Archive for the ‘Sacraments’ Category

Homily for Corpus Christi

June 27, 2011

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  The focus of today’s feast is the center of the practice of our Catholic Faith: God unites Himself to us in a most intimate way each and every time we receive Him in Holy Communion.  This is not an easy teaching to wrap our minds around.  Indeed, when Our Lord told His followers that they had to eat His Body and drink His Blood they murmured at Him.

In today’s Gospel, we hear about how Jesus told the crowd that He, Himself, is the bread from Heaven.  The crowds didn’t understand Him and they quarreled among themselves.  Jesus did not back-peddle or soften His teaching; on the contrary, He repeated it: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”  Then He said it again: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”  And He said it again: “My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink.”

The followers of Christ were struggling with His teaching and yet He didn’t change what He was saying; He reinforced His teaching by repeating it again and again.  If you were to continue reading in the Gospel of Saint John from where today’s Gospel reading left off, you would find that many of the followers of Jesus walked with Him no longer because of this teaching.  They were offended that He said that He was going to give them His flesh to eat, yet He did not correct them or help them to understand His words in a different, more figurative way.  He repeated the same teaching several times and finally the crowd could no longer bear it.  Yet Jesus didn’t stop them from walking away from Him; instead, He turned to the Twelve Apostles—the twelve men who had been the closest of Jesus’ followers, those upon whom Jesus would build His Church—and asked them if they would leave too.

Saint Peter, speaking on behalf of the others, said: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe that you are the Holy One of God.”  The Apostles remained with Jesus, even if they didn’t understand His words about giving them Himself as food.  Then, at the Last Supper, Jesus took bread, broke the bread and gave it to the Apostles and said: “This is my Body.”  And when supper was over, He took the cup; He gave it to the Apostles and said: “This is my Blood.”

Jesus Christ is God.  When God speaks a word, things happen.  In the beginning God created.  How did He create?  He set “Let there be . . .” and it was so.  Often in the Gospel, we hear how Jesus encountered those who needed to be healed, and He spoke a word and they were healed.  He told the paralytic man on the mat to get up and the man got up; Jesus told the man with the shriveled hand to stretch out his hand and the man’s hand was restored to health.  Jesus commanded Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, to come out of his tomb and he came out.

Jesus, Who IS God, Whose words have divine power, spoke over bread and wine and transformed the bread and the wine into His own body and blood.  Then He commanded the Apostles: “Do this in memory of me.”  Jesus gave His Apostles the sacred power to change bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and the Apostles have handed that sacred power down through the ages through their successors the bishops and the bishops share that sacred power with priests through their ordination.

When a priest is ordained, he is consecrated to God in a very special way: when the priest is ordained he lends his hands and his voice to Jesus Christ.  At Mass, the words that we hear the priest say are not: “This is the body of Jesus,” the words are “This is my body.”  Yet you do not receive the body of the priest, you receive the Body of Christ.  It is Jesus Christ Who acts through the priest at every Mass.  The priest, at the altar, stands in the very Person of Christ so that Jesus can give Himself to you in Holy Communion.

Jesus Christ gives Himself completely to you each and every time you receive Him in Holy Communion.  So much does He love you that He died for you, and feeds you with Himself.  Love desires union.  God wants to be united with you so much that He hides Himself under what looks like ordinary bread; yet what we receive in Holy Communion is no longer bread.  At the words of the priest, the bread and wine are transformed really, truly, completely, substantially transformed.  So much so, that there is no longer bread or wine left after the words of Consecration have been spoken.  What remains upon the altar looks like bread, tastes like bread, smells like wine, but we know otherwise because our God has told us it is true.  Our senses are deceived, yet Jesus Christ has told us and He does not lie.

Jesus Christ gives us Himself in Holy Communion and He calls us to imitate what we receive.  Jesus has poured Himself out for love of us and we are called to pour ourselves out for love of Him and for love of others.  Let us do our best to receive Our Lord with great reverence and love every time we come forward in the Holy Communion line.  May we have hearts that are open to all that He wants to do in our souls, that we might be transformed and come to reflect His love in our lives more and more.

