Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Friday, December 31, 2010

John 1:1-18 Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

John 1:1-18 Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

(Click for the readings)

The beginning is the best place to start. Asking the Lord to bless us this New Year is an excellent way to start the New Year. What is my New Year’s resolution? At the start of this New Year I will personally keep my heart and mind open to the Father’s Will. I will seek, through prayer, the grace of faith and strength; to be where he is, from stable to grave. I know wherever he is, is the safest place to be and the best way to live my life. Where the Lord is, I wish to be – either wrapped in his arms or nailed next to Him. Why? Because I seek the peace and harmony that only He can give, knowing full well that when my will corresponds to His Will there is great peace and harmony, even in the midst of turmoil and tragedy.

What comfort the Lord gives to a soul when all things can be offered up to Him! Even the most mundane, rudimentary things have value when they are given to the Lord for his blessing. John baptized with water alone, but God raised his life, his mission, his work, his words, even his water to glory. All the glory and honor goes to you All-mighty God!

This year I will ask for an increase in faith. I need it! For I know that the Lord is a demanding God. He asks me to give, and to love unconditionally. To give help to the poor, time to the sick and elderly; and hear and heal the sinner. At times they annoy me. I wish to have nothing to do with them. So, my Lord, increase my faith so that my hands will never work in vain or be extended and empty.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, states that faith begins when I know the love the Lord demands from me but cannot humanly give what He wants. At this moment God fills my hands with his Son’s grace. My giving will be super-abundant, for it is the Lord that gives through my hands and my life.

Today we are on the eve of a new year. I invite all to do a healthy and rigorous examine of conscience, not to knock yourself down but to build your life up, through Him, with Him and in Him, which is the best Way to start.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lk 2:22-35 Coming out of the Dark

Lk 2:22-35 Coming out of the Dark

(Click here for reading)

Last night my father mentioned to me that Psalm 96 was used against Galileo during his trial. If you have not had the chance to read it, it states, “The Lord made the world firm, not to be moved.” Why in the world would some scholars of the Church condemn Galileo on such a reading? The answer goes beyond an understanding of the Bible. It touches upon man’s constant need to be humble. And one cannot be humble unless one is patient.

Today’s readings point this out in a very profound manner: Fathers (parents) need to be patient with their children; children need to be patient with their fathers (parents) (cf. 1Jn 2:12). Teens need to be patient with their hormones; they also need to be patient with time. For time has the amazing ability to prove our mistakes and to change the way we live, and see people and things. There is a beautiful Italian proverb. “When I was five years old, mom and dad knew everything. When I was 10 years old, mom and dad knew a lot of things. When I was 18 years old, mom and dad knew nothing. Now that I am 30 years old, I wish mom and dad were still around.”

When parents make mistakes, they teach their children to be patient. When we go to Confession, the Lord reminds us of how patient he is! Our Savior is constantly teaching us to be patient by being patient with us. This is the only reason why Jesus took three days to rise - to teach his Apostles the meaning of the words patience, love and trust. Patience is necessary because humans are necessary, and humans need to be patient (loving and trusting) when dealing with others.

A lot of things happen overnight. Love is not one of them. To fall in love with someone (even to fall in love with yourself) means to be patient with them (and with yourself). God is the most patient because He is Love! “Love is patient” because God is. If love does not happen overnight, than it is safe to say that people do not change overnight. It takes years, some times many years. Love does not happen overnight and people do not change overnight. A person proves their love by being patient in their love for them.

“When his hour had arrived.” and “In the fullness of time”, the Lord made his move. There is a time for everything. Even the Lord respects each and every soul he creates. He allows us to be like the Prodigal Son; to go away only to come back stronger than ever! The temptation will always be to settle for mediocrity – to settle for the counterfeits!

