The Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Visitation Mystery: points to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

June comes tomorrow and then it is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
What better prelude could ever be for it than today’s end of May feast of The Visitation Mystery of Mary?

Mary gets a big hurrah today, for her faithful participation in the holiness of God. Given Grace at the start, she remained in it, and was the only fitting person to welcome the Messiah (Anointed One) into the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. In her holiness, we see her in the Visitation Event (Luke 1:39-56) as holding the Hope of the World in her. He, The Anointed One, is become flesh of her flesh, and will soon be born for all to see. John the Baptist kicks in the womb of Elizabeth (whom Mary has gone to see), as an early start to his forerunner mystery of announcing the Messiah to the world. So, in today’s feast, the pregnant Mary has gone to care for the further along in pregnancy Elizabeth, and Mary also is checking out for herself what the angel had told her (Luke 1:36) “that Elizabeth, your kinswoman, is already in her sixth month (with an amazing pregnancy, that comes from God).”

Mary’s life is given to the world to bear for us God in the flesh, even as The Holy Child first in her womb. He, Jesus, her son coming, will be the Sacred Heart (God as man with a perfect heart of love) and the Divine Son will live and love in that Sacred Heart to pour out salvation as the Holy Sacrifice for us sinners of a fallen world. Mary is a teenager in today’s Gospel for Visitation Day.

As the month of the Sacred Heart comes in June, so does a Sacred Heart of Jesus day (Friday, June 3rd) and what follows the next day, June’s first Saturday, is the Immaculate Heart of Mary day.

Because of the Sacred Heart, in Jesus, there is created the Immaculate Heart, in Mary. It was God’s plan. He let her be His pure human start in the world (her womb, her motherhood).

This feast day (of IHM) gets its main origin or inspiration from the apparitions of Mary and her revelations in Lourdes and Paris. In the one experienced by St. Catherine Labouré at Rue Du Bac, Paris in 1830, Mary spurred on some devotions, such as the appeal to her special intercession in a prayer: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The Miraculous Medal was struck and fashioned of Mary’s appearance and this phrase, as asked by the Blessed Mother to the visionary Catherine. Novenas and First Saturdays and living by special promises followed in this Marian devotion and vehicle to Our Lord Jesus, her son.
Mary is and has always been free of sin.
She is ever-virgin, ever pure and holy. She is self-described as “handmaiden to The Lord.”
God has decided to have this holy handmaiden be of help to us and into salvation in Jesus. He gives her as help versus sin and versus the Tempter.
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From early on in Church history, of course, the Church Fathers wrote of Mary’s blessedness, purity, and her sorrows, as did the great Saints — like Dominic, Gertrude, Thomas Becket, Bridget, Bernardine of Siena, and Louis de Montfort. Yet the increased apparitions of Mary in the world in modern times showed us all how our Lord wants many in His flock to honor His Mother and use her heavenly aid, as Mother to the Church. St. John first received Mary as Mother for us, when at Calvary, he responded to Jesus’ words, “Behold, your Mother.” (It’s in the Crucifixion narrative of John’s Gospel.)

Here is a brief prayer to use:
Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing, as the Archangel Gabriel said truly: Hail Mary, full of grace. O Heart always pure and without sin, you are God’s most valued woman and you are humanity’s great example of response to God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You are elevated above all hosts within the kingdom of God, created of the godly seed by the Spirit of God, and our own New Eve. Immaculate Mary, join with me in my prayer for ____ and present my need before Jesus, for I submit to the Divine will of The Lord, and await on His help and guidance, to “do whatever He tells me.” I know that God asks me to be holy, just as He is holy. I have my struggles in keeping to this Word, so I ask for your help, O blessed Mary, person without sin or stain, and I live to desire the Sacred and Holy and be immersed into it, by which the Holy Spirit will supply me all graces.
I also pray for all of the Church in this Year of Mercy, for our petitions, and for our lives to be more alive to Mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Corpus Christi Extra Thought] The Eucharist is really One Celebration

(A Blog Extra to May 29th Homily). On this Feast to the Blessed Sacrament, we ask ourselves: Isn’t each Mass joining us all into something much higher and wonderful than we’ve ever realized?!

Let’s s-t-r-e-t-c-h out our Eucharistic faith.

We can believe it! The Eucharist is so much more than we really “get” in our minds, and it is so in so many ways!

Consider just one thing here about The Eucharist Sacrament’s eternal aspect: In every Holy Communion you now and ever have or ever will participate in, God delights in it and joins it into becoming One Eucharist of Life. It becomes one graced experience. One Eucharist.

Yes.
But the point is pretty cosmic, so said Jesuit theologian Fr. Chardin, and it’s all a little unclear.

Part One
Perhaps it can help for us to do a little review of our Mass participation which takes place throughout our lives. Could I offer such a perspective to you of how they all connect together? If you have been a cradle Catholic, like me, then you could think of perhaps of the times you’ve been to various Masses. Such as, when you went to…
–a Mass as a child, when you were barely tall enough to see over the pew. (I can recall some of those times.) Fine.
Now add that to…
–A Mass sometime when you were 12 and in a stretch of receiving Holy Communion regularly on Sundays. Fine. Now, add that to
–A Mass when you graduated from your Catholic school, or to a Holy Day Mass you went to as a religious ed. student with many other classmates, and its experience. Fine. Now, (if you are older), add that on to…
–A retreat Mass, when you were in an intimate setting for spiritual reflection, with your fellow retreatants, and perhaps a special moment in it (e.g. at the presentation of gifts of such a Mass, we Mass-goers gave away a hard rock into the offertory basket and had them brought to the altar–based on the Scripture of Ezekiel of asking God to turn stony hearts to soft, warm hearts). Fine. (I hope you’ve had a retreat or special Mass in your life.) Now, add that on to…–A Mass on some Christmas, your first one away from family when as a single-adult, or a collegian, or as a traveler… when you found a new meaning to Mass while also meanwhile feeling less familiar but still “home” in that solitary experience…. add that to
–A wedding Mass you attended, either of your own one or of a friend or family member, and how your prayed it in celebrating love and Christ’ covenant bond in the Matrimony Sacrament. Fine. Now add that on to…
–Or a Mass of Christian Burial, maybe of a person dear, and maybe you can remember when you received Holy Communion with tears flowing down your cheek… and add that to…
–A Sunday Mass in the Summer, with the smaller crowds around, and less music–but one you came to with faith and used the longer quiet pauses for some of your best personal thank you prayers of the year… and if you are a senior, add on another Mass memory, such as…
–A Mass with a grandchild coming with you to pray at church… or a Mass when, for the fourth time in your parish membership, another new pastor is installed, in this parish you helped keep going on.

