Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas: Choosing the Light


Our Belen for 2016
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
When the Lord Jesus was born, it was in the middle of the night. People were fast asleep except the shepherds who were keeping the night watch over their flock. Nobody knew that it was the most awaited night, the night when the ancient promise of God was fulfilled. Everything was hidden in the darkness of the night.
But what was hidden in darkness will be proclaimed in daylight. Today, the Light of the world shines in the darkness. Not even the darkness is able to overcome it. No amount of darkness will ever limit the light. Light limits the darkness and not the other way around. Light dispels the darkness. The darkness does not dispel the light. Darkness is the absence of light. When the light comes, there is no darkness.

There is only one way for darkness to stay…and that is by blocking the light. “He came to what was his own but his own people did not accept him.” Light is refused by putting up a barrier to keep it from penetrating the darkness. The barrier sort of protects the darkness from the light. Hiding behind that barrier, a person remains in the dark.

But it is unfortunate that one should refuse the light and choose the darkness. “For what came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race…” Life is light. Where there is light, there is life. Living things grow under the light. Death lurks in darkness. It would be sad if people choose the darkness because doing so, they would choose death over life. And who wants to die? The desire for death defies all logic. Everything that lives wants to remain alive. It would do everything to be able to extend life even for one second more.

Light empowers. “Those who did accept him, he gave the power to become children of God.” There can be no higher dignity for man than to be a child of God. To accept the light is to be chosen and loved by God as his dear children. This is the life he offers us. He offers us the life of the children of God. And to do this, his light comes into the world. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Like the sun at Fatima which one can look at without hurting one’s eyes, the Light of the world comes in the poverty of a little child. He is not a light that glares and blinds. He is a light that beckons, a light that attracts by its beauty. The sign of God is the poverty of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying on a manger. The poverty of the human nature which he took upon himself makes the unapproachable light of God less intimidating and more approachable. This Light beckons us to go out of the dark. It draws us out of the darkness of sin and death. It invites us to take away the barrier that shields us from his light and life. It invites us to turn away from sin, to shun the works of darkness. The seeming poverty of God makes people underestimate his power. Our impatience to put things in order makes us resort to works of death: wars, killings, violence. But the peace and order that comes out of it is simply the silence of cadavers, the silence of cemeteries.

If only the world would accept Christ the Light, then it would receive from the fullness of his grace, grace upon grace. “Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.”  This is the true life giving grace. The mercy of the Christ Child is one that truly transforms and gives eternal life. It is the one that opens and fills paradise and not graves. “The Lord restores Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! The Lord comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem.”
If we accept Christ, he will reveal God to us. “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” Let us accept him for the Lord does not desire ruin for us but salvation. He desires not violence but peace. He desires not the death of the sinner but that the sinner should turn to him and live.

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

Simbang Gabi 9 (Fatima Centennial): the Miracle of the Sun


On the last day of the Simbang gabi, we read the Song of Zechariah. His voice restored on the day of the circumcision of John the Baptist, Zechariah sang in praise of God for sending a Savior in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham and the prophets. He also recognized the vocation of his new born son who will go before the Lord to prepare his way. The song of Zechariah is being used as the morning prayer of the Church because of these words: “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Perhaps, the reference to the dawn also makes this song an appropriate reading for the last day of preparation for Christmas. Christ, the Radiant Dawn, is about to break upon us. He is the Sun of Justice who shall shine upon us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The Fatima apparitions ended with a great miracle that our Lady promised to perform for all to see. It rained heavily on October 12, 1917 and on the morning of October 13. The much awaited miracle was lampooned by the secular press. Tens of thousands converged on Fatima in spite of the appalling weather conditions. They were all drenched with the rain but still they stayed on to see this promised miracle. At noontime, as Our Lady spoke with the 3 children, everybody present saw the heavy rain ceased and sky cleared. The sun appeared in a way that everybody could look at it directly without their eyes getting hurt. It trembled and began to move to and fro across the sky, throwing out multi-colored lights in all directions. Then, all at once, the sun detached itself from the sky and came plunging down like an enormous fireball on the screaming multitude. Everywhere people were falling into the mud in panic. They were crying out their sins and pleading for divine mercy as they cringed in imminent expectation of the end of the world. At the last moment, the sun halted its plunge and climbed back into the sky to resume its normal position and brightness. As the crowd heaved a sigh of relief, everyone noticed that their clothes and the entire Cove da Iria were completely dry. The solar miracle was only the 3rd time in history that God had used the sun to perform a miracle – the other 2 occasions being the prolongation of daylight at the prayer of Joshua (Joshua 10), and the sign given to the king of Judah in 714 BC by the prophet Ezekiel in which the shadow of the sundial retraced its path by 10 hours (Kings 4:20). The uniqueness of the solar miracle of Fatima was that its exact time and location were publicly announced months in advance.

Pope Paul VI in 1967 would later on say about the miracle of the sun: “It was eschatological in the sense that it was like a repetition or an annunciation of a scene at the end of time for all humanity assembled together.” Indeed, there could be no greater sign than the miracle of the sun. At Fatima, there were 100,000 eyewitnesses coming from all faiths who at the time of the miracle, were all convinced that the end of the world had come. And afterwards, when they found themselves alive and dry but still quivering with fear, they realized that God had stamped his Mother’s words with a colossal preview of His 2nd coming.

