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Dec 242017
 

Today is a unique one because this one day is the shortest week of the year. It is only 24 hours. We call it the fourth week of advent. However, from another perspective this Sunday celebration brings us to the Monday celebration that begins the Christmas Season. It is a time of celebration.

 

If you heard all the Christmas music and saw all the decorations in the celebration of the secular definition of Christmas, you can see that it is supposed to be a happy time when people are friendly to each other and celebrate charity. It does not always pan out that way, but that is the way people look at it.

 

However, that is not it at all. It is bigger than that and you will never find that information out at the mall.

 

What is it all about?

 

Well, think of it this way: God does not give up on His people.

 

Today’s Gospel is the annunciation where the Angel Gabriel asks Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. She who was predestined to this position says “Yes” in reverse of Eve’s “No” to God. But this is all part of God’s plan to fix what was broken by our first parents. Why? So that you could be saved.

 

Now think of that message you heard while you were Christmas shopping.

 

You heard it is the most wonderful time of the year, you heard of joy to the world, you heard of peace on Earth,

Your heard that the Lord has come, you heard that we need to adore him and you  heard more. But if there  is one message you do not hear, it is God does not give up on us.

 

Do you know someone who is beyond salvation? The only people who are beyond salvation are those who reject the gift of salvation. There are others who feel they are beyond the reach of God’s love. They feel they are beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness and that God cannot forgive them; but the true message is that God does not give up on us so we cannot give up on ourselves or anyone else.  

 

This also means that our message is not just for the people celebrating Christmas, but those who feel Christmas is passing them by. They are unable to get into the spirit because of their great pains and they feel they cannot be saved because of their great sins. These are the people to whom the message is most addressed and these are the ones to whom we must preach with our lives. They are also the most difficult ones. But, as Jesus later points out, it is easy to preach to those who accept the message easily. It is to those who are on the spiritual highways and byways who most need to hear the invitation.

 

We must make sure that we pass the word on to them, them especially.

 

This then is our message. This is why the Church exists to proclaim that message to all we do that by following the example of Mary. That is why we are called to be obedient to the call of Christ as was Mary.

 

It is not that we are earning our way to Heaven. Unfortunately, that heresy was profoundly taught in 20th Century, it is rather our living our faith is how we communicate that message: That Christ is alive and offers salvation to all who seek it. That in a sense everyday is Christmas, not a day to receive gifts. But to communicate that message of salvation to all.

 

However, do not forget that Christ came to destroy Satan’s power whose message is that there is no God and if there was, he condemns you.

 

There are many who have accepted that message so they remain focused on this world for they see no alternative.

 

Our call is to bring the true message of Christmas to the world. Satan lies. Christ lives and he offers you  eternal life and salvation. Come encounter Christ and be in communion with Him at mass and throughout your life.

 

This is a far more powerful message than what we hear in store PA systems while people are battling with each other over parking spaces and special discounts. Christ has come to save you.

 

It is important to note that this message has only existed with the coming of Christ. Prior to his coming God only spoke to the Jews and worked through them with few exceptions. Christ came at the  fullness of time, prior to that it was not time for his message to become universal. Mary’s Annunciation in Today’s Gospel was the beginning of making God’s plan of salvation  universal for all.

 

So we wait expectantly this fourth Sunday of Advent for God’s next move which could come anytime or long after we are gone, but his message is still our message: Salvation has come to you if you choose to accept it because God does not give up on you.  That is the message we live today, tomorrow and everyday.

 

Fr. Robert J Carr

 

 Posted by at 01:01
Dec 142017
 

The great grace of life is to recognize where sin is and to sincerely seek the forgiveness of God
“What is easier to say, ‘Thy sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? For that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins – he said to the paralytic – I I tell you, get up, take the bed and go home “(Luke 5: 23-24).
 
Jesus is healing this paralytic who came to meet Him, carried by those men, this shows that: the greatness of God in our midst erases, forgives and justifies His presence in our midst.
We may not be aware of what sin accomplishes in us, the way sin paralyzes our life, society and humanity.
All the technological advances we admire and perceive in our midst have no proportion to paralysis, to the lethargy that takes over our human relationships because of sin.
If we want to advance in faith, if we want to advance as human beings, if we want to get out of the paralysis that our life often finds, we must seek with sincerity of heart, forgiveness for our sins.


How do you sincerely seek forgiveness for your sins? Recognizing oneself as a sinner, acknowledging the sins in our lives, recognizing where we have sinned, where we fail to recognize the evil that sin accomplishes not only in us, but in life, in society, in our human relationships, the evil that sin causes in our own home, in our family.


God does not want us paralyzed. He came to lift us from what sin made us to succumb, He came to remove us from the dust, from the indigence and came to stand with us.


