The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C


We see Jesus' exigency in today's Gospel. A man says he will follow Jesus anywhere. Jesus reminds the man, that while foxes have dens and birds have nests, he promises no earthly security. Another man wants to follow Jesus, but only after he has buried his father. That's not a bad thing. In fact, to care for one's father is very good, but you cannot put even that duty ahead of Jesus. Family is the greatest good here on earth, but we cannot put family ahead of Jesus.

There's a paradox in all this. If a person makes family his greatest value, he will eventually lose his family. Do you remember the Godfather movies? They showed a man who would do anything for his "family", including even theft and murder. In the end the Godfather destroys his own family. Now, you and I may not be tempted to the same corruption as the Godfather, but if we put any person ahead of Jesus, we will lose that person. On the other hand, if we put Jesus first, we will do the very best for the ones we love.

Jesus tells us that once we take the step of faith, once we decide to follow him, we cannot look back. Pope Benedict stated this forcefully at the conclusion of the Year for Priests. At an evening vigil, before the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the pope addressed thousands of priests. Of them, five priests, representing the five continents, each asked the Holy Father a question. One of the questions was about priestly celibacy.

After speaking about the priest's identification with Christ, Pope Benedict noted that many people today criticize celibacy. "In a certain sense," he observed, "this continuous criticism against celibacy may surprise, in a time when it is becoming increasingly fashionable not to get married.” The Holy Father then said that "this not-getting married is something totally, fundamentally different from celibacy.” The reason for not getting married could be this: to avoid any "definitive tie.” The person might fear losing their "full autonomy," that is, having no restrictions - being able to decide at any moment what one wants to do. Celibacy - and marriage - is the direct opposite of this. It is, as the Holy Father stated, "a definitive 'yes'. It is to let oneself be taken in the hand of God, to give oneself into the hands of the Lord."

That's what Jesus tells us today when he speaks about those who are "fit for the kingdom of God.” The person fit for the kingdom says "yes" to God; he puts Jesus first. Once again, the bottom line is this: Jesus will accept the tiniest step, but he will not rest until we have given him our totality.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rocky parish celebrates Corpus Christi

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE - Parishioners from St. Matthew Parish here celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi June 6 with a Eucharistic procession through the town.

more on the web page of the Western Catholic Reporter

Saturday, June 19, 2010

XII Sunday in Ordinary Time  - C - June 20, 2010


Jesus’ question "Who do the crowds say that I am?" had as much relevancy down the centuries as it did when it was first asked in the northeast corner of Palestine. I will even dare to say that this is the crucial question for all Christians, for all who claim to believe in Christ and to believe Christ. Many have attempted to answer that question. In fact, each Christian of every age must give an answer. And today as in the time of Christ we have as many answers as people trying to answer the question. Today however “Many people consider Jesus irrelevant because he proposes a life of self-discipline”, the life of truth and authentic love. For this reason His teaching and His person are rejected and denied or neglected even by some so called Catholics, who are not able to accept God who is not fitting their simplistic and false images of Loving God, who forgot about justice.

If God doesn’t fit my expectations and my conviction He doesn’t exist.

So, this people try to diminish Christ’s role and reduce Him to the mere human dimensions, refusing His divinity and His divine prerogatives and rights. They are creating an image of a false God (Christ) who is weak, insignificant, unimportant and finally useless. We can see it nowadays where the whole -apparently Christian- societies are living as if Jesus doesn’t exist or –as one of the American theologians said: “we are creating and worshipping an idol of God, conform to our ideas and who finally follow or obey us and our projections. This god is not the God of the Bible is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is not the God of authority and powerful, creative Love. He is a weak idol, who has to obey us and our requests and if not I reject Him.”

Famous German theologian Karl Rahner in his book “Foundations of faith” writes:

True religion, as a religion of the transcendental God and not the religion of my own subjective imagination cannot be rooted only in my subjectivity or depend only on my individual projection. It has to be a religion of objective and indisputable moral and ethical values rooted ultimately in an objective God, Who is always out of me and finally out of my understanding. If the religion is only an expression and interpretation of my personal understanding and my private acceptation, it is always subjective and week, and finally it is a kind of home-made religion. And what is the value of such a home-made religion? The value of such a home-made religion is the same as the value the home-made currency. Means null, literally zero!!

To guarantee, to assure this objectivity of God and objectivity of religion, God gave us two complementary elements: Bible and the Church which is: “the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)

How many of our contemporary Christian communities are creating such a home-made religion, or home-made God, because they reject Jesus Christ as a Messiah, they reject the church instituted by Christ?

