Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for Sexagesima Sunday

I would like, before going into the Sermon, to take a short time to share with you some of the events of our priest meeting in Spokane. All the priests who work with Bishop Pivarunas, the 14 of us, gathered there at Mount St. Michael’s and the purpose of these meetings is to discuss any pastoral issues that may need a solution and by solving them for one priest, it may hopefully be enlightening for the rest of us. Addressing any difficulties which may be occurring in various parishes, trying to look forward to see how the needs of the different parishes can be met as far as providing for them the services of a priest and unfortunately at this point it looks like Fr. Macillas and Fr. Gilchrist will have to return to their countries, for some time at least, because their paperwork did not go through with immigration and so we will have two less priests to cover all the places that we are already covering. There is some outside chance that the paperwork will be arranged so that they would be able to stay but that will require a great deal of help, I’m sure, on God’s part so please keep those matters in your prayers because as it stands right now, the parish in western Colorado that has a resident priest will soon only have a priest on the weekends. Those people have been blessed, they have a school, they have three or four religious sisters teaching in the school and helping in the parish but it seems that they stand to lose the blessing of having a resident priest. It’s a very fair sized parish, they have a school, they recently built a rectory, and they’re looking forward to building a larger church to accommodate their parishioners. The school chapel, which they use, is small and they have to have two masses to accommodate everybody. That means that there will probably be some places in the mid-west that only get Mass on a less frequent basis and so your prayers are important to hopefully bring out a favorable outcome with immigration authorities.

As a matter of course, the Bishop always tries to have some theological topic to discuss and so this time he brought a book, which he had, about the actual revelations in the Old Testament of the Trinity from several passages in the Old Testament it can actually be seen that there was reference to the persons in God because in some passages it uses the name of God "Elhoim" and that is actually a plural noun, but the verb, which is used with it, is a singular form. The very first words of the book of Genesis refer to the creation of the world and it says in our translation: “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth and the spirit of God was moved over the waters and the world was empty and void.” Now here, there is a reference to three divine persons because the verb created as in the singular but the very first word of the Old Testament in Hebrew is a word, which refers to the principle or the beginning as far as some sort of work. When the 70 Jewish scholars went to translate the bible in the Old Testament as it existed then for King Ptolemy, the Pharo of Egypt, they were afraid that if they translated it in a very literal sense, he might think that they were worshiping more than one God because the word, which I don’t remember at the moment refers to a divine being. So we see right at the beginning of the Old Testament the beginning or principal that we have God, then we have the spirit of God.

There are several other places in the Old Testament. One was the apparition of three men who came to visit Abraham but in the process of addressing them he called them: “Lord, using the singular” and in the passage it goes back and forth between the three and the one and then it goes one and three, and in one of the responses in the breviary talking about that particular event in the book of Genesis, it says: “Abraham saw three and worshiped one.” So we have there a reference to the three persons and one God. Also, I think its in Isaiah, he had a vision of the heavens being opened and he saw the Seraphim there before the throne of God and he said: “Holy, Holy, Holy” referring again to the three persons. So this was quite interesting and there may be copies of this book available on a limited basis because it can be photo copied, it’s outside of the copyright period. The unfortunate thing is that the Jewish rabbis recognized this but they rejected the Trinity and so they, in the second century AD, they twisted the interpretation of these passages. If, in fact, they had been honest they would have seen in those three words: “Hear, O’ Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord our God, The Lord is one.” For God there are three different names used. One is “El” and the other two I don’t remember but they are distinct names. There are three names for God and the singular word is one. So again, three persons, one God. The Jewish Rabbis changed the interpretation of the scriptures and devised a warped interpretation to preserve their particular teaching so that the people who read the Old Testament would not be converted to Christianity, it was happening that many of the Jews seeing all the prophecies fulfilled in Christ were becoming Christians because the Apostles and the disciples and the bishops were going into the Synagogues and preaching the scriptures, the Old Testament, and proving that Jesus is the Lord, that he is the Messiah. So what these Rabbis did was twist the interpretations of scriptures, they watered down how scripture was actually written so that people wouldn’t see so clearly that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures.

We also had an opportunity as a group to go to the Minor Seminary in Idaho and visit with the Minor seminarians who are High School students taking studies to prepare them for the Major Seminary in Omaha. For them, I’m sure it was an encouragement to see the Bishop and 14 priests come to visit them and spend some time with them, talk to them and share their own stories with these boys and they boys give their own stories and talk about themselves to the priests so that hopefully the information would be carried out and shared and hopefully encourage other young men to go to the Minor Seminary. Hopefully there would be more vocations to the major seminary and as a result to the priesthood.

To go to the topic of the sermon, we are now in the pre-lenten period of the Church’s liturgy, which began last Sunday and takes it’s name from that Sunday, Septuagesima. This season of the Church year, even though it’s sort, was established as something definite in the time of St. Gregory the Great, who was Pope from 590-604. It is made up of three Sundays. The idea of it is: “What is to avoid an abrupt transition from Epiphany to Lent and also to prepare better for the entrance into Lent?” The Church, as a wise Mother and teacher knows that the passing from the joys of Christmas time to the rigors of Lent would be a difficult one. Therefore she instituted this period of transition to prepare the faithful both in spirit and in body for the Lenten fast. The main characteristic in this period of the liturgical year is penance, even if that is very much in a lessened sense. There is no fast prescribed but this spirit in penance appears in outward sings. The purple vestments, the Gloria is not said during Mass, the Alleluia, which is a frequent occurrence in the liturgy ceases from Septuagesima Sunday until the solemn midnight Mass at Easter because alleluia is a word of prayer and joy and the translation from Hebrew is: “Praise ye God” and during this time we are meditating on solemn somber topics. Topics of sins and the topic of Christ’s suffering and death. We can deduce the importance given to this period by the Basilicas, which were the stational churches of these three Sundays.

In ancient times, the faithful met at one Church, which was called the “Colecta” and from there they made a procession to the stational church, which was a particular church chosen for that Sunday for various reasons, sometimes it was because the Liturgy had a reference to a Saint that the church was dedicated to. In this case, the stational churches are very important. There are three of the seven churches in Rome for which there is a plenary indulgence for making a visit during a certain period of time. There’s St. Lawrence outside the walls, St. Paul’s which is also outside the walls of Rome, and St. Peter’s on the Vatican hill. Sts. Peter and Paul are called patriarchal churches, they are the two of the most important of the churches in Rome. St. John Lateran and other patriarchal churches, the Pope’s cathedral, but that Church is reserved for the first Sunday in Lent. Again to emphasize the very great importance of that Sunday because on Sunday the Pope would go there to have Mass.

In order to obtain the purpose the Church has in mind. She through appropriate liturgical texts tries to make Christians realize the misery of their state as sinners and their own weakness in order to prepare them for the need of penance and unite them to the one sacrifice of Christ, which is commemorated in the Lenten Cycle. The period of Septuagesima has one liken to the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity. During that time, the Jews were convinced of their fault, they realized through the teaching of the prophets that it was because of their sins, because of their rejection of God that they had been carried off into captivity, they wept for their sins, they repented for them and longed for the return to Jerusalem. So during this period, the Church calls our attention to the exile of those who live far from Christ and allows us to weep for our sins. So that later, we may taste the joys of the Resurrection. Remember the saying, it’s almost a proverb, that “there is no resurrection without the crucifixion first.”

St. Gregory composed the liturgical texts of these Sundays at a time when the Lombards, a barbarian tribe from the north, were laying Italy to waste and threatened to conquer the Holy City itself. Hunger and disease were the order of the day because of these wars and because of the destruction of life in society and the cities because of the destruction. Therefore the text of these three Sundays reflect the misery and the weakening of a people who suffer deeply and paint in vivid colors the consequences of sin. The spirit in which we ought to observe in this pre-Lenten season is threefold. First, humility, recognizing our guilt this also is an emphasis in the holy season of lent, especially the first part. Then we must pray asking God to give us the grace to enter into lent, which is approaching in such a way as to get the most profit from it so that our spiritual lives may be revived. Finally, we ought to practice some acts of self-denial, some penance however slight, to prepare our minds and to prepare our bodies for the fast, which is imposed during the Holy season of Lent. If we take advantage of this particular part of the liturgical year, which the Church has wisely provided to prepare us for the Holy season of Lent, then that holy season will be a source of abundant graces for us, it would be as if it is meant to be the springtime for the spiritual life, that it will be renewed, that we will prepare ourselves to celebrate worthily the glorious feast of Easter.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Announcements for the week: Sexagesima Sunday

Please pray for Fr. Gilchrist, the pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Olathe, Colorado who is experiencing trouble with the department of immigration. Should the attempts to keep him here fail, he will have no choice but to return to New Zealand, at least for a while. Pray that whatever is to happen, let it be done according to the will of God.

This week, First Friday Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel at 7:00PM.

There will be no Mass for Ash Wednesday, Fr. Gerard will not be present in California. The ashes will be administered on the following Sunday, which would be the First Sunday of Lent.

