Friday, January 25, 2013

He Knocks and waits.......

He Knocks at the door and says "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest for your souls".   He waits at the door in a surprising way.  We should go to Him and tell him our troubles and trials, but he waits already knowing because he has suffered this already and he waits at the door for us to take our burdens.

Do we really believe in God's love for us?  God the Father sent is only Son incarnate of the Virgin Mary so that we could know that love in a very tangible way.  "He who has seen me has seen the Father.  I am in the Father and the Father is in me." 

John 3:16.  We all know the verse.  It is a deep river!  " For God so loved the world that He gave is only Son that whoever BELIEVES.........."   And now we have the great mystery of the Trinity.  The love of God made manifest in the incarnate Son.  And the promise that we would not be left orphans but that, on returning to the Father, Jesus would send us the Holy Ghost. 

In these terrible times in which we live, I can not but marvel at the love and patience of God, who is truly slow to anger and rich and abounding in Mercy.  I pray that we may be salt and light for others and that through our cooperation Mercy will triumph, even as the darkness grows.  After Christ's death, the seeming triumph of evil, rapidly came His triumphant Resurrection.

Let us love Him in return by growing in the Faith.  "When the Son of Man comes again, will He find Faith?"  In these latter times, this question takes on a great urgency.  Pope Benedict the XVI gave us this "Year of Faith" so that we might answer the knock of the Saviour at the door. The Lord  waits for us to share our burden with Him and to give us in return great treasure: oil for our lamps.  He is there to give us the light of Faith!  Surely the bridegroom is coming soon!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Faith in The Bread of Life

Every day we eat and drink. Our life depends on it.  Our food comes out of the dust by some inexplicable miracle of the order of creation.  Equally amazing is our use of the bathroom; I'll just say it like the French do: the toilet.  Everything goes down the toilet.

It's life and death.  Children will ask you: "Why do we have to eat every day?   Why do we have to go to the bathroom so much?"  Our food comes out of the ground, without it we die, it all goes down the toilet, and in the end we die, returning to dust.

Yet we never question the power in our food.  We have faith in it.  We never worry that it won't keep us alive.  "Yes, if I eat these good apples, and buy these organic carrots, and have a nice bowl of yummy lobster bisque with a loaf of warm bread and a glass of red wine, I'll be feeling better in no time."  And it's true.

When the priest says the words of consecration, do we have faith?  Jesus said "I am the bread of life............I am the living bread which came down from heaven...........For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.  (From John 6)

If we can put such faith in things that turn to dust, can we not put more faith in Him who made the dust?  Can we not believe The Mystery of Faith with great joy?!  We can see it all around us.  We do have faith.  We just need to accept it with joy where it matters most.

Friday, September 28, 2012

No sons, no brothers. Only death and toil.

Again I saw vanity under the sun: a person who has no one, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, "For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?"  This also is vanity and an  unhappy business.  Ecclesiastes 4: 7-8.

This week our Canadian parliamentarians rejected the opportunity to debate the personhood of the unborn.  To be fair, 203 voted against the opportunity, and 91 voted for it.

Our country, our continent, and I dare say THE WORLD, is in love with money and material goods and has no time for anything but economic concerns.  Our sons and brothers, OUR VERY OWN FLESH AND BLOOD, have been reduced to a commodity.  So we have the destruction and murder of our most innocent citizens. This slaughter has to stop!

War is coming.  We are reliving 1938.  How can we tolerate the destruction of innocent human life in the womb, deny the sanctity of Holy Matrimony, kill the eldery, and then pretend we are civilized citizens?  We are already living in a nightmare.  This is the most sinister and evil generation in history. 

The bodies of aborted babies are burned in incinerators at hospitals while we carefully wipe icing from our lips at the coffee shop.  Our cowardly politicians refuse even to have a debate about when human life begins.  Then we re-elect them and go out to the movies.

The Nazis hated the Jews and tried to exterminate them.  We don't hate the babies in the womb.  We just don't care.  "Sushi anybody?  How are your investments doing?  Hey, nice car!"

"Why cant' those people in the Middle East get over their fighting?  Religion is so bad, people always fighting over what they believe."    No time for God, no time for Truth, no time for the unborn.  Just scorn, ridicule, denial, and deafening silence. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Organ Toccata for Jesus

This week I took my two oldest boys, 14 and 7 years of age, up to the university to meet with an RN who teaches anatomy.  This was a planned trip for their home-schooling, a really special trip. 