More important however is Jesus’ second question: "who do you say that I am?"
Matthew Kelly in his book: “Rediscovering Catholicism” writes:

You can prise Him, disagree with Him, quote Him, disbelieve Him, glorify Him, or criticize Him. The only thing you cannot do is ignore Him.

I agree with him only partially, because -as we can see in our societies- … many even Christians or Catholics ignore Christ, or prefer not to know Him. Ask please one of your relatives or friends a sincere a serious question: “Who is Jesus Christ for you?” … and in many cases the only answer you will get will be an embarrassment or awkward smile of discomfort. They are Christians, they are Catholics …. But the question is awkward … isn’t it?

And if I ask you the same question, what will be your answer? Not a catechetical or neutral answer but your personal, the most private, the most secret and most individual answer: “Who is Jesus Christ for me, here and now?

I must decide -as someone has suggested- whether I am His disciple or just only His fan.

If I declare myself a disciple of Christ I have to know that the word disciple comes the word discipline … and it means that as a disciple I suppose to follow the discipline of Christ.

As a disciple I have to understand directly the words:

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

We must decide eventually WHO IS JESUS CHRIST FOR ME. If my answer is the same as St. Peter's, I have to do something with it and not just pretend that I know Jesus and that I am His disciple.

And this has to be absolutely clear. Otherwise I am creating an idol who has nothing to do with and objective and Almighty God, I am creating my home-made religion and the value of this home-made religion is the same as the value of the home-made currency.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 16 JUN 2010 (VIS) - At 7.30 p.m. yesterday in the basilica of St. John Lateran the Pope inaugurated the diocesan congress of Rome, which has as its theme this year: "'Their eyes were opened, they recognised Him and announced Him'. The Sunday Eucharist and the witness of charity". The congress is being held from 15 to 17 June.

"The faith", said Benedict XVI, "can never be taken for granted, because each generation needs to receive this gift through announcement of the Gospel and knowledge of the truth that Christ revealed to us. Thus the Church constantly strives to present the heritage of the faith to everyone. This also includes the doctrine on the Eucharist". Unfortunately, though, this doctrine "is insufficiently understood in its profound significance and in the relevance it has for believers' lives. It is important, therefore, for people to have a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord".

On the subject of the Mass, the Holy Father highlighted how, "when it is celebrated with respect for liturgical norms, and with adequate attention for the importance of signs and gestures, it favours and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith". In this context, he invited everyone "to rediscover the fruitfulness of Eucharistic adoration, ... and to ensure that our apostolic activity is not reduced to sterile activism; rather, that it be a testament to the love of God".

"Drawing nourishment from Him, we free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. And through our communion with Him, we ourselves become, all together, a single unit, His mystical Body. Thus we overcome the differences due to profession, social class or nationality because we discover that we are all members of one large family, that of the children of God in which each individual is blessed with a specific grace for the common good".

"When we receive Christ", the Holy Father explained, "the love of God expands inside us, radically modifying our hearts and making us capable of gestures which, by the contagious power of goodness, can transform the lives of people around us".

"For the disciples of Jesus", he went on, "witness of charity is not some passing sentiment; quite the contrary, it shapes their lives in all circumstances". At this point the Pope encouraged people to show "commitment in the delicate and vital area of education in charity, as a permanent dimension of individual and community life.

"Our city of Rome", he added, "calls Christ's disciples to a renewed announcement of the Gospel and to a clearer witness of charity". He also expressed his gratitude "to the people who work in various charitable structures, for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and marginalised".

The Eucharist "requires us to become, and at the same time makes us capable of becoming, the bread broken for our brothers and sisters, meeting their needs and giving of ourselves. For this reason, a Eucharist celebration that does not lead us towards men and women where they live, work and suffer, to bring them the love of God, fails to express the truth it contains".

"In the present economic and social crisis, let us show solidarity with those who live in poverty, offering everyone the hope of a better tomorrow worthy of mankind", the Holy Father concluded.

Finally, the Pope invited young people not to be afraid "to chose love as the supreme rule of life, .. to love Christ in the priesthood, ... to create Christian families that live a faithful and indissoluble love, open to life".

Sunday, June 13, 2010

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – “C” June 12/13 2010

In today's Gospel from Luke Chapter 7 we are told about the encounter between Jesus and a woman who was a sinner. This takes place in the house of a Pharisee. Jesus has been invited to come and eat with the Pharisee.

