Sunday, February 29, 2004

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

I have just seen The Passion of the Christ. What a powerful movie! Never in my life (of 50+ years) have I witnessed a film that had such a powerful impact on me! And, I already knew the story line, the plot, and the outcome before I went in to see it. The Passion of the Christ has the power to open hearts to abundant grace and to convert souls. It will draw each of us closer to Jesus Christ and to His Holy Mother, if we permit it.

The movie is violent -- even more so than I expected it to be --but I believe that it is still probably not as violent as the real crucifixion was. It is that violence that makes us commiserate with Jesus Christ in His agony and motivates us even more to fully unite our pain with His. We are so spoiled in our society today that if we cut our finger or get a headache, then we're complaining about our pain and immediately have to take something to relieve of us of the discomfort. If you watch this film, you get a taste of what His pain and His agony were all about and realize just how much He loved us that He would endure so much suffering for our sake, when we have nailed Him to the cross with our sins.

I was most impressed by the symbolism in the movie and the flashbacks into Christ's life and how well they correlated with the present events that were taking place on the screen. For example, Satan comes in the form of a somewhat attractive woman sans eyebrows who quickly becomes transformed into a hideous creature. During another sequence in the film, Satan or evil comes in the form of an annoying, large, ugly blackbird pecking away at its victim. The most significant flashback occurs when the Beloved is dying on the cross shedding His Body and Blood (which is dripping out from His wounds directly upon the earth) for us and we see Jesus sharing the bread and the wine at the Last Supper with the twelve apostles.

I also appreciated the stark contrast between the behavior of a loving, peaceful Jesus who was the Good Shepherd, the Friend who gave up His life for His friends, the one who forgave His enemies, the Healer and the people in the movie who chose to follow the Evil one rather than the True Savior, who, as friends, betrayed Him or denied even knowing Him, who cursed their enemies, who wounded, hurt, and destroyed.

I must comment on the Blessed Mother Mary in the film who was so authentic. She was everything I expected Our Holy Mother to be. First of all, she was Jewish as the real Mary was, a mother -- pregnant at the time of filming, beautiful -- even when covered with dirt and mud, humble and accepting of the suffering her Son had to endure for our sake, and yet so human and maternal -- wanting to protect and care for Her Son, while at the same time, realizing that there was nothing she could do other than to accept the will of the Father, to be there for Him, and to endure the sorrows of "the flesh of her flesh".

Jim Caviezel was magnificent in the film. There just aren't words to describe his performance. I have never seen anyone portray Jesus as He did. There is definitely an "otherly-worldness" about Him. Not only is He the same age as Jesus was when He died on the cross, but I am convinced, after viewing the film that He endured some of the same suffering Jesus did at the time of His Passion and death.

Superb movie, Mel! It captured my heart.

~ Jean M. Heimann


Friday, February 27, 2004

Quote For the Day

"If a politician can't respect the life of a little baby, how is he supposed to respect yours?"

Father Frank Pavone, Priests For Life

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Humility

“If then, Your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
John 13: 14

“ He humbled Himself, becoming obedient, even to death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:8

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others. Have among you the same attitude that is also yours in Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 2: 3-5

A Prayer for Humility

Lord, teach me to be humble
As you were humble
When you washed the feet of your followers,
When you permitted others to scourge and mock you,
When you persevered in the midst of pain,
And united your will with that of the Father’s.

Teach me the truth that is humility,
The foundation of faith, hope, and charity
Empty my heart of pride
And fill it with Your love.

~ Jean M. Heimann, Copyright 2004


“True humility makes no pretence of being humble, and scarcely ever utters words of humility."
Saint Francis de Sales

"Humility: that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot."
Thomas Moore

"Humility is a descending charity and charity is an ascending humility."
Jean Pierre Camus

"Humility is the luxurious art of reducing ourselves to a point, not to a small thing or a large one, but to a thing with no size at all."
G.K. Chesterton

"There is something in humility that strangely exalts the heart."
Saint Augustine

“Humility and charity go hand in hand. The one glorifies, the other sanctifies.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Lent

"Lent is the time for entering into oneself. It is the period of the particular intimacy with God in the secrecy of one’s own heart and conscience… Lent is essentially an invitation to conversion. The 'works of mercy' spoken of in the gospel open the way to it."