Lord Jesus Christ, truly Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, as we receive You in Holy Communion today make our hearts ever more fully conformed to Your Most Sacred Heart; fill us with your love, help us to imitate You and pour ourselves out in love for You and for others.  Amen.

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Corpus Christi Bulletin Article

June 27, 2011

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ; today we celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given: the gift of Himself that Jesus Christ gives to us.  Speaking of the Most Holy Eucharist, Saint Augustine said that although God is infinitely wise, He does not know how to give more; although He is infinitely powerful, He is unable to give us anything greater; although vastly rich, God has not more to give.

In giving us His Son, the Father gives us that which He loves most.  Jesus Christ became a man like us in all things except for sin in order to save us from sin and death.  He poured Himself out completely for us upon the Cross and through the Most Holy Eucharist Our Lord gives Himself entirely to us.

In the Eucharist Our Lord gives to us all that He is and all that He has: He holds nothing back from us.  In Holy Communion we receive Jesus Christ; in Holy Communion Our Lord is Present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  When we receive Holy Communion we receive the One through Whom the universe was created; in Holy Communion we receive the One Whom we rightly call Our Lord and Our God.  In Holy Communion we receive the One Who died and rose that we might have abundant life and when we receive Holy Communion worthily we receive a share in that abundant life: Jesus said “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life.”  (John 6:54)

The Eucharist is often called a “foretaste of Heaven” because in the Eucharist we are united with God in a most intimate way.  Under the appearances of bread and wine our God is really, truly, substantially Present.  When the crowds that followed Our Lord first heard Him say that His flesh was true food, many of them were scandalized.  Instead of correcting their understanding of what He was saying, Our Lord again and again emphasized that He, Himself, is the Bread come down from Heaven: that He would give Himself to us as Food.  He even let many of His disciples walk away because of this teaching and then asked the Apostles if they would leave as well.  (cf. John chapter 6)  Saint Peter, speaking on behalf of the Twelve, said “Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Our Lord was willing to even lose the Twelve Apostles over this teaching; yet they stuck with Him even though they may not have understood His teaching.

We can pray to God anywhere, yet nowhere on earth do we encounter God in the way that we do when we encounter Him truly Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  We are never so close to God on this earth as when we have just received Him in Holy Communion.  Let us be mindful of the great gift that our God gives to us in the Eucharist: may we never take Our Lord’s Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist for granted.  May we always receive Him in Holy Communion worthily, and with great love and devotion.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!

February 20th

February 20, 2011

In the last article, I began reflecting on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession.  I’d like to continue that reflection by focusing on some of the benefits (in addition to our sins being forgiven) that come from receiving the Sacrament.

In addition to receiving forgiveness of our sins we also receive assurance that our sins have been forgiven.  Once we have received the sacramental absolution of our sins from the priest we have certainty that our sins have been forgiven.  We know that God bestows His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that knowledge can be very helpful if we are ever tempted to “beat ourselves up” over past sins that we have already confessed.  We can see in those feelings of guilt a temptation to not trust in God’s mercy.  If memories of previously confessed sins come back to haunt us, we can remind ourselves that God has forgiven us our sins and then thank Him for the mercy that He has bestowed upon us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Another great benefit that comes from confessing our sins (even our venial sins) out loud to a priest is that it helps us to grow in humility.  Pride has a way of pulling the wool over our eyes when it comes to looking at our own hearts.  It is very easy for us to justify ourselves and rationalize away our sins.  Through regularly confessing our sins we are able to have a more realistic picture of who we really are and it reminds us that we are always in need of God’s mercy.

While on the subject of humility, it is important that when we come to Confession that we confess all of our sins, but we should avoid two extremes (which both are rooted in pride).  We should avoid, on the one hand, exaggerating our sins and making them out to be more than they really are; and on the other hand, we should avoid excusing ourselves.  We should take our sins seriously, but real humility is grounded in truth.  When we come to Confession, we come to confess our sins and receive God’s mercy: not to justify ourselves or make excuses.

A final benefit that comes to mind is spiritual direction.  When we go to Confession the priest offers us advice that will help us in our struggle against sin.  When the lines are long (like they often are during our usually scheduled Confession times) the advice is usually short, just to keep the line moving.  If you are in need of more in-depth spiritual direction, it is better to call (or email) the office and make an appointment to see a priest for Confession and direction.  This is just a practical point of common courtesy for others who also want to go to Confession.

