Shepherds of Christ  
       Daily Writing        
 

 

September 30, 2009

October 1st Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 2 Period I.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for October 1st are Sorrowful.

              

 

Retreat in Florida

October 2nd - 5th

1:30 pm & 6:20 pm

sessions each day

Please come & join us!

 

   

 

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Fr. Joe's Cycle C

Homily Book

    

 

September 30, 2009

                Every gift is also a burden

                God calls us to deliver people — He gave us all these messages —
                        lead them to Church
                        tell them about baptism
                        tell them about the Eucharist, Confession
                        tell them about the Sacraments

                Walk the journey — the Lord has planned for us —
                Walk by His Plan — live by His will —
                Our life here is so short
                Focus on God's will —

                Do not be distracted by what others try to
                    get you to do 

 

Prayer for Union with Jesus

Come to me, Lord, and possess my soul. Come into my heart and permeate my soul. Help me to sit in silence with You and let You work in my heart.

    I am Yours to possess. I am Yours to use. I want to be selfless and only exist in You. Help me to spoon out all that is me and be an empty vessel ready to be filled by You. Help me to die to myself and live only for You. Use me as You will. Let me never draw my attention back to myself. I only want to operate as You do, dwelling within me.

    I am Yours, Lord. I want to have my life in You. I want to do the will of the Father. Give me the strength to put aside the world and let You operate my very being. Help me to act as You desire. Strengthen me against the distractions of the devil to take me from Your work.

    When I worry, I have taken my focus off of You and placed it on myself. Help me not to give in to the promptings of others to change what in my heart You are making very clear to me. I worship You, I adore You and I love You. Come and dwell in me now.

-God's Blue Book, January 17, 1994

 

                Staying focused on God
                Not giving into inordinate attachments

                Mastery of self — that is living according to God's
                    will  — disciplining ourselves —
                    not giving into tendencies from our fallen
                        human nature —

                Purity — we are more one with God, the more pure we
                    are.

                Rebellion against God's will - makes us miserable —
                    we give into disorder because of our
                    wounded human nature

                God chose barren women to bring special people
                    into the world, leaders, chosen ones
                    Sarah and Abraham had Isaac
                    Elizabeth and Zechariah had St. John the Baptist

                A person can provoke others in secret and then they
                    look like they didn't do anything
                    wrong

                A person of peace is called to straighten
                    out their impure ways of provoking
                    and causing anger and discord —

                Like this:
                    one preaches love

                    - another tries to force something
                    - wrong timing
                    - disobedience
                    - darkness
                    - anger

                another begins a fire and runs away to
                    leave others to put out the fire —
                    which hurts unity and love

                The fire is burning, people were provoked —
                    anger has now entered where once peaceful
                    ways may have brought unity and love —

                An evil root, vices —

                Or working from undisciplined ways
                    unlearned in social skills of building bridges and
                        families — giving and taking to have far more
                        than selfishness, but unity, love,                       

                        strength — working
                        in God's time
                        in God's way
                        in peace
                        in justice
                        in harmony

working to build
the
Kingdom of
God,
the Kingdom of love
 

                Selfishness because of tendencies of the
                    wounded human nature brings discord —
                    hatefulness, and lack of love

                Samson slew the lion to protect Delilah

                God has all the Power
                God is love

                We build the Kingdom of God by His hand and with
                    love
   

 

                But we must obey God
                Live by the will of God and
                Not rebel against God —

                    God keeps us in existence
                    God is Almighty

                    Feed my soul — my God —
                    Outpour Your grace to me
                    That I may be a strong soldier in Your army

                Samson had such strength

                God will bless us if we fight unselfishly for
                    Him — if we live to master our evil
                    tendencies, jealousy, pride, envy, control,
                    lust, greed — seeking dominance for
                    dominance sake, slothfulness, gluttony —

                    God is all powerful
                    God has shown us His Might —
                    God has given miracles
                    We are to recognize God's gifts
                    Not try to compete with God's Power —

                Whose side are we on

                If we follow Jesus — we don't rebel against God — 

 

                Working to build the Kingdom of God
                Not working to build a selfish kingdom for ourselves —
                    controlling, jealous, prideful —

                The devil wants us to be selfish

                WE HAVE A FREE WILL
                ACCOUNTABILITY — TO DO GOOD
                                                    NOT TO DO EVIL

                Judas was a traitor

                Peter was not perfect and was made vicar of
                    the Church

                Battles have gone on all through salvation
                    history —

                The fight to get to the Promised Land —

                Jesus gave us the Church
                Jesus gave Fr. Carter this message — 

 

July 31, 1994

Words of Jesus to Members of
Shepherds of Christ Associates:

"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.

"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.

"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."

- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)

  

                We who are baptized, have been called —

                We are to be strong members of the
                    mystical body of Christ —

                We are to die to our selfish ways —
                Mary said at Fatima to — CONVERSION —

                Jesus speaks:

                    Die to your selfish ways —
                    Do not give into your wounded human
                        nature — 

 


  

From The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
    by Louis J. Puhl, S.J.
 

p.11

21.                     SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

    Which have as their purpose the conquest of self
    and the regulation of one's life in such a way that
    no decision is made under the influence of any
    inordinate attachment

   

From The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
    by Louis J. Puhl, S.J. p. 12

                        23. FIRST PRINCIPLE AND FOUNDATION

                            Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God 
                        our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

 

Prayer from St. Ignatius

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to seek for rest;
To labor and not to ask for any reward,
Save that of knowing
                    that I am doing your will.

     

                R. We see the jealousy of Joseph's brothers
                We see jealousy, power, lust —
                Seeking of power for one's honor and glory —

                The just man waits on the Lord

                It is God he serves, but those that are jealous
                    look on with jealous eyes to serve themselves —

                Jesus died for all men —
                Jesus, the Savior
                Jesus, the Son of God, took flesh — doing
                    the will of God —

                Those who betray God and His work will
                    suffer in the end if they do not repent —

                God calls us to make Him the King and Center of Our
                    hearts —

                    This is the mission of the Shepherds of Christ

                    But the devil tempts man to be out for
                        himself —
                        He sits on the throne meant for God —

                Making Jesus the King and Center of our hearts
                    means — we honor Him first
                                we do His will —
                                we don't rebel against Him for
                                    our foolish pride and
                                    wants for ourselves
                                    opposed to God's will —

                Man because of his wounded human nature seeks
                    dominance for himself for the sake of
                    dominance —

                The man who is just bows to God
                The man who obeys God's will does not seek vain
                    control, possessiveness of others,
                    but bends to serve the Master —

                May the Sacred Heart of Jesus reign in our
                    hearts —
                    so we don't give into false pride —
                    vain glory, dominance for ourselves —

                God has called us the mighty army of His
                    Sacred Heart —

                To teach the world — He is to Reign in
                    our hearts and our lives

                We are to not worship false gods —
                     including ourselves — with pride and
                                                    vain glory

                All through the bible we see people worshipping
                    false gods —

                Look at Moses after he received the 10 Commandments

                They had made a golden calf when Moses came from the
                    mountain —

                Look at the false gods today

                    Discern the spirits —
                    Who is on my throne — the Holy Spirit
                                                        the Sacred Heart

                    Is God my Father 1st in my life?

                    Am I the child obedient
                        to God's will

                    Or am I the one putting myself rebelliously
                        first, above God's Plan —
                        above God's will —
                        with envy and jealousy, pride, control,
                        slothfulness, secrets, gluttony, lust etc, —

                Where my heart is — is where I will be —

                Put your heart in the Heart of the Sacred Heart

 

 

                Make Jesus the King of your hearts
                Make Mary the Queen of your hearts


                Let God rule your lives
                Do all things for God's honor and glory —
                We are to fight for our faith —
                God gives us the Church —
                We are soldiers of the Sacred Heart —
                Jesus told us what to do 

 

July 31, 1994

Words of Jesus to Members of
Shepherds of Christ Associates:

"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.

"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.

"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."

- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)

 

Tell My People click

 

                We follow God in love —
                We obey the commandments —
                God is to be first in our lives — 

                We seek to see with clearer vision —
                    through the eyes of God —
                    we seek grace —
                    we want to be healed
                    not see with distorted vision —

                We want to be more and more one in Him
                    saturated with His grace —

   

John 17: 20-26

I pray not only for these
but also for those
who through their teaching
    will come to believe in me.
May they all be one,
just as, Father, you are in me
    and I am in you,
so that they also may be in us,
so that the world may believe
    it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory
    you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so perfected in unity
that the world will recognise
    that it was you who sent me
and that you have loved them
    as you have loved me.

