From Fr. JC’s Desk:  “Future of Religious Education”

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
(Matthew 28:19-20)

Jesus does not command us to go out and make theologians of all the nations. Rather, Jesus tells us to make disciples. So what is a disciple, and how are they made?
To put it as simply as possible, a disciple is one who follows. As Christians, we are followers of Jesus Christ. While the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament records the teachings of Jesus, Jesus did not write a book of things to do in order to be saved. He commanded the those who wished to be His disciples to do just one thing, “deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  

One of the charges that Bishop O’Connell gave me when he made me pastor, was to look at the religious education program, which I have done over the past two years. I think we can do better.

    We will be initiating a new Religious Education program in the fall. We will be using the Faith and Life series from Ignatius Press, which has been rated one of the best curriculums in the country. Since research indicates that nearly 80% of children prefer to use the computer for education, the Faith and Life series will be presented through “My Catholic Faith Delivered,” an online program, and we will be using a “flipped classroom” approach.

    In a traditional classroom, during class a lecture is given on the subject material, and homework is given to practice and emphasize that material. In a “flipped classroom,” the lecture/content is given through online videos, readings and activities, and then in the classroom discussions and activities which practice and deepen the material are done. We have already been using “My Catholic Faith Delivered” for the Faith and Life series for about 10 students, and they and their parents have only good things to say about it.

    This means that when you register your children for Religious Education we will create a database with your email address and send it to “My Catholic Faith Delivered” so that they can create an account for you (don’t worry, they send the bill to the parish). We will give you information on how to sign-in, and once there your children will be able to start taking their class online. They will be assigned to a classroom, with a teacher/catechist, whom we are going to also call “Discipleship Mentors,” and each week they will meet for activities and discussions with the other members of their class. Obviously they will need to have completed the online class first.

    This means that children will start attending Religious Education EVERY week come the Fall. We will be putting together a survey to help us determine when will be a good time for classes — which will now be 75 minutes instead of 2 hours — to meet. We will need two meeting times to accommodate all our students. We can continue to offer a time on Sundays, say from 11:15 AM until 12:30 PM, but we are also looking at an evening or two during the week.  

    Another issue which I would appreciate some feedback on is how to group the students. Currently we have two groups of K-8th grades; our “Angels” and “Saints.” Another possibility would be a modified “elementary” (say K-4th grades) and “middle” (5th-8th grades), which would allow the same grade classrooms to work together on some activities, such as the Advent Concert and Lenten Living Stations.

    Next week I will describe another component of our new Religious Education Program, the “Disciple’s Journal.” I realize that all this is a big change, but we are doing this to more effectively pass on the Good News of Jesus Christ to the next generation, so that they can be His disciples.

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A Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter (A-2017)

“Jesus himself drew near and walked with them” (Luke 25:15). This verse really struck me as I prayed over the Gospel for this weekend. Actually it struck me the week after Easter, when I was on retreat and this Gospel account of the disciples walking on the way to Emmaus was read during one of the daily Masses. “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.”How many times in our lives does Jesus draw near to us and walk with us? Often we think about Jesus drawing near to us when we are facing a crisis. In fact, those are the times when we are most likely to call to Jesus and ask Him to draw near to us. Maybe it is when we have forgotten to study and the teacher is handing out the test. Maybe when we are facing a particularly difficult task at work, we quietly pray “Jesus come and help me.” Perhaps there is trouble in the family or some other relationship and we cry out, “Jesus draw near.” I know that 14 years ago when the doctor told me I had cancer, I begged the Lord to come near and help me.

However, Jesus also draws near to us during the good times in our lives. Obviously, as we have some of our children receiving First Holy Communion and Confirmation in the next few weeks, Jesus is drawing near to them in very special ways. When we get engaged to be married, Jesus draws near and says to us, “Invite me into your marriage and I will teach you how to love as you should.” Or maybe we have just had a baby; Jesus draws near saying, “I will show you the way to everlasting life.”

Jesus draws near to us in good times as well as in difficult times. In fact, He is always walking with us as we journey through life. Life really is a journey for each of us, a pilgrimage, and if we truly see life this way we will expect what pilgrims expect: joys and adventures, yes, but also hardship, danger, and suffering. But if we expect somehow to achieve perfect happiness with no hardships here and now – then we open the door to constant disappointment, frustration, and deep sadness.

