Archive for November, 2010

November 28th

November 28, 2010

This weekend marks the beginning of a new liturgical.  The Church’s liturgical calendar starts with the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent is a season the Church gives to us to commemorates and renews our expectation; Advent is a season dedicated to expressing our longing for the Savior who is to come.

The focus of the season of Advent is twofold: we both recall the expectation of the Redeemer during all of salvation history leading up to Christ’s birth and we also renew our expectation and longing for Christ to come again.

Advent is a time to prepare our hearts to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas.  Advent is also a time to prepare our hearts and rid them of all that is not pleasing to God.  During Advent we recall in a particular way that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead and we need to be ready to meet Him when He comes.

We were not made to live in this world forever.  This world and everything in it is passing away.  Our life in this world should be a preparation for the life of the world to come.  We ought to examine our hearts often and make sure that they are prepared to meet Our Lord.

One of the questions that we can ask ourselves during Advent is: “Do we desire Christ’s coming or are we afraid of it?”  The early Christians prayed longingly for the coming of Christ: “Come, Lord Jesus!”  Do we make that prayer our own?  Can we claim that we love Jesus Christ if we are fearful of His return in glory?  Let us use this holy season to rid our hearts of sin and all inordinate attachments that we may be ready to meet Our Lord when He comes.

An Advent Prayer: “Lord, help me to keep this holy season of Advent in my soul, that is, help me to keep a continual longing and waiting for this great Mystery wherein You, O Word, became flesh to show me the abyss of Your redeeming, sanctifying mercy.  O sweetest Jesus, You come to me with Your infinite love and the abundance of Your grace; You desire to engulf my soul in torrents of mercy and charity in order to draw it to You.  Come, O Lord, come!  I, too, wish to run to You with love, but alas! my love is so limited, weak, and imperfect!  Make it strong and generous; enable me to overcome myself, so that I can give myself entirely to You.  Amen.”

God bless,

Father White

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First Sunday of Advent

November 28, 2010

Yesterday, the Church’s liturgical year came to a close.  Last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King; the daily Masses of last week had readings that focused on the end of time and the second coming of Christ in glory to judge the living and the dead.  Yesterday evening marked the beginning of a new liturgical year and the beginning of the Season of Advent.

This Sunday’s readings pick up and continue in the theme of preparing our hearts and waiting for Christ’s second coming.  It might seem strange that our liturgical year begins and ends with having us focus on the Second Coming.  Yet the fact that Christ will come again is a central point of our Faith.  God became man, died and rose from the dead to save us from sin; ascended into Heaven and will come again in glory.

Advent is a season of expectation.  The theme of Advent is twofold: it is a time of preparation and it is a time for watchfulness.  During Advent, the Church has us look back in history and forward to the end of time itself.  We look back to the time before the first coming of Christ: to the time when the whole world awaited its Redeemer.  Since the Fall of our First Parents, God has promised us a Savior, and in the season of Advent we remember and we wait with expectant hope for the celebration of Our Savior’s Birth.  We also look forward: we know that Christ will come again and we watch and wait in joyful hope for His glorious return.  Advent is a season that is set aside for us to call to mind and meditate upon the fact that we profess every week in the Creed: Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.  At His first coming, Christ came in the silence of night; He was born into poverty: He was laid in a manger because there was no room for Him in the inn.  When He comes again He will come in glory and at that time every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

During Advent we pray for that second coming; the prayers of the Mass speak of our watching, our waiting and our hoping for Christ to come again.  In order for us to pray those prayers sincerely, we need to have hearts that are prepared to meet Christ.  If our hearts are attached to this world and to sin, we will fear the time when Christ comes as Judge.  In order for us to pray as the early Christians did: “Come Lord Jesus,” we have to make sure that our hearts are prepared and worthy to encounter Him when He comes.

To say that we are to be detached is not to say that we do not care about this world.  It is to say that we are to use the things of this world in proper way, in a way that keeps eternity in view.  We can live very comfortably in this world.  It can be difficult, at times, to remember that this is not our homeland: we were not made for this world but for the next.  We are on pilgrimage in this life; the short time that we are in this world is a preparation for the life of the world to come.  So many people in our society live for this world alone, and by doing so, they miss the very point of our existence as human beings.  We were not made for this world; we were made for God.  This world was made for us, and we can enjoy the good things in this world but we should always remember from Whom we have received every good thing.  And we need to keep watch over our hearts in order to make sure that we don’t begin to love God’s creation more that we love Him.  God alone can satisfy our hearts.