Father,
I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see my glory
which you have given me
because you loved me
before the foundation of the world.
Father, Upright One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known
that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me
may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.

 

                CLEARWATER

 

 

 

A Prayer for Intimacy with the Lamb, the Bridegroom of the Soul

     Oh Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, come and act on my soul most intimately. I surrender myself, as I ask for the grace to let go, to just be as I exist in You and You act most intimately on my soul. You are the Initiator. I am the soul waiting Your favors as You act in me. I love You. I adore You. I worship You. Come and possess my soul with Your Divine Grace, as I experience You most intimately.

 

                We are to do God's will —
                Don't abandon His will for us because
                    of wanting our will — rebellious
                    of God's will —

 

 

Given August 23, 2008

Religious Life
 
and life in the Shepherds of Christ Movement for Servants, Handmaids and Apostles

                    We were created to love  God — we are
                to love others — We are to follow Christ —
                especially religious being faithful to God. We are to
                be witnesses for Christ. It is a special gift from God
                a special calling from God when one is asked to serve
                in religious life. The religious most of all is to follow
                in Christ's footsteps — to live humbly and to be
                a person following the Virginity of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
                Christ lived a virginal life, a life He elected for Himself.
                    In the religious life one is the Spouse of Christ — He
                is the bridegroom of their soul. One lives seeking
                deeper intimacy with God living as St. Paul says —
 

Galatians 2: 19-20

...I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me.

     

                    The religious is a real witness, showing the
                world and the Church in a powerful way their lives as
                witness to Christ alive in them. The religious is
                dedicated to building the Kingdom of God — living
                a holy life of praying for the priests, the Church and the
                world — being other-focused — praying for the souls
                Jesus gave His life for — in this they are more and more
                identified living the mystery of Christ's life, death and resurrection.
                    It is not a life of cold service, but one of being so on
                fire for love of God — the religious is wed in a special
                way to Christ — deeply yoked to Him in the mission
                of helping to lead souls to heaven for all eternity and
                preparing themselves for a sharing most abundantly
                in the love of the Trinity in heaven.
                    Martyrs in the Church lived especially lives
                of great service to the Church — dying for their
                faith and following Jesus in a special way by
                shedding their blood for Him, the Church and the
                world.
                    Christ rewards those abundantly who live a
                consecrated life to Him — a special life of giving
                them their life of virginal love and service
                for His honor and glory. God will not be out done in
                generosity. This life of love given to Christ to
                help build the Church and for the world is most
                pleasing to the Father and this oneness with Jesus,
                is also oneness with the Father in the Holy Spirit.
                    The Church needs these beautiful witnesses who
                see themselves as married to Christ and loving the
                children of the Church in a way as a mother
                and father of a family love their own children.
                This calling is a calling to love — special spousal
                relationship with Christ and His Church. Loving
                a life that is modeled after Mary, spotless Virgin —
                Spiritual Mother of the children of the Church, Mother
                of Christ, Mother of our Christ-life, this sharing
                given to us at baptism.
                    It is love God calls the religious to —
                this means vigor, energy, dedication —
                modeling oneself after the love Christ had
                for His precious souls — when He sweat blood
                in the garden, as He walked the passion,
                died on the cross and rose the 3rd day —
                He was consumed with love so much He
                died for me and you — His precious souls —
                Vigor — witness — consumed with love for
                The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Religious serving freely
                giving themselves to Christ and the Church — a
                present of their lives — given to God to
                build the Kingdom.
                    Reach for the heights for God has chosen His religious
                for His honor and glory to take them to Himself —
                to live in a special spousal union with them —
                They give themselves body and soul to God — for
                His love and His purpose —
                In following Jesus —
               
                Jesus gave His body to the precious souls —
                He died on the cross — He shed His Blood and
                from this gift of Himself — His bride the
                Church came forth from His pierced
                side — His Sacred Heart — Blood and water —
                Blood for the Eucharist where by our Christ-
                life is nourished and Water for baptism —
                giving to us this special sharing in His
                life —
                The religious follows Christ — lives likened
                to Christ in being a virgin for sake of
                loving Him in a pure, spiritual love
                and not taking another for their husband/wife.
                The religious imitates Christ faithfully —
                giving their entire life to God — living
                out their Baptismal vow ever deeper —
                in their marriage to Him — their yes to
                His service, their witness to the world —
                in dressing in a way to show the world —
                they are married to Christ — a great gift —
                a holy honor. They then realize how they
                have a special responsibility to be pure
                before others, service to others and love
                for the Church — for the children of the Church —
                praying in their lives for the priests, the Church
                and the world.
 

 


 

                Their gift of their lives in holiness is to
                give honor to the heavenly Father.
                    With the greatest love of the Word of
                God and the Eucharist they are fed with
                the Bread of Life — filled with His grace and in
                love with God — they are witnesses for
                those in the world interested in the religious
                life, for families, for the laity, for people
                of the schools.
                    The individual Christian, the world and
                the Church are always in the state of
                becoming. In loving God uniquely as only
                one can — a religious has a deep relationship
                with God — loving the priest, the Church and
                the people as only they can love them for
                they are more and more the beautiful human
                creature — being more and more saturated with
                His grace — living as the Father desires
                in love. They answer freely to the call
                of the Holy Spirit and they live a life
                filled with the fire of God's love.
                    They give themselves entirely to God — they
                live under the authority of the Church —
                they obey their superior and rules of the
                order. They have TOTAL DEDICATION TO GOD.
                This is an act of greatest love — to give
                themselves to their vocation to God and live
                as religious. They seek greater perfection as
                Mary — handmaid of the Lord —
  

Luke 1: 46-55

                The Magnificat

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims
    the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices
    in God my Saviour;
because he has looked upon
    the humiliation of his servant.
Yes, from now onwards
    all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty
    has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his faithful love extends age after age
    to those who fear him.
He has used the power of his arm,
he has routed the arrogant of heart.
He has pulled down princes
    from their thrones
        and raised high the lowly.
He has filled the starving with good things,
    sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help
    of Israel his servant,
        mindful of his faithful love
—according to the promise
    he made to our ancestors—
of his mercy to Abraham
    and to his descendants for ever.

   

                    They seek fruit for the Church.
                They seek to be more perfected as their
                heavenly Father is perfect —
                They seek to live a life of greater love of
                God, of others, of themselves as religious,
                of the Church and the world —
                A dedicated life to God
                A dedicated life in service of the Church
                Celibacy and obedience —
                They give freely of themselves and in great love —
                for the sake of the Kingdom of God — to
                help lead souls of the Church and on the
                earth to heaven —
                they beg God for greater capacity to love —
                    to grow in greater knowledge of
                    Him
                Loving God — because they love Him —
                    not for selfish gain
                Loving God with a heart consumed
                    with love as He deserves to be loved
                    by all the souls of the earth —
                    They lavishly empty themselves
                        in love for God and service for
                        His honor and glory to help build
                        the Kingdom and lead souls
                        to Him.
                This is the primary focus of the vocation
                    of a religious — TO LOVE God for His sake!!
                To love God to help build up, strengthen
                    the body of Christ — to be a living sign
                    of strength — love and unity because
                    of their relationship with God.
                They show to the world — the goodness of God —
                    living in them — they show the Light
                    of Christ to the world alive in them —
                They freely show this witness — living
                    obediently and in chastity for this
                    pleases God.
                In the Shepherds of Christ we are contemplatives-in-
                    action — living lives as servants and
                    handmaids — in deep service to God
                    before the Blessed Sacrament and
                    service to others in the world —
                    praying in love and giving our lives
                    for the priests, the Church and the
                    world.
                    We take seriously our mission besides
                prayer of spreading deep devotion to the
                Eucharist — love so much for the Church —
                frequent confession ourselves and telling
                others about these gifts and
                spreading the Good News about baptism —
                the Word.
                    Telling others the power of prayer,
                especially before the Blessed Sacrament —
                frequent prayer — all through the day — spreading
                devotion to the rosary, meditations
                in the Mysteries of the rosary and helping
                people, priests — all to live deeper lives
                of Consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and
                Consecrating Churches, Schools, Houses,
                Countries, the World to the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart.
                Apostolic Life —
                    In Shepherds of Christ spreading the Priestly Newsletter
                (6,000,000 in 14 years), spreading prayer
                chapters praying for the priests, the Church and the
                world — rosary making ministry, spreading
                250,000 rosaries, consecration cards,
                rosary aves to schools yearly, teaching
                people through the books, about the love of
                Jesus, the Eucharist, Consecration, Prayer —
                Our mission to lead people to greater love
                of God — unity in communities, Churches,
                nations, world, the family. We want the
                world, the family to have this deeper Christic
                image to be witnesses for Christ and
                building His Kingdom. We live Christ's
                life, death and resurrection in our lives —
                We live in unity — pray in unity — united
                so deeply in all our lives praying
                for the priests, the Church and the world.
                    Every duty is done in service to God —
                Our deep love for God is at the root of our
                success — for we never do anything
                except in oneness to God, for God, with
                God —
                    God be before me, behind me, in
                me, with me and for me always in
                all I do for Your honor and glory.
                Our strength comes in our loving union
                with God. We are empowered in Him —
                We seek God before everything else —
                Our work is done in love to serve God —
                We cling to God in our mind and heart.
                We do this work to lead souls to heaven —
                    to spread the Kingdom of God. We live
                    in the truth of Jesus, to spread
                    the truth of Jesus, to live pure
                    and holy lives honoring Jesus and bearing
                    witness in our lives to Him.
                    We are faithful in the Shepherds of Christ to the
                vision of the Movement, the spirit as God designated to the founders
                Fr. Carter, founder and Rita Ring, co-founder —
                serving Jesus, Our Lord, for His honor
                and glory.
                    The vision here for the Shepherds of Christ is
                spreading the love of Jesus to hungry souls so
                they will grow in deeper intimacy with
                God — living as St. Paul says
   

