Wednesday, September 09, 2009



ATTENTION ALL PRIESTS AND DEACONS (membership in the CCC not required to attend this historic gathering of English speaking Catholic Clergy from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Ireland):

LAY FAITHFUL: want to give your pastor, parochial vicar, or deacon a once in a lifetime Christmas, ordination or anniversary gift? Offer to pay their conference fee OR airfare so they can attend this wonderful opportunity in the YEAR FOR PRIESTS.  Donations accepted to help those clergy who otherwise would not be able to afford this unique gathering. 

Go to

Register online NOW.  If you register before September 25th, you can get the early-bird rate of $800 and save $85 from the regular price. 

Conference Fees INCLUDE accommodation at Casa Bonus Pastor from 4-8 January 2010 and in-house meals only. 

Conference Fees EXCLUDE airfares and on the ground transportation costs.

click here for registration page

Arrive at Casa Bonus Pastor on Monday 4th January.

Conference registration from Noon-4.00pm, with formal commencement and welcome at 4.00pm.

The programme includes the daily celebration of Holy Mass in the great basilicas, and on some days Vespers and Benediction.

Our celebrants will include:

His Eminence, William Cardinal Levada,
His Eminence, Antonio Cardinal Canizares,
His Eminence, James Cardinal Stafford,
His Excellency Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, and
His Excellency Archbishop Raymond Burke.

We hope to be at the Holy Father's Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Forty Hours (part III)

During this YEAR FOR PRIESTS, we have meditated these past few days on the intimate union between the priesthood and the Blessed Sacrament. We have looked at how Holy Orders and Holy Eucharist are inseparably connected from their very institution by Our Lord in the Upper Room at the Last Supper. Sunday evening we pondered the mystery of Christ the Priest who SANCTIFIES us with His own Precious Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. Monday evening we examined the mystery of Christ the Priest who TEACHES us about Divine Love; that it is BOTH possessive AND oblative, as Pope Benedict explained in Deus Caritas Est. The Holy Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Son to the Father so that we may receive salvation, redemption and eternal life. Just as Divine Love gives and receives; just as God wants us to be His children and wants us to be with Him forever, He also gives us His Son as a sign of that love. The Eucharist therefore challenges us to die to self and the surrender our will and allow the will of God to replace ours.

This last evening we shall look at Christ the Priest who shepherds and leads us to Heaven via the Holy Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament points to our final destiny. We were made for heaven and heaven is where we belong since it is perfect UNION with God. Although Jesus sacrificed His body and blood for us and the Holy Eucharist is most certainly his precious body and blood, soul and divinity, it is not the dead flesh and blood of our Savior we receive in Holy Communion. We are given the RISEN CHRIST, His risen body which is reunited with his blood because HE IS ALIVE. He is no longer dead, but ALIVE. So, in that monstrance on the altar is the RISEN LORD with His Risen Body and Blood in that one Host as He is in every Host and in every drop of the Precious Blood as well.

Saint Thomas Aquinas said in his Summa (III, Q. 73, a. 4) that the Holy Eucharist connects us to the past, present and future. It makes what happened 2,000 years ago in the past, namely, on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, now present to us each time Mass is celebrated. It unites everyone in our present who partakes of Holy Communion as members of one body, the Mystical Body of Christ. It finally points to our future, i.e., to our DESTINATION. The Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of Heaven, which is where we should want to go and end up for all eternity. The Church gives the name VIATICUM to the Holy Eucharist administered to the dying. It is spiritual food FOR THE JOURNEY.