The prophetess Anna was married for only seven years. Then she lost her husband and lived as a widow for eighty some years. She settled upon serving the Lord day and night. She never left the temple. She grew in holiness because she grew in patience. The Lord took time to be a child. He went to Nazareth to grow and become strong, filled with wisdom. Patience implies trust. I will never grow in patience if I am impatient. I will never grow up until I learn to trust – first in the Lord and then in his Holy Will. Patience does not mean to roll over and play dead. It means being active and pushy, but never allowing ill-feelings, ruthlessness or evil thoughts to enter into the plan. These things only happen because I am impatient and do not trust. If I am in love with someone then I am patient with them. I know what I must do – I must be firm - and I await, in great expectation, the coming of the Holy Spirit to move the soul in front of me, and allow the “hour” to arrive. Just as it happened with me. I trust in the Lord because when I knock, he opens; when I ask, he answers; when I seek; he is there for me.

Let us ask the holy prophets and the Apostles who were patient in their duties before the Lord, to pray for us so that we may be meek and humble of heart; open to God’s timing, and fulfill the plan for ourselves and those entrusted to our care.

Our day will come, like the Lord’s.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lk 2:22-35 Walking into the Light

Lk 2:22-35 Walking into the Light

(Click here for reading)

What is it that makes Christians unique? It is the way they love. Love is giving and forgiving; being proactive and reactive like Christ. “Whoever claims to abide in the Lord ought to walk just as he walked” (1Jn 2:4). I have to walk the talk. It’s not easy to say loving things. It’s not any easier to do them. But the Lord demands that we keep his commandments. If not, then we are the biggest hypocrites, the grossest liars; the most obnoxious of worshippers.

Love God above all other things. Christmas ceremonies and traditional rituals are getting hit hard this year. I don’t know about you but I feel as though I am seeing less and less Christmas decorations than in the past. I don’t know if it is something imaginary or if it is real. But I believe it is important that we go through the rituals; that we put up a Christmas tree, the tinsel, the bells, and the manger; that we wrap our gifts and take the time to enjoy the reason for the season. Mary and Joseph went through the rituals. If anyone did not need to be purified or dedicated it was Mary and Jesus. And yet, they did it, according to God’s Law. They went through the ceremonies and fulfilled the Lord’s desires. Little did they realize how their lives connected so intimately with others. Simeon had been waiting all his life for this moment. The Holy Family did not skip it. If they had, Simeon would still be waiting to this day for the promise of the Lord to be fulfilled. Regardless of the noise surrounding the family or the very public danger around them, they were surprised of Simeon’s words. They needed to hear it just as much as Simeon needed to see them and say it. When we place God above all other things, miracles happen; people seem to appear; dots begin to connect; the light begins to break through the darkness (1Jn 2:11).

Love one another. Not too long ago I gave a High School student a penance to love more or to love everyone he met. He got up and said, “That’s all?” I told him, “That’s it.” Afterwards, I thought to myself, maybe I didn’t give him enough of a penance. But then, thinking more, I realized that I had given him the toughest penance you could give to anyone. To love everyone you met; to love more is extremely difficult. It’s not easy at all. When Christ gave this commandment to his disciples, they must have been shaking their heads. Love everyone? Love our enemies? Love our neighbors? Love those who persecute you and hate you and utter all kind of false things against you? Love without condition? Love without receiving? My goodness, is this really possible?

St. John tells us, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,” but does not keep the Lord’s commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

The two most important feasts in the Church are Christmas and Easter. They are the two feasts of light and love; Giving and Forgiving. Let us ask the Lord for an increase in faith, hope and love. Hatred has no place in the heart of the Christian.