St. Michael's Convent in Spokane, Washington will be holding a "Vocations Weekend" retreat for young women who are at least juniors in high school up to the age of 35 and might be interested in religious life. "Vocations Weekend" will be taking place from February 29 to March 2, 2008. It is a good idea to make your plans known to the Vocations Directress by Wednesday, February 20. For more information, please contact:
Vocations Directress
St. Michael's Convent
8502 North St. Michael's Road
Spokane, WA 99217-9333
phone: (509) 467-0986 ext. 102

A weekend Lenten retreat will be held at St. Michael's in Spokane, Washington between March 7-9, 2008. If you are able to attend, registration forms are available at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel and also you may access an online registration form at The applicable registration fees are $150 per individual, for those who need overnight accomodations; $75 per individual, for those who do not need an overnight accomodation but meals will be provided. Please note, the fee includes a $50 deposit, which is due by February 25, 2008. For additional information, please contact Fr. Casimir Puskorius, CMRI at (509) 467-2425 ext. 100

Fr. Benedict Hughes, CMRI is planning a Pilgrimage in various cities of France and Spain to visit Shrines of Our Lady and of the Saints between June 10-24, 2008. The expected cost per person is $3515 for land travel portion; $950 single supplement; expect $1,200 for air fare (depends on point of origin from America to Europe). The price includes hotel stays, guides, private air-conditioned coach, entrance fees, and daily breakfast and supper meals (pilgrims must provide for their own lunch). APPLICATIONS ARE DUE NO LATER THAN MARCH 1, 2008. $100 fee is due at the time of submission of application. For more information, please contact:
Fr. Benedict Hughes, CMRI
St. Joseph Minor Seminary
15384 N. Church Rd.
Rathdrum, ID 83858
Phone # (208) 687-0290

Audio CD's are now available from the 2007 Fatima Conference "All Generations Call me Blessed", which took place in Spokane, Washington at Mount St. Michael. They are $60.00 for a complete set of the talks, and $5.00 for the individual topics. For more information call (509) 467-1077

Traditional Catholic 2008 calendars are back in stock. If you would like to purchase one, you may come to the Chapel or call Pat Balderrama at: (909-829-0997). They are priced at $8.00 per calendar.

Sexagesima Sunday

From the Introit:

Arise, why sleeptest Thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end. Why turnest Thou Thy face away, and forgettest our trouble? Our belly hath cleaved to the earth: arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us.

Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (11: 19-33; 12: 1-9)

Brethren, You gladly suffer the foolish: whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. They are Hebrews, so am I. They are Israelites, So am I. They are the seed of Abraham, so am I. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise), I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea: in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren: in labor and painfulness, in much watching in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized ‘ and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth, such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth: that he was caught up unto paradise, and heard secret words which is not granted to man to utter. For such a one I will glory: but for myself I will glory nothing but my infirmities. For, though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my fleshy, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing, thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: my grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Gospel according to St. Luke (8: 4-15):

At that time, when a very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto Jesus, He spoke by a similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it choked it. And other some fell upon good ground: and being sprung up yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, He cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And His disciples asked Him what this parable might be. To whom He said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables: that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand. Now the parable is this. The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear: then the devil cometh and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots: for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they who have heard and, going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Prayers fo the Church Unity Octave

Prayers for the Church Unity Octave: (to be prayed between January 18-25 once a day)


That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou has sent Me.”

V. I say unto thee that thou art Peter
R. And upon this Rock I will build my Church

Let us pray:
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thine Apostles: peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you; look not upon my sins, but upon the faith of Thy Church and vouchsafe unto her that peace and unity, which are agreeable to Thy Will. Who livest and reignest God forever and ever. Amen

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is that all men should be saved and that none should perish, look upon the souls that are deceived by the guile of Satan, in order that the hearts of them that have gone astray may put aside all the perverseness of heresy, and, being truly repentant, may return to the unity of Thy truth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord Jesus, merciful Saviour of the world, we humbly beseech Thee by Thy Most Sacred Heart, that all the straying sheep may turn unto Thee, the Shepherd and bishop of their souls: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sermon of Fr. Gabriel for Septuagesima Sunday

Today, Septuagesima Sunday, we begin the season of pre-lent, which obviously comes extremely early this year and the purple color of the vestments and the fact that there are no “Gloria” or “Alleluias” mentioned in the Mass remind us that we are entering into a penitential season. We haven’t begun the Lenten fast, which will begin in another two and a half weeks on Ash Wednesday. But the Church wants that these couple of weeks before that to prepare us and get us into the proper mood for Lent, reminding us of the need to do penance for our sins. Today in the Epistle and Gospel, we read two very striking things. One in the end of the Epistle of St. Paul remarks how even in spite of all the things that God had done for the Jews in the Old Testament, who escaped from forever wandering in the dessert, St. Paul says that: “with most of them, God was not well pleased.” In the end of the Gospel for today, Our Lord says: “Many are called but few are chosen.” In fact, of those Jews wandering in the dessert, there were 600 thousand, and only two of those actually entered into the promise land. And so this reminds us, of course, of the need to cooperate with God’s graces. It is not enough that he has called us to the Catholic Faith and given us many graces we have to cooperate with them.

But today in the Sermon, I wanted to address a different topic and that is on the subject of working for the conversion of non-Catholics because we are in the middle of what is commonly called “The Church Unity Octave.” It’s not really an Octave, it is an Octidum, that is like a novena. A novena is nine days of prayer and an Octidum is eight days of prayer for a particular intention. And this Octidum, or what is usually called an Octave for Church Unity, is prayed every year from January 18 to January 25. We will be praying these prayers after Mass. So today, I wanted to speak about two mistakes or errors that are often made in the work of bringing about the conversion of non-Catholics. One of these is that of being harsh, uncharitable and the other is the extreme of false charity where we don’t have the courage to tell someone that they’re wrong, or we start to compromise and belittle Catholic doctrines in order to make them more acceptable to those who object to them.

Now on the subject of the first one of being harsh, it’s a common thing, I think, amongst those who are seriously trying to live the faith and love the Catholic Faith that we are tempted when we are speaking with non-Catholics to lose patience, sometimes this may come because we can’t understand why they don’t see things after we so clearly explained them. Other times, it may come from a legitimate pride in our faith. But sometimes, and often times, I think it can come from sort of an argumentative attitude that comes not so much from pride in our faith but that sort of pride that wants to lift ourselves up above others. Now we certainly do have a great grace that we have been given the faith but that is a free gift from God, something that ought to humble us that God has been so good to us. I wonder sometimes when you hear harsh and sarcastic remarks and when someone gets into a sort of really argumentative mode, I think to myself sometimes, “what is our purpose? Do we really want that person to change? Do we want them to be converted? Or do we simply want to get enjoyment out of knocking down their error?” Now certainly if we have the love of God, the love of our faith, we would add as our motive the desire to bring about the conversion of others. We should want them to be like us, to have the True faith, and so that certainly means that sarcastic remarks and bitterness are things that should be out of the question. We never compromise, we never water things down, but we do show kindness as far as we can without compromising.

I gathered a few quotations just to show the importance of this. Two of them from sacred scripture, one of these is from St. Paul to Timothy, his second Epistle to Timothy in Chapter 2, he says:
“But the servant of the Lord must not wrangle, but be meek towards all, fit to teach patient with modesty admonishing those who resist the truth. If at any time God gave them repentance to know the truth, then they recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held captives at his will.”

The other is from St. James’ Epistle, Chapter 3, he says: “If you have bitter zeal and there be contentions in your heart, glory not, then be not liars against the truth. For this is not wisdom descending from above but earthly, sensual, diabolical.”

St Frances De Sales says: “A zeal that is not charitable comes from a charity that is not genuine.”

Fr. Faber says: “Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning. These three things have never converted anybody without kindness having something to do with it. It is the manifestation of this feeling in apostolic men which draws sinners to them and brings them thus to their conversion. Without doubt, the fear of the Lord is frequently the beginning of that wisdom, which we call conversion. But we must frighten men kindly for otherwise fear would only make infidels.”

The great Cardinal Vaughan in the late 1800’s said: “Gentleness is no sign of weakness, but of strength held in reserve. It is a proof of discipline and self-control.” And he quotes St. Vincent de Paul saying: “I beg of you to help me to give God thanks for this, and to beseech Him to teach all Missioners to treat their poor neighbour with sweetness, humility and charity both in public and in private---and to behave in this way even towards the most hardened sinners. Never use invective, reproaches, or biting or sarcastic expressions to anyone. They repel instead of attracting, and embitter and send people to a distance.”

We know the story of St. Augustine he was converted by St. Ambrose. He listened to St. Ambrose preaching but St. Augustine said that it wasn’t St. Ambrose’s preaching that converted him. St. Augustine himself said that it was St. Ambrose’s charity that converted him. I’ll read one last quote here from Dom Chautard, the author of the book: “The Soul of The Apostolate”, which, I think, very nicely sums up the sort of attitude I’m saying that we should not have. He says:
“Non-Catholics are too often prejudiced against Catholicism by… the bitter style of our controversy, or by a manner of insisting on our rights, which seems to come from wounded pride rather than by a desire to maintain the interests of Jesus.”

