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Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The month of June, in the Catholic Tradition, is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On June 8th we celebrated the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Remembering and reflecting on the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus means reflecting on the love of God. Yes, in the burning and wounded Sacred Heart, we see that God’s heart is consumed with love for us, so much so that he was willing to suffer and die for us in the most gruesome manner. The deeper we grow in reflecting on God’s love, the more we realize that it is not our love for God but God’s passionate love for us that has been precious and very valuable. He has revealed His love for us in many ways. Hence a month is dedicated to remind us of the depth of God’s love for us.

Pope Pius XII said, “Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature, is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men”.

Many of us are not able to understand the value of love, because our culture has confused us with mistaken definitions of love, referring love to mean passing infatuation or sexual attraction. It is not the true definition of love. Rather, true love is sacrificial and self-giving, so as to lay down one’s life for the good of another.

I would like to suggest some ways, in which we can thankfully honor the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Consecration: The image of Jesus exposing His Heart reveals to us the depth of God’s sacrificial love for us. He proved His love by sacrificing Himself on the Cross. He continues to show the same love, every time when we participate in the Holy Mass and receive the Eucharist. One of the ways we could show our love for Him is to consecrate ourselves. The prayer of consecration can be found in most of the prayer-booklets.

Enthronement: An important way of our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is to recognize the authority of Jesus Christ over the family, as the King of the family. Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is an excellent way to acknowledge the Kingship of Christ. A blessed image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is placed prominently in our home, reminding the members of the family that Jesus is our King and that all in the family should love and serve Him with our whole hearts.

Reparation: On several occasion and several times the name of Jesus is abused in the media or in literature or in conversation. Each time, His name is so dishonored, the loving heart of Jesus is wounded. Hence, one way to show our love and repair the dishonor is to make reparation by reciting a prayer of reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

First Friday Devotion: When Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, he asked her to foster the practice of the First Friday devotion by participating in the Mass, going to make a confession, receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist and if possible by participating also in the Eucharistic Adoration. The First Friday devotion is to remember the Passion and death with which Jesus manifested His immense love for the humankind. This devotion is a reminder of His love and a reminder to imitate His love.

Prayers for enthronement and reparation can be found in Catholic prayer books or online. When the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is fading, it would be a very good practice of our faith to grow in acknowledging the love of the heart of Jesus.

May God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V

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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

This Sunday the Church celebrates this solemnity to honor Jesus and to remind us of what we receive in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not a symbol of Jesus, it is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord!

The change that takes place in the bread and wine is simply a miracle. This miracle is the gift of God which changes the very essence of these two common items, bread and wine, into the extraordinary. While this miracle takes place before us we do not see the effects of it; the bread and wine, now the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus remain visible to us in their previous form. This is truly amazing, yet we may become oblivious to what happens at every Mass. This happens when we allow ourselves to fall into a routine where we “go through the motions” of attending Mass, but not really participating in the Mass through our prayer and attentiveness. We fall into a state where perhaps we zone out, our mind wanders and we drift away from the most important moment in our whole week.

While we will never fully realize and understand this great mystery here on earth, we must realize the importance of the Mass in our faith life and carry this love into the world. It takes a “leap of faith” to believe the Eucharist is really the Precious Body and Blood of Christ. It also takes a strong relationship with God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to carry the love poured out at the Mass into the world. This is difficult because we face many unbelieving people who mock us or make fun of our beliefs. No one wants to be seen as “not fitting in.” Our Church calls us to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Meaning we need to be in the common day to day work, school, and leisure world, showing the world what it means to be Catholic; to live the law with love. To rise above the often low standards and norms of the world and live as God desires. Yet, we are not of the world; we are to recall always that Jesus is our Lord and King and this is not our home. We are meant for greater things than what we find here; we are called home to Heaven! We are closest to Heaven at the Mass, where we reach up to Heaven and God comes to dwell with us.

In essence, it all boils down to a relationship; with God and each other. If we believe we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we must put into action the love He gives us. Perhaps not easily done, but done with the grace we receive from this most precious sacrament.

God bless you,

Deacon Ray

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Memorial Day

On Monday, May 28th we observe the Memorial Day in US. On this special day we remember the more than one million American combatants, who have died in many wars through the history. According to the available data, since 9/11 approximately 7000 U.S. troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan; over 50,000 wounded and about 7000 U.S. military contractors have also been killed. Besides the loss of these great men and women combatants, we should remember that well over one million innocent civilians were also killed in various wars.

Now approximately 200,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in most countries around the world; of these about 26,000 are in war-torn countries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The world is at war. While trillions of Dollars are spent on wars, very little is spent on ending global problem of hunger, poverty and the homeless.

We may not be able to do much to stop the war. But we have one powerful weapon at hand with us. It is the weapon of prayer. While praying for those who have died in various wars, let us also pray that those in authority, instead of sending more combatants, take measures globally to a peaceful way of life walking in the light of Christ.

