Spirit to help out. First of all the Spirit guides us back to the Truth of God’s love for us. Never mind all the illusory lures and complications of this life, The Spirit enables us to see that God is the ultimate truth, the rock upon which we truly stand.
The Spirit of God will speak, perhaps in a whisper, the advice of a friend, or the song of a sparrow. He will make me hear what is important. He declares what is important to look out for. In His own time the Spirit will even once again let me feel the Glory that is God. He will take this Glory of Jesus, and therefore, of our loving Heavenly Father,and His own,  and show it to me. He will declare it.
All I have to do is find that moment of quiet and simply listen, because, Jesus, no matter what is troubling me, I trust in You. Because You trust in me. You do not give up on me that easily! Your Holy Spirit tells me so.

Orlando Hernández

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Thoughts Upon The Cross: Bold Humility

by Howard Hain

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We should always strive to be fully united with The Body of Christ, in both thought and prayer. To think prayerfully, and to prayerfully think.

Let us then prayerfully embrace this particular moment:

Lord God, Father Almighty, let us use the talents, the gifts, and the abilities—that come from You, that will return to You, but that You have lent us for the time being—with maximum effectiveness, maximum efficiency, and bold humility—all for Your glory.

In the name of Jesus—in the person of Christ—as the Messiah Himself would offer.

Amen.

———

Now, let us think, prayerfully.

What is “bold humility”?

Let’s explore an answer, slow and steady.

First, like all manifestations of God’s glory, “bold humility” is a matter of transcendence.

Second, transcendence is not merely a type of balance. Balance is something else entirely. It is something less than divine. Balance is a man-made religious concept. It is practical human philosophy at work in the world, depending on and functioning within human limitation. Unlike transcendence, balance does not stem from the theological posture of divine providence, and more so, it does not rely on the acknowledged power and faithful acceptance of divine grace.

For example, with regard to the matter at hand, “bold humility” is not merely the balancing of boldness and humility—it is not a matter of being equally bold and equally humble—as if on a scale of 1-10, a score of 5 for boldness and a score 5 for humility is achieved simultaneously—adding up to 10 and at the same time keeping the “seesaw” of virtue straight and parallel to the earth lying below.

No, “bold humility”, like all Christian (and therefore preternatural) virtue is not a matter of equally limiting each natural characteristic in order to fit them all within the confines of human potential and logical limitations.

In plain language then, “bold humility” is not simply a healthy combination of two virtues, namely “boldness” and “humility”.

And most directly to the point: Christ didn’t balance. He transcended.

Then what does transcendence mean in this supernatural sense?

Well, let us rule out a few more false understandings before positing a possible positive understanding.

It will prove helpful to also establish this negation: To transcend is not merely to eliminate. Nor is it merely to deny. By transcending one does not destroy the categories it transcends. So in this particular case we can say that “bold humility” does not “eliminate” or “deny” the category of “boldness” or the category of “humility”.

Now let us begin to state positively what Jesus accomplished—for Jesus most certainly transcended.

To transcend is to rise above and beyond. It is to journey through. It is to transform.

Transcendence fulfills the “categories” it leaves below—it completely and utterly fulfills each and every virtue that man could ever conceive—and not only at the same time or simultaneously, but eternally and to a maximum degree. Transcendence is perpetual fulfillment of all “goodness” to an infinite “degree”.

Transcendence is then what we might call: Active Shalom.

It is living, breathing “Fullness”. It is “True Peace”. It is “Oneness” and the “Unity of God”—alive and constantly in motion. For to transcend is also to enter and live within the Internal Consistency of The Eternal Creator Himself.

Transcendence is the ultimate simplicity of “I AM.

It is Ipse Christus—Christ Himself—God made man, the Word made flesh, the magnificence of God brought into visible light.

And it is human redemption at work.

For the person of Jesus is just that: He is the glory of God woven into and through the very fabric of humanity—taking humanity above and beyond itself—transforming it on earth and simultaneously bringing it back with Him to the Father in heaven—as a new, glorified, and righteous form.

Jesus both lifts humanity into heaven and manifests fully God’s glory on earth.

Bold Humility” is Jesus Himself.

He alone fulfills completely both “boldness” and “humility” without ceasing.

And by doing so He straddles two worlds—making them one. But yet He is much more than a bridge, much more than a mere mystical ladder. Jesus, if you will, is Jacob’s Ladder but built of human flesh—upon Whom not only holy angels ascend and descend between heaven and earth—but through Whom the very helix of humanity is redeemed and glorified.

———

But enough words.

For they can never capture.

Jesus is profoundly free.

The best we can hope for is a glimpse—a fleeting image of the living, breathing manifestation of “Bold Humility” in ultimate action.

It takes silence.

It involves leaving the senses and faculties behind.

It requires “spirit and truth”:

We must stare at The Cross.

We must experience—firsthand—The Crucified Christ.


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Let us then pray once more:

Lord God, Father Almighty, let us use the talents, the gifts, and the abilities—that come from You, that will return to You, but that You have lent us for the time being—with maximum effectiveness, maximum efficiency, and bold humility—all for Your glory.

In the name of Jesus—in the person of Christ—as the Messiah Himself would offer.

Amen.


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Water and the Spirit

In the easter season the Risen Christ comes to us in signs and sacraments. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is one of his signs. But  let’s not forget the Sacrament of Baptism, another gift we receive from the Risen Lord. He blesses us in water.

Water is a twofold sign of death and of life, says Saint Basil the Great.

“Like a tomb, the water receives the body, symbolizing death; while the Spirit pours in the quickening power, renewing our souls from the deadness of sin into their original life. This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the water bringing the necessary death while the Spirit creates life within us…

“ Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the status of adopted sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory – in a word, our being brought into a state of all fullness of blessing both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us. Through faith we behold the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, but we still have to wait for the full enjoyment of them. If such is the promise, what will the perfection be like? If these are the first fruits, what will be the complete fulfillment?”

Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

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6th Week of Easter

Monday                             Acts 16, 11-15
John 15, 26-16,4

Tuesday                             Acts 16,22-34
John 16,5-11

Wednesday                      Acts 17, 15, 22-18,1
John 18, 12-15

Ascension Thursday                        Acts 1, 1-11
Ephesians 1,17-23
Luke 24, 46-52

Friday                                                    Acts 18,9-18
John 16, 20-23

Saturday                                               Acts 18, 23-28
John 16, 23-28

The Feast of the Ascension is celebrated on Thursday this week in the eastern United States and on Sunday in the western dioceses of the United States. Would be better to celebrate this feast at the same time, I think.

 

In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul takes the stage at Athens, the intellectual capitol of the Roman world, but his words chosen carefully are met only with curiosity. “We would like to hear you some other time.” (Wednesday)

Paul gets a better reception in Corinth, not far from Athens, but worlds away from the proud self sufficient city. “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” Jesus says to Paul in a vision. (Friday)

In the reading from Acts on Saturday, Luke reminds us that Paul had great people with him like Priscilla and Aquila, the wife and husband, who instruct Apollos, a good speaker but weak in his theology.  “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.”

I told a cousin of mine recently who wasn’t sure about a sermon she heard in church. “You may be right and he’s wrong.”

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