Monthly Archives: June 2018

The Birth of St. John the Baptist

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 We only celebrate three birthdays according to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church: first, the birth of Jesus Christ, December 25th; the birth of the Virgin Mary, September 8th; and today, June 24th, the birth of St. John the Baptist. We celebrate his birthday because of his great importance in the plan of God. He was the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first prophet of the New Testament as he announced the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

St. John was prepared for his ministry by the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to his mother Elizabeth. We recall that when Mary greeted Elizabeth, John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Of this event, a Bible commentary states the following: “Although he was conceived in sin like other men, St. John the Baptist was born sinless because he was sanctified in his mother’s womb by the presence of Jesus Christ (then in Mary’s womb). On receiving this grace of God St. John rejoices by leaping with joy__ thereby fulfilling the Archangel’s prophesy, “…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” Lk 1:15

The birth of John the Baptist was similar to the births of other prophets and holy people called to be a part of God’s salvation plan by the fact that his parents were childless and had reached an age beyond child bearing years. Here we recall the words of Jesus, “…for God all things are possible.”     Mt 19:26. All things are possible for God, but they must serve the purpose of the “coming of the kingdom”.

We might see John as having a difficult life, living in the wilderness eating locust and wild honey, however he knew his purpose. Because he faithfully fulfilled his purpose, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of woman there has been none greater than John the Baptist.”

His only purpose was to prepare the way for the Lord by baptizing with water and preaching repentance. As John was becoming popular with those who were willing to repent, Jesus came to him to be baptized in the River Jordan. At that point his disciples began to leave him and follow Jesus. John’s response was, “He must increase, I must decrease.” Jn 3:30

Although we are probably not called to live a life like John in the wilderness with his meager diet, we are all called to bear witness to Jesus Christ. We did not receive the Holy Spirit in our mother’s womb, but we did receive the same Spirit in baptism. We not only received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we also received the Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity which connect us intimately with God and we exercise our baptismal priesthood by participating in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king.

We participate in the priesthood of Christ by being united to him in our prayers and sacrifices, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We fulfill our role as prophet by being faithful to what God has revealed to us through His Church and the Scriptures. The truth is prophetic in every age and will win for us friends and enemies just as it did for John. The truth is necessary for our happiness now and for all eternity. We share in the kingship of Christ by being obedient to the will of the Father as Jesus was and by serving God and neighbor. Jesus said, “I came not to be served, but to serve.”

Through our baptism and our participation in the life of the Church we have all we need to discover our true purpose and be a faithful follower of Our Lord. Of course like John we must choose to repent; to overcome sin and grow in virtue. In our prayer we should ask John the Baptist to help us to be heroic in living out our Christian faith and to have great zeal in sharing our faith with others. As we become spiritually mature, like John we should be able to say, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

In a few minutes we will be receiving the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. We pray that we will have a profound awareness of his Presence which will move us to find our purpose in him.

 

“Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.”

 

 

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Join the Revolution!

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My family and I are on a food revolution; or I should say, an ‘anti-food’ revolution.

It all began a few months when 1-hour after eating quick microwave white rice, all my joints felt like they were on fire. My husband and I are in our fifties and we are both experiencing physical changes that are making us assess how to manage our health as we age.

I got on the internet to see if I could self-diagnose and found the culprit to be sugar. It seems these processed rice products quickly break down into sugar. I have known for awhile that sugar is my nemesis and the source of joint inflammation, mood swings and indigestion. My husband and I have made a conscious decision awhile ago to reduce to elimination our consumption of sugar. What I did not know until the ‘rice incident’ is how much sugar is put into so many unsuspecting products, such as salad dressings and spaghetti sauce. For a family like ours, that likes our meal preparations to be easy, this discovery came as a shock and a frustration.

I took this all to prayer.

Did you know that God cares even about our health?

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me and I will change your lot […] (Jeremiah 19:11-14)

In prayer, pondering and through the Word of God, my family’s lot has been changed as I came to the realization, For everything created by God is good. (1 Timothy 4:4)

God creates real food; so real food therefore is good. It is the modern economy that pushes low-cost ingredients, that are often not even food, to supplement, replace, and modify what we eat.