Now on the other hand, a very common error of our times, especially with Vatican II and modernism, is to compromise. Pope St. Pius X said at the beatification ceremony of St. Joan of Arc: “Though Jesus was kind to those who had gone astray, and to sinners, He did not respect their erroneous convictions, however sincere they appeared to be.” And this is something that you very often hear, I’ve heard it many times, for some will say, “Well, I disagree with so and so but I respect their convictions.” And usually, they are speaking about matters of faith. Now when there is a matter of opinion, certainly, we are entitled to our opinion and others are entitled to their opinions and we can respect their opinion but faith is not a matter of opinion! What God revealed is true. It’s not doubtful, it’s not opinion, it’s not optional or up to us to determine what we will believe or not. For someone to say that they respect someone’s false beliefs is basically to say that they also reject the idea that Christ revealed anything!

I’ll read to you also what Pope Pius XI said in his Encyclical on the condition of the Church in Germany. He said:
“Comprehending and merciful charity towards the erring and even towards the contemptuous, does not mean and cannot mean that you renounce in any way the proclaiming of, the insisting on, and the courageous defense of the truth and its free and unhindered application to the realities about you. The first and obvious duty the priest owes to the world about him is service to the truth, the whole truth, the unmasking and refutation of error in whatever form or disguise it conceals itself.”

That certainly sounds like the opposite of Vatican II and the opposite of what the Vatican II so-called “popes” have done. When you have John Paul II going around worshiping with all these other religions, compromising all over the place, kissing the blasphemous Koran, and when you have Vatican II praising the Hindu’s and Buddhists. That certainly is no sort of zeal at all, that is compromise and disgusting false charity. People who are either ill-willed or ignorant promote that as something good because they believe that they are working for the conversion of others or generally nowadays, they don’t care to work for conversion but only supposedly to strengthen others in their religious beliefs, which is of course ridiculous because why would you want to strengthen someone in the possession of false beliefs?

I’ll read you a few things for this subject. Here is Benedict XVI in his book, “Many Religions, One Covenant” He says:

“What we need is respect for the beliefs of others and readiness to look for the truth in what strikes us as strange or foreign.”

Now that is exactly the opposite of what a true Pope, Pope St. Pius X said, what I just read to you a little bit ago, St. Pius X said:
“Though Jesus was kind to those who had gone astray, and to sinners, He did not respect their erroneous convictions, however sincere they appeared to be.”

Benedict XVI says we have an obligation to respect the beliefs of others. This is, as we said, absolutely wrong, you cannot respect error! Error has no rights, all rights come from God and God doesn’t give rights to what is wrong. Neither do we accept anything that sets itself up against God’s Church, the religion that God has revealed. Some of the things that Benedict XVI said in his book say: “I shall learn my own truth better if I understand the other person and allow myself to be moved along the road to God, who is even greater. Certain that I never own the whole truth about God in my own hands.”

Now he seems very clearly to be implying that we Catholics need to learn something about God from non-Catholics. As if the Catholic Church did not possess the whole truth. That is also very insulting to Our Lord, who promised His Church that he would be with it all days until the end of the world. It would never fall into error and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Benedict XVI also said:
“Religion contains the precious prow of truth, so to speak, but it is always hiding it and it is continually in danger of losing sight of its essence.”

The Catholic Church doesn’t hide anything! That light set on the hill, that is what the Catholic Church has always been, the Church has not hidden anything. As someone told me once, they said that: “Benedict XVI was speaking in this paragraph about non-Catholic religions, false religions.” And I said: “Well, that doesn’t make sense.” Because right there, in the first sentence, he says that: “Religion contains the precious prow of truth.” Now there is only one religion that has truth and that is the Catholic religion. So he is certainly speaking about the true religion and what is interesting is that he is saying that religion can fall sick! That’s the very next sentence. I don’t know how he can believe that the Church can fall sick. Certainly, false religions cannot fall sick because they were never healthy in the beginning. They were sick from the beginning. Then he says: “We may find it relatively easy to criticize the religion of others, but we must be ready to accept criticism of ourselves and of our own religion.” How can we be glad and ready for Christ’s religion to be criticized as if there were anything wrong with it? Certainly that is very insulting to Our Lord.

Quite obviously, Benedict XVI does not believe that the Catholic Church is the True Religion and doesn’t concern himself with converting anyone because he simply wants to compromise and respect the false beliefs of others. And we see this all through Vatican II, we see it in inter-religious worship that puts a recognition on false religions, we see it in giving communion to non-Catholics, which was allowed in the 1983 New Code of Canon Law, and which was also specifically allowed by John Paul II on the issue of mixed marriages where the non-Catholic spouse was allowed to receive “holy communion”. We also see it in the fact that they don’t work for the conversion of others and they water things down to make them more pleasing to others and they’ve made a new mass, specifically designed to be more pleasing to Protestants.

So we should remember that to be true to the Catholic faith in the words of St. Pius X,
“Though Jesus was kind to those who had gone astray, and to sinners, He did not respect their erroneous convictions, however sincere they appeared to be.”
I’d like to just conclude by reminding us that to keep these two things in mind, to always have a great charity towards those who are outside the Church but never a false charity that compromises. Never a false charity that is afraid to tell them the truth. I think you can pretty much say whatever you want to someone, as long as it’s true and you’re saying it nicely. The problem is when we have a bitter attitude and it basically turns it into an argument or a confrontation rather than a sincere desire to bring about someone’s conversion. Sometimes you will meet with someone who gets offended, even though you have done nothing to offend, their not offended because of your attitude, but they are offended of the truth and if someone is offended because of the truth, then that is not our problem, that is their problem. I’d like to conclude with a quote from Pope Pius XII in “Menti Nostræ” where he was giving advice to priests, he says:
“Let your apostolic zeal shine with benign charity. If it be necessary ---- and it is everyone’s duty---- to fight error and repel vice, the soul of the priest must be ever open to compassion. Error must be fought with all our might, but the brother who errs must be loved intensely and brought to salvation.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Announcements for the week: Septuagesima Sunday

St. Michael's Convent in Spokane, Washington will be holding a "Vocations Weekend" retreat for young women who are at least juniors in high school up to the age of 35 and might be interested in religious life. "Vocations Weekend" will be taking place from February 29 to March 2, 2008. It is a good idea to make your plans known to the Vocations Directress by Wednesday, February 20. For more information, please contact:
Vocations Directress
St. Michael's Convent
8502 North St. Michael's Road
Spokane, WA 99217-9333
phone: (509) 467-0986 ext. 102

A weekend Lenten retreat will be held at St. Michael's in Spokane, Washington between March 7-9, 2008. If you are able to attend, registration forms are available at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel and also you may access an online registration form at The applicable registration fees are $150 per individual, for those who need overnight accomodations; $75 per individual, for those who do not need an overnight accomodation but meals will be provided. Please note, the fee includes a $50 deposit, which is due by February 25, 2008. For additional information, please contact Fr. Casimir Puskorius, CMRI at (509) 467-2425 ext. 100

Fr. Benedict Hughes, CMRI is planning a Pilgrimage in various cities of France and Spain to visit Shrines of Our Lady and of the Saints between June 10-24, 2008. The expected cost per person is $3515 for land travel portion; $950 single supplement; expect $1,200 for air fare (depends on point of origin from America to Europe). The price includes hotel stays, guides, private air-conditioned coach, entrance fees, and daily breakfast and supper meals (pilgrims must provide for their own lunch). APPLICATIONS ARE DUE NO LATER THAN MARCH 1, 2008. $100 fee is due at the time of submission of application. For more information, please contact:
Fr. Benedict Hughes, CMRI
St. Joseph Minor Seminary
15384 N. Church Rd.
Rathdrum, ID 83858
Phone # (208) 687-0290

Audio CD's are now available from the 2007 Fatima Conference "All Generations Call me Blessed", which took place in Spokane, Washington at Mount St. Michael. They are $60.00 for a complete set of the talks, and $5.00 for the individual topics. For more information call (509) 467-1077

Traditional Catholic 2008 calendars are back in stock. If you would like to purchase one, you may come to the Chapel or call Pat Balderrama at: (909-829-0997). They are priced at $8.00 per calendar.

Septuagesima Sunday

From the Introit:

The sorrows of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me; and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and He heard my voice from His holy temple.

Epistle from Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (9:24-27; 10:1-5)

Brethren, Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things; and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud and in the sea: and did all eat the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink: (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased.

Gosepl according to St. Matthew (20:1-6):

At that time Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like to a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle, and he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour: and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? They said to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called but few are chosen.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for The Feast of The Circumcision

(Website Editor's note: this sermon was presented to me by Fr. Gerard this past weekend. It was recorded in Tacoma, Washington)

Today’s short Gospel tells us, in simple terms, of the right of circumcision when Jesus received His Holy Name, the name which was told to Mary even before the incarnation took place. On this day, Jesus began to fulfill the meaning of his name, which is savior, by shedding the first drops of his blood in obedience to the law of Moses, he submitted to the rite of circumcision, even though he was exempt from that law because he was not, of course, any way subject so sin. But he bore this suffering to begin to shed his blood, to show his willingness, to live up to the meaning of His name, which signifies savior.

