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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Messages

This Christmas, why not ask God for a miracle?
As I sit at my computerand begin to write, I am filledwith images of what has been going on this past year. The more I look at letters of wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles all trusting in God, I can’t help thinking there is hope!
Good people! When Abraham asked God to save Sodom and Gomorrah, and God refused, Abraham began toplead saying, “Lord, would you save Sodom and Gomorrah, if there were fifty good people and God said Yes. Then Abraham pressed forward, pleading, “If there were forty!” Then with each reduction Abraham continued pleading until he finally asked the Lord what if there were only ten men, would He save the city, and the Lord said yes! And to this day, in order for there to be a minion, a Hebrew prayer service, there must be at least ten men. Holy people!There is hope in the world! There is reason to rejoice!
We are at the time of our year when winter sets in. Traveling around our country, we see parts of our land going to sleep for the winter, the trees and bushes turning from velvety green and lush colors to multiple shades of orange, gold, and cranberry red. Our roses in our Holy Family Mission Garden, brave little soldiers that they are, have been weathering a particularly harsh winter. So many times, in the early morning, we have walked over prayerfully, only to see them with their stems bent over and their buds clenched tightly around the rose buds, protecting their promise of joyful arrays of roses that will greet us when Springtime comes upon us, when everything: plants, trees and flowering bushes prepare to bloom and fill our hearts with joyfulanticipation of things to come. And how much does Godlove us? All of a sudden, with cold, blustery winter storms threatening to come upon us, a yellow rose blooms. Not to be outdone, a red one follows. Then velvety white ones appear alongside more and more rich colors blooming. Bob says it is the bees that are responsible for the pricelessly colored roses that continue to greet us. And then we realize what the Lord is telling us – there is Life all around us!
Our Creator is alive and He has not forgotten His children! I am with you! I loveyou! Trust in me! The gloom and doom news on television tells us sales are down – people are not buying! It’s true. They’re not buying homes, or cars or 72” television sets. We find that people are turning back to God. They’re buying little things, which liftt heir spirits and point them back in the direction Our Lord wants them to focus on. They’re buying things which will give them hope. Our sales of books and DVDs have exceededour expectations. Years ago, many years ago, as a very holy priest saw the immorality and decadence of our great nation increasing, how close we were coming to being a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, he made a prophecy: “Those whobelieve in God will come to church on their knees, begging for God’s Mercy, for the Bread of Life. The churches willbe filled to overflowing! Mass conversions will come about! Those who do not believe will be jumping out of windowsand off rooftops!” And you only have to read some of ourPeople of God letters to see God is in charge! Those who haveplaced their faith in the golden calf are desperately trying tomake sense of all that is going on. And God waits!Remember the Prodigal Son of the Old Testament. When he received his inheritance, he went off and squandered it onimmoral living. Then, when he lost all he had, and in desperationwas reduced to tending pigs, he returned to his father withmore apprehension than joyful anticipation. But what did thefather do? When he spotted his son, he ran to him. He opened his arms and not only greeted his son; he prepared a feast for him. The son said, “Father I have sinned against God andyou; I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But to thefather this son had been dead and now had come back to life.If you know anyone who feels like the prodigal son, share this with him. Jesus on the Cross, prayed for everyone, died foreveryone, even those who were crucifying Him. How much does He love you? He opened His Arms on the Cross andsaid this much. Turn to God, Our Savior!At the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, and toldher; “the world will be overcome by evils, but come to the footof the altar. Great graces will be poured on those who ask forthem with confidence and fervor. They will be bestowed onthe great and the small.” Another time, the young postulantnoticed that Our Lady wore rings on each of her fingers, andinquired why Mother Mary had rays shooting forth from onlysome of her fingers, to which Our Lady replied, “Those rayssymbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them.The gems from which rays do not fall are graces for whichsouls forget to ask.”Have you asked Our Lady lately to help you?If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the thirty five years wehave been researching the Shrines of Our Lady, and listened toher words, it’s that she is available; she is touchable. There’snothing Our Lord Jesus will not do for His Mother. There is nothing she will not do for us if we ask in prayer, and have hope that she will answer our requests. We can’t guarantee just what she will give you that you ask for, but we know thatshe is never outdone in generosity to those who believe inher ability to whisper in the ears of her Son. And what does she ask in return?
Pray two Memorares, one in petition, and one in Thanksgiving.
Light two candles, one in petition and one in Thanksgiving.
Believe! Thank Her for favorsreceived before they are received.
Love her Son.
Respect her Son.
Receive His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
After Communion, thank and praise Him for your very life, for the breath you take.
Go before the Blessed Sacrament and talk to her Son.
Don’t hurt her Son by sinning against Him, bygiving in to the temptations of the world and the flesh.
Give Him one day a week, (Sunday) where you focus on Him fora change instead of the things of the world, where you listen to what the Lord may be saying to your heart, where He may lay out His plans for your life. Very often, we say to people,who have need of the Lord, (and today, don’t we all haveneed?) “Go before the Blessed Sacrament, and pour your heart out to Jesus.
And then, shut up! Give Him a chanceto speak to you.
”Family, we have been given many gifts this ChristmasSeason. Turn the eyes of your soul from the glamour of theworld, which can be blinding, so that you can see and bask in the warmth of the light that is your Heavenly Family. Our Church has many gifts to give us all year long, in the way of The Mass, Adoration, and various devotions. But at this time, we are thrice blessed with all the Advent and Christmas activities that are available right there in your parish. Takeadvantage of them.
For those of you who live in the areanear Holy Family Mission, come and spend a little time at the Holy House, speaking to Mother Mary.
Walk the 14 Stations of the Cross, which are beautiful, quiet and peaceful, andmeditate on the gift Our Lord Jesus gave us of His Passion.
And/or walk the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary, and meditate on the lives of Jesus and Mary, while praying the Rosary. Then come into the Mission and have a cup of coffee, or tea,or hot apple cider.
If you’re near the Shrine at Hanceville, Alabama, go and say Hi to the Divino Ni┼ło, and if possible, say Hi to Mother Angelica. If you live anywhere near St.Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, go in and say Hi to Jesus.
Or go to the Cathedral in your city or the church in your neighborhood and say Hi to Jesus. If you live in California,Texas or New Mexico, take advantage of the Missions this Christmas season.
We believe the Lord wants us to tell youth at our Christmas gift to you this Season is to direct youto where you can get the most for your time and effort, at a Church, or a Shrine, or anywhere Jesus and Mary, the Angels and Saints, are there waiting to give you their own specialChristmas gift.
We always love you, but at this special time of the year, we love you more. Bob and Penny Lord

