Sunday, May 27, 2012

Veni Sancte Spiritus: Pentecost (b) May 27, 2012

Here it comes....

He stands 4'11 and weighs in at 90 solid lbs. He has a mighty right hand punch.  At 7&3/4 yrs he is too young to qualify for any weight class.  He fights under the banner of Christ being received into his army (the Church) 71/2 yrs ago. Just yesterday he received his first Holy Communion.  Mathew Augustus is my youngest nephew and Godson.

She stands 4'2 and weighs 70lbs dripping wet.  She loves softball, her Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa and is surrounded by female love (She has two younger sisters already).  He adores her uncle, a good, holy young priest (and my friend).

What Matty and Livie have in common is that they have just recently entered Christ's army.  What a fitting place to be as their once great nation continues to celebrate memorial day this weekend.  You see Matty and Livie, both just received their 2nd and 4th Holy Communions at Sunday Mass, receiving their firsts on their respective dates in recent weeks past.  They entered Christ's army when they were baptized soon after their birth days.  Now like most of us here, they can be nourished at the table of the Lord by the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist.

Before we consider what these two children did to prepare for the Holy Eucharist let us consider the depth of today's readings and  Gospel.

Readings, Psalmody and Gospel from Pentecost: Mass During the Day
(Good idea to open this link in another "window")

In our first reading, from the great and important first book of the New Testament following the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles we hear much about the Holy Spirit.  To restore original grace, the Father and the Son send the Spirit upon the Eleven and the Mother of God.  It comes in the form of a mighty wind or "Ruah", the same spirit that God creates the world with in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible: Genesis.  The the gathered elders of the Church, the first bishops begin to speak in tongues.  This is not idle babble, rather it is in all the languages for all the world gathered from the diaspora for the Temple celebration of the Pentecost Festival.  Link to Jewish Pentecost

Our responsorial Psalm dares to pray: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

We have a choice today for the second reading and Gospel.  I chose Galatians where Saint Paul says we can only profess Jesus as God through the gift of the Spirit.  Something to ponder.  Many times in our lives we may seem afraid to profess our faith.  Other times we are "proudly Catholic".  Perhaps when we are afraid we fall under the influence of the Evil One so as to become discouraged to proclaim the Truth which is Christ and the Church he founded, the Roman Catholic faith.  When we are confident in faith, especially outside of Mass, it is the third person of God, the Holy Spirit which "advocates" for us, He the Paraclete (literal meaning: "advocate", "intercessor", "teacher, "helper", "comforter", from the Catholic Encyclopedia: new

In our Gospel, this time I chose the second option where Jesus tells us who is coming, "the Advocate" or Holy Spirit.  Jesus says by allowing ourselves to be informed by the spirit from God we will profess and seek the Truth (He who is the Truth, John 14:6).  He tells us to glorify him through the Holy Spirit, and His gifts: (again from new

  • The gift of wisdom, by detaching us from the world, makes us relish and love only the things ofheaven.
  • The gift of understanding helps us to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary.
  • The gift of counsel springs from supernatural prudence, and enables us to see and choose correctly what will help most to the glory of God and our own salvation.
  • By the gift of fortitude we receive courage to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise in the practice of our religious duties.
  • The gift of knowledge points out to us the path to follow and the dangers to avoid in order to reach heaven.
  • The gift of piety, by inspiring us with a tender and filial confidence in God, makes us joyfullyembrace all that pertains to His service.
  • Lastly, the gift of fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him.
And so what to do?  Live according to the Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit or the ruler of the world, Satan?

When Matty and Livie received their First Holy Communion they prepared properly as we have.  They prayed, learned about scripture and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  My friends we must remember that you and I both need to do the same, every time in preparation to receive the Blessed Sacrament.  This means every week if we wish to receive Him every week.  A great confusion exists today about our worthiness to receive.  We must be more steadfast in our resolve to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly to be prepared, in a good state of grace, to receive His precious Body and Blood.

In another place from the Gospel Jesus says to the disciples to let the children come to Him, and they do at their First Holy Communions.  In yet another section of the inspired, infallible word of God (inspired by the Holy Spirit) he says that we, you and I, must be like "children" to enter the kingdom of heaven.

I think our Lord can speak well enough for himself.  Let us then be prepared to assume the great privilege to receive His body and that through our actions the Holy Spirit can renew the face of the earth, especially now in these trying times.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Today's Readings, Psalmody and Gospel

Spring has finally arrived in New York!  One of the great passages of springtime anywhere is that we celebrate "Eastertide", the 50 days of the liturgical season of Easter now.  Many thousands of catechumens around the globe are also receiving their First Holy Communion, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, Our Lord.

