Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 25, 2017: 12th Sunday A

June 25, 2017: 12th Sunday A

Do we ever wonder how growth and change happen to us and in us? Sometimes we have control over what we want to change and yet at times we are not given a choice but to accept. How does our faith in God help us through the change? Here are some examples. Shortly, our high school graduates will embark on a new adventure in college, facing unfamiliar environment, leaving old friends, and making new friends. Starting July 1, some of our priests will take on new parish assignments--full of hope, yet also with some doubt whether they have the gifts necessary to handle unfamiliar responsibilities. Some of us are facing a new transition--perhaps separation from marriage, incurable illness, or surviving the death of a loved one. Our family and friends advise us to put ourselves and the new challenge entirely into God’s hands. We are advised to trust and to believe that God will be there for us. Yet, we cannot help but admit that we are afraid of the change. It may seem to us more practical and effective to adjust to the change on our own than to allow God to lead us.

Jesus speaks to all of us who believe we control every circumstances. To show us a different way, Jesus invites us to look at the birds in the air. Two sparrows are sold for a penny, but not one of them will fall to the ground without the Father wanting.  Every hair on our head has been counted, and not one hair falls without our Father wanting it (Lk 21, 18).

A survivor of cancer recently shared how this gospel passage consoled him so much. He said as his hair fell everyday from chemo treatment, his fear of death was overcome by his awareness of God’s love for him. This life threatening experience helped him put everything else in life in perspective. Even though he got strange looks from the congregation with his bald head, he courageously went up to the ambo during Sunday mass to lector. He was honoring and giving testimony to the Father by living a life of trust in His Providence. Although the cancer was an unwelcomed and unstoppable change, his life of faith transformed the darkness into light.

Do we realize how much joy we bring to the Heavenly Father when we acknowledge Him through our lives? When we give testimony of His Living Word by preaching not by words but our lives of humble trust, we make ourselves worthy of being a child of God.

Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23, 2017: Solemnity of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 23, 2017: Solemnity of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Christians struggled for many years under the power of an Almighty God, fearful of this Law-giver and of the punishments they would receive if they did not obey him, and hopeful of the rewards if they did. Then the pendulum swung. Fear of authority was replaced by a negation of authority. Jesus became Emmanuel, God-with-us, the gentle and kind friend, who blesses everything and who makes few demands. It was a positive swing but something was lost in the transition: Jesus lost his divinity, his sacredness, the flame of love that purifies, hurts and burns in order to lead us into something totally new: the ecstasy of love and a peace that surpasses all human understanding. It is important to come back to the true face of God, the God of love, a love that burns and purifies and leads to the Wedding Feast.

We need to fear and fight against a cheap god, a god of the imagination and of human dreams, a god who was an idol rather than a reality, a god who blesses our mediocrity and weaknesses rather than calling us to growth. We need to seek the real God, the flame of love that burns and quenches the deepest yearnings of our wounded hearts.

The true God is not a God to be feared: God is a Lover. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is a gentle and demanding Bridegroom: we are the bride. God seeks us like the Hound of Heaven, to bring us poor mortals into the friendship and ecstasy of love. The beauty, the power, the humility and the vulnerability of this wondrous God of Love is looking for space in our hearts: ‘Open up the door of your hearts. Let this Lover, this Tremendous Lover, into your being.’

Opening up can, however, be painful. It means becoming vulnerable, leaving and losing things that give security. The way to open up is through faith. It is through belief and trust in the promises of Jesus, in the person of Jesus, calling us through the pain to a union of love. And we should not seek the marvelous, the extraordinary, or even the charismatic, but rather the presence of God who burns us, who gives and reveals divine love, the life of the Trinity, through faith, hope and through all our gestures of love towards our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest. ( By Jean Vanier)

O Jesus, eternal Truth, our Life, I call upon You and I beg Your mercy for poor sinners. O sweetest Heart of my Lord, full of pity and unfathomable mercy, I plead with You for poor sinners. O Most Sacred Heart, Fount of Mercy from which gush forth rays of inconceivable graces upon the entire human race, I beg of You light for poor sinners. O Jesus, be mindful of Your own bitter Passion and do not permit the loss of souls redeemed at so dear a price of Your most precious Blood. O Jesus, when I consider the great price of Your Blood, I rejoice at its immensity, for one drop alone would have been enough for the salvation of all sinners. Although sin is an abyss of wickedness and ingratitude, the price paid for us can never be equalled. Therefore, let every soul trust in the Passion of the Lord, and place its hope in His mercy. God will not deny His mercy to anyone. Heaven and earth may change, but God's mercy will never be exhausted. Oh, what immense joy burns in my heart when I contemplate Your incomprehensible goodness, O Jesus! I desire to bring all sinners to Your feet that they may glorify Your mercy throughout endless ages. — (St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary,72)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 18, 2017: Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)

This is My Body
A Reflection by Fr. Peter John Cameron O.P.