All of the above of Masses during a lifetime. The list will be different for persons, but the Mass has been there for our journey Home.
–and one day for us, there is that Mass of Christian Burial, when we will be the one for whom the church is praying for, because it will be our remains in the casket, as our soul is called forth to fly to God, while our body prepared to be laid down.

Again, it will be a Mass, with people pleading to God in this special liturgy, and we’ll have the behalf of the prayers of Jesus Christ, THE Priest and Head of the Liturgy. He will be THE HEAD to the Body, and apply to us the saving merits of His Death and Resurrection Mystery to our lives. (On last Friday’s Mass, we did just celebrate it again for the passing to God of our charter member Odessa Gore).

Part Two. Now you are reading for the point of the Eucharist as One Celebration.

OK. Here we go. Join all the Masses of your life attended, and mesh them as one in your mind’s experience, for they ARE one prayer, one Communion in Christ bundled up like a bouquet, and given a timelessness to them all, as a living prayer of one’s life.

In that understanding, one could pray: Jesus, I do “take this Body of yours, and eat it,” as You are given up for me in each moment of Sacrament. Jesus, I hear and trust You each time saying, “this is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the New Covenant, for the forgiveness of sins,” and I do celebrate this cup of salvation in living memory of Thee and for my ransom. Ransom me, Lord, by Your Body and Blood– into the innocent paradise life again, baptized into Grace, and fed by Your Holiness, O Bread of Life.

The Blessed Sacrament joins you and me with others to the Last Supper of Christ, and also to the Lamb of God in the Heavens. It’s united to where Jesus is. He’s in time at the Upper Room of the First Mass, and on the Altar of the Cross and then risen in Jerusalem’s Calvary hill…. as well as here in our Masses at our parish this weekend…. as well, of course, as reigning in Heaven. He is Lord of all.
One could pray in acknowledgement: You, the Eucharistic Christ of the ages, should be celebrated! For You do unite all of us and all of our times in Communion with You to be part of one Offering.

Yes, I borrow from a Jesuit priest’s ideas on the Cosmic Christ and our Lord’s ability to bring into one EVERY liturgy and its participants into an Eternal Now and Oneness. I’d like to have you think on Fr. Chardin’s idea that all our Eucharistic experiences are a grace that becomes one united experience.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit priest and scientist (1881–1955), taught that, for him, the risen Christ was also the cosmic Christ, the Lord of creation. Reflecting on the words of consecration at Mass, Teilhard wrote:
When the priest says the words “This is my body,” his words fall directly on to the bread and directly transform it into the individual reality of Christ. But the great sacramental operation does not cease at that local and momentary event. Even children are taught that, throughout the life of each man and the life of the Church and the history of the world, there is only one Mass and one Communion. Christ died once in agony. (The Divine Milieu, Wm Collins & Sons, London, 1964, pp.123–124)

He then points out that the individual acts of receiving Communion by different people are the dividing up of one unique act in order that all may benefit from Christ’s saving action. In fact, from the beginning of the Messianic preparation, up until the Parousia [the coming of Jesus in glory], passing through the historic manifestation of Jesus and the phases of growth of his Church, A SINGLE EVENT has been developing in the world: the Incarnation, realized in each individual, through the Eucharist. (The Divine Milieu, p.124)

This is a wonderful insight into the place of Christ in our lives, namely, that the Word of God became flesh in Jesus (Incarnation) and now through the Eucharist becomes embedded in the flesh of each one of us. Teilhard then has this grand vision, (which explains my review above of a lifetime of Masses):

All the communions of a life-time are one communion.

All the communions of all men now living are one communion.

All the communions of all men, present, past and future, are one communion.

(from Chardin’s The Divine Milieu, p.124)

I find this a fascinating study! While there is theological speculation in his works, and some development needed and agreement with other Eucharistic Theology, I just love the big idea Chardin throws out to us, all in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, and how more awesome God is by His Son’s work that we could possible know well!

Past Pope (and present Saint) John Paul II picked up this wonderful panoramic vision of the Eucharist. He tells of the many different venues where he has celebrated Mass: basilicas, chapels on mountain paths, lakeshores and seacoasts, stadiums, city squares. Then he said, “This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 8)
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What a grand vision! St. John Paul the Great says how ‘On the altar of the world’ it gave him a picture of the blue planet with a large bread (paten) and a chalice of wine poised above it, and the risen Christ offering himself as spiritual food and drink for all the people. Then he saw Christ as Lord of all creation, One Who is lifting up His eyes to include all the stars, all the galaxies, all the black holes, all the as-yet-undiscovered material, even all the ‘dark matter’ of the cosmos. The Eucharist has a cosmic character. Yes, cosmic!

When Teilhard was in China in 1923 on a scientific expedition he was unable to celebrate Mass, but his cosmic vision helped him to make up for the loss.

“Since … I have neither bread nor wine nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself. I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it I will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world … I will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of labor. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the earth’s fruits. (The Prayer of the Universe).”

So, what this is saying, is in times when we are unable to participate in the Eucharist, we can always take time to pause and be aware that in many parts of the world, the Eucharist IS being celebrated and we can be there in spirit if not in person. We can pray to be united to the Sacrifice of the Mass as being celebrated world-wide that day, and in the Eternal dimension of Christ in each one.

At Mass, when we can get to it, we gather about the altar of The Lord to unite with Him, with brings us into eternal dimensions of invitation. Then, in each Eucharist received worthily and faith-fully, one may be brought into a participation with Christ Jesus. While living on earth, we can still somehow be united to Jesus, Lord of Heaven and earth.

God can take all the Masses prayed with Him, and join them unto Himself with every one ever celebrated, or to be celebrated— for this Mystery is Divine and Everlasting. As Jesus’ Sacrifice is One Sacrifice, so it can be so forever.

I hope you got some of the points of this blog.
Over and out!girl-looking

Homily>The Eucharistic Christ: His Re-creating Power by the Sacrament.

There is a re-creation (or re-creating) power in the Eucharist. New life flows from the Grace of this Sacrament of Jesus for His followers, the Church.

