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Posts Tagged ‘Repentance?’

Late Have I Loved You Echoes

In 07 Observations on 2015/07/17 at 12:00 AM

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved you!  For behold you were within me, and I outside; and I sought you outside….You were with me and I was not with you.  I was kept from you by those things….You called and cried to me and broke open my deafness: and you sent forth your beams and shone upon me and chased away my blindness.  (St. Augustine CONFESSIONS, 10, 27-38)

Echoed down centuries, Francis Thompson in THE HOUND OF HEAVEN:

I fled Him, down the night and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

           Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

           Up vistaed hopes I sped;

            And shot, precipitate,

Adown Titanic glens of chasmed fears,

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after

           But with unhurrying chase,

           And unperturbed pace,

   Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,

          They beat-and a Voice beat

          More instant than the Feet-

             “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

Christ, today and always, is not far away.  If we forget him, he does not forget us.  He is the Way, and that road to join him is always open.  We must leave our self-centeredness and enter into the new dimension of his risen and ascended love.

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Solemnity of the Nativity Saint John the Baptist

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/06/27 at 12:00 AM
  • In the 11th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, our Lord tells us that, “of those born of woman, none is greater than John the Baptist.” Today we celebrate the birth of this greatest man to walk the earth, save our Lord Himself.
  • Holy Mother Church has taken to heart our Lord’s words regarding St. John’s greatness, and we see this reflected most especially in our liturgical life.
  • For example, in the Litany of the Saints, which is a great prayer of supplication used to invoke the heavenly aid of the Holy Trinity, our Lady, the angels & the saints, St. John the Baptist is the first saint listed after our Lady and the angels.
  • His placement at the beginning of the litany – even before the beloved St. Joseph or St. Peter or St. Paul – tells us a lot about how much the Church reveres this important saint.
  • Moreover, while most saints have only one feast day in the liturgical calendar, St. John the Baptist (along with St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Paul, and Our Lady) belongs to a select group of saints who have multiple feast days – again attesting to his importance in the life of the Church.
  • Furthermore, when we commemorate the feast day of a saint, we generally honor the day the saint died. But today we are commemorating the birth of St. John the Baptist.
  • In fact, outside of Jesus Himself and the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist is the only saint whose birth is celebrated during the liturgical year.
  • We celebrate these three particular births because the conception of each of these persons was miraculous, and because each of these people plays a very particular role in salvation history.
  • We get a sense that St. John was destined for greatness by the manner of his conception and his birth, detailed for us in the Gospel of Luke, as well as by the other readings we hear today.
  • Historically, the Church has always considered John as the last and greatest of the prophets. John represents the climax of the long tradition of Jewish prophets looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.
  • As such, John the Baptist is himself the bridge between the Old and New Testaments. Representative of the past, St. John ushers in a new era, and the prophesies of men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel all culminate in the prophesies of the Baptist.
  • We know that St. John the Baptist is the humble yet courageous herald of Our Lord. It is he who announces the actual coming of the Messiah. He points out to us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and he preaches a baptism of repentance.
  • Yet what is most remarkable about John the Baptist is not that he was obedient to our Lord’s will in announcing the coming of the Messiah – even in the womb.
  • What is most remarkable about John is that despite his lofty calling and placement in salvation history, he remained humble, simple, and steadfast throughout his life.
  • Realizing that he was not to be the main character in the great drama that is our salvation history, but merely the forerunner of the Savior, John the Baptist lived humbly in an out-of- the-way place: a desert.
  • He didn’t bank on the renown that surely came to him because of the miraculous events surrounding his conception and birth. Rather, John preferred poverty, wearing camel-skin clothing and eating only locusts and honey.
  • John the Baptist had a keen eye for truth, which is what enabled him to see his cousin for what He truly was: the Messiah. And John was obedient to his Messiah cousin when he asked to be baptized, despite his feelings of unworthiness in the face of such holiness.
  • Moreover, John bravely spoke the truth, rebuking Herod for marrying the wife of his brother, even though in the end it very literally cost him his head.
  • Decades before St. Paul preached about the need for the old man of sin within us to die so that Christ might live within us (cf. 2 Cor 5:17 & Gal 2:20), St. John knew that he must decrease so that Christ can increase (cf. John 3:30).
  • In August we will celebrate the beheading of John the Baptist. But his real death was his death to self, his radical detachment from himself. It is this death to self that we see reflected in the humble manner of his life that makes him so great.
  • Indeed it was John’s life of austerity that enabled him to be so detached. His life of self- denial, simplicity, and penance was what made him capable of dying to himself so that Christ could live within him. In this there is a lesson for us all!
  • St. John was not concerned about what others thought; he wasn’t concerned for himself at all. John’s only concern was that Christ be made known, and that he served Jesus well, with integrity and honor. He thought only of Jesus and not of himself.
  • Humility, simplicity of life, courage and honesty were the spiritual tools that made it possible for St. John to live a life of radical holiness. And if we are serious about becoming holy, they can work for us too!
  • Indeed, St. John’s life reminds us that there are tremendous spiritual blessings to living life simply. He also reminds us of the need to do penance regularly, to beg for forgiveness for our sins, to speak the truth always, and to call others to repentance.
  • Every time we deny ourselves something we desire, we further our own personal process of dying to self. Every time we speak the truth, especially when people don’t want to hear it, we further the process of dying to self. Every time we do some charitable act, especially one requiring a generous sacrifice, we further the process of dying to self.
  • While we may not be called to the same level of austerity as St. John, is it possible that if we endeavored to simplify our lives: living in simpler homes, driving simpler cars, wearing simpler clothes, and eating simpler foods, that we might die to ourselves in such a way that Christ might live more fully within us? Of course!
  • The question is whether or not we’re willing to simplify our lives!
  • My dear friends, the Church today honors one of her greatest saints: St. John the Baptist, thehumble yet courageous herald of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Let us pray that through St. John’s intercession, we too may learn to die to self throughpenance and simplicity. May we never be afraid of the truth, even if it costs us our heads, as it did him.
  • May we imitate both his courage and his humility, and in so doing, may we grow ever moreinto the likeness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • 24 June 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