The woman of the city, this sinner, has heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee's house. So she enters the house and kneels at the feet of Jesus. Weeping, she begins to bathe His feet with her tears and drying His feet with her hair. Then kiss­ing His feet she anoints them with an alabaster jar of ointment.

We can imagine the reaction of the self-righteous Pharisee. He is shocked! How can this woman, who is well known as a sinner dare to touch Jesus? Doesn't Jesus know who she is? If she touches Him then Jesus would be ritually unclean.

Jesus responds by telling a simple story of two debtors, of whom one was forgiven a very small debt and the other was forgiven a very large one. Jesus puts a question to the Pharisee as to which of these two debtors was more grateful, the one who was forgiven little or the one who was forgiven the greater debt?

The point of the parable is that forgiveness always brings the loving response that we call gratitude, and that obviously the more generous the forgiveness is the more intense the response is likely to be. Jesus now applies this lesson to the woman and the Pharisee. The Pharisee gave Jesus no water to wash His feet, whereas the woman bathed His feet in her tears and dried them with her hair. The Pharisee gave Jesus no kiss, but the woman from the time she came in, she has not stopped kissing Jesus' feet. The Pharisee did not anoint Jesus' head with oil, however, the woman anoint­ed His feet.

Jesus said “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; because she has shown great love.” “ Woman, your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace”

What Jesus was saying to the Pharisee was that this woman, despite her sinful past, was much closer to God than the Pharisee was, because she was able to recognize her sinfulness and the necessity of God’s mercy.

Today's first reading tells us about God's prophet Nathan confronting David for adultery and murder.
David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers, and then engineered the death of her husband so that he might continue his relationship with Bathsheba. David did what displeased the Lord. David, after being abundantly blessed by God, went from neglect of duty, to lust, to adultery, to deceit, to treachery, to con­spiracy, and finally to murder.

Upon being confronted by God’s prophet Nathan, David, sincerely and humbly confess­es his guilt. David is profoundly repentant, and having confessed his sin to Nathan with the result that the Lord forgives his sinfulness, and remits the worst, though not all of his punishment.

The entire story is both a severe warning to human pride and, at the same time, a gracious assurance of the availability of divine mercy to those repentant sinners who sincerely confess their sins.

This is the classic Old Testament statement of the pat­tern of self-examination in the light of God's law. Examination was followed by confession of the sin as an offense against God.

It con­cludes with the confessor's declaration that because of the person’s repentance and confession - God has put away the sin.

Nathan tells David that God has put away his sin – he is forgiven his sins. However, God tells David through Nathan that there is still a debt to pay even though his sins are forgiven – the Lord tells him that because of his sin – “the sword shall never depart from your house.” The damage must be repaired.

As it was in the Old Testament so it is today. We follow basically the same process when we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament of Confession. The Sacrament of Reconciliation given to us by Jesus consists of examination of conscience beforehand, an act of repentance, confession of sins to Jesus through the priest, with the intention to make reparation. The priest then gives us absolution and our sins are taken away and we leave to do whatever penance we have been assigned.

Like David, God has forgiven our sins through the action of the priest and like David we are assigned a penance. Remember, even though David’s sins are forgiven, God told him there is still a price to pay and he is told “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised Me”. Even though God has forgiven David’s sin God still assigns him a punishment – a penance if you will. Why?

Because the reality of God’s Mercy is always connected to the reality of Justice. We really don’t have true Mercy without justice.

The forgiveness of sins is the sign of God’s Mercy but the penance assigned is the expression of God’s Justice. God is a merciful but just God.

God is not vengeful and unforgiving, but the damage caused by sin must be repaired, because the structure of God’s good creation was damaged.

This penance that we have been assigned by the priest of course is only symbolic in that it could never make reparation for our sins. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Jesus came to pay for our sins. We could never pay the price. Only Jesus can.

We are not able to repair the damages caused by our sins since we have sinned against Almighty God, so only the Son of God, the Omnipotent and creative Word of God can “make everything new”, only Christ can re-create the nature broken by our sins.

However, it is not possible to do this without our participation. And this is the sense of the penance we receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Sacrament of Confession.

This penance allows us to participate in the reparation made by Christ. That is mercy. That is justice.

And what is the reaction of the repentant person whose sins are forgiven? Today’s responsorial psalm tells us about the joy we should feel in our hearts after we have sincerely confessed our sins to the priest and been given absolution – the assurance that God has heard our plea and forgiven our sins.