This homily takes some views I have learned, and I join it to words by Bishop Robert Barron of L.A. on the view of paradise found again through the Sacred Liturgy. 1024px-Genealogy_of_Jesus_mosaic_at_Chora_(1)

I point you to John’s gospel and how its message is all about the re-creation of the world, with the the Eucharist and the Cross and Resurrection as the Good News of this re-beginning. The Johannine message starts in chapter one, in announcing a new Creation. “In the beginning, God, was the Word, and the Word was with God.” John purposely starts his gospel in sounding like he is re-writing Genesis. Then, in verse 14 of chapter one, he shows us Who is this Alpha Person: “The Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us.” In chapter two, Jesus is embarking on the ministry life, as the traveling rabbi. Mary encourages Jesus’ to His first miracle, which was an action to save a wedding celebration, to bring a flow of rich wine to the empty supply. Jesus states to her: “My Great Hour of saving Blood and Water is later to come, (but I will precede it by this miracle).’ He has an endless supply of saving Blood to offer, evidently. (It will be His Precious Blood poured out, at the Last Supper and Calvary, and in Masses to follow in history.)

Now, in chapter six in John, the Lord Jesus proclaims “This is My Body…This is My Blood… True flesh….True drink: (Me.)” Then, in chapter fifteen in John, He says “I Am the Vine… so remain in Me, and I in you.. so to bear much fruit.” In chapter 19 Jesus is on the Cross, Mary is below it and He says: “Now it is consummated! Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” He expires, and His Heart is pierced, and Mary receives the same spiritually, as which Luke 2 prophesied, and here in this action a New Creation starts. It will be told in the Revelation of John, as the triumphant Lord Jesus says: “‘See, I make all things new?!…and there in the heavens is “a Woman is clothed with the sun, with the moon and stars at her feet.” Then, closing out the Bible, blessed people are invited to the table of the Lamb, to sup with Him and He with them, in paradise.

Just what has taken place? The Flesh and Blood Offering of Jesus has turned the world back around for grace, for the freedom for humanity to come back to innocence again, like at the Garden of Eden prior to sin.
I take Bishop Robert Barron’s words on the matter, as His Excellency of Los Angeles puts it this way: “Remember that just as Adam and Eve allowed sin to enter the world by physically eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Mary gives us the fruit of the cross aka the Tree of Life, which is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist for us to physically eat, thus overcoming sin and allowing our salvation. The devil goes around as a roaring lion seeking to devour us; Jesus, on the other hand, goes around like the Lamb of God seeking for us to devour His flesh to overcome the devil.”

Interesting, huh?!

I have much more in the Gospel of John to share about another time, from His Book of Signs to His Book of Glory (and in the live homily, I did add some of them spontaneously)….

But, let us draw towards a close here. As we finish Mary’s month of May, think about her and what the Sacred Liturgy is about: It’s about a communion to participate again in the divine. Do we seek this as a goal of our life? Is Jesus and His Glory and salvation the finish line of our journey?

There is a first mystery point to ponder, and why is Mary in it’s story, and not only Jesus? Because she was offered to receive the Lord into her, uniquely by pregnancy and a Child of Anointing to be born in her in Jesus. So now, in comparison, WE are offered to receive the Lord within our SOULS and through all of our BEING, and to confirm and live that anew every Lord’s Day, as a new week begins. We are to have special participation with Jesus. We have a “fiat” or agreement to make, too, as Mary, and a Christ to be revealed through us, to the world, in a manner like her. It’s just that, she will be offered to us, by Jesus, to help us live what she has already succeeded in– in being the first saint and queen and mother of all saints.

While Mary and Jesus were one flesh in various explanations and realities, so can we join in receiving the flesh of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament–Holy Eucharist.

so– I ask: Is our Summer ahead a joyous plan of continuous Sundays of receiving Him in, for His continuous Grace. Are you living from a source from Heaven and not just of ourselves? Do you see the Church and Jesus’ Sacrament as your dispenser of His holy favor? He set it up so.
Will our Summer be about Jesus? Will we perhaps even take some time from some leisure to our schedule, and go to a Summer weekday Mass? Or make a retreat? Or do some sacred reading or Scripture study? This parish and most others offer lots of opportunities for Mass–and St. Edward’s is unique in that we offer two weeknight Masses on the schedule, something not available elsewhere in this or in the Baltimore diocese– just to make the Eucharist more available. On Sundays and Saturday vigils, we still afford four or sometimes five times for Mass to be conveniently schedule for you. The Body and Blood of Christ arrives in Sacrament here. The Mystery of God appears!

God also is the food for you to keep growing. In today’s gospel, how pleased Jesus was to see the crowd staying for its fill of his spiritual teachings! At the close of the day, as they were still there and hungry for more, Jesus gives the miracle of the loaves and fishes for their physical need.
An apostle had suggested: Lord, let us send them all away, for it is late and it’s a deserted spot. Where can one get any food here?
Jesus says: There is lots of food here, for the soul, and for the body.

He says that to us: He has a supply for us for our nourishment. Are we hungry? Will we sit down for it– to remain with Jesus?A60A57D0 (2)

The Trinity & the Human Family Model (quick thought)–homily is prior blog

Speaking of signs of the Trinity, one must mention the model of the human family. The mystery of The Holy Trinity is meant to be seen and known in the created sign of the family unit model. Our family design comes from Who the Trinity is. The family starts with the two spouses, male and female, whose intimate love may produce a third person–the child. We know this model as for what keeps life going on earth. The holy and infinite ‘hides’ there in marriage and family life. We value it highly as Catholic Christians. We call it sacrament living. Holy love. And amazingly, God permits some couples to be co-creators with Him, via their act of love and self-surrender. It is an act called to be holy (even while humankind too often misses that experience).

While human love in brokenness and her stages doesn’t bring (create new human) life each time, a unity is always available and a sacred bonding is there for married, family persons to enjoy.
The interesting thing about the design of human loving is that is was made from the Perfect Love that is Above. We Catholics know that The Father and Son’s love as God ALWAYS brings forth a Third Member in Them–the Life of the Spirit–for God is Love and Love is God. Love is Life.

Persons who are loving, from the Eternal Father and Son, unto a vocational couple today (in a calling from God to be one), are each invited to see the Life of the Holy Spirit ‘processing’ in the middle of the relationship. IMAG0375_1

On this Holy Trinity Sunday, you might be surprised to hear me say that the Holy Spirit is the easiest Person to explain of the Divine Three Persons. He is Love in the middle! Here’s how simple it is: The Father loves Son totally, and Son loves the Father totally, and it leads to a Third Eternal Person in the midst–the Holy Spirit.