The Unpreached Sermon: “a layman thinking like a priest”. Part II

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/01/05 at 9:11 AM

Let me tell you what he and she has done to themselves:

1. You live in a world of make-belief.  God has commanded us to worship Him (third commandment), but you have decided that, for you, the command is optional.  We are are nothing compared to God and we simply do not have a choice or right to reject a divine command.  The Church has made it relatively easy to obey this directive by mandating Sunday Mass (two hours at most out of one hundred and sixty eight) yet, in your crass stupidity you have decided that you will worship Supreme Being according to your own whim.  That is unrealistic!

2. This makes you the unwisest of people.  The divinely-set goal for humans is to be united with God for all eternity.  You, by amassing mortal sin after mortal sin, have shown a total lack of wisdom.  (A wise person knows what is important and valuable and acts on it appropriately.)  At this rate, no matter what worldly success you achieve, you will be a total failure in spiritual matters and that is what really counts against you.  A truly wise person knows this.

3.  Your salvation (goal) is at risk every second of your life.  You don’t know when you will die, and if you die loaded with serious sin, you will have objectively chosen hell for yourself.  Death is not the exclusive activity of the elderly; many, many younger people die through sickness, accident, life-style and crime.  If you are young it is true that you will likely be alive a year from now, BUT, it is not guaranteed, and that’s the problem.  It is rather dumb to risk hell for whatever activity you have decided is more important than Sunday Mass.  “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his soul.”  Sometimes people will take risks for noble reasons such as to save lives, but to risk your soul for mere two hours a week is neither realistic nor wise.

4.  You have cut yourself off from God.  (If you have unconfessed mortal sin today, do not come up for Holy Communion because that would be a sacrilege which is a worse sin than skipping Mass.)  The only grace you can legitimately pray for is the grace of repentance through Confession.  While you live, Christ can forgive a million mortal sins, if repentant.  After death, there is no mercy available, only judgment.  The game is over and you have either won or lost.

