Saturday, November 26, 2022

First Sunday of Advent - O Come. Let us adore Him.

“O Father, in your Truth (that is to say, in your Son, humbled, needy and homeless) you have humbled me. He was humbled in the womb of the Virgin, needy in the manger of the sheep, and homeless on the wood of the Cross. Nothing so humbles the proud sinner as the humility of Jesus Christ’s humanity.”  (St. Anthony of Padua).

"Jesus said to his disciples:

“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

"In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.

"So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.

"Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.

"So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  (Matthew 24: 37 - 44).

Sunday 27th November 2022 is the First Sunday of Advent.

What is Advent?
Advent is a period of waiting and expectation for a big event. Advent is the Season we wait for the Coming of the Lord.  We wait for two Comings of Jesus:  The first Coming of Jesus as a poor child born in a Manger in Bethlehem.  This has happened. We celebrate the feast every year at Christmas.

The second Coming is His Coming in majesty at the end of the ages to judge the world. When Jesus comes again in glory and majesty and we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise
in which now we dare to hope, teaches the Church.

How do we wait? "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come." (Mark 13: 33).

In order to be fully awake and take full advantage of all the blessings that God has prepared for us this Advent, we need an Advent Plan.
Your Advent may just be more of your daily devotions:
Prayer, Word of God, Eucharist, Adoration, Penance, etc.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."

Lord Jesus, we are Your people and Your inheritance. Save us in Your mercy.
Wishing our friends a grace-filled and prosperous Advent.

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Friday, November 25, 2022

This is the Last Day. The Last Hour. Wake up!

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6: 11 - 12 NIV).

"Jesus said to his disciples:

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

"For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21: 34 - 36).

Saturday 26th November 2022 of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time. This is the Last Day. The Last Hour. The Final Hour.

Christians wake up! Our Redemption is very close. Yet, there are intense spiritual warfare to be fought.

"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."

The Enemy will use a well tried and successful game plan to entrap you. He will wear you out with foolish and unnecessary worries about home parties, church parties and office parties. Crazy shoppings and bargain huntings.

St Paul uses the image of a fully dressed and equipped Roman soldier to teach us how to be ready always so that we may not be surprised by the traps of the Devil.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Cf Ephesians 6: 10 - 17).

You may also consider the Full Armor as the 7 Daily Habits of Saints:

Prayer, Word of God, Eucharist, Confession, Examination of Conscience, Ministry or Faith Sharing, Spiritual Reading.

If you do this diligently, that day will  "not catch you by surprise like a trap."

"I want to draw a veil between your soul and the world. I want to reserve you for Myself alone, and hide you far from the gaze of demons and of men. I want to cover you with a veil and draw you into the sanctuary of My Heart, there to exercise with Me, through Me, and in Me, a hidden priesthood and a hidden victimhood." (IN SINU JESU, Thursday, December 10, 2015).

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

Feast of St Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Martyr.

"Lord Jesus Christ, my God, I thank Thee for having firmly set my feet on the rock of the Faith and directed my steps on the pathway of salvation. Open now Thy arms wounded on the cross to receive my soul, which I offer in sacrifice to the glory of Thy Name." (St Catherine of Alexandria).

"Jesus told his disciples a parable.

“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.

"Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21: 29 - 33).

Friday 25th November 2022 of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria. (+ 310). Virgin and Martyr. African.

Catherine was well educated and articulate.  No surprise because she was from the upper class of society in Alexandria, one of the foremost center of learning and culture at that time. She was courageous and fearless. She defended the faith before Emperor Maxentius. The Emperor was taken aback at the erudition and courage of the young girl. He flew into a rage and condemned Catherine to death. Catherine is the patron saint of philosophers, lawyers and preachers.

Where does the power, eloquence, wisdom of St Catherine of Alexandria come from? We don't have to look far.

"Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute." (Luke 21: 14 - 15).

Jesus concluded the Parable of the Fig Tree in today's Gospel by asserting this great proclamation on the Word of God. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The word of God is permanent. It is eternal. This world is temporary. It is vanishing as anybody can see from the consequences of global warming.