As for using the image of God in male and female partners, who become one flesh, God gives us more than a hint that the Divine is a communion of love. (St. John Paul II talk.) And, He lets us share in it even as creatures. Wow. It is why we call marriage preparation here: Three to Get Married. You and your loving spouse (to be) and God is the Life and Love between as The Bond. IMAG0393_2_1_1

And what is the Higher Reality for marriage? It is that The Father loves, loves, loves… AND that The Son loves, loves, loves. They are perfectly balanced in giving and receiving. They enjoy one another (as Persons) immensely and totally and splendidly and joyfully. Married believers are meant to imitate that!

Marriage is a gift to humankind; as declared from Genesis 1-2 stories to Jesus’ Gospel words on the Gift to the image of Bride and Groom closing out the Bible in its 73rd Book, Revelation.

So, now we have some comprehension for why God made us in humankind like He did. The family model illustrates the Trinity in some way, and is sometimes used to help people “get” the Holy Trinity. God is Family, and He is looking to join us into Family with Him as dearest children.

In our eternal realm, the human family will be with God and always produce full life and love in every experience exchanged. The human family of now is meant to be a sign of expectation of that. We learn to give and take, and to sacrifice and show mercy, and to grow, and to expand. Let’s try it, and imitate the perfect Holy Trinity.Stevicchild

The Holy Trinity (homily)

“Praise the Holy Trinity, Undivided Unity, Holy God, Mighty God, God Immortal be adored!”

Happy feast of the Holy Trinity to you, as I start with that opening line from a famous Trinity hymn.

It IS a happy feast for you, right?! You aren’t like this trio below, are you, who just aren’t into Joy at the moment?! Praise the Holy Trinity! img76
On this annual Trinity Sunday feast, the weekend after Pentecost, and on those other occasions when we try to explain our doctrine of the Holy Trinity, we end up falling short: How could one ever find a perfect explanation or illustration for Who is the Holy Triune God for Whom we serve?

We just can’t. Defining God is a too big a task to fully do, but we look for rational and hearty ways to get some answers, and God HAS provided many starts for the journey for Who He is. Jesus has enlightened us with Revelation with which we can lay a foundational picture for Who God is. (He would know!! He is the One Who said: ‘No one has seen God except the Son, Who is come down from Heaven–Me!’) Jesus spoke of a Holy Trinity at work in God. So–we believe it. We pray it in our Creed.
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We in the Church, then, start with One God, Who is the Three Divine Persons Holy. This is our basic Christian Revelation. The Blessed Son has given us the Way of knowing God, even for us to comprehend enough so while on earth. He tells of an unfolding revelation. Jesus spoke of completing a Work in His part of the Tri-une Persons: “When the Advocate comes Whom I will send you from the Father, He will testify to Me. (John 15:26).” He then added on this line to His apostles “And you also testify…”, meaning, they would be heralds of this Father/Son/Spirit salvation plan to the world, and learning more and more as they went on. And so the Church keeps on that path… in this 2015-16, we are inspired by Pope Francis who asks us to keep going deeper in our realization of a God of Mercy over us.

Jesus did explain to the world that He was God coming down to us, and into us, so that we could be drawn up to God. It was a Father and Son operation, with the Spirit’s power in the middle of everything, even while unseen. (See Gospel of John ch. 12-17) The Divine Son told the believers in His farewell address, that, ‘as He would go unite with the Father Divine, then another Advocate could and would come down to us to guide and teach us forward to all things needed to know God.’ Jesus the Lord then explained that ‘God would then come to make an indwelling in the believing Church. We will come and make a home in you, and You in us. God dwelling in you, as His dwelling place, and you in the good company of God, along with other believers united in the same Love.’ Awesome! *John 14:1-2, 16, 23, 26

This joined Love is the Holy Trinity, Who wants to include us into Their company (as the redeemed in the Son). It’s really good news for us.

About those imperfect illustrations or explanations, let’s remember some of them, because they aim to help us…
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There’s the one comparison of God to water that can show the multi-existence of one same presence. Water of the earth remains water, whether it is ocean, or the collection of moisture drawn up misty style evaporating into clouds, or when it falls down as rain or snow or hail onto the earthen ground, to then flow back as a stream or river to the sea. There are three stages–Ocean, Sky, Land—where Water is. It is everywhere, like God, yet found and noted in varied expressions, just like God.
God can be illustrated as such; He is noticed in three ways (Father, Son, Spirit) but still One in the same. Water is water, whether flowing in river and ocean, clouds in the sky, or rain hitting the ground. God is God, too, in all His activity about us and in us and over us and before and beyond us.

Yet, we know, this water illustration has its shortcomings. We know that God is more than element or of nature, but is Personhood in the Supernatural and Spirit. Yet the illustration can be useful for us in finding meaning, as it’s a sign of Creation to us.

Have you heard of other explanations or illustrations for the Holy Trinity? I am fascinated by the varied ones out there to help us with this Doctrine.

Here’s one more illustration of how the Trinity is, or how the Trinity works.

As God is three persons in one, we can get an idea of that possibility from human relationships being multi-personal. A person of this world can share three relationships-in-one to another person, even while remaining as the same one person. In example, in a relationship, a man could be simultaneously a new career manager to his wife, and be her loving husband, as well as be her savior. How so? A man met a female singer and became her professional manager, and experienced a very dramatic moment with her in being the person that saved her from drowning (even at great risk to himself). That deep care for her won her heart in marriage. So he is now manager, husband and the hero-savior of this lady’s life. That’s a three-in-one relationship of the one-and-the-same man to a woman. He’s one man, with three special dimensions of identity to her.

Yet the illustration and words above for explaining God in the Trinitarian Life only helps just so far in our knowledge. Illustrations are imperfect. We homilists know this all so well on Trinity Sunday and our attempts to simply explain God!

Gladly, some people don’t ask demandingly for great explanations of the existence of The Trinity, but take it to heart and just believe in it. Thus, if you and I are such persons, we can just profess our faith in the Nicene Creed or Apostles Creed and say we believe and say we are members of this Church who follow the Holy Trinity. We can trust the early apostle/shepherds, Church fathers, and all other profound wise thinkers and knowers of the Lord, who developed this core concept of Jesus’ Revelation of God, and helped it to prevail and endure to today for our foundational picture of God. Soon, we’ll pray our Creed.

Just before that, though, I’d like to add a big, finishing comment in this homily.

The cool thing about this particular Feast of the Holy Trinity today is that IT IS JUST SIMPLY ABOUT WHO GOD IS.