5. Your spiritual life has probably been further ruined because failure to attend Mass regularly is often the result of other habitual sins that make Mass attendance seem useless.  Bishop Fulton Sheen used to say that no one left the Church because he sat down and examined its doctrine and found them to be false.  It can’t be done.  The underlying reason, he said, was habits of serious sin such as marital infidelity, alcoholism, drugs, pornography, etc…

If you are in this very negative situation, my words are spoken in persona Christ.  He may be offering you that grace of repentance because He knows you do not have long to live.  Or you may actually feel a terrible burden combined with fear of the future.  If Christ is speaking and calling you today, don’t be dumb and ignore it because the Bible tells us that He will loose patience with stubborn sinner who consistently ignore His grace and they become spiritually hard-hearted.

Christmas is a great day for family and feast but I will be here after Mass today to hear Confessions and forgive you in the name of Christ for as long as anyone wishes to come.   This would be your greatest Christmas gift.

The Unpreached Sermon: “a layman thinking like a priest”. Part I

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/01/05 at 12:00 AM

My dear friends in Christ,

Christmas is spiritual joy because it is the beginning of our redemption. God the Son has taken on a human form so as to represent humanity in the process of atonement. Yet, because He remains God, His future sacrifice on Good Friday will be acceptable to God the Father.  Without Christmas and Good Friday, no one, regardless of how well he has lived on earth, could ever get into heaven.  Without Christ original sin would condemn us all to hell.  Something to be grateful for to say the least.

The next part of this sermon some of you might not like.  Let me preface it by stating that when a man is ordained a priest (assuming the correct understanding, motives and intentions) he become an alter Christus (another Christ).  In his spiritual ministry he acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ).  Thus in every Mass and Sacrament, it is Christ Himself in operation through His duly ordained priest.  Now I am speaking in persona Christi because I am responsible for the spiritual welfare of all of you.

Christmas is also a time of sadness. When I look out and see the extra crowd of people  at the Mass, I know that many of you are either Christmas-Easter “Catholics” or you are intermittent and casual Mass attenders.

(In all my years of attending Christmas and Easter Masses, I have never heard the slightest reference to the lapsed Catholics sitting right in front of the priest.  I wonder if Christ Himself would have ignored the loss sheep.)

“Our Lord wants us to be glad!”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/08/22 at 9:11 AM
Acquire the habit of speaking about everyone and about everything they do in a friendly manner, especially when you are speaking of those who labor in God’s service. Whenever that is not possible, keep quiet. Sharp or irritated comment may border on gossip or slander. (Furrow, 902)

Take another look over your life and ask forgiveness for this or that fault which you notice immediately with the eyes of your conscience: for using your tongue badly; for thoughts that revolve continually around yourself; for those critical judgements you made and consented to and which now cause you to worry foolishly, leaving you restless and fretful. Believe me you can be very happy! Our Lord wants us to be glad, to be drunk with joy, stepping out along the same roads of happiness that he himself walked! We only become miserable when we persist in straying off those roads, and take the path of selfishness and sensuality or, much worse, when we take the path of the hypocrites.

The Christian must prove himself to be genuine, truthful and sincere in all that he undertakes. His conduct should reflect a spirit — the spirit of Christ. If anyone in this world has a duty to be consistent with his beliefs it is the Christian, for he has been entrusted with a gift that he must make fruitful, and that gift is the truth which liberates and saves. But Father, you might ask me, how I am to achieve this sincerity of life? Jesus Christ has given his Church all the means necessary. He has shown us how to pray, how to get to know his heavenly Father. He has sent us his spirit, the Great Unknown, who acts within our souls. And he has left us those visible signs of his grace that we call the Sacraments. Use them. Intensify your life of piety. Pray every day. And never refuse to shoulder the sweet burden of Christ’s Cross.