God bless,

Father White

February 13th

February 12, 2011

This is the time of year that our second-graders have made or will soon be making their first confessions.  The Sacrament of Confession, or Reconciliation, is a great opportunity to experience the mercy of God.

Christians who are outside the Catholic Church will sometimes say that they do not need to confess their sins to a priest; they say that they go directly to God.  This idea is based on a misunderstanding of the Sacrament.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is not a matter of confessing one’s sins to a priest instead of confessing to God: in the Sacrament we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness from God through the priest.  It is not a matter of having to confess my sins to a priest; it is a privilege that I get to encounter Christ’s mercy in a way that I can perceive with my senses.

It is not the priest that forgives the sin; it is Christ Who acts through the priest to forgive sin.  When the priest gives us absolution, he does not say: “Jesus absolves you,” he says: “I absolve you”; yet we know that God alone can forgive sins.  When the priest pronounces the words of absolution we are actually hearing Christ speak through the priest.  Christ acts through the Sacraments; in the Sacraments we encounter Christ, Himself.

When the priest was ordained, he was configured to Christ in a particular way.  Priests are consecrated to act in the very person of Christ our High Priest.  Ordained priests share in the ministerial Priesthood of Christ.  Jesus bestowed His divine authority to forgive sins upon the Apostles (cf. John 20:21-23) and the Apostles handed that sacred power on to their successors, the bishops, and the bishops bestow this power unto the priests at their ordination.

God knows very well how we are made . . . He, Himself, created us.  We are composed of both body and soul.  Our Lord gave us the Sacraments as outward signs that we can experience with our bodily senses; yet they are signs that communicate grace (divine life) to our souls.

When we hear the priest pronounce the words of absolution, we have assurance that God has forgiven us our sins.  What a blessing it is to hear with our own ears that our sins have, in fact, been forgiven!

God bless,

Father White

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

October 14, 2010

The account of the ten lepers is a very familiar Gospel passage and, as you know, it is important to resist the temptation to allow our minds to glaze over the parts of Scripture that we all know so well.  Sacred Scripture is the inspired Word of God.  God wants to speak to you and to me through the Scriptures, but we have to have ears that are open to listening and hearts that are open to receiving the grace that God wants to give to us through them.

There are several senses, or layers of meaning, within Scripture.  Whenever we read Scripture, we can look at it from different angles.  The first and most basic of these senses is the literal sense.  When we read the Gospels, we know that the Gospels give us historical, factual account of what Jesus Christ really did and what He really said.  The literal meaning of today’s Gospel passage is that Jesus miraculously healed ten lepers and then only one of they returned to thank Him.

When we look at the literal sense of Scripture, we can dig more deeply into the passage by looking at the larger context, learning about the historical background and the laws and customs of the day, etc.  For example, in today’s Gospel, we know that leprosy was a dreaded, deadly disease.  We can learn about leprosy from the Old Testament.  The book of Leviticus, for example, tells us that anyone who became infected with leprosy had to live outside of the community; lepers were not allowed into the city for fear that they would infect others.  Leprosy was so contagious that lepers were not even allowed to come close to others; they had to yell out to anyone approaching in order to let them know not to get too close.  That is why the lepers in today’s Gospel did not come up to Our Lord, but stood at a distance and cried out from afar.  Furthermore, we know that part of the Jewish law required the priests to pronounce someone “clean” or free from leprosy if they were healed.  That is why Jesus sent the lepers to show themselves to the priests.