The name of Jesus is a divine name announced to Mary on the part of God by Saint Gabriel. For that reason, it was called by St. Paul a name above all names and it was also called a name by which salvation alone is found. Again, we find this in the epistles of St. Paul. This great name is likened by the Holy Ghost unto oil, “my name is as oil poured out from the book” of Canticles in the Old Testament. For this reason, St. Bernard tells us: “that as oil is light, food and medicine, so the name of Jesus is light to the mind, food to the heart and medicine to the soul.” It is light to the mind by this name the world was converted from the darkness of idolatry to the light of faith. We, who have been born in these regions, where before the coming of Christ, our ancestors were Gentiles should all have been born in the same condition, had not the Messiah come to enlighten us. How thankful are we not then to be to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith as he told us, “he who believes not shall be condemned” and thus we all should probably have been lost because the chance of saving one’s soul without the light of the Gospel is indeed slim. The grace God gives, which is sufficient for the salvation of all must be cooperated with and the moral law, which we find in the ten commandments which is in the conscience of each one, must be followed and those must have supernatural faith and supernatural charity. All these things are difficult to have without having the sacraments and the true faith of the Gospel.

The name of Jesus is also the food that nourishes our hearts. Yes, because this name reminds us of what Jesus has done to save us. Hence, this name consoles us in tribulation, gives us strength to walk along the way of salvation, supplies us with courage in difficulties and inflames us with love for our Redeemer. When we remember what he has suffered for our salvation.

Lastly, this name is medicine to the soul because it renders us strong against the temptation of our enemies. The devils tremble and fly at the invocation of this Holy Name. He who in temptation calls upon Jesus shall not fall and shall be saved. According to Psalm 17, David wrote: “Praising, I will call upon the name of Our Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.” And who was ever lost, who when he was tempted invoked Jesus. He alone is lost who does not invoke His aid or who while the temptation continued ceases to invoke him. If we had always called upon the name of Jesus, we would never have been conquered by the devil. If we have miserably lost his grace at some time, it is because in temptation we have neglected to call upon Jesus begging for his assistance. Let us hope for all things through the Holy Name of Jesus. Remember that we are told to make our prayers through Jesus Christ because as we read in the Mass, at the end of the Canon, through him and with him and in him, all honor is given to God in the unity of the Holy Ghost. Let us ask Mary, through her love for us, to obtain for us the grace constantly to invoke her name and that of her son, so that having repeated these names constantly during life, we may repeat them with our last breath. In the lives of many of the saints, we find that they invoked the Holy Name of Jesus and the Blessed Name of Mary as they were dying and so died a very holy death.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for The Octaive Within the Nativity

(Website Editor's note: this sermon was presented to me by Fr. Gerard this past weekend. It was recorded in Tacoma, Washington)

Today’s Gospel puts before us the presentation in the temple and this and the prophecy of Simeon provide us with and opportunity to consider what we might call the problem of suffering, or the mystery, enigma of suffering. The presentation and the words of Simeon open the doors to Our Lady’s sorrows this is listed as the first of her sorrows. It is a contrast to our natural tendency to flee from pain and seek only happiness when we see that in our churches there presides over the altars one who is hanging on a cross and at his feet, our sorrowing Mother. The problem of suffering has no solution outside Christian philosophy, Christian thinking. All pagan philosophers have tried to solve this problem for some, it was an evil to be avoided at all costs, for others it was something which must be carried with stoicism like a garment made of thorns, which can be worn so long as one does not move around in it. But at the least movement, the thorns penetrate the flesh.

Suffering is a defect, which is natural to man. It is turned into something good by the Catholic religion. Our religion alone has known how to change into something good, that which is undoubtedly a natural defect due to original sin. To see this clearly, it is enough to observe that the loving heart of God chose for his Mother the way of sorrows, which began with the prophecy of Simeon and lasted until those three days of solitude after Good Friday. Some writers even say that the sorrows of Our Lady began with the Annunciation because she knew the prophecies of the Old Testament and so she knew that the Redeemer, the Messiah, would be a man of sorrows. The prophet Isaiah in the 53rd chapter so clearly describes the sufferings of the Messiah that he is called the fifth evangelist. We can find in sorrow a restorer for man was seduced by pleasure in the case of Adam, our first parent. Our nature elevated to great heights by God because it was created free from sin, and Adam was endowed with sanctifying grace but through his sin our nature fell thus wiping away from it all that it had which was divine, all that was supernatural receiving in exchange condemnation. Why? Because pleasure seduced the heart of man to the point of inducing him to rob that what was really God’s. Adam would not submit to the command, the only command that God had made, that he should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and in so doing, he refused to submit and robbed God of that glory which he should have given Him by submission to his will, by obedience to His will.

Sorrow is a means of offering satisfaction to God. The natural thing to do is to give back to God what was stolen from Him. That is how we restore the right order, to follow the opposite path, which is opposite to sin, and deny ourselves some satisfaction in order to return to God what is his. That is why we see our head, Jesus Christ, paying tribute to God from the cross. He sacrificed His life, offered it to His Heavenly Father, to atone for the glory, which had been stolen from Him. Mary, Our Mother spiritually, with no personal guilt of sin, associates herself with Christ in this offering. I think it was Pope Pius X and maybe Pope Pius XII in the writings who said that: “His mother’s love and His mother’s rights were included during the holocaust that she could have prayed that her son be delivered from His torments but instead of doing that, she submitted to God’s will and offered up the sacrifice of her love, along with the sacrifice that He was offering up.

For us, sorrow and pain can be born as a voluntary satisfaction and penance. In these trials, we can find a way of pain, going back and obtaining from Him grace and favor again. Pain is a purifier, it frees us from attachment to creatures, not only does it serve to free us from the penalties we have merited by our sins, but also it removes the dust from the soul, which can impede the light of God’s grace and inspirations. This dust acts like a balance, a weight, which does not allow us to rise to the spiritual heights. Mary was always intimately united with God but her sorrows, bravely suffered, increased that grace in her soul. To such an extent that the angels could say: “Who is this whose coming shows like the dawn of day? No moon so fair, no sun so majestic, no embattled array gives aw to men’s hearts.”

Our sadness could be one of two things: Sadness, which is useless, or acceptance of sorrow, which purifies. Use sorrows in order to detach yourselves from creatures in happiness, it is easy to forget about God because everything is going your way. In moments of sorrow, we appreciate the fact that the things of this world are but passing pleasures and we learn to appreciate the eternal good. Sorrow is also a proof of love in so far as it implies the will of the person loved. Is it an easy way to sanctity? Two wills in love with each other tend to become almost one will. To demonstrate this so much the more when, what is willed by one, is difficult to accept on the part of the other. Thus, my love of God is proved by the acceptance of His will and so much the more when his desire for me is something, which I don’t like at all. Such as suffering.

As examples, we have the prayer of Christ in the garden and that of Mary in the temple. The former was the greatest of Christ’s whole life. Proving his love for the Father, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” He said. That of Mary was in the temple, after the prophecy of Simeon, she offered her son to the Father in complete acceptance of His will for them both. The way of sorrow is the way of sanctity. Do you wish to reach holiness quickly? Seek only God’s will, and you can be sure that if your holiness is sincere, God will reward you with even more grace. How? By the road, which he has always chosen for his saints: that of sorrows.

And if at any time the way should seem hard to you, then you have only to follow the advice of St. Bernard: “Look at the star, look at Mary and call upon her.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sermon of His Excellency Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas for the Feast of The Holy Family

This is my first visit to your chapel and having the opportunity to speak to all of you and there are many things I’d like to say but also I am not one who likes to give long sermons and because I know that your mind can only grasp so many things but I would like to share with you a number of things and I don’t like to give multiple topics, I like to focus on one topic and develop that but, like I said it’s my first time here and I have many things that I’d like to share with you.

The first thing I’d like to share with you is that when we read the Gospel of St. Luke, whenever we think of St. Luke’s Gospel, especially the first chapters, we are reminded of why scripture scholars call the Gospel of St. Luke Mary’s Gospel. Because St. Luke received what he records in the Gospel from Our Blessed Mother. Where else could St. Luke had known that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women. Fear not, Mary, thou hast found grace with God, thou shall conceive in thy womb and bare a son and thou shall call his name Jesus”?

How else would St. Luke had known that Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and Elizabeth filled with Holy Ghost said: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. How is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

How else would St. Luke had known Mary’s response to the praises offered by her cousin Elizabeth: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, etc.”
Whenever we read in the Gospel of St. Luke at Christmas, about or at the birth of our Lord, the shepards were told by an angel about this thing that had come to pass, that the Messiah was born and these shepards heard the multitude of angels singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.”

How would St. Luke had known that but from Our Blessed Mother who heard it from the shepards who had come to adore the infant Jesus. But St. Luke tells us this, after the opportunity of reading this today, the Gospel of St. Luke, when Jesus was lost at the Temple. St. Luke explicitly says: “And his Mother kept all of these things carefully in her heart.” There is another place where St. Luke says Our Blessed Mother said this and that is when Our Lord was born, and all of these things had come to pass, where we go to the masses for the Feast of the Nativity, at the second Mass, where Mary kept in mind all these things, pondering them in her heart. St. Luke brings it up twice. So whenever we read the Gospel of St. Luke, especially thinking of the first several chapters, we see how appropriate it is to call it Mary’s Gospel because St. Luke received these from Our Blessed Mother.

Those of you who are mothers, you know when your children are born what a special event it is. There are unique things that happen at the time of your children’s birth that you’ll never forget. Our Blessed Mother not only, as a good Israelite, was not only looking for the Messiah to come, but what joy came to her heart when the angel announced that the Messiah was to come, not only that but she was to be the Mother of the Messiah, the Mother of God. What great expectations she waited at that moment. And when Jesus was born, what love and joy she held the incarnate word Jesus in her arms and laid him in a manger. When we think of these things, we are reminded of how we should also imitate Our Blessed Mother. God in his wisdom, he gives us many opportunities of grace throughout our lives, and like Our Blessed Mother, we should think about these opportunities of grace and ponder them in our hearts, meditate on them and reflect on them.