May the Lord bless us as we keep ahead of the darkness by loving more and walking swiftly towards His light.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mt 2:13-18 The Murder of Innocence

Mt 2:13-18 The Murder of Innocence

(Click here for reading)

While back home, I had the unfortunate displeasure of watching a few minutes of a talk show called “Live with Regis and Kelly.” It made me sick to my stomach. The co-star Kelly made reference to a recent poll showing that for the first time in US history, there were fewer people getting married. Not only that, but single parents consider themselves a very good thing for society. In other words, single parenting is no longer an unfortunate situation or a heart breaking reality but rather a choice, a blessing! I guess the same goes for same-sex marriage, no-fault divorce, embryonic research and destruction and contraception. These human tragedies may be considered by some to be nothing more than cultural shifts or new family models, but I am here to tell you that they are nothing less than the advancing goose steps of the culture of death and the murder of innocence!

Human life is in danger today just as much as the Holy Family was under attack in years gone by. Children are bullied, abused and sold because they can be murdered, just like years gone by. The novelty today is that parental rights - authority - is questioned by the so-called experts, educators and movie producers with devastating consequences felt by society as a whole.

What is the solution? The same as the Lord’s: we need holy families – moms and dads that tell their love story of marriage, family, struggle and commitment. We need holy families that will proclaim the Good News with great joy! We need saints – moms, dads and children that inspire others through their unconditional love/sacrifices for each other. We need martyrs! That is, those children who are willing to stand up to the culture of death by laying down their lives to advance the Way, the Truth and the Life – the life of Jesus. Our mission is no easier than that of the Holy Innocents. They are the ones that first made evident an entire generation of secular humans gone mad! The massacre of the Holy Innocents; that is, the laying down of their lives gave to the world a silent testimony of unconditional love for God and the screaming consequences of unconditional hatred towards God and others.

We have become very practical. Modern man is very practical and our practicality is turning us into machines rather than humans. Herod had no heart. He had a mission and he executed it with cold blooded efficiency. He took no risks; never doubted for a moment. He was sure in his plan. But the Lord knows the plans of evil men. I love what the Psalmist writes, “Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare!” (Ps 124:7) Evil destroys itself, we should fear not.

What must we do? What worked for Mary and Joseph will work for us. What worked then will work today: fidelity during hardship and trials; happiness and confidence in times of persecution; commitment to God’s Law will bring about freedom and peace. Forgiveness for our failures will welcome a sinful man back home. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, the narrator counsels us to “Be true!” He pleads with us to acknowledge the truth tragedy reveals about the human condition: we are imperfect and limited beings, and if we try to deny this fact or hide our flaws from others, we ruin ourselves. Cultural shifts and the so-called “new family models” are not the result of changing times, but rather the result of the ever-present reality of sin. Come what may, Love is given with joy, fidelity and commitment. And when we sin, we fall short of that love. That’s true today, it was true yesterday and will be true forever.

“We have fellowship with him” (1Jn 1:5). Stick with the Lord from the beginning till the end. Do not waver, do not doubt, and do not hesitate. We have fellowship with the Lord means we are committed to Him, and once committed there is no turning back. Let us follow the Holy Family through the raging fires of Hell.

Monday, December 27, 2010

John 20:2-8 He Ran Faster

John 20:2-8 He Ran Faster

(Click here for reading)

Two days ago we celebrated the birth of Christ. Today, we are at the tomb. Life is short. One moment we are here, the next we are gone. We follow the Lord from birth to death, but do we follow the Lord in accepting his Father’s Will? I always pray to the Lord for the grace to never waste a second in second guessing his love for me.

How do we know God? We know him because we know Jesus. We know what God thinks because we know what Jesus thinks, and we know what God wants because we know what Christ wants from us. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life, for the life was made visible” (1Jn 1:1-2).

We know God intimately because we intimately know Christ .

“They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first.” Why is it so important for St. John to tell us that he ran faster than Peter, and that he waited for Peter to enter the tomb first? Why is all of this so important? I believe John is telling us that his faith was stronger than Peter’s. John had no doubts. He ran to the tomb like a child running to his gifts. He ran with a sense of urgency, but confidently expecting the unimaginable. John ran knowing what he would not find. He waited for Peter because he knew the answer. The Lord is not here. He is Risen.

