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

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 19, 2013 - Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2, 1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Cor 12, 3-7. 12-13; John 20, 19-23

The story is told of Napoleon Bonaparte boasting to a Vatican cardinal that he would destroy the Church. The cardinal nonchalantly replied to the perplexed emperor, "Good luck, Your Majesty. We, priests and bishops have been attempting to do just that for centuries. And we didn't succeed. "

In effect, the bishop was doffing his scarlet biretta in salute to the Holy Spirit. That Spirit dwells comfortably and sometimes, I suspect, very uncomfortably within the Church. Try what anyone might; the Church will not go away precisely because the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is on the job around the clock. Napoleon thought the prelate was pulling his imperial leg. He took on the Church. He was rudely dethroned. The Church survived. The former emperor wound up beating off mosquitoes as a full-time occupation on the damp island of Saint Helena somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

Without the Holy Spirit, the Church would be at best a third rate operation or, perhaps better, a non-operation. But with the Spirit the Church is today able to survive its many difficulties. With the Holy Spirit the Church survived the centuries of persecution, the attempts of Napoleon and French Revolution, the efforts of the Mexican and Spain’s revolutions, the communistic domination in Russia and East European countries. With the Holy Spirit at work the church survived the diabolic attempts during the II World War, and is still surviving the most atrocious persecutions in Communistic China. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Lord’s Church, but He is also, or at least should be in work in us.

A brilliant man, a man of education, with Doctorate Degrees and honors from most major universities, took a sabbatical.  He decided to devote as much time as it would take, one year, two years or more, and learn all he could about Jesus.  He studied ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew and Aramaic so he could read the earliest texts about Jesus.  He studied Ignatius, Justin, Augustine, Aquinas, and all the famous theologians of centuries, always focusing on learning about Jesus.  He read the works of modern theologians.  He took courses in various foreign languages so he could understand theologians in their original language. 

After studying and studying he wrote his own book about Jesus.  It was an instant success not just in the academic circles, but in every Christian and even non-Christian Church.  The man, the esteemed professor, was called upon to give talks about Jesus to all sorts of different groups, from seminarians to atheists. His lectures always ended with a question and answer period.  Usually, there was no one in audience who could ask a question that the brilliant man had not been asked before or for which he did not have an answer at the tip of his tongue.

No one, until an elderly man raised his hand after one lecture.  The old man asked: “How is it that someone who has studied as much as you, has learned so little?”

What?  What type of an arrogant simpleton would dare question the great scholar, the great professor?  After the commotion settled down, the scholar responded, “I am sure that I have much more to learn about Jesus, but why do you feel that I have learned so little?” He had the old man.  At least until the man said, “You have Jesus in your head, but you do not have him in your heart.”

Knowledge of Christ come from the head, but knowing Christ comes from the heart.  His Spirit must be within us. We have to give Him a permission to work in us, to operate in our hearts. Otherwise we will not know our Lord and Redeemer.

And this is the great gift of Pentecost, the solemnity we celebrate today. The Spirit of the Lord has been given to us so that we don’t just know about the Lord, but that we know the Lord.

But, there is something more: After the coming of the Holy Spirit, as we have seen, the disciples did not stay in that room luxuriating in what they had been given. They burst out to tell the world, to announce the Good News.

Fr. Kaz SDS

Pentecost Sunday

Today,  Pentecost, we are celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit  upon the apostles.  We have just heard in the Acts of the Apostles - "suddenly from the sky came a loud  sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house."

It was a very important event of the day which changed the face of the earth. With the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Gospel began to be preached to the whole earth.  
They were not afraid to be a witness  to Jesus Christ and  His Resurrection  after  His death on the cross.
The Holy Spirit is therefore, the only explanation for the fact that those ordinary people in a very short time, carried (spread) the local word of God to the world attracting new followers of Christ.

We can also be sure  that our church and our house is filled  today, with  the same Holy Spirit giving us the same energy to be witnesses  to the Resurrection.
Since our Holy baptism, the same  Holy Spirit dwells in us, and as the Bible says - "we are his temple."
However, when we look at our Christian life it seems that the Holy Spirit is kept in a closed tabernacle, and we do not allow Him to act in our hearts. Yes, we have to be the temple of the Holy Spirit   in which  we will hear  His voice. We have to be the temple that is preached of in the gospel.

If we are closed to the action of the Holy Spirit, we will be like the apostles after the  Resurrection - asking about the reality of our faith and scared (afraid)  to witness to the  Resurrection and the great love of God for man.

Today, we get another chance to be open to the Holy Spirit and to learn to exceed our imperfections and our possibilities.
The Apostles went  out into  the world, despite  their incompetence, but thanks to their courage,  we believe  in our church today.  
With the help of the Holy Spirit we also have a duty to contribute  to the victory of truth and good to the modern world.

The church, today, needs our gifts and our talents to transform this world.