Jesus promises that we never have to be alone during our pilgrimage, our journey through life. Some people will come and go in our lives, but He will always be willing to walk with us. But we need to want Jesus to walk with us, and that means noticing when Jesus draws near.

Notice the very next line in today’s Gospel reading, after it says that Jesus drew near to the two disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus, “but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). Why didn’t they recognize Jesus? Maybe they were too sad because they had seen Him crucified. Maybe they we too afraid, thinking that the Romans would come after them, as followers of Jesus, next. Maybe they were too wrapped up thinking about what they were going to do next.

When Jesus draws near to us — whether it is in a difficult time or a good time — what keeps us from recognizing Him? Again, it might be fear or sadness, but it might also be because we are having too much of what seems to be a good time. Jesus might be drawing near to us to say, “hey, you need to spend more time talking with me” or “you are off the path of eternal life, let me show you a yet more perfect way,” but we don’t notice Him because we want to do things our own way, do it when we want to do and how we want to do it. We become self-centered, and only looking at immediate gratification. We loss sight of Jesus and the journey He wants us to take with Him, the one that lead us to perfect happiness forever. The journey, the pilgrimage that Jesus wants us to take has a purpose; it has a mission.

How many of you have seen the movie, Schindler’s List? It is the true story of Oskar Schindler, a rather selfish businessman in Germany during the Second World War. Schindler just wanted to be a success and to make a lot of money. When the Nazis started to round up all the Jews to put them in concentration camps, they allowed businessmen to “rent” some of these prisoners to be slave laborers. It was a way for the Nazis to make money to pay for the war, and businessmen like Oskar Schindler got very cheap labor whom he could make work long hours without caring about their physical welfare. The Nazis made money, Schindler and other businessmen like him made money, it seemed like a win-win right? Well, OK, it wasn’t so great for the Jewish prisoners who were being treated as slaves.

Through the movie, Schindler starts to see beyond his greed and selfishness. He had been blinded to Jesus drawing near, but he finally came to hear Jesus whispering to him. Schindler stopped looking at the Jewish prisoners as slaves or just “cogs in the machine,” and instead saw them as children of God, just like him. First he improves the way that he treats the workers he has; feeding them a decent meal, providing them some medical care. Then he uses the profits from his business to “buy” even more workers from the Nazis, in order to save as many Jews as possible.

At the end of the movie, as the war ends, Schindler is standing with the people he has saved. He looks around at their faces and then he starts to break down. He holds up his watch and says that if he had sold that he could have saved another five people. He does the same with his cuff links. Then he starts to list all the ways he could have saved more people if he had been just less lazy and less self-centered just a little bit sooner. He had discovered his mission, but he regretted that he hadn’t discovered it sooner.

Jesus is drawing near to each of us. He wants to walk with us, and He wants us to follow Him. Walking by His side is not complicated. It means three things. It means an ongoing effort to grow in our prayer and sacramental life. It means an ongoing effort to understand and follow Church teaching, both about faith and about moral issues. And it means an ongoing effort to be like Christ in our own lives – in the excellence of our work, the dependability of our character, and the self-sacrificing faithfulness of our relationships.

    As Jesus draws near to us at this Mass, especially when we receive Him in Holy Communion, let us pray not to allow our selfishness to prevent us from recognizing Him. Let us thank Him for gift of His friendship, and let’s promise that we will never again try to walk through life alone.

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A Homily for Easter (A-2017)

Three days ago, on the evening of Good Friday, apparent failure loomed large. Not only was the Lord dead and buried, but the Apostles were holed up in a locked room, fearing for their lives. Where were all the miracles now? What did the Master’s beautiful words mean now? It seemed like God had abandoned their cause, exposed it for a naïve dream.

But now Easter Sunday has dawned – and with it, the irreversible victory of the Resurrection. The tomb is empty. The stone is overturned. The shadow of the cross is dispelled by the bright morning light of a new creation. Christ’s apparent failure has blossomed into victory, just like the seed that disappears under the ground only to rise up again in fresh, new growth.