Besides the literal sense, there are also various spiritual senses of Scripture.  The spiritual senses of Scripture do not negate the literal sense: they are based on it.  One of the ways to look for the spiritual sense of Scripture is to try to find out how it applies to us.  You have to ask yourself: What is God saying to you through this Scripture passage?  One of the things that should jump out at us from today’s Gospel passage is the importance of gratitude.  Our Lord praised the Samaritan for returning to thank Him for his restored health.  We often ask God for things; how often do we stop to give Him thanks?  It is good to give Him thanks for answered prayers; it is also good to thank God for all the many blessings that we have in our lives.  It is easy to complain; we can be tempted to focus on what we don’t have.  It is easy to focus on our sufferings and our worries.  We ought to ask God for the things that we need: both the little things and for the small things.  But don’t forget to also thank God for the blessings that are in your life.  If we focus only on the bad things in our lives or in our world, we can be tempted to become discouraged and to despair.  God does not want us to become overwhelmed by life’s difficulties; He wants us to turn to Him and entrust ourselves into His most merciful hands.  We are not bearing our burdens alone; Jesus is right beside us every step of the way.  He told us to take up our cross, but He didn’t tell us that we are on our own: He told us to take up our cross and follow Him.  We are not alone.  God is always with us He thinks of us always even when we are not thinking of Him and even when we forget to thank Him for all that He does for us: He is always there waiting for us to turn to Him.

Another thing that this Gospel passage says to us is that we are to bring all of our troubles to Jesus.  We ought to bring to Him all that is on our hearts and ask for His grace, for His strength, for His healing.  If there is grave sin on your soul, go and show yourself to the priests.  Make frequent use of the Sacraments: especially the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Confession.  Jesus wants to heal our hearts; He wants to refresh us.  He wants us to have life and have it more abundantly.  Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)  Jesus Christ gave us the Sacraments; He wants to pour His grace into our souls through them, but we have to come and receive them and we have to receive them worthily.

In the Upper Room, Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive shall be forgiven.  Jesus gave the Apostles the power to bind and loose us from our sins and the Apostles have shared that sacred power with their successors, the bishops, and the bishops have shared it with priests.

Through the Sacraments, we receive God’s grace; through the Sacraments, we are united with Almighty God in a most intimate way.  Thank God for the graces that He gives to you through the Sacraments.  Make frequent use of them.  Jesus Christ gave us the Sacraments so that we might make use of them and thereby grow closer to Him.  Furthermore, the Church asks us to go to Confession at least once a year.  If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we need to go more often than that.  We need God’s grace in order to live the way that He wants us to live; we need His grace to love the way that He created us to love.  Make frequent use of the Sacraments and give thanks to God for the great things that He does for us through them.

June 13th

June 9, 2010

The Sacraments are outward signs, instituted by Christ, which convey supernatural grace to our souls.  The Sacraments give us grace, and yet we need to receive them again and again.  This is true for two reasons.

The first reason is that while the Sacraments give us grace if they are performed properly, they give us grace insofar as we are open to receive it.

In order for a Sacrament to be valid, there needs to be a proper minister of the Sacrament, there needs to be proper matter and proper form.  Let us take the Eucharist as an example.  In order for the Eucharist to be validly consecrated at Mass, there needs to be a validly ordained priest (the proper minister, in this case), there has to be unleavened bread and wine, and the proper words must be pronounced over the matter: “This is my body; This is my blood.”  If any one of those things is missing, the Eucharist is not made present upon the altar.

The reverse is also true.  As long as there is the proper minister, the proper matter and form used, the Eucharist is truly made present regardless of the priest’s personal holiness.  This is the objective side of how the Sacraments work.

There is also a subjective side to the Sacraments.  While a valid Sacrament really imparts grace to the soul, the disposition of the soul has much to do with how much grace is received.  Someone who receives the Eucharist with great attention and love will receive more grace than someone who receives the Eucharist without any preparation or thought as to Who it is that they are receiving.              The more we put into preparing ourselves to receive the Sacraments, the more that we will receive.  God works through the Sacraments, but we must be open to all that He wants to do in our souls.  We should do all that we can to prepare ourselves well to receive the Sacraments and make frequent use of them.  The Sacraments are a most powerful means to grow in holiness, if we receive them worthily and devoutly.

God bless,

Father White

Corpus Christi (Homily)

June 9, 2010

Today we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi [the Feast of the Body and Blood of Our Lord].  Saint Augustine once said of the Eucharist that: “Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give.”  The Church gives us this Feast day in order that we might meditate upon the greatest gift that God has ever given to us: the gift of Himself under the appearances of Bread and Wine.

This Feast gives us the chance to reflect upon the mysteries that were instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper.  Jesus promised to remain with us always and He fulfilled that promise by giving us His real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.  At the Last Supper, Jesus took ordinary bread and wine and by His words, He changed them into His own Body and Blood.