On this feast of the birthday of the Virgin Mary, we are reminded that just a month ago we celebrated the feast of her Assumption. She who was of the earth is now in heaven, thanks to her Son, Jesus Christ. That same Christ present on our altar and in our tabernacle, will also raise us up, body and soul, and will take us up into heaven to be with him forever. The Holy Eucharist is a memorial of what Jesus did in the past on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It is also spiritual food for us TODAY in the present. But the Holy Eucharist is ultimately the sign and beacon which leads us to our eternal home. It points heavenward. Earthly bread becomes the BREAD FROM HEAVEN. The Holy Eucharist is the RISEN LORD hidden behind the veil of the accidents of bread and wine. Only in heaven will we be able to see him face to face. Yet, what we see before us is no replica and no imitation. IT IS THE LORD HIMSELF. IT IS HIS BODY and BLOOD, SOUL and DIVINITY. The more frequently we spend TIME with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the regularly we WORTHILY receive Him in Holy Communion, the better prepared we become for the completion of our journey. We are pilgrims traveling to our destination and Christ gives us His very Body and Blood to nourish and sustain our souls during the voyage. His Mystical Body the Church is the ship which transports us and the Holy Eucharist is also the compass which guides and directs us so we can faithfully follow the maps and charts given us by Divine Revelation.

Cardinal Arinze addressed the Eucharistic Congress in 2004 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He said that the Holy Eucharist UNITES HEAVEN AND EARTH. It is the Incarnate Word, the God-Man, Who makes present His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist.

The Book of Revelation speaks in prophetic and apocalyptic language with the Jerusalem temple worship as background. But it also speaks of the Church beginning to spread in the world and presents Jesus Christ as the Gospel Lamb, the King of the universe, the High Priest, the Lord of history and the immaculate Victim on his throne.

In the Apocalypse, divine worship is praise of heaven begun on earth. The cult images are powerful and clearly liturgical. Examples are adoration of the immolated Lamb on his throne, hymns and canticles, acclamations of the crowds of the elect dressed in white, descent of the Church of heaven on earth, the Jerusalem of which the Lord Jesus is the temple. And the people are a priestly and royal one. The visions recall many cult elements: seven candlesticks (seven sacraments), the long white robes of the Son of Man and of the old men and of the Saints (white albs), the altar, the Amen and the exultant Alleluia ...

The Holy Eucharist brings us to tend towards the life to come. “When you eat this bread, then, and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes”, St. Paul tells the Corinthians. Christ promised his Apostles his own joy so that their joy may be complete. The Eucharist is a foretaste of this joy. It is a confident waiting “in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ”.

When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion one of the results is that we get a pledge of eternal life, of our bodily resurrection, since Jesus promised that those who so receive him in this sacrament have eternal life and he will raise them up at the last day. Therefore St. Ignatius of Antioch called Holy Communion “a medicine of immortality, and antidote of death”

Scott Hahn and others have interpreted the allegory in the apocalyptic literature of the Book of Revelation to represent the Divine Liturgy IN HEAVEN, especially at the end of time. The symbols and metaphors used are not just clandestine ways to escape Roman persecution. They also POINT TOWARD the ultimate DESTINY of man. Heaven is a continuous celebration of the worship and adoration of the Holy Trinity. It is a perpetual liturgy where the angels and saints give continuous praise to the Lord.

While we sojourn here on earth as on pilgrimage, we are given the Holy Eucharist as a beacon of light to guide us to our journey's end. It is food for today to give strength in the spiritual war of good vs evil but it is also food for others and food for the journey from this world to the next. This then explains what Jesus meant when he said "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have eternal life."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Forty Hours (part II)


Christ the Priest SANCTIFIES us by Divine Grace, via the Sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament, which IS His Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. He also TEACHES us through this august sacrament. We are taught the mystery of Divine Love.

Pope Benedict expounded on this in his first encyclical DEUS CARITAS EST. Scripture tells us that God IS love. Unfortunately, many people are ignorant of what real love is about. The secular world treats love as though a commodity you can buy and sell on eBay or the Internet. The worldly see loves as merely something physical or biological. They reduce love to the sex act. Animals have sex but they do not so so to express love. Their animal instinct moves them to copulate and reproduce and thus continue the species. Human beings, however, are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, human sexuality is HOLY and SACRED when done properly. Human sexuality is the sign of the covenant between man and woman to live as husband and wife. Recreational, extra-marital, pre-marital and contaceptive sex (as well as homosexual sex) are all wrong, sinful and immoral because they distort the original design of the Creator. God created human sexuality to express the total commitment of husband and wife to live a permanent, faithful and fruitful union. Selfish love is not love, it is self-gratification. REAL LOVE is better.