Today, we are going to administer the sacrament of confirmation. What are the things that are to come and take place? We will receive the Holy Ghost in a very special manner. You received the Holy Ghost at baptism, original sin was washed away and the Holy Ghost with his sanctifying grace, life of God, came into our soul and we received not only the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity but the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. Today when you are confirmed, you’re going to get an increase of those seven gifts. You’ll become soldiers for Christ. This is something that you should ponder, each and every one of you, in your hearts. What a wonderful thing it is to receive the true sacraments.

When we think of the seven sacraments, we think of God’s love for us. He knows that we are all weak, aren’t we? We have our temptations, we have our inclinations to sin, we know how cleaver the devil is and how he uses the world and everything in the world to lead us away from God. But God has provided for our weakness, he instituted the seven sacraments and what a wonderful grace to receive the sacrament of confirmation. When you receive a sacrament worthily, you will always have an increase in sanctifying grace, God’s life in your soul, but then you receive what’s also called a sacramental grace that is peculiar to that sacrament. Those of you who are married, not only when you were married received the sacrament of matrimony and also received sanctifying grace but you also received the sacramental grace to help you to be faithful to one another and to raise your children properly. When we go to confession, we not only get sanctifying grace but also the sacramental grace to help us to overcome sin in the future. When we are dying or in the danger of death, we receive Extreme Unction, we get sanctifying grace plus the special sacramental grace to help us make that final journey to eternity. And so it is with confirmation, you are going to receive and increase in sanctifying grace and also you are going to be given a sacramental grace to stand up for your faith and be strong in your faith. So very great grace is being given to you in this sacrament and let us ponder this in our hearts.

When it comes to our Holy Faith, we’re also reminded that it is important that we don’t make any mistakes about what faith is. Faith is not an emotion, faith is not feeling. You might sometimes by chance while you’re driving you turn on the radio and you hear this protestant preacher who is really preaching up a storm with all of this emotion and yelling and screaming and fire and all his people are in the background saying: “Alleluia! Amen!” you know. They get all of this emotion and feeling, but that is NOT faith because feelings come and go and emotions change. But faith is the assent, the firm assent of the intellect to reveal truth. God has revealed to us divine revelation and he has proved to us that his is coming from him and we with the assent in our minds say: “I believe.” And I live according to that belief whether I feel fervent or great, or I feel empty, whether I feel great emotion or not, I believe and I firmly believe. We have a good example of a strong faith in the example of the three kings, the Magii. These were men wanting to know God’s will in their life and when God manifested the birth of our Divine Savior by the star, how could they have known that? Well obviously God’s grace, we can’t do anything without God’s grace, but also we know that 300 years before the coming of Jesus, the Hebrew bible was translated into Greek. It was called the Septuaginta meaning Septuagy, the Septuaginta is the Greek bible, the Old Testament in Greek. It was available even for those gentiles to read and understand. Now these Magii, they cooperated with God’s grace, they understood scripture and they knew what that star meant, and they journeyed on a long journey to Bethlehem. First arriving in Jerusalem, and then going to King Herod, and King Herod going to those learned in the Law and asked “Where is the Messiah to be born?” and they said: “In Bethlehem.” And thus it was written. And the Magii were men of faith, they came to worship and adore the newborn King of the Jews and when they arrived, what do we read in scripture? “And entering the house, they found the child with his Mary, his Mother, and falling down they worshiped him.” Outwardly, what did they see? Outwardly, they saw a humble family. A poor family, but with their faith they knew that’s the Divine Messiah, and falling down they worshiped him. How important it is for all of us to live by faith? Not by externals, not by whatever most people are doing, not by outward appearances, but simply what God has revealed.

I’d like to share with you one thing. This is something that I thought of during this Holy season of Advent. During the season of Advent, Holy Mother, The Church brings to our minds the prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah so that we might also prepare ourselves spiritually for the birth of Christ. When we look at those prophecies, we are amazed how detailed those prophecies were. The first prophecy that comes to my mind is that he will be born in Bethlehem of Juda. That was prophesized, the exact place where the Messiah would be born, in Bethlehem. It was also prophesized that when the Messiah would come, the second temple would still be standing. The first temple was built by Solomon and that was destroyed and the Jewish people were led into captivity. Upon their return, they begun to build a second temple and the elders saw how much smaller this temple would be and they began to weep. The prophet Isaiah said “No matter, in this temple the Messiah will come.” In that second temple, that is the temple where Mary offered the Christ child, that is where Jesus was lost in the temple for three days, it was in that temple where, during his public life, Jesus taught and preached. It was also prophesized that when the Messiah would come, the Jews would not be governed by the tribe of Juda. Jacob, before he died, he blessed Juda and said that the scepter would not pass from him until the Messiah would come, and sure enough when you look through the Old Testament, King David was of the tribe of Juda, his son, Solomon, and so it was when the Jews came back from captivity, Zorobabel was of the Tribe of Juda. The Machabees were of the tribe of Juda. It wasn’t until 39 B.C. that the Romans put Herod in charge and thus, the scepter had passed from Juda, a fulfillment of the prophecy that the Messiah was to come. It’s also remarkable when we think of the prophecy of Daniel. Daniel lived about 600 B.C. in that era, and he had prophesized that from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah, there would be 69 weeks. But its calculation is accurate, 69 weeks of years. When was Jerusalem begun to be rebuilt? In the year 453 B.C. Daniel had said that the public appearance of the Messiah would be 69 weeks after the beginning of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. 69X7 is 483. From 453 B.C. 483 years later is 30 A.D. the exact public appearance of Our Divine Savior, 30 A.D. It was also prophesized that at the birth of the Messiah a star would appear and Kings from the East would come and worship and it was also prophesized that many children would be put to death at his birth. Not only that, but he would have to flee into Egypt and come back from thence. This Messiah would be both God and man. For unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given. And his name shall be called Almighty God. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bare a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. So when we read these prophecies of detailed accounts, we are inspired and our faith is strengthened.

So clear is the Old Testament, pointing to Jesus Christ, that St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine both say: “Why is it that the Jews today as a nation, although they reject Our Lord, why is it they’re still around?” Nations and dynasties have come and gone but even in their rejection of Christ, we find something very interesting. Pagans would accuse us Catholics that the Old Testament is something that we made up, so clearly does the Old Testament point to Jesus, that Pagans could accuse us. “Ah, you made that up.” But they can’t because the Jews themselves attest to the Old Testament and yet, because of their blindness, they can’t see that it refers to Our Lord. Nevertheless, for those who are seeking the truth and you study the Old Testament, and you find the perfect fulfillment by Jesus Christ. Those prophecies wonderfully fulfilled.

When I also think of Our Divine Savior, and we think of how important it is to have such a strong faith, we think of the miracles that Jesus worked. When you come to Mass on Sundays, many times in the Gospels, we talk and we read about the miracles of Our Lord. These were publicly witnessed events. If these events never occurred, it would be absolutely impossible for the Apostles to go out and preach about these public events and try to convince the people, unless the people had seen these events. These events were of extraordinary nature; raising people from the dead, giving sight to the blind. These are not things that you can lie about, it’s either they happened or they didn’t happen. If they didn’t happen, then the Apostles would have been denounced as a bunch of liars, but they weren’t because people could verify those things. Once again, even Jews today who read the writings of their forefathers, the Pharisees, what do those Pharisees write? In their tablet, they write many things against Jesus Christ. One thing they don’t write against, one thing that they don’t say is that he never did these things. That’s an amazing thing. If Jesus never did these miracles, then the Pharisees should have attacked that: “He never did these things! Never happened!” But when you look at the writings of the Jews, they don’t say that at all, they don’t use that argument, why? Because they couldn’t. The miracles that Jesus worked were publicly witnessed by many many people and therefore, they didn’t use that argument. So their own writings confirm the miracles that Jesus worked were actually done, a public fact.

Now I say these things because as you know, we live in difficult times, don’t we? We were talking about some of the prophecies pertaining to Jesus Christ. You know what’s amazing? What is absolutely amazing is that this modern church, after Vatican II, the things that are said is absolutely mind-boggling. As you know, Benedict XVI was cardinal Ratzinger. He had gone into so much heresy before his supposed election. It’s incredible. In one of his statements, Cardinal Ratzinger says: “If the Jews cannot see the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ, that is now their fault. Because scripture is obscure, it’s not clear.” What is he saying? He is saying: “God didn’t do a good enough job. For so many thousands of years before the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God. The prophets had spoken but it wasn’t clear enough, it wasn’t good enough!” What kind of blasphemy is that? What he does is he shows his cards, that he’s a modernist. A modernist. Scripture is not clear enough, God just didn’t do a good enough job, according to Benedict XVI. And yet people think and hail of him as such a conservative, such a traditionalist, it couldn’t be anything further from the truth. And as you well know, I’m sure the priests have talked about it, when it comes to the Moto Propiro he came out with, allowing a more liberal use of the Latin Mass, he makes it very clear, the Novus Ordo, the modern sacrilege, that is the official, the common expression of the Latin Rite. “That’s not going away, don’t worry about it!” “Novus Ordo is here to stay!” And then he comes up with this bogus: “They’re both of equal value: the Novus Ordo is the common expression of the mass, and the Latin Mass is the extraordinary expression.” This is all to me just absolute deception. Trying to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Those who are trying to find the truth and want the Catholic faith as it was, are going to be led astray, going back to the Novus Ordo churches where there will be men, who are not validly ordained priests, going through the outward motions of a mass in Latin, but will not be a valid mass.