The Reason for the Season
Here at Holy Family Mission wesay, "Merry Christmas," since Jesus is the Reason for the Season. We have a lot to be thankful for all the blessings He has bestowed on usand we have even more work to do forJesus in the future.Now that the election has passed wecan get on with the work of building Culture of life.
There was a bright spot in the election in that the State of California has passed the law defining Marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
I want to make a comment here that my grandparents wouldthink our society is totally crazy having to define Marriage. Theywould never believe that we would not know the definitions ofmarriage, sin, life and so on. They would think it absurd thatgovernment would interfere and say we do not know whenlife begins.They were simple people, however, grandpa would tell youthat our Catholic Faith teaches us that life begins at conceptionand we celebrate the day the Lord Jesus became flesh on Marcht he 25th of each year, exactly 9 months before the birth of Jesus.(This being the time of his life in the womb of Mother Mary.) And he would furthermore take out his Bible and quote fromit about Marriage and sin and so on. Furthermore my grandparents were immigrants from Germany and Switzerland and were hard working entrepreneurs.They built up quite a farming operation before the great depressionand lost everything but the land during the Depression.They never mortgaged the land but all their savings werelost when the banks failed. During this time there was no FDICno FEMA and no Social Security. You were on your own. You had to do or die. There were no bailouts and no relief. Duringthis terrible time in our history they did not complain. Mostof the people in this area moved to California and worked onthe farms there.My father moved to Fresno and worked in the fields makingraisins. There he added to his wine making skills and at the ageof 21 he started the family winery here.
My point is this; many are comparing our times to the Great Depression. From my viewpoint, we are nowhere near that level of suffering and poverty. Furthermore, God help us if we getto 15-20% unemployment for more than one year. We are too soft to survive what our grandparents and great grandparentswent through.
We have become the now generation. Our motto is, " I want it and I want it NOW!" I cannot pay for it, so give itto ME NOW!"So what is happening? God may be sending us a little tasteof suffering and poverty to get us to turn back to Him and build the Culture of Life and abandon the secular materialism and its sister the Culture of Death.
It is time to study our founding fathers and determine whatthey had in mind, and read about the Pilgrims that came here and the trials and tribulations they had to make a living here. Let us not forget the God Who has blessed this land unbelievably with natural resources and beauty and we have benefitted from this land since we came here.
All He wants us to do is give Him what is due Him. Love one another and love Him. Thank you Jesus for the Father's gift of You to us.
This Christmas may we make a commitment to build the Cultureof Life and stand up for what is right and fight against what iswrong. Let us determine right from wrong and when in doubtseek out wisdom for our Church leaders.The future for our country can be great. During the 1930'smany people gave up hope, and many others just decided tostart over and try again, like my grand parents did.
To the Culture of Life in the USA! Merry Christmas! Brother Joseph