The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon said in 1977: “While the death of God is proclaimed with arrogant glee, Fatima appears like a great supernatural light. It is God who reveals himself with the impressive majesty of Sinai.” In the time of great incredulity, God used the sun in order to affirm the faith of his faithful that he is alive. In the Gospel, the Lord spoke of signs in the sun, in the moon and the stars that would speak of his coming (Luke 21:25). The solar miracle is definitely that sign in the sun that the Lord referred to. The sign of Fatima, the promise of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is the great promise of the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God. It is a dazzling sign of hope for a tormented and fearful world. It is a wondrous pledge of God’s unwavering love for his wayward children. Although the much of the world has abandoned him, he has not abandoned the world. Instead, through his Mother, the Lord promises to withhold the terrible arm of his Justice and to forgive his rebellious children if a “sufficient number” respond to the invitation of his grace to find refuge in his Mother’s Immaculate Heart. He assures us of final reconciliation and peace.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death.” (CCC, 1040) The miracle of the sun points to that day when God’s goodness will triumph over all evil. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is that Sun of Justice who will burn the arrogant and the evil doer. But he shall heal those who fear him (Malachi 4:1-2) In the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is found the promise of the victory of good over evil, Justice over oppression, peace over violence, humility over arrogance, mercy over sin. Let us do what our Mother asked in Fatima and bring the world closer to that era of peace.

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


Simbang Gabi 8 (Fatima Centennial): the Immaculate Heart of Mary as our refuge

Jesus I trust in you!

Elizabeth gave birth to St. John the Baptist and her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. Perhaps the reason for their joy was that the Lord has put an end to the curse of her sterility through the birth of a son in her old age. Little did they know that the birth of the Baptist did not simply mean the end of her mother’s curse but it also meant the end of the long wait for the promised Redeemer. “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.” The parents’ insistence on the name “John” and the restoration of Zechariah’s voice were the signs to the neighbors and relatives that what they witnessed was no ordinary birth. The signs made them ask: “What will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
“What will this child be?” The prophet Malachi gives us the answer: “Lo, I send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes…to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come to strike the land with doom.”

Many people simply regard the Fatima apparitions as a doomsday message. The warnings about wars, famines, persecutions of the Church, the spread of communism, the martyrdom of the good, and the annihilation of nations have caught the attention of many to the point that people think that Fatima was designed to scare people. To some people, Fatima is a prophecy about the impending doom that is to come.

However, we forget that Our Lady did not come to scare people about a future that they cannot change. When she first appeared to the children she said to them, “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm…I am from heaven.” Our Lady introduced herself in the very same way the heavenly visitors introduce themselves to people in the bible: “Do not be afraid.” She came as God’s messenger with a proposal to avert what is to come as a consequence of our sins. She came with a message of consolation: “Jesus wishes…to make me known and loved. He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.” She said to Lucia, “Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” (June 13, 1917) As John was sent to prepare the way before the Lord, so also the Lord sent his Mother to prepare for us the way that will lead us to him. That way is the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The wars, famine, and persecutions that are God’s punishment for the sins of humankind will afflict both the good and the bad. Evil causes suffering to the good people: “the good will be martyred and the Holy Father will have much to suffer.” And yet, we are to bear these sufferings because they purify us. “He is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord. Then, the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord, as in the days of old, as in years gone by.” Even this evil which causes us suffering does us good. And the Immaculate Heart of Mary is being offered by the Lord to us as our refuge amidst suffering caused by evil. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart, making reparation to her and consecration to her, will be our way back to the Lord.

The Lord does not send to us in our time only the last of the prophets. He sends to us the Queen of the prophets herself. Not only does he open Zechariah’s mouth. He opens to us Mary’s mouth. Through her anguished message at Fatima, Mary calls us back to God. The Lord guides world events slowly towards the triumph of the Immaculate Heart. He guides the world towards that era of peace. Let us consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart. Let the Immaculate Heart of Mary be our refuge in these trying times. Let her be our way back to God.

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

Simbang Gabi 7 (Fatima Centennial): The True Revolution

Jesus, I trust in you!

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Mary sang about the great things the Lord has done for her and for people. She sang of how the Lord looked upon her lowliness and exalted her by doing great things for her. Thus, she will be called blessed by every generation. But the Holy Spirit also enabled Mary to recognize what God does for the poor and the humble ones: He shows mercy to those who fear him; he shows the strength of his arm to the humble; he lifts up the lowly; he fills the hungry with good things; he comes to the help of Israel his servant. However, while he looks mercifully on the poor, he deals with the proud and the arrogant: he scatters the proud in their conceit; he casts down the mighty from their thrones; he sends the rich away empty. Coming from a 15 year old girl, the song is indeed radical and revolutionary because it upsets the usual paradigm by which the world looks at reality. The world extols the rich, the powerful and the proud while it looks down upon the poor, the hungry and the humble. But God has a different paradigm: he exalts the humble and humbles the proud.

When Our Lady appeared to the children at Fatima, she asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. If her requests were not heeded, Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church, the martyrdom of the good, the suffering of the Pope, and the annihilation of many nations. Why Russia and what errors would she spread? At that time, the message was not very clear because Russia was not a powerful nation to deal with. In fact, it was beset at that time with political and social unrest. On February 1917, Tsar Nicholas II was deposed from power and he was replaced by a weak Russian Provisional Government. Because of its involvement in World War I, a national crisis developed in Russia: disorder in industry and transportation intensified and obtaining provisions like food became very difficult. Vladimir Lenin rode on this social unrest and overthrew the provisional government by taking control of the Winter Palace through his Red Guards. He tried to gain public support for the Bolsheviks, pro-communist political party, through the use of the slogan: “Bread, Land, Peace and all Power to the Soviets.” But failing to get that support, he overturned the results of the elections for the Russian Constituent Assembly in November 1917. Using the armed guards, he prevented the meetings of the democratic assembly. This is now known as the October Rising or the Bolshevik revolution. In 1918, the Bolshevik became the Russian communist party and it endeavored to put the tenets of Karl Marx into practice. The error of Communism spread throughout the world. Nations disappeared and these became powerful Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). Communism seems to be in accordance with the revolution spoken of by the Magnificat of Mary: the upsetting of the social and political order, the inversion of power. However, there is that one great difference: Communism is a God-less ideology. It seeks to invert the social order independent of God. God had no place in the communist society. Religion was forbidden. Man separated from God is man dehumanized. If the human dignity is basically founded on the fact that man is the image of God, what would man be if the existence of God was denied?