Galatians 2: 19-20

...I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me.
 

   

                Spreading the Consecration to the hierarchy, and priests
                that is devotion to the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart
                in our lives — greater devotion to the
                Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart in Churches, schools and
                    families
                    We spread the Priestly Newsletter every
                other month if possible to 80,000 priests
                and hierarchy, centered in Consecration to
                the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart — The Priestly
                Newsletter is written in the vision of the Father
                using scripture, writings of the popes,
                prominent theologians, wisdom of the
                saints, and the editors writings
                on deep spiritual matters for our spiritual
                life.
                Our second important mission beginning
                prayer chapters praying for the priests,
                the Church and the world to hierarchy,
                priests, religious people, youth etc.
                The school rosary  program — spread
                now to 250,000 school children a year has
                a 13 year history.
                Apostles of the Eucharistic Heart pray
                    2 hours a week before the Blessed Sacrament for
  1. For the spread of the devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary culminating in the reign of the Sacred Heart and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

  2. For the Pope.

  3. For all bishops of the world.

  4. For all priests.

  5. For all sisters and brothers in the religious life.

  6. For all members of the Shepherds of Christ Movement, and for the spread of this movement to the world.

  7. For all members of the Catholic Church.

  8. For all members of the human family.

  9. For all souls in purgatory.

   
                There is a family consecration, images and
                    statues, rosaries for use in
                    prayer —
                Numerous videos, discs, prayer books
                    etc.
                We help to spread the knowledge to the people of the
                    tremendous gifts given in the Catholic Church —
                We have constant — 24 hour prayer
                    before the exposed Eucharist praying for
                    the priests, the Church and the world
                We attend daily Mass as our prayer life and
                    do one hour of adoration before the
                    Blessed Sacrament.
                We have a Nursing Home Ministry —
                    communion ministry
                    rosary for nursing home people
                    spreading the consecration to the Sacred Heart
                    and Immaculate Heart
                We have Junior Shepherds of Christ
                We have Prison Ministry
                We have Prayer Apostles
                We want to build unity in the Church
                    and world by doing these things —
                Our mission to help renew the Church and
                    the world culminating in the
                    Reign of the Sacred Heart and triumph of
                    Mary's Immaculate Heart
                In the Shepherds of Christ
                    we live out this response to God's
                    call to us as Servants, Handmaids
                    and Apostles in this Movement.
                We are aware of every human person
                    on the face of the earth as we
                    pray and the souls in purgatory.
 

Excerpt from Response in Christ
        by Fr. Edward J. Carter S.J.

       e) Relationship with Members of the Church
There is but one true Church of Christ. Yet this one Church has three different states of existence. There is the pilgrim Church, the Church of this world, composed of members who have received the grace of Christ and strive for its development. They have not yet obtained the goal of their efforts, as have the members of the heavenly Church, who enjoy God in eternal happiness. The Church suffering is an intermediate state of existence necessary for those who had not achieved the required purification as members of the pilgrim Church. Although there are these three phases of the Church's existence, there is a profound union existing between all the members. All these members possess the same basic life of grace in Christ, and this common life establishes the most intimate bonds of love. In our preceding chapter, we discussed the pilgrim Church. Let us now consider the Church suffering and the heavenly Church.

   The members of the Church suffering are those who have departed from this life in an incomplete state of Christian development. Their development is incomplete in the sense that grace has not fully taken possession of them, and, as a result, they are yet closed in upon themselves to a greater or lesser degree. They as yet cannot open themselves out in complete love to the Triune God in the beatific vision. They must undergo a further purification, a purification which could have been achieved upon earth with merit. Now the purification must be achieved with no merit attached. The pain of this purification is mixed with the certain expectation of achieving the vision of God. We can hasten the advent of this vision for this people by the offering of prayers and other good works. Scripture itself refers to our action on behalf of those in purgatory in Chapter 12 of the Second Book of Maccabees beginning with verse 38.

   The members of the heavenly Church are those in whom the life of grace has taken full possession and has reached its completion in the life of glory. Faith now is unnecessary, as the light of glory gives the human intellect a new strength and capacity for seeing God face-to-face. While the Christian was a wayfarer, he received the imprint of the indwelling Trinity as he shared in God's own life. Now in heaven that grace-life and possession of God reaches its completion—the absolute completion is not achieved, however, until the resurrection of the body. The divine persons give Themselves to the beatified in a profound union far surpassing that of the indwelling of the Trinity experienced here below.

   This life of heaven is still the Christ-life, for just as we possess a share in Trinitarian life here below as mediated by Christ, and exercise this grace-life as structured by Him, so also in heaven is the mediation of Christ present. In the words of Rahner, "One always sees the Father through Jesus. Just as immediately as this, for the directness of the vision of God is not a denial of the mediatorship of Christ as man."
13 And not only does the humanity of Christ unite the blessed to God, but also, in some way, to the whole of creation. This is merely a completion of what is begun here below, namely, the union with Christ in His humanity establishing the Christian in a special relationship with God, with other men, and with the whole of creation. We have a glimpse, therefore, of the fullness of life which members of the heavenly Church possess.

   The heavenly Church, as St. Thomas says, is the true Church.
14 The Church of this earth and the Church of purgatory are, each in its own way, reaching out in loving hope for the heavenly Jerusalem. Vatican II puts it very simply: "The Church, to which we are called in Christ Jesus, and in which we acquire sanctity through the grace of God, will attain her full perfection only in the glory of heaven."15

   The members of the heavenly Church can help us in living our life of grace until we too share its fullness with them. Their power of intercession on our behalf is but another ramification of the communal aspect of Christianity. We are meant to help others grow in Christ. We, in turn, are intended by God to receive aid from others—yes, from members of the heavenly Church, as well as from those with whom we dwell here below.

   Not only can we be aided by the saints' intercession, but the example of the canonized saints can also be of great value to us. They have concretely proved that full holiness is possible. Such an inspiration is of real worth when we are tempted to think that Christian sanctity in its higher degrees is impossible of attainment. Moreover, the canonized saints, in their diversity, teach us that there are many authentic versions of Christian holiness. They can be innovators in showing us that there are numerous possibilities in assimilating the mystery of Christ, although the basic assimilation remains the same for all Christians of all times. In the opinion of Rahner this is one of the chief roles the canonized saints exert in the life of the Church.
16

_____
   13Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, Vol. III (Baltimore: Helicon, 1967), p. 44.
   14
Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, In Ad Ephes., c. 3, Lect. 3.
   15Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Church, No. 48.
   16Cf. Karl Rahner, Op. cit., pp. 100-101.