So we have many things to ponder in our heart and thank God that we, by the grace of God see what is going on and how important it is that we live by faith, and that we have a strong solid faith. They can have the buildings, they can have the exterior but we have the true faith. And when Our Lord was born, let this be a consolation to all of us, where were the people of Jerusalem at the stable? They weren’t they didn’t even know it happened! Our Lord, when he was born, those who were called were sinful and humble, the shepards. Men from a great distance, the Magaii, had seen the star and enlightened by the grace of God, they came to find the Divine Messiah, and yet the people of Jerusalem had no clue, they were in a wonder, “What is this?” New born King of the Jews? “What are these men saying?” So it just goes to show us that it’s not a matter of numbers, when Our Lord was dying on the cross, it wasn’t a matter of numbers, just very few people were there, Our Blessed Mother, Holy women, St. John and that was it. St. Joseph of Aramethia, not very many people. And the vast majority of them, Roman soldiers executing Our Lord, the Pharisees blaspheming him, the vast majority was watching this event taking place and this was a test of our faith. It seems like, how can this have taken place, but St. Paul had warned us about this: “Before the Second Coming of Christ, there would be a great Apostasy, and that is what we are witnessing today, the great falling away of many and if we are going to persevere in these times, we need God’s grace because you know without his grace, we can’t do anything. That’s how important it is that we do our very best to pray our prayers every day and receive the sacraments fervently and be strong in our faith. Remember that faith is not a feeling, not an emotion, it’s a full assent of the intellect.

And so, like I said, I don’t like doing long sermons, I’ve gone way over time, against the way I normally give a sermon, but it’s my first time here and I wanted to share these things with you. I hope and pray that all of your persevere in the faith and that in this year of 2008, will be a year of grace for all of us to grow closer to God, to be strong in our faith, to resist the attacks and deceits of the devil, and let us, like Our Blessed Mother, ponder all these things, keeping them in our hearts.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Announcements for the week: The Feast of The Holy Family

St. Michael's Convent in Spokane, Washington will be holding a "Vocations Weekend" retreat for young women who are at least juniors in high school up to the age of 35 and might be interested in religious life. "Vocations Weekend" will be taking place from February 29 to March 2, 2008. For more information, please contact:
Vocations Directress
St. Michael's Convent
8502 North St. Michael's Road
Spokane, WA 99217-9333
phone: (509) 467-0986 ext. 102

A weekend Lenten retreat will be held at St. Michael's in Spokane, Washington between March 7-9, 2008. If you are able to attend, registration forms are available at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel and also you may access an online registration form at The applicable registration fees are $150 per individual, for those who need overnight accomodations; $75 per individual, for those who do not need an overnight accomodation but meals will be provided. Please note, the fee includes a $50 deposit, which is due by February 25, 2008. For additional information, please contact Fr. Casimir Puskorius, CMRI at (509) 467-2425 ext. 100

Audio CD's are now available from the 2007 Fatima Conference "All Generations Call me Blessed", which took place in Spokane, Washington at Mount St. Michael. They are $60.00 for a complete set of the talks, and $5.00 for the individual topics. For more information call (509) 467-1077

Traditional Catholic 2008 calendars are back in stock. If you would like to purchase one, you may come to the Chapel or call Pat Balderrama at: (909-829-0997). They are priced at $8.00 per calendar.

Feast of The Holy Family

From the Introit:
The father of the Just rejoiceth greatly, let Thy father and Thy mother be joyful, and let her rejoice that bore Thee.

Epistle from the letter of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Colossians (3:12-17)

Brethren, Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel according to St. Luke (2:42-52)

When Jesus was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and his parents knew it not. And thinking that He was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His wisdom and His answers. And seeing Him they wondered. And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for The Epiphany

(Website Editor’s note: Because of the lack of opportunity to teach the instructions on confirmation, Fr. Gerard gave general instruction for Confirmation in his sermon today)

Because of the lack of opportunity to conduct the proper classes for confirmation, I wanted take this opportunity to go over what the preparation has to say about confirmation.

Confirmation is the sacrament through which the Holy Ghost comes to us in a special way and enables us to profess our faith as strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ. The affects of Confirmation are mainly four:
1. an increase in sanctifying grace, which we received in baptism.
2. The strengthening of our faith
3. The gifts of the Holy Ghost in a special manner
4. An everlasting mark imprinted on our souls.

Confirmation, like baptism and Holy Orders can only be received once and if there is some doubt about its administration the first time and a person receives confirmation again they are not re-confirmed, but rather, confirmed under condition. If the first confirmation was invalid then this one would give the sacrament to the person who had not received it.

There are seven gifts of the Holy Ghost:
1. Wisdom gives us a delight in the things of God and directs our whole life and all our actions to his honor and glory.
2. Understanding enables us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith. This is how the saints came to be able to explain the mysteries of faith. It is such a beautiful language, the gift of understanding.
3. Counsel warns us of the deceits of the devil and of their dangers to our salvation and helps us to choose the right way, especially when matters are difficult.
4. Fortitude strengthens us to do the will of God in all things, even when it means, like the martyrs, suffering for our faith.
5. Knowledge enables us to discover the will of God in all things.
6. Piety is the gift, which makes us love God as our Father and obey him because we love him not because we are afraid of him like a slave.
7. Fear of the Lord fills us with the dread of sin and so it inspires us to avoid sin and displeasing our Heavenly Father.

The exact time at which confirmation was instituted is not known but it is certain that Christ instituted this sacrament and instructed His Apostles in its use at some time before His Ascension into heaven. When Christ was about to leave the earth, he promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the third person in the blessed trinity, the spirit of truth, whom he would send to teach them all things. He said: “You will receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you.” Our Lord kept his promise. Ten days after his Ascension he sent the Holy Ghost down upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, as it is described in the Acts of the Apostles, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak in various tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.

The Apostles were truly confirmed, that is to say strengthened by the Descent of the Holy Ghost, their understanding was fully penetrated with the whole and entire doctrine of divine faith, as Our Lord said that he brought to them all what he had told them, their minds clearly grasped the divine truths and their will was entirely under his sway. So that they fearlessly preached the Gospel to the whole world and from this point they were confirmed in grace so that they did not go against God’s will in any serious matter.

The affects of the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the early Christians were a special assistance to enable them to undergo grave afflictions and severe trials on account of their new faith, even to suffer martyrdom in many cases as a witness to their faith. Our Lord told the Apostles to confer the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands on all who were properly disposed to receive the sacrament of confirmation. He said: “As the Father sent me, I also send you.” And the Church still practices the ancient custom of imposing hands to call down the Holy Ghost to those who have been baptized. The Church still possesses and dispenses the graces of the Holy Ghost in a special sacrament by the imposition of hands, through the ministry of bishops, to the faithful after baptism and this sacrament is confirmation.

Confirmation is a sacrament of the new law instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, which strengthens the divine life within us and gives to those who were baptized the Holy Ghost with all those gifts in a special manner. We receive the Holy Ghost and the theological virtues and gifts of the Holy Ghost in baptism and confirmation keeps them in a special way. The sacrament is called confirmation because it strengthens and perfects the new life, which the grace of Jesus Christ bestows in baptism, some of the fathers of the Church called the sacrament of confirmation by various names such as the imposition of hands, the sacrament of Holy Chrism, The Seal of Our Lord, the Spiritual Seal and the sign by which the Holy Ghost is received. Confirmation is a true sacrament because it has all the conditions required for a sacrament. It is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. The outward sign of confirmation is the visible action by which the sacrament is administered and consists of matter and form, which signifies the grace to be conferred. The matter of the sacrament of confirmation consists in the laying on of the bishop’s hands and anointing with Chrism. The form consists in the sacred words pronounced by the bishop, which expresses the receiving of the Holy Ghost and the sealing of the soul in Jesus Christ. Holy Chrism is composed of olive oil and fragrant balsam, blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday. The oil signifies the inward strength conferred upon the soul by the Holy Ghost. Balsam is an extract of a root that grows in the dry ground and it is mixed with oil when it is consecrated by the bishop, that is when Holy Chrism is consecrated, to signify that he who is to be confirmed receives the grace to keep himself free from sinful corruption and to send forth the sweet order of a holy life. When the bishop consecrates the Chrism on Holy Thursday he says the following prayer: “May God grant this virtue to the Chrism of the Holy Ghost that by the sanctification infused by Chrism the corruption of the first birth may be absorbed, the holy temple of each one may breathe the lovely order of an innocent life.”