My RN friend pulled out all the stops and had half a dozen models (worth some $40,000) out on display for the boys to explore.  We all got to dismantle, reassemble, and ask questions about the models.  There was one of the abdomen with removable organs, one of the ear, one of the heart, one with organs, muscles, and brains, one of the eye, a full life sized skeleton, a box of bones to match up with the skeleton, a big overlapping transparent flip chart showing all of the veins, arteries, lymph nodes, nerves, organs, skeleton, etc.  It was really overwhelming to see it all. We spent a full two hours learning and having quite a blast. 

Near the end of the session, we donned lab coats and rubber gloves for a good look at a rat-disection that was in process. Matthew (7) curiously poked and prodded away while Joseph disappeared to the other side of the room to escape the ordeal. Out came the intestines, stomach, liver, etc.

So many times in my life I have marvelled at the fact that many of us will go through our entire life never seeing, never really needing to see, any of this.  We know about it because we learn about it in school.  But have you ever seen your intestines or brains?  They are there and we get a stark reminder that they are there when something goes wrong.

Is the Holy Eucharist not precisely the same?  The hidden Jesus is there, flesh and blood upon our altars.  We forget about His great love for us, about His long-suffering patience, about His infinite humility.  Sometimes we doubt.  Yet He is still there even though we go through our entire life never seeing Him.

I can go through my whole life never once thinking about my liver.  It's really quite funny to me!  I have a liver but I never really spend any time thinking about it.  If I did not have a liver, I'd be dead really fast.

Think about the words of Jesus when He says "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life within you".  These are stunningly amazing words, and they are literal.  Take some time and pray about that. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Flesh for the life of the world.

My wife and I had a simultaneous identical insight which is heavy and very worth sharing.  What does the Divine Liturgy have to do with abortion?

Simply put, they both involve flesh and blood.  If we consider that God is the author of life and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life, we can easily see the important relationship between all life and the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus.

There is much controversy regarding the display of abortion images as a tool to expose abortion for what it really is.  Who should see these images?  Some argue that the horror goes on and needs to be exposed in the same manner as other genocides.  It is a powerful argument, but not without problems.  However, if we momentarily step beyond the problem of actually solving this particular argument, and consider the power of images themselves, we can focus in on something very revealing and seemingly first.

There is a Latin saying:  "Illigitimati non carborundum" which translates into English "Don't let the bastards wear you down".  Bear with me for a second.  You see, the great river valleys of the earth were not cut away by water in a day, a week, or even a year.  If you wanted to see them form, you could not do so in a life- time.  Yet there they are to look at.  Some things change like that  but even slower, some things change like that but faster.

On to the Roman Rite Liturgy.  There it is.  But it was not always like that.  And here comes the power of the images.  If we could look at a photo of the Grand Canyon prior to its formation, and compare it with a photo of it as it is today,  we would scarcely believe that erosion could do this.   If we could look at a photo of the Liturgy prior to its decimation  --Oh, we can, and we ought to-- we can scarcely believe that it is the same thing as it is today -- because it is not.

The Eucharist is the source of our being.  The Triune God is the author or life:
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
.........................................Through him all things were made..........................
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,...............................
And we also believe in the Real Presence of the Incarnate Jesus upon our altars.   Or do we?  Go have a look on-line at a few images of Holy Mass as it is celebrated now.  Compare them to images from fifty or sixty years ago.  As I said, at first it does not seem offensive.  Why?  Because we are the Grand Canyon.  We have been ground down to accept the compromises and lies of the devil.

Yes, these are really harsh words, but I believe they are very true.  How can the horror of abortion be going on around us?  How can babies be murdered and then dumped into the trash can by the hundreds of millions? Hundreds of millions --look it up.  How can a US President veto a bill that would prohibit a doctor from sucking the brains out of a partially born baby in order to kill it?    It can happen because we first threw out the baby Jesus and denied him on our altars!

I think that if we are going to ever see an end to abortion, we must first turn away from the sin against the First Commandment.  The First Commandment is first for a reason.

Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.   He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.  John 6:53-55.