I understood that I should make it a goal to find products that contain only real food ingredients. To my relief, and after looking at many, many, product ingredients, I found a number of products, yes, even salad dressing and spaghetti sauce, that fit our criteria. And to my joy, heard the great news from my husband how amazed his doctor was at his healthy lab work. It seems eating real food is quickly healing! I too have experienced so much more energy that I no longer droop around 3pm nor find myself hitting the snooze button.

It seems to me that we, as a culture, have lost sight of how to physically live in the world God created; from eating food that is not actually food, to dieting extremes that exclude what has been for centuries the staple of civilization: Bread.

He brings peace to your borders, and satisfies you with finest wheat. (Psalm 147:12)

We have an epidemic of obesity and diabetes and I wonder if it is because our taste buds may be satisfied by the chemicals that mimic what we find delicious in food, but our bodies soon recognize that there is little here that nourishes. A cycle begins that gears up our appetites in hope of receiving the nutrition that will sustain us on our daily journey, only to cause us to overeat. It is reasonable to see how we are overweight, unhealthy, and chronically tired struggling with little energy for anything besides watching television and playing on our phones.

There are many fronts to this ‘anti food’ revolution including too much trash (did you know that America pays countries to take our trash!?) and toxic plastic containers, just to name two. How are we to begin to follow the best path for our welfare so that we can thrive in God’s beautiful world?

The Catholic Church has recently addressed God’s physical creation in the Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ (on Care of our Common Home) written by Pope Francis, and it is worth the read.

We can also ask our Creator to show us the path to a better life.

  • The Gospels use much food imagery to teach, encourage, and challenge. Spend time daily meditating on the Gospel to see how Jesus viewed food and God’s creation.
  • Jesus, our Lord and Savior, comes to us as food in Bread and Wine!
    • Receive Communion frequently. When we partake knowingly that we are receiving His Real Presence, we become what we eat as Jesus tells us, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst… I myself am the living bread which has come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; and the bread which I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world. (John 6: 31-35, 51)
    • Spend time Adoration in His Eucharistic Presence sharing your concerns spiritually AND physically, and ask the second Person of the Trinity and Son of the Creator of all creation how to follow the path that is for your welfare.
    • Find healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not just a time to confess how we have been ungrateful for and abusive of God’s creation through our sins. It is also where we are at the feet of Jesus and can ask Him to heal us soul, mind . . . and body!

Pilgrim Center of Hope provides events for healing through our Ministry of Conferences and our Days and Evenings of Hope. Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. Let us journey with you!

A Friend in Heaven

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blog photoDid you ever wonder how it must feel for those competing in sports or games to be cheered by the vast crowds? Have you been in a situation yourself when you were applauded for your efforts, especially if it was a challenging one? These feelings are good and can encourage us to continue our efforts or simply just to be satisfied with the invested hard work.

Actually we can be cheered on each day, not only when competing and accomplishing a challenging project. In Hebrews: 12:1-2, we read: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Leader and perfecter of faith.”

I really like this passage because it is so encouraging for us living our daily lives with the various struggles, challenges, and so on. The cloud of witnesses are those in the glory of Heaven, who have made it! They have persevered in running the race, meaning they have succeeded in pressing on with their daily responsibilities. They have lived their lives sustained by their faith and hope in God and now they can help us.

Pope Francis explains it well: They are like us, they are like each of us, they are people who before reaching the glory of heaven lived a normal life, with joys and griefs, struggles and hopes,… The saints, the friends of God, assure us that this promise does not disappoint. *

Some of the Saints we often hear about are St. Anthony of Padua, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio and others. St. Therese was known to say often, I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.

 Here is a story related to St. Padre Pio – a woman was concerned for her brother, an alcoholic, who was also experiencing serious health issues. She had visited the village in Italy where Padre Pio lived and learned about his life. She began asking his intervention on behalf of her brother, and after a few weeks, she called her brother to ask about his condition. His voice even projected a joy she hadn’t notice in a long time. He told her about a dream of a priest blessing him, he described this priest wearing a brown habit and gray beard. His sister knew it must have been St. Padre Pio! He continued to share that he no longer had the desire to drink alcohol and wanted to learn more about this priest. As the story continues, the woman gave her brother a book about Padre Pio and a small statue which he kept until his death.