That is the basic pattern of Christian life, for the Church, for Christian communities, for individuals: apparent failures blossoming into victories; Good Fridays turning into Easter Sundays. As we follow Christ, He leads us up to the hill of Calvary, where we die to ourselves in the painful surrender to God’s will – our own Good Fridays. That death, however, gives God’s grace room to work in our lives so that we sprout new shoots of wisdom, virtue, and happiness – our own Easter Sundays.

Christian life is an infinite number of variations on this one theme, revealed to us by God in Christ: Good Friday – Easter Sunday; Good Friday – Easter Sunday; Good Friday – Easter Sunday.

Now we know exactly what’s coming. When we expect one without the other, it means we have not learned the fundamental lesson of the gospel. When, on the other hand, we accept and adapt to that rhythm of Christian life, we finally begin to speed forward along the road to wisdom, holiness, and lasting fulfillment.

Did you ever wonder why fairy tales are so popular and memorable? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio. We all know them, remember them, and love them. Why?

Maybe they resonate with us so much because they are true. Yes, fairy tales are true. They are not true in their details – magic charms, castles, talking animals, and all of that.

They are true in their meaning. They are stories of a battle in which good overpowers evil after a long struggle. This is the deepest truth of human history and of every human life – the truth of Christ, of his cross and the resurrection.

The fantastic details of fairy tales magnify this basic truth: The heroes are weak, like lambs being led to the slaughter, and the villains are horrible, powerful, and violent. The heroes are crushed and oppressed by the villains, like Christ on the cross, but in the end they return to freedom and life, like Christ in his resurrection.

Isn’t it funny how different that pattern is from the pattern of the other stories that constantly bombard our imaginations: the stories told by advertising? Advertisers promise power over suffering, not power through suffering; they promise perpetual Easter Sundays without any Good Fridays. But, as we are reminded today, that is not the way things are.

The real world, in fact, is much more like the fairy tales – maybe that’s why they resonate with us so deeply. In the real world, we are each called to follow Christ through the cross of self-sacrificing love to the irreversible joy of the resurrection, over and over again. Until we adjust our advertising-influenced expectations to fit this pattern, we will always be frustrated in life, because we will be out of touch with the deepest reality of human existence.

Today we should relish this joy of Easter, thanking God for letting us share in this victory, for giving us this hope. But let’s not stop there. Let’s not just enjoy Easter, let’s let it change our lives.

Christ’s resurrection is not just a nice idea; it is the power of eternal life at work in us. Why not do something for the eight weeks of the Easter season to plug into that power? Almost every one of us made an effort to live Lent in a special way. Most likely we gave something up for Lent. That was a practical way to give the special graces that God sends during Lent some room to work in our souls.

So, if we gave something up as a way to help us live the penitential season of Lent, why not take something up as a way to help us live the joyful season of Easter? In the Second Reading, St Paul encouraged us to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Why don’t we make an Easter resolution that will help us do that, that will help us keep in mind the eternal life in Christ that is waiting for us if we stay faithful to him?

It could be something simple: like inviting a friend or family member who has forgotten about Christ’s victory to come to Mass on Sundays and then inviting them over for brunch or lunch. Maybe we could watch a classic movie together as a family each Sunday between now and Pentecost – a joyful, uplifting movie. We could have a special outing or get-together with friends on Fridays, or take some time each evening to re-read some of your favorite books, the ones that stir up joy in your soul.

If we ask the Holy Spirit to give us some ideas, He won’t be stingy. He just needs us to decide to let Easter make a difference in our lives, to let it change the pattern of our lives, the way it should. Our souls need that as much as they needed the time of penance and contrition that we lived during Lent. The Church is a wise mother in giving us six weeks of Lent and eight weeks of Easter. Today, as we receive the risen Lord in the Eucharist, let’s promise him that we will find a way to benefit from that wisdom.

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From Fr. JC’s Desk: “Easter is a Time of Joy”

We were created for joy. You never hear someone say, “You know, this whole joy thing is not for me. I wish I had a little bit more misery in my life.”

We are created for joy, but we come to realize that it’s not something we can just buy at the local Wal-Mart. Think about the most joyful moments of your life. Isn’t it true that they were a surprise?