St. Paul spoke of the doctrine of mutual responsibility and the common destiny of mankind. Because we are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, whatever affects one affects everybody. “If one man suffers anything, all the members suffer with it.” (1 Cor. 12:6). The collective responsibility of individuals applies to nations as well. Our Lady asked us to pray and to make sacrifices for Russia and for the conversion of sinners. Since we are one in Christ in his Mystical Body, we also become saviors of each other in the mystery of the Communion of Saints. We must collaborate in the work of redemption and so “complete what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings on behalf of his body, the Church.” (Col 1:24)

Due to the sacrifices and prayers of the devotees of Our Lady, communism has collapsed (except in China). Russia is beginning to show signs of conversion. Vladimir Putin is now a very strong defender of the Christians who are being persecuted in Syria and in Iraq. (Surprisingly, the US, under the administration of Obama, has given a mediocre response to the plight of the persecuted Christians in the Middle East.) A little more sacrifice, a little more prayer and the Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Mary, Russia will be converted and peace will be given to the world. True peace will be found when Christ truly reigns in the world. This is the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us join Mary in the true revolution that would change the world.

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

Simbang Gabi 6 (Fatima Centennial): Eucharist

Jesus, I trust in you!

Mary went in haste to the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” It was truly a blessed encounter because both Elizabeth and her unborn baby John were sanctified by the Holy Spirit and this brought joy to both of them. What could be the reason for such joy and for such blessing? The reason is the hidden presence of the Lord Jesus who, at that time, was already in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Our Lady did not visit on her own accord. Rather, she brought to them Jesus. He is the lover referred to by the first reading: Hark! My lover – here he comes…here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows… Little did the Virgin Mary know that she was the tabernacle in whom God dwelt. Wherever she went, she brought the Lord Jesus with her. From within Mary’s womb, the Lord Jesus blessed and bestowed the Holy Spirit.

When Our Lady appeared to the children at Fatima, she said, “To prevent this (war, famine, persecution of the Church), I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the first Saturdays.” Necessary to living the Fatima message is Eucharistic reparation. The Blessed Virgin wants us to receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of the month in reparation for the sins of mankind. On the third angelic apparition to the children in 1916, the angel prostrated himself before the Blessed Sacrament and after reciting a prayer of reparation “for the countless outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences” committed against the Eucharist, he urged the children to “make reparation and console your God.” After this, the children would spend many hours daily repeating the prayer taught by the angel and Eucharistic reparation became part of their lives.

The 1st apparition of Our Lady of Fatima occurred on May 13, 1917, the Feast of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. When she opened her hands on the children and communicated to them streams of intense light, the children were overwhelmed and they felt “lost in God” whom they recognized in that light. So, the children prostrated on the ground in adoration and poured out their praise of the Blessed Sacrament.

Our Lady asked that we receive Holy Communion on the 1st Saturday of every month. The angel in 1916, gave Holy Communion to the children. He said: “Receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation and console your God.” The angel was referring to sacrilegious Communions, the desecration of tabernacles and the violation of the Sacred Hosts which occur with frightening frequency throughout the world today. Besides these heinous crimes against the Blessed Sacrament, there is also the lapse of millions of our fellow Catholics to atone for. So many Catholics no longer receive Holy Communion. We must also make amends for the repeated violation of the 3rd Commandment: “You shall keep the day of the Lord holy.” On September 19, 1846, Our Lady appeared to 2 children in the village of La Sallete in France. There, she expressed her sorrow: “I gave you six days to work; I kept the seventh for myself, and no one wishes to grant it to me. This is what weighs down the arm of my Son so much.” That was in 1846, 170 years ago and the indifference to the Sunday Mass has worsened since then.       

Even when she was quite ill, little Jacinta would drag herself to daily Mass in the parish church of Fatima. Sometimes, Lucia would restrain her but she would answer: “I’m going for sinners who do not even go to Mass on Sundays.” If a sick little girl could do this, why can’t we?

It is a pity that we fail to understand how much joy the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament could give us. If only we could experience what the children experienced when they were lost in the presence of God. The presence of Christ in the womb of Mary bought joy to both Elizabeth and John the Baptist. It is the same joy that is bestowed on anyone who receives communion or at least draws near the tabernacle. Many people simply do not know what they are missing. Many of us fail to recognize Jesus who is really present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus is the joy desired by the human heart.

In this Christmas season, let us put the Mass at the center of the holy Day. The Festival is called Christmas…the Mass of Christ. The Mass is the center of Christmas because the Eucharist is the continuation of the Incarnation. Here, Christmas takes place anew: the Word becomes flesh. In this Christmas during the Centennial of Fatima, let us make a firm resolve to receive Communion every 1st Saturday of the month in reparation for the sins of men. The Lord wants to be consoled by us in this way. Let us give him joy and allow him to give us joy so that our joy may be complete.

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

Simbang Gabi 5 (Fatima Centennial): The Immaculate heart of Mary

Jesus, I trust in you!