—–It’s not the Christmas feast and about HOW GOD HAS DONE SOMETHING, nor the Pentecost feast about WHAT GOD HAS DONE, all in amazement, nor is this Good Thursday and Good Friday about WHY GOD HAS DONE His works, nor is this Transfiguration Day about WHERE GOD DID SOMETHING, in giving a peek at the peak of MT. Tabor of Jesus’ Glory…
Today’s feast is simple and straight! Today, we are celebrating God for just being His Holy Being! Being God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit– A community of Persons Who are perfect, and perfectly one! It’s a feast for who God is.

And, on our end of this feast, God wants us to know how WE are each made in His image, and that God first sees us as just who we are as a person and as His child of creation. This precedes any identity we have as for what we’ve accomplished OR for how we have done it OR for why we have done it OR as to the when’s and where’s. Take away all of that and just begin with you, God’s creation!

God first loves you as Person to person. God is God and you are you. It begins there. So, there is some happiness to think upon on this Holy Trinity Sunday. Alleulia! The truth is– God loves us from the start. God made us. He desires us for His own pleasure, so He has made a way for us back to the Divine Company. Will we say Yes again to God, our good Amen to Him? Are we believers in a Holy and Good Trinity?
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Change on the Church Calendar

Priest to guy: What did you ask me?!

Guy: Father, I asked if it were now “Ordinary Time!”thDNHZGYSJ

Priest: Oh, yes. Indeed it is. The Day after Pentecost. ‘Back to the regular Church time.

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Guy: Thanks. ‘Thought so. Priest: –but what I thought you asked me was if it were now “Ornery Time.” Heh, it’s why I hesitated! :) We have enough grumpy people walking around as it is, without a church season for it!

Happy Birthday, Church, from the Old Baltimore Catechism

It’s our 1,983rd Birthday. We have come a long way. Yet, too, we have basically held to all our core beliefs. We still are a creedal Church, holding to the Apostle’s Creed tenets, and the Nicene-Constantinople Creed beliefs of so many centuries ago, as the Church emerged then in survival mode from her long era of martyrdom and persecution (especially from the Roman Empire), and defined her Way of Truth in Jesus Christ.

I am in a nostalgic mood at the moment, which has me recall how some of our faithful and steadfast seniors of the Church were taught by the Baltimore Catechism(BC) here in America. Let’s explore what the Catholic Church taught in her older Catechism style of question and answers on our basic Catholic beliefs. Let’s review some basic BC questions and their answers, ABOUT THE CHURCH, of which some seniors might still have memorized. (My own comments on some Q & A points will be in italics.)
baltimore catechism
Which is the one true Church established by Christ?
The one true Church established by Christ is the Catholic Church.

How do we know that?…
We know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by Christ because it alone has the marks of the true Church.

What are the chief marks of the Church?
The chief marks of the Church are four: It is One, Holy, Catholic (or universal), and Apostolic.
(Ok, so can we expect a clear, concise explanation on those four marks? Of course so!)

Why is the Catholic Church one?
The Catholic Church is one because all its members, according to the will of Christ, profess the same faith, have the same sacrifice and sacraments, and are united under one and the same visible head, the Pope.
In this way, the Catholic Church possesses the mark of unity. Other sects and cults are separated from the unity of Christ by their rejection of the authority invested by Him in the Roman Pontiff, the successor to Saint Peter.
Any person who deliberately denies even one of these key doctrines of the Church cannot be a Catholic. The Church is one in faith. (Her members must be one with Her in truth.)
Also it is the Church that has the authority to determine points of worship in non-essential matters, such as approval of new sacramentals like holy medals.
Catholics are subject to the authority of their bishops who rule them and they are obliged to recognize the supreme authority of the Pope in matters of religion. Any person who deliberately refuses to accept the legitimate and supreme authority of the Pope and the bishops in matters of religion cannot be a Catholic.
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Why is the Catholic Church holy?
The Catholic Church is holy because it was founded by Jesus Christ, who is all-holy, and because it teaches according to the will of Christ. (Our holiness is all a participation in Christ’ holiness and righteousness. The Church teaches people of how to be holy in Him.)

Why is the Catholic Church catholic or universal?
The Catholic Church is catholic or universal because, destined to last for all time, it never fails to fulfill the divine commandment to teach all nations all the truths revealed by God.
Catholicity is a mark of the Church because Christ commissioned His apostles to go forth and make disciples of all nations, and to teach all that He had commanded. Christ further promised to be with them all days, even to the end of time. Jesus appointed his Apostles and their successor Bishops and the Pope to be our teachers. (All of this is going on in the Church of today in 2016. The Church of present is consistent with herself through the ages, as she teaches the same doctrine she received from Christ, and it’s the same nation by nation in her members. She has existed uninterruptedly since the day Christ established her. Other Christian sects which began later have made changes in the doctrines of Christ without any divine authorization, and, on the historical record, were not present when Christ’ original commissioned His Church.)

Why is the Catholic Church apostolic?
The Catholic Church is apostolic because it was founded by Christ on the apostles and, according to His divine will, has always been governed by their lawful successors.
The true Church is apostolic because it is the Church Christ founded upon the Apostles, and especially upon Peter whom He called the Rock on which the Church would be built. The supreme power of Saint Peter in the Church has been passed down through the unbroken line of his successors in the See of Rome.

(Peter’s papacy is now passed 265 times over to Francis, and all Catholic bishops, from Cardinals to auxiliary bishops, make up our current line of apostles, united with the original ones under Jesus. Jesus gave His apostles unique authority from Him in regard to the Church and her religious matters and in teaching His objective truths for the faithful to live out. Jesus uses these shepherds for His flock to bring the Church an essential unity. No other sect of Protestant kind or Independent ones can trace their origin back to Christ and His establishing this apostolic office, nor their leaders receiving such clear authority. They only have self-appointed authority, which then shows the break from their living in those true marks of being Church– with no true apostles among them, nor Holy Orders to offer all holiness to its members in 7 Holy Sacraments in Christ the Lord. Nor do they have a universal presence which is likewise spread through time, nor is there unity to be seen in their churches, as no authority is named, but for the Bible–of which they can’t agree on its interpretation anyway. The disunity is the most disappointing break, as even in our Bowie vicinity there are more than a hundred separate churches calling themselves Christian but not Catholic.

The 1885 Baltimore Catechism and these matters from Questions 1-12 does make some important points of the value of our own Catholic Church. It’s an unchanged value, too. What was true in 1885 remains so today.