"Let ourselves be reconciled with God, for He has done so much for this reconciliation."

~ Pope John Paul II

Lent begins today on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time when we are called as Catholics to a deeper conversion and cleansing of our hearts. It is a time where we are called to give ourselves totally to God and to remove any obstacles that prevent Him from drawing nearer to us.

Lent reminds me of the spring-cleaning that I do each year. Each spring, I clean my house thoroughly and throw out or give away the items in my home that I no longer use. I rid my house of the clutter and make room for the necessary items or create new space so I can move about more freely without stumbling over things. It is certainly not an easy task because I am a packrat and sentimentally attach myself to what some might label as “junk”.

My method for deciding whether or not to keep an item has been very subjective over the years, but more recently, I have asked myself, “Is this item really necessary for my survival?”
I find that question to be quite effective in eliminating 99% the “junk”.

This year, I am seeking to rid myself of the “inner junk” that blocks the flow of God’s graces and keeps me from living a life of holiness – a life filled with the beauty of His love. This is the time of year to take a good look inside of myself and take inventory. What bad habit or sin can I work on permanently eliminating in my life? What sin am I really attached to that I can work on removing – not just during this Lenten season, but permanently? Is this sin really that necessary for my survival in this world? What virtue can I replace it with to ensure my survival in the next life?

“ The truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32

"Lent is a time of deep truth, truth which converts, restores hope, puts everything in its place, reconciles…"
~ Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

My Favorite Quotes on Materialism and Attachment

The soul that is attached to anything, however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for until the cord be broken, the bird cannot fly. -- Saint John of the Cross

Simplicity is a narrow road of self-discipline, but the alternative -- money and materialism-- is only another master. ... Jesus never said material things in themselves are evil, but rather warned that they threaten our freedom. In this context, simplicity is not restriction, sacrifice, or denial. It is emancipation. -- Living More with Less

We can not become whole in a culture of materialism, in a culture with so much junk on television, in movies, so much crassness, so much sordidness, so much self-absorption. This is exactly the opposite of wholeness. There is grave danger that we can permit our culture to dehumanize us rather than help us become human.
- Cardinal O'Connor

"But the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which has been denounced by Our Predecessors and ourselves on many occasions.... It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day."

- Pope Pius XII, Warning Against Materialism On The Centenary Of The Apparitions At Lourdes, encyclical promulgated July 2, 1957

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Prayer to Our Lady Of Lourdes

Oh ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.
Eucharistic Quote For the Day

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

-- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Blessed Mother appeared to a very poor young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, 18 times in 1858. On the feast of the Annunciation, Our Lady revealed to Bernadette, “ I am the Immaculate Conception.” Because the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been officially proclaimed less than four years earlier, and Bernadette could not have even known of its existence, great credibility was given to Bernadette by the repetition of the Blessed Mother’s words. It was an affirmation from Heaven about the truth of the dogma.

During one of these apparitions, when Bernadette was told by Mary to begin digging in the ground; she obediently did so, to the townspeople’s scorn. Water immediately began flowing from the spot where Bernadette dug, a tiny stream that has since has grown to the size of a small river. Thousands of healings have been reported as the result of people bathing in or drinking this miraculous water. The walls of the grotto where the Blessed Mother appeared are lined with the crutches of the lame who have walked away from the waters, totally healed.

What is the main message of Lourdes? First, we are called to look at the grace and holiness of Christ in Mary, become converted, and be healed. It is a call to enter fully into the mystery of the redemption. The second part of the message was Bernadette herself – simple Bernadette. She was uneducated and poor. She could not explain things very well. But, she had a pure heart. And, it was this purity of heart that opened her up to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and to experience the fruits of the redemption.