The appointed time of the Incarnation has come. God sent the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary in bring her the glad tidings that she would conceive and bear the Son of God in her womb. The Father is sending his Son and he has chosen the Virgin to be his mother. “You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name him Jesus…he will be called holy, the Son of God.” No one has loved the Son more than the Father. And by the annunciation, the Father entrusts to Mary the Son whom he loves the most, his only begotten Son. The Son left his heavenly throne and entrusts himself to the womb of his Mother.

When the Blessed Virgin showed the children a vision of hell, she said to them: “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the 1st Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

The Blessed Virgin asked not only for the establishment of devotion to her Immaculate Heart but the consecration of Russia to her. When Our Lady asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, she meant that the Church, through the Pope, should offer that nation to her. To consecrate means to entrust to Mary not just individuals but an entire nation. It is significant that the Lord should want this consecration to take place. It was as if he was entrusting the battle against evil to the Blessed Virgin. In the book of Genesis, God said to the serpent: “I will put an enmity between you and the Woman, between your seed and her seed.” It is true that Jesus will save us, his people, from sins. But in his battle against Satan, he wishes to involve his Mother. The triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart is the triumph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Father entrusted Jesus to Mary at the Incarnation. At his crucifixion, Jesus entrusted the Church also to Mary when he said to her: “Woman, behold your son.” 
The Lord Jesus entrusted the spiritual battle to his own mother.

However, the consecration of Russia is not a magic formula that will bring about the desired results. Lucia said, “God will only permit the grace of Collegial Consecration when a sufficient number are complying with the message of Fatima.” This is why in 1967, Pope Paul VI wrote: “We now exhort all the sons of the Church to renew personally their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of the Church.” (Signum Magnum) This is the reason why we do not leave the consecration of Russia to the hands of the Holy Father alone. We must do our part by individually living out what Our Lady demanded at Fatima: conversion, Penance and Prayer (especially of the Rosary). We have to put our whole selves at the disposal of the Blessed Virgin in the very same way that she placed herself at the disposal of the Lord: “I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” Every day, we must offer our minds, hearts, and strength to the Blessed Virgin and to ask her to do with us as she pleases. Before a collegial consecration of the world can take place, there should first be world-wide individual acts of consecration. If we do not confess our sins, nor live lives of penitence, nor pray the Rosary every day, the consecration of the world would be void of its meaning. We must entrust ourselves to Mary as God has entrusted the incarnation of his Son to her.

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

Simbang Gabi 4 (Fatima Centennial): Penance


The angel appeared to Zechariah and revealed to him God’s gift of a son. His son, John the Baptist, is to be the last prophet of the Old Testament whose role is to “prepare a people fit for the Lord.” This he shall do by preaching a baptism of repentance. He will be the voice crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. John’s preaching will be accompanied by a lifestyle of penance and prayer. The angel said: “He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.” The Lord Jesus himself will say: “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘he is possessed by a demon.’” John the Baptist would feed on locusts and wild honey.

Similar to the life and message of John the Baptist, the most important aspects of the Fatima message are prayer and penitence (pagpapakasakit). “Would you like to offer yourselves to God, to accept all the sufferings which he may send you in reparation for the countless sins by which he is offended and in supplications for the conversions of sinners?” thus Our Lady asked the children on the first time they met. To her, Lucia consented, speaking for all three. Our Lady nodded her approval and said: “Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

The place of penitence in the Fatima messages will only be understood in the light of sin as an offense against God. “Fatima discovers for us the true sense of sin; sin as an offense against God, as a negation of love, of adoration, of faith and of hope…The idea of the offense made to God by sin was engraved forever on the children’s minds, and it was this that prompted them to make so many sacrifices as reparation and expiation.  They wanted ‘to console our Lord.’ ‘Does he still remain so sad,’ Francisco would say, ‘I am so sorry that He is sad like this.’
“In the message of Fatima, sin exacts a temporal suffering that must be undergone on earth or in Purgatory, or eternal punishment for those who die as enemies of God…For the whole of their lives, the little seers made sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, in expiation and reparation for the sins of men.” (Cardinal Dofner, 1975)

The children were shown by Our Lady a vision of hell on July 13, 1917. Our Lady said to them: “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go.” The vision of hell made a very strong impression on the children, most especially Jacinta.  Lucia said, “The vision of hell filled her with horror to such a degree that every penance and mortification was as nothing in her eyes, if it could only prevent souls from going there.” After seeing it, the three children undertook the most severe penances for the salvation of sinners. They wore a rope tightly round their waists, they gave their lunches to the poor, or even to their sheep; they did not drink during the furnace-like heat of August 1917.

The vision of hell would often move Jacinta to pray the prayer Our Lady taught them: “O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.” She would say to her brother Francisco, “We must pray very much to save souls from hell. So many souls go there! So many!” Added to the message of penance, the message of Fatima requires a life of prayer, prayer understood as a personal and intimate conversation with God. The prayer of the message is a gratuitous prayer, that is to say, disinterested, not seeking personal advantage; but only for the conversion of sinners and for peace. The prayer of the message goes hand in hand with sacrifice. In the 2nd angelic apparition, the children were told: “Offer prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High. In every way you can, offer sacrifices in reparation for the sins which offend Him, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.”

“The apparitions of the angel produced immediately in the seers a compelling need for silence. The silence of Fatima, a silence so desired by the little shepherds, is a call to encounter with God in grace and love. This is the 1st and the deepest meaning of the word penance in the message of Fatima, the anguished cry of the Mother delivered to all the children of the Church and to all of humanity. Fatima has sounded the call of universal metanoia, interior conversion, renewal, and the transfiguration of the sons of men into children of God.”