If you are not open to the Holy Spirit and  His gifts, do not use them responsibly, but squander  them, we will also be responsible for those who do not  hear the Gospel and are not told about the love of God.

 – Fr Tom

Monday, May 13, 2013

Church is not daying ... especially in Africa ...


Vatican City, 13 May 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs, presented the Holy Father with the 2013 edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" (Pontifical Yearbook, the Holy See's annual directory), in the presence of the officials responsible for compiling and printing the volumes. The "Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae" (the Church's Statistical Yearbook), which the same discastery is also responsible for, was also presented.

A reading of the information given shows some changes relative to the life of the Catholic Church in the world from 2012 to the election of Pope Francis.

In that period, it is noteworthy that there were erected: 11 new episcopal Sees; two personal ordinariates; one apostolic vicariate; and one apostolic prefecture. Also, one territorial prelature was elevated to the rank of diocese and two apostolic exarchates were elevated to the rank of eparchies.
The statistical information, which refers to the year 2011, reveals details about the Catholic Church in the 2,979 ecclesiastical circumscriptions around the planet. The number of Catholics in the world increased from 1.196 million in 2010 to 1.214 million in 2011, an increase of eighteen million faithful, corresponding to a growth of 1.5%. Over the last three years the presence of baptised Catholics in the world has remained stable at around 17.5%.

The number of Catholics with respect to the total population varies considerably between the continents. Their numbers have increased in Africa (by 4.3%), which has reported a 2.3% increase of its population between 2010 and 2011. In Asia, an increase in Catholics greater to an increase in the population was also recorded (of 2% compared to 1.2%). In the Americas and in Europe the increase in numbers of Catholics is equal to the population increase (.3%). In 2011, the total of baptised Catholics had a distribution of, by continent: the Americas (48.8%); Europe (23.5%); Africa (16%); Asia (10.9%); and Oceania (.8%).
From 2010 to 2011, the number of bishops increased from 5,104 to 5,132, a relative increase of .55%. The increase mainly involved Oceania (+4.6%) and Africa (+1%) while Asia and Europe are slightly below the world average and no variation is seen in the Americas.
The steady increase in the number of priests which began in the year 2000 has continued. On 31 December 2011, their numbers stood at 413,418 compared to last year's 412,236. Nevertheless, this was not homogeneous growth. In Africa and Asia the increase was, respectively, +39.5% and +32% (with an increase of more than 3,000 in 2011 alone). In the Americas the situation is stationary (122,000 priests) while, over the last decade, Europe has seen a decrease of more than 9%.
The number of permanent deacons registered a strong increase: from 29,000 in 2001 to 41,000 in 2011. Those present in North America and Europe count for 97.4% of the total.
The number of non-ordained male religious increased, slightly surpassing 55,000. Their numbers are increasing in Africa and Asia (+18.5% and +44.9% respectively) and decreasing in the Americas (-3.6%), in Europe (-18%), and in Oceania (-21.9%).
The is a strong decrease in the number of female religious, which currently registers 713,000 members in contrast to 792,000 in 2001. There are fewer female religious in Europe (-22%), Oceania (-21%), and the Americas (-17%). Nevertheless there is significant growth in their numbers in Africa (+28%) and in Asia (18%).
Candidates for the priesthood, diocesan and religious, have increased since 2001 (112,244) by 7.5%. In 2011 there were 120,616 registered. The strongest increase in seminarians was in Africa (+30.9%), and Asia (+29.4%), while Europe and the Americas registered a decrease in their numbers of 21.7% and 1.9% respectively.

Ascension 2013

After 40 days, Christ returns to  His  Father's house. He ceases to be visibly present on earth but He is in the form of bread and in the hearts of the faithful in the church.

He continues to work on earth in the preaching of the Gospel which indicates the purpose of our journey and He still offers us His Mercy.

In other words, it is the beginning of Christ's pulling back from His active Ministry of the church.

Today's celebration also aims to show us the  purpose of our journey to Heaven.

Many times we have heard about heaven. We have some conceptions of heaven, and we yearn for heaven in the sky and that after a difficult life we will have rest and peace.

We believe that heaven is the real joy and fulfillment of our dreams of meeting God there.

So Heaven is God.

But we are still on earth, and our job is to seek Heaven.

We just heard "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

This task does not rest only on the successors of the Apostles not only on the priests who preach the Gospel but primarily on we who have adopted the same priesthood at the moment of our baptism.


Theological education is nothing and nothing in the church leadership is a substitute for the testimony of witnessing Christ in our life.

The best homily is our life a life of goodness, faith, authenticity and leading or pulling others to Christ.

This possibility is mostly for lay people who in their daily lives meet with many people, not just Catholics.

With this  knowledge about Heaven, we will become the only ones who can extend our hands and our words so that He is known in the world.

Benedict XVI wrote what does the Ascension mean?

This means that the faith of Christ the man came into contact with the inner essence of God.


Heaven is not a place but the Presence of God in man.