While non-Catholic Christianity and their churches DOES has many interesting or good things to comment on–and to mention them will take some OTHER blog of mine– the point of this Baltimore Catechism review on this Pentecost and Birthday of The Church IS THAT it is a joy that our Catholicism is in keeping with the Creeds and major marks of what is “Church.” We look very obviously to be the same Church from AD 33 to AD 2016. In comparison to non-Catholic Christianity, there are some clear negatives to their side on these above points. More vitally, it shows that we don’t have accord with them, and this needs to change via the Holy Spirit, because we don’t have one Bride for the coming Christ but instead we have ‘a messy wedding situation.’

This disunity is a scandal to the world, as the people of the world have heard that our religious founder (the Lord Jesus) did say He had established one flock (John 17). They also know that His apostles, like John, led a faithful following of the same manner. Look at the apostle John, as prophetically, to the seven churches addressed in Revelation’s Asia Minor, he writes and describes them as belonging to one membership, AND that the BrideGroom in its climax of history will come for a bride, and not a separate harem of churches(!). Ok, that comment may be a little over the top…

Yet we do know and believe how the Holy Spirit has a mission in mind to bring us as one again as the Bride to the BrideGroom. It is quite a tall order to accomplish. But, He IS God!)

I have one more Baltimore Catechism question:
Are all obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved?

It’s answer: All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved.

(Let’s explain what that means ecumenically, and that it is not just asked or answered as an either/or thing. We believe that there is the Mystical Body, of which we children of God will all need to join. The Church teaches this as real, and not as merely some pious idea or explanation. Jesus is the Head of the Body, the Church. This, then, is what we mean: All must join Christ’ body to be saved. See St. Paul’s teachings in 1st Corinthians and Colossians or ponder St. John’s models and sights of the existent Church as Christ’ Body. It is all pretty clear there in Scripture.)

In the end, all believers will be really obliged to belong to Christ and His Body. We live as the Church as to be in His Body.

The Catholic Church exists with this in mind. She preserves what was founded by Our Lord and holds to of what He promised would last through time.

Summation: It is vital for us to be the Catholic Church…as we live Christ in these four marks (of being one, holy, catholic and apostolic–which we acclaim in our Creed at Sunday Mass).

Close
The book of Revelation beckons it to be “The Spirit and the Bride” in the end. Read the final verses of the Bible.

We are Christ’ body now, hoping to be one, holy. Catholic and apostolic bride for Him.
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THE ABOVE ARE WORDS ABOUT THE CHURCH FROM THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM. IT WAS WRITTEN IN 1885, RIGHT HERE IN OUR HOME STATE, FROM THE PRIMATIAL SEE. WHILE SOME LANGUAGE AND EXPLANATIONS ARE OF A DIFFERENT ERA, IT IS CLEAR IN ITS Q & A POINTS THAT THE CHURCH IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE SOMETHING QUITE SPECIAL. WITH SUCH A REVERENCE AND AWE IN ITS POINT OF VIEW, IT IS CLEAR HOW MUCH IT HONORS FAITH AND TRADITION, AND HEARS THE CALL FOR “ALL TO BE ONE.” IN THIS PENTECOST OF 2016, HOW FAR OFF ARE WE FROM THAT?

The Spirit’s Anointing Pentecost Homily (longer version for the blog)

Happy Pentecost Day! Happy Birthday, Church! We have 1,983 candles on the cake, noting our years of existence since our AD 33 beginning in Jerusalem, as told by our Acts 2 reading at Mass today. Can we light up the candles and really glow, Church?cadle

To be aglow, one needs the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This is all possible, thanks to the Mercy ministry of Christ Jesus, and His offering for our lives, that we might become cleansed and then so changed within by His forgiveness to become children of God (John 1:12). We are cleansed so as to be ready to get His Spirit within us. Mercy makes way for an anointing. By what Christ Jesus has done by Mercy, all of those baptized into Him were set free of their original sin and thus enabled to begin a new life in receiving the Holy Spirit inside. By this, our lives were reborn into being “children of the light.” We will say those words over baby Piper Lynn today, our child to be baptized at 12:45 today. We say: ‘Be set free from original sin and be ready, soul, to receive God’s Spirit to be a temple of His glory.’ And we put on the Oil of Catechumen on her in the rite.

Getting baptized into life in the Spirit, and then staying in that communion with Him is a main point of today’s Pentecost gospel. We are to keep with God and His Ways (commandments), says John, and how is that possible? It is by The Divine Assistance–from the Advocate Who is to be within us always, giving us power. John 14:23 quotes our Savior saying that “He will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate (The Spirit) to be with you always. (And) Whoever loves me will keep my word,” meaning that the Spirit helps us keep to the Faith and in love with the Faith and the Father. Jesus explains further that “those who do not love me do not keep my words.” What is He saying here in context with Pentecost Sunday? He says that Keeping in the Word takes the help of the Spirit–this is how we love God. We allow the Spirit to lead us aright. Those who won’t love God wont’ be bothered to live by His Spirit. Jesus puts it all plainly there. He says ‘USE THE SPIRIT WHO WILL BE SENT TO YOU, DEAR BELIEVER.’

“Those who are led by the Spirit are children of God,” echoes forth from Romans 8:14. So, what we are excited about today, is that Jesus left us in the position to be led by His Spirit.

Part Two
What are some ways or indicators that you are being led and anointed in the Holy Spirit or have it soon coming to you? Let’s go over a little checklist…

One Key Way or Indicator: Getting anointed in God needs some asking on our part. It just doesn’t come naturally; we must invite the spiritual aspect of life into our being. Regularly ask for God’s assistance. Jesus’ formula was pretty straightforward on this. He said: 1. ask=receive, and 2. seek=find, and 3. knock=(and) have doors opened by God. Follow this Sermon of Jesus formula and become blessed. The Holy Spirit is our special Person of Indwelling in our souls Who expects us to be following The Son and calling on His help to be able to do so. Call on The Holy Helper. One needs to ask His assistance. Jesus said so, as in the Sermon on the Mount teachings on prayer: “If you then, with all your human frailty, know how to give your children gifts that are good for them, how much more certainly will your Father who is in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” The Anointed Life starts with this!

A Second Way or Indicator of being in right for the Spirit’s anointing: You have the anointing of the Spirit (or will soon have it) if you hunger for it and for the kingdom and righteousness of God. If you believe that life needs to be lived grace-fully, faith-fully, and loving-ly in God– then this is a hunger in you, which God’s Spirit seeks to fill. Consume His help. He calls Himself “God’s Gift.” We human beings need gifts of grace, as we don’t possess goodness as a solo act nor alone in our nature. I would suggest a little bible study this week. Read Romans chapters 7 & 8, to see the progression of brokenness and the human struggle, and how we are prone to sin as to rely solely on ourselves– “the flesh is weak”– and then look at the amazing answer or remedy for our wretchedness to move to blessedness. It is proclaimed as a touch from His Holy Spirit, as all of Romans 8 heralds. “The Way of the Spirit sets us free” starts that chapter (Rom.8:2).

