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Recognizing Jesus In The Eucharist

 

And it happened that, while He was with them at table, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him… (Luke 24:30-31)

For the second consecutive day, the gospel reading from daily Mass presents a story of someone who was dejected…and shouldn’t have been! Just as we saw yesterday with Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus were sad about the Lord’s death and didn’t realize that He was right beside them! As He did with Mary, Jesus reached out to the men and they finally recognized Him after He “took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them”. Do those actions sound familiar?

They should, because that’s exactly what happens at Mass! One of the biggest mistakes that we make is to walk around sad and gloomy, forgetting that the Lord makes Himself available EVERY DAY in the Holy Eucharist. As Catholics, we are blessed with a privilege that seems too good to be true. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is present to us, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Instead of suffering and struggling to carry your cross by yourself, turn to Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He is reaching out to us, just as He did to Mary Magdalene and the disciples traveling to Emmaus. In addition to your Sunday obligation, try to attend daily Mass a few extra times each week and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. By doing so, you’ll receive the graces that will help you experience peace and deal with your problems. And if you can’t attend daily Mass, make it a point to stop by your adoration chapel or church and spend some time with Jesus, who is FULLY present in the Blessed Sacrament…

the only thing you have to lose is your gloom and misery!

“Without the Holy Eucharist, there would be no happiness in this world, and life wouldn’t be bearable.” (Saint John Vianney)

“Woman, Why Are You Weeping?”

 

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb. (John 20:11)

The gospel reading from today’s Mass teaches us an important lesson. Sometimes, as in Mary Magdalene’s case, we get so wrapped up in the problems and worries of our lives that we fail to recognize the Lord’s presence. Mary flat out “missed the point” when she wept at the tomb. Jesus had risen from the dead, but Mary didn’t get it. Bodily resurrection was not something that occurred to her. Instead, she assumed that someone stole the body of Jesus. But what happened then is really important…first the angels and then Jesus appeared to her. The Lord’s appearance finally snapped her out of her sorrow and made her realize that all was well.

Every day, we encounter situations which could cause us to hang our heads and weep. If we give in to the desire to lose hope, we’ll miss the presence of Jesus and the peace that He can provide. By clinging to our own preconceived ideas of what is “good” for our lives, we often fail to see God’s providence in action. Sometimes, “bad” things are actually “good” for us and can help us to reach Heaven. Instead of weeping at “the empty tomb”, we should instead seek out the Lord – in Scripture, in prayer and, most of all, in the Eucharist. Then, and only then, will we feel His peace in our heart!

No Greater Love…

 



Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

On this day, approximately 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cross so that you and I can one day live in the eternal happiness of His kingdom. He gave everything, holding nothing back. As we look over our lives, what have we done to express our gratitude? Speaking for myself, I have to admit that the answer is “not much”. As a matter of fact, not only haven’t I done too much for the Lord, but I’ve done many things to hurt Him. I’ve repaid His selfless love with indifference, ingratitude and numerous mortal and venial sins. I’ve disobeyed His command to “love one another” (John 13:34) more times than I’d like to admit and often ignored His warning that I’ll be judged for “every careless word” that I speak (Matthew 12:36).

Although we should feel sad that our sins put Him on the cross, we shouldn’t be paralyzed by our grief. We shouldn’t just wish that He didn’t have to suffer. Instead, we should vow to make changes in our lives TODAY. The very first change that each of us should make is to ask Jesus for the grace to lead holier lives. If we rely on our own power we’ll fail miserably, but when we turn to Him, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Thank you, Jesus, for suffering so that I may have eternal life. Help me to turn away from my sinful behavior and become more like you. Amen.

Don’t Just Feel Sorry For Jesus…

 

For several years, my reaction to Our Lord’s Passion was the same:

How could the authorities do this to Jesus?
How could people cry out “Crucify Him”?
What did He ever do to deserve this?
How could Peter and Judas betray their friend?
These people were really nasty!

But eventually the sadness passed (usually by the evening of Good Friday) and nothing really changed in my life. As I started to learn more about my faith, however, I realized that my sins were responsible for the Lord’s suffering. Although that was a big revelation, the guilt it produced was short-lived. At best, this would lead me to say a few prayers and apologize to Jesus and then it was “business as usual”.

Although it is commendable to feel sorry for Our Lord and even better to blame ourselves for His death, we still need to take it a step further and make some changes in our lives. As we focus on Our Lord’s passion and death during this Holy Week, something should become very obvious. Jesus Christ gave all that He had…His very life…for each one of us. He held NOTHING back. In His own words, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). How about us? Are we giving ourselves completely to the Lord or are we holding back?

How much do we trust His Will when difficulties arise in our lives?
Are we generous with our money and time?
Do we follow the teachings of His Church?
Do we obey His commandment to “love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”?
Do we unite our sufferings with His?
Do we set aside time to speak with Him in prayer?
Do we ask for the grace to avoid sin?
Do we pray daily for an increase in faith, hope and charity?
Do we follow His example and serve others or do we prefer to be served?