So far, the words of Jesus have not passed away after 2000 years. How do we prove this?
#1 Preachers still preach this word day and night in churches, on TV, Radio and Blogs.
#2 Missionaries leave their countries every day to bring this word to people who have not heard this word before.
#3 People search constantly on the Internet for this word, making the Bible one of the most searched key word.
#4 Printing presses all over the world keep rolling out millions of copies of the Bible.

Friends, do you consider this phenomenon of the enduring power of the word of God an accident? Can you find a parallel for this in history?

Consider this question:
If Jesus Christ could be so absolutely correct in His prediction about the iteration and durability of His word, what else could He be correct about? Other prophecies of Jesus Christ:
#a. I am surely coming back.
#b. I am with you always.
#c. The gates of hell shall try very hard but cannot prevail against my Church.
#d. My Kingdom is universal. It is also everlasting.
#e. No eye has seen, no ear has heard of the eternal plan I have for you who believe in Me and follow Me.

"Be alert; stand firm in the faith; be valiant and strong, and the God of peace will be with you." (1 Corinthians 16:13)

You can be the next Catherine if you let the word of God nourish you daily. If you trust in Jesus to lead you to your purpose in life. If you accept His unconditional love for you and embrace His gracious will for you.

Here is something I learned about Catherine today:
Before St Catherine was executed, she promised to obtain favors for all those who seek her intercession on personal problems. This reminds us of St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower who promised to be a powerful intercessor in Heaven for any person who seeks her help.

"Even if you have to die, says the Lord, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2: 10).

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Feast of St Andrew Dung Lac and Companion Martyrs.

"We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count." (Neal A. Maxwell).

"Jesus said to his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand.

"Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the Scriptures are fulfilled.

"Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.

"People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:20 - 28).

Thursday 24th November 2022 of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time is
the feast of St Andrew Dung-Lac and his companion martyrs.

St Andrew, a Vietnamese priest was martyred in 1839 along with 117 others, 96 of whom were Vietnamese. The rest were foreign missionaries. Has any other religion the same experience of martyrdom in modern history as the Christian faith?  Why do Christians accept martyrdom? Christians know that death is not the end of their life. We believe in the Resurrection. Jesus Christ has promised. His word is true.

Today is also Thanksgiving Day in America. Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends.

The first Reading from the Book of Revelations and the Gospel message from Luke today both from the universal lectionary are grim messages. They deal with the last days. They may seem unpalatable for Thanksgiving celebrations but they are tonic and nourishment for the soul. Why? Because the Bible warns by example and narrative that it is during celebrations that disaster strikes.

Which would you prefer? To be called to the wedding feast of the Lamb or sit down before a table piled high with roasted turkey, deserts and wine? The Wedding Feast of the Lamb is the mother of all celebrations.

The message of the End Times whether from the Prophet Daniel, Jesus or John in the Book of Revelations is the easiest Scripture to understand. It is concise and straightforward:

How to be ready and fired up to go in a moment's notice:

#1 Pray all the time.
#2 Pray everywhere.
#3 Pray about everything.

To prayer add daily nourishment from the word of God. Do not be tired of doing good to your neighbor.

For a list of good works mandated by the Church, click the link below:

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Feast of Blessed Miguel Pro SJ, Priest and Martyr.

“We ought to speak,
shout out against injustices,
with confidence and without fear.
We proclaim the principles of the Church, the reign of love,
without forgetting that it is also a reign of JUSTICE!” (Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ).

"Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.

"It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Luke 21: 12 - 19).

Wednesday 23rd November 2022 of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time
is the feast of Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, SJ. (1891 - 1927). Mexican. Priest of the Society of Jesus and Martyr during the fierce Mexican persecution of the Church in the 1920s. Miguel Pro traveled to Europe to complete his theological studies for the priesthood because of the demonic opposition to the Church in Mexico. After his ordination to the priesthood, he returned to Mexico and ministered to the people in secret escaping  arrests by hiding and disguises. He was eventually captured and executed by firing squad.  Miguel Pro spread his hands in form of a cross and shouted "CRISTO REY" (Christ the King) as the executioners rained bullets into his body.