God wants us to walk and build the Kingdom of God, but if we do not take seriously the drastic consequences He performs in our lives, our paralysis only grows, things within us are entrapped. To keep so many old and spoiled things that are useless in us. The heart and mind get heavy too. And we often want to take medicine, solve the problem one way or the other, but the great grace of life is to recognize where sin is and sincerely seek the forgiveness of God.
Rise and walk, for God wants us to stand.
God bless you!

Fr. Roger Araujo

 Posted by at 01:01
Nov 192017
 

Jesus reminds us that we are the light of the world and we are the salt of the Earth. When we forget that or even reject that, then not only are we not doing any good, we are not doing anything worthwhile for our neighbors around us.

In today’s Gospel we can see that Jesus is showing us that he gives us a treasure for which we are responsible to make a return on His investment in us. If we fail to make a return, even if the return on investment is no less than the original principle, then we have failed in the vocation to be salt and light.

Our second reading today comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. We read this passage at this time of year because the focus is on the end times and at the end of the liturgical year, December 2, we also focus on our own ends.

If you look carefully at this passage, it reveals an often forgotten or even lost understanding of the teaching of our faith.

The more we embrace Christ the more we grow in the wisdom of God. This means that as we grow in the wisdom of God, we see things differently than those who reject God’s wisdom. In fact, we have an understanding of the bigger picture of the way the world works around us than those who do not believe have.

This is where St. Paul reminds us that we are not of darkness nor of night. Keep in mind that darkness in St. Paul means minds that are not enlightened by Christ. They are darkened. This means that the most educated and  smartest person in the world, who also rejects Christ, is one whose mind is darkened, despite his or her status and education.They are incapable of seeing the bigger picture that those in the light can see and incapable of understanding the world through the eyes of faith.

He or she may know skills and theories beyond our ability to understand them but the person still does not see the world through the wisdom of God, which is greater than this.

To grow in the wisdom of God, we need to live our faith in Christ in daily prayer and divinely inspired action. We will see the world through the eyes of faith and when we do, we look at the signs of the times and see them in this context.

Let me give you a great example. Pope St. John Paul II warned back in 1993 that one of the greatest dangers facing our society worldwide is where freedom is set up in opposition to truth. So freedom becomes the greatest treasure of a society, but we learn that when freedom is opposite to truth then it becomes a standard of division not unity.

This US Bishops in their semi-annual meeting this week discussed that next year is the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae which is the document that defined the Church’s  teaching on such things as artificial contraception and marriage. The fruit of rejecting that document and other forms of Catholic teaching is to create a world that separated faith from morality and freedom from truth. This leads to a world that is not rooted in the wisdom of Christ, but in a secular way of thinking. Those families that embrace and live Catholic teaching including Humanae Vitae, according to Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, have a 2% divorce rate. They embrace the light and produce the fruits of it.

Further, In the wisdom of God what becomes the standard of unity? It is:  charity also known as love.

When this divine oriented love becomes the standard the one fruit is a true freedom which grows in a community, and the community grows in love and peace in Christ. When freedom trumps charity then the community starts to divide because the standard of freedom is defined on an individual basis not a communal basis.

Let me give you an example. One of the greatest freedoms enjoyed in this country is the freedom of speech. I have the freedom to say anything I want, legally, but I, through the wisdom of God, understand that although I have the freedom to say anything, I must in charity only say that which is the best thing to say or I may be in sin for saying which is legal but unholy. As St. Paul commands: “Say only the good things man needs to hear.”

This means that the freedom is there, but does not mean that we should express it outside of charity.

When I obey these words of St. Paul, I grow in my witness to Christ and I am a blessing to the community. When I reject them and live in a community that does the same, I become part of the end of the community through creating factions and divisions.

Those who are not so enlightened will happily express their freedom over charity and they will watch the community in which they live become divided by lack of charity and not understand where the destruction  came from. In fact, any war manual will tell you that the way to defeat a nation is get the people against each other and one of the tactics described is exactly what I just said. Cause division and the nation will weaken and eventually fall. I am sure you realize that there are forces trying to accomplish this in this country as we speak.

A house divided cannot stand and neither can a nation divided.

Those of us who seek to grow in Christ will seek to live in a freedom that is rooted in Christ because we see the bigger picture. We know that a world in division will end, but a kingdom united in Christ will exist forever.  Those who reject Christ are blind to this bigger picture and they will not see the destruction that is coming their way.

This is why we need to understand that we know, what we know and live in that wisdom for the benefit of our loved ones and more. The more we do that, we can easily discern those who are living in light and those who are living in darkness.

This will lead us to live in such a way that we will give the Lord a return on His investment in us which is the salvation of souls. 

God Bless You, 

Fr. Robert J Carr

 Posted by at 18:11
Nov 122017
 

Today’s Gospel is the famous story of the wise and foolish virgins. It comes to us at a time in the liturgical year in which we focus on the second coming of Christ and the question given to us in the readings at this time is: Are you ready to meet Christ when He comes?