As we hear today of the vocation of St. John the Baptist, let our reflection of the message of Fatima bring us into the wilderness of prayer and penance. Let the constant cry of penitence save us from our frantic rush along the broad road of having, of unbridled enjoying, that leads fatally to the abyss of destruction. Let the messages of Fatima lead us back to our interior home, to the most intimate depths of our inner selves where the great transfigurations take place. Like the prodigal son who “entered into himself” (Luke 15:17), we shall recognize our tattered condition, our wasted self, and thereby come to the saving decision: “I will rise and return to my Father’s house.”

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

Simbang Gabi 3 (Fatima Centennial): Angelic visitation

Jesus, I trust in you!

The annunciation by an angel to St. Joseph is the first of the series of angelic visitations that we shall encounter during the Simbang Gabi. Angels have played prominent roles in the infancy narratives. Angels will announce the conception of John the Baptist and of our Lord. They will sing on Christmas night and proclaim the Lord’s birth to shepherds. They will warn the magi and St. Joseph of Herod’s evil plans. Angels are bearers of the Good News and that Good News is Jesus.
So the angel revealed in a dream to St. Joseph not only the wonderful plan the Lord had for Mary his wife but also the identity of her son: He is Emmanuel (God with us) who fulfills the prophecy of the Virgin giving birth. He is to be named Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. He is both God and Savior: God who saves people from sins.

The apparitions of Our Lady to the shepherd children of Fatima were preceded by angelic visitations. During springtime of 1916, an angel appeared to the children. He introduced himself to them as the Angel of Peace and he taught them a prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, I love you. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, nor adore, nor hope, nor love you.” Then he said to them, “Pray like that. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplications.”

During the summer of that same year, a second angelic visitation occurred. The angel introduced himself as the guardian angel of Portugal and he told them: “You must pray a great deal. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy on you. Offer up prayers and sacrifices constantly to the Most High.” He taught the children: “Make everything you do a sacrifice and offer it to God in reparation for the countless sins by which he is offended (nasaktan) and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. In this way, you will bring peace to your country…above all, accept and bear with submission all the sufferings which the Lord may send you.”

After 3 months, the angel appeared to them a 3rd time. This time, the Holy Eucharist appeared suspended in mid-air. The angel prostrated in adoration on the ground and led the children in a prayer of reparation: “Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly. I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, really and truly present in every tabernacle of the world in reparation for the countless outrages (pang aalipusta), sacrileges (kalapastanganan) and indifferences (pagwawalang bahala) by which he is offended.  And through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg you to convert poor sinners.” Then, the angel gave Holy Communion to the children.

As the angel revealed to St. Joseph the identity of the Son of Mary as God the Savior, so also the angel revealed to the children the identity of the Blessed Sacrament, namely, it is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to the Lord Jesus. He made the children realize how holy the Blessed Sacrament is for it is God himself present among us. The angel taught them the value of prayer and sacrifice and also the necessity of reparation for sins and prayer for the conversion of sinners.

We should likewise learn these lessons from the angel. As St. Joseph was convinced to welcome Mary and her Son into his home, so also may we learn to welcome Christ into our lives. Welcome Christ by receiving him worthily in Holy Communion. Let us repent and confess our sins and make reparation for them. Let us make up to the Lord for those who do not believe, adore, hope, nor love him.

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

Simbang Gabi 2 (Fatima Centennial): War and Peace

Jesus, I trust in you!

We will always remember the 2nd Simbang Gabi as the day of the Genealogy of our Lord, that long list of our Lord’s ancestors from Abraham to St. Joseph, the husband of Mary. We are given a glimpse of Old Testament history which shows us that the Lord was born in time and also to a family. It is the story of God’s promise being carried out to fulfillment. This promise was necessitated our need for redemption from sin. This promise of a Savior transcended even situations that would have erased all possibilities of its fulfillment.

As we look at the genealogy, we find a gap which we now call the “Babylonian exile”. The Jews were carried off into slavery for 70 years from 607 BC to 537 BC. The Holy City itself was taken captive, the Temple destroyed and the citizens were exiled. This was brought about by the sins of the people: idolatry and rebellion against God. It was a time of despair. People thought that God has forgotten his promise of salvation. But the Lord has not forgotten. The exile ended and so history led to the birth of the Messiah. The Christmas proclamation would declare: “the whole world, being at peace…Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea.”

Our Lady’s apparition at Fatima occurred also at a very trying time. It was the World War I. The world has not seen anything like it. Our Lady came with a promise of the end of the war. Soldiers will return home. She said: “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” (May 13, 1917)   She repeated this request on July 13: “Continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, for only she can help you…The war is going to end but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.” This worse war took place. The Spanish Civil War took place during the pontificate of Pius XI. It was essentially a war against God in which untold numbers of churches were destroyed, 14 bishops and 7,000 priests and religious were martyred. The number of martyrs produced by the Spanish Civil war was comparable to those of the Roman persecutions. The symbolic “firing squad” of the statue of the Sacred Heart in the geographical center of Spain was the manifestation of the anti-God nature of this war.

World War II began when the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. This invasion was preceded by the “unknown light”, the Aurora Borealis, which was seen all over the northern hemisphere on the night of January 25-26, 1938.

What Our Lady said is significant: war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father are God’s punishment for the crimes of the world. And as we speak, Syria and Iraq (Babylon) are in war. This only shows that we have not converted. The secular world is losing the sense of sin. Jurists call it “crime” and psychologists label it a “complex”. “The rejection of sin has resulted in the loss of guilt; much of today’s evil is perpetrated without thought to repentance. The philosopher Max Scheller said that while sin multiplies everywhere, the sense of guilt diminishes.” The Bishop of Fatima said in 1975: “In the light of the Fatima message, sin is not a phenomena of the sociological order, but is…an offense against God with necessary social consequences. Perhaps no other century as the century we live in has had a life so sinful. But there is something added to the sins of this century: the man of today, more sinful than those who came before him, has lost the sense of sin. He sins, but laughs and even boasts of his sin…Man of today has arrived at this stage because he has placed a division between himself and God…believing that when God is ignored, everything is possible. The man of this century wishes to realize himself as stronger than God and against God, and comes finally to the point of being man debased, anti-man, because man can only perfectly realize himself in God.” (F. Johnson, 34-35.)