In today's readings, we hear  first from the Acts of the Apostles, the great New Testament Book that is placed fifth in the canon, just after the four holy Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.  Peter, the first Pope, stands up among the 120 disciples in the Church of our infancy in Jerusalem.  He announces that they must choose a successor Apostle to replace Judas who betrayed our Lord and refused his mercy, perishing in an unthinkable way.  Matthias is chosen by lot.  Judas Barsabbas was worthy as well but the disciples trusted in the Holy Spirit to choose for them between the two disciples who were witnesses to the ministry of Jesus from the time of his baptism until his Ascension.  This is great testimony about our unbroken apostolic succession that carries on to this day with our bishops, who are truly the successors of the Apostles.  We recall this every time we say and pray the Nicene Creed and say, "One holy catholic and apostolic church."

Our Psalm reminds us that Jesus is in heaven, that he sits at the right hand of God the Father and is our just judge.  We must also remember that he is transcendent, no longer confined by time and space.  So he is equally present to the heavenly choir of Angels and Saints as he is to us when the bread and wine which we offer on the altar of sacrifice become consecrated into his body and blood.

Deus caritas est. God is Love.  Love is God.
In our second reading, Saint John the Evangelist reminds us (in his first "Epistle" or letter) that:
"God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him."

We must remain in his love to get to eternity.  This means we must always have virtue on our mind, not vice.  We must seek sanctification and purification most especially through the sacraments of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation (Lumen Gentium).  

Jesus Christ is Truth; in fact the fulfillment of all truth known by man since the beginning of time.
In the Gospel, we hear a great prayer from the Son to the Father.  Jesus asks that we be consecrated in truth.  What is truth? This is the question Pontius Pilate (the pagan Roman ruler of Judea) will ask our Messiah Jesus in the very next chapter of John's Gospel after today's selection (Jn 18:38).  The answer to his question, is that Jesus is TRUTH.  He who has already said this to his disciples earlier in Saint John's Gospel.  We recall that passage- "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6).  

He sends us into the world as his light to bring good news to all, the literal meaning of the world "gospel" in Greek.  When we know this and live this truth, we see his face in everyone we encounter.  Just as the great saints have done.  The witness to hope that we see in Blessed Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II.  We see it also in the "little flower", Saint Therese of Liseaux and the multitudes who make up the cloud of witnesses.  So many, but never easy...How do we prepare for this ministry to the world?

We do so by receiving Holy Communion.  Receiving Communion can be easy if we trivialize it as such.  We just present ourselves to the minister properly and receive him and then consume Him.  However, what makes it Holy is how we prepare to do so.

It is not unlike the first Holy Comminicants.  They properly prepare through prayer and study of Holy Mother Church, her tradition and scripture.  The go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation beforehand.  We should view the example of the children as a good signal for us to do the same.  

How else can we be the light of the world?
How else can we be holy?
How else can we not belong to the world, but to God the Father, His son the Christ (today's Gospel) and His Holy Spirit?

We are called to be virtous and "innocent"' just like the little children who received him for the first time this year.  Remember Jesus says we must be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mathew, Chapter 18, verse 3).

What can stop us from saying "yes" to Jesus and not yes to the false notions of sin?
Perhaps that very world that he warns us about, that by some great mystery is filled with evil can turn us from goodness and God to sinfulness and vice which is not of God.

We must sanctify ourselves through our one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith and turn the darkness of the world into His lightness and being.

For the world will be a better place with much faith, hope and charity then.  Who, in goodness, will argue against this?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

6th Sunday of Easter (B), Happy Mother's Day!!!

Today's Readings, Psalm and Gospel

Theotokos-- Mary, the "God-Bearer".  The Mother of Jesus, who is Lord and God...and our Mother!

Today we are given rich readings through Holy Mother Church to celebrate this Easter Sunday (the 6th of Easter).  We hear in our first reading how Saint Peter properly redirects the glory to God for the miracle that was given through him.

In our second reading, Saint John the Evangelist reminds us what God really is: Love.  Love is never self-fulfilling but always self-giving.  The Father gives us the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Son gives us the Father and the Holy Spirit through the suffering and redemptive action of the Cross.   This great Paschal Mystery, the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ amounts to God's greatest gift: Love.  His Love.  Divine Love.  The Love we need to live.  The Love we need to laugh.  The Love that empowers us in faith to Almighty God.  The Love that Saint Augustine tells us fills the void of our hearts from life without God.  The great bishop and Doctor of the Church tells us, "Our hearts are restless into they rest in you (God)" (Confessions I:1).  

Life absent and devoid of God manifests itself when we turn away from God and sin.  This reality can be confusing when we take into account that the world in which we live has been and is becoming a very sinful world.  This affects our ability to be sanctified and remain holy.

In our Gospel, Jesus teaches us about love.  "There is no greater love than when one lays his life down for one's friends."  We are his friends, by virtue of our baptism.  He died for us and our salvation (Nicean Creed).  We must be in touch with our sinfulness, in fact our specific actions of sin in order to participate in this love.