Pope Benedict reminded us that real love is BOTH possessive (eros) AND oblative (agape). It is willing to GIVE as well as RECEIVE. Real Love is willing and capable of making SACRIFICE, again and again. It also is patient to endure and it never gives up and never quits.

Possessive love is reflected in the Holy Eucharist in that Jesus fulfills the request made at Emmaus "mane nobiscum Domine" (stay with us Lord). Providentially, this was the last letter Pope John Paul the Great wrote before his death. It was on the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much, He wants to BE with us and He wants us to BE WITH Him. When a couple is in love, they spend time together. They dislike being apart. They long for the time they can reunite. Likewise, Jesus loves us so much, He says "I am with you always" How is He with us always if He ascended into heaven? He is WITH US in His Real Presence. He is THERE in the Blessed Sacrament. He is THERE in the Tabernacle, 24/7.

When asked 'how are we to pray?', Christ replies, "say, OUR Father, who art in heaven, ..." Note the possessive pronoun OUR. You and I can rightfully say OUR Father since we are adopted children of God by virtue of our baptism. We can and must say that Christ is OUR brother. That is healthy possessive love. But if love only remains possessive, it will deteriorate eventually and become selfish love. Here is where the pornographic distortion of eros occurs and what the world calls 'erotic love' is nothing more than self-satisfaction. It is NOT love since it is not centered on the relationship; rather, it is centered on the ME (the ego).

Yet the Holy Father says that God shows possessive (eros) love in that He wants to have us with him for eternity. "I will be YOUR God and you will be MY people." Jesus said he was building HIS Church and Saint Paul says WE are the Mystical Body of Christ, the living Church on earth. The Holy Eucharist UNITES the believers as ONE.

The other necessary element of love is oblative (sacrificial). God so loved the world that he GAVE us His only begotten Son. The Son so loved us that He gave His very life for us. The lover is willing to surrender, to give, to sacrifice for the other. That is agape love as opposed to eros love which is the having and receiving aspect of love.

The Holy Eucharist is not only the means by which we RECEIVE Jesus, it is also the sacrifice He makes on our behalf. Christ willingly gave up His life in atonement for our sins. He ransomed us from the Devil. He sacrificed His body and blood on the Cross. Even the elements Jesus used at the Last Supper which every priest continues to use today at every Mass: wheat bread and grape wine; these are fruits of SACRIFICE. Grains of wheat must be GROUND and PULVERIZED to become flour before combining with water and baked in the oven to become bread. Likwise, grapes must be CRUSHED and juice feremented before becoming wine. You and I must be willing to be GROUND and to be CRUSHED; to be BROKEN and POURED OUT just as Jesus was.

The Holy Eucharist is above all else a sacrifice (Dominicae Cenae #9) There can be no Sacrament without a Sacrifice. Possessive love NEEDS oblative love to complete and perfect it. It is not a matter of EITHER ... OR but a matter of BOTH ... AND that is, true real love is BOTH possessive and oblative. It gives and receives.

We receive Jesus in Holy Communion but we must also SURRENDER (give) our wills to be replaced by His will. "Take up your cross daily and follow me" is about SACRIFICE. It is sacrificial love, which every parent knows well. When you have children they demand you give up your free time to care for them. But as they grow up, they must learn the value of giving as well as receiving. As they enjoy the fruits of YOUR sacrifice, they need to cultivate a desire to sacrifice FOR others.

Hence, the Holy Eucharist is the plenitude and plethora, the epitome and quintessence of Divine Love, possessive and oblative. When we make a small sacrifice and take time out of our busy schedules to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, the fruit of our offering will be the quality time we are now able to spend in the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior.