Our way out of this predicament is the way proposed by Mary. Let us repent and convert to the Lord. Let us pray the Rosary to obtain peace because only Mary can help us. She can help us arrive at the era of true peace for it was when the whole world was at peace, it was then that she gave birth to the Savior, the Prince of Peace. Let us pray the Rosary to the Queen of Peace.

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

Simbang Gabi 2016 (Fatima Centennial): On Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Fatima

Jesus, I trust in you!

The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 3 shepherd children, Jacinta, aged 7, Francisco, aged 9, and Lucia, aged 10, at Fatima on the 13th of every month from May to October in 1917. Her apparitions were preceded by apparitions by angels to the same children in 1916. Thus, from November 27 2016 to November 27, 2017, we are celebrating the Centennial of the famous Fatima Apparitions. In as much as the Simbang Gabi or the Misa de Gallo is a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us meditate on the messages of Our Lady at Fatima. Whatever Our Lady revealed then to the shepherd children is very much relevant to us because she spoke of our times. We are living in the time of the fulfillment of the Fatima messages.

“The children were entrusted with a message for all humankind (and not just for themselves): pray and do penance for the countless sins of the modern world in order to save it or Divine Justice will be compelled to punish humanity with a 2nd World War and the global spread of Communism in which entire nations would be ‘annihilated’ before Russia was finally converted.” (Francis Johnson, Fatima The Great Sign, 2.) People object that the Fatima messages are just private revelations that are not binding in conscience. To this objection, the Bishop of Regensburg, Dr. Rudolf Graber, gave this answer in 1973: “It is to be noted that this objection comes principally from those who neither respect the great revelation of God, nor of Christ, and who even want to eliminate some fundamental truths of Faith such as the virgin birth of Jesus, his Resurrection, his miracles and even his very Divinity…It is absolutely certain that revelation as such was completed with Christ and his apostles. What happens then if these private revelations confirm and emphasize certain truths that are in found in this great revelation? This is exactly what happens with Fatima. Fatima confirms the existence of angels and demons that Modernists try to eliminate. Fatima confirms the very mystery of the Eucharist that Modernists have stripped of all meaning. Fatima confirms the existence of Hell, which is simply denied today. Fatima requires prayers and penance, values to which people today feel themselves far superior and from which they consequently dispense themselves. Nevertheless, all through the Old and New Testaments, this penance is spoken of…Today, much is spoken about fraternity, which naturally is not understood so much on a supernatural level, but almost exclusively in the social filed and in technical developments.”

Indeed, everything that we need to know in order to be saved was revealed to us completely by Christ and his apostles. But this does not mean that after the great revelation, God will keep silent and no longer speak to his people. He will not stay indifferent and abandon the world to self-destruction. The prophet Joel said: “God will pour forth his Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy and young men shall have visions and old men shall dream dreams. He would pour forth his Spirit upon his servants and handmaids and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:15-16) The prophet Amos said: “Is a trumpet blown in a city and the people are not afraid? Does evil befall a city, unless the Lord has done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:6-7) If the Lord reveals his secrets to the prophets, much more shall he reveal them to the Queen of Prophets. And so, God, through the Blessed Virgin, speaks to us even today to warn us of approaching danger.

“Fatima represents the great eschatological sign, the answer of God to the errors of the present time. The world finds itself on the eve of tremendous happenings breaking forth in the East. Hell seems to be let loose. The maternal Heart of Mary offers to save the world.” Yes, Fatima was a private revelation “but this does not mean that God and Mary are prohibited from speaking again. God speaks once more today and in a manner all the more intelligible as his 2nd coming draws nearer, and this is what Fatima seems to indicate.” 

The prophet Isaiah points out to us today what the Lord wants to tell us through Our Lady of Fatima: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The message of Fatima is a call to conversion – a call to repent and to return to the Lord. In a world dominated by the spectre of mass apostasy from God and by the constant threat of war, Fatima stands as a shining symbol of hope and a promise of peace. From Our Lady’s shrine at Fatima, the Lord calls out to all the nations: “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants…them will I bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer…their sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: others will I gather to him besides those already gathered.

Dearly beloved, let us unite in mind and heart. Let us begin our spiritual pilgrimage to the Lord’s house, the sanctuary of Fatima.

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

Late Post: 4th Sunday of Advent: The Virgin Birth


It would be so easy to conclude that the 4th Sunday of Advent is about St. Joseph. After all, he seems to be the protagonist of the Gospel Reading today. However, looking closely at the readings, we realize that the Word of God is revealing to us something more than St. Joseph’s righteousness and prudence. If there was any idea that gets to be repeated again and again, it would be that of the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading tells us: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” The story of St. Joseph’s interior struggle simply led to this point: Mary is a virgin and he had nothing to do with her pregnancy. The angel assured him that Mary’s pregnancy was not the fruit of fornication. Rather, “it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you shall name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” In fact, the reading was cut short by one sentence that should have said: “Joseph knew her not (meaning, he did not have marital relations with her) till she brought forth her first-born son, and he named him Jesus.” (Matthew 1:25)