Please remember that I will be celebrating the Holy Mass at 9:00 a.m. on the Memorial Day at the Guardian Angel Cemetery. Let us gather at the Guardian Angel Cemetery and pray for all.

May the souls of the great men and women, who have died in wars through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Love and Forgiveness

We hear a theme of love in today’s readings. Jesus gives His command to us at the Last Supper; “love one another.” We know how difficult this can be in this fallen world. We may have the best of intentions, striving to love everyone, but things get messed up. At times it is our fault. We may have said or done something hurtful that has caused pain for others. We too can be the recipients of harmful behavior, and we know how hard it is to forgive. Yet it is not impossible to heal, to forgive and seek forgiveness, we just need to ask for the assistance of God. God’s mercy and grace are always at hand!

I read the book “Left to Tell” recently. The author, Immaculee Ilabagiza is an example of living Jesus’ command to love one another. Her story is an inspiration to everyone; that with God’s help we can forgive, we can love, even those who hate us. Her story is about the extreme violence in Rwanda back in 1994. While the world watched over a million Tutsi’s were killed, simply because they were of a different tribe than the Hutu’s. This violence had been brewing for a long time, with other acts of brutality in the country’s past. The trigger to this holocaust was the killing of the Hutu president. Those who remained in power blamed the Tutsi resistance forces for this assassination and called for the extermination of all Tutsi’s.

Immaculee tells her story of survival, hiding out with six other women in a pastor’s home for three months. They faced narrow escapes from the violence all around them. It was during her time of confinement in the very tiny bathroom where they hid that she had an intense interaction with God. She would pray for up to twenty hours a day using the only thing she had from her family; her father’s rosary. It wasn’t easy for her as she faced the same temptations as we do from Satan; he tried to get into her head and lead her to hatred for those who were killing. But with God’s grace Immaculee was able to overcome these thoughts and was able to forgive, to love those who were seeking her life. Truly an amazing story!

I encourage everyone to read this book because of the powerful message she gives. A message of love and forgiveness that we can use in our lives. A message of Jesus’ command lived out; love one another.

Deacon Ray

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Keeping the Day of The Lord Holy

One of the parishioners asked me why we should go to Church every Sunday. This prompted me to think that perhaps, many others have the same thought. If anyone has such a thought, let me answer their question:

First of all, the obligation of observing the Day of The Lord falls on all the baptized Christians, because it is the third of the Ten Commandments of The Lord. It says: “Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it, you shall not do any work…” (Deuteronomy 5:12-14).

The word “Sabbath” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “day of rest”. “To keep it holy” means “consecrate” or “set apart” or “sanctify”. As a steward of God’s gifts, abilities, resources and opportunities, we have six days to use all of them for our good. The seventh day is reserved to engage ourselves for God.

There are good reasons why we need to refrain from regular work on the sabbath day: From a human point of view, first of all, we often say that we don’t have time to pray or to spend time with the family or to spend some time with a friend or to relax. This commandment of The Lord solves these problems. Secondly, from the point of view of our faith, we are called to glorify, honor God and exercise our faith by going to the Church and participate in the Mass.

It is important to know the historical shift in observing the third Commandment. Before the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, the last day of the week, Saturday, was the Sabbath day. But after these glorious events, it was no more the last day of the week but the first day, Sunday, which was observed as “The Day of The Lord”. The change was made because The Lord rose from the dead on the first day of the week.

At the present age of Catholic laxity, many have lost sight of the fact that it is a grave or mortal sin to skip Mass on Sunday or on a holy day of obligation when one is able to attend. Next week, I will share, why it is a grave sin to miss the Mass on Sunday and on the holy day of obligation.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Why should I pray?

God knows me and knows what I need. If so, “Why should I pray?”

Prayer basically enables a person to relate himself/ herself with God. We pray to God because of our relationship with Him, sharing what is weighing on us in life, our feelings and thoughts of our daily life. In fact, even if our family members and our friends would know what is happening in our life, we still share about it and they listen to us with love and affection. The same is true with prayer.

Prayer neither changes what God knows nor does it change what God does. Instead, prayer changes us. Prayer is about being in relationship with God and pouring out our hearts to God. Prayer is about God receiving all that is in our hearts in love. Prayer is about not being alone. Prayer is about being with God, the Emmanuel, that is, God who is with us in our darkest and hardest moments. Prayer is about Jesus crying out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” God is with us in those moments of feeling abandoned. We pray because God created us to be in relationship, and relationship requires communication and communion. We pray to be with God.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Jesus Cleanses the Temple

In John’s Gospel, the cleansing of the temple occurs early in the story, whereas in the synoptic gospels, all place this much later in their accounts. Perhaps John wanted to show the radical change Jesus desired in all aspects of life; our cleansing. Jesus, filled with justifiable anger makes a mess of the area of the temple where merchants sold animals for sacrifice and money changers did their business. This is a picture of Jesus we may find difficult to accept; He seems so gentle and peaceful in the gospel stories, and we may ask; where did this attitude come from? If we only had this small passage to work from how would we view Jesus? Likely much differently than how we understand Him, because we have four full views to come to know Him. We are blessed to have all four gospels, each with a different perspective, each written for a different audience, yet each describing the same God man.