In the Holy Eucharist, Our Lord is really, truly, wholly, substantially present.  On this Feast day, we take time to honor, in a special way, the fact that our God is really and truly present in our midst: through the Most Blessed Sacrament.  On this Feast, we take time to adore Our Lord and give Him thanks for His True Presence.  This Feast day should stir up love and gratitude in our hearts for this great gift that we receive.  This feast day also calls to our minds the fact that we are called to live the Eucharist.  When we eat ordinary food, we transform it into ourselves.  When we receive the Eucharist, Jesus transforms us into Himself.  The point of Holy Communion is to unite us with Our Lord and the more we are united to Him the more we should come to imitate Him, resemble Him.  He is the Light of the world and we too are called to be light.  In the Eucharist, Jesus unites us with Himself but He also transforms us into Himself.  We are given the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus so that He will truly reign in our hearts and change our lives.  In the Eucharist, Jesus Christ gives us the grace that we need to become the Saints that we are called to become: if only we have hearts that are open to receive that grace.  In Holy Communion, we receive God.  God doesn’t hold anything back from us.  The only reason that receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion does not instantly change our hearts and make us Saints is that we do not allow it to change us.  We are too attached to our sins.

Jesus completely sacrificed Himself so that He could be united to you.  He wants you to imitate Him.  He wants your whole heart: He doesn’t want you to hold anything back.  St. Paul says that we are to make of ourselves a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.  How can you make yourself a sacrifice?  Keep your eyes from looking at things that they should not be looking at and you will have offered your eyes in sacrifice; keep your tongue from speaking uncharitable words and you will make of it a pleasing offering to God; avoid sin and your life will be a spiritual sacrifice pleasing and acceptable to God.

When we love someone very much, we go out of our way to please that person.  We do not want to offend or upset them.  If you love God, put Him first in your life and root sin out of your hearts.  Of course we have a weak and fallen human nature which is inclined towards sin.  It is impossible to avoid sin by our own power.  But Jesus gives us Himself as food and He strengthens us that we might overcome sin and live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.  In the Eucharist, Jesus fulfills His promise: “Come to Me all of you who labor and are burdened . . . and I will refresh you.”  (Mt. 11:28)  Jn 15:5: “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”  The Saints were constantly eager to make visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament because it was there that they found the grace and strength that they needed to be Saints.

Love desires union.  God loves you.  He desires union with you so much that He gives Himself to you as food.  The Saints loved God; they wanted to be near Him in the Tabernacle.  They received Him in Holy Communion with utmost devotion and love.  Do you love Jesus?  Do you desire union with Him?  Is Holy Communion the high point of your week?  Do you think of Jesus often?  Do you try your best to prepare yourself for Holy Communion at Mass?  Do you spend time thanking God after Mass?  We are called to love God above all things.  Our Lord waits for you in the Tabernacle.  He wants you to love Him, to pray to Him, to adore Him.  Let us root sin out of our lives and strive to love Our Lord, Truly Present in the Most Holy Eucharist with all our hearts.  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, help us to love you with all our hearts and imitate you in our lives.  Amen.

June 6th (Corpus Christi Article)

June 9, 2010

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  This Feast is given to us as an opportunity to reflect upon the reality of what was instituted at the Last Supper.  At the Last Supper, Our Lord gave His Apostles (and their successors) the power to change ordinary bread and wine into His very Body and Blood.

In the Holy Eucharist, the Lord gives Himself to us as food.  Through the True Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, Our Lord remains with us.  He is really, truly, substantially present in the Eucharist.  Through our reception of Holy Communion, we are intimately united with God.  We are never as close to God on this earth as when we have just received Him in Holy Communion.

Due to the reality of Who it is that we receive in Holy Communion, we should always be sure that we are in a proper state when we approach to receive Him.  We are all sinners, but we should do all that we can to prepare our hearts to receive Our Lord.  It is necessary that we go to Confession before we go to Communion, if we have fallen into mortal sin.  (Quick refresher: a sin is mortal if there is grave matter involved and we knowingly and freely choose to commit the sin.)