Our Lady made unusual requests of Bernadette – to eat grass like salad, to dig in the dirt and mud with her hands to find a healing stream. Though humbling, Bernadette willingly performed these tasks despite the fact that she was laughed at and looked down up by the townspeople. Mary’s appearance and Bernadette’s response present a picture of what it means to love God with our whole heart, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is a visible expression of purity of heart that calls us “Be it done unto me completely and fully according to your word. Accomplish in my life fully what you want to accomplish.” This is in contrast to our culture where one’s own will, pleasures, desires, and interests take precedence. In our culture, the motto is, “Be it done according to my will.”

Let us follow the example of Bernadette in her purity of heart and let our hearts be tested and refined by the light of the Son, as we follow in His footsteps.

~ Jean M. Heimann

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Eucharistic Quote For the Day

"All my sermons are prepared in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. As recreation is most pleasant and profitable in the sun, so homiletic creativity is best nourished before the Eucharist. The most brilliant ideas come from meeting God face to face. The Holy Spirit that presided at the Incarnation is the best atmosphere for illumination. Pope John Paul II keeps a small desk or writing pad near him whenever he is in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; and I have done this all my life — I am sure for the same reason he does, because a lover always works better when the beloved is with him."

- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Litany to the Saints (in honor of my friend, Theresa, and all those who are ill or are having surgery today)

Please join me in prayer.

Litany of All Saints

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
God our Father in heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, our redeemer,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.


Holy Mary, pray for us.
Mother of God, pray for us.
Most honored of all virgins, pray for us.
Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us.
Angels of God, pray for us.

Prophets and Fathers of our Faith
St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us.
St. Andrew, pray for us.
St. John and St. James, pray for us.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
All holy apostles, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
St. Mark, pray for us.
St. Barnabas, pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
All disciples of the Lord, pray for us.

Martyrs
St. Stephen, pray for us.
St. Ignatius, pray for us.
St. Polycarp, pray for us.
St. Justin, pray for us.
St. Lawrence, pray for us.
St. Cyprian, pray for us.
St. Boniface, pray for us.
St. Thomas Becket, pray for us.
St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, pray for us.
St. Paul Miki, pray for us.
St. Isaac Jogues and St. John de Brebeuf, pray for us.
St. Peter Chanel, pray for us.
St. Charles Lwanga, pray for us.
St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, pray for us.
St. Agnes, pray for us.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.
All holy martyrs form Christ, pray for us.

Bishops and Doctors
St. Leo and St. Gregory, pray for us.
St. Ambrose, pray for us.
St. Jerome, pray for us.
St. Augustine, pray for us.
St. Athanasius, pray for us.
St. Basil and St. Gregory, pray for us.
St. John Chrysostom, pray for us.
St. Martin, pray for us.
St. Patrick, pray for us.
St. Cyril and St. Methodius, pray for us.
St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.
St. Pius, pray for us.

Priests and Religious
St. Anthony, pray for us.
St. Benedict, pray for us.
St. Bernard, pray for us.
St. Francis and St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.
St. Francis Xavier, pray for us.
St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, pray for us.
St. John Bosco, pray for us.
St. Catherine, pray for us.
St. Theresa, pray for us.
St. Rose, pray for us.

Laity
St. Lucy, pray for us.
St. Monica, pray for us.
St. Elizabeth, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.

III Petitions to Christ
Lord be merciful. Lord, save your people.

OR:

Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.

From all evil,
From every sin,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger and hatred,
From every evil intention,
From everlasting death,
By your coming as man,
By your birth,
By your baptism,
By your suffering,
By your death and burial,
By your rising to new life,
By your return in glory to the Father,
By your gift of the Holy Spirit,
By your coming again in glory,
You came into this world,
You suffered for us on the cross,
You died to save us,
You lay in the tomb,
You rose from the dead,
You returned in glory to the Father,
You sent the Holy Spirit upon Your apostles,
You are seated at the right hand of the Father,
You will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Lord, show us your kindness. Lord, hear our prayer.
Raise our thoughts and desires to you,
Save us from final damnation,
Save our friends and all who have helped us,
Grant eternal rest to all who have died in the faith,
Spare us from disease, hunger, and war,
Bring all peoples together in trust and peace.