Confirmation is not, like baptism, absolutely necessary for salvation but all Catholics ought to receive it, if they have the opportunity, as it confers sacramental grace and enables them to become soldiers of Jesus Christ and stronger perfect Christians. It is a sin to neglect confirmation, especially in these evil days, when faith and morals are repressed by so many and such violent temptations. It would be a serious sin only to neglect it through contempt. The power to confirm resides in the bishops of the Church, who succeeding the Apostles are the ordinary ministers of confirmation. The extraordinary minister of confirmation is a priest who has received the power by a special delegation from the Apostolic See. By the decree of September 14, 1946, the pastor in his own territory may confirm all the faithful who are in danger of death from a serious illness, of which it is foreseen that they will die. When I was the pastor of St. Mary’s in Tacoma, I had the opportunity and privilege to bestow confirmation in this manner on two dying children. One was a child of about 7 years of age who was dying of a brain tumor. The other was a baby, who had been born prematurely and the doctors had exhausted every means to help him recuperate but they could see that he was not going to recover from whatever illness he had so they were going to disconnect all the additional life support that was being used so I was able to baptize that baby, after they disconnected the tubes and IVs and whatever else they were using to keep him alive. Then I had the ritual for confirmation in my ritual book and was able to give him confirmation before he died, which happened just shortly after I had finished giving him confirmation. The extraordinary minister must use the Holy Chrism, which was consecrated by the bishop. And before bestowing the sacrament he must announce that the bishop is the ordinary minister of the sacrament but through a special power or faculty from the Holy See to confer the sacrament, it is allowed to confer it on a dying person and the priest must used the same rite as the bishop.

Confirmation may be administered at anytime during the year, at any hour or in the evening if the bishop should arrange it so. The proper place of the ceremony is in the Church but the bishop, for a reasonable cause, may confer the sacrament in any becoming place. Anyone who has been baptized but not yet confirmed can receive the sacrament. In the early days of the Church, and even now in certain places, like the Eastern rites and in Latin American countries, even children or infants are confirmed. Ordinarily in the Latin rite, children are confirmed between the ages of 10 and 12. After the use of reason has been obtained, because as confirmation makes them strong in perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ, it is fitting that they be able to study their faith more in depth than is required just for the reception of Holy Communion. The conditions of receiving confirmation are these four:
1. A person must be baptized Catholic
2. He should be in a state of grace, free from all mortal sin
3. He should take a saint’s name, that is one different from his baptismal name
4. He should be well instructed in the principal doctrines of the faith.

The minimum knowledge for confirmation is to know the Lord’s prayer, the Hail Mary, the Apostle’s creed, The Commandments of God, The six precepts of the Church, The doctrine of the Sacraments and especially the nature and the affects of the sacrament of confirmation. To receive the sacrament worthily, one should make a worthy confession, if at all possible and spend some time in recollection or some time in spiritual preparation so as to be prepared to receive the Holy Ghost with his seven gifts. The graces which one receives at confirmation will be available throughout one’s life and so it is fitting that one should try to prepare carefully with an understanding so as to receive as much as those graces as possible. The sanctifying grace is always given through the sacraments but depending on a person’s deposition. The actual graces, which enable one to live one’s faith more perfectly and defend it courageously, are more or less depending on one’s deposition. The sacrament is not necessarily a requirement to be received while fasting. If one should present himself to receive confirmation knowing that he is in the state of mortal sin, he would commit a grave sin of sacrilege, although the sacrament would be received, he would not receive its graces until he made a good confession and received absolution. If a person was in need of confession for a serious sin and was at the communion rail to be confirmed, it would not be necessary to get up and leave as that would cause a commotion, one should make an act of perfect contrition so as to regain the state of sanctifying grace and mention that fact later in confession.

The ceremonies of confirmation are as follows: the bishop about to confirm with his hand extended towards those who are to be confirmed prays that the Holy Ghost may descend upon them with his seven full gifts. He lays his hand upon each one, anointing them with Holy Chrism on the forehead with the sign of the Cross and pronouncing the sacramental words. He gently strikes each one on the cheek and finally gives all those who were just confirmed his blessing. The forehead is anointed with Chrism in the sign of the Cross to teach us that the sacrament of grace is given in virtue of the sacrifice of the Cross only to remind those confirmed that they must not be ashamed to profess boldly their faith in Christ Jesus crucified and that by this sacred auction the soul is sealed in the Holy Ghost with a spiritual everlasting mark, which enrolls those confirmed forever in the service of Christ. When the bishop anoints the person, he confirms he says: “I sign thee with the sign of the Cross and I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” When he gives the blow on the cheek to those confirmed, he says: “Peace be to you.” This blow on the cheek signifies that by confirmation, each of those who receive it is strengthened to suffer, and if necessary, even to die for Christ.

Those who are to receive the sacrament of confirmation should come dressed in a white shirt, and girls or women with a white dress or at least a modest dress. They should have their foreheads neat and their hair arranged as to leave the forehead free to be anointed and if the young ladies or women use make up, they should not use it on their forehead. They should approach the altar rail in due reverence with hands joined before the breasts. Those who are to be confirmed as they kneel at the communion rail, they should have a card with the chosen name of the patron saint for confirmation, and also their baptismal and family name and the name of the sponsor. Those who are about to be confirmed should fervently ask for the gifts of the Holy Ghost, they should promise to live and die as faithful soldiers of Christ and they should be present from the beginning of the sacred rite and remain until the bishop has given benediction or blessing afterwards. The candidate for confirmation takes another name to the one received in baptism to remind him that he is to place himself under the protection of another patron saint, whom he chooses as his advocate toward God. That he is to follow the exemplary life of the new patron remaining steadfast unto death. The bishop gives a penance to those who have been confirmed and asks or tells them to say the Apostle’s creed, the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Normally this is done in the course of the ceremony also as a profession of faith for those who have been confirmed. Sponsors are taken in confirmation, as in baptism and these present the candidates to the bishop and undertake to see that the child is brought up in the Catholic Faith and in the practice of his religion.

Sponsors in confirmation must be practicing Catholics, they must have been confirmed and be able to fulfill their duties as spiritual guardians and they must be different from the baptismal sponsors. There should be one sponsor for each of the candidates, a Godfather for the boys and a Godmother for the girls. If there are not enough, then one or two sponsors may stand for all of the candidates. The sponsor is chosen by the candidate or by the candidate’s parents or guardians, or otherwise, by the bishop or parish priest. During confirmation, the sponsors accompany the candidates and present them to the bishop at the altar rail. While the candidate is being confirmed, they should physically touch the shoulder with their right hand standing immediately behind the candidate. After confirmation, the duties of sponsors are to take a permanent interest in their spiritual children and they should see that they receive a Christian education should the parents fail in this duty. Sponsors contract a spiritual relationship with the persons for whom they stood but this is no longer and impediment to marriage. Clerics or members of religious orders must not act as sponsors without special permission from their superior and the bishop.

The duties of parents, whose children are to be confirmed, are not to neglect to have their children receive this sacrament at the proper time. They must send their children regularly to the preparatory instructions, they should assist them in order to make a good confession, before receiving confirmation and after confirmation they must insist that their children receive the sacraments of penance and Holy Eucharist frequently as well as continue to study their faith. Just because one has been confirmed doesn’t meant that the need to study the faith is any less rather its even of greater importance so that one may fulfill his obligations as a Catholic and in professing and practicing the faith. Those who have been confirmed should thank God the Holy Ghost for the graces bestowed upon them and promise steadfastly to profess their faith and live up to it and also celebrate the anniversary date of their confirmation. The duties of the sponsors of confirmations are not simply a social duty but rather an important spiritual duty to see that their godchildren in confirmation are living up to their faith, that they are receiving the sacraments and they’re continuing to study their faith.

One of the great tragedies of Vatican II was that so many people who had been confirmed did not continue to study their faith and so they were taken by surprise with all the new changes in many cases and failed to recognize that a new religion was being imposed upon them and especially those who were later educated with the New Catechism and their parents often times failed to realize that the True Catholic Faith, the Traditional Catechism was not being taught and so in many instances the children were being indoctrinated into a new religion, the religion of Vatican II, instead of the traditional faith, which they themselves had learned in their Catechism classes as children. So this sacrament in our day is of even greater importance than it was before because the evils of society against faith and morals, the threat to the faith because of Vatican II and the emotional and mental persecution of misunderstanding on the part of others who say that their Catholics but follow the modern Vatican II religion makes the graces of this sacrament even more necessary than ever before.

And so hopefully this review of the instructions on confirmation will be helpful and a good reminder for all of us of the importance of studying our faith and of making use of the graces of the sacrament of confirmation.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Announcements for the week: The Epiphany of Our Lord

His Excellency, Bishop Pivarunas, will be coming here to Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel on January 13, 2008 to celebrate Mass and perform Confirmations afterwards. Anyone who needs to be confirmed or conditionally re-confirmed, please see Fr. Gerard or call him at (509) 868-5893 for more information. ONLY BAPTIZED MEMBERS can recieve the sacrament of Confirmation. Regardless of Confirmation or conditional Confirmation, Fr. Gerard requests that those who wish to recieve the sacrament present to him copies of baptismal certificates for purposes of Church records. If you cannot meet this requirement, please see Fr. Gerard. Those who are to be confirmed are to arrive at 1:15PM to assure that everything is in order before Mass starts. THIS WEEK IS THE LAST WEEK TO GIVE FR. GERARD THE RELEVANT INFORMATION NEEDED.

