Sunday, December 9, 2012

Preaching in the Desert

PRAISED BE Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

St. John the Baptist is known to us as the voice crying out in the desert because it was in the desert that he preached “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Somehow, the desert seems to be a strange venue for preaching. After, there is virtually no one living in the desert because its circumstances make it inhabitable. The desert is the place of death. Perhaps this is the reason why John preached in the desert. Being the place of death, the desert has become the image of the world of man after the fall. “Through the disobedience of one man, sin entered into the world and together with sin entered death.” Man used to live in paradise because he used to live in communion with God. But turning away from God in whom is found life, man found death. Paradise became a desert.

The Holy Father speaks of a similar situation in our times: “Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual ‘desertification’. In the (Vatican II) Council’s time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread.” (Benedict XVI, Homily at the beginning of the year of Faith, 11 October 2012) (This week, the congress rejected the amendment that would require the government to respect religious belief. Is this not a manifestation of the advance of a spiritual “desertification”?) The world we are living in is increasingly becoming a world without God. And the Church must lead people out of this desert.

The Holy Father speaks of people of faith in the middle of the desert: “And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.” John the Baptist is an example of the people of faith we need to see in the desert. He provides the way out of the desert by “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” John the Baptist tells us that we must accept the Savior who comes into our desert. He tells us to take away all hindrances that prevent the Lord from entering into our world: the valleys of our negligence and the mountains of our excesses. We must make up for the good have failed to do and repent for the evil that we have done. Let us “discern what is of value”: “In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today’s world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life.” (Homily at the beginning of the Year of faith)  Let us thirst for God, let us thirst for the ultimate meaning of life. In this thirst for the true living water, let us make straight all winding roads and make smooth all rough ways “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Immaculate Conception and the Emnity with the Serpent

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

In the recent debates on the RH Bill, Congressman Edcel Lagman refused to look into the beginnings of life: “This House has no competence to tell when life begins,” he said. While scientists still debate on the question, the Church has a very simple answer: at conception. Life begins at conception. The mystery which we celebrate today tells us so: the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We believe that God infused an immaculate human soul into the fertilized ovum in the womb of St. Anne. (On account of the fact that the human soul is infused into the fertilized ovum, it is already a human person.) Mary has never been touched by sin in any way nor in any point in time. She has always been ‘full of grace’. The Lord has always been with her. The Holy Spirit has been dwelling in her soul since the first instance of her conception. (the mere fact that we speak of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Mary at the first instance of her conception already tells us of the existence of the human soul at the early point of her existence. For if it were not so, where would the Holy Spirit dwell in her?) The greatness of Mary has been hers even from the beginning of her life.

The book of Genesis speaks of a perpetual enmity between the serpent and the Woman, between his seed and her seed. The spiritual battle wages on until today and all of us are in it. We have to take sides, there is no neutral ground. Either you are on the side of the Woman or on the side of the serpent. Either you are her seed or the serpent’s own. In this battle between good and evil, God has entrusted his cause to the Woman who was conceived without sin. It is to her that God has given to crush the serpent under her feet. But why? Why did the Lord entrust this spiritual battle to the Woman? Why to a creature so small and humble? Why to someone who seems utterly powerless before the rebellious serpent? Why to the Immaculate Conception? Imagine, the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary at the most vulnerable and most defenseless point in her life. (The human being is most vulnerable and most defenseless at the moment of conception. Why is it so? Well, a morning after pill is enough to expel a fertilized ovum from the womb ) Why did God make this Immaculate Fertilized Ovum the general of His army? The answer is found in the epistle of St. Paul: “And he said to me: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee’; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Our Lady’s humility is so much the reverse of the pride of the serpent. While he declared “I will not serve,” Our Lady said, “Be it done unto me according to your word.” While the serpent, in his arrogance, deemed himself equal to God, our Lady called herself “the handmaid of the Lord.” In the Immaculate Conception, the Lord reveals to us the sufficiency of his grace.

And so, while the enemies of God bask in their self-proclaimed glory, while the enemies of the Church gloat over their money (63 million dollars) and political power, we kneel before the Immaculate Conception and entrust to her our humble cause. All seems lost in our struggle against the culture of death but we continue to have confidence in the Immaculata. To her hands God entrusted the spiritual battle. To her feet God gave the power to crush the serpent’s head. “Who is she that comes forth like the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?” (Song 6:10)

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Friday, December 7, 2012

On the First Sunday of Advent

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Today is the new year of the Church – the start of a new liturgical year. Holy Mother Church has a very peculiar way of celebrating her new year. While most cultures would spend the New Year in thinking of new beginnings, the Church spends it by meditating on the end. Recalling the words of the Lord about frightening signs in the heavens and in the seas, the Church anticipates that point in time to which all history leads. The New Year of the Church brings us a year closer to that end of all times. It will inevitably come and no one can escape it: “For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” (There is even a rumor that this will happen on December 21 this year.) The end is near. It will really happen.
But the Church does not meditate on such things in order to engage in some scare tactics. The perplexity of nations comes from what they do not know. “People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” They do not know why these things take place. They could not make sense of all these.