In Advent, we are to focus on preparing our hearts to meet Christ at the end of time; remembering that our deeds have eternal consequences is a helpful motivation for turning away from sin and living the way that we know that we are called to: loving God above all things and others as ourselves.  If we live lives that put true love ahead of selfish pursuits, we will have nothing to fear when we meet Christ our Just Judge.  Let us use this season of Advent to prepare our hearts in order that we might be enabled to truly wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

November 21st

November 23, 2010

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.  The entire liturgical year is meant to help us walk with Our Lord in the various events of His life.  The liturgical year starts in Advent (which is quickly approaching) and ends with today’s Feast.

The liturgical calendar ends with the Feast of Christ the King for a purpose: this Feast stands at the end of the year to remind us that at the end of time Christ will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.  At the end of time every knee will bend and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  (cf. Philippians 2:10-11)  When Christ comes in glory He will establish His Kingdom on earth and of His Kingdom there will be no end.

Although the reign of Christ on earth will not be perfectly realized until the end of time, Jesus Christ already reigns at the right hand of the Father in the glory of Heaven.  Furthermore, we are called to allow Him to reign in our hearts.

Jesus is our King.  He Who is already our King on account of His divinity is further our King through His Passion by which He redeemed us.  Through Him we were created: through Him all things were made; in Him we live and move and have our being.  He has redeemed us with His Precious Blood, He gives life to our souls by His grace, He nourishes us with the gift of Himself in the Eucharist, He guides and directs our lives by His loving providence at every moment.

We should readily offer our mind, our heart and our will to such a loving King.  He is all-powerful, He is all-knowing; He loves us and He desires our eternal happiness.  Let us entrust ourselves completely, all that we are and all that we have, into the most loving and merciful hands of Christ our King.

[An act of Consecration to Christ the King]: “O divine King, most amiable Jesus, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Spouse, my Master and model, I renew today the total consecration of my being to You, begging You to take absolute dominion over me.  Be my Sovereign, my Ruler, my Guide.  Direct and govern me entirely, so that everything may turn to Your greater glory.  Be King of my memory, of my intellect, of my will, of my emotions; I wish all to be completely subject to You and I invite You to reign in me.”  Amen.

God bless,

Father White

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

November 15, 2010

Next week is the last week of the liturgical year.  The Church’s liturgical calendar begins with Advent and closes with next Sunday’s Feast: The Solemnity of Christ the King.  The liturgical year is meant to help us meditate more deeply upon the various significant events of our Faith.  The Church gives us the liturgical calendar with all of its feasts in order to help us to walk with Our Lord in all the different stages and events of His life, death and Resurrection.  In the different feasts and seasons of the liturgical calendar the Church gives us readings and prayers for the Mass which reflect the liturgical season or feast that we are celebrating.  During Advent the Church has us recall how the entire human race, from the Fall of Adam and Eve on, awaited the promised Redeemer: the Savior Who would come and deliver us from sin and death.  At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Savior; throughout Ordinary Time we hear of Jesus’ ministry, His preaching and all the various miracles that He performed while on earth.  In Lent we spend time meditating on the fact that Jesus died on the Cross for us; at Easter we celebrate His glorious Resurrection from the dead.  Forty days later we celebrate His triumphal Ascension into Heaven; at Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit.  Then at the end of the liturgical year we meditate upon the fact that this world will not last forever: all of time is a procession towards eternity.

As our liturgical year draws to a close, the Church gives us readings that concern the end of time.  Every week we profess in the Creed that we believe that Jesus Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.  The Church uses the end of the liturgical calendar as a time for us to meditate on that reality.  Not that we should fret over the end of the world or get caught up in wild predictions about when the end will come and how.  The Bible has many prophecies which are interesting, but they are very difficult to interpret.  Our Lord, in today’s Gospel, tells us not to go chasing after those who claim to know when the time is coming.  In another Gospel passage Our Lord tells us that no one knows the day or the hour when He will return in glory.

The point of reflecting on the transitory nature of this world is not to get us to worry or speculate about it.  The point of reflecting on the end of time is to encourage us to examine our hearts and make sure that we are prepared.  We do not know when time will end, however we do know that we were not made to live in this world forever.  One day each one of us here will experience death.  We do not know the day or the hour when we will be called from this life, and so we all need to be prepared.  It is easy to think that we have plenty of time for repentance, yet we ought to remember that each breath we take is a gift from God.  God has promised mercy if we repent, but He has not promised us tomorrow.

Let us examine our hearts, and then ask ourselves if we would be ready to meet Christ today.  Next time you pray: close your eyes and try to picture Jesus’ face; picture Him looking into your eyes, and then try to notice if you are able to meet His gaze steadily, or if you feel the need to look away.  Ask yourself if there is an area of your life or of your heart that you don’t want the Lord to see.  Then remember that Our Lord sees everything.  Nothing can be hidden from Him.  We might be able to hide things from other people, but God knows our thoughts; He knows our hearts.  If there is an area of our hearts that we have not turned over to God, we need to ask Him for the courage and strength to give that part of us to Him.  If there is something in our lives that we are ashamed of, we need to repent and go to Confession.  God wants us to surrender everything to Him.  He wants us to turn over our hearts to Him completely and entrust ourselves into His loving hands.  He wants us to draw nearer and nearer to Himself.  And only when we allow ourselves to be drawn completely to Him will we find our heart’s deepest desire.