So here is a Lenten challenge:  Go have a look at some images of the way the liturgy is celebrated in our time.  Don't just go to Mass and say "Yeah, I'll do it there".  No, because there you are in the river with the rest of the water.  Get out of the river and go up on the bank and have a good look.  Get some good images of the liturgy as it was celebrated a few short decades ago.  Ask yourself what is due to the Triune God.  Ask yourself how this erosion came about that the Holy Eucharist, the true body and blood of Christ, is ignored and profaned.  Ask yourself what is more fitting to honor the Triune God truly present on the altar : Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart, Gregorian chant, a Bach Chorale, or an electric guitar and drums playing some sappy pop-tune to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy?  Ask yourself why the sacred vessels are treated with less respect than dishes from Wal Mart.  Ask yourself why so few believe in the Real Presence.

We are really rather consistent as human beings.  If we think something is valuable, we'll pay a lot of money for it.  If we don't value a thing, we throw it in the trash.  No! No! Recylce!  Hmmm...can you recycle an aborted baby?  Isn't that a horrific question?  Would it not be better if there were no such thing as an aborted baby?  Do we really value a used newspaper more than a pre-born child?!  But I digress.  And is that not also horrific, that I can digress from such a topic?

The first point is that we act as we believe.  The Liturgy as it is celebrated (-not sure I even like the word "celebrate" -) is a true reflection of modern belief, ........or disbelief.  And abortion is a reflection of the disbelief that life in the womb is human.  Here we could go into a whole new topic.  Is it belief, disbelief or denial?  Let's move on for now.

The second point is  -and here I invite you to consider that this seeming leap is no leap but rather an incredibly important connection- that until belief in the Real Presence returns, abortion can not end.  It will not end because it CAN not end.  Until we respect the Incarnate Flesh of the Son of God, how can we respect the life of mortal man?  See the brilliance of Mother Teresa?  She said that the fruit of abortion will be nuclear war.
Just one or two pictures of a beautiful new-born baby next to some pictures of a dismembered and bloodied corpse of an aborted baby shows that we have wandered very very far from the love of God.  Attendance at or pictures of the beautiful and fitting Eastern Rite liturgies (there are more than 20 Rites of the Catholic Church which are in union with Rome) compared to the very often abusive Roman Rite liturgies shows that we have forgotten that Jesus gave his flesh and blood for the life of the world and how we so easily forget the horror of abortion.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Humor and Mercy

In my family there has always been a great use of humor.  We make puns and jokes and enjoy numerous pranks.

One of our family jokes has to do with the aftermath of meals.  With five young children, a table that is too small, and a severely handicapped child who needs to be fed, the debris field beneath the table after meals is a job for a SWAT team in full riot gear or the National Guard.  When they are done we call in the local fire department to hose everything down.  Failing that, we just drive a Zamboni through the dining room.  "Hey, Joe!  Your turn to zamboni the dining room."

"I've heard of the multiplication of the loaves, but this is ridiculous."

We also like to joke (always with great interior reverence for The Word of God) about about the passage in The Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter 15:

[21] Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
[22] And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
[23] But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
[24] But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
[25] Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
[26] But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
[27] And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
[28] Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

If said dog lived beneath our table, he'd look like this:.

Well, today I was hard at it in between meals, muttering to myself trying to maintain my waning patience, and I kind of said to myself, "Well that should be clean enough for the next round of chaos."  Then I had a thought shoot thrugh my mind : "What if Jesus thought like that at Mass or after our Confession?  What if He took the cynical attitude that He had just cleaned up after us and the next week would bring a whole new load of sins that He would have to clean up again?"  Suddenly that fat dog wasn't quite as funny any more.

I am always after my family telling them that we at least have to TRY to not make such a disaster.  Yes, the thought is worth some pondering because our good effort is not only necessary in spite of the infinite Mercy of God, but precisely BECAUSE of it.  Otherwise we risk the sin of presumption.

I remember having commited a serious sin one day and was looking for some consolation.  Having prayed mentally to St. Padre Pio,  I opened a wonderful biography about him (by Bernard Ruffin) and asked, "Padre Pio, do you have some word for me?"  I looked down at the page and read "That was a useless effort". If we want to hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant", we will first have to fight the good fight --- and in some manner win.  Yes, Christ has already won the battle, but we must also carry the cross.