Ann Patricia Suglia (1928-1991) with her first Granddaughter, Haylee Rorke Greenwood

This is my favorite picture of my Mom.  My mother was not very big on candid photos so I surreptitiously snapped this one on home leave from the Marine Corps in late 1988.  It was a very happy occasion that year for our first "little one" was born, Haylee Rorke Greenwood.  Our (6 siblings) first niece (and sister's first child) and my mother's first grandchild.

I love the photo because of what it says in my Mom's expression: I love you, little one.  You, through my daughter are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gen 2f).  I imagine my mother thinking, "What will become of you."  


Never easy.

Sometimes profoundly consoling.

Always healing.

Always self-giving.

Never selfish.

Never manipulative.

Always expressive and meaningful.

Jesus commands us today to-


Love cannot be re-defined so as to accept what is contrary to our Trinitarian God's Natural Law.  You do not need to be educated (or re-educated) on what Love is, some how staking a very false claim that we do not possess the truth.  Simply observe nature to learn the divine law.  Birds are nesting.  They are certainly the very same species.  But they are also, with logically certainty male and female.

I AM the WAY, and the TRUTH and the LIFE.  No one, no one, comes to THE FATHER (TO HEAVEN) except through ME (Jn 14:6).

This means that we can and will be "hated" for following Christ and expressing our faith through His one Church.  "If the world hates you, remember it hated ME first (Jn 15:18).

My friends we are in a spiritual battle for the salvation of souls, perhaps for all time.  We can firmly say with ease that we can characterize this battle as the greatest one for our great country since the Civil War, nearly 150 years ago.



Seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

Sanctify yourself through the Sacraments of the Church, She who is the universal sacrament of salvation.

Extra Ecclesium nulla salus.

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

As a priest friend recently said to me (and will offer this to the congregation where he serves this weekend):

Enjoy Mother's day, for we do not know how long our government will allow us to celebrate it.

Let us then offer our prayers and supplications to the One who came and comes to us on the altar at Catholic Mass.  The One who came, 

"To make all things new" (Rev 21:5).

Friday, May 4, 2012

5th Sunday of Easter (B): I AM the Vine and you are the branches

Saul, at the "foot" of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3)
Today's Readings, Psalmody and Gospel
"Saul" of Tarsus, near Rabbi Gamaliel, c35 A.D.

Alternate Title:

"Saint Paul Teaches Us The Meaning Of 

Our Responsorial Psalm": Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

Today our focus will be on Saint Paul of Tarsus.  Saul was his Hebrew name.  He was perhaps the first great theologian and philosopher of the Church.  In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, 
we hear of his return to Jerusalem, no longer a Jew and disciple of the great
Rabbi Gamaliel (and persecutor of the Church).  Now Saint Paul is an Apostle of Christ;
indeed "The Apostle", a title bestowedon him by the great Doctorof the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas (14th Century, Summa Theologae).

Paul returns to Jerusalem and receives a not so welcome reception by the infant Church.  Saint Barnabus attest to his worthiness before the disciples there present but very much afraid of him.  Their fear was well founded; they were aware of his murderous reputation.  

You see they knew that Saul was present at the martyrdom of Saint Stephen the Deacon and later went to exterminate the Church in Damascus.  He had a written decree from the Temple authorities (Pharisees, Saducees, High Priest) that gave him the authority to do so.   It was on the road to Damascus that the risen and glorified Lord intervened:
Christ, the Living God says, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME" (Acts 26:14)
Divine Intervention!  Saul is blinded, then led to Damascus by merciful men and converted and taught the one, true faith.  He meets the good disciple Barnabus who is eventually put in charge of his care.
How can a simple, yet brilliantly educated man be so misled so as to become angry, in fact murderous?
How can a man who practiced the covenantal faith of the children of God proffer evil?
What can this teach us about the power of metanoia, total conversion to Our Lord?

Ultimately Saul failed virtue; he was in fact concupiscent and visceral in his terrible and grave sinfulness: his open persecution of innocent disciples of Christ.  Before he could carry out this ill-fated mission to Damascus, Our Lord interceded.  He blinded him and questioned him in what must have been a haunting voice, "Why do you persecute me"?

Later in his missionary work and now fully "converted",  Saint Paul would "pontificate" about the Eucharist in his classic Body of Christ discourse (1 Cor 12:27), bringing to fruition what Christ taught him on the road to Damascus.  He is surely "high up" in Heaven.  The man who once had the innocent blood of Saint Stephen on his hands (there is no doubting his complicity in the first martyr's death).

The story of Saint Paul's conversion teaches us...

Forgiveness and

Not our limited power and false notions of authority.
The Authority
OF GOD, who is:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit

glorifies us when we know to direct our divine will to seek his greater glory.....

ad majorem dei glorium

when we succeed as Saint Paul did so often, we can echo his words:
It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.... (Gal 2:20)
Saint Paul's letter to the Galatians, Chapter 2, Verse 20