There was a heart-wrenching story in a magazine a few years ago about a baby boy born with a rare genetic disorder that left him with severe deformities; among them, the boy had only one eye. The boy’s name was Max. Many people thought the child too frightful to look upon—he should be put away in an institution. His wise mother refused. She saw something exceptional in her son because of the abnormalities of his body. She intuited what the Catechism teaches: In creating human beings “God... impressed his own form on the flesh he…fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form” (CCC, 704). As the mother put it, “[Max] changes everyone who meets him. He changes their ideas about beauty, about worth. He has made every member of our family…grow up and change their life view in some essential way.”6 This miracle is the result of Max in his own way living out the Lord’s words: “This is my Body.” The exceptionality of Max’s body moves those who encounter him to make a judgment about how they look at all of life. In this respect, Max’s presence in the world is “Eucharistic.”

When Christ told the crowds, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life within you” (see John 6:53), many people were repulsed at the notion. But for the Lord’s true disciples, this summons moved them to look even more closely at Christ’s body—to regard it with new eyes and to ascertain its meaning in a more open way—and thereby to see beyond what may have initially repulsed them. They glimpsed the exceptionality of Jesus Christ (an exceptionality conveyed by his body), and they therefore stayed with him.

As the Catechism expresses it, “the individual characteristics of Christ’s body express the divine person of God’s Son” (CCC, 477). Saint Thomas Aquinas says that Christ promised to reward his friends with his bodily presence. Even during our pilgrimage he does not absent himself, but through his veritable Body and Blood joins us to himself. We need to hear Christ challenge us with the words “This is my Body” every day of our lives so that our lives may be given new and truer horizons. The exceptionality of the Eucharistic Body of Christ changes our ideas about beauty, about worth. It enables us to grow up and change how we view our lives in every essential way.

Reflection Questions
- What is the standard I use to look at life and make judgments?
- What about the gospel do I find scandalous or “too much” for me?
- How has staying with Jesus, despite the pressures put on me by the world, changed my life for the better?  

Prayer
Loving Father, in clinging to the Body of your Son we have life, and in communion with his Body we reach the very heart of God. Make me attentive to the exceptionality of the Body of Christ and change my life so that it becomes a true image of his.

- By Fr. Peter John Cameron O.P., "Jesus, Present Before Me: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration"

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Talk on St. John of the Cross by Fr. Paul Yi, June 21, 2017, 6:30PM

St. John of the Cross and Mother of Mercy: Tender Guide in the Dark Night
A talk by Fr. Paul Yi
Presented by Marian Servants of the Eucharist

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 6:30PM
Kleinpeter Activity Center, St. George Catholic Church
7808 St George Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70809

6:30PM Praise and Worship
7:00PM Talk by Fr Paul Yi
8:00PM Rosary & Intercessory Prayers

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John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and, like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full.

(excerpt of biography from Franciscan Media)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June 11, 2017: The Most Holy Trinity A

June 11, 2017:  The Most Holy Trinity A

Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you had an experience of feeling immensely happy from being loved? Someone shared recently her visit to her granddaughter who is almost a year old. The baby was born with many birth defects, depends on a ventilator to breathe and receives around the clock care. The grandma scooped the baby up in her arms, and began to sing the two songs that she always sings to her--Ave Maria and Silent Night. The baby began to grin ear to ear, a sign that she knows that she is precious to her grandma and that she is loved by her.

This grandmother’s experience helps us reflect on how precious we are to God and how much God loves us. St. John’s Gospel reminds us, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” At times we forget that we are made in the image and likeness of God -- that we are truly God’s beloved daughters and sons. At times we look at ourselves in the mirror or look deep within and are overcome with sadness with what we perceive to be disfigurement, ultimately saying to ourselves that we are not loveable. So it seems to us too incredible that God’s eternal plan is to include us in the unfathomable love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yet this plan was accomplished by the Father when he sent his Son and the Holy Spirit into the world to redeem us. From the very beginning of our Christian life, we entered into the eternal relationship with the Trinity when the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” were pronounced as life saving water was poured over our head. And the Holy Spirit dwells within us to guide and direct us to true happiness and eternal life with the Father.

Do we understand the difference between the love that the Father gives us and the love that we seek in the world? Heavenly Father created each of us and placed in us all that we need to live in this pure love. Yet at times the love of things, pleasures, and self distract us from reaching that true happiness that we can only know through God. Pope Benedict XVI said, "The strongest proof that we are made in the image and likeness of the Trinity is this: only love can make us happy, because we live in relation to others, we live to love and to be loved.” We are called to live not without each other, over or against the other, but with one another, and in one another.

The infant born with birth defects reminds us that our perfection lies not in the way we look, not where we were born, or not in the physical gifts we were endowed. Those who do not know this beautiful child, may likely pity her for being born that way. However, the child’s perfection is precisely demonstrated in how she allows others to love her; and by allowing others to love her, her mission from God is being fulfilled. Likewise, our perfection lies in how we love others and how we allow others to love us.