But we are not perplexed because we know what will happen. We are told by the Lord: “When these things begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads.” Why? It is because “they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” And His coming will the time of our redemption: “Your redemption is at hand.” It will be the time when our Lord will fulfill all his promises to those who strive to be faithful to him: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.”

The definitiveness of the Lord’s return becomes the occasion for the Church to remind us to “be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” The Catechism reminds us: “Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.” (CCC, 675) “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.” (CCC, 677)

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Caesar Belongs to Christ

Jesus, I trust in you!

The feast of Christ the King celebrates the dominion of Christ over all the affairs of man. In our times, many civil governments undermine the kingship of the Lord by invoking the separation of Church and State. In the modern times, we have taken this principle as gospel truth. However, it might surprise you to know that this principle of separation of Church and State was among the modern errors condemned by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1852. It is wrong to think that “the State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limit” (1862). Yes, there are 2 recognizable earthly powers: “one of natural origins which provides for secular affairs and the tranquility of human society and the other of supernatural origin…which has been instituted for the sake of souls and of eternal salvation” (Pius IX, Etsi Multa, 21 November 1873). On account of this, we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. However, it should not be forgotten that Caesar “is smaller than heaven.” Pope Leo XIII taught that “justice…and reason forbid the State to be godless” (Leo XIII, Libertas). The State is always subject to the authority of Christ because “Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” The prophet Daniel speaks of Christ as the Son of Man who “received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away and his kingship shall not be destroyed.”

It is easy to undermine the authority of Christ as Pilate did in the gospel. When he asked: “I am not a Jew, am I?” he must have thought of himself as beyond the jurisdiction of Christ’s kingship. After all, “your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me,” he said to Jesus. It is easy for the civil governments to undermine the authority of Christ and of his Church. In fact, civil governments have time and again stripped the Church of her temporal powers. Today, laws that openly oppose the teachings of the gospel are being enacted. Of the candidates running for the presidency, how many of them are actually willing to submit to the authority of Christ and the Church? It is easy to undermine the authority of Christ because he himself said: “My kingdom does not belong to the world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” But let not civil governments bask in their power for one day, Christ’s kingdom shall manifest itself in its full glory. Christ’s kingdom is already here. The Church is the beginning of Christ’s kingdom. But one day, it will come in its fullness: “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.” This is the truth which he invites all to recognize. To listen to the Church is to listen to his voice. To listen to his voice is to belong to his kingdom. “States and nations are called to acknowledge the right of the Catholic Church …to decide what favors or hinders our most real life…It belongs to the Church as the sole divinely-appointed Guardian of the whole Moral law, natural and revealed.” (Leo XIII, Immortale Dei) “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

His Kingdom of Truth

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

It seemed that Christ was being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. After all, he was brought by the priests before the Roman governor to be tried for rebellion. Jesus was accused of claiming a kingship that did not belong to him. This is why the Lord was asked if he was a king. Jesus responded by saying that his Kingdom is not of this world and his purpose in coming into the world is to testify to the truth. “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice,” so said the Lord.

The Kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of Truth…and this kingdom is not of the world. Does this mean that whatever is of this world is a lie? It seems so. After all, sin has corrupted this world and sin is the work of Satan who from the beginning is a liar, a deceiver. On the other hand, God always says the Truth: “The Old Testament attests that God is the source of all truth. His Word is truth. His Law is truth. His ‘faithfulness endures to all generations.’ Since God is ‘true,’ the members of his people are called to live in the truth.” (CCC, 2465) “In Jesus Christ, the whole of God's truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ he came as the ‘light of the world,’ he is the Truth. ‘Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.’ The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know ‘the truth [that] will make you free’ and that sanctifies. To follow Jesus is to live in ‘the Spirit of truth,’ whom the Father sends in his name and who leads ‘into all the truth.’ To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: ‘Let what you say be simply 'Yes or No.'” (CCC, 2466)

We, who follow Jesus, must live in truth. But what does it mean to “live in truth”? A moral theologian said that truth consists in the conformity of my words and actions with my thoughts and feelings. But before this could take place, I must make sure that my mind must conform to the revelation of God. God’s word is truth. This is faith: conformity of our mind with the revelation of God. Our faith should influence the way we live. “The disciple of Christ consents to ‘live in the truth,’ that is, in the simplicity of a life in conformity with the Lord's example, abiding in his truth. ‘If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.’” (CCC, 2470) Living in truth is living in conformity with the Lord’s example. It means abiding in his truth.

It is unfortunate that today, we are more inclined to listen to the world than to the Word of God. We accept without even validating whatever is endorsed to us be so-called “experts” and celebrities. But the Word of God, we accept with caution, if not with suspicion. And yet, we fail to understand that the world deceives because it also was deceived. God alone is truth. He alone does not deceive because he himself is never deceived. He alone is worthy of our faith.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Just will rejoice in the end

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The readings today are rather frightening for they speak of a reality which most people do not like to think of – and that would be about the end of all things. The prophet Daniel speaks of “a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time.” The Lord Jesus speaks of tribulation after which “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” The word of God tells us that all things should come to an end. The world is passing away. 