It is Jesus who has invited you to follow him like a good disciple so that you can journey through this earthly life, sowing the peace and joy which the world cannot give. Therefore — and let me emphasize this once more — we have to walk without fear of life and without fear of death, without shrinking at any cost from pain and sorrow which, for a Christian, are always a means of purification and a chance for showing that we really love our fellow men, through the thousand and one circumstances of ordinary life. (Friends of God, 141)

“Struggling for so many years…”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/07/18 at 11:09 AM
You don’t feel like doing anything and there is nothing you look forward to. It is like a dark cloud. Showers of sadness fell, and you experienced a strong sensation of being hemmed in. And, to crown it all, a despondency set in, which grew out of a more or less objective fact: you have been struggling for so many years … , and you are still so far behind, so far. All this is necessary, and God has things in hand. In order to attain rue peace and joy, we have to add to the conviction of our divine filiation, which fills us with optimism, the acknowledgment of our own personal weakness. (Furrow, 78)

Even in moments when we see our limitations clearly, we can and should look at God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and realize that we share in God’s own life. There is never reason to look back. The Lord is at our side. We have to be faithful and loyal; we have to face up to our obligations and we will find in Jesus the love and the stimulus we need to understand other people’s faults and overcome our own. In this way even depression — yours, mine, anyone’s — can also be a pillar for the kingdom of Christ.

Let us recognize our infirmity but confess the power of God. The christian life has to be shot through with optimism, joy and the strong conviction that our Lord wishes to make use of us. If we feel part of the Church, if we see ourselves sustained by the rock of Peter and by the action of the Holy Spirit, we will decide to fulfil the little duty of every moment. We will sow a little each day, and the granaries will overflow. (Christ is passing by, 160)

To Come Close to Christ

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/05/23 at 9:11 AM

St. Augustine  quotes Ps. 95  “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” and comments:

Who created everything? Who created you yourself? What are all these creatures? What are you? And how are we to say who he is who created all this? To speak it your thought must conceive it…: so let your thought move towards him, draw close to him. If you want a close look at something, you draw close to it… But God is not discerned except by the mind, he is not grasped except by the heart. And where is this heart with which one can see God? «Happy the pure in heart, they shall see God» (Mt 5,8)…
In one of the Psalms we read: «Come close to him and you will be enlightened» (Ps 34[33],6 Vg).

To come close so as to be enlightened you must hate the darkness… You are a sinner, you must become righteous. But you won’t be able to receive righteousness if evil still gives you pleasure. Destroy it within your heart and cleanse it; cast sin from your heart where He whom you desire to see desires to dwell. The human soul, our «inner self» (Eph 3,16), draws as close to God as it can: that inner self recreated in God’s image, which was created in God’s image (Gn 1,26) but fell away from God into unlikeness.
It is true that we don’t either draw nearer or fall away from God in space: you distance yourself from God if you no longer resemble him; if you come close to him then you do resemble him. Notice how our Lord wishes us to draw close to him: first of all he makes us like him so that we can be near him. He tells us: «Be like your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good.» Therefore, love your enemies (Mt 5,45.44). To the extent that this love increases within you it will bring you back and reshape you in God’s likeness…; and the closer you come to this likeness by growing in love, the more you will begin to feel the presence of God. But who is it you are feeling? The One who is coming to you or the One to whom you are returning? He has never been far from you; it is you who fell away from him.

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday Approaches

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/02/17 at 9:11 AM

•  Ash Wednesday – marks the beginning of our annual pilgrimage through the Lenten desert to that glorious promised land of Easter.

•  Ash Wednesday  is the day each year in which we renew our pursuit of holiness with greater intensity using the simple tools of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

• Ash Wednesday is also the day of the year when we take a good, long, hard look at ourselves, reflecting on our personal sinfulness and failures in the moral life and making the decision to sin no more.

• And the ashes that we wear today are the outward sign of our repentance – of our desire to be reconciled. They are the sign of our desire to turn away from sin so that we might be faithful to the Gospel.

• The ashes that we wear today symbolize our recognition that we are sinners, and that without God’s grace and mercy, we are nothing more than dust, and unto dust we shall return.