Consider the surprise of discovering the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene had been there at the foot of the Cross. She had seen Jesus die. So Mary Magdalene was not expecting an empty tomb. So when she sees the empty tomb she doesn’t know what to make of it. So she runs and tells Peter and John.

They both run to the tomb. Apparently John had been more faithful to his Insanity workouts than Peter, and he beat him to the tomb. He looks in, and then he waits for Peter.

Peter was appointed the first Pope and so John wanted to let him go in first. Peter enters the tomb, and then John goes in. What they saw surprised them. Or better said, what they didn’t see surprised them. The body of Jesus was gone. The burial clothing was there, but the body was gone. Imagine their surprise. What has happened here? And then the gospel says that John saw and believed. He believed that Jesus had risen from the dead! The surprise must have overwhelmed him. But as he began to believe, he was filled with joy.

Joy is the best response to Easter. Who could have ever imagined that death could be conquered? That’s what Easter means. Your death and my death is not the end. Just as Jesus rose from the dead we will rise from the dead. Body and soul, we will live forever.

Suffering does not have the last word. Death does not have the last word. The love of God, given to us in Jesus Christ has the last word.

This is why the psalm for Easter Sunday shouts out: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and be glad!” On Easter, we also are surprised by the presence of the Risen Jesus. And we too are filled with Joy.

When we realize the gift of Easter, joy is the best response.

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A Homily for Good Friday (A-2017)

The Gospel narrative that we have just proclaimed strikes us as anything but “good.” Yet the Church throughout the entire world celebrates Good Friday every year. Calling the day when Jesus was crucified as good seems to be the supreme paradox, but our notion of good is not that of the world. The sadness we feel at the torture and death of Our Lord is a godly sadness. The aspect comes from the fact that because of Jesus’ complete surrender, we are able to enter a new garden where the devil loses and Jesus becomes the new Adam. Because of this day, the old way is finished, and salvation has entered history. St. John’s account shows the garden tomb as a place of rebirth and resurrection and, as the Father looked at the initial creation and said “It is good,” so too does He look at this day and say it is good.

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A Homily for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (A-2017)

Being a Christian means more than just being nice. It means centering our whole lives, every last detail, on a person: Jesus Christ. Other great religious leaders of history pointed to their teaching. They said, “follow my teaching”. Jesus pointed to himself. He said, “Follow me.”

When Jesus stood up from the supper table, wrapped that towel around his waist, and started washing the disciples’ feet, it was shocking for two reasons.

First, because of the nature of the task. In ancient Palestine, washing other people’s feet was a job reserved for slaves. By lowering himself to the level of a slave, Jesus is making it forever clear to his Apostles, the first leaders of the Church, that the way of Christ is a way of self-giving, not self-indulgence. Jesus never sought to get, but only to give. His followers are to do the same. That in itself goes far beyond simply being nice.

But secondly, he was disrupting the sacred ritual of the most hallowed ceremony in Jewish tradition: the Passover Seder, the ceremony that God himself had commanded Moses to institute to commemorate the Israelites’ miraculous escape from Egypt. God himself had established the rules of that ceremony, and Jesus was deviating from them, adding to them, just as he did when he established the Eucharist. Clearly, Jesus sees himself as more than just another teacher or prophet, on the same level as Moses. Only God himself can alter God’s commands.

And so, when the foot-washing is over and Jesus says to his Apostles, “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ ” his claim is clear. Yes, he is a great teacher, but he is also the Lord.
We are Christians, not just because we accept a creed, not just because we are nice, but because we have accepted a person, and made our relationship with that person the most important thing in our lives.

The Eucharist is one of many proofs that being a Christian means much more than just being nice. In the Eucharist Jesus Christ gives himself completely and unreservedly to each one of us. He comes into our lives! And when we receive him, we commit our lives to him. This is the heart of Christianity: a person-to-person encounter, inside the Church, with our God.

The Eucharist is the perfect summary of this dynamic, intimate relationship. It is where Christ comes to us to renew his invitation, and where we receive him, renewing our loyalty. The best way to keep Christ at the center of our lives is to keep the Eucharist at the center of our lives. We are Christians, and that means that we build our lives around Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. And so nothing else should take precedence, nothing else should be more important to us.