But this is bad news only for those who have set their hearts on the things of the world. But those who love the Lord, that is, “everyone who found written in the book (of life)” will find the readings as a source of great consolation. It is because the end of time will mark the end of tribulation that will bring about the resurrection of the dead and the return of the Lord Jesus who will come “in the clouds, with great glory and power”. The elect will be gathered by the angels from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. This elect “will live forever” and “will shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament.” “At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed: the Church…will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself…will be perfectly established in Christ.” (CCC, 1042) “Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, ‘new heavens and a new earth.’ It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head ‘all things in (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth.” (CCC, 1043) “In this new universe, the heavenly Jerusalem, God will have his dwelling among men. ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (CCC 1044) “Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, ‘the holy city’ of God, ‘the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.” (CCC 1045) 

 As for the cosmos, it will be transformed by Christ: “The visible world is itself destined to be transformed, ‘so that the world itself, restored to its original state, facing no further obstacles, should be at the service of the just’, sharing in their glorification in the risen Jesus Christ.” (CCC 1047) We do not know “the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men.” (CCC 1048)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Extraordinary Form Featured in Evening News

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Greatest Commandment

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

People oftentimes accept Whitney Houston’s song as Gospel truth: “I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve…learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Of course, our time greatly values self-esteem, which is basically founded on self love. There is much emphasis on the self to the point that we have become narcissistic.

There is no question that the Lord commanded us to love our own selves. If it were not so, then how could he command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”? It seems that for a healthy relationship with others to take place, you must first have a healthy relationship with yourself. In other words, self-acceptance is the pre requisite to accepting and loving others.

But saying this is to miss the whole point of today’s reading. Remember that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is only the second commandment. The first is this: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The Lord shows us the primacy of love for God. This is the first and the greatest of all commandments. Learning to love yourself is not the greatest love of all. Before we can learn to love our neighbor or even love ourselves, we have to love God with the totality of our being – with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. Why is this so? It is because I am not the center of the universe – God is! “The Lord our God is Lord alone!” God does not owe me anything but I owe Him everything. Everything I have and everything I am comes from Him. Why do I have to love Him with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength? It is because of all me came from Him and belongs to Him. “In Him we live, in Him we move, in Him we have our being” (Acts 17: 28). Without Him, I am nothing.

Because God is the origin, the first, the center, and the end of everything, He is the only one I must love for His own sake. This means that I should love God for the simple reason that He is who He is: God. Everything else and everyone else I should love only in reference to God…only for the sake of God. This is the essence of Charity as a theological virtue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC, 1822). Charity, according to St. Paul, is the greatest virtue of all (1 Cor. 13:13). “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’ (Col 3:14); it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love” (CCC, 1827).

Let us love with the right priorities. Let us allow Charity to purify our ability to love. The Christian “no longer stands before God as a slave in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who ‘first loved us’” (CCC, 1828). St. Basil said: “If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages…we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands…we are in the position of children.” (Ibid.)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Give God What Is Right


The Lord should have been impressed by the large sums of money given by rich people to the Temple treasury. After all, we ourselves are immediately (and gladly) impressed by huge donations. But such is not the case with the Lord. Sitting by the treasury of the temple, our Lord praised the poor widow over the rich donors on account of the fact that the rich, in spite of the huge donations, gave only from their surplus wealth while the widow, from her poverty, contributed all she had – her whole livelihood.

An important point to consider would be the first and the greatest commandment which was taught to us by the Lord in last Sunday’s gospel: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord your God is Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength!” God first of all, God above all – this is the gist of the greatest commandment. Everything I am and everything I have comes from Him and belongs to Him. Therefore, I must love the Lord with everything that I am and everything that I have. This high ideal inspired our famous offertory song: “Lahat ng hawak ko, lahat ng loob ko, lahat ay aking alay sa Iyo. Mula sa iyo ang lahat ng ito, muli kong handog sa iyo…” Very ideal, is it not? But do we really mean what we say? The truth comes out in the value of our offering. Do we give in proportion to what we have received from the Lord…or do we give only from our surplus? Can I really say that my offering is indeed “lahat ng hawak ko”? Do we imitate the poor widow who, even in her poverty, contributed all she had? Or do we follow the steps of the rich who gave only from their surplus wealth?

The quality of our offering manifests how we look at God. If it is true that we say that God is everything to us, then we should put our money where our mouth is! No, I am not telling you to give more at offertory. I am simply asking you to give God what he rightfully deserves! Give God what rightfully belongs to Him. We do not give to the Lord in order to receive blessings later on. We give to the Lord because we have already received from Him. Our offering is our act of gratitude to the Lord because he has always been kind to us. Therefore, our offering should be proportionate to the blessings that we have received from Him. To give God from our surplus, to give God what we no longer need, is to treat Him as a beggar because in effect, we give Him our loose change. Let us not treat God like a beggar for the simple reason that He is not one – the Lord our God is Lord alone. He is Lord! He is Sovereign! Let us treat God as Lord and Sovereign. Let us offer to Him the best of what we can give, whether it be our time, or our talent, or our wealth and resources. Let us give God what is right and not what is left.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Widow's Mite

In the tagalog translation of the story of the widow's mite, the 2 coins donated by the widow into the temple treasury is translated as "dalawang kusing na halaga ng isang pera." I always wondered how much a "kusing" is. Looking for answers, I found out that "kusing" refers to the smallest denominated Philippine coin, which today would probably be five Philippine centavos. When the Central Bank minted one centavo coins, "kusing" used to refer to this amount. And so, the widow donated ten centavos to the temple treasury and she was lauded by the Lord for doing so because the rich gave from their surplus wealth but the poor widow gave everything she lived on. She was the one who truly loved the Lord with all her heart, her soul, her mind, and her strength.