The heart of the mystery is that God dwells within each of us. God is not just out there somewhere, God is alive within us. Jesus promised us that He would never leave us alone, and we are not alone. He is with us always, not just outside of us but within us. Every aspect about us--every breath we take and every minute detail of our lives--are being held in his loving gaze, just as that grandma held her granddaughter in her arms to sing lullabies. So let us remember to be grateful to God always, not only in the moments that we come to him for worship but also in the moments when life doesn’t seem easy. As the Psalmist said, “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Outcasts" Free Movie Screening, Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Outcasts" Movie
Free Baton Rouge Screening
Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 6:00 pm
 Catholic Life Center - Main Auditorium
1800 S. Acadian Thrwy, Baton Rouge, 70808


"A bold example of social justice in action."
Follow the cameras of Grassroots Films, the Award-Winning producers of "The Human Experience" and "Child 31" on an unexpected journey across the globe. Travel with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal to the prisons of Central America, walk the dark city streets of London, New York and Ireland's most treacherous neighborhoods as they attempt to affirm the dignity all those they encounter. Step beyond your comfort zone and into the lives of our modern day "outcasts."
Immediately following the film, there will be time for discussion and a Q&A session with one of the films producers.

This is a free event.

For more information, contact Danielle
Van Haute, Respect Life Coordinator, at 225-242-0323 or dvanhaute@diobr.org.

WARNING: This documentary is for mature audiences only.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 4, 2017: Pentecost A

June 4, 2017: Pentecost A

Click to hear Audio Homily
Once as a child, my mom took me along to a jeweler to have her old, gold wedding ring amalgamated with another ring. It wasn’t the kind of jewelery shop like we see in the mall. It was a small, soot-blackened room filled with men each working with a small blowtorch. One of the jewelers placed my mom’s two rings in a small porcelain bowl and began to apply the blowtorch. I had to turn my head away because the rings glowed uncomfortably bright white under the torch. For 30 minutes the jeweler alternated hammering the ring and applying more blowtorch to shape it. When it was finished, the jeweler brought the ring to my mom for inspection. It was amazing to see the new ring transformed from two old, beat up wedding bands. I was so mesmerized by the power of the flame of fire which melted the gold and burned away imperfections. This memory came to mind as I reflected on the event that occurred on the day of Pentecost in the Upper Room in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago where Blessed Mother and the disciples obediently waited in prayer for the Holy Spirit to come. We can’t imagine what that experience was like, to hear the sound of the rush of a mighty wind filling the entire room and to be enveloped by tongues as of fire. What an experience it must have been to be united or amalgamated with God’s Spirit of Love!

Pentecost marks the end and the goal of the Easter season. Our Lord had promised the Apostles, “You will receive the Holy Spirit and you will be my witnesses in the world.” This day is a memorial of the day of the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Blessed Mother, an event that took place fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus. Previously timid and fearful disciples received gifts of the Holy Spirit which empowered them to witness to Christ by their sacrificing love and bold faith. Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church, for it was the inauguration of the Christian Church by the apostolic preaching of St. Peter, the fruit of which was the conversion of 3,000 Jews to the Christian faith.
World Youth Day 2013 Copacabana Beach

Let us each ponder these questions. Do I know the Holy Spirit? Am I conscious of His presence, action, and power in my life? Am I cooperating with the Holy Spirit to be Our Lord’s witnesses in the world? Pope Francis said, “The Holy Spirit is the one who moves us to praise God, to pray to the Lord, the one who is within us and teaches us to see the Father and to call Him, ‘Father.’ The Holy Spirit frees us from this ‘orphan-like’ condition which the spirit of the world wants to put us in.”

Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Comforter, Helper, and Encourager who quietly works in us and through us every day behind the scenes in the ordinary activities of our lives and the lives of people around us. Did you know that He is there in all his fullness wherever people worship and pray in the name of Jesus. He is there to inspire us to turn away from our sinfulness and to reassure us that we are still loved in spite of our sin. He confronts us and urges us to take a good look at ourselves and to change course when necessary. He challenges us to leave behind the old way, to stretch ourselves beyond fear and step out in faith to do things for Christ--things we have never done before or ever imagined ourselves doing.

If we have not done so, today resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives. Ask for His assistance in our thoughts, words, deeds, and in the breaking of our evil habits. To be open and docile to the Holy Spirit means that we need to be sincere in our concern for a friend; to be generous to those who seek our help; to trust and persevere even when trials come one after another; to be faithful in taking on responsibilities that we once resisted because we felt it was beyond our capabilities; to be grateful to God even when times have been hard; to be courageous in rising above past failures and putting past hurts behind us. Jesus wants to make our faith strong, give us hope that endures, and a love that never grows cold. He never refuses to give his Holy Spirit to those who ask with expectant faith.
World Youth Day 2013 Copacabana Beach

I invite all of us at this moment to open ourselves to the Refiner’s Fire, the Fire of the Holy Spirit. Just close your eyes and open your palms to receive the tongues of Fire as you listen to the lyrics of this song.

Purify my heart / Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart / Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire / My heart's one desire
Is to be holy / Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy / Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart / Cleanse me from within / And make me holy
Purify my heart / Cleanse me from my sin / Deep within