  

                Our work is for unity IN God on Earth —
                We pray the Morning Offering —
                    have prayers for the whole Church
                    with the Imprimatur from
                    Nursing Home people, priests,
                    families to pray the Morning
                    Offering —
                This is, that, great grace will be outpoured
                    on the earth —
                We pray 8 or 9 days a month
                    in all-day-retreats,
                    5 of those days Mass is celebrated —
                    begging for grace for the
                    priests, the Church and the world —
                    praying as intercessors —
                    to help make reparation for the
                    offenses against God
                We follow Christ
                    beg for grace for the priests, the Church and the world
                    Unite with all the Masses going
                        on around the world
                Our lives are very simple and our
                    money is used to send these materials
                    to the hierarchy, priests, schools,
                    families, individuals — for
                    prayer and deeper union in the
                    Mass
                Living out deeper and deeper our
                    membership in the body of Christ
                We live like this because we love God —
                We want the hungry world to know
                    this!!
                We see ourselves dwelling in the
                    pure and holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
                We give ourselves —
                We seek peace in the world
                We want to help bring about this
                    great era of peace
                We are one with Christ and the Church —
                Servants and Handmaids live lives of chastity
                We love to give ourselves to Christ
                We live more and more that likeness
                    of Christ —
                    living and loving in deeper and deeper
                    lives In Him
                Celibacy is the free gift of self to God —
                    in overwhelming love of the
                    servants and handmaids
                We follow the teachings of Jesus,
                    the Word of God, the life
                    of the Virgin Mary, the perfect
                    disciple
                The gift of celibacy — God has
                    called the servants and handmaids
                    to give to God — it is a precious
                    gift to God
                We do not live fancy lives — our
                    lives are lived to spread the
                    Priestly Newsletter, Prayer Chapters, Consecration
                As far as monetary things we give our simple
                    lives for this —
                We answer the call of the "hungry souls"
                    crying to be fed with the love of God —
                We identify with Christ in giving our
                    lives more and more as a sacrifice
                    for this work —
                    dying to self to be more likened to Him.
                This is a call to love God and love our
                    neighbor as ourselves and love
                    the priests and the Church and
                LOVE our Vocation in the Shepherds of Christ
                    Movement
                We do not seek for ourselves
                But seek to help renew the Church
                    and the world with our lives
                    dedicated in prayer and service
                We are, by our lives, to show how
                    we are to be united in oneness
                    in God's truth.
                Prayer to Holy Spirit Novena (said daily)
                    4 languages, Church's Imprimatur
 


 

                Shepherds of Christ Prayers (said daily)
 

                We work to earn our living —
                    to do this work for the world —
                    maintain our centers and homes and
                    to live in community life —
                Centered around St. Anthony's China, Indiana 

 

 

                        where the Eucharist is exposed
                            24 hours
                        retreats of constant prayer
                        the Priestly Newsletter is sent
                Clearwater, Florida
                        Center
                Religious Store
                        Daily Prayer
                        Grottos and retreats
                        etc.
                open every day 10:00am - 10:00pm
                Our mission to spread greater oneness to the world
                    heart-to-heart — Loving union with Christ
                Help bring about era of peace promised
                    by Mary at Fatima
                Help bring about era of love
                    Age of the 2 Hearts
                Enjoyment of one's vocation in Shepherds of Christ
                Loyalty of one's vocation in the Shepherds of Christ
                Freedom in love given to serving Shepherds of Christ
                Obedience — love of Christ
                                    respect for order
                                    love of Shepherds of Christ Vision
                                    Willingness to serve
                The Church is the People of God —
                     the hierarchy live to help the
                     members of the Church —
                     united in love
                Obedience in living the Pascal
                    Mystery of death - resurrection
                The more we die to self — the more
                    we live in Him —
                The more we die to the ways not
                    likened to Jesus — the more
                    perfected we become
                Obeying authority and
                    freedom for self go together —
                We are to live according to God's will
                There is to be in the religious life
                    obedience to the superior
                Agitation can be constant in community
                    life of one who fails to recognize
                    the importance of being
                    obedient to superiors —
                This must be lived every day —
                    living in accordance to the
                    needs of the moment —
                The time one is told to do something
                    is to be obeyed as the superior
                    sees the vision of the whole
                    community and the outcome of
                    the mission to be accomplished
                    to do the work for the honor and glory of God.
                A servant and handmaid enters to
                    serve the mission under the
                    direction of a superior.
                There is to be work accomplished as
                    one as team players —
                    heads together in loving
                    union to accomplish the
                    work for the good of the
                    Movement —
                    as directed and seen through the
                    eyes of the superior
                These conditions must be respected.
                Some are expected to have certain
                    duties that are understood
                    will be accomplished by
                    that individual, at that center.
                In loving obedience one complies
                    with their job description or
                    job expectation whether written,
                    spoken or understood.
                Work accomplished should be the work
                    in compliance with the
                    institutes vocation
                The spiritual life in the Shepherds of Christ is
                    never ignored —
                    growing to live more deeply
                    the vocation of
                    servant, handmaid and
                    apostle as God intends
                The Community has a mission —
                The Community has jobs to accomplish
                    this
                We have a responsibility to the
                    — mission
                    — the superior
                    — the community
                We lose our life to follow Him
                You are to do what the superiors
                    tell you to do —
                You dedicate your lives to Jesus and
                    ask God to help you in your
                    vocation to be obedient.
                Fr. Carter prayed every day to be a good
                    Jesuit —
                In giving one's especially to this
                    vocation — you take a deeper commitment
                    to obedience — a person in the
                    spiritual life submits to God's will —
                A person in a religious order has a special
                    giving of one self — therefore their
                    commitment entails obedience to
                    the superior of the community
                This helps one to be free more to
                    live their vocation in greater
                    maturity in the obedience
                    in the religious life.
                The person is to obey the superior
                    even if they would rather do
                    it a different way over matters
                    that are matters not involving
                    any moral wrong on the part of the
                    superior.
                    If the direction is contrary to the law of God
                that is different but for ordinary
                directions - one is to obey their superior.
                It may be a point of view the one under the
                superior doesn't like the way they were
                asked to do it — they are to obey the superior —
                Lack of obedience can affect the common
                    good of the community —
                Christ obeyed His Father —
                The Cross showed us Christ's love —
                Christ obeyed His Father
                As religious one is striving to be holy.
                This means obedience
                This means celibacy for the religious
                This means joy in serving, this means
                    accepting the difficulties of work
                    in love —
                    This means living with others in
                        harmony
                    You are filled with fervor
                        recognizing the cross of Christ
                We are always following Christ
                We are always following Christ's example
                It is living in humility and simplicity
                It is living in loving harmony
                It is living in peace with others
                It is being free and obedient
                It is being spontaneous
                It is being obedient
                It is living in Faith
                Jesus will give the grace for these things —
                    the religious must seek it
                God the Father wants religious to serve the
                    Church
                The inner man in the religious life is
                    there to be more like Christ —
                    He is to be always developing spiritually
                The person in religious life must be spontaneous
                The person in religious life must be flexible
                Rigidity won't work if one is to obey and
                    respond to the needs of the
                    community and mission.
                Disorderly outbursts are wrong and
                    offend the community —
                Likewise provoking others in community
                    to anger is totally unacceptable
                    for one growing in holiness and
                    acting in love —
                Passive-aggressive behavior are games
                    not acceptable in community life
                Fr. Carter examined his conscience two times
                    a day for 10 minutes — this was his
                    Jesuit training
                Efforts must be made to die to selfish
                    outbursts or passive-aggressive
                    ways, provoking others in religious
                    life —
                    so a life of love and care for the community
                        is observed in a life of holy love
                Retreats are necessary and community prayer
                Living according to the prayer life
                Hospitality to visitors is to be expected
                    on occasions when they are invited.
                Guests too, to the community are not to
                    violate routines or deviate
                    so the community is led away
                    from deeper union with God
                Daily Mass is required for Servants, Handmaids and Apostles
                One Hour daily adoration
                Shepherds of Christ prayers prayed
                Daily Rosary
                Morning Offering
                Praying throughout the day
                    many hourly
                Reading the Daily Message and Blue Book
                There is to be a unity — in holiness and
                    living according to the beatitudes —
                    charity toward one another in
                    community
                There is to be a life of living a more
                    perfected life as Christ desires —
                    with deeper unity in community —
                    living according to God's will
                    in love — being a team player —
                    living in obedience to the superior —
                    observing the prayer life
                Men in religious community should be
                    growing in the spiritual life
                    with deeper love of God and neighbor
                Every one is working to be more perfected,
                    more holy, more loving.
                Every Christian is imperfect, but we
                    are trying to become more perfected —
                    dying to selfish ways
                We must become more one with Jesus —
                There must be a simplicity, understanding,
                    unity and love in community —
                    simple charity
                Hope to be more holy — to foster greater
                    love, unity, be more a team
                    situation — more a holy family
                The spirit of love and consideration is
                    present — relationship,
                    friendship, loyalty —
                    cooperation in love for the Apostolate,
                    support in community life,
                    for serving God — better and
                    better — learning better every day
                Our mission in the Shepherds of Christ is to reach the
                    world —
                    to reach the communities in cities
                        with prayer chapters
                    to form a community in loving
                        cooperation
                    to serve Christ
                    to help build stronger families, parishes,
                        schools
                    to help strengthen priests with
                        love and prayer and the Priestly Newsletter and books
                We live to make God more known to men and
                    strengthen our love relationship
                    with God
                Prayer is at the center of the Shepherds of Christ
                We want intimacy with God
                We do adoration
                We are deep intercessors in prayer for
                    the priests, the Church and the world
                The more we pray united in retreats,
                    daily prayer services,
                    the more God outpours His love and
                    reveals Himself to us through prayer
                    as a community
                We pray to the Holy Spirit to understand and love God
                    and be filled with the fire of God's
                    love
                The Holy Spirit works in the Heart of Mary molding
                    us more and more in the image of God.
                The Holy Spirit fills us with wisdom
                The Holy Spirit gives us grace for community prayer
                We can pray deeply united in the Mass
                    what a gift
                We give ourselves to the service of the "Word"
                    this is a light to men
                Silence is needed for love of God —
                    Prayer alone in silence
                We need silent prayer to have intimacy
                    with God — especially before the Blessed Sacrament
                    after communion
                God intends us to pray together and to
                    pray alone —
                Look at the Mass — the greatest prayer
  


