In defense of Catholics.

It has become the fashion of the season to stomp on Catholics… to paraphrase a well-known song, sternly. Never mind that they should be protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as any minority. And that most of the prejudice against them is entirely out of line. I have been thinking about this in vain for some time now – reading various blogs, articles, and even in serious newspapers, I wonder how powerful the Catholic Church must be. One of the first things everyone accuses it of is – being powerful.
And so I’m sorry. We only have to turn on our common sense to see a flaw. How powerful? Did she bring an interstate treaty to fruition between the Czech Republic and the Vatican? We are the only post-communist country (and perhaps the only one in Europe) that does not have a treaty with the Vatican. And it is an international political embarrassment, especially since it has been a little while since November 1989.
Has the Czech Catholic Church succeeded in separating itself from the state? Everyone is calling for separation, yet the negotiations are moving at such a pace that the snails are racing against it in Formula One. A Look at the tug-of-war over the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague – formerly the spiritual seat, the cathedral is supposed to be for the celebration of mass and the glorification of God, and yet the Catholic Church has failed to have control oversight of it.
So how powerful? In what ways can the Catholic Church influence whom today? Has it managed to put a reference to the Christian foundations of Europe in the preamble of the European Constitution? Even if it hasn’t succeeded with those Christian roots, which is an inescapable historical truth. Do you see any power dictating the terms here? Or one defeat, one defeat after another? In the same way, the Catholic Church is accused of being rich. Oh, come on. On the Vatican website. (www.The Vatican.VA), English speakers can read the economic summaries for the past few years, and they might be surprised. Is the Czech Church somehow rich? If it has to sell off churches not only in the north of Bohemia? When there is no money to repair, many others?
The Catholic Church would need to return the properties which – I should point out – legally belonged to her. It received them as a gift from the nobles who supported the Church. When in communist times, everything belonged to everyone and nothing to the Church. And in the wannabe democratic era. Still nothing. Even on Wikipedia, you can read that “as a result of 40 years of persecution from, the economic situation of the entire Czech Church is very bad…
Since the fall of communism, only a tiny fraction of church property has been returned so far, which was generally an unprofitable and disastrous state… In general, the Church suffers from a massive lack of finances.” So how rich? Where? The Catholic Church is accused of determining the lives of others and telling them what to do. Have you
ever been forced to do what the Catholic Church says? Have you ever read any “Catholic decree”? Well, I haven’t. And even if there were any such decrees, no one would ever…would follow. Do all drivers yield to pedestrians in crosswalks? Do they, do all smokers obey the no smoking at bus stops? And they’re the ones affected by these laws. Why would ordinary citizens of the country follow the recommendations of a near-minority group? (According to the last census in 2001, 26.8% of the population adhere to the Catholic Church. Of the people of the Czech Republic, only 4% regularly attend Sunday services).
People are also very bothered by the fact that the leaders of the Catholic Church comment on everything. Well, so what? When an idiot is in a pub or at a discussion on an article here on iTunes, why shouldn’t the Church? Does everyone have the right to his opinion? According to the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, they are even free to express their opinion. After all, if there is some of, say, a homosexual organization, they have the right to do so. And lo and behold – a statement from the Catholic Church appears, and the fire is on the roof. Even if the information is accurate. Even if it’s just Catholic fire codes in a church…
The Catholic Church is supposedly full of homosexuals and pedophiles. Full? Statistically, one in ten on Earth is a pedophile or a homosexual. Why should the Catholic Church be an exception? It’s just that it’s never written anywhere anymore that they did expose a bishop over there, but that maybe it wasn’t as much as the victims claim, and that perhaps the prospect of a fat severance package played a role. And nowhere does it say that, when the Catholic Church says. That there are millions and millions of priests all over the world, including in the Czech Republic, who Millions and millions of people have been helped. Whether in the time of totalitarianism or now – with advice, help, financial contribution, recommendation, accommodation…
I have met more priests and religions in my life with whom it was possible to have a normal chat and go for a beer but also expect help from them than those who would try to help my family and me any harm. But prejudices are prejudices. According to them, the Catholic Church is powerful, wealthy, sinless, and has no say in anything.

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My daughter has just died … Mt 9.18

What do you say? Wouldn’t our life change if we believed, but really believed, in eternal life? It seems that our attitude towards the values of life would be completely different, and we would probably be different too! In many ways, therefore, the books of the New Testament try to reinforce our belief in life after death. The text of today’s Gospel about the resurrection of the daughter has this purpose. Why is this so necessary? We encounter human death all the time, but we do not encounter the creative power of God that gives new life beyond bodily death in this life. We encounter the care of God in this world. Why would He not take care of us in His kingdom as well?

