Archive for the ‘Fatherly Advice’ Category

Homily – Bp Thomas – “Curagio” – CONF 256

For the 2014 Courage Conference in Philadelphia Bp. Daniel E Thomas, Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Philadelphia, gives the third homily where he uses the Italian version of the word Courage,…
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Mt 13:31-35 From Smallest To Largest

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
I recently went on a mission trip to Belize with 15 other girls from my high school. Looking back, my fondest memories are of eating meals with the community. Every afternoon after classes at the local Catholic school let out, we would go to a family’s home for lunch. On the first home visit we made, most of us were expecting nothing out of the ordinary. At the monastery we stayed at, we ate about just as much as we did at home and didn’t question it. Imagine our surprise then, when the mother of the house served us our first lunch—multiple plates filled at least six inches high with rice and beans and fruit! Believe me when I tell you that it was an inhumanly possible amount to eat. Some girls even hid the leftover food in their backpacks and water bottles out of fear of being rude.  After lunch, we all staggered out of the house in near agony from walking in the tropical heat with a stomach full of starch. “Get used to it, ladies,” our campus minister told us, “they think that American girls need three times as much food to be full as they do.”  To me, that was a stunning example of how the rest of the world views the excesses of American life.  In America, more is better. We all know at least one person who blindly chases after happiness in wealth or other excess to no avail.  No wonder they are dissatisfied—they chase after excess when, really, the language of the human heart and the Christian faith is simplicity.


“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants…  Take a sharp pencil and make a dot on a piece of paper. That is how small a mustard seed actually is. Why on earth, then, would Jesus Christ tell us that the Kingdom of Heaven is to be compared to something so seemingly insignificant?
Think back to the last time you went to Mass. You sat down, entered into prayer, and kept your entire being fixed on the miracle happening before you.  But from a strictly superficial level, what made that Mass any different from any other gathering of people… say, a business meeting? Was it the priest? Certainly not—behind the vestments and the fact that he could probably school you ten times over in philosophy and theology, he is just another person born of a woman like you. Was it the space? No—the church was built like any other building.  But despite this apparent simplicity, did you ever really think that the Mass was just a meeting of people, planned by human beings for human beings and under the control of human beings? Of course not!  Even Catholics who haven’t yet come to particularly enjoy the Mass wouldn’t think in such a way. It is hard-wired into our hearts that God is working through the regular guy who we call Father, and that the bread on the altar is not just bread.
Even more, think about the Sacrament of Confession. What makes the confessional any fundamentally different from your office space or classroom, and the priest any fundamentally differentfrom some man on the street? But yet, our hearts know that in the simple humanity of the Sacraments lies an encounter with the divine.  
Or Baptism! Why on earth can something as simple as pouring water over the head of an infant make us so stolen of breath?
Or consider the Rosary! It’s only a twenty minute prayer, give or take. Many people pray it silently. There is nothing flashy about it whatsoever. But then, wow!  You can look back after a year or so of devotion, only to discover how much conversion has taken place in your heart– just like Our Lady told us!
Now, try imagining the Mass from an “American” perspective. Why not put strobe lights and smoke machines on the altar?  If a miracle is happening, why shouldn’t we treat it like the greatest drama known to man? Why not make every priest do a dance and sing a song in the confessional to illustrate the intensity of God’s forgiveness? Or why not shout the Rosary on the street corner, or make it into a hit song? Again, something in us knows the error of that thinking. Dramatic displays like that seem so manufactured, whereas the simplicity of the Sacraments and prayer seems so natural. Just as the mustard seed is simple, so is the Kingdom of God.
“… and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches’” Simplicity attracts. Humility attracts. Why do they attract? Because they are the language of the human heart the way God created it. Jesus uses this incredible image in His parable of birds coming to rest in a tree. Nobody has to convince the birds to sit in the tree. They do not sit and question whether the tree is a good quality tree or not. It is their simple instinct to take shelter in it. That is precisely the way the human heart is attracted to the simplicity of the Sacraments—we instinctually know that by walking into Mass or into the confessional that we will encounter our God. Even though as Americans we are tempted to think that drama and excess are the indications of greatness, it is not even a question to us that God dwells in simplicity. It is attractive because it is clearly divine.
It is very telling that the human heart can still unwaveringly know this truth, countercultural as it may be. Recently, I went to adoration with a friend who is about to leave for college. I spent at least 3o minutes marveling at the fact that although we both have our own cars and could have been anywhere teenage girls like to go, there was no place we would have rather been  than in the presence of Our Lord together. It is incredible how these seemingly simple words of Jesus Christ are packed with so much truth.

Jul 28 – Homily: Nurturing Grace

Jul 28 – Homily: Nurturing Grace

Father compares the Gospel parable of the leaven kneaded into the dough with the spiritual life, and how we have to constantly nurture the life of grace in us, or else we may loose everything….
From:
franciscanfria…

Jul 28 – Homily: Mt 13:31-33 The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Jul 28 – Homily: Mt 13:31-33 The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

We have not loved the Immaculate as she deserves to be loved. The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven teach us how to love our Mother Mary, who gave us birth. Ave M…

Mt 13:44-52 Out of Joy

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time(Click here for readings)Jesus said to his disciples: ”The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that…

Jul 27 – Homily: The Hidden Treasure : Jesus In Mary

Jul 27 – Homily: The Hidden Treasure : Jesus In Mary

We possess the Kingdom of Heaven in possessing Jesus in Mary: first through baptism, then in its perfect renewal, Marian consecration. Ave Maria! Mass: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sunday…
Fro…

Jul 27 – Homily: Islam and Providence

Father reminds us that “that all things work for good for those who love God,” and that this presupposes Faith in Providence (a.k.a. God’s loving plan for everything) and Love of God. As an…
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Mt 13:24-30 Raising Saints

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Click here for readings)

 

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.  “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.”