For more information about "Kusing", follow the link: “Kusing”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Christ our only Treasure

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

“… he went away sad, for he had many possessions” – this sentence might cause us to wonder what the rich man could be sad about. After all, he had many possessions. Is this not the stuff that makes all of us happy? With many possessions, you can do anything…you can have everything you want. The world teaches us: “Money makes the world go round.” If this were so, then why did the rich man go away sad?

St. Catherine of Genoa says “God has created the soul, pure and simple…endowed with a beatific instinct towards God.” And it experiences joy insofar as the love of God flows into the soul. However, St. Catherine refers to a certain “rust” which covers the soul and impedes such a flowing in of God. This “rust” is sin…and perhaps, every attachment to the things of the world. St. Catherine said, “If an object is covered, being under the sun, it cannot receive the reflection of the sun – not because of defect of the sun which continually shines; but because of what is covering it.” The cover prevents the object from receiving whatever the sun has to offer. The thicker the cover is, the more it is shielded from the rays of the sun, the less it absorbs the reflection of the sun. The thicker the “rust” that covers the soul, the less the soul experiences joy because the love of God is not able to flow into it.

Because the man has many possessions, he could not appreciate the fact that Jesus was looking at him and loving him. His many possessions prevented him from doing so. Therefore, his possessions prevented him from experiencing the joy that only the love of the Lord can give. The responsorial psalm tells us: “Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!”

The possessions we value too much are “rust” in reality. In the Book of Wisdom spoke of Wisdom: “I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison to her, nor did I liken any precious gem to her; because all gold, in view of her (wisdom), is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness, I loved her, and I chose to her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.” And who is this Wisdom of God? It is Jesus. Jesus is the Wisdom of God. Jesus is our true treasure. Si Hesus ang ating tunay na yaman. Si Hesus ang ating tanging yaman.

Ikaw ang aking tanging yaman na di lubusang masumpungan. Ang nilikha mong kariktan, sulyap ng yong kagandahan. Jesus, you are my unique treasure. The beautiful things that you have created are but a glimpse of your beauty, Lord.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Monday, October 8, 2012

UST: True to its Catholic Name

The Main Building with the images of the Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity

This Article on the "Varsitarian" speaks well of the University of Santo Tomas as a Catholic University. I find the following paragraphs as worthy of our considration:

"If faculty members of UST and other Catholic schools feel they need to invoke their academic freedom to make known their stand in conflict with the bishops regarding the RH bill, then they’re free to do so. But they must resign from UST. They must give up their Catholic academic affiliation. They must have the courage of their intellectual conviction. Upholding their conscience, they must respect the Church and her teachings."

"The Ateneo and La Salle professors therefore have been treated with kid gloves by the Jesuits and the Christian Brothers. Although they’re religious and members of Catholic orders, the Jesuits and Christian Brothers have failed to uphold orthodoxy and defend the Church. As far as the RH bill and support for it among their faculty are concerned, they’re lemons. And as far as the Pro-RH Ateneo and La Salle professors are concerned, they’re dishonest and don’t have the courage of their intellectual conviction. Contradicting the bishops and defending the RH bill, they have clung on to their faculty membership in Catholic institutions. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. They’re intellectual mercenaries, nothing more, nothing less.
It is quite gratifying that UST has cracked the whip and reminded its faculty members that they’re members of a Catholic institution and should toe the line."

"In short, over and above academic freedom, the Catholic university exists for evangelical purposes. By going against the stand of the bishops, the Ateneo and La Salle professors are saying they don’t agree with the Church’s mission. If so, they’re free to leave. In fact, they must leave. They must resign if they have the courage of their conviction."

Link: RH bill, Ateneo, and La Salle: Of lemons and cowards

Friday, October 5, 2012

Plenary Indulgence for Year of Faith

The Apostolic Penitentiary published the Decree Granting Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith.

The following are the salient parts:

"During the whole span of the Year of Faith, proclaimed from October 11, 2012 to the whole of November 24, 2013, all individual faithful truly repentant, duly confessed, communing sacramentally, and who pray according to the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, will be able to acquire a Plenary Indulgence from the temporal punishment for their sins imparted by God’s mercy, applicable in suffrage to the souls of the deceased faithful.
"a.- Every time they take part in at least three instances of preaching during the Sacred Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of Vatican Council II and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in any church or ideal place;
"b.- Every time they visit by way of pilgrimage a Papal Basilica, a Christian catacomb, a Cathedral; Church, a sacred place designated by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith (for example between the Minor Basilicas and the Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the Holy Apostles and to Patron Saints) and take part there in some sacred function or at least pause for an apt time of recollection with pious meditations, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, according to the case, to Holy Apostles or Patrons;
"c.- Every time, in days determined by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith (for example on the solemnities of the Lord, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the feasts of the Holy Apostles and Patrons, on the Chair of Saint Peter), in any sacred place they participate in a solemn Eucharistic celebration or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form;
d.- A day freely chosen, during the Year of Faith, for the pious visit of the baptistery or other place, in which they received the sacrament of Baptism, renewing the baptismal promises in any legitimate formula.