Lord Jesus Christ, help us to rid our hearts of all that is not pleasing to You.  Help us, Lord, to always be prepared to meet You.  Give us hearts that long to see Your face.  May we be enabled to sincerely pray: “Lord Jesus, come in glory.”  Amen.

 

November 14th

November 15, 2010

There are two rather unusual feast days that fall in the month of November.  Ordinarily feast days are occasions on which we celebrate a Saint, but these two feast days have us celebrate buildings.  On Tuesday of last week (Nov. 9) we celebrated the Dedication of Saint John Lateran, and this coming Thursday (Nov. 18) we will celebrate the Dedication of the Churches of Saints Peter and Paul.

It might seem strange, at first, to think about the fact that we are celebrating feast days for the dedication of buildings that stand across an ocean, but when we stop to consider the importance of what those Churches represent, it can begin to make more sense.

Saint John Lateran is the Cathedral of Rome.  Each diocese throughout the world has a Church where the Bishop resides which is known as the “Cathedral” of the diocese.  The word “Cathedral” comes from the Latin word for “chair” (“cathedra”).  The Bishop’s chair has traditionally been seen as the sign of his teaching authority.

The Pope is the Bishop of Rome and Saint John Lateran is his Cathedral.  The feast of the dedication of the Pope’s Cathedral is a celebration of the universality of our Church.  One of the ways that our Church is truly “One” is that we are all united under the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Pope.

This coming Thursday we will celebrate the dedication of the Churches of Saint Peter and Paul.  This feast day, too, is about more than the mere buildings.  (Although they are very beautiful buildings!)  These two Churches are dedicated to two of the most important Apostles.  Our Lord entrusted the Keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter, a sign of entrusting Saint Peter with authority.  Saint Paul was the great Apostles to the Gentiles: he helped spread the Faith far and wide through his missionary journeys (which can be read about in Acts of the Apostles).  These two Apostles were very important for the early Church.  The feast of the dedication of the Churches dedicated to their honor calls to our minds the “Apostolic” nature of our Church (the fact that it was founded upon the Apostles).

On another note: In my last few articles, I attempted to explain the importance of praying for the souls of the faithful departed as well as indulgences.  I hope that those articles helped clarify rather than further confuse the issue.  If you have further questions on the topic of indulgences (or any other questions that you would like to see addressed in future bulletin articles) feel free to email them to me; I’ll do my best to answer them.

God bless,

Father White

 

November 7th

November 7, 2010

Last week I mentioned in my article that November is a month in which we remember, in a special way, the souls of those who have gone before us.  It is helpful to make distinctions in order to more clearly understand whatever it is that we might be investigating.  For the sake of clarity, then, we ought to distinguish between the guilt of sin and the punishment due to sin.

Whenever a sin is committed, both guilt and its effects are incurred.  Even after sins have been forgiven, there is still the punishment due to sin that remains.  That is why we receive a penance at the end of the Sacrament of Confession.  We receive forgiveness of our sins at the Absolution that we receive at the end of Sacrament of Confession.  The penance imposed by the priest reminds us that even though our sins have been forgiven, we still need to make atonement for our sins.

The classic example, which is often used as an analogy for the effects of sin, is that of a broken window: if a child were to intentionally break a neighbor’s window, there would be several steps involved in reconciling with the neighbor.  First the child is sorry for breaking the window; then the child apologizes, the person then forgives the child, and yet the window still needs to be paid for.

Whenever we sin, we first have to turn away from sin; then we ask for forgiveness (in confession, if the sin was mortal).  God is always willing to forgive us whenever we repent of our sins and ask for His mercy.  Finally, we must make reparation for the sin: i.e. the “window” has to be paid for.

When we speak of indulgences, we are not talking about obtaining the forgiveness of sins: we are referring to the need to make reparation for the sins for which have already been forgiven.

When we pray for our deceased brothers and sisters we are not asking God to forgive them their sins, we are praying that their souls will be perfectly purified of the effects that their sins have had on their souls so that they may be able to enter into God’s all-holy presence.

The Church tells us that our prayers and sacrifices are beneficial to those who have died in God’s grace and yet are still need to be purified from the effects of sin.  Let us remember to keep all the souls of the faithfully departed in our prayers especially during this month of November.

 

God bless,

Father White