Tag: Feast

Martyrs Of The Church – St. Lawrence And The Rest Of Us

Martyrs Of The Church – St. Lawrence And The Rest Of Us

*St. Lawrence and the Rest of Us.*

(Homily for August 10, 2018)
_“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” *(John 12:24-25)*_
Today, the church remembers one of her greatest heroes; Saint Lawrence. He was a Roman deacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. As a deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. 
During a time of persecution, Lawrence, knowing that he would be arrested like the Pope, sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians had a considerable treasure. 
He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures, the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him – only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”
Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasures of the Church.”
The Prefect was so angry he had a great gridiron prepared, with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. Lawrence died like a piece of meat being roasted slowly over a hot charcoal fire. We remember him today especially for his heroic act of charity. As St. Paul teaches in today’s first reading: “He who sows sparingly reaps sparingly, and he who sows bountifully also reaps bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6). God loves a cheerful giver.
St. Lawrence did not simply give to the poor, his giving was at the risk of his own life. The best time to give to the poor is precisely when giving pains you the most. Such giving is truly sacrificial and it does bear fruit. Jesus says unless a grain of wheat falls and dies, it remains alone but after it dies, it bears much fruit. Whenever we make sacrifices for God’s sake we are giving away grains of wheat like a farmer scattering seeds on the ground. Such seeds eventually grow to become bigger plants and seeds.

Let us learn from St. Lawrence the need to be charitable and the willingness to let go of our life itself so that we can have a better life in heaven.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, like St. Lawrence, may I one day be with you in paradise. Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you*
*(Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, Psalm 112:1-9, John 12:24-26).*
Fr. Abu

Our Lady Of The Snows  

Our Lady Of The Snows  

 
Our Lady of the Snows.

August 5:
Our Lady of the Snows.
Improbable as it is for snow to fall during August, history tells of a snowfall that seemed more impossible, namely in Rome, Italy. August 5, 352, snow fell during the night in Rome.
There lived in the Eternal City a nobleman, John and his childless wife, who had been blessed with much of this world’s goods. They chose the Mother of God as the heir to their fortune, and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius, prayed that she might make known to them how to do this by a particular sign.
In answer, the Virgin Mother during the night of August 5, appeared to John and his wife and also to the Holy Father, Pope Liberius, directing them to build a church in her honor on the crown of the Esquiline Hill. And what would be the sign that John and his wife had requested?
“Snow will cover the crest of the hill.”

Snow rarely falls in Rome, but the flakes fell silently during that night, blanketing the peak of the historic hill. In the morning the news quickly spread and crowds gathered to throng up the hill and behold the white splendor. The snow had fallen in a particular pattern, showing the outline of the future church. When it became known that the snow was a sign from Mary, the people spontaneously added another to her long list of titles, Our Lady of the Snows.

The church built there is now known as Saint Mary Major. It is the focal point of devotion for many of Mary’s millions of children, one of the most popular churches in the world. There Mary has been pleased to secure various and many blessings as numerous and varied, as the flakes of snow that fell that August night.

The church built by John and his wife in honor of Our Lady of the Snows, restored and enlarged at various times was known by different names: the Basilica of Liberius, Saint Mary of the Crib because it enshrines relics of Christ’s Crib; lastly, Saint Mary Major, to distinguish it from the many other Roman churches dedicated to the Mother of God; Major, means Greater. There is an image revered as Our Lady of the Snows, which is believed to have been produced by St. Luke the Apostle.

Saint Mary Major is one of the four basilicas in which the pilgrims to Rome must pray in order to gain the indulgences of the Holy Year. Most fitting do we call Mary Our Lady of the Snows. The white blanket of that August night symbolizes Mary, pure as the driven snow; her blessings and graces, numerous and varied as the falling snowflakes.

Science tells us that every snowflake is different in form and make-up: size, outline, structure, ornamentation, are all without limit, infinite in wondrous beauty, startling complexity, perfect symmetry as they fleet, dancing down from the sky. What a wonderful figure of the blessings Mary obtains for us! Snow changes the face of the earth, painting even a field of mud with a white coat. The grace of God won through prayer to Mary, also changes the face of the earth. Snow preserves the heat of the earth, protects vegetation, supplies moisture with slow effectiveness.

Grace serves similar purposes: it preserves the warmth of God’s love in our hearts; it protects the soul from the chill of temptation and sin; it nourishes the soul with new life. We see a further symbolism in this feast. There are millions living in lands of ice and snow who have not come to the knowledge of Mary and her Divine Son. We might ask that with the actual snowflakes, she shower down upon them the graces of the True Faith.

In particular may that land where snow falls long and heavily, Russia, come to share in a fall of graces through prayer to her whom we honor on August fifth as “Our Lady of the Snows.”

Why The Memorial Of The Immaculate Heart Follow Simultaneously The Solemnity Of The Sacred Heart – What It Means For Us. 

Why The Memorial Of The Immaculate Heart Follow Simultaneously The Solemnity Of The Sacred Heart – What It Means For Us. 

Sacred Heart of Jesus, thy kingdom come. When we meditate on the Sacred Heart, pondering the depth of God’s love for us, we need to contemplate the Immaculate Heart as well.

The Friday following the Sunday following the Thursday following Trinity Sunday is a great solemnity in our Church, its date easier to remember now that we have Instagram and Facebook feeds filled with images of the Sacred Heart on that moveable feast. On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, we contemplate the pierced heart of Christ burning with love for his people, surrounded by a crown of thorns as he continues to suffer for love of us.