Diocesan or Eparchial bishops, and those who in law are equivalent to them, in the most appropriate day of this time, on the occasion of the main celebration (for example November 24, 2013, on the solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, with which the Year of Faith will close) will be able to impart the Papal Blessing with the Plenary Indulgence, to be gained by all the faithful who receive this Blessing devoutly.
"The truly repentant faithful, who cannot take part in solemn celebrations for serious reasons (as, first of all, nuns that live in convents of perpetual cloister, anchorites and hermits, prisoners, the elderly, the sick, as well as those that, in hospitals or other nursing places, give continuous service to the sick …), will obtain the Plenary Indulgence in the same conditions  if, united in spirit and thought to the faithful present, particularly in moments in which the Words of the Supreme Pontiff or of the Diocesan Bishops are broadcast on television or radio, recite in their own home  or where the impediment keeps them (for example in the chapel of the convent, of the hospital, of the nursing home, of the prison …) the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers in keeping with the objective of the Year of Faith, offering the sufferings or discomforts of their life."

For the Text of the Decree, go to the link: ZENIT - Decree Granting Plenary Indulgence for Year of Faith

Liturgy is the Place where the Church is Fully Experienced

Liturgy is a going out of being closed in on ourselves...

The Holy Father, in the General Audience (October 3, 2012), gave a catechism on the Ecclesial Nature of Liturgical Prayer. The highlights would be the following:

"In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church” (n. 1097); therefore, it is the “whole Christ”, the whole Community, the Body of Christ united with her Head who celebrates. The liturgy then is not a kind of “self-manifestation” of a community; instead, it is a going out of simply “being ourselves” -- of being closed in on ourselves -- and the portal to the great banquet, the entrance into the great living community, in which God himself nourishes us. The liturgy involves universality, and this universal character must enter ever anew into everyone’s awareness. The Christian liturgy is the worship of the universal temple, which is the Risen Christ. His arms are extended on the Cross in order to draw all men into the embrace of God’s eternal love. It is the worship of heaven opened wide. It is never merely the event of a single community, with its own position in time and space. It is important that every Christian feel and really be inserted into this universal “we”, which provides the foundation and refuge for the “I” in the Body of the Christ, which is the Church.
"In this, we must always be mindful of and accept the logic of the Incarnation of God: He has drawn close, become present, by entering into history and into human nature, by becoming one of us. And this presence continues in the Church, his Body. The liturgy then is not the memory of past events, but rather the living presence of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, which transcends and unites both time and space. If the centrality of Christ does not emerge at the forefront in the celebration, we will not have Christian liturgy, which is totally dependent upon the Lord and sustained by his creative presence. God acts by means of Christ and we cannot act except through him and in him. Every day, the conviction must grow in us that the liturgy is not ours, my own “doing”; rather, it is God’s action in us and with us.
"Therefore, it is neither the individual – priest or faithful – nor the group who celebrates the liturgy; rather, it is primarily God’s action through the Church, who has her own history, her own rich tradition and her own creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is proper to the liturgy as a whole, is one of the reasons why it cannot be designed or modified by individual communities or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.
Even in the liturgy of the smallest communities, the entire Church is always present. For this reason, there are no “strangers” in the liturgical community. In every liturgical celebration the whole Church participates together, heaven and earth, God and men. The Christian liturgy, although it is celebrated in a concrete place and space and expresses the “yes” of a particular community, is by its very nature catholic; it comes from the whole and leads to the whole, in unity with the Pope, with the Bishops, with believers of all times and ages and from all places. The more a celebration is animated by this awareness, the more fruitfully will the authentic meaning of the liturgy there be realized.
"Dear friends, the Church is made visible in many ways: in charitable works, in missionary endeavors, in the personal apostolate that every Christian should carry out in his own environment. But the place where she is fully experienced as the Church is in the liturgy: it is the act, we believe, whereby God enters into our reality and we can encounter him, we can touch him. It is the act whereby we enter into contact with God: He comes to us, and we are enlightened by him. Therefore, when in our reflections we focus our attention only on how we may render it attractive, interesting, beautiful, we risk forgetting the essential: the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for us; it is his work; he is the subject; and we should open ourselves to him and allow ourselves to be guided by him and by his Body, which is the Church."
The Link: ZENIT - On the Ecclesial Nature of Liturgical Prayer

The Humility of Christ and the Cross (25th Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Today, if it were not a Sunday, is the Feast of St. Padre Pio, a Franciscan friar who lived in our lifetime and who was known as the priest who bore the sacred wounds of our Lord in his own flesh for 50 years. There are many devotees to this saint today because they consider him as a great miracle worker. But very few realize that this man taught us to love the Cross of Christ and embrace it in our own bodies.