Think about asking a Saint to accompany you through their prayers. Read about their life story and how their struggles, their joys can teach us to run the race, live out our daily life in faith and in hope. “We should never underestimate the power of holiness.…our own daily ‘little way’, our struggles, our sufferings, our joys…if offered in Jesus, with Him and through Him…they can bear fruit and make us saints.” Hans Urs Von Balthasar

 * The Angelus, St. Peter Square, November 1, 2013

 

The Gift of the Eucharist – Christ’s Real Presence – Is for All

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A human being can only survive for about 3 weeks without food. Babies who are not hugged actually stop growing and will eventually die if deprived of all human contact.

Just as the body needs food and water and physical contact to thrive, our soul needs the Eucharist for nourishment and to connect us to the source of all graces and holiness.

On a recent episode of Catholicism Live!, Fr. Ed Hauf, OMI said that through the Eucharist God physically embraces us…a physical union takes place in which Christ deposits his life within us. Wow! As I heard these words, my immediate reaction was to give thanks for the gift of Christ’s body and blood.

For Catholics, the Eucharist is the necessary food for our spiritual journey to our heavenly homeland.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh (John 6: 51).

By receiving the Eucharist regularly, we are able to renew our commitment to the journey of transformation. The Catechism tells us that the Eucharist preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace… and preserves us from further mortal sins (cf. CCC 1392-1393, 1395).

The same flesh Jesus gave us at Calvary through his sacrificial death is what we receive in the Eucharist. At that moment of consecration Our Lord offers himself on the altar of the cross, we are there!

Jesus Wants To Hold Each of Us, To His Heart

Now is a good time to remind everyone that Jesus offered himself up for all of our sins. We are all worthy to receive him in the Eucharist. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are restored to a state of grace that affords us the privilege of receiving the whole Jesus; body, blood, soul and divinity.

Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium tells us the following:

The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak (cf. #47).

Hopefully this meditation reminds you of why the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ and also why we gather on the Feast of Corpus Christi for processions with the Blessed Sacrament.

Because Our Lord comes to us in the form of bread and wine, there remain skeptics out there who don’t believe in the Real Presence. For anyone who may still have a doubt about what actually happens at the moment of consecration, I offer the following:

What the Saints Have to Say

 St. Gregory: “The Heavens open and multitudes of Angels come to assist at the Holy Sacrifice.”

St. Augustine: “The Angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass.”

St. John Chrysostom: “When Mass is being celebrated, the Sanctuary is filled with countless Angels, who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”

We read in the revelations of St. Bridget: “One day when I was assisting at the Holy Sacrifice, I saw an immense number of Holy Angels descend and gather around the altar, contemplating the priest.

They sang heavenly canticles that ravished my heart; Heaven itself seemed to be contemplating the great Sacrifice. And yet we poor, blind and miserable creatures assist at the Mass with so little love, relish and respect!

Close your eyes and think about this for a moment. Visualize the legions of angels, communion of saints and Mary & Joseph all bowing down in adoration from the moment of consecration until the conclusion of Mass!

The Greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church

 Thirteen-hundred years ago, in the year 700 A.D., a priest had doubts about Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist, while celebrating Mass. At the moment of consecration, the bread became live Flesh and the wine became live Blood. Other clergy at the church of St. Legontian confirmed the miracle as did Church authorities in the community of Lanciano, Italy.

The Body and Blood were preserved. At various times during the Twentieth Century, prominent pathologists have conducted scientific studies on the Flesh and Blood, which have remained intact. The Flesh has the characteristics of the tissue from a human heart. The Blood, which coagulated into five globules, was determined to be type AB, which is the same blood type as that found on the Holy Shroud of Turin.

 There is no greater gift in this life than the gift of the Eucharist! He gives us the gift of himself so that we may enjoy the fullness of life!