Let us run our lives like St. John: confident, excited and courageous in knowing that the Lord keeps his promises always. He did not come into the world to abandon or betray us. No. He came into the world to meet us. Let us run to the Lord with great faith in knowing what to expect and what to find: his promises fulfilled; His life fulfilled through mine.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mt 2:13-23 The Holy Family

Mt 2:13-23 The Holy Family

(Click here for readings)

This morning, the Holy Father reminded us that once again, “the earth is stained with blood.” Christmas day attacks on Christians left many dead, too many, and countless injured throughout the world, especially in the Philippines and Nigeria. May the birth of the Lord open our hearts to hear his sweet words, “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

I think we can safely say that we have tried every conceivable way to be happy without God. We have tried and tried and we have come up miserably short. Worse still, we have tried to export our technology, our fancy gadgets and trends, our way of life to other cultures and peoples and they have wholeheartedly rejected it. There appears to be bitterness and resentment throughout the world for anything that is from the West, especially from the United States. Not too long ago, when the Holy Father John Paul II visited communist Poland, the million and plus crowd began to shout, “We want God! We want God! We want God!” A shiny star was shining over Poland.

It appears as though everything they had was not enough without God.

We can no longer contemplate the manger scene. The Holy Family is on the run. Evil men, angry men and powerful men are already out to destroy the child Jesus. They will stop at nothing to get him; resorting to the indiscriminate murder of “innocent” children. Joseph and Mary must run, and run as far away as possible. We can learn a lot from this family as they make their way away from Bethlehem and from Israel.

Saying “yes” to God means becoming a target. Christians are targets. We go against the culture; against the current. We are an eye sore to many. We don’t follow the crowd. We cannot be packaged and shipped away. We simply do not disappear. The Holy Family continues to live according to God’s plan, and in the end, to everyone’s surprise, they reappear as their enemies disappear.

Simple is Special. The world continues to mass produce its products for happiness. We have seen it all. We are told, “This will make you happier” or “This will make you live better.” Communism: Everyone will have a job. Free health care. No taxes. We will take care of you from birth to death! Sounds great! The results were horrible. Nazism: Everyone will have a job and we will gain the world’s respect! Sounds great, but the results were tragic. Many have come before us. Many have promised so much to us. But in the end, it was worse than before. The Holy Family had only each other, and they had everything. No special graces were given to them except some divine warnings through dreams. Joseph had to find a job and work. Mary had to save and make do with what they had. They had to pay taxes and they had to manage their budget. But the birth of a child is a blessing and helps a family stay united. The child Jesus did nothing practical to help. But help he did! He was present throughout Mary and Joseph’s life. A child helps to remind us of why we are here and what we are here for. It is a simple remedy to hardship, despair and depression. These are things we struggle with more than ever before.

Let us meditate on the Holy Family this Christmas Octave. Today, let the Lord remind you of the promise he made to his Disciples: “My grace (my presence) is sufficient for you."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lk 2:1-14 Christmas Poem

Lk 2:1-14 Christmas Poem

(Click here for readings)

Just a little reminder from a sweet little angel:

It was on a cold night like this, a night unlike others,

the first of all miracles was truly born.

It cannot be forgotten that Emperors and Empires ruled throughout the earth.

Death and destruction filled so many with hurt.

Screams from the innocent, of sadness and loss,

were far too common throughout our earth.

Like so many nights before,

it appeared as if hope had gone to fear.

But it was during this night that hope reappeared

and awakened poor Shepherds who were out in the fields.

In the darkness of the sky, a bright star broke the night.

A child had been born, the true lamb had appeared.

The First and the Greatest,

The Last and the Lowliest was born on this day

and gave us true sight.

Emperors awakened with fear.

Empires all trembled in fear.

How right they were, for they would all disappear.

But the Wise of the world looked up and agreed,

this star in the Heavens would point them to their King.

In His Kingdom God chooses the humble to make them strong.

God chooses the poor to inherit it all.