As in last Sunday’s gospel, the Lord teaches us, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and 3 days after his death, the Son of Man will rise.” At the very heart of the mystery of Christ is the mystery of the Cross. It is Christ who is the Just One referred to in the Book of Wisdom – the One whom the wicked find obnoxious because “he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for our transgressions, and challenges us with violations of our training.” Jesus is the Just One who is put to the test “with revilement and torture…so that we may have proof of his gentleness and patience.”  And indeed, he was put to test. On the Cross, in the face of much cruelty and revilement, the Lord was the perfection of gentleness and patience. He is truly the Wisdom from above, as the Apostle St. James said: “pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” On the Cross, Jesus truly manifested himself as the Son of God. His gentle compliance to the will of the Father was the fulfillment of the 1st reading: “If the just One be the Son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.” On the Cross, Jesus truly became the last of all and the servant of all. He manifested this when on the night he was betrayed, he washed the feet of his disciples. He, who is the first born of all creation, lowered himself to wash his disciples’ feet.

It is the simplicity of the Son of God on the Cross that Padre Pio emulated. Even though he was famous on account of the stigmata on his body, Padre Pio continued to be a very simple man: “I am only a friar who wants to pray.” Padre Pio says: “Jesus likes to give Himself to simple souls; we must make an effort to acquire this beautiful virtue of simplicity and to hold it in great esteem. Jesus said: Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. But before He taught us this by His words he had already put it into practice. He became a child and gave us the example of that simplicity he was to teach us later also by his words. Let us empty our hearts and keep far from us all human prudence. We must try to keep our thoughts pure, our ideas upright and honest and our intentions holy." (From a letter to Padre Agostino from Pietrelcina, July 10, 1915. Diflumeri, Father Gerardo, ed. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Letters, Vol. 1, Correspondence with His Spiritual Directors (1910-1922). 2nd ed. Vol. 1. San Giovanni: Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, 1984. 677-678.)

As on the Cross, Jesus lowered himself to become last of all, so should we go with him into the depth of his self-abasement. "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross." (August 14, 1914, Epistolario II, p. 155.) 

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

The Difference between the thoughts of God and the thoughts of men

Jesus, I trust in you!

St. Mark addressed his Gospel to the Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. Thus, the image of Jesus which he presents to them is that of the Suffering Servant of God, one who teaches that “the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise again after three days.” He rebukes Peter for resisting our Lord’s destiny as the Suffering Servant. He calls Peter “Satan” because he was “thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

The Lord shows the difference of the thoughts of God from the thoughts of man. Man naturally thinks in terms of convenience, comfort, and ease. This is the reason why the RH bill is very attractive to many people. It promises couples of a life of ease and comfort because, admittedly, the less children they have, the less responsibilities they still need to fulfill. Less responsibility mean a lifestyle of comfort and ease. That is why, as I have said a few weeks ago, many people would rather listen to the human teachings that guarantee comfortable lives than the commandments of God that challenge us to transcend the narrow limitations of the human point of view.

But human beings do not think as God does. Men think in terms of convenience but God thinks in terms of righteousness and truth. Men think in terms of accumulation but God thinks in terms of self-emptying. Men think in terms of honors and applause but God thinks in terms of humiliations and self-denial. The ways of God, the way of suffering, self-denial, and daily cross, can only be explained by who God is: God is Love. Padre Pio used to say: “He who begins to love must be willing to suffer.” This willingness to suffer is due to the fact that love and sacrifice go together. Love and sacrifice is what the Cross is about.

We constantly search for what will make us happy. Wrongly do we think that happiness is brought by convenience and material satisfaction. True happiness is found in God. True happiness is found in heaven. And the only way to heaven is through the Cross. Christ entered his glory only through the Cross. “The foot of the Cross is the gateway to heaven.” “Life is a Calvary and we must climb it cheerfully…From Calvary, we go to Tabor.” The way of suffering is the way of glory. “Glory will be ours on the condition that we endure suffering.”

By the Cross, the Lord proved his love for us. By the Cross, let us prove our love for Him. “In suffering, we give to God something which we cannot do in paradise…The angels are jealous of us because they cannot suffer.” “Suffering is a sure sign that God loves us…Accepting sufferings will perfect us and sanctify us.” Let us deny ourselves, carry our Cross, and follow Jesus.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Silence to Hear (23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time B)

Our Lady of Solitude: Model of Silence

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

In the very talkative world that we live in, much of the ideas that are expressed are shallow and meaningless. Much of what is communicated is unclear, almost gibberish. That is why the man who was brought to Jesus for healing today may best describe most of us today. He had a speech impediment. His words were unclear simply because he was deaf. I say that this man describes us because our incapability to communicate clearly to others the truth is due to our failure to listen well. In teaching, I notice that many of our students do not learn because they do not listen well. They talk with each other as the teacher teaches.  When asked about their ideas on religion, they give out shallow and unclear ones. This only shows that they do not think before they talk.