  

A Prayer before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

    Let me be a holy sacrifice and unite with God in the sacrament of His greatest love.

    I want to be one in Him in this act of love, where He gives Himself to me and I give myself as a sacrifice to Him. Let me be a holy sacrifice as I become one with Him in this my act of greatest love to Him.

    Let me unite with Him more, that I may more deeply love Him. May I help make reparation to His adorable Heart and the heart of His Mother, Mary. With greatest love, I offer myself to You and pray that You will accept my sacrifice of greatest love. I give myself to You and unite in Your gift of Yourself to me. Come and possess my soul.

    Cleanse me, strengthen me, heal me. Dear Holy Spirit act in the heart of Mary to make me more and more like Jesus.

    Father, I offer this my sacrifice, myself united to Jesus in the Holy Spirit to You. Help me to love God more deeply in this act of my greatest love.

    Give me the grace to grow in my knowledge, love and service of You and for this to be my greatest participation in the Mass. Give me the greatest graces to love You so deeply in this Mass, You who are so worthy of my love.

-God's Blue Book, December 27, 1995

 

 

Prayer for Union with Jesus

    Come to me, Lord, and possess my soul. Come into my heart and permeate my soul. Help me to sit in silence with You and let You work in my heart.

    I am Yours to possess. I am Yours to use. I want to be selfless and only exist in You. Help me to spoon out all that is me and be an empty vessel ready to be filled by You. Help me to die to myself and live only for You. Use me as You will. Let me never draw my attention back to myself. I only want to operate as You do, dwelling within me.

    I am Yours, Lord. I want to have my life in You. I want to do the will of the Father. Give me the strength to put aside the world and let You operate my very being. Help me to act as You desire. Strengthen me against the distractions of the devil to take me from Your work.

    When I worry, I have taken my focus off of You and placed it on myself. Help me not to give in to the promptings of others to change what in my heart You are making very clear to me. I worship You, I adore You and I love You. Come and dwell in me now.

-God's Blue Book, January 17, 1994

   

                We pray the Holy Spirit leads us and helps
                    us to be on fire for love of God —
                We pray for Faith, Hope and Love
                The Center of the Church life is the
                    Eucharistic Liturgy
                Going to Mass together as a community
                    is vital
                We offer ourselves in our vocation —
                    so deeply at every Mass — in
                    emptying ourselves at the Consecration
                    of the Mass
                Being together at Mass helps renew the
                    Community together
                Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus
                    Christ is the primary source
                    of renewal
                We empty ourselves in our vocation
                    at Mass
                We offer ourselves
                Our lives as a sacrifice at Mass
                The Mass is the greatest sacrifice of
                    God's love
                We have the Church in China to do this —
                We go through Christ's death/resurrection
                    in the Mass —
                    we have trials in our mission —
                We live the resurrected life
                    in our vocation
                We offer ourselves to the Father
                    at Mass, united to the sacrifice
                    of Jesus in the Holy Spirit with
                    the angels and saints and the
                    souls in purgatory —
                    through the intercession
                    of Mary our Mother and St. Joseph.
                We pray for the priests, the Church
                    and the world —
                We live a life of greater unity in Him
                        CONCLUSION
                We give ourselves more deeply united
                    in the Mass
                We live the same vision as
                    members of the Shepherds of Christ
                We have the same mission
                We are constantly being renewed
                    more and more in living the
                    consecrated life in Him
                We live deeply the Word in our hearts —
                Our mission spreading the Daily Writing,
                                        Fr. Pasquini's homilies,
                                        Fr. Joe's homilies
                                    all Priestly Newsletters and
                                        Fr. Carter's Books —
                                        Fr. Pasquini's Books
                We spread the Priestly Newsletter and prayer chapters,
                        — pray deeply
                        — Books on the Eucharist
                        — Consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
                                to the world
                        — The rosary - books
                We live to pray for the priests, the
                        Church and the world and help get
                        souls to get to heaven
                We spread the Morning Offering —
                        Mass Book, Medicine of Immortality, etc.
                We live to have this Movement
                        Shepherds of Christ more deeply unite
                        the world in deep oneness
                        in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
                Having the Priestly Newsletter strengthen the
                        priests and hierarchy spiritually,
                        lift them up and send our
                        love
                Having a network of prayer
                        chapters around the world
                Spreading the Rosary as Mary
                        said at Fatima
                Spreading the Consecration to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
                We want a deep intimate relationship
                        with Jesus for everybody in
                        the world —
                        a mystical marriage
                Love of the Sacred Heart
                Love of the Immaculate Heart
                The Holy Spirit filling the world with
                        the fire of God's love
                JOY, PEACE —
                        UNITY, LOVE
                ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC
                        AND APOSTOLIC
                Growth in the servants and
                        handmaids and apostles
                        because of joy and love —
                        unity and
                        committedness to the mission
                        obedience, chastity
                Seeing the vision Jesus gave to
                        me, Rita Ring and Fr. Carter
                To follow Jesus
 

From the Shepherds of Christ

Prayer Manual

10. Prayer for Priests. "Lord Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the Flock, we pray that in the great love and mercy of Your Sacred Heart You attend to all the needs of Your priest-shepherds throughout the world. We ask that You draw back to Your Heart all those priests who have seriously strayed from Your path, that You rekindle the desire for holiness in the hearts of those priests who have become lukewarm, and that You continue to give Your fervent priests the desire for the highest holiness. United with Your Heart and Mary's Heart, we ask that You take this petition to Your heavenly Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen"

11. Prayer for all members of the Shepherds of Christ Associates. "Dear Jesus, we ask Your special blessings on all members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. Continue to enlighten them regarding the very special privilege and responsibility you have given them as members of Your movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates. Draw them ever closer to Your Heart and to Your Mother's Heart. Allow them to more and more realize the great and special love of Your Hearts for each of them as unique individuals. Give them the grace to respond to Your love and Mary's love with an increased love of their own. As they dwell in Your Heart and Mary's Heart, abundantly care for all their needs and those of their loved ones. We make our prayer through You to the Father, in the Holy Spirit, with Mary our Mother at our side. Amen"

12. Prayer for the spiritual and financial success of the priestly newsletter. "Father, we ask Your special blessings upon the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ. We ask that You open the priest-readers to the graces You wish to give them through this chosen instrument of Your Son. We also ask that You provide for the financial needs of the newsletter and the Shepherds of Christ Associates. We make our prayer through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit, with Mary at our side. Amen"

13. Prayer for all members of the human family. "Heavenly Father, we ask Your blessings on all Your children the world over. Attend to all their needs. We ask Your special assistance for all those marginalized people, all those who are so neglected and forgotten. United with our Mother Mary, we make this petition to You through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit."

14. Prayer to St. Michael and our Guardian Angels:

"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."

"Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."

15. Pause for silent, personal prayer. This should last at least five minutes.

16. Act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

"Lord Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the flock, I consecrate myself to Your most Sacred Heart. From Your pierced Heart the Church was born, the Church You have called me, as a member of Shepherds of Christ Associates, to serve in a most special way. You reveal Your Heart as a symbol of Your love in all its aspects, including Your most special love for me, whom You have chosen as Your companion in this most important work. Help me to always love You in return. Help me to give myself entirely to You. Help me always to pour out my life in love of God and neighbor! Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You!