Our God loves each one of us so much that He wants to be united with us.  Love desires union.  God sent His own Beloved Son to die for us in order to save us from sin.  Jesus gives Himself to us under the appearances of bread and wine, just so that He can be united to our hearts.  Jesus loves us with all that He is and all that He has: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  He holds nothing back from us.  He asks us to love Him in return in like manner: with all our hearts.

May the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus be praised and adored, loved and thanked at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time.  Amen.

God bless,

Father White

First Communion Mass

May 17, 2010

My dear children, today is a very special day for you who are about to make your First Holy Communion but it is also a special joy for all of us here celebrating with you.  Today, you will receive Jesus into your souls for the very first time.  Your faith and the joy and excitement that you have as you receive the Most Blessed Sacrament for the first time inspires us all.  The occasion of your First Holy Communion should be a reminder for all of us of the joy that we had at our first Communion and your joy and excitement is also a reminder of the attitude that we should all have in our hearts when we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Holy Communion is a very special grace because in Holy Communion we receive God into our hearts.  God loves us so much that He wants to be with us always.  When we love someone, we want to spend time with that person.  God loves each one of us so much that He wants to be with us all the time.  Of course God is present everywhere, He is never absent from us; the problem is that we are not always present to Him.  God wants us to be aware of that He is always near us and He wants us to think of Him often and love Him with our whole heart.  He wants us to spend time with Him in prayer.  He wants to join Himself to our souls in Holy Communion.

When we receive Holy Communion, we are joined with Jesus in a very special way.  We are never so close to God in this world as we right after we have received Him in the Eucharist.  After we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we should spend time with Him in prayer and thank Him for giving Himself to us.  After we have received Holy Communion it is good to tell Jesus whatever is on your heart.  It is good to talk to Jesus while He is so closely united with your soul.  We are never so close to God in this world as when we have just received Him in Holy Communion.

When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, He gives many gifts to our hearts.  When we receive the Eucharist grace is poured into our souls.  Grace is the very life of God.  When we say that God gives us His grace, we mean that He shares His divine life with us.  When God gives us grace, He shares with us His life, His love, His strength, His peace and His joy.  We need to be open to receive all the gifts that God wants to give to us in Holy Communion.  The more we open our hearts are to receive His graces, the more graces we will receive.  The best way to open our hearts is to make sure that there isn’t any sin on our souls.  Sin clutters up our hearts and gets in the way of our friendship with Jesus.  We need to clear sin out of our hearts in order to make room for God.

We should do everything we can to be aware of what we are doing whenever we receive Holy Communion.  We should always try to always remember Who it is that we are encountering in the Holy Eucharist.  It is good to receive Communion with all the attention and devotion and love that we possibly can.  That means that we should try to focus our attention on God as we come forward for Communion.  We should be aware that it is Almighty God Who is gives Himself to us in Communion.

We should also remember that God gives us Himself to us for a reason: He loves us and He wants to be with us and He also wants to make us more like Himself.  God is love and through giving Himself to us in the Eucharist, He wants to make us more loving.  God is love and through Holy Communion, God fills our hearts with Himself: that means that He fills our hearts with love.  Through Holy Communion, God wants to give us all the spiritual help and strength that we need to faithfully follow Jesus.

In order to follow Jesus, we have to live the way that He taught us that we should live.  All of Jesus’ teachings, in fact the whole Bible, are summed up in the two most important commandments that Jesus gave to us: Love God above everything else and love your neighbor as yourself.  We are all called to faithfully follow Jesus by loving God and by loving others.  And how does Jesus call us to love others?  Jesus calls us to love others as He has loved them.  That is a pretty high standard that we are called to live up to.  Jesus always put other people first.  Jesus said that He came not to be served, but to serve.  Jesus laid down His life for those He loved.

In order to live the love that we are called to, we need God’s help, and one of the most powerful ways that God helps us is through the Sacraments.  The Sacraments are different ways that God gives His divine grace, His life, to our souls.  By ourselves Jesus says that we can do nothing, but with God’s help we can do everything.  Through the Eucharist God shares His life with us; He communicates Himself to our souls and more and more closely unites us with Himself every time we receive Him in Holy Communion.  If we regularly receive the Eucharist, with hearts that are open to all that God wants to do in our souls, we will grow in love.  Even if we don’t feel any different after receiving Holy Communion, we know that God is working on our hearts to make them more like the Heart of His Son.