God chooses a village as the City for all.

So we should always remember,

that the greatest of all,

are the tiniest of persons,

born in the remotest of places, and

found among the poorest of races.

Tonight, the Savior of the world is born!

So do not fear a single thing,

you are very much loved by our Savior and King.

Jn 1:1-18 In The Beginning

Jn 1:1-18 In The Beginning

(Click here for readings)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Today, we celebrate the Word becoming flesh and living among us. Let us reflect for a moment the scene in Bethlehem. There is much to learn from that moment in time when Christ was born. St. Francis understood this well when he constructed the first manger in 1226.

He chose to be born a child. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, recently mentioned in a Christmas BBC radio broadcast to the English people that “God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them. AMEN to that! He chose to be born as a child – and a poor child at that. He chose to live among a poor family, a poor nation, a nation under occupation. Someone recently told me that the largest minority in the world is children. Christ wished to live among us as a child. He wishes to be one with us in everything, even in the helpless state of a baby boy. This is the greatness of the Lord: that he would become small for us. Humility trumps all - all empires, all armies, and all forces.

Mary and Joseph put God first. They allowed God to change all their plans. They allowed themselves to put God first in their lives. They made a place for him. And we know what happens when we do that: God puts us first in his life. How do we know that God is real? Make room for him. Open a place in your heart for the child Jesus. Do not allow your plans to get in the way of the greatness of the Lord. There is a lot we will never understand. But with God, all things will come to good. “All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God” (Ps. 98:3). The Shepherds were hesitant to come. It was night. It was cold. It may have been raining. They may have been exhausted. But when they saw the star, they decided, by God’s grace, to set aside all the temptations they had not seeking the meaning of the star. They moved. They saw. They believed. Sometimes we have to take the first steps in order to see the Lord face to face. God exists. I need to open my eyes to see his face.

God’s Love for us. Why did God come to us? Why did he become one of us? I have mentioned this before. The only explanation I have is since God is Love, then he must be crazy! Love is crazy! We do crazy things when we are in love. We make a fool of ourselves to attract the one we love. Love does crazy things. God is love and God is crazy. He keeps his promises but be often surprises us in the way he fulfils them. Today, the Lord speaks to us loud and clear: I will do whatever it takes to win your love. We believe in a God that wants to be loved, wants to be my best friend, and is dying to be my hero! God’s love is crazy enough. We should imitate it and bring heaven to earth to all those who are around us.

Where is Heaven? Wherever the Lord is. Today, he is lying in a manger.

Heavenly Father, you gave us your heart on Christmas Day, your son, our Savior. Through Him, you taught us how to love, forgive and give. We beg you; give us a heart more like yours! We ask this in the one name that saves all mankind, Jesus the Lord. Amen.

P.S. Merry Christmas to all! Thank you for all your love and support. May the Lord continue to bless you now and forever. These meditations have been a blessing for me and I hope for you too.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lk 1:67-79 The Face of God

Lk 1:67-79 The Face of God

(Click here for readings)

The birth of Jesus begs a great question that must be asked. What did Jesus bring to the world? What has he brought? This question, which is The Question, brings great fear to all of us for if we do not know the answer, then we should all be afraid. What has Jesus given the world? Peace? Harmony? An end to war, poverty, sickness and illness? A better world?

Take two minutes before reading the answer. Ready? Do you give up?

The answer is simple: God. He has brought God.

We know who God is because we know who Jesus is. Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) writes,

“We ought not to judge the originality of Jesus merely by isolated sayings or deeds. The Cross is something new in the way he accepts it and suffers it. The Resurrection is new. Even the virgin birth is new. The message of loving God and loving one’s neighbor as fulfilling the whole of the law, or the Eucharist, through which he shares himself in his risen life, these are all enormous innovations that he brings into the world. All of these reflect what is absolutely new: that is to say, that God is no longer just in heaven; God is no longer Other, the incomprehensible One, but he is now also the One who is near us, who has become identified with us, who touches us and is touched by us, the one whom we can receive and who will receive us! In this sense, the entire originality of Jesus lies in himself – as a unity of God and man. (God and the World)

The Lord has truly set us free. He is the God of the living, the God who loves and wants to be loved, the God of mercy and compassion and the God who is and wants to be my best friend.