"Dear Blessed Virgin Mary, I consecrate myself to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, this Heart which is symbol of your life of love. You are the Mother of my Savior. You are also my Mother. You love me with a most special love as a member of Shepherds of Christ Associates, a movement created by your Son as a powerful instrument for the renewal of the Church and the world. In a return of love, I give myself entirely to your motherly love and protection. You followed Jesus perfectly. You are His first and perfect disciple. Teach me to imitate you in the putting on of Christ. Be my motherly intercessor so that, through your Immaculate Heart, I may be guided to an ever closer union with the pierced Heart of Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the flock."

end of August 23, 2008 writing

  

  

                September 30, 2009

                R. We are publishing
                        Fr. Joe's homilies
                        to send for the priestly mailing
                        please help us

 

   

 

Genesis 3: 9-15, 20

But Yahweh God called to the man. 'Where are you?' he asked. 'I heard the sound of you in the garden,' he replied. 'I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.' 'Who told you that you were naked?' he asked. 'Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?' The man replied, 'It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' Then Yahweh God said to the woman, 'Why did you do that?' The woman replied, 'The snake tempted me and I ate.'

Then Yahweh God said to the snake, 'Because you have done this,

    Accursed be you
    of all animals wild and tame!
    On your belly you will go
    and on dust you will feed
    as long as you live.
    I shall put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
    it will bruise your head
    and you will strike its heel.'

The man named his wife 'Eve' because she was the mother of all those who live.

 

Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12 

Blessed be God 
    the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who has blessed us 
    with all the spiritual blessings of heaven 
        in Christ. 
Thus he chose us in Christ 
    before the world was made 
to be holy and faultless 
    before him in love, 
marking us out for himself beforehand, 
    to be adopted sons, 
        through Jesus Christ. 
Such was his purpose and good pleasure, 
to the praise of the glory of his grace, 
his free gift to us in the Beloved,

And it is in him 
    that we have received our heritage, 
marked out beforehand as we were, 
under the plan of the One 
    who guides all things 
as he decides by his own will, 
chosen to be, 
for the praise of his glory, 
the people who 
    would put their hopes in Christ 
        before he came.  

 

  Luke 1: 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her.

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2007 

The feast today is about Mary’s conception, that from the instant she began to exist on this earth, indeed from her very conception, she was holy, without sin and filled with God's grace. The gospel today can confuse us somewhat because it tells us about Jesus’ conception.  It was read, however, because of the greeting the angel used in appearing to her: “Hail, full of grace.”  Our feast celebrates that there was no moment in Mary’s life when there was sin, no moment when God’s grace did not fill her. 

 

As we listen in on this conversation between Mary and the Angel, we learn both about Mary and about the child she will give birth to.  Mary’s child would be Son of the Most High and king forever.  He will be called “holy, the Son of God.” 

 

This is why Mary was “full of grace,” so she could give birth to God’s own Son, who would be the source of all holiness.  We need to know this, not so that we can put Jesus and Mary on a pedestal and admire them from afar.  Jesus, the holy one of God came to us so that we too can become holy.  This is what St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading: “God chose us in him to be holy and blameless in his sight.” 

 

Most of us do not think of our vocation as a call to holiness.  We all want to get to heaven, but most of us think of holiness as reserved for other people, like St. Francis or Mother Teresa.  Most of us are content to leave holiness for someone else.  We just want to get through heaven’s doors.  But no one will get to heaven unless they are holy, for holiness means being close to God and sharing God’s life.  And that’s what God’s grace does for us: it unites us with God and allows us to share in God’s life.  If we are in God’s grace, then, we are holy people.

 

Two stories we heard today tell us of our vocation to be holy:

The story in our first reading is about Adam and Eve, our first parents, who originally were very close to God and in their union with God, they were very happy.  That was the symbol of the Garden of Eden.  But they got greedy!  They wanted to be equal to God.  The evil one knew how to manipulate them and lead them to ignore God’s command.  As a result they lost all they had. 

 

The second story in the gospel illustrates Mary’s constant attitude of being willing to say “yes” to God, an openness that prepared the way for the Son of God to come to us. 

 

When we were baptized we were filled with God’s life, we were born again in God’s grace.  The very same grace that filled Mary at the moment of her conception, filled us when we were baptized.  None of us will ever be as holy as Mary was.  She got a head start on all of us.  But if we follow the example of Mary, always ready to say “yes” to God, that will lead us to holiness and to the joy and peace and love that comes with it. 

 

  

Isaiah 62: 1-5

The splendour of Jerusalem

About Zion I will not be silent,
about Jerusalem I shall not rest
until saving justice dawns for her
   like a bright light
and her salvation like a blazing torch.
The nations will then see
   your saving justice,
and all kings your glory,
and you will be called a new name
which Yahweh's mouth will reveal.
You will be a crown of splendour
   in Yahweh's hand,
a princely diadem in the hand of your God.
No more will you be known as 'Forsaken'
or your country be known as 'Desolation';
instead, you will be called
   'My Delight is in her'
and your country 'The Wedded';
for Yahweh will take delight in you
and your country will have its wedding.
Like a young man marrying a virgin,
your rebuilder will wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.

    

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11

There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit; there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord. There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all. The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good. To one is given from the Spirit the gift of utterance expressing wisdom; to another the gift of utterance expressing knowledge, in accordance with the same Spirit; to another, faith, from the same Spirit; and to another, the gifts of healing, through this one Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the power of distinguishing spirits; to one, the gift of different tongues and to another, the interpretation of tongues. But at work in all these is one and the same Spirit, distributing them at will to each individual.

 

John 2: 1-11

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. And they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the feast had all been used, and the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said, ‘Woman, what do you want from me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water,’ and they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, ‘Draw some out now and take it to the president of the feast.’ They did this; the president tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew—the president of the feast called the bridegroom and said, ‘Everyone serves good wine first and the worse wine when the guests are well wined; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of Jesus’ signs: it was at Cana in Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.?

 

 

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
January 14, 2007

INTRODUCTION: Five hundred thirty years before Christ the Jews were exiles in Babylon. You’ve heard me mention this many, many times. Today’s first reading is an announcement from the prophet that the Persians, who had conquered the Babylonians, were going to let God’s people go home. Their cities and homes were in ruins during the time of their exile and the Persians were even willing to give them some material help to rebuild. God said he would forgive the sins of his people, their sins that brought on their exile, and God would take them back. God would make Jerusalem and Judea his spouse. The image of God marrying his people is an important biblical image and is the best symbol from our human experience that can be used to describe the love and intimacy God desires to have with his people. The image prepares the way for gospel account of the marriage feast of Cana.


HOMILY: I want to encourage you to make sure you have truly invited Christ into your homes and into your relationships, especially your marriage relationship if you are married.

Several years ago I read the story about a couple who bought a new home and spent a lot of money on interior decoration. The wife, who wrote the article, had a husband who wanted to hang a large picture of the Sacred Heart in a prominent place in their living room and the lady objected. It did not fit with the décor of their new home. But he insisted and reminded her of Jesus’ words: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” (Mt. 10,32) Being a religious person, she gave in to his wishes and hung the picture. In her article she told about a few incidents that happened because the picture was there. One visitor, who kept glancing at the picture, eventually commented that “Jesus doesn’t look at you, he looks right through you.” Another friend commented, “I always feel so peaceful in your home.” She said one of the most striking things she noticed was that inevitably the conversation with friends and relatives was drawn to a higher plane. She felt overall the picture had a good effect on their family. Her article concluded with the statement: “This much I know, when you invite Jesus into your home, you are never the same again.”

I’m sure the couple in today’s gospel would agree. Wedding receptions were major celebrations in the culture and time of Jesus. They went on for several days and planning for one would have been difficult, but running out of wine would have been a long remembered embarrassment for the bride and groom. So Jesus came to their rescue, with a little prompting from his mother. And he rescued them big time.

Others we hear about in the gospel had their lives changed significantly for the better by inviting Jesus into their home. Peter brought Jesus to his home and Jesus healed his mother-in-law. A little girl died who was the daughter of a synagogue official named Jairus. Jairus went to find Jesus and Jesus came to his home and raised his daughter to life. He healed a man of dropsy one evening while having dinner at the home of a leading Pharisee. He became good friends with Martha, Mary and Lazarus and visited them when he came to Jerusalem. When Lazarus died Jesus brought him back to life. This is not to mention how people’s lives were changed in other ways because they opened their doors to Jesus.