While reading the Passion should make us feel sorry for Jesus, it should also move us to look at our own lives and make changes if necessary. He gave everything for us…

what are we giving to Him?

Merry Christmas!

See, your Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: say to daughter Zion, your Savior comes! (Isaiah 62:11)

Wishing all of my friends a Blessed and Holy Christmas!  May you and your loved ones be surrounded by the joy and peace that flows from Our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Thank you for all of your prayers and support throughout the year.  I will continue to keep you all in my daily prayers!

Your Brother in Christ,
Gary

 

The Light Is Coming!

In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

In a sense, we all have some degree of darkness in our lives.  Problems, fears and uncertainty can sometimes cause us to stumble on the dark road on which we travel.  Two thousand years ago, the world waited for the arrival of the Savior, the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.  Although it’s a historical fact that He did indeed arrive and was born in a stable in Bethlehem, many of us still need to welcome Him into our own lives.  It doesn’t matter whether we actively practice our faith or have fallen away, we can ALL stand to get closer to Our Lord.  At this holy time of the year, let’s make a promise to welcome the Savior in our lives and ask Him to remain with us.  By doing so, we’ll be able to walk in the light and safely navigate the treacherous roads of life.

The glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind will see the saving power of God.  (Isaiah 40:5)

Two Hearts, One Love

Today and tomorrow are very special days in the Catholic Church, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Many of us are familiar with the images which represent a special kind of love, but what do these devotions actually mean?

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an outgrowth of Our Lord’s humanity and  reminds us that Jesus loves us not only with a Divine affection, but also with a human heart.  It was promoted by individuals such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Gertrude and St. Francis de Sales.  However, the greatest proponent of this devotion was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Jesus appeared in the 17th century.  In his encyclical Haurietis Aquas (May 15,1956), Pope Pius XII made the following observation about this powerful devotion:

It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.

On the other hand, the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary honors Mary’s compassion and sinlessness.  This devotion, which became popular after the Fatima apparitions in 1917, reminds us of Our Lady’s unconditional love…  

for God, as illustrated by her “yes” when asked to become the Mother of the Savior…

for Jesus, which was so strongly evident as she stood by Him during His death on the Cross…

for each of us, as could be seen when she came to the assistance of the couple at the wedding in Cana.

Although distinct, the hearts of Jesus and Mary love each of us in the same way – unconditionally.   Now would be a good time to show our love in return.  We can do this by turning away from sin, leading a holy life and speaking to them often.  The love of Jesus and Mary is constant and will not go away.  No matter how badly we sin or ignore them, that love remains….

can the same be said of our love for them? 

The Greatest Love Story Of All Time

“Pause before the tabernacle by yourself, for no special reason, even without saying a thing, simply remaining in His presence, contemplating the supreme gestures of love contained in the consecrated Bread.” (Blessed Pope John Paul II – April, 1995)

On the eve of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, it would be wise for us to spend a few minutes meditating upon the mystery of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.  When you enter the Church and see the tabernacle, think about the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord.  Jesus became man, suffered and died out of love for you.

As you genuflect before the tabernacle, think about that love.  It’s a love that we too often forget.  Then, when it’s time to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, pause for a minute.  As the priest raises the little white host and says, “The Body of Christ”, remember the words of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.”

Thank you, Jesus…I love you too!

I Am With You Always…

Sometimes I just need a reminder…Thank you, Jesus!

How Much Do I Love Jesus?

“Every time I hear anyone speak of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Blessed Sacrament I feel an indescribable joy. It is as if a wave of precious memories, sweet affections and joyful hopes swept over my poor person, making me tremble with happiness and filling my soul with tenderness. These are loving appeals from Jesus who wants me wholeheartedly there, at the source of all goodness, his Sacred Heart, throbbing mysteriously behind the Eucharistic veils… I love to repeat today ‘Sweet Heart of my Jesus, make me love You more and more.'” (Blessed Pope John XXIII, Journal of a Soul)

I ran across the above quote from the autobiography of Blessed Pope John XXIII, and I couldn’t help but ask myself a question…

“Do I feel the same way?”

While my first answer was a resounding “Yes!”, I started to think of all those occasions when I’ve daydreamed while at Mass, of the all the times I passed up stopping in at the adoration chapel to pay a visit to Jesus who gave up His life for my salvation, of those times when I sinned and caused disappointment and sadness to be felt in Our Lord’s Sacred Heart.

While I do love Jesus and try to visit and receive Him frequently, I still think that I have some work to do.  I’m going to take the late Holy Father’s recommendation and make that last line my frequent prayer. 

Sweet Heart of my Jesus, make me love You more and more.