The preview to the forthcoming 50 Shades of Grey movie premiered on the Today Show Thursday morning at 8AM. This movie, based on a book of the same title, glamorizes sexual domination and sadomasochism while romanticizing abusive relationships and sociopathic behavior. Ironically, the preview debuted during National NFP Awareness Week, a week that the Church sets aside each year to “celebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality.” The actual movie is set to be released in theaters in February 2015, just in time for another Catholic celebration, St. Valentine’s Day.
 
The Devil in Grey I would sooner have The Lord take my vision than to willingly subject myself to such a pathetic degradation of love and intimacy. Yet my social media pages have been flooded with links to the movie trailer and excited status updates from friends who are completely mesmerized by “Mr. Grey”. The enemy is obviously trying to sow lust in the hearts of many with this movie. He wants nothing more than to move us away from the light of God and into the grey area where just about anything goes, especially our hearts. Moral relativism lives in the grey area – so do most lukewarm Christians. When you don’t pick a side, the enemy will pick one for you. If you are not firmly rooted in Christ the enemy will destroy you, little by little, from the inside out. This is what is happening to Christians who say they are against porn but see no problem with books and movies like 50 Shades.
 
Feminism v. the Feminine Genius I have long struggled to define what it means to be a feminist. I am very weary to identity myself as one. Far too many feminists believe that it is degrading for a woman to submit to the authority of her husband, to want a lot of kids (like, more than 2.5), or to be “just” a stay at home mom. Religious sisters and nuns are also often mocked by feminists who do not understand the freedom that is bestowed upon those who take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They are blind to the beauty of a life given totally to Christ.


Rather, these women believe that they have found their independence in being used as an object for sexual gratification and using others as such. They cannot see the truth that Saint John Paul II speaks of in his Letter to Women which identifies our Blessed Mother Mary as the “highest expression of the feminine genius”. She was made Queen of Heaven and earth because of her obedience and desire to do the will of God. For her, “to reign is to serve”. This is what true feminine strength is rooted in – sacrificial love.



Total Gift of Self A vocation to religious, consecrated, or married life is the total, irrevocable gift of self to another. Love invites us to come out of ourselves but unlike lust, does not force or coerce. We have to choose to respond to the Lord’s invitation out of our own free will. If we do not, we will only be cheating ourselves out of authentic love. St. Therese of Lisieux put it this way, “Love consumes us only in the measure of our self-surrender.” Through prayer and discernment we must learn to hear God’s voice and answer out of love.



The Holy Spirit guides us in all these things, yet I think parents also have a much deeper impact on discernment and vocations than they realize. Saint Joachim and St. Anne, whom we honor today, are a beautiful example of how parents can nurture a vocation. They must have been very prayerful and devout people for they are often shown in paintings reading scripture with Mary. They always pointed her towards the Lord just as she always points us toward her Son. Mary’s fiat and her loyalty to God in her vocation as a wife and mother were surely impacted by the faith she learned from her parents.



Saint John Paul II also had wonderful parents who instructed him in the faith. In the book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, he recalls attending daily Mass, reading scripture, and praying the liturgy of the hours with his father, but also said that he never dreamed of becoming a priest much less a pope. It wasn’t until many years later that John Paul realized he had been greatly affected by simply witnessing the devoutness of his father’s prayer life.



Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees, just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church. We never spoke about a vocation to the priesthood, but his example was in a way my first seminary.” – St. John Paul II



On another occasion, the day after his mother’s funeral, John Paul’s father took him and his older brother on a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine and reminded them that the Blessed Virgin Mary would always look after them and protect them until they could be reunited with their mother in Heaven. This one act of faith planted a seed of Marian devotion in John Paul’s heart that would eventually change the whole world when he became pope and declared “Totus Tuus” as his motto.



Good seed and bad seed are being planted every day, especially in the hearts of young people whom St. John Paul II greatly loved. The enemy continues to try to sow weeds to entangle their souls and suffocate their faith. But parents have a huge role to play in this battle between good and evil. Homes should be sanctuaries – domestic churches – places where kids can learn the faith not just from a book but by the witness of their parents’ lives. Movies and the media would have you believe that parents don’t have much of an impact on their children’s lives or that the only impact they can have is a negative one, but that is simply a lie from the pit of hell.



If anything, we can all take a lesson from St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. She too led a devout and prayerful life in spite of many difficulties, and eventually her troubled son underwent a deep and profound conversion because of her prayers. She may have been discouraged more times than not, but she never ceased to pray. It’s hard to pray with a broken heart, but it is the surest way to become a saint and to raise one!



Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, pray for us!!

This mediation was written by Stephanie Juarez. For more of her writings please visit her blog Lover of the Light. 

Are You a "Conservative Priest"?

“Every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” (Matthew 13:52)

Jul 26 – Homily: On the Veneration of Saints

Jul 26 – Homily: On the Veneration of Saints

On the feast of the Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of the Lord, Father Mattias speaks of why Catholics honor and venerate the Saints, and contrasts Catholic devotion to those in…
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franci…

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