Monday, November 3, 2008

Saint Charles Borromeo Nov 4

Charles was made legate of Bologna, Romagna and the Marches of Ancona. Then he was named Protector of Portugal, the Low Countries, the Catholic cantons of Switzerland, as well as the orders of the Franciscans, the Carmelites, the Knights of Malta and many others. Charles was becoming a powerful man in the Church and he was still not a priest. He did hold minor orders, however at age twenty three. His slow methodical approach did annoy some people in the Vatican; but there was never cause for concern. The assignments were always executed to the exact degree of excellence of which he was expected to perform, and yet he was never in a hurry to get them done. Everything was customary and systematic. He was never harried. With the death of members of the family, he became in charge of handling family affairs, which he did again without getting overwhelmed, and at the same time accomplishing his goals more than satisfactorily.
St. Charles tried as much as possible to liberate himself from all the material trappings connected with holding a position in the Vatican as a legate of the Pope, and yet he felt he was required to live in a certain way, in keeping with his standing in the Church and also his place in his family. But these were traps to him. He wanted nothing to do with them. He committed himself to having a large household and a magnificent palace, befitting his rank and the type of entertainment he was required to put on. He would rather have lived as a recluse in a monastery, with only Our Lord as his companion. That would have been enough for him. Despite the temptations which came his way as a result of his titles and positions, he became more and more disenchanted with this way of life. He maintained mortification in his behavior; temperance and serenity in his demeanor.
We have to believe that St. Charles Borromeo enjoyed being such an intricate part of the workings of the Church, especially being such a holy young man; but he did have one problem which constantly nagged at him. He had been made Administrator of Milan. They had not had an archbishop living in the archdiocese for eighty years. And yet he could not go to Milan to dispatch his many duties. I mean, he was in effect, Archbishop of the Archdiocese, which is a full time job, but couldn't be in his archdiocese to do it. He was an extremely conscientious young man. He realized he was doing as much as he could handle, but felt that either he be allowed to administer his office on-site, so to speak, or give it to someone else who would be there working with the Church hands-on.
He may or may not have understood that he was a trusted member of the papal team. That word trusted is key here. There are not many people that can be arbitrarily trusted to do anything. If someone is a trusted employee, or a trusted member of a church community or government, that person is very special. That trust requires an action. In the case of St. Charles Borromeo and the Pope, that action was complete loyalty to the Pope and whatever he needed Charles to do for him. Charles was a yes man. He never gave a thought to not doing whatever was required of him; but he was torn between his obedience to the Pope and his obligation to the souls of Milan, which he judged he was not handling as well as could have been handled by someone there full time.
The Lord knew why He wanted St. Charles to be in this key position during this crucial time. It was the Council of Trent. It had been opened first in 1545 and adjourned in 1547, without ever having completed the task assigned to its members. Then in 1551, it was convened again under a new, determined Pope Julius III, but it was adjourned again after one year. The work had never been completed; it had never been brought to conclusion; the reforms, doctrines, none of these things had been instituted. "The Council of Trent was unquestionably one of the most important Councils the Church had ever convened." Until and unless all the reforms, dogmas, doctrines and declarations were formalized, the whole Martin Luther controversy was still up in the air. Until the questions raised by him and his fellow heretics were answered definitively, their errors clearly condemned, the dissidents would use this as justification to break away from Mother Church.
In going through the documents of the Council of Trent, it's interesting to observe the different attitudes of the popes, especially the contrast in the Sixteenth session in 1552, in which Pope Julius III suspended the Council, and the Bull for the Celebration of the Council of Trent, written by Pope Pius IV in 1560 and the subsequent opening of the Seventeenth session in 1562. Pope Julius III was completely defeated. He had tried to rekindle the flame which Pope Paul III ignited when he convened the First Session in 1545. Pope Julius III and his people had been victims of strong pressure by the German princes. Protestants had been invited to the Council in the spirit of reconciliation. But their demands were so ridiculous it was impossible to concede to them. They insisted that resolutions that had already been made by the Council, especially those regarding the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and the doctrine of Transubstantiation should be revised so as to be based solely on the Protestant interpretation of Scripture, and that the Pope had to agree to be subordinate to the Council. In addition, war broke out between France and Germany; the German bishops left the Council and never returned.