It is not difficult to make the Eucharist the center of our lives. It doesn’t mean spending all of our time here in Church, though God does call some people to dedicate their lives in such a way. But for most of us, it means simple things, like receiving Communion regularly and worthily, going to confession beforehand if necessary. It means trying to get to Mass more than just on Sundays. It means including Mass and Holy Communion in birthday and anniversary celebrations and other special occasions. It means carving a few minutes out of our busy schedules to come and sit with the Lord, to drop by the Tabernacle, where Jesus is always waiting for us, praying for us, and keeping the gifts of his grace ready for us.

As we receive the Lord now in Holy Communion, let’s thank him for all he has done for us, and let’s renew our commitment to do more than just be nice, to be true followers of Jesus Christ, to keep him in the very center of our lives.

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A Homily for Passion Sunday (A-2017)

In 1989 an 8.2 earthquake hit Armenia. In less than four minutes over 30,000 people were killed. Parents flooded the scene looking for their lost children amid the debris and mayhem. One father had remembered telling his son that he would always be there for him. Standing beside the flattened school where he had dropped his son off just a few hours earlier, he began digging.

Hour after hour went by, hope was lost, and people began to stop looking. Parents returned to their empty homes, and even emergency services began to leave. The distraught father was told that he was a danger to others, and must just accept the fatal devastation.

Still, the father refused. He dug and dug, and in the 38th hour – more than a day and a half later – he heard a voice and screamed his son’s name; “Armand?”

“Dad?” replied his son. “I knew you would come. There are fourteen of us still alive. I told my friends that my dad would get us out, and you did.”

Every member of a family desires for family bonds that are built on love and joy. Parents look for their children to be obedient, and children look to their parents for stability and security. Families depend on a level of respect for basic harmony and peace, but often times that peace and harmony is disrupted. It might not be an earthquake, but there are so many other things which can disrupt a family – loss of a job, difficulties at school, illness or injury, addiction. Such disruptions threatens the unity of the family, and pain ensues.

Throughout our reading on this Passion Sunday, we are reminded of the roller coaster ride upon which love is built. In his “Suffering Servant” hymn, the Prophet Isaiah reminds us that salvation comes through suffering. That any gifts that we have are from God, and we should use them according to God’s will so as to give Him glory.

In St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians we hear another hymn, about how Jesus chooses to take on our human nature, emptying Himself out like a slave, to be a model of perfect obedience, which not only shows us how we are called to live, but also makes up for all the times we are disobedient towards God.

In our long Gospel we have the Passion of our Lord proclaimed. That was a spiritual earthquake beyond measure. Throughout it all, Jesus shows us the fidelity to love which ever remains steadfast. It is this fidelity to love which is the constant that makes sense of the most profound week in our liturgical year.

As we walk through Holy Week and enter fully into Jesus’ passion, let us accept the mystery of the Father’s will and remain steadfast in our response. That despite the disruption of sin, which turns the peace and unity which God wants for all of us into a roller coaster, God refuses to give up on us. Our Heavenly Father persists in His love for us, tirelessly digging us out of the shambles of our lives, calling out our name. We need to respond like Armand, rescued from the collapsed school, “Father, I knew you would come,” and like him give witness to those around us in the rumble, telling them that God will get us out, and He did – through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, His only-begotten Son and our Savior.

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From Fr. JC’s Desk: “Living Our the Life of Christ in Our Souls”

This week I will finish my discussion of the three major works of Blessed Dom. Columba Marmion. The main theme of Dom Marmion’s spirituality is that Jesus came to earth to be our model on how to live; that Christ is the ideal of our souls.

The third, and final, book of his great trilogy, Christ in the Life of the Monk, is an application of this main theme of his to a particular way of life – the monastic. Since Dom. Marmion was a Benedictine monk, it should not be surprising that this is the way of life that he choose to apply his spirituality. But what will this tell us about how we can live out our spiritual adoption since we are not monks?

Blessed Marmion felt that in essence, the monastic life is not differ from the vocation of every Christian; “When we examine the Rule of St. Benedict, we see very clearly that he presents it only as an abridgment of Christianity, and a means of practicing the Christian Life in its fullness and perfection.” The essence of the Christian life is the same for everyone, to find God and to remain united to Him by the bonds of faith and love. It is to follow Jesus Christ to the Father. While the monastic life may do this more intensely, it has the same goal as all Christians, no matter what their manner of life.