The following day (June 9, this year) is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These two celebrations always come back to back, with nothing separating the heart of Jesus from the heart of his mother. Their hearts were united from the moment the divine heart began to beat in his mother’s womb, nestled below her virginal heart. They were united in suffering on Calvary, united in exultation on Easter, and united in eternity when God raised his mother’s heart into heaven to beat alongside his.


So when we meditate on the Sacred Heart, pondering the depth of God’s love for us, we need to contemplate the Immaculate Heart as well to see the response we’re invited to make with our lives.


In images of the Immaculate Heart, Mary’s heart is shown outside her body, as she gestures to it. Mary’s heart is entirely given over to the Lord, in love of him and of his people. Her heart burns with love for God, a love that pours out to the billions of children she has been called to mother. When we look on the burning heart of Jesus, we remember that our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29), burning away our imperfections in the power of his love that will never be deterred. When we look on Mary’s heart, we long to love the Lord with the all-consuming intensity of Our Lady. We seek to look on our brothers and sisters with that love, one that manifests itself not in word or speech but in deed and truth (1 Jn 3:18).


Next, our eyes travel to the crowns that surround the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Jesus’ is the same thorny crown pressed into his sinless brow, a sign of the pain and mockery he suffered on Calvary and suffers today. This, too, speaks of his love for his people, that he would so gladly suffer indignity and torture to bring home one lost sheep.


Mary’s heart, on the other hand, is wreathed in roses, a testimony to her purity. But roses have thorns, witnessing to the mortification required of anyone who seeks to imitate her purity. When held up against the backdrop of the crown of thorns, it’s easy to see how our small sufferings, when accepted for love of God, can be transformed into a thing of beauty. The Immaculate Heart, then, invites us to purity, mortification, and joy in our sacrifice.


Finally, Jesus’ heart is scarred, sliced open where the soldier’s lance pierced him after he died. The Resurrection wasn’t a divine do-over, or his wounds would have been healed when he rose. And it wasn’t just as a sign to Thomas that he rose with holes; instead, each of us can take hope from his still-wounded body that our wounds can be not just erased but glorified. As Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, he looks at the holes in his hands, of which Isaiah prophesied, “See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name” (Is 49:16). Jesus looks at these wounds and rejoices that by them, we have been healed (Is 53:5).


In Mary’s heart, there is a sword (or seven), in fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart. These swords represent the seven sorrows of Mary, the deep suffering that threatened to destroy her. More than the thorns of small sacrifices, these are the agonizing pains that we struggle under, the loss and loneliness and fear that leave us near despair. But in Mary’s heart, these swords, too, have been glorified. She doesn’t shriek in anguish, deny her suffering, or attempt to pry the swords out; she looks to her Son who suffered far more and unites her heart to his, offering him her pain. We, too, must acknowledge the deep pain in our lives, pain that sometimes comes directly from our decision to follow Jesus, and offer it to him, trusting that when we embrace our crosses, he can make us saints.


In 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Many individuals have done the same. As we celebrate her feast day today, let’s ask her once again to intercede that our hearts would be made more like hers in imitation of her Son.

Feast Of The Ascension Of Jesus (Solemnity)

Feast Of The Ascension Of Jesus (Solemnity)

COLLECT PRAYER

Gladden us with holy joys, Almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and, where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Graciously hear our supplications, O Lord, so that we, who believe that the Savior of the human race is with you in your glory, may experience, as he promised, until the end of the world, his abiding presence among us. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

ASCENSION OF JESUS
The sixth week of Easter and the Seventh Sunday of Easter is a liturgical time with a bit of an identity crisis. This week was often referred to as Rogation Week before the revision of the calendar in 1969, and the Solemnity of the Ascension is traditionally celebrated on Thursday. But much of that has changed, or varies depending on where one lives.

The Ascension of Jesus marks forty days of the glorious celebration of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, this calendar year.

A sermon by Saint Augustine exalts all believers as follows.

No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven

Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven; let our hearts ascend with him. Listen to the words of the Apostle: If you have risen with Christ, set your hearts on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God; seek the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For just as he remained with us even after his ascension, so we too are already in heaven with him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.

Christ is now exalted above the heavens, but he still suffers on earth all the pain that we, the members of his body, have to bear. He showed this when he cried out from above: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? and when he said: I was hungry and you gave me food.

Why do we on earth not strive to find rest with him in heaven even now, through the faith, hope and love that unites us to him? While in heaven he is also with us; and we while on earth are with him. He is here with us by his divinity, his power and his love. We cannot be in heaven, as he is on earth, by divinity, but in him, we can be there by love.

He did not leave heaven when he came down to us; nor did he withdraw from us when he went up again into heaven. The fact that he was in heaven even while he was on earth is borne out by his own statement: No one has ever ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.

These words are explained by our oneness with Christ, for he is our head and we are his body. No one ascended into heaven except Christ because we also are Christ: he is the Son of Man by his union with us, and we by our union with him are the sons of God. So the Apostle says: 

Just as the human body, which has many members, is a unity, because all the different members make one body, so is it also with Christ. He too has many members, but one body.

Out of compassion for us he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend, because we are in him by grace. Thus, no one but Christ descended and no one but Christ ascended; not because there is no distinction between the head and the body, but because the body as a unity cannot be separated from the head. 
I wish to add to St Augustine’s discourse by noting that Jesus has promised the continued unity of the head and body through the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thus, in the next nine we are all invited to await the coming of the Holy Spirit in prayers. Kindly make out time for you and your loved ones for this powerful and oldest novena to the Holy Spirit for divine empowerment and sanctification.

As much as possible go to confession and take up a fast for the next nine days.

May God bless you and your loved ones and grant you your heart desires with coming of the Holy Spirit.

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