The insistence on the virginity of Mary is so obvious because it was repeated 4 times! Why this insistence? Well, it is because Mary’s simultaneous virginity and maternity is so difficult to accept. We know full well how nature works: virginity ends where maternity begins. A woman loses her virginity in order to become a mother. A virgin cannot be mother at the same time because reproduction demands marital relations. A woman loses her virginity the moment she engages in marital intercourse. And so, the Word of God repeats again and again: Mary is the virgin who conceived and bore a son. She did not lose her virginity to her maternity because she conceived not through marital relations but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why does the Mother of the Messiah have to be a virgin? Why this insistence on the virginity of Mary? Why the virgin birth? The Catechism tells us why. “Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation.” Jesus is truly Son of God. Jesus was conceived “by the Holy Spirit without human seed.” “Jesus has only God as Father…He is naturally Son of the Father in his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity but properly Son of the Father in both natures.” (CCC, 503)
“Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation.” (CCC, 504) The first Adam was not born of any marital relations. And so the New Adam was not born also of any marital relations.

“By his virginal conception, Jesus, the new Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith.” (CCC, 505) “To those who did accept him (Jesus), he gave the power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation, nor by human choice, nor by a man’s decision, but of God.” (John 1: 12-13)

And we are the children born of the waters of Baptism that were fructified by the Holy Spirit. We are the new creation, children adopted in the Holy Spirit. As Jesus is the Son of the Virgin Mary, we are the sons and daughters of the virgin Church. We are “called to belong to Jesus Christ…(we are) the beloved of God, called to be holy.”
And so we rejoice for having been called to belong to Jesus. This grace cannot be attributed to anyone else but to God alone. The Messiah born of the Virgin is the evidence that salvation belongs to God and comes only from God. Only he can save his people from their sins.

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Here is your God! He comes to save you! (3rd Sunday of Advent A)

Jesus, I trust in you!

Last Sunday, we met St. John the Baptist who preached in the desert of Judea. Today, we meet him in prison. He was imprisoned because he told King Herod that it was not right for him to take his brother’s wife. He who once preached under the desert sun now finds himself in the darkness of a dungeon. He who walked freely in that immense desert space now finds himself detained within the limited space of a prison cell. It was in that dark and small prison cell that he heard of the works of the Christ. It was from that dark prison cell that he sent word to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?”

The question of St. John showed hope amidst sorrow and darkness. To this hope came the Lord’s response: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” Christ’s response brought to John great joy even as he was in prison because the signs that Jesus referred to were the signs of the nearness of God: “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you! Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like the stag, then will the mouth of the mute will sing.”

For someone in prison, the nearness of God brings great joy. It was an assurance of vindication (pagsanggalang; pagtatanggol). He has not forgotten the prisoners who were remembered by nobody. The Lord remembered and has come to save us. His coming is a promise of liberation. He is here, freedom is so close to us. The prison may be dark, but we shall soon see the light. He shall set us free. The nearness of God brought joy to John who was in prison. Soon, he will be executed at the order of Herod. But the joy of God’s nearness would sustain him through his imprisonment and even through his execution. He would go down to the world of the dead with the joyful news: The Lord is here. He comes with vindication. To the souls of the just who await their liberation from hell, John would proclaim: Be not afraid! God is already here. With divine recompense he comes to save you!

To us who are captives of sin, St. John repeats these glad tidings: Here is your God! He comes to save you! Keep on waiting. “You must be patient. Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand…Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates!” We are not waiting in vain.  The devil may accuse us of our sins but he comes to defend us. He will liberate us from whatever is oppressing us. He will give us the Holy Spirit. He will give us faith that will enlighten our eyes. He will give us the freedom to walk as children of God. He will cleanse us of our sins. He will open our ears to the Word of God. He will raise us from the grave. Indeed, the Gospel shall be preached to us. We rejoice because God is near. He is with us. There is no need to look for another.

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

True Conversion (2nd Sunday of Advent A)

Jesus, I trust in you!
St. John the Baptist

Jerusalem, all Judea, and the entire region around the Jordan were going out to John the Baptist and were being baptized by him…as they acknowledge their sins. John was so popular that it seemed the fashionable thing at that time for people to have themselves baptized by him at the Jordan. Thus, the Pharisees and Sadducees jumped into the bandwagon by coming for John’s baptism. But John was not impressed by this religious charade. He called them “brood of vipers!” Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? This became the occasion for him to speak of the Messiah as the one who is mightier than him for he shall baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John did not have an image of the coming Messiah as a lovely little child sleeping on a manger. Rather, this Messiah is one whose “ax lies at the root of the tree”, one who will cut down every tree that does not bear fruit. The Messiah of whom John spoke carries a winnowing fan in his hand to separate chaff from wheat, the empty ones from the fruitful ones. The wheat shall be stored into his barn but the chaff shall be burned with unquenchable fire. Sounds harsh, isn’t it? And yet this theme of judgment continues last Sunday’s theme of the coming of the Son of Man who will judge the living and the dead. And mind you, the Lord will judge rightly: “Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips, he slay the wicked.”

Nothing can be hidden from him for he is the Truth. He reads the hidden secrets of the human heart. Therefore, our repentance must be sincere. Pretending to repent is useless. The Lord knows if our contrition is genuine. He expects us to “produce good fruits as evidence of repentance.” A “token repentance” does not impress him. Conversion must be complete. 

There are 3 elements of conversion: Contrition, confession, and satisfaction or penance. “Contrition is sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” (CCC 1451) Perhaps we should ask ourselves: do I feel sorrow for my sins? Do I detest my sins? Am I resolved not to commit these again? 