Guide and protect you holy Church. Lord, hear our prayer.
Keep the pope and all the clergy in faithful service to your church,
Bring all Christians together in unity,
Lead all men to the light of Gospel.


Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Prayer
God of love, our strength and protection, hear the prayers of your Church. Grant that when we come to you faith, our prayers may be answered through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Litany For Health

God the Father of Heaven HAVE MERCY ON US
God the Son, Redeemer of the World
God, the Holy Spirit
Holy Trinity, One God

Holy Mary, Mother of God PRAY FOR US

St. Joseph (dying)
St. Raphael (blindness)
St. Anne (childbirth)
St. James (rheumatism)
St. Jude (impossible causes)
St. Martha (dieting)
St. Apellonis (teeth problems)
St. Agatha (breast disorders)
St. Januarius (blood diseases)
St. Blaise (throat problems)
St. Lucy (eye disorders)
St. Vitus (epilepsy)
St. Benedict (poisoning)
St. Scholastica (convulsive children)
St. Dymphna (mental illness)
St. Raymond Nonnatus (caesarian birth)
St. Peregrine (cancer)
St. John of god (sickness in general & heart)
St. Teresa of Avila (headaches)
St. Camillus (sickness in general)
St. Francis de Sales (deafness)
St. Aloysius (plague and disease)
St. Martin de Porres (sickness in general)
St. Alphoneus Luguori (arthritis)
St. Gerard Majella (pregnancy & childbirth; sterility)
St. Bernardette (asthma)
St. Teresa of Lisieux (tuberculosis)

From any guilt and sin DELIVER US, O LORD
From any illness or the spirit
From any illness of the body
From any illness we may now be suffering
(mention your intentions in silence)

By your agony and passion
By your death and burial
By your resurrection and ascension
By the coming of the Holy Spirit

Jesus, merciful God HEAR US, O LORD
Jesus, Divine Healer
Jesus, Strength of all the sick
Jesus, our Resurrection and the Life
Jesus, Hope of those who trust in you.


Saint Scholastica

Today is the feast of St. Scholastica (480 - 543), the twin sister of St. Benedict and head of the monastery at Plombaria, under her brother's direction.

The siblings were very close. They met once a year at a house near the Monte Cassino monastery to discuss spiritual matters.

Saint Gregory tells the charming story of their last meeting. The saints had spent their time together in the mutual comfort of "heavenly talk" and with nightfall approaching, Benedict prepared to leave. Scholastica believed that it would be their last opportunity to see each other alive, so she asked Benedict to spend the evening in conversation. Benedict sternly refused because he did not wish to break his own rule by spending a night away from his monastery in Monte Cassino. Scholastica cried, laid her head upon the table, and prayed that God would intervene. As she did so, a sudden storm arose. There were brilliant flashes of lightning, a loud peal of thunder, and the rain and hail came in such a torrential downpour that Benedict and his companions were unable to depart.

"May Almighty God forgive you, sister" said Benedict, "for what you have done."

"I asked a favor of you," Scholastica replied, "and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it!"

They shared a beautiful, intimate spiritual conversation throughout the night.


Just after his return to Monte Cassino, Benedict saw a vision of Scholastica's soul departing her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. She died just three days after their last meeting.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Jesus In the Eucharist

My Spiritual Father gave a beautiful talk to our parish adult enrichment class on Jesus in the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration. He is a priest with the Brothers of St. John, who possess a special love and reverence for the Eucharist.

There are many new insights I have learned from this talk about adoring Our Lord and I would like to share just a few of the highlights.

While exposing Our Lord in the monstrance on the altar, he told us, "This is truly God Himself." The Eucharist is not merely a symbol or a representation of Christ, but it is Christ Himself. However, only 33% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

In John 6:26, Jesus told his disciples: " Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give you."