The Lord stands as a giant, though he came as a child.

He lives in his creation, as if he were just a man.

He knows how to cry. He knows how to laugh.

He knows how to live because he knows how to love.

The Creator is a child and Joseph, a creature, is his dad.

The roles have been reversed, the world has been turned upside down. The stimulus package has been revealed. In other words, I don’t have to be a CEO, or CFO, or UFO, or a billionaire, or the inventor of Facebook, or a Pop Artist to make a difference in the world. In fact, all I need to be is a child of faith, hope and love. This is what makes the world go around. All I need to be is a child at heart! That is, meek and humble of heart.

Why do we love the underdog? Why do we defend the weak and the innocent? Why do we grow angry and disgusted when we see an injustice carried out or a love betrayed? Because we were created in our Creator’s image and likeness. We were created to be small so that we could be great! Now as Christians we are set apart, called to be even smaller, yet giants in the eyes of Christ.

The Lord in his birth revealed the greatest qualities capable of man: Faith, hope and love. But above all, he shines in his meekness and humility of heart. The Lord loves the underdog for he is under God.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lk 1:57-66 The Hand of The Lord

Lk 1:57-66 The Hand of The Lord

(Click here for readings)

In the final days leading up to the birth of Christ, let us ask the Lord Jesus to be close to him through Mary’s heart. O Come Divine Messiah!

There was great jubilation over the birth of John. I wonder how much of it was concentrated on the fact that Elizabeth could not conceive a child. The miracle that was truly taking place was the birth of the forerunner of the Messiah. John would point the way to the Lord. There must always be someone who points the way and to The Way. Have we not all learned our faith from another? Did they not learn their faith from one before them? Not too long ago I was speaking to a southern Baptist who told me that the Catholic Church is the rock of all Christian Communities. He said, “If the Catholics fall we all fall!” The Catholic Church is the Rock, and for this reason it is attacked from every single possible or conceivable angle! The Catholic faith if the Mother Faith, and for this reason it is and will be attacked from head to toe, limb to limb.

What will this child be? He will be stronger than ever! He will not allow weakness or nuisance to damper or tamper his sole purpose for living. The Lord sends each and every one of us for the same purpose – to proclaim, to all who will listen, the coming of the Lord.

We are the Lord’s prophets. We are the Lord’s messengers. We are the Lord’s Apostles! We are the Lord’s disciples! We have received far more than any of our ancestors received. We have received grace upon grace, mercy beyond all imagining, love beyond all comprehension, and understanding beyond all human reasoning. We know more than John the Baptist did. We know more than maybe even the Apostles fully comprehended. With all that we have received, we are now asked to give it back, to share it with others and to be fruitful and multiply. It started with one, it must end for all!

John is his name. Not a very common name back then. Today, it is very common name thanks to people like St. John the Baptist, St. John of the Cross, St. John the Evangelist! His name means so much more today than what it did back then. How many Saints have taken this name? How many men and women have lived by this name? Not only John but Peter, Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc… Let us never forget the strong tradition we have in naming our children after Saints – those who were after His heart.

What, then will this child be? Only the best, for “the hand of the Lord was with him.” John proved to be a true superhero because he was after only one thing: The Lord’s heart.

Take me by the hand O Lord; lead me along your path.

May I always find warmth and peace as you hold me by my hand.

I wish never to look back, or regret a single step.

Take me by the hand O Lord; lead me home at last.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lk 1:46-56 Exultavit Humiles

Lk 1:46-56 Exultavit Humiles

(Click here for readings)

“The LORD raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage” (1 Sam 2:8).