Psalm 32 tells us about the joy of those whose sins are forgiven, who have confessed their transgressions to the Lord and were forgiven the guilt of their sins and now they find their refuge in the Lord.

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven whose sin is covered. Blessed is the one to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not hide my iniquity; I said “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Did David confess his sins directly to the Lord or did David confess his sins to God through God’s representative, Nathan. What does Scripture say? Scripture is very clear. David said to Nathan “I have sinned against the Lord” and then Nathan said to David “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die”.

In hearing the words of absolution with our own ears from God’s minister, the priest in the confessional - we have the wonderful assurance that God has heard our confession and taken away our sin. God’s knows human nature – He knows of our need to be assured of forgiveness, He knows what comfort it will be to hear those words of forgiveness.

That is why we confess our sins to God’s minister a priest, because according to Holy Scripture that’s the way God wants it to be. That is why the Lord instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So that we might mysteriously participate in Christ’s redemptive action, be forgiven our transgressions and know that we are forgiven when we hear the words of forgiveness and receive our assigned penance.

God does not want to condemn us but rather to give us the opportunity to receive His forgiveness.

In his book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” the late Great Pope John Paul II wrote and I quote:

“…convincing the world of the existence of sin is not the same as condemning it for sinning.” God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him." Convincing the world of sin means creating the conditions for its salvation. Awareness of our own sinfulness, including that which is inherited, is the first condition for salvation; the next is the confession of this sin before God, who desires only to receive this confession so that He can save man. To save means to embrace and lift up with redemptive love, with love that is always greater than any sin.” Unquote.

We have a choice. We can be like the Pharisee who obviously felt he had no need for forgiveness maybe because he felt he had no sin. Or, we can be like the woman in the Gospel, humbly acknowledging our sinfulness.

David confessed his sin to God’s representative, the prophet Nathan. That is how God wanted David to be forgiven – through the actions and words of His minister Nathan. God’s prophet Nathan spoke to David. David acknowledged his sin to Nathan.

If it was not for that encounter with Nathan, David would never have known for sure that God had forgiven him and that God required more from him namely “that the sword should never leave his house”?

In today’s Scripture readings Jesus places a challenge before us.

God did not speak directly to David but rather spoke to him through His minister Nathan.
God does not speak directly to us either but rather speaks to us through His minister the priest.

And that is the challenge the Lord gives us today.

Do we want to hear with our own ears the words of words of Jesus “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.”
When was the last time we heard the words of forgiveness spoken to us in the confessional?

God bless you.
Deacon Bernie Ouellette

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Is it not something astonishing and touching?

Rocky Mountain House

and Nowy Targ (my hometown) in Poland

Rocky Mountain House

and Nowy Targ

Rocky Mountain House

and Nowy Targ

Rocky Mountain House

and Nowy Targ

Rocky Mountain House

and Nowy Targ

We do believe the same God, the same Jesus Christ, the same presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Rocky Mountain House

and Nowy Targ in Poland

so many similarities ... 

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Corpus Christi Sunday - 2010

A few months before he died in 1979, Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a television interview. The reporter asked, “Your Excellency, you have inspired millions. Who inspired you? Was it the pope?”

Bishop Sheen responded that it was not the pope or a cardinal or another bishop or even a priest or nun. It was an eleven-year-old girl.

He explained that when the communists took over China in the late forties, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory. Looking through the window, he saw the soldier enter the church and break open the tabernacle, scattering the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The priest knew the exact number of hosts: thirty-two.

Unnoticed by the soldiers, a young girl had been praying in the back of the church and she hid when they came in. That night the girl returned and spent an hour in prayer. She then entered the sanctuary, knelt and bent over to take one of the hosts on her tongue.

The girl came back each night, spent an hour in prayer and received Jesus by picking up a sacred host with her tongue. The thirty-second night, after consuming the final host, she made an accidental sound, awakening a soldier. He ran after her and when he caught her, he struck her with his rifle butt. The noise woke the priest – but too late. From his house, he saw the girl die.

Bishop Sheen said that when he heard about this, it inspired him so much that he made a promise that he would spend one hour each day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He always said that the power of his priesthood came from this one holy hour every day.

What can we say? How do we worship and respect Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament?

And one idea more … Late Pope John Paul II used to repeat: “Do not be afraid, do not be afraid to open for Jesus Christ the doors of your hearts, the doors of your families, the door of your lives … do not be afraid.”