Another Sacrament that is very important for us is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We need the Sacrament of Reconciliation for all the times that we fail to love God and others as Jesus calls us to love them.  If we receive those two Sacraments, Communion and Reconciliation, regularly with hearts that are open to all the gifts that God wants to give to us, then God will fill our hearts with His love and we will become channels of His grace and His love for others.

May God bless all of you boys and girls who are about to receive Jesus today for the first time in Holy Communion.  May Jesus draw you and all of us ever closer to Himself.  May God fill all our hearts with His life and His love and make us more like His Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 4, 2010

Today is a very special day: today we have one among us who will make their first Holy Communion today.  Today for the first time, Jenna, will receive Jesus into her soul.  Holy Communion is a very special grace because in Holy Communion we receive God into our hearts.  God loves us so much that He wants to be with us always.  Love desires union.  When we love someone, we want to spend time with that person.  God loves each one of us so much that He wants to be with us all the time.  Of course God is present everywhere, He is never absent from us; unfortunately, we are not always present to Him.  God wants us to be aware of His presence and He wants us to think of Him often and love Him.  He wants us to spend time with Him in prayer.

When we receive Holy Communion, we are joined with Jesus in a very special way.  After we receive Him in Holy Communion, we should spend time in prayer with Him and thank Him for giving Himself to us.  After we have received Holy Communion it is good to tell Jesus whatever is on our heart.  It is good to talk to Jesus while He is in your soul.  We are never so close to God in this world as when we have just received Him in Holy Communion.

When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, He gives many gifts to our hearts.  When we receive the Eucharist grace is poured into our souls.  Grace is the very life of God.  When we say that God gives us grace, we mean that He shares His divine life with us.  When God gives us grace, He shares with us us His life, His love, His strength, and His joy.  We need to be open to receive all the gifts that God wants to give to us in Holy Communion.  The more open our hearts are to receive His graces, the more graces we will receive.  The best way to open our hearts is to make sure that there isn’t any sin in our hearts.  Sin clutters up our hearts and we need to clear sin out of our lives in order to make room for God.

It is also good to pay attention to what we are doing when we receive Holy Communion.  We should try to always be aware of what we are doing when we receive Holy Communion.  It is good to receive Communion with all the attention and devotion that we can.  That means that we should try to focus our attention on God as we come forward for Communion.  We should be aware that it is Almighty God Who is giving Himself to us in Communion.  We should also keep in mind that God gives us Himself for a reason: He loves us and He wants to be with us and He wants to make us more like Himself.  God is love and through giving Himself to us in the Eucharist, He wants to make us more loving.  Through the Holy Communion, God wants to give us all the spiritual help and strength that we need to follow Jesus.

In the Gospel today, we heard that Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: “Love one another.”  We are all called to faithfully follow Jesus and we are all called to love others.  And how does Jesus call us to love others?  Jesus calls us to love others as He has loved them.  That is a pretty high standard which we are called to imitate.  Jesus always put other people first.  Jesus said that He came not to be served, but to serve.  Jesus laid down His life for those He loved.

In order to live the love that we are called to, we need the Sacraments.  The Sacraments are powerful ways that God gives His divine grace, His life, to our souls.  By ourselves Jesus says that we can do nothing, but with God’s help we can do everything.  Through the Eucharist, as I mentioned, God shares His life with us; He communicates Himself to our souls and more closely unites us with Himself.  If we regularly receive the Eucharist, with hearts that are open to all that God wants to do in our souls, we will grow in love.  Even if we don’t feel any different after receiving Holy Communion, we know that God is working on our hearts to make them more like the Heart of His Son.

Another Sacrament that is very important for us is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We need the Sacrament of Reconciliation for all the times that we fail to love others as Jesus calls us to love them.  If we receive those two Sacraments, Communion and Reconciliation, regularly with hearts that are open to all that God wants to give to us, then God will fill our hearts with His love and we will become channels of His grace and His love for others.

May God bless you, Jenna, as you receive Him today for the first time in Holy Communion.  May Jesus draw you and all of us ever closer to Himself every time that we receive Him in Holy Communion.  May God fill our hearts with His love and make us more like His Son.  Amen.