We hear in the passage today that Jesus understood human nature. This is comforting and at the same time it makes us squirm. We are comforted knowing that Jesus, in His human nature, experienced the same things we do; hunger and pain, desires and passion, concern and caring. He understood human nature through living it, observing how we treat each other and the foibles each person has. This is what makes us squirm; that He knows our frail characters as well as what we are capable of. He was tempted, yet was able to endure and rise above. He was rejected but did not seek revenge. He was mocked and scorned but asked for forgiveness for them.

We have good reason to squirm. If we reflect on our lives honestly, we must admit we have fallen short in many ways. We have not lived up to our potential, the potential God knows we have. This is the time of year, especially during the holy season of Lent to lay bare our shortcomings and to seek forgiveness, to call upon the God of mercy for the strength to overcome our weaknesses and strive once again to become the daughter or son He desires. We cannot do this without His help. He is essential in our journey.

Take the time to sit quietly with the Lord this Lent and contemplate His greatness with awe and ask Him what He desires of you. This is the key to conversion and forgiveness. What kind of radical change does Jesus desire for you?


Deacon Ray

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What Shall I Give Up for Lent?

Lent is a period to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter. As a process of preparation, we recall our own Baptism and do penance. Self-denial is what Jesus requires from us, in order to be his disciples. Self-denial is about making sacrifice, focusing on the Cross, and reminding ourselves of what Jesus gave up for our sake.

During Lent, the usual question, that is asked, is, “What do you give up for Lent?” Even though we are already in the second week of Lent, here are some suggestions to give up, out of our love for Jesus:

  • Give up grumbling, instead, give thanks in everything;
  • Give up five to ten minutes of personal entertainment, and spend that time in reading the Bible or in personal prayer;
  • Give up looking at other people’s weaknesses and mistakes, but concentrate on their best attributes and characteristics;
  • Give up your worries and anxieties, instead, trust in God and place them before God;
  • Give up your loneliness, replacing it by visiting someone, who is lonely or sick;
  • Give up judging others by appearance and by the standard of the world, instead, leave to Jesus to judge.

Wishing you a fruitful Lent,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.

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Holy Mass Explained – Part 20

Active Participation

The phrase “active participation” was conceived by the saintly Pope Pius X. He explained: If you wish to participate in the Mass actively, you must follow with your eye, heart, and mouth all that happens on the altar… You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings … and in this manner, you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way you have prayed the Holy Mass.”

Active participation entails participation of mind and heart expressed through bodily gestures, sacred signs, praying, singing in union with the whole assembly. During the Mass we take different postures like standing, sitting and kneeling down; Kneeling is an expression of our submission before the majesty of God and a sign of our adoration. It is by singing and responding to the priest’s prayers, we are taking active participation.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council promulgated the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on Dec. 4, 1963. It explains: “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious and active participation… such a participation is their right and duty by reason of their baptism…”

While celebrating the Holy Mass, the priest acts in the person of Christ, as the head of the assembly, present in the Church. While the priest performs the celebration, the assembled faithful are expected to be present as conscious and active participants, rather than mere observers. In other words, they should not be like silent spectators, on the contrary, they should involve themselves by praying, singing and consciously being present in the celebration.

With this column, I bring to an end my explanation about the significance of the Holy Mass. I hope that you have gained a greater understanding of what we celebrate. My earnest appeal to you, now, is that you take active participation from the beginning until the end of the Mass.

May God bless you

Fr. Arul Joseph V

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Holy Mass Explained Part 19

Closing Rite

The distribution of the Holy Communion during Mass is like an act of a lover meeting with the beloved. When we receive the Eucharist, we are welcoming Christ into our hearts and so it is an important moment. The priest and Deacon are the ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and Lay Eucharistic Ministers are the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, authorized by the Church-authorities. Some have scrupulous thought that it is better to receive the Body of Christ only from the priest or deacon. Such people must believe that the Lay Eucharistic Ministers distribute the same Body of Christ as the Priest or Deacon.

At the end of the distribution of the Holy Communion, the remaining Consecrated Hosts are taken to the Tabernacle for private adoration and for the use of the sick and the homebound, who are unable to participate in the Mass with the community. After receiving the Communion, there is a time for meditation whether silent or singing a song.

Is it right to leave the Church immediately after receiving Communion? It is not right. Some people receive Communion and go straight to the parking lot. If someone would leave the party, before saying goodbye to the host and the fellow guests, would this be appreciated? I am sure it won’t be appreciated; rather it would distress the host. Just so would such people distress God, who has provided the spiritual meal.

After the concluding prayer, the priest concludes the Mass with the prayer and the final blessing in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. At this point, the priest or the deacon greets the people that the Mass is ended and the assembly may go in peace. With the response, “Thanks be to God”, the assembly goes out singing joyfully, empowered to serve in the outer world.