Unless the grain of wheat dies, it cannot bear fruit. We must die to self and sacrifice our will and allow the Will of God to fill the void. In a secular era where pleasure and convenience are almost deities unto themselves, human beings NEED to know how fragile life is and how precious and valuable real sacrifice can be. Nothing of value is free. Salvation and redemption had a high price. The Messiah died FOR us so we could OBTAIN eternal life. We need the Eucharist to sustain our ability to balance possessive and oblative love in our own lives.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

40 Hours Eucharistic Devotions

I have the honor and privilege of preaching the parish Forty Hours in my friend's (Fr. Luis Rodriguez) church (Mary Mother of the Church, Mt Joy, PA) Sun-Tue, Sep. 6-8. Here is a summary of my talk:


Since our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has declared this to be the Year for Priests, it would be helpful for us to meditate on the connection and bond between the Blessed Sacrament and the Priesthood; between the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. Without a valid priesthood, there can be no valid Eucharist. Only validly ordained priests can confect the Blessed Sacrament by using valid matter, form and intention. Likewise, the very raison d'ĂȘtre of the Priesthood is the Holy Eucharist. We priests are ordained to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The other things we do, while important, can be done by others. Deacons can baptize and witness marriages. They can proclaim the Gospel and preach the homily. Laity can also teach as catechists and they can visit the sick and give spiritual direction. While only priests and bishops can absolve sins in the sacrament of Penance, in periculo mortis whenever there is no priest available, a person can make a PERFECT ACT OF CONTRITION which will suffice. However, when there is no priest, there is no Eucharist. Extraordinary Ministers can only give Holy Communion after a priest has consecrated hosts beforehand.

It was no coincidence that Our Divine Lord instituted BOTH Holy Orders and Holy Eucharist at the same time (Last Supper).

As we enter into the annual Forty Hours Devotions for this parish, let us focus on the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders; on the Blessed Sacrament and the Priesthood. Specifically, we will look at the way in which Christ the Priest via the Holy Eucharist continues His priesthood to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd His people.

The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life, the Second Vatican Council tells us (Lumen Gentium #11). The Catechism teaches us:

1391 Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."

On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, "Christ is risen!" Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.

1392 What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh "given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit," preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.

1393 Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is "given up for us," and the blood we drink "shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins." For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins:

For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord's death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.

1394 As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him

Christ the Priest SANCTIFIES us through His Precious Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity. We are made holy by what and whom we receive. Our intimate contact and indeed UNION WITH (communio) THE Holy of Holies; the Holy Trinity, sanctifies us by just being in the presence and proximity to the fullness of all holiness. Since Holy Communion IS the real, true and substantial Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ, we can and rightfully must say that the Holy Eucharist IS God Himself. As we cannot separate the Divine Persons of the Trinity, where one is, there are all three. If Jesus, the Son, is really present in the Holy Eucharist, then so are God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Look at the holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was preserved from all sin by a special singular grace but she was also the closest human being to Jesus Christ. Not just geographically but spiritually and emotionally as well. The closer you get to pure holiness, the more you feel and you become sanctified by what you are approaching.

Not only is there physical contact (eating the Host) and spiritual (sacred food for the soul) but there is also a UNITY of all the parts of the Mystical Body. Just as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, bones, brain, etc. are connected and WORK AS ONE under the guidance of the soul (intellect & will), so, too, the Mystical Body of Christ directs and unites all the parts (you and I and all the baptized). We are made holy by our contact with the Lord God Himself.

This is why frequent (and worthy) reception of Holy Communion is ESSENTIAL. Frequent and regular visits to the Blessed Sacrament (perpetual adoration) SANCTIFIES us and makes us HOLY. When Catholics stay away from the Holy Eucharist, they deprive their soul of necessary grace just as depriving lungs of needed air or depriving the heart of needed blood.

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