What  we will read over the next several weeks is all about being ready to encounter Christ. The “being ready” refers to His second coming but it also can refer to our own judgement at the end of our own lives. Are we ready to meet Christ if we were to stand in front of Him tomorrow? Putting it another way, it does not matter whether He comes here or we go there, what matters is whether or not we are ready to meet Him.

This particular reading has an interesting focus in it because unlike others, the crux is that the groom’s arrival is delayed. This is a common theme in much Biblical and other Catholic literature: the delayed coming of the Lord.

But we have to remember some things about Christ and His coming The first thing is that Christ reminds us that the Kingdom of God is within. It is not about just believing in the existence of God, after all the devil believes in God better than you do and he can quote scripture and church teaching better than the greatest theologian.  it is about our relationship with God transforming us from within and that transformation then is reflected in how live as an external sign of that internal transformation.

However, if there is no internal transformation there will be no external sign. Again, the devil believes, but he rejects any relationship with Christ and therefore his belief is mute.

This brings us to the Gospel reading. We have two groups of virgins, the wise and the foolish. Remember, the key to living our faith is being immersed in the wisdom of God, as we see in the first reading. So the fruit of our relationship is the wisdom of God and if there is no such fruit then we have at best a superficial relationship.

A study of many of the saints who commented on this reading such as St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome and St. Augustine all indicated that the meaning of the oil for the lamps was good works that we do in response to our relationship with Christ. In other words, as I say above it is the relationship that is key that transforms us.

But notice the key element in this is light and light is always the wisdom of God. It is when darkness abounds that light shines more brightly. Darkness is always representative of those who do not have God’s wisdom. So what we see here is two groups those represented by having oil in the their lamps and their lamps were burning brightly and those represented by not having oil for their lamps and had no light when darkness came.

This is the question pointed to you. Do you believe in God? That really does not mean anything. I can show you scientifically how lack of belief makes no logical sense. But, does your relationship with God transform you and conform you to do his will? Are you a different person because you embrace Christ, or are you just like you would be except that you believe in Christ as you may believe in Thomas Paine. Don’t laugh, there are churches built on that exact idea.

Notice the defining point at the end, the wise virgins go to the wedding feast, the foolish do not. They are locked out and the words that the groom says to them is that I never knew you.

Those who obey the commandments who do not also do the will of God are the ones that Jesus condemns. They do not kill, they do not steal but they treat others as inferior beings and dismiss them from their lives. They do nothing that leads others to know the power of the wisdom of God, the light of Christ in their lives. That is because their superficial understanding of God prevents them from understanding God’s wisdom. This is what the saints explain is the defining point.

You do not have to believe in God to consider murder wrong. But are you able to treat the homeless, the criminal, the mentally ill in a way that is different than the atheist does because you believe in God. Do you see an unborn child as just as human as anyone sitting next to you? How about the severely mentally handicapped. What about the neighbor who has no one to clear his or her snow covered driveway. This includes that grouchy neighbor who no one likes and all ignore.

The people to whom Jesus speaks  believe, they follow the commandments and they attend synagogue, but, then they go home and act like everyone else. These are represented by the foolish virgins.

A line that is commonly used and attributed to legions of leaders: “There is never a traffic jam on the extra mile,” We must treat others as we would want to be treated. This, Jesus reminds us, sums up the law and prophets. Allow ourselves to see Christ in others and to treat them as Christ would want them to be treated. In order to do that, you need to go beyond the extra mile.

Let me give you an example. People often are expressing some real concern about the way our world and our country is going. It seems to be going down an ominous path. What leads us down this path? Rejecting the ways of Christ. How do we fight the effects this path? We fight evil by doing the good that Christ calls us to do. We do not fight evil by doing a counter form of evil but by doing good as servants of Christ. So what is it that we as Catholics must do if we are to be the lights of wisdom that Christ calls us to be?

We need to be in daily prayer, minimum weekly mass attendance, to know our scriptures well and to live the faith in treating others as Christ wants them to be treated.  We need to be lights to others. Then when we encounter Christ face to face, He will welcome us as good and faithful servants.

 Posted by at 01:01
Nov 062017
 

Photo: Daniel Mafra / cancaonova.com

It takes discipline to revise and organize the inner life
It is important to return to discipline and organization, from the minimums to the great things that surround our life.

The Canção Nova, in its path of permanent formation, follows this theme: “Discipline breeds saints, but without discipline there is no holiness” (Dom Gambino). To celebrate this grace is to celebrate life, to make each hour meaningful, to fill the months and minutes with senses that go beyond routine and sameness.