All Christians are called to seek God by imitating Christ. The perfection of any Christian is a “borrowed perfection” as Christ admits us to share in His own beatitude in the life of the Trinity.

According to Blessed Marmion, the monastery embodies as a microcosm the society which Jesus founded in the Church. In the monastery, the abbot serves in the role of Christ: as Jesus is the model for how to live the life of a human being in relationship with the Father, so the abbot is the model of how to live the life of a monk. Within the monastery, the monks live as a family. Likewise, the society which is the Church should have a family character towards it. As Christ Jesus was perfectly obedient to the will of His Father, the monk is to be obedient to the abbot, and the Christian is to be obedient to the Church. For all Christians, the goal is the reproduction of Christ in the soul.

This imitation of Christ, Dom. Marmion describes as being much more than just following His external actions. It must be a reshaping or refashioning from the inside. It is an artful life. The whole method of the spiritual life, art, is keeping the eyes of one’s soul unceasingly fixed on Christ Jesus, our Model, this humano-divine ideal, in order to reproduce Jesus’ features within us.

As we come to the end of the Lenten Season, the question we should ask ourselves is how well have we reproduced Christ in our souls?

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A Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent (A-2017)

​We are drawing near to the end of the Lenten season, just as Jesus, in today’s Gospel reading, is drawing near to the end of His earthly mission. His disciples have been accompanying Him for almost three years. And here once again they see Jesus showing divine knowledge: He knew how Lazarus’s sickness would end, and He knew, without any need for a messenger, when Lazarus had died.

​Yet, even at this late point in His ministry, after three years of continually witnessing Christ’s miracles, and experiencing His divine wisdom, His disciples still don’t understand Him; they still don’t know their Lord. They still misconstrue His words – they think He’s talking about normal sleep when He is really talking about death. They still doubt His good sense and power – they try to dissuade Him from returning to Jerusalem, where His enemies lurk. After all this time and experience, they just don’t get it.

​Any lesser Lord would have long ago given up on these slow and artless followers, but not Jesus. He is a Lord who serves His subjects, teaching them and guiding them to the fullness of life with tireless patience. The needier they are, the more attentive He is, the more eager to give them whatever it takes to help them believe in, trust, and follow Him.

​Aren’t we just like the Apostles? We have been Christians for so long, heard so many sermons, received Holy Communion so often. And yet, in the middle of life’s ups and downs we still find it hard to figure out what God is asking of us. In the middle of life’s temptations, we still find it hard to trust Him enough to follow His will instead of our whims. But He hasn’t given up on us, and He never will. Our Lord is truly Lord, but He is a Lord who rules by love.

​Even our sufferings are proof that God never gives up on us – they are sometimes a last resort to get our attention.

​There once lived in a village in Germany a wealthy and popular couple. They were Catholics in name, but passive in their faith, never making time to pray, go to confession, serve their neighbors, or develop a friendship with Christ. After many years, God gave them a child, whom they loved dearly – they even had him baptized. But while he was still very young, he became sick, suffered terribly, and died.

​The couple was devastated. Their sorrow soon turned to anger, and they came to speak with the priest. “If God loves us, why did he do this to us?” They asked. The priest said, “God does indeed love you. And his taking your son to heaven is a special sign of that love.” They began to protest.

​”Listen,” the priest went on: A good shepherd prepared a delicious feast for his sheep. But when he opened the sheep pen, they wouldn’t come and eat it. He called and whistled and sang, but they just kept wandering farther away. Finally the shepherd went out and picked up a little lamb, carried it into the pen, and set it down beside the food. When the other sheep saw the lamb eating hungrily, they all made their way in to enjoy the feast.

​This is what Jesus has done with you. Till now, you always refused to prepare yourself to come to the great feast He has prepared for you in heaven – no matter how many invitations He sent you. You have been giving so much attention to earthly comforts that you neglected the care of your souls. Now He has taken your child, whom you loved so much, so that you will find yourselves inspired to follow Christ here on earth so you can follow your son into heaven. Even our sufferings can be a proof that God never gives up on us.