Let me remind you of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to those hungry-hearted folks on the hillside. Luke 6:19-20 says: “And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of God.” The term “poor in spirit” in the text of Matthew 5′s account, from the Greek word, ptochos, carries the implication of being a beggar, so, in this case, Jesus is attracted to assist the spiritual beggar who is hungry for the Ways of God. Like you and I.

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Third Way: You probably have the anointing of God’s Spirit flowing through you as notice how God’s heart touches another person’s heart through your heart. We are channels of peace, as St. Francis of Assisi said. God wants to bless other people through people of blessing. The anointing of God is His love and favor to be shared. This is the Holy Spirit. Do we notice this action going on among us? Are we seeking to be God’s vessels of His kind of love to the world? He wants to bring it, and in so many ways and manifestations (as our 2nd reading today put it in 1st Corinthians). This Holy Spirit member of the Holy Trinity is all about sharing and uniting and helping people live in love. He is a River of Love, from the throne of grace, pouring love into the hearts of believers (Rom. 5:5), bringing life through them to all that receive His touch. The Spirit’s anointing comes through open, not closed, people. 1st John 3:17 says: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother/sister in need, and shuts up his/hers heart from them, how then does the love of God abide inside of them?” Yet, if we can live with an open heart to God and with availability to serve His people, the anointing can flow out. Proverbs 4:23 advices: “So keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

A Fourth Way: You probably have the anointing of God’s Spirit flowing through you if you want to witness to God’s love and power. We live as Christians, having the word Christ in our definition. “Christ” means the “Anointed One”. Christians have The Anointed One within them. When Christ began His ministry years, we hear of how He went to the Word of God of Isaiah’s prophecies and announced what the anointing was all about: IMAG0375_1“Yea–The Spirit of the LORD is upon me…to preach good news of salvation to the poor…to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind… to set at liberty those who are oppressed; and to proclaim the acceptable favor and jubilee of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19) Those descriptions are meant to describe the Church now. We can live as by the anointing of Christ in doing such things.

A Fifth Way or Indicator: You probably have the anointing of God’s Spirit if you try to be a great listener to God. In the great silence of prayer, meditation, and holy availability– one notes that God is heard often as a whisper. One must be stilled or attentive to hear His Voice. The great Elijah, early recipient of great measures of God’s Spirit, heard the Lord in one very special occasion as by only a soft still voice, like a whisper. Is your life and mine free enough of distractions and noise and busyness to receive the Word of the Lord, in power? Would we receive it, as by a whisper, or almost a secret? God’s Spirit plays a little un-easy to get to be sure you are serious about paying attention to Him.

These are just five signs/ways/indicators of the anointing of the Spirit that I can mention in this homily time today. There are many more. Let us pray today to find them and live them.

I praise God, too, that we have people in this parish living in this Pentecost Way and seeking it forward. Let us pray for each one of us here: Holy Spirit, come!
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Sacraments of Christ

IMAG0426_1. Christ Jesus has continued and deepened His Presence in His people of St. Edwards. Look at the smiles He us putting on faces here.

Here are some recent episodes:
We had 9 adults enter the Church at the front end of Easter, as well as some other First Communicants then– IMAG0215we have had a few more child baptisms in the Easter season, and a 6 yr.old and a teen baptism, and a child First Communion (and two more upcoming soon), and then 24 Youth Teen Confirmations a week ago Sunday,IMAG0307 and 22 First Eucharist Communicants last Saturday in a group Mass for mostly second graders, and 14 more older boys and girls receiving their First Communion on last Sunday, and a child baptism in the same Mass.

Christ Jesus also has come in Sacrament in Holy Matrimony, Holy Reconciliation, and Holy Anointing to us. Praise to Him for His marvelous care among us in need at St. Edward the Confessor parish.

Ascension Homily and Running the Race for the Roses

The Feast of the Ascension is about a victory that Jesus wants to share with us.

In the Lord Jesus’ Ascension, the high accomplishment of a human person reaching Heaven is THE Amazing Event. What couldn’t be done before for in any man, has been attained in Jesus Christ, the one person ever to be true and fully man while true and fully God. He ascends right up into the skies to Heaven in the sight of many followers gathered up on Mount Olivet, His taking-off place. Jesus goes up to Glory not just in victory for Himself, but for us. He is our advocate and our mediator and first representative to Heaven, and He intends many to follow Him into Heaven in victory.

Ascension is a shared victory. It also is a delayed, ultimate celebration. We need to follow in His path and then reach the same victory in Glory.

Jesus says some startling things about His Ascension event, and He says it before He does it, such as: “Where I am going…you will follow later (to Peter in John 13:36)” I go to prepare a place for you (as in the winner’s circle of glory–he says to some disciples and apostles in John 14:2)…” and He says that something needs to take place now on earth in us for its effect to eventually take place: “You will soon receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, to first be my witnesses on the earth (of such a victory in Me of which I want to impart to the world).” We are to live in victory and proclaim the Good news.

To even conceive of sharing and accomplishment our own ultimate going up to Heaven (as He promises to Thomas, “You shall be where I go and reign”) is a truly incredible thing.

With what can we compare it to? On this horse racing weekend of the Kentucky Derby, it is like riding a real longshot and winning the roses (first place). In 1964 there was such a horse. The Canadian-bred Northern Dancer had been deemed too short a horse for its racing career. People were underwhelmed by it. Jockeys laughed at it. Yet it ran the third fastest Kentucky Derby win of all time at 2:00 flat in the 1964 race at Churchill Downs. If you like such against-the-odds stories, then read up on the horse story of Northern Dancer. And, by it, realize that you and I as believers have had the odds changed for us, as once we had no chance for Heaven, but now as followers of Jesus (Who reigns for us in Glory) we have a pretty good opportunity and hope for it.
northern dancerStatue/Northern Dancer

The Ascension is the Mystery of the Lord Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, Who lays down the path of life eternal. That path leads right to His throne in Glory. He says “take it–it’s good. Trust me.” It is the Catholic-Christian way of living, on which He founded 1983 years ago.