While helping with diaper changes and daily chores that young children bring, I have often pondered how this fits in to God's plan of salvation for us.  Little children too will ask innocently about why we have to use the toilet daily and about what happens to our food when we eat it.  A bit of simple thought about the whole cycle --from the seeds in the garden soil to the vegetables on the table and back to the waste pit-- can either produce a cynical hopelessness, or great joy at the wonder of God's great love for us.

This is a wonderful moment to remember Jesus's first miracle, the changing of water into wine --water representing death then becoming joyful life, a prefigurement of the Ressurection-- and His last miracle, the changing of bread and wine into His body and blood.  I explain to my children the immense beauty in the words Jesus says, in John 6; 53 -58, that "unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you have no life within you".  I get goose bumps when I think of the great love of Jesus when he says in Luke 22:15  "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer"

Just as the disciples cleaned up 12 baskets full of food after the multiplication of the loaves, we also must not waste the graces of God.  God is not like some haughty, proud billionaire who might say:  "I just gave you a million bucks.  Don't bother with the loose change." 

That fat dog under the table represents two things:  It represents God's infinite mercy, and it represents our  manifold sins and wickedness.  Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish.  He does not need much from us, but he does need a few crumbs of effort.  Perhaps even a mustard seed would do.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Behold: Mary the Mother of God

In the fifth mysteries of the Holy Rosary we have The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple;  the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord, Jesus; and the Coronation of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth.

These mysteries are beautiful in their close correspondence to God pointing to His Mother and His Mother reflecting back and magnifying the Lord.

In the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, we find Jesus addressing His parents thus:  Luke 2: "49 And he said unto them How is it that ye sought me?  wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.  51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them: but his mother kept all these saying in her heart."

So at the face of it, we have a 12 year old boy who is at once demonstrating astonishing understanding and wisdom in his dealing with the doctors in the temple, and then seeming to brush off the anguish of his desperate parents who love Him.  Then He obediently goes with them to Nazareth. 

Jesus is telling us that it is His mother and father who should know best that he is the Son of God because they are His teachers.  He is pointing to His mother from whom He took His flesh and through whose Immaculate Heart we receive the Bread of Life, the Holy Eucharist.  It is almost as if He asks her "Do you not remember who you are?"  Look at the great love here!  Would we not expect the opposite?  The modern mother might say "Who do you think you are doing this to your parents!?  I'm your mother!  Now get home with us now!"   Jesus, who later commands us to demonstrate our love for Him by keeping His commandments, demonstrates further his love of His mother and foster father by his quiet obedience to them.  His mother does not scold but magnifies His greatness pondering all these things in her heart.

In the mystery of the Crucifixion, Jesus again speaks to His mother:  John 19: "26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 The saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!  And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."

Perhaps once again it seems that Jesus is distant from his mother in addressing her as "Woman" rather than "Mother" or "Mama".  Yet at the same time he demonstrates His great desire to give his mother consolation and love by entrusting her to the care of the "disciple whom he loved" but not before first ensuring her continued motherhood.  Here is the great emcompassing of the Ark of the Covenant.  She holds all of us as her children by Jesus's command and we are heirs to everlasting life in the unfathomable brotherhood of the Word Made Flesh.  This flesh again is born of the pain and sorrow of the mother anguishing for her son.

In the mystery of the Coronation of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, we read:  REVELATION 11 & 12
"19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. 1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered."

Here we see again the Blessed Mother, the Ark of the Covenant, refered to as "woman" and the mystery beneath the cross and in the temple is revealed.  This title is one of deep respect and reverence for that which the Father holds so dear.  His Ark which encompasses His people whom he loves is at once triumphantly victorious as a the crowned Queen of Heaven -through her unparalleled humility and purity of heart-, and still suffering in anguish over her militant earthly family.

As we read through the 12th chapter of Revelation about the dragon's hate for the woman, the Ark, we see clearly her motherhood to the followers of her Son : "17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

In these three mysteries of the Holy Rosary, we see clearly Jesus pointing to His Mother with love and respect, His great gift of her to us and thus His gift of Himself to us, and her magnification of the Saviour in humility, the Incarnate Saviour, her very flesh and now our brother!

 LUKE 1: "46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is his name."