There are many other passages in the scriptures, which attest to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The most powerful ones can be found in the Gospel of St. John.

"I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is My flesh for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

"Whoever eats My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me, I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will have life because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:52 - 58)

In these passages, Jesus did not say this bread and this blood represent my body and blood. He tells us that this is His body and blood and that by receiving them, we will have eternal life.

However, St. Paul warns of the dire consequences of receiving Christ's Body and Blood unworthily: "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks of the cup of the of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the Body, eats and drinks judgement upon himself." (1 Corinthians 12:27-29)

The gift par excellence is Jesus Himself. The Eucharist is real food that nourishes our souls. It is a super-abundance of Love. The Eucharist is at the very heart of our Christian love. The Eucharist is a sacrifice. The fruit of that sacrifice of love is the gift of Jesus' body.

Every group that wars against the Church and the Mass wars against the priesthood in order to destroy the faith of the people. Martin Luther, for example, believed that the priesthood was created by the devil and he wanted to do away with the Mass. Without the priest, there can be no Eucharist. Thus, Martin Luther, discredited the Eucharist and referred to it as a symbol of God's presence. In that way, he was able to keep the outward rituals the same and also retain his followers.

The Mass is the Rock on which our faith was built. St. John Vianney said "If you live in a parish without a priest, the people will be worshipping beasts."

When one wishes to destroy religion, one destroys the priest. The priesthood is at the very heart of our faith because it brings Christ to our altar. The Mass is Jesus pleading to the Father on our behalf. When we attend Mass and are properly prepared, the Eucharist is our spiritual food.

How Should We Receive Jesus Respectfully In the Eucharist?

1. Come to Mass early to prepare our hearts.
2. Receive the Eucharist with great love and reverence.
We need to bow before receiving the Eucharist. If receiving on the tongue, extend the tongue reverently.
If receiving in the hand, do so properly extending both
hands not in a grabbing manner, but forming a throne.
3. Speak to Jesus when you receive Him.
4. Spend time in thanking Him afterwards.
5. Leave Mass quietly and reverently.

If you believe that God is really present in the tabernacle and that this is His temple, you will behave reverently and not as if you are in an auditorium or at a sports arena.

Does Holy Communion really have an effect on my life or is it just another habit? Is the Eucharist something that changes my life?

Eucharistic Adoration

The demons refused to adore God. They put themselves above God. When we adore God, we say," God is first and I am second."

Do we adore with our body?

We are called not only to adore with our heart, but also with our body. We genuflect before the Lord, kneel, or prostrate ourselves to adore.

Do we need to be in a certain place for Adoration?

Can we adore outdoors in our back yard or while sitting at the computer? We can adore anywhere because we have a heart, but the most excellent place is to adore before the Blessed Sacrament. In all of our Catholic churches in all of the tabernacles throughout the world, Christ is present.

How often should we come to Eucharistic Adoration?

Jesus encourages us to watch for one hour with him, so each of us should make a daily holy hour. We spend our time in good many wasteful ways and in many good ways. We become like those whose company we keep. For example, married couples start to resemble one another after living together for a long time. It is the same with Jesus. When we spend time with Him, we begin to resemble Him.

What are we to do when we come before Jesus?

St. John Vianney asked a man who spent hours in chuch before the tabernacle what he was doing and the man replied " I look at Him and He looks at me."

When you are with someone you love, there is often no need for words. The same is true when you are with Jesus. There is no need for a lot of words. It is satisfying just to be with the One you love.

It is fine to read a book, but don't spend all your time reading. Read a little, then look at Jesus. It is perfectly ok to recite the rosary, but make it a prayerful, meditative rosary. Say prayers of faith, hope, charity, and adoration.

Do we want to "waste time" before the Eucharist?

We should desire this everyday if possible. Let us begin to "waste time" here on earth with Jesus in the Eucharist so that one day we might spend an eternity "wasting time" with Him.