Let’s keep this horse race theme going in the homily, since this is the weekend of horse racing’s biggest event of the Kentucky Derby. The field of mighty three-year-old thoroughbreds and their skilled jockeys run what they call “the fastest two minutes in sports.” Fans love seeing the horses dash out of the gates and they hold close attention to the finish and hope their pick of horse wins. In Jesus, HE as the Incarnation of God at Christmas, is like the opening gates for the human race to run a race to victory. In Jesus, His Ascension and His Seating in Glory is much like seeing your favored One cross the finish in victory for you. And you are invited to take the same way to shared victory with Him.

In 2015, history was made when a horse won the Kentucky Derby and went on to also win Baltimore’s Preakness Stakes and New York’s Belmont Stakes race–hence, the rare Triple Crown win. The winning horse to win the trio was American Pharoah. He was the first to do it since 1973′s Secretariat, the greatest and fastest race horse in history. We in Bowie have some horse racing history here, as the Belair Stables once produced some big winners. Belair was home to Gallant Fox (1930) and Omaha (1935) – the only father/son horses to capture Thoroughbred racing’s famous Triple Crown Series. In 1955, Belair’s Nashua, an incomparable champion, was Horse of the Year. We have parishioners on Nashua Lane–did you its naming was after a Bowie horse? There’s a Gallant Fox Lane too, named after a horse. Er, Mitchellville Road, though, is not named for a horse. :)
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I am thinking of horses in connection to today’s Feast of the Ascension. As Jesus ascended to Heaven, from Mount Olivet (east of Jerusalem), it was said that He would return likewise someday to that spot in a Second Coming for the finishing day of human history as we now know it, to save us fully out of our brokenness. In the gospel today, the angels declare it. Jesus would return and bring healing and triumph and a New Start–leading to a new heavens and new earth. The Book of Revelation (ch. 6, vs. 2) describes that the One and the Same Ascending Jesus would be making His Second Coming riding on a grand and glorious White Horse. white horse

So, Catholic-Christians, on this horse racing weekend—put your confidence on the Rider on The White Horse. Jesus reigns (because He is Ascended) and Jesus comes again to reveal the full power and consequence of His victory. Put your confidence on The Ascended Glorious Lord riding on the White Horse.

The Ascension is a Feast that tells us that our confidence in Jesus is in taking the Way of Salvation He has laid out. Each of us has to “run our race of faith” in trust of Him and God’s plan. Then, Jesus comes in Glory, in the grand end, as the God/man accompanied by angel armies.

Ascension is a feast of 40th day (a Thursday) when Jesus had appeared as resurrected to more than a few hundred believer, when He went up to Heaven. As His life entered Heaven officially, as the representative and Savior of the Human Race, it would make us eligible to be joined into His body, (which we identify here as His Church), so to become one with Him. We call this mystery as our “communion” with Jesus, and we have a Sacrament that is celebrated daily to enter into it as a faith family.

In Jesus, we have been co-redeemed, co-resurrected, co-ascended, and made co-heirs with God in Christ. Because He reigns, we are His people who have a hope of glory to come (of course, trusting that we remain faithful to Him). While you may not always feel triumphant or as a winner, if you are in Jesus Christ, then you are in possession of victory. He is Lord forever. If He resides in you, in your open heart, mind, soul and body–then Glory awaits for its eternal victory. Live like you believe it, Christian!
Run for the roses! Life has its goal of full union with Jesus.

The life of faith has been compared to a race. In 1st Corinthians 9 it says (from St. Paul) “I do all these things I do for the reason of The Gospel. Do you not know that all competitors in a race run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. That’s sports and its way of success. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but think of us and the race set before us, with God as the prize. We go for it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, see that I do not run like someone running aimlessly!”

Those are sporty words for this Ascension celebration. St. Paul had a similar sport-themed thing to say to the church in Philippi: “Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus!”

The Ascension is all about Heaven and Jesus opening things all up for our attaining it through Him. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:57, then, we need to ask ourselves: ‘How we can be observant to our faith? Our focus has to be on Jesus and the knowledge that we are victorious through Him.’ Can we live life to its fulfillment and finish? St. Paul described his life as a race being run strong to the finish, as he described to his disciple Timothy (see 2 Timothy 4:7). Along the way Paul encountered many hardships in the human “race” and he was honest when he said, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance” (Romans 5:3). Endurance is a good word for describing what it takes to cross the finish life. “He who endures to the end, trusting God, will be saved,” says another Scripture to us (Mt. 24:13).

Enduring does not describe one as standing around and just waiting. The angels at the Ascension saw the bewildered apostles and disciples staring up into Heaven long after the Ascension was out of their sight, so they appeared to them and said: ‘Do not stand here any longer standing and just looking up, go and be about the business He told for you.’ So, the apostles and disciples went to Jerusalem and prayed and shared support for nine days. It was the original novena to the Holy Spirit. Then Pentecost happened on the tenth day. It became the birthday of the Church.
Here’s one more horse story and a Scripture to tie it to our faith journey. At the end of Hebrews 12:1, its Jewish author says, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” In speaking on perseverance and endurance, let me tell you about a Texas-bred racehorse named Assault. He was the Triple Crown champion way back in 1946. When Assault was a foal, he accidentally became injured by stepping on a stake. As a result of the injury, his right front hoof was deformed. He was tagged with the nickname “the Clubfooted Comet” because of the awkward way he walked and galloped. Assault’s athletic ability was not seen until he ran, but when he was let loose on a race track, he was an amazing spectacle.

In 1945, as a juvenile, Assault ran twelfth in his first career race and only won two of nine races. Assault did not reveal his true racing qualities until the following year. On May 4, 1946, Assault entered the Kentucky Derby as a considerable outsider but he won it by eight lengths! In the Preakness Stakes a week later, here in Maryland, he won the race by a neck. Then, on June 1st of the same year, Assault became the seventh Triple Crown champion when he won the Belmont Stakes by three lengths.

Like Assault, we may not think of ourselves as to be anything great at the moment (like a saint); however, that doesn’t mean we are destined for only an average life. What will set us apart is our ability to keep pressing on towards the upward call of Christ Jesus, and forget all the odds. Jesus has made it possible. “All things are possible to those who believe,” He said (Mk. 9:23). We need to have heart in our faith.

This mystery of the Lord’s Ascension is something that every Catholic should put more study into. It is meant to impel us to move forward and to seek growth in the Lord as a person and as a church people. We are all meant for the upward call in Christ Jesus, and to stride up into Heaven with Jesus aside of Him on His White Horse.