After this event, the disciples returned to their homes praising God.

So let us go with the same convictions that Christ is God who is still active in His church and that we are not alone in the building of His Kingdom.


Fr. Tom

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ascension of the Lord – year C

Acts of the Apostles 1:1–11; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:1923; Luke 24:46–53

No back-up plan
Jesus gave to his followers the task of completing his work by sharing the Good News with the rest of the world.

There’s an ancient legend about the ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to the legend, when Jesus reached heaven, his body still showed the wounds of his crucifixion. His hands and feet still bore the prints from the nails. His side bore the mark from the spear. His back bore the stripes from the whip, and his head bore the wounds from the thorns. When the people in heaven saw these marks, they fell on their knees before Jesus.

They were astounded to see how much he had suffered. Then the angel Gabriel rose up and said to Jesus:

“Lord, how greatly you suffered on earth! Do all the people on earth know and appreciate how much you went through for them and how much you love them?’’
Jesus replied: “Oh, no! Only a handful of people in Palestine know that. The rest haven’t even heard of me. They don’t know who I am. They don’t know how much I suffered, and how much I love them.’’

Gabriel was shocked to hear this. Then he said to Jesus: “How will all the rest of the people on earth ever learn about your suffering and your love?’’

Jesus said: “Just before I left, I told Peter, James, and John, and a few of their friends, to tell the rest of the world for me. “They’ll tell as many people as they can. Those people, in turn, will tell other people. In that way the whole world will eventually learn about my love for them.’’

Gabriel looked even more confused now. He knew how fickle people are. He knew how forgetful they are. He knew how prone to doubt they are. So he turned to Jesus and said: “But, Lord, what if Peter, James, and John grow tired or frustrated? What if they forget about you? What if they begin to have doubts about you? “And even if none of these things happen, what if the people they tell become frustrated? What if they forget? What if they begin to have doubts about you? “Didn’t you take these things into account? Don’t you have a back-up plan—just in case?’’

Jesus answered: “I did take all these things into account, but I decided against a back-up plan. This is the only plan I have. “I’m counting on Peter, James, and John not to let me down. I’m counting on the people they tell not to let me down.’’

Twenty centuries later, Jesus still has no other plan. He counted on Peter, James, and John, and they didn’t let him down. He counted on the people they told, and they didn’t let him down. And now Jesus counts on us.

The Feast of the Ascension is the commemoration of the elevation of Christ into heaven by His own power in presence of His disciples the fortieth day after His Resurrection. It is narrated in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Although the place of the Ascension is not distinctly stated, it would appear from the Acts that it was Mount Olivet. Since after the Ascension the disciples are described as returning to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, within a Sabbath day's journey. 

Tradition has consecrated this site as the Mount of Ascension and Christian piety has memorialized the event by erecting over the site a basilica. St. Helena built the first memorial, which was destroyed by the Persians in 614, rebuilt in the eighth century, to be destroyed again, but rebuilt a second time by the crusaders. This the Moslems also destroyed, leaving only the octagonal structure which encloses the stone said to bear the imprint of the feet of Christ, that is now used as an oratory.

Not only is the fact of the Ascension related in the passages of Scripture cited above, but it is also elsewhere predicted and spoken of as an established fact. Thus, in John 6:63, Christ asks the Jews: "If then you shall see the son of Man ascend up where He was before?" and 20:17, He says to Mary Magdalene: "Do not touch Me, for I am not yet ascended to My Father, but go to My brethren, and say to them: I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God." Again, in Ephesians 4:8-10, and in Timothy 3:16, the Ascension of Christ is spoken of as an accepted fact.
The language used by the Evangelists to describe the Ascension must be interpreted according to usage. To say that He was taken up or that He ascended, does not necessarily imply that they locate heaven directly above the earth; no more than the words "sitting on the right hand of God" mean that this is His actual posture. In disappearing from their view "He was raised up and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9), and entering into glory He dwells with the Father in the honour and power denoted by the scripture phrase.

The Winning Strategy By Dr. Peter Kreeft

Many minds do seem moonstruck, however, blissfully unaware of the crisis—especially the “intellectuals,” who are supposed to be the most on top of current events. I was dumbfounded to read a cover article in Time devoted to the question: Why is everything getting better? Why is life so good today? Why does everybody feel so satisfied about the quality of life? Time never questioned the assumption, it just wondered why the music on the Titanic sounded so nice.

It turned out, on reading the article, that every single aspect of life that was mentioned, every single reason for life getting better, was economic.. People are richer. End of discussion.

Perhaps Time is just Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great big whorehouse. For another kind, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both, things are getting better and better.

There is a scientific refutation of the Pig Philosophy: the statistical fact that suicide, the most in-your-face index of unhappiness, is directly proportionate to wealth. The richer you are, the richer your family is, and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains apart.

Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000% since the “happy days” of the ’50s. If suicide, especially among the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, nothing is.

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