Certainly, inviting Jesus into our lives begins by opening our hearts to him. But what if we lived in a country where it is illegal to be a Christian and the police came to our home, would there be enough evidence there to convict us? Do we have religious books or periodicals, any religious articles that remind us of our Lord or Mary or one of the saints, is there a bible somewhere within reach or is it on a shelf covered with dust? If our houses were bugged by the police, would we ever get caught praying with other family members?

When Jesus sent his disciples out he always told them to say “Peace to this house” whenever they entered a house. It is his desire to bring peace wherever he goes. In the book of Revelation Jesus makes this promise to us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” He will not invade our space. He wants to be invited in.

That goes doubly in marriage. St. John tells us “God is love.” If people want love in their marriage, they need to have God as the foundation of their relationship. I always have major concerns about couples who call up and want to have their marriage at St. Boniface, but they’ve not been going to Church. They are missing the essential ingredient for a loving and successful life ahead. I always challenge them that if they want me to have their wedding, then I want to see them become serious enough about their faith that they start practicing it.

St. John tells us today this was the first of Jesus’ signs. As a sign it shows Jesus’ high regard for marriage. But it shows much more. It tells us Jesus was interested in more than just keeping the party going, that he came to bring abundant blessings to those who believe in him. Today he works greater miracle for us by changing bread and wine into his own body and blood. May we be filled with his love as we receive the food and drink he gives us. Amen.

 

 

Nehemiah 8: 2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

 

Accordingly, on the first day of the seventh month, the priest Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women and all those old enough to understand. In the square in front of the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and of those old enough to understand, he read from the book from dawn till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

    The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose;

In full view of all the people — since he stood higher than them all — Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, 'Amen! Amen!'; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before Yahweh.

Ezra read from the book of the Law of God, translating and giving the sense; so the reading was understood. Then His Excellency Nehemiah and the priest-scribe Ezra and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, 'Today is sacred to Yahweh your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.' For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law. He then said, 'You may go; eat what is rich, drink what is sweet and send a helping to the man who has nothing prepared. For today is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of Yahweh is your stronghold.'

 

  1 Corinthians 12: 12-30

For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts—all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body—so it is with Christ. We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink. And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body,’ it does not belong to the body any the less for that. Or if the ear were to say, ‘I am not an eye, and so I do not belong to the body,’ that would not stop its belonging to the body. If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? If the whole body were hearing, how would there be any smelling? 

    As it is, God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose. If they were all the same part, how could it be a body? As it is, the parts are many but the body is one. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ and nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 

    What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones. It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability which our presentable parts do not need. God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy. 

    Now Christ’s body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole. And those whom God has appointed in the Church are, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers; after them, miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, helpful acts, guidance, various kinds of tongues. Are all of them apostles? Or all prophets? Or all teachers? Or all miracle–workers? Do all have the gifts of healing? Do all of them speak in tongues and all interpret them?

  

Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have reached their fulfilment among us, as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,  I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him. He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord. He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.'

 

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 21, 2007
 

INTRODUCTION – You’ve heard frequently of the Babylonian exile and how the Persians conquered the Babylonians fifty years later and allowed the Jews to return home. Many of the Jews in Babylon had become rather comfortable there and they did not return to Israel all at once. Little by little they came. Even a hundred years after they began to return they were still struggling to rebuild their cities and their civilization. The Persians were still in control of the entire Middle East which included Israel. Nehemiah, a Jew, had been a high level servant to the king of Persia and he asked his king to allow him to return to Israel to help his people rebuild. So the king of Persia appointed him to be governor of Israel. In Nehemiah’s efforts to rebuild the nation, he had to start with what was most important and that was to remind the people that God had to take first place in their lives. He realized much of the trauma his people had gone through at the time of their exile was because they had forgotten their God. In today’s first reading Nehemiah called for a general assembly of the people and the priest Ezra read God's word to them. Remember, ordinary people did not have books in those days. Books were very rare and very expensive, since each one had to be individually written word by word. So, if the ordinary person were ever to know God's word, someone had to read it or preach it to them. Ezra, thus, read God's word to the people and interpreted it for them. The reading was most probably from the first five books of the bible. Notice that there was active participation on the part of God’s people as they heard the word, possibly for the first time: raising their hands, answering “amen,” bowing to the ground, listening attentively, weeping and rejoicing.


HOMILY - The central theme of today’s liturgy is God's word. The people were saddened by God's word in today’s first reading. Perhaps they recognized how they had failed to live up to it. But Ezra and Nehemiah told the people God's word should bring us joy. Even if they had not been living by God’s word, on hearing it they could learn from it and start living as God instructed them. When we break the laws of our society, we may get thrown into jail. God doesn’t send the police around when we break his laws, but when we ignore his word, it’s going to catch up with us in the long run. So many people rationalize bad behavior by saying Jesus is a good guy. He won’t punish me for this or that. But they forget, Jesus didn’t come to punish us. He came to show us the way to happiness and eternal life. When we choose a way contrary to his teaching we bring unhappiness upon ourselves.

One of my favorite psalm verses is: “Your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path.” (Ps 119, 105) If you have to go somewhere in the dark, it’s nice to have a flashlight to help you see where you’re going. You can walk in the dark if you wish, but that would not be very smart and you might be likely to end up hurting yourself. When we try to make it through life without God's word, we’re walking in the dark. We can’t say God is punishing us if, while we’re walking in the dark, we run into something or we fall. We did it to ourselves.

Nehemiah knew the people needed God's light if they were ever going to succeed in getting back on their feet. Jesus knows we need God's light. In today’s gospel, Jesus is beginning his public ministry and he uses the Scriptures to describe the work he will do. People were impressed at first, but unfortunately, as we will hear next week, they rejected him.

Jesus said “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” “Today” is the important word here. It tells us God is speaking to us whenever we hear the Scriptures. Those who heard Ezra read the word of God and interpret it were hearing about things that happened almost a thousand years before, the stories of Abraham, Moses and the Exodus. But they saw its relevance for them that day. Jesus read from the book of Isaiah, written centuries before he was born, but he told his audience it had great meaning for them that day. “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” God's word always speaks to us because God is a living God and his Spirit continues to communicate to us through that word.

In our second reading today, Paul reminds us of the importance of community. He tells us we can’t say I don’t need a church, I don’t need to come to Mass, I don’t need to pray with all those other people. We do need to because we are part of the body of Christ and we can’t say we do not need one another. When we separate ourselves from one another, we are denying the spiritual gifts God has given to others to help us and we are denying to others the spiritual gifts God has given us to help them. We need each other. We need to share our faith with each other, even if it is a matter of praying with one another. To sum everything up, we need God's word and we need each other to make it through this life to the joys of eternal life.

 

 

 

Jeremiah 17: 5-8

A group of wisdom sayings

Yahweh says this,
Accursed be anyone
     who trusts in human beings,
who relies on human strength
and whose heart turns from Yahweh.
Such a person is like scrub
    in the wastelands:
when good comes, it does not affect him
since he lives in the parched places
    of the desert,
uninhabited, salt land.

‘Blessed is anyone who trusts in Yahweh,
with Yahweh to rely on.
Such a person is like a tree by the waterside
that thrusts its roots to the stream:
when the heat comes it has nothing to fear,
its foliage stays green;
untroubled in a year of drought,
it never stops bearing fruit.

   

1 Corinthians 15: 12, 16-20

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead?

For, if the dead are not raised, neither is Christ; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless and you have not, after all, been released from your sins. In addition, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are utterly lost. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are of all people the most pitiable.

 

Luke 6: 17, 20-26  

He then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples, with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said: 

    How blessed are you who are poor: 
        the kingdom of God is yours. 
    Blessed are you who are hungry now: 
        you shall have your fill. 
    Blessed are you who are weeping now: 
        you shall laugh. 

    ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, look!—your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

    But alas for you who are rich: 
        you are having your consolation now. 
    Alas for you who have plenty to eat now: 
        you shall go hungry. 
    Alas for you who are laughing now: 
        you shall mourn and weep. 

    ‘Alas for you when everyone speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.

 

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time
February 11, 2007

INTRODUCTION:

Life is full of options for people in the world today, but the Bible tells us that all our options ultimately will be reduced to two.  We either make God the center of our lives or we don’t.  Choosing to make God the center of our lives will lead to true happiness, making any other choice may satisfy us temporarily, but it will in the end leave us disappointed and unhappy.  This was crystal clear to Jeremiah the prophet who lived at the time of the Babylonian exile.  His way of expressing this truth is crystal clear too.