In order to heal the man, Jesus took him off away from the crowd. Before he opens the ears of the deaf, he separates the man from the crowd. Some sort of “distance” is needed in order to open one’s self to God’s word. For us to be able to listen well to God’s word, we need to distance ourselves from the noises around us. We need to set apart time to listen, to search, to study the truths of the faith. We need to give God our full attention to hear what he has to say.

In the Psalms, we hear the invitation: “Come children and hear me and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” (Ps. 34:11) In the Book of Job, it is written: “Be silent and I will teach you wisdom” (Job 33:33). Silence is necessary to give God our full attention. Our ears will not hear the Lord speak unless we keep silent. When we listen intently and understand God’s word, our mouths become capable of speaking clearly and profoundly. We always say: “Silent waters run deep.” Profundity is marked by silence. Profundity is the sign of real wisdom.

“Today, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.” (Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, 7.) We will regain the enthusiasm for communicating the faith when we have rediscovered the joy of believing. This rediscovery of faith can only happen when we listen intently to the Word of God. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). We cannot preach the Gospel unless we hear it first.

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you!

On the Birth of the Blessed Virgin

Picture by Dennis Maturan

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The ber months are already upon us and it’s beginning to look like Christmas. I do not say this on account of our overly excited friends to play Christmas songs and put up decors at the onset of September. You might have noticed, the readings today are very Christmassy. The prophet Micah speaks of Bethlehem from which will come the Messiah-king of Israel. And of course, who will not forget the genealogy of the Lord which is always read on the 2nd day of the Simbang Gabi and also on the vigil Mass of Christmas? We might find fault with those who begin Christmas early but it seems that today’s liturgy does the same thing.

Of course we are not celebrating today the Birth of the Lord but that of his Mother. And yet, we cannot help but associate the two with each other. After all, the birth of the Mother is the sure sign of the birth of the Son. Even the collect could not help but make the connection: …the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin may bring deeper peace to those for whom the birth of her Son was the dawning of salvation! It does not surprise us that on the feast of our Lady’s birth, the readings do not refer in any way whatsoever to her birth but to that of her Son Jesus. And I think it is because the significance of the mystery we celebrate today is found in the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The Incarnation of God the Son is the necessary step to the Paschal Mystery for what flesh and blood could Christ sacrifice on the Cross had he not assumed human nature? Would the Immortal God be capable of dying had he not taken upon himself human flesh? And could the Incarnation take place without involving a woman who would consent to be his Mother…the Virgin who shall be with child and bear a son who shall be named Immanuel? Indeed, she who was born today is the bridal chamber from where the Bridegroom shall rise to meet his bride. She is the ark upon which the Lord shall sit as on a throne. She is God’s field in which the Holy Spirit shall drop down heavenly dew so that it may bring forth a Savior. Hers would be a womb so blessed that it will bring forth a holy fruit who is Christ the Lord.

The birth of our Lady shows God’s resoluteness in fulfilling his promise of salvation to sinful humanity. God is truly intent on saving us…thus he brings forth the virgin who will soon provide his only begotten Son with the flesh he needed for the sacrifice. The unblemished Lamb of God will come forth from his Immaculate Mother. Here is the Woman who will be in enmity with the serpent and who will crush his head. God is fulfilling his promises. He may have given his people up but only insofar as the prophecy would be fulfilled: “The Lord shall give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne.” Yes, that time of redemption is at hand. The one who is to give birth is born. The Lord will not give up his people any longer. His anger has abated. His anger does not last forever. He is now ready to reconcile the world to himself. The long night of waiting is drawing to a close. The rising of the Sun of Justice is soon to come. The one from whom He will come forth is born today!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! 

Dulce Nombre de Maria

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unstained by the world

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The raging debate on Reproductive Health has manifested division in the Church, so they say. Catholics for Reproductive Health and of course, the controversial Ateneo professors who hid their dissent under the guise of academic or intellectual freedom, all seem to reveal that not everybody in the Catholic Church listens to the Teaching Authority (Magisterium) of the Church. Media and the whole freethinking world gang up against the Catholic Bishops for what they call repression of intellectual freedom. The accusers of the Church label the bishops as intolerant of modern thought.

Thus, I really think that the Word of God today speaks appropriately about the state of confusion that seems to appear in the Church. In referring to the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites, Jesus quotes Sacred Scriptures: “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.” Then he said, “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” The detractors of the Church will apply these verses to bishops and priests whom they call as the modern day scribes and Pharisees. But in reality, these detractors are the ones who teach human precepts as doctrines as they disregard God’s commandments. For did God not make it clear from the very beginning when he created man and woman: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth…” (Gen. 1:28) and did he not repeat the same commandment to Noah (Gen. 9:1)? In the 1st reading, Moses said to the people of Israel: “In your observance of the commandments of the Lord your God…you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it. Observe them carefully.” What seems to be narrow mindedness to the world is actually fidelity to the commandments of the Lord. We cannot add nor subtract from the commandment of God: Be fertile and multiply. Fill the earth. The staunch stand of the Catholic Magisterium against the so-called “reproductive health” is simply the fulfillment of the Apostolic Mandate which St. James referred to in the 2nd reading: (to keep) “religion that is pure and undefiled before God.” And what is this “pure and undefiled” religion? “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” To stand up for the commandments of God, even in spite of the “strong popular support” for the contrary, is, in reality, “keeping religion pure” and “keeping oneself unstained by the world.”

