Bowl--Open Heart

IF the Eucharist is truly Jesus, why do so many of us seem unchanged after receiving Holy Communion?

Think of your heart like a bowl.

When you come to Mass with an open heart, attentive to the Word, trusting in God despite your feelings… it is like the “bowl” is turned up. When you receive the Eucharist, all the graces God pours out from the Chalice of Christ’s love, fill your heart. In turn, your heart circulates this gift of Christ’s Body and Blood through your being, and transformation continues, bit by bit.

But when one comes to Mass with a closed heart, watching the clock, daydreaming, receiving Communion like a stick of gum… it is like the “bowl” is turned upside down. God pours out graces on such a soul as well… but they roll off his heart like water off a roof.

Upside-down Bowl

Eucharist

KEEPING Christ’s commandments is how we remain in His love (John 15:10), and if we remain in Him, we “will bear good fruit” (15:5).

But Jesus also said,

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
–John 6:56

How can we fail to take advantage of this precious gift given us in the Holy Eucharist? It is Jesus Himself!

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. –6:55

If we find ourselves hungering for happiness, thirsting for peace, starving for virtues, and lacking in love, why do we not come to The Table where the “source and summit” of our needs is daily provided?

My brothers and sisters, how often have I been filled with the Holy Spirit, pacified in soul, and stirred to a burning love after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist–at a Mass, which only a handful of people attended!

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
–6:35

If the wider Church only knew what graces they would find to overcome faults, resist temptation, grow in virtue, and come to know Love itself through Holy Communion!

    Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?” –Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (60)

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Parish, Violet, Louisiana. My concert was here–two weeks before Katrina pushed over 30 feet of water and Category 4 winds through the church. This photo was taken 7 months later…

WHEN we traveled to some of the worst areas of hurricane-damaged Louisiana recently, we saw two kinds of houses: the ones made of wood, and those of brick.

Some wooden houses had been razed to the ground. There was nothing left but a few splinters of lumber. On the other hand, the brick houses in Katrina’s path were gutted, with broken windows and damaged roofs. But the houses stood. Or rather, withstood.

How can a person possibly withstand the forces he meets in this life–the forces of death, of illness, of unemployment, of uncertainty, of hatred, of temptation?

Listen carefully,

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? ...faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. –James 2:14

Good works are like bricks. Faith is the mortar (what is one without the other?)

The one who builds his life with these, will testify how one can not only survive the painful forces of this life, but even bear them in peace and joy.

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing... If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love... I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. –Jn 15:5, 10-11

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse.... –Mt 7:24-25

Stain Glass

The new stained glass windows depicting the Eucharistic miraculously survived.

Shell

ARE not some of the best things in life hidden?

The coolest, cleanest water is usually found deep within the ground. Gold, silver, and precious jewels are disguised by rough stone and minerals. Nebulae, birthing stars, and colorful galaxies can only be seen with telescopes. Then there is the pearl within the oyster; the milk within the coconut; the nectar within the flower.

But do we recognize the great gift that lies hidden within suffering?

When we are ill-treated by a co-worker or a store clerk, do we recognize the opportunity to die to self? When small irritations befall us, do we see this as the occasion to grow in virtue? When we feel dry and desolate, do we recognize this as the moment to exercise faith?

The spiritual life is reflected in nature. For beneath the bland, rough, and unremarkable surface of the present moment, lies the Pearl of Grace to transform us.

...although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. –Matt 11:25

Pearl

Fr. Elijah Novel

ANOTHER word which has been lingering beneath the surface of thought these past few weeks is “TOTALITARIANISM”.

Totalitarianism occurs when the state demands complete subservience of its subjects, which includes the realm of morality.

Pope Benedict has warned of this growing “dictatorship of relativism.” But so has a lesser known prophet, Michael D. O’Brien, in his series of “novels”: the Children of the Last Days. (If you are looking for powerful Catholic novels with an authentic and tested prophetic message, start here.)

This totalitarianism–though as yet unorganized in terms of formal governance–is beginning to openly express itself in localized policies, such as companies and school boards penalizing staff members who oppose homosexuality. Like a cancer, this dictatorial mentality is now moving into law as governments pass nebulous “hate crime” statutes. The next steps will be to strip the Church of official (and tax) status; then to silence the pulpit; then finally, open persecution–which may in fact be the Persecution. Continue reading

THIS week, as nature in our part of Canada unfolds in extraordinary beauty, I continue to hear the words:

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

VIGIL.

I woke up with this single word, sitting there before my spiritual eyes. It comes from the Latin vigilia, which means “awake”.

Then a strange definition appeared clearly before me:

“to watch the birth of a new era.”

The Skin of Christ

 

THE great and pressing crisis in the North American Church is that there are many who believe in Jesus Christ, but few who follow Him.

Even the demons believe that and tremble. –James 2:19

We must incarnate our belief–put flesh on our words! And this flesh must be visible. Our relationship with Christ is personal, but not our witness.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. –Matt 5:14

Christianity is this: to show the face of love to our neighbour. And we must start with our families–with those whom it is easiest to show "another" face.

This love is not an ethereal sentiment. It has skin. It has bones. It has presence. It is visible… It is patient, it is kind, it is not jealous, nor pompous, nor proud or rude. It never seeks its own interests, nor is it quick-tempered. It does not brood over injury, nor rejoice in wrongdoing. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (1 Cor 13:4-7)

Can I possibly be the face of Christ to another? Jesus says,

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. –Jn 15:5

Through prayer and repentance, we will find the strength to love. We can begin by doing the dishes tonight, with a smile.

Mary, Majestic Creature

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Heaven (c.1868). Gustave Doré (1832-1883). Engraving. The Vision of Purgatory and Paradise by Dante Alighieri. PMA:J99.1734.

"Thou shalt behold enthroned the Queen / To whom this realm is subject and devoted."

WHILE contemplating Jesus in the Glorious Mysteries last night, I was pondering on the fact that I always picture Mary standing up while Jesus crowns her Queen of Heaven. These thoughts came to me…

Mary knelt in profound adoration of her God and Son, Jesus. But when Jesus approached to crown her, He pulled her gently to her feet, honoring the Fifth Commandment "Thou shalt honor thy mother and father."

And to the joy of Heaven, she was enthroned their Queen.

The Catholic Church does not worship Mary, a creature like you and me. But we honor our saints, and Mary is the greatest of them all. For not only was she Christ’s mother (think about it–He probably got His nice Jewish nose from her), but she exemplified perfect faith, perfect hope, and perfect love.

These three remain (1 Cor 13:13), and they are the largest jewels in her crown.

THESE five rays of light, emanating from the heart of a Christian,
can pierce the darkness of unbelief in a world thirsting to believe:
 

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi, by Michael D. O’Brien

 

POVERTY OF STATE

POVERTY OF SELF

POVERTY OF SIMPLICITY

POVERTY OF SACRIFICE

POVERTY OF SURRENDER

 

Holiness, a message that convinces without the need for words, is the living reflection of the face of Christ.  —JOHN PAUL II, Novo Millennio Ineunte