My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior!

Heavenly Father, I am nothing without you. My heart can only exult in you, my Lord, my Savior! Where would I be without you? Forever Lost. Today is a big day. Today I must set my heart towards heaven. I must recommit myself to you, my God and my Lord.

Mary leads the way for she knows The Way! I shall proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Yes, proclaim his greatness. I will not allow the devil to ruin this day. I will not allow him to curse what is holy, to negate all that is good or to foil what must come. Mary proclaimed the greatness of the Lord. I shall do the same.

Mary’s yes turned into an eternal yes.

O Queen of Heaven and earth, all women look to you for virtue. They imitate you by placing all difficulties and trials into your heart, which is your Son’s heart. All men look upon you as their mother. You are radiant. You love. You show your tenderness upon your children by interceding for all humanity. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of your Son.

The Lord said to Mary, “You have nothing to fear.” Today, the Lord said this to me. I shall not fear. I shall not give into temptation. How can I? He has shown the strength of his arm. He raises the meek and humble of heart and crushes the pride of men. He lifts his finger for the poor, the sick, the lonely and the abandoned. He has mercy on those who fear him. All generations who have turned to the Lord have seen the strength, the power, the glory of the Lord. Turn to Him for He is our God and Savior. Turn to Him and fear no more!

O Mother, I turn to you today and ask you for your blessing. Mary, you saw your son, you saw his heavenly face. Allow all who are united in prayer to experience a glimpse, a flash of your Son’s face. How I wish to see his love, his mercy, his compassion. How I wish to experience his warmth, his breath, his hand upon my face. I need this Mary. I wish to know the Lord simply in my heart. I know why I must love him. Today, I wish to experience him; I wish to draw near to him.

Mary spent three months with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary, stay with me and bless my home, my family, my work, my prayer, my heart and my life with your presence. Carry your son into my heart for I need him there with me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lk 1:39-45 The Visit

Lk 1:39-45 The Visit

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Last night was a resounding success. We had many parishioners and non-parishioners attend our Advent penitential service. Over four hundred came to see, hear and feel the love, mercy and compassion of God our Father. Although it took forever to go through the line and to hear so many confessions, it was blessing upon blessing. Some had not been to Confession in a few months; many others had not gone in a few years. Some, a few, had not been to Confession in decades! Last night, I am sure the Lord blessed each and every one of them with his presence, patience and love.

Mary set out. Once Mary received the call from the angel, she immediately set out to see her cousin Elizabeth. She immediately set out to share the Good News. As I have mentioned before, the Lord wants us to evangelize all – even those who have been touched by a miracle. The Good News is not something that is reserved for a few. It is for all! We all need Good News. We all need it now! What did Mary share with her cousin if not but the beautiful, wonderful things that the Lord had done for her? Is this not the meaning of evangelization? To share with the world the wonderful things that God has done in our lives? Today is beautiful. Tomorrow may not be so beautiful. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song” (Ps 33: 1a,3a). Our lives are changed and transformed with tears of joy and tears of pain. Both are essential ingredients for bringing about an interior conversion of heart, soul and mind. We don’t see the pains of sorrow, but they will come. Mary knew this all too quickly. I have learned that a tremendous blessing from the Lord is usually followed by tremendous pain or vice versa. We only appreciate how far we have come when we look back and see how far we had fallen.

Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed. The wayward, the estranged, the rebellious, the fallen have a mansion awaiting them courtesy of the Lord. The Catholic Church is the only institution in the world that does not kick its fallen away members out, but rather invites them to come back home – even when they have broken all the rules or commandments! The Catholic Church is beautiful, in my opinion, because instead of asking you to get out, she prefers to help you out. The Confession is one way of helping out a soul to come back home.