Our key Scripture is from Luke 21: 12 - 19. This is one of the most powerful and comforting promises Jesus made to His followers. Soon after the experience of Pentecost, Peter and John confirmed the truth in their encounter with the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of Israel). Other Apostles including Stephen and Paul confirmed the reliability of this promise of Jesus in their ministry. This promise has blessed me on a number of occasions. Hence I call the Holy Spirit the Voice that speaks in Court.

Martyrdom is the badge of honor for Christians. Tertulian, the 2nd century African theologian stated that "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity."

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5: 10).

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Monday, November 21, 2022

The Feast of St Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music.

"Express the joy of the situation and the joy to play this music, to sing this music, it’s really fantastic.”  (St. Cecilia. Patron saint of musicians).

"While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”

Jesus answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!

"When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.”

"Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”  (Luke 21: 5 - 11).

Tuesday 22nd November 2022 of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Cecilia. Italian. (+ 3rd century). Virgin and Martyr. Cecilia came from a noble Roman family. She was betrothed to Valerian, a noble Roman gentleman. Cecilia convinced Valerian to respect her perpetual vow of chastity. She also led Valerian to embrace Christ and Christianity. Valerian gave his life to Christ as a martyr. St Cecilia was tortured and left to die slowly. St Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians. Her name is mentioned in the Roman Canon. Music plays a central role in the worship and liturgy of the Church. St Augustine says that to sing is to pray twice. Let us thank God for the gift of music.

"While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

From time to time, I walk through the downtown on my way to the noon Mass. There are always many shiny glass and steel constructions going up and up. I frequently stop at the sidewalk to stretch my neck and gaze at the towering skyscrapers. I remember Christ's  warning in today's Gospel. “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Can this prophecy of Jesus be applied to our era? Rome was destroyed. Berlin was leveled to the ground. Moscow was burnt down by Napoleon. Russia is destroying Ukraine one city at a time. Of course the prophecy in the Gospel of today is specific to Jerusalem. Jerusalem met its nemesis in 70 AD when Emperor Vespatian and his son Titus executed God's judgment on Jerusalem.

What is the meaning of the prophecy for us today?
Don't take too seriously what is going on in this nation and the world  today. Watch rather the signs of the End Times. The End is near. Watch and pray that you may not succumb to vile temptations.

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Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple.

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, That there may be food in my house.
Put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, And see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you,
and pour down upon you blessing without measure!" (Malachi 3: 10).

"When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.

"He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21: 1 - 4).

Monday 21st November 2022 of the 34th week of Ordinary Time is
the Presentation of Mary in the Temple.

What are we celebrating in this feast?  This feast celebrates an event in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast remembers the occasion when Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne presented the little girl in the Temple to be educated by priests. This event calls a lie to some teachers who postulate that Mary was a simple peasant girl who did not know how to read or write.

This great feast is not recorded in the Scriptures. It is nonetheless an ancient feast of the Church.

The Church affirms that along with Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the authoritative Magisterium are the sources of the truth we subscribe to in the Church. The Church has this ancient sacred maxim:
"Lex credendi, lex orandi, lex vivendi." It means that the rule of prayer is the rule of faith and the rule of living. As you pray, so you believe. As you believe, so you live.

The Gospel today from Luke 21: 1 - 4 is not a parable but an actual event.  What Jesus observed in the Temple was an opportunity for a great teaching on trust in God, tithing and generosity. Jesus is a great Teacher. He teaches from life's experiences and from parables. Some lessons from this Scripture.

#1 The widow was able to give her ALL because she had experienced God's faithful provisions.
#2. It is not the largeness of the gift that counts but what the gift costs you.
#3 The poor contribute more to the upkeep of the Church than the rich.
#4 "Give and there will be gifts for you." You can never outdo God in generosity.
#5 Wherever your treasure is, there lies your heart.
#6. Insecurity for tomorrow is the curse of the rich who are ignorant of the biblical blessings of giving.

The annual Thanksgiving is a few days away. Read some Scriptures on the blessings of giving and rendering thanks for the blessings you have received from God.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Luke 11: 9 - 10).

"I bless those whom you present to Me, lifting them into the light of My Face. I will give to each one according to his need, but also according to his readiness to receive My gifts. Those who are poor in spirit are those most ready to receive what I would give them." (IN SINU JESU, Tuesday, January 8, 2008).

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