We only hear seriously about “life after life” in the pages of Holy Scripture. Paradoxically, this is why it is not easy for us to believe in eternal life, to rely on it. Who should be more trustworthy to us than Jesus? So let’s look carefully today at what is said here about the life and death of the risen daughter. What the Lord says here about each of us.

“Hope, daughter, your faith has made you well.” Says the Lord to the woman, but it was true for the father as well. Don’t be frightened by the painful events of sickness and human death. Don’t let it take away your faith that the connection with the eternal God that was made in our lifetime will endure even in death. This, then, is the first thing that is required of us with regard to death: trust in God. Faith is the prerequisite for the wonder of the resurrection. Faith is the condition of passage into a new, eternal life. To believe is to reckon with the eternal God even at the threshold of death. To believe that our dead are – and we too will one day be – in the light of God, having believed in God in our lifetime.

What does the Lord Jesus do and say next? Then when Jesus came to the house of the leading man and saw the whistle blowers and the excited crowd, He said: “Depart! The girl is not dead, but asleep.” The Lord Jesus sees the dead as God sees him. “Sleep” is a figurative name for the mysterious transition between life and death. Healing sleep. That is why the Lord Jesus does something incredible. Get up! Wake up from death! Later, the Lord Jesus will experience the same thing for himself – at Easter dawn, when he rises from the tomb.

And now, already believing in the life-giving power of God, he calls the dead daughter to life. This quickening word sounds to our dead too! It will be sounded one day to us and to all who believe in Jesus by seeking to live according to his gospel. To the general amazement, the girl woke up, and came back to life. After such a feat, we would expect some proclamation from Jesus, a lofty declaration, “So you see who I am!” And those present would have deserved to have him triumph over them, for they had mocked him a moment before. He drives them all out, he does it in secret if possible.

We know from the evangelist Mark that he preached to the resurrected girl to give her something to eat. The Lord takes care of her. Food, to eat, is a basic need of our lives. He takes care of us, too. He gives us the Eucharistic meal to eat, so that in its power we too may live. Live forever. This is how our Lord wants it. And this is the core, the message of faith of today’s Gospel: that God is a friend of life, not of death. The last thing before us is not death, but life. Can this be believed? It is, well, unimaginable. We have the advantage because the Lord Jesus, who declared of Himself, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believed in me shall never die, he shall live forever,” is risen from the dead. Let us now pray together: “Lord, I believe – help my unbelief!”
Readings
Let Women Speak in the Church The First Letter to the Corinthians uncompromisingly recommends, “Let women be silent in the assemblies” (1 Cor 14:34). Salesian Zdeněk Jančařík paraphrases this statement in the title

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Fourteenth Sunday C in ordinary time, Luke 10, 1-9

Everyone has a place in the Church.

Do you know how we know that a parish is alive? It depends not only on the number of people present in the church, the number of Masses in the parish, the number of sacraments celebrated, but also on the state of the church buildings, whether there is a church school in the parish when the last time there were missions in the parish, whether there are spiritual vocations from the parish, how engaged the priest, the priests are… All this says something. A vibrant parish is one in which you, me, and we are appropriately and actively engaged for the salvation of our souls and others in the parish.

The remark of the Evangelist St. Luke informs us of this: ‘The Lord chose seventy-two others, and sent them two by two before him into every city and place where he was about to go. And he said to them: ‘The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest! Go” (Luke 10:1-3)!

Jesus’ mission-mission is coming to a climax. Jesus sent out the Twelve, endowed them with His strength and power, and sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. He gave them instructions on what not to take with them and how they were to go about their work (cf. Lk. 9:1-6). The twelve apostles are sent to the twelve tribes of Israel. The second, more numerous group, the seventy-two, represents all the world’s nations, according to the Septuagint. Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where the culmination of his mission is to take place. In this second group, it is expressed that Jesus came not only to redeem the Jewish people but the whole world, thus the universalism of salvation (cf. Gen. 10:1-32). Salvation is to be announced to all people. This is not a one-time activity. It is a matter of age, every nation and people until the end of time, the second coming of Christ into the world. Jesus likens the activity of proclaiming the gospel’s good news to a harvest. During the harvest, every hand, every person is welcome. Jesus speaks of another severe matter that there will never be enough laborers in missionary activity: “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:1-3). It would not be correct to see only the number of priests in these words. Jesus speaks of all those who receive baptism for their rights and duties.
In Jesus, the kingdom of God has come among us, and he brings himself as a gift to humanity, and this gift needs workers who will distribute it to their brothers and sisters in their time. Jesus’ words: “Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest! Go!” (Lk 10:1-3), say that all our activities, such as Masses, sermons, and access to the sacraments… only have their basis and meaning when they prepare the way for Jesus in us, and we have a share in the harvest. Anything that would not meet this criterion, no matter how active, how outwardly involved, if we did not do it for Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, would not fulfill what Jesus rightly asks of us, expects of us, no matter how much we lay down our lives.
Jesus gives instructions as to what the apostolate is to be characterized by. To bring true peace. Those who will fulfill their mission in this way have a right to adequate provision. “The worker deserves his wages” (Lk 10:7). The apostle of Christ must respect the freedom of those to whom he brings the Gospel. They must show their anger accordingly when they do not accept the message. “We shake off the dust that has clung to our feet in your city. But know that the kingdom of God is at hand” (Lk 10:11). The work of witnesses of the Gospel will never be easy. Jesus predicts this about the activity of Satan: “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Lk 10:18).