Blessed are you who believed. God is very realistic. He knows each of us by name. His grace does not operate on fictional characters. No. His grace operates on real people – on you and me. What a difference between man and God! Man’s best friend is a dog only because it does what we tell it to do and does not often complain. Whereas God’s best friend is man, who does the complete opposite and complains all the time! We love to block the Holy Spirit’s action because we have a hard time accepting who we are. The miracles begin when we can finally accept, admit who we are and allow the Holy Spirit to change us for the better! Blessed are you who believed!

This Advent let us set out like Mary, who accepted the message of the angel, who set out to spread the Good News, and who accepted the lead role in the Lord’s incredible plan of salvation. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary’s life changed, our lives changed and world history changed forever.

Reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit. Ask yourself what changed in your life once you accepted the Lord into your life. I am sure a lot did!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lk 1:26-38 The Call

Lk 1:26-38 The Call

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After completing Spiritual Exercises back in May of 2007, I flew back to Dallas via Atlanta. It was an early morning flight, 6:00 am, and I was really tired. I sat in my seat and I just wanted to sleep.

A young man sat right down next to me. He too was tired. I looked at him and immediately felt in my heart that I needed to speak to him. I knew that this was what God wanted me to do. But all too often, we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and ignore it.

Throughout our retreat, the preacher insisted that wherever we go and whatever we do, we are always ALTER CHRISTUS. When someone sees us, they see Christ. When someone speaks to us, they are speaking to Christ. Whenever you have a chance to sit next to someone, they sit next to Christ. When someone comes into contact with us, it has to be an encounter with Christ. Not a single moment, not a single opportunity can be lost. We belong to Christ. We are “Alter Christus.”

I was tired. I heard the voice. I am ashamed to say, I did nothing. I opened up my breviary and began to pray. I read the following passages: “Give us the courage, strength and grace to build a world of justice and peace, ready for the coming of that kingdom.” “Make our light shine so brightly before men, that seeing our good works they may give glory to the Father.”

I put the breviary down and began to ask God for an opportunity to speak to this man. Then it happened! The lady next to me fell asleep. Her head was tilted against the window. When her head touched the wall, an earring fell off. It dropped on my side. I thought to myself, here is my opportunity. I picked it up and I looked at the young man next to me while I held the earring in my hand. I told him jokingly, “This is my good deed for the day!” Then I tapped the woman in front of me on her shoulder and gave it back to her. Well, she couldn’t believe it. She said, “Oh my God, thank you!” I told her, “No, just call me Fr. Alfonse.” She laughed and laughed. Then I turned to the man next to me, I took advantage of the laughter and spoke to him.

“Are you from Atlanta?” He answered, “No, I’m from New York. I have to go to Florida. My sister is there and I am going to help her close down her store.” Really? Why is she closing down the store? It wasn’t that successful. She has really suffered a lot this past year. She’s a wonderful person. I love her. But she was diagnosed with cancer. Her husband left her and now, she is closing her store so that she can spend more time with her kids.

I could tell in his eyes that he was about to cry. But then he suddenly spoke up, with courage and gratitude. But God has been great to us. He has helped me and my sister so much. If it weren’t for my faith, I don’t know how I would have gotten through these past few months. I now depend on God all the time. He is my fortress. He is the greatest gift. He is my all!

I looked at him and smiled. Then I said, God is my all too! God is the all-mighty who is capable of taking the worst day of our life and transforming it into the greatest! He is all-good, all-loving, all-knowing, all-caring. I count on him every day. He is my all too!

Then we landed. He thanked me from the bottom of his heart for promising to keep him and his sister in my prayers. He thanked me for being a priest. He thanked me for the little chat.

I thanked God – the Holy Spirit for the conversation. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love! Come Holy Spirit.

Mary was quick to respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit. She heard her name, she answered the call and she changed the course of history. The Annunciation leads to the Visitation.

The most successful Christians are those who answer the call; give it their all and make a world of difference in the world around them! We are like the angel Gabriel (and the Apostles and Mary). We too have been sent by God to bring about the birth of the Lord in someone's heart.