• The ashes we wear on our foreheads today are a sign of our desire and our intention to unite ourselves to our Lord’s passion and death during Lent so that we may be united to His resurrection at Easter.

• But I encourage you to wear your ashes today as a sign of something else as well.

• There is a great sickness in our society, a sickness that has afflicted our western society for many centuries. And that sickness is selfishness. We have become a very self-centered and self-absorbed society, and this sickness is leading us to spiritual death.

• We are constantly bombarded in our world today with the message that we need to take care of ourselves first. We are encouraged constantly to indulge ourselves, to spoil ourselves, and that we deserve whatever luxury we can afford.

• We are even told that we can determine for ourselves what is right and wrong, taking our self-centeredness to new heights of depravity. And in doing all of this, we make ourselves to be gods, for self-indulgence, my friends, is just a way of worshipping ourselves.

• Yet as Catholics we know that selfishness is the heart of all sin. Like Christ whom we worship and adore, we know that we are called not to be self-centered, but other-centered, placing the needs and desires of others before our own.

• We are called, of course, to share our goods with others and to sacrifice for the good of others. But we also called to think about the feelings of others before we speak, to defend others when they are in danger, and to encourage others in the pursuit of holiness.

• And honestly, my friends, if everyone in the world were focused on the needs of others, no one would ever be lacking in anything.

• Thus, I encourage you today to wear these ashes not only as a sign of turning away from sin, but also as a sign of turning away from self.

• And in turning away from self so that we might serve others, let us hope that our Father in Heaven who sees what goodness is hidden in our hearts will repay us. May our Father in Heaven have mercy on us all this Lenten season.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Forgiving Love Mother Teresa

In 07 Observations on 2012/01/26 at 9:11 AM

The other day, a man, a journalist, asked me a strange question. He asked me, “Even you, do you have to go to confession?” I said, “Yes, I go to con­fession every week.” And he said, “Then God must be very demanding if you have to go to confession.”

And I said, “Your own child sometimes does some­thing wrong. What happens when your child comes to you and says, ‘Daddy, I am sorry’? What do you do? You put both of your arms around your child and kiss him. Why? Because that’s your way of telling him that you love him. God does the same thing. He loves you tenderly.” Even when we sin or make a mistake, let’s allow that to help us grow closer to God. Let’s tell Him humbly, “I know I shouldn’t have done this, but even this failure I offer to you.”

If we have sinned or made a mistake, let us go to Him and say, ”I’ m sorry! I repent.” God is a forgiving Father. His mercy is greater than our sins. He will forgive us.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“God does not lose battles”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2011/11/30 at 9:11 AM

If you fall, get up with greater hope. Self-love alone is incapable of understanding that an error, when put right, helps us to know and to humble ourselves. (Furrow, 724)

Forward, no matter what happens! Cling tightly to Our Lord’s hand and remember that God does not lose battles. If you should stray from him for any reason, react with the humility that will lead you to begin again and again; to play the role of the prodigal son every day, and even repeatedly during the twenty‑four hours of the same day; to correct your contrite heart in Confession, which is a real miracle of God’s Love. In this wonderful Sacrament Our Lord cleanses your soul and fills you with joy and strength to prevent you from giving up the fight, and to help you keep returning to God unwearied, when everything seems black. In addition, the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, watches over you with motherly care, guiding your every step.

Holy Scripture points out that even ‘the just man falls seven times’ [1]. Whenever I read this phrase my soul trembles with love and sorrow. This divine indication shows us Our Lord once again setting out to meet us and speak to us about his mercy, his tenderness and clemency that know no limits. Be sure of this: God does not want our wretchedness, but he is aware of it, and indeed he makes use of our weakness to make saints of us…

I prostrate myself before God and I state my situation clearly. Immediately he helps me, he reassures me, and I hear him repeat slowly in the depths of my heart, meus es tu! [2], I know the way you are, as I have always known it. Forward! (Friends of God, 214-215)

[1] Prov 24:16
[2] ‘You are mine’ (Is 43:1