​The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a powerful reminder of the fact that God never gives up on us.

​When the priest consecrates the hosts during the Mass, Christ becomes truly present in them, body, blood, soul, and divinity. Then two things happen. First, He gives Himself to each one of us in Holy Communion. He is fully present in each host, and so He gives Himself completely to each one of us, without holding anything back.

​Jesus will never refuse to come to us, as long as we have expressed our sincere desire to receive Him by confessing beforehand, in the sacrament of reconciliation, any mortal sins on our conscience. But that is not enough for His love, just as it was not enough for Him to come down to earth at the cave in Bethlehem. He had to show the very depths of His love, and to do that He climbed onto the cross at Calvary.

​Just so, after Jesus becomes present in the Eucharist and gives Himself to us in Holy Communion, then He climbs into the tabernacle to stay with us. He is here, truly present, every day and night, all day and all night. Many times we have received Holy Communion simply out of routine, without really appreciating the greatness of the gift. But Jesus keeps on coming. He hasn’t given up on us. Many times we forget about His presence in the tabernacle, and instead of dropping by to visit him, to share our sorrows and our joys with Him, we leave Him alone and do our own thing.

​But Jesus stays anyway. He never gives up on us. Today, let’s appreciate this gift. And this week, let’s not leave Him alone.

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From Fr. JC’s Desk: “How Do We Make Christ the Life of Our Soul?”

​Last week I mentioned that Blessed Dom. Columba Marmion published three major works; Christ the Life of the Soul (1917), Christ in His Mysteries (1919), and Christ the Life of the Monk (1922). These three books, unfolds folding of Marmion’s central teaching on divine sonship.

​Last week I summarized his first book, Christ the Life of the Soul, which expounds on his central theme that Christ is the life of our soul, and that wee have to move away from our own ideas of holiness, of our own plans, and accept God’s plan to give us holiness, in and through Christ, who is the “source” and “dispenser” of holiness. Dom. Marmion relates that a central point of our reception of God’s divine life stems from our adoption as sons (and daughters) in the Son.

​The question then becomes, “How is Christ the life of the soul?” This is the theme taken up in his second book, Christ in His Mysteries. St. Paul describes how “by reading what I have written, you can recognize the understanding I have of the mystery of Christ” (Eph 3:4). What is this mystery of Christ? Dom. Marmion paraphrases St. Paul in saying, “Nothing but Christ, and Christ crucified.”

The mysteries of the life of Christ reveal to us the mystery of Christ. The contemplation of these mysteries, in Scripture and through the liturgy, provide us access to these mysteries so that we can mystically conform ourselves to Christ. The mysteries are not theoretical, but opportunities to conform to Christ, the goal of Marmion’s spirituality. “The more we know Christ,” he says, “the more deeply we fathom the mysteries of His Person, and of His life, the more we prayerfully study the circumstances and details that Revelation has confided in us—the more, also, our piety be true, and our holiness has solidity” (Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries).

​The Mystery of Christ Jesus is too much for us finite humans to take in all at once. That is why Jesus reveals Himself to us in a multitude of mysteries. “We shall see that each one of His mysteries contains its own teaching, brings its special life; is for our souls the source of a particular grace, the object of which is to ‘form Jesus in us’” (Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries). The mysteries of Christ provide the means by which we enter into God’s life. We are conformed not only to the humanity of Christ, but even to His divinity through the mysteries: “This is why our imitation of Christ should extend not only to his human virtues, but also to his divine being” (Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries).

“The mysteries of Christ are ours; the union that Jesus Christ wishes to contract with us is one in which everything He has becomes ours. With a divine liberality, He wants us to share in the inexhaustible graces of salvation and sanctification that He has merited for us by each of His mysteries, so as to communicate to us the spirit of His states and thus to bring about in each of us a resemblance to Him—the infallible pledge of our destiny planned from eternity. Christ has passed through diverse states; He has been a child, an adolescent, a teacher of the truth, a victim on the cross, glorious in His resurrection and ascension. By thus going through all the successive stages of His earthly existence, He has sanctified the whole of human life” (Marmion, Christ in His Mysteries).

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