HOMILY

We are more familiar with St. Matthew’s beatitudes.  They tend to be more spiritualized than St. Luke’s version which we just heard.  St. Luke’s version is a little more puzzling and perhaps unsettling.  The Greek word which is translated here as blessed also means happy.  Jesus is saying some of the most unlikely people are happy while the ones you would suppose should be happy are in deep trouble.  He is saying happy are you who are poor, you who are hungry, you who are weeping, happy are you when people hate you.  He goes on to say it’s bad news for those who are rich, the well fed, those who are laughing and having fun and those who are well liked.  They face great sorrow and disaster.  Pretty strong, isn’t it! 

Certainly our Lord is not advocating that poverty, hunger, grieving and being rejected by our friends and neighbors is virtuous.  As a matter of fact Jesus encouraged people to care for the poor, even to the point of promising eternal reward to those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc.  And he even invited some people to give everything they had to the poor.  He also had some friends who had to have been fairly financially well off.  He is simply warning us with forceful language, we better not build our happiness on partying, being well off and well liked.  Life goes deeper than that and so does our happiness.  Like a tree that sinks its roots deep into the earth to receive water and nourishment, we have to have our lives rooted in God, which means obeying the Commandments, taking time for prayer and having an active love for others.

This past Friday I was driving down the expressway from Dayton and as the wind gusts kept pushing my car into the left lane, I had to keep turning the steering wheel to the right just so I could keep going straight ahead.  That’s what I think our Lord is doing here in St. Luke as he preaches to the people of his day.  Like a strong wind, the values of this world keep pushing us to invest fully in the pleasures of this life.  Our Lord is trying to pull us back so our lives do not end up in great sorrow and disaster.  We face many options in our lives, but in the end only one will really count, whether we have made Christ and his law of love for God and for each other the central value in our life.  If we haven’t, we will be sorry and it will be too late. 

Anthony De Mello in one of his many inspiring books gives us a parable of life to ponder. There were a group of tourists riding in their tour bus.  The shades on the windows were pulled down and they were busy arguing about what to watch on TV, who had the cutest outfit, who got to sit where and with whom, where they were going to eat lunch and they were totally unaware that they were passing through beautiful countryside: lakes, mountains, green fields and rivers.  Some people go through life and miss the best parts.  The human race started out on the wrong foot, looking for happiness in the wrong place and we still do.  The God who created us and who knows us best of all is trying to tell us where we will find it. 

This week we commemorate, as we do every year, four chaplains who were on a ship that got torpedoed in the Second World War.  As the ship was going down, they helped to hand out life jackets to the men on the ship.  When they came to the end of their supply, each of them took off their own life jacket and gave it away.  They went down with the ship praying together and encouraging each other.  They are a beautiful example of Jesus’ words, “greater love than this no one has, than that he lay down his life for his friends.”  (Jn 15, 13).  They are also a powerful example of hope in the resurrection and the next life which St. Paul tells us about today.

When we’re young this life seems very long, but the longer we live the more aware we become of how short it is. There’s another life beyond this one.  God wants us to be with him, so he can share his happiness with us.  But we have to follow the way he’s shown us. Jesus would not have bothered to come to us, to teach us, and to die for us if it didn’t matter how we live our life.  Too many people in society today adopted a credit card mentality in their spiritual life.  You know the credit card mentality: buy now and pay later.  About their spiritual life they say “I’m not going to worry about it until pay-off time.”  I can say that for a variety of reasons that usually doesn’t work.  If we don’t live our faith now, it may not be there to help us at the end of life.

 

 

 

Joshua 5: 9-12  

Yahweh then said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’ Hence, the place has been called Gilgal ever since.

The Israelites pitched their camp at Gilgal and kept the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the plain of Jericho. On the very next day after the Passover, they ate what the land produced, unleavened bread and roasted ears of corn. The manna stopped the day after they had eaten the produce of the land. The Israelites from that year onwards ate the produce of Canaan and had no more manna.

    

2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

So for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God’s work; he reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation. I mean, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone’s faults against them, but entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 

    So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you through us, and in the name of Christ we appeal to you to be reconciled to God. For our sake he made the sinless one a victim for sin, so that in him we might become the uprightness of God.

 

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him, and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable:

Then he said, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, "Father, let me have the share of the estate that will come to me." So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery. 

    ‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch; so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them. Then he came to his senses and said, "How many of my father’s hired men have all the food they want and more, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired men." So he left the place and went back to his father. 

    ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him. Then his son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found." And they began to celebrate. 

    ‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. The servant told him, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the calf we had been fattening because he has got him back safe and sound." He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out and began to urge him to come in; but he retorted to his father, "All these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed any orders of yours, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property—he and his loose women—you kill the calf we had been fattening." 

    ‘The father said, "My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found." ’

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 18, 2007

We just heard the story of a young boy whose life was misdirected by love of riches and pleasure. After his so called friends abandoned him and he suffered hunger and want for a period of time, he came to his senses and returned to his father. He returned a changed person. Fortunately, he had a loving and forgiving father who accepted him unconditionally. The point of the story is abundantly clear when we consider the relationship between the father and his younger son. As regards the relationship between the father and the older son, Jesus leaves the conclusion open-ended. We have to reflect on what might have happened, whether the older son gave in to his father’s pleading to be forgiving or whether he refused. How we end the story will tell us a lot about ourselves.

I want to tell you about another young man whose story is somewhat similar. He was Catholic to start with but admits that he was not a very good one. His father was a government official and this young man enjoyed the comforts of those who were well off. He described himself at sixteen as a scatterbrained youth who had “turned away from God and did not keep his commandments.” As his story goes, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave and made to labor on a farm for six years. Like the prodigal son who was without friends and who suffered without adequate food or shelter, this young man came to his senses and he learned obedience through what he suffered. He discovered (and we quote) ”God showed me how to have faith in him forever, as one who is never to be doubted.” After six years God spoke to him in a way that he heard with his own ears. He would escape and God audibly told him when to leave and what direction to go in order to accomplish his escape. Miraculously God protected him along the way until he arrived back home. Like the prodigal son, he came home a new person. Although his parents wanted to keep him at home with them, his love for God led him to want to serve God as a priest. Even more than serving as a priest, his love for others led him to want to return to the people who captured and enslaved him and teach them about God. And that he did. After overcoming many obstacles, including rejection by the hierarchy, a breach of confidence by a friend to whom he entrusted a confession of his past life, his lack of education and social graces, he returned as a bishop to the people who had enslaved him. Once he arrived he wasn’t greeted with open arms. Again, in his own words, he said “daily I expect either murder, or robbery, or enslavement.” He writes elsewhere “they seized me with my companions. And on that day they most eagerly desired to kill me; but my time had not yet come. And everything they found with us they plundered, and myself they bound in chains.” He feared nothing, for even if he were to be put to death, he felt that would have been the supreme act of love for his God. But God had other intentions than that he should be a martyr. For 30 years he served God and the people who once enslaved him and his work was blessed. He ordained many bishops and priests, established convents, monasteries and schools and in thirty years saw the conversion of almost all of Ireland. And of course you all know I’ve been talking about St. Patrick, who is one of our patronal saints and whose statue is under the choir loft. His work was so successful that in a short time Ireland was sending out missionaries to revitalize the faith of Europe which had fallen into decline. Irish missionaries have been a blessing to the Church ever since.

For those who are Irish and who honor Patrick, the best way to truly honor him is not by drinking a Guinness. We should respond to his example and his call to holiness. Again quoting Patrick, he asks those who believe in him and love him to “strengthen and confirm your faith…That will be my glory, for a wise son is the glory of his father.”

And for those who are not Irish and who think too much is made of St. Patrick on March 17th, I would like you to think of how our faith has been strengthened by the witness of many Irish saints and how our civilization has been preserved by the scholarship of the Irish during the days when mainland Europe was being overrun by barbarians. The great heritage of western civilization, from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish and Christian works, would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of unconquered Ireland. These Irish recorded the great works of western civilization in their monasteries and convents (remember all books had to be written by hand). They brought this learning back to Europe after it began to stabilize in the eighth century under Charlemagne. Whether you’re Irish or not, we all owe a great debt to the Irish and we pray that our patron, St. Patrick, blesses our parish and our families.

 

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July 31, 1994

Words of Jesus to Members of
Shepherds of Christ Associates:

"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.

"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.

"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."

- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)

 

  

 

  


 

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