We want to make a way back to our origins, to regain the ardor, to rekindle the encounter with Jesus, Lord of our history. To return to life with God, principle of our whole life; to return to community life and return to the origins of the path of discipline.

 

Organization and discipline

For discipline to take place, there must be organization. Thus, we begin by defining what comes to be discipline: “Regime of order imposed or even consented. Order that is appropriate for the proper functioning of an organization. Subordination relationships of the student to the teacher. Submission to a regulation “(Aurélio Dictionary).

We need to review our life, organize it in every way: in God, in our work, our interior and our home. In short, it is necessary to begin with this resumption of organization, from the minimums to the great things that surround our life.

Monsignor Jonas Abib teaches us that in our life nothing should be stuck. We can not end our day without being reconciled to God, to ourselves and our brothers. He also tells us that the week has a special day, which helps us to review ourselves, the Lord’s Day, the Sunday.

We can not carry rubble from week to week. God gives us the grace to revise our lives, to review that which, in our walk, was not good during the week. Let us review our difficulties, our growth and relationship with God and with others. Review where we are in our spiritual life.

 

Review of life, intimacy with the Lord

The review of life leads us to a greater intimacy with the Lord and calms our agitated interior. It makes us realize the action of Divine Providence in our lives and constitutes orientation for our apostolate. The Second Vatican Council points out that the Church is in the world, neither outside nor separated from it, she urges Christians not to withdraw from the struggle of everyday life, but to discern the signs of the times, to collaborate with all in the construction of a world more human and to look at the world with the eyes of God.

Finally, the revision of life is the Christian reflection carried out with the purpose of acquiring the daily vision in tune with the look that the Father contemplates the world, with a view to the realization of His project of salvation. It is a look of living faith that reaffirms the value of our lives in the eyes of God and reveals the divine call within everyday events. God is in everything and has control of all things in His hands.

Do you want to do your life review?

Canção Nova

 Posted by at 01:01
Nov 032017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome v2.jpg
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Vatican Council I in 1870 formally defined the infallibility of the Pope, although the Church has firmly trusted in that fact since the beginning:

“‘Faithful to the tradition passed on since the beginning of Christian faith, We declare and define as dogma of faith of Divine Revelation that, when speaking “ex-cathedra”, i.e. when performing His munus of Shepherd and Doctor of all Christians, the Roman Pontiff defines, with his supreme Apostolic authority, the doctrine on faith and morals in which the Universal Church must believe, because due to Divine Assistance promised to Him in the person of the blessed Peter, the Pope has received the infallibility that the Divine Redeemer granted to His Church, that enables the Roman Pontiff to define articles of faith and morals concerning the doctrine; and that therefore the definitions of the Supreme Roman Pontiff are irrevocable in themselves and not due to the consensus of the Church” (De Ecclesia Christi, Chapter IV).

Vatican Council II, almost a hundred years later. Re-affirmed that same dogma, by declaring that:

“And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charisma of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith” (Lumen Gentium # 25).

It is important to have in mind that no Papal definition is made on a hasty decision: it takes many years of study, analysis and prayer. Papal definitions are the outcome of a very slow process, during which a piece of truth inside the depositary of Revelation becomes gradually “visible” to the hierarchy of the Church and to God’s people. Papal definitions are just explicit proclamations of a truth that had not yet been clearly realized or defined before but that have belonged to the Depositary of Faith since the beginning of times.

Sometimes the Ministry of the Church proclaims an article of faith due to new heresies that contradict some piece of truth generally accepted by the Church since the beginning, which that had not been explicitly worded before. Therefore, definitions “ex-cathedra” proclaimed by the Pope are rare. The common Ministry of the Church is responsibility of the Bishops, when they teach the people in communion with the Pope: that is the normal way the Church uses to teach God’s people. In order to belong to the Depositary of Faith, a piece of truth does not necessarily have to be formally defined by Peter’s Successor: an article of truth is something that has always been generally accepted and followed by Christians since the beginning of the Church. It is a millennial piece of wisdom that belongs to the Tradition of the Church and it is not always formally expressed in documents, but generally adopted by God’s People. Saint Vincent of Lerins (died on 450 A.D.), affirmed that:

“Articles of faith believed by everybody everywhere are truly Catholic per se” (Communitorium).

Papal definitions must meet three pre-requisites to be considered a dogma, i.e. “an infallible decision”:

  1. The Pope must speak “ex-cathedra”, i.e. “in a decisive final way”, in the quality of Shepherd and Doctor of all Christians, and not only in private individual character. The Supreme Pontiff is not obliged to listen to any Council or anyone, though he can do it and actually does it most of the times.
  2. The Pope must define exclusively articles of faith and morals, i.e. it must be a matter of Christian behavior or faith.
  3. The Supreme Pontiff must be willing to proclaim a definite irrevocable immutable sentence about the matter.

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
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