St. Michael's Convent in Spokane, Washington will be holding a "Vocations Weekend" retreat for young women who are at least juniors in high school up to the age of 35 and might be interested in religious life. "Vocations Weekend" will be taking place from February 29 to March 2, 2008. For more information, please contact:
Vocations Directress
St. Michael's Convent
8502 North St. Michael's Road
Spokane, WA 99217-9333
phone: (509) 467-0986 ext. 102

A weekend Lenten retreat will be held at St. Michael's in Spokane, Washington between March 7-9, 2008. If you are able to attend, registration forms are available at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel and also you may access an online registration form at The applicable registration fees are $150 per individual, for those who need overnight accomodations; $75 per individual, for those who do not need an overnight accomodation but meals will be provided. Please note, the fee includes a $50 deposit, which is due by February 25, 2008. For additional information, please contact Fr. Casimir Puskorius, CMRI at (509) 467-2425 ext. 100

Audio CD's are now available from the 2007 Fatima Conference "All Generations Call me Blessed", which took place in Spokane, Washington at Mount St. Michael. They are $60.00 for a complete set of the talks, and $5.00 for the individual topics. For more information call (509) 467-1077

Traditional Catholic 2008 calendars are back in stock. If you would like to purchase one, you may come to the Chapel or call Pat Balderrama at: (909-829-0997). They are priced at $8.00 per calendar.

The Epiphany of Our Lord

From the Introit:

Behold the Lord the Ruler is come: and the Kingdom is in His Hand, and power, and domination. Give to the king Thy judgment, O God: and to the king's Son Thy justice.

Epistle from Isaias the prophet (60: 1-6):

Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about and see: all these are gathered together: they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar, and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt Thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the Gentiles shalll come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all thy from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense and showing forth their praise to the Lord.

Gospel according to St. Matthew (2: 1-2)

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Juda in the days of king Herod, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him. And king Herod hearing this was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the Prophet. And thou Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the Captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the wise men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him. Who having heard the king went their way. And behold the star, which they had seen in the East, went before them until it came and stood over where the Child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him. And opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having recieved an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"What is truth?" The Sermon of Fr. John Trough for the Feast of The Circumcision

First of all, I want to wish all of you a very happy and blessed New Year for you and your families and today is the Octave day of the Nativity, the feast of the Circumcision. At first glance, we may ask ourselves why the Church has us celebrate such an occasion of Our Lord and to get the answer we have to open up our Bibles and look in the Old Testament. We go back to the first book, the book of Genesis, and we go back to Abraham. Abraham, if we remember our Bible history, lived in an area called Ur and it was near present day Iraq. God one day asked him and his wife to move to the mount of Chanaan and that’s present day Israel, that’s quite a distance. He was given a promise from God that “Your descendents would be numerous like the stars in the heavens. There were couple of interesting obstacles, first of all they were past childbearing age and Sara, his wife, was well beyond menopause into her 90’s and Abraham was in his 100’s before they finally had their first child, obviously a miracle from Almighty God. But during this time God, as he was giving them his covenant, he gave them a commandment that every male that is going to be of the Hebrew race had to be circumcised and that was a sign, an external sign, to show that a man was dedicated to the Lord, that he was a member of the Hebrew race, that he was part of the inheritance of Israel. So the feast of the circumcision of a baby boy was a great occasion and it is normally done on the eighth day after birth. Even today, amongst the Jews, there’s a man with a minister of sorts who performs circumcisions and it is a big ceremony. So today, we celebrate the Circumcision of Jesus Christ.

It’s interesting because he’s the author of the Hebrew law and he is not saying: “Well, I’m the author and I don’t have to be subject to the law because I’m the author of the law.” No, he even subjects himself to his own law, how admirable that is. He appears in the temple for the first time as an infant and we know that Jesus had the full usage of his reason, it is only gradually, as he grew older, which he revealed more of what he actually knew. He goes in the temple and in spirit he says: “Heavenly Father, here I am to publicly reveal myself and that I am ready to do your will.” Even as a little baby boy was he ready to do the Heavenly Father’s will and it is on a day like today that he shows us that he is the Truth, he is a messenger of the truth.

Think of the times, the dark times, which Our Lord was born in. The Romans at this time were getting their kicks from standing in a big auditorium called the Coliseum, still there, (I’ve never been there, hopefully someday I’ll get to go there). But in this big Coliseum they would watch for fun a couple of guys hacking it out to the death. They were entertained by the shedding of blood, pretty gruesome. Later on, when Christianity was taking its hold on the hearts of men, they would watch Christians being torn to bits by hungry lions and tigers and bears. Those beasts were purposely starved for that reason, so they would be hungrier when they would be let loose upon these Christians and the crowds would cheer and clap and were even given free bread as a way to get the Romans to come and watch. That’s pretty sick, downright sick.

On top of that, the Roman Empire and other empires conquered and defeated lands and nations for the only purposes of greed and lust. Having more taxes, more territories to occupy for that reason alone. People were subject to idolatry, when we know from our human reason that there is a creator a one creator and instead of worshiping him, they worshiped idols, stones and statues. And we can see that the times in which Jesus came were pretty dark. We read in the Last Gospel at the end of Mass, he is the light that comes into the world and the darkness did not know it. It did not grasp the light. This is very relevant even in our own day. What makes it scary is that in our own day, we know of Jesus Christ, we know his message and we see society turn its back on Christ. What is truth? Is truth like a way a society would like to think it? As to when it comes to religion that “All religions are all right, we’re all okay.” If one person says it’s red, another person says it’s black and another says it’s pink or green, we’re all right, we’re all going to heaven, no problem. This is NOT what truth is. Because 2 + 2 = 4 for anyone and so truth is not subjective or irrelative, this is something that society preaches nowadays that truth is irrelative, so therefore there is really no absolute truth, it’s whatever you think is true and it’s true for you and that’s good enough. That’s not Christ’s message.

Truth is outside of ourselves, it’s not what we think, it’s what exists outside of ourselves and God is saying: “I am that truth!” Now think of the time at the Last Supper. Jesus is speaking to his Apostles and he’s telling them that he is going to soon go to heaven and they weren’t sure what he was talking about, he was about to suffer his Passion, he instituted the Sacrifice of Mass at the Last Supper: take ye and eat, take and drink of this, this is the cup of my blood, the new Testament, which will be shed for sins. It is on this occasion that he’s saying that he is going to heaven and prepare a mansion, there are many mansions in heaven, and he’s basically saying: “I’m going to prepare a place for you and that you do know the way.” St. Thomas, comes in at this time and says: “Lord, we do not know where you are going and how can we know the way?” Jesus then responds: “I am the way, the truth and the light.” So there is ultimate truth and this truth can only be found as we can see through the four marks of the Church. It is only through the Church that his message of truth is brought to us.

It is relative because today people belief the false notion of: “It doesn’t matter what you believe, we are all going to heaven.” We know that is not how it’s going to be. As we continue for every day life, we know that we are weak and as human beings we fall, which is why we come to Mass to be absolved of our sins in the confessional, to come to the communion rail to be strengthened and fortified by the precious body and blood of Jesus. Your torch, if it has been blown out, can be rekindled and that you will go from here into this dark world and show to men what the truth is. It is Christ. Even if it is as simple as making the sign of the cross before you eat your meal at a restaurant or wearing your scapular, not being afraid to wear it, keeping your rosary in your pocket. We don’t necessarily have to shake our heads and be panty-waists about it, all it means is that we have to manly stand up for what we believe. The modernists and pagans and people who boast about their escapades and stuff, are going to be so bold to preach about what they do, why can’t we, who are messengers and heralds of the truth in today’s modern world, why should we not be afraid? Why shouldn’t we be courageous to preach the same message that Catholics in the past have and shed their blood for it? There is no reason why we should be afraid. We receive the same sacraments that they received then.

I read one little interesting caption recently: “If they were right then, we are right now. If they were wrong then, we are wrong now.” And we are exactly as they were then. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said: “Right is right when everybody is wrong, wrong is wrong, when everybody is right.” We know being Catholic, especially being Traditional Catholic, is not popular. The Modern Church is the herald of this new one-world religion where it doesn’t matter what you believe. If you don’t believe me, you can look it up in the Vatican II documents yourself. Let us not be afraid of the truth, remember as we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ, Christ comes out and says, “I am that truth. If you stick by my side, you’ll make it to heaven. Not through Buddha, not through Mohammed, not through any other man-made or false sense of Christianity that we can go to heaven, it is only through Christ and His Church. Don’t be like Pilate. Think about what Pilate did. Pilate, seeing Jesus Christ being bound with cords, stood before him and said: “Are you a King? People say your are a King.” Jesus says to him “Yes, I am a King, you have said it. For this I was born and for this came I into the world that I shall give testimony to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth heareth my voice.” What did Pilate say? “What is truth?” Pilate was one of these people who didn’t know, truth is whatever you think it is.

Truth is objective, truth is Almighty God, that he exists and we have to humble ourselves before the truth and worship him and love him. Pilate even took Jesus out to the crowds and said “I have found no wrongdoing in him.” But he buckled under the weight of embarrassment, went along with the crowd, afraid to stand up, and had Jesus whipped, scourged and crucified. Every time we’re afraid to stand up for what is right we become like Pilate. “I’m too afraid what people think of me.” That’s not what truth is about.

As we continue our Mass remember that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.