Everyone has his place in the Church. Accepting, living, and carrying out one’s mission is necessary. One belongs among the Twelve, another among the seventy-two, but everyone has his appointed place, time, and status. Even without us, there can be a harvest of evangelization; even without us, the world will learn about Christ. Our salvation is tied to our involvement. The Church is not only priests but also the laity, that is, all the baptized who are not in the hierarchy of the Church. The priest has his appointed and irreplaceable role in the Church. The priest is also to give adequate space to lay brothers and sisters. The Holy Father John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici on the vocation and mission of the laity, reminds us not to interfere in the activities of the other but that the priest should do what he ought to do as a priest and likewise that the laity should not be hindered from doing what they ought to do and should not be neglecting their duties.

Father Duval, known as the “guitarist of God,” priest, artist, and singer, tells a story: “A sick young priest, he doesn’t remember his initials, all he knows is that he was a Breton, he was given a cure. After a few weeks in the sanatorium, he felt better, so he decided to walk a longer route. That evening, about 300 meters from our house, I found him all bloodied up. I felt no fear. When I bent down to him, he said to me: “How well, I am dying. Please, won’t you take my place? True, if you will!” The priest died. And I took his place. I was 12 years old then, and now I’m 40.”

How beautiful it is to die, ready to meet God the Judge when we have accomplished our mission. What more could we ask for. And for this reason, may our life also be a challenge to others: to take up the baton of our mission, brother, priest, husband, father, husband, sister, wife, wife, and mother. We have received the missionary mission from those who have received the reward of a prophet, a confessor, a virgin, or a bloody martyr. We know that, with us, the Church rises and falls. It blossoms and withers. It enjoys favor with God and men and causes sorrow by our poor attitude to duty. The world is still a harvest. The world is still pagan. There is no less need for priests and faithful laypeople today than at any time in the past. The world today, perhaps more than before, needs new vocations both in the spiritual state and in the work of parenthood. The world is also improved or worse by our efforts. We realize that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, made in the image of God, and we are to remind today’s modern, scientific, educated, cultured, athletic… world.
Today’s world longs for “Homo Dei” – “Man of God.” We want to be such a man, to live for Christ and our brothers and sisters. The world needs holy priests and laity. So, also the courageous, the self-sacrificing, the reliable, who knows how to put their hand to work, who by their life, often without words, without the desire to be noticed by others, will be a sign of a living parish, of an alive Church.

It is not a problem to notice, whether in the church or outside it, during a visit to the family, in the workplace, or during a chance meeting, with whom what kind of people we are dealing. Others also see in us what kind of people we are, Christians.

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The power of vocation.

Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at a toll booth and said to him: “Follow me!” He got up and followed him. Then, as Jesus sat at a table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said: “It is not the healthy who needs a physician, but the sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'”I did not come to call the righteous but sinners

The harvest is beginning. The crop enriches the man who feels the fruits of his labor. We also know another harvest – the spiritual harvest, which is also not negligible.

We have listened to a portion of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew, and from this stanza, we learn that when the Lord Jesus was passing through the land of Israel, he saw sitting at a toll booth a specific tax collector named Matthew. And the Lord Jesus went up to this tax collector and challenged him: “Follow me!” (Mt. 9:9). And the evangelist then goes on to say that the tax collector got up and followed him.