If we are sorry for our sins, we must confess them. Through “confession (or disclosure) of sins…(we) look squarely at the sins we are guilty of, we take responsibility for them, and thereby open ourselves to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.” (CCC 1455) It is important that we take full responsibility for what we have done. If we keep passing the blame on others, we are not truly repentant. 

Together with contrition and confession, we must do “something more to make amends for the sin: we must make satisfaction for or expiate our sins. This satisfaction is called ‘penance.’” (CCC, 1459) There should be a firm resolution not to sin. This is done by a firm will to avoid the occasions that bring about that sin. There can be no repentance without reparation. There can be no repentance without a firm resolution to change our lifestyle.

It is by real conversion that we shall escape the wrath to come. And because the Kingdom of God is at hand, we must repent now and not later. Only by sincerely repenting of our sins shall we glorify God for his mercy.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The End Is Sure To Come

And He shall come to judge the living and the dead
1st Sunday of Advent A (November 27, 2016)

Jesus, I trust in you!

There is nothing wrong with eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. And yet, the people who did these things perished at the time of Noah when they were swept away by the great flood. Why did they perish? Eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage are affairs that concern the present moment. We eat and drink, marry and are given in marriage in order to satisfy biological needs. Without eating and drinking, we will not survive. Without marriage, the human species will not survive. Both are necessary in order to preserve present human existence. And there is nothing wrong with concern for survival. There is nothing wrong with being concerned with the present. However, in doing so, we should not forget about preparing for the inevitable future. This future goes beyond our retirement. The future which the Lord wants us to prepare for is the coming of the Son of Man: “Stay awake! You must be prepared for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

We usually do not want to talk about the end. We refuse to talk about death. We refuse to talk about the end of the world. Thinking of these things scares us. We would rather concern ourselves with present needs than think of what will happen at the end of both our lives and of the history of the world. And yet, we must think of the end because it is inevitable. All movies press towards an ending. In like manner, all history presses towards the end which is the 2nd coming of Christ. He will surely come and therefore we must be prepared both spiritually and morally for his coming. If we do not prepare for him, we will lose everything as people lose what they have to the thief that comes in the middle of the night or to the flood that rages unexpectedly. Because we do not know the day nor the hour of Christ’s inevitable coming, we must not postpone our conversion. We must not procrastinate our repentance.

St. Paul tells us that there is a sense of urgency in preparing for the 2nd coming of the Lord because “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced and the day is near.” He means that time is slowly advancing and drawing close towards that inevitable end. Therefore, time is running out. The new liturgical year that we are entering into this day brings us one year closer towards that day and hour when the Lord will come. Therefore, we do not have much time left. The night is advancing towards the day when all shall be revealed before the Son of Man, the judge of the living and the dead. Therefore, we should cast off the works of darkness because these will be revealed to all at the coming of Christ: our orgies and drunkenness, our promiscuity and lust, our rivalry and jealousy. The desires of the flesh will simply shame us on judgment day. Therefore, “let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day.” Let us be engaged in things that we will not be ashamed of on the day of judgment. “In the presence of Christ, who is the Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person had done or failed to do during his earthly life.” (CCC, 1039)

And so, “let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths.” Let us spend the remaining time left doing what is right and just. “The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory…through his Son Jesus, (the Father) will pronounce the final word on all history…The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death.”(CCC, 1040) “The lesson of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them ‘the acceptable time…the day of salvation.’ It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims ‘the blessed hope’ of the Lord’s return, when he will come ‘to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled in all who have believed.’” (CCC, 1041) Therefore, let us not waste time. Let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord. Let us walk in the light of the Lord!

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

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Joy of the Gospel

Jesus, I trust in you!

There is a sense of urgency in the sending of the disciples to preach about the coming of the Kingdom of God: Go on your way, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. By commanding the disciples to bring neither money bag, nor sack, nor sandals, the Lord wanted them to travel light. “Greet no one along the way” so that nothing can delay them from fulfilling their task. Perhaps you have seen those trucks that bore the signs “Government project: do not delay.” The mission to evangelize is something like that. Each of us is sent to evangelize: God’s project: do not delay.”

I suppose that this sense of urgency springs from the importance of the message we are supposed to bring to others: “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.” The coming of the Kingdom of God is indeed important because it is the means by which God gives all men access to his divine life. The Father wants all of us to share in his divine life. That is why he gathers men around his Son and this gathering is the Church which on earth is the beginning of the Kingdom of God. The Lord wants to gather us all in the Church so that we might have life: “Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! For thus says the Lord: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.” The Lord uses the tender image of a mother nursing her child in order to reveal to us the tenderness of his love which desires nothing but goodness for all of us. The Lord comforts us through the Church which is the new Jerusalem. We should always consider the Church as our mother.  (Because of the popularity of receiving communion by the hand, the reception of communion on the tongue is unappreciated by many. I find this unfortunate because receiving Communion on the tongue reminds us of the time when as little children, we were fed by the hand of our mothers. This manner of receiving Communion expresses the motherly gesture of the Church.)

The tenderness of a mother’s love always brings delight. It brings joy because it is life giving. A person who experienced a mother’s love grows and finds fulfillment. In the same way, we who experienced the love of God through the Church grow to maturity and eventually we seek means to fulfillment. The challenge to go and evangelize gives us the opportunity to find real fulfillment. “The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane: ‘Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life the most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.’ When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic fulfillment. For ‘here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means.’” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 10.) A loving mother gives life to loving children. Eventually her children become parents themselves. They who have been given life by their mother eventually desire to give life to others. This is precisely what evangelization is all about: it is about the passing on of a life-giving tradition. I have been given life. Now, I want to give life to others. I have been given joy. Now, I want to pass on this joy to others. “Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow…And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes in anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.’” (Ibid.)

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