Dissenters enjoy much popular support because they say what the world says. They say what everybody says. They say what everybody wants to hear. And the bishops who uphold the clear commandments of God are labeled as narrow minded and outdated. But that is to be expected. For the thoughts of God are so different from the thoughts of man: “My thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways. For I am God and not man.” (Isaiah 55:8) Let us keep our religion pure as God is pure. Let us keep ourselves unstained by the world.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Measure of Authentic Faith in Christ

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The difficulty of our Lord’s teaching regarding the Eucharist has antagonized not only the Jews but his disciples as well: “This is hard: who can accept it?” They found it too much to bear that we should eat His body and drink His blood. The doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was too difficult to accept. What prevented them from accepting what they called this “hard” teaching about the Eucharist? The Jews last Sunday have expressed their difficulty: “How could this man give us his flesh to eat?” They saw Jesus as no more than just a man. They did not see Jesus as God. For while it is impossible for a mere man to give his flesh to be eaten, for God, however, it can be done. God can assume human flesh and he can give it for us to eat. Nothing is impossible to God.
“Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” The Eucharist is the litmus test of a Christian’s faith in Jesus. A Christian cannot really say that he believes that Jesus is Lord and God not until he believes that Jesus gives his flesh as food to be eaten. Thus, I really question the faith of “bible Christians” who claim that they have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. How can they say that they believe that Jesus is Lord and yet not believe that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink? They have turned their back on Jesus simply because what he said was too difficult to accept. And that is also why I am not at all surprised that in the 1960’s the same Christian communities also abandoned the Christian stand against birth control. If they could abandon Christ on account of the difficulty of the Eucharistic dogma, they could also abandon Christ on account of the difficult of the moral stand against birth control.

On the other hand, Jesus even challenged his 12 apostles to leave him if they found the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist unacceptable. Peter, the first Pope, answers the Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” In spite of the big number of disciples who have abandoned the Lord, this humble band of apostles makes their stand on the side of Jesus. Thus, it comes as no surprise that even if the whole world, fellow Christians included, should turn its back to the Lord on issues like birth control, the Catholic Church will still stand by the Lord. If the Church did not abandon the Lord in spite of the difficulty of the Eucharistic dogma, she will not abandon the Lord now on account of a smaller issue like birth control. Even if they say that thousands of Catholics no longer listen to what the Pope and the bishops say…even if 190 Ateneo professors should abandon the Church’s stance against birth control, still, the humble number of Christ’s real faithful would stand by him for what is wrong and false remains to be wrong and false even if everybody does it and what is right and true will always be right and true even if nobody does it anymore. Like Joshua and the Israelites in the first reading, the small number of real faithful continues to say: “Far it be from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods…we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” Like Peter, the first Pope, the Church continues to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” “Decide today whom you will serve…As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

He could not have said it any clearer than this!

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The Lord could not have given the teaching in clearer terms than he does in today’s reading. He is not talking in some vague, symbolic language. He tells us in plain and simple language: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” His words are so clear that even his enemies murmured among themselves because they understood correctly what he was trying to say: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

The Jews were accustomed to sacred meals which they ate in the presence of the Lord as a sign of Divine favor. But what Jesus is saying is new for them. He goes beyond eating in the presence of God. Jesus gives his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. He himself is the meal. “In the Eucharistic meal, man feeds on God.” (John Paul II, General Audience on June 8, 1983.) The change of bread into his flesh and wine into his blood is not merely a change of perception, that is, a change in the way we look at what is on the altar. The change is ontological, that is, whether we perceive it or not, the bread, by the power of the word of Christ and by the Holy Spirit, becomes the flesh of Christ. In like manner, the wine, by the same power of Christ’s word and by the Holy Spirit, becomes the blood of Christ. It is a real, objective change – regardless of the perception of the onlookers. It is Christ truly present, body and blood, soul and divinity.

Christ is truly present so that the redemptive sacrifice can be made present. Bread and wine becomes his body and blood so that his sacrifice may be sacramentally renewed through the offering made by the ordained priest. And once his sacrifice is made present, the Lord makes accessible to us the fruit of his offering: eternal life. Eternal life is made accessible to us through this sacrificial meal. Eating his body and drinking his blood must not be understood in a metaphorical way for what we eat is truly his body and what we drink is truly his blood. As material food is necessary for the preservation and development of bodily life, so the Eucharist is necessary for the development of the Divine life in us. “Just as the Father who has life sent me and I have life because of the Father, so the man who feeds on me will have life because of me.” “The Father is the first source of life; this life he has given to the Son, who in turn communicates it to mankind. He who feeds on Christ in the Eucharist does not have to wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life; he already possesses it on earth, and in it he possesses the guarantee of the resurrection of the body at the end of the world: ‘He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Ibid.) Truly, this is the food that does not perish. This is the food that “endures unto everlasting life.” “Wisdom has…dressed her meat and mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table…and calls out from the heights out over the city: ‘Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live, advance in the way of understanding.’”

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.