It is an exciting event that St. Matthew the Evangelist has described for us. For the tax collector, the public sinner whom the Lord called into His service, is Matthew, who afterward wrote the message of Christ. Indeed, this tax collector, Matthew, had already heard of Christ, for the rumor of him was spreading throughout the whole region, for Jesus was walking about and doing good to all. He healed the blind, raised the dead, forgave sinners… And now this Jesus the Creator appears before him, and the tax collector, whom the people thought was a great sinner, is called by the Lord to follow him. Even with sinners, he receives hospitality, as if to the anger of the people, who condemned such actions of Jesus. But most against Jesus are the Pharisees, who criticize Jesus and reproach his disciples, saying, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mt. 9:11).
They cannot understand this. Perhaps they thought Jesus should associate with them, for they considered themselves true and religious Israelites! But the Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, looked them over and saw that they were full of lies and hypocrisy. Therefore, He often calls them whitewashed tombs, turning away from them; He calls sinners to Himself.

He comes to comfort the sick and infirm. Therefore, he also says to the Pharisees: “It is not healthy who need a physician, but the sick” (Mt 9:12). Jesus thus emphasizes that He comes into the world to fulfill His Father’s will, lift, dust off, and cleanse all of us who have fallen into the mire of sin, into the bondage of darkness, into the power of the evil spirit. That is why he calls us to follow him, to follow him, to walk in his way. He calls us like the tax collector in the Gospel.

I don’t think we stand outside this calling. These words we heard about the calling of Matthew, the tax collector, apply to us as well. For us, and all of us, without distinction. The Lord Jesus comes to each of us and calls us with the exact words, “Follow me!” (Mt 9:9).

Not all who hear and obey this voice resolve to follow him. Something is holding them back, preventing them from saying that decisive word, the word of permission and determination. Many of us are held back and hindered by the riches of this world, by worldly fame and careers. That is why many of us prefer to remain down-to-earth and are unwilling to determine to leave it all behind and go to the heights.

Matthew, captivated by the words of Christ, gets up, leaves his myth behind, leaves everything behind, and Jesus becomes the most important thing to him. He repents his previous straying and is led by new ideas, by the light of Jesus’ actual teachings.

It is essential, dear brothers and sisters, that we also give Jesus the central place in our lives, throw away everything that pleases us, and let ourselves be led by Jesus, by the light of Jesus, and walk on the proper path. The Lord Jesus wants us to follow him; he wants us to walk in his footsteps, even though it is often a difficult path. He wants us to belong only to him, for we are his flock, redeemed by his precious blood. He wants all the sheep to be together so that none of these baskets is lost. He calls us good and wholesome pasture. And what do we often do? We try to turn aside from this promising path; we don’t want to be led by the good shepherd, the Lord Jesus. We don’t want to escape our evil ways from the lousy pasture.

But we see quite a different example in the tax collector Matthew and quite a different attitude in this matter in the youngest brother of St. Bernard. From the lives of the saints, many of you will know that St. Bernard, with his brothers, chose to serve the Lord God in solitude. Before they went into seclusion, however, these brothers wanted to say goodbye to their youngest brother, who was only a boy. They said to him: “Stay with God, our dear brother Nivard. We are going to serve the Lord God. Therefore, we leave you your father’s mansion, all the property, fields, forests, and meadows; this will be yours from now on.
When Nivard, the youngest brother, saw his brothers dressed for the journey, he burst into tears and cried out with tears in his eyes: “Not so, my brothers. This is not a fair division. You want God’s life, and you leave me to the earth? I also want heaven, and therefore I also go with you!” The brothers, moved by their youngest brother’s speech, gave away all their possessions to the poor and took Brother Nivard with them.

See, dear brothers and sisters, how boldly this boy Nivard chose God’s life when he should have chosen between heaven and earth. Wouldn’t most of us who glory for Christian choose the land and the riches of this world rather than the life of God, Himself?
Indeed, following in the footsteps of Christ is often very difficult, and perhaps that is why many of us are afraid of this arduous and thorny path. But God sorely tries His faithful ones to test our love for Him this way. For just as steel is refined and hardened in the fire, so it is with us. We must purify ourselves in the love of God in the complex trials of life.

In an episode about St. Teresa of Avila, it is said that one day, walking across a river, a strong water current swept her away, and she began to drown. Here the Lord Jesus appears to her, and in great fear, she accuses him, “Lord, why do you let me suffer like this?” And the Lord Jesus says to her: “Teresa, this is how I test my friends.” Then Teresa answers him, “I understand now, Lord, why you have so few friends, so few who follow you.”

Yes, God tests those who follow him; he tests those who are determined to follow him. Our Slovak saying sums it up very nicely: “Whom the Lord God loves, He visits with the cross.” Even though the Lord God permits, but never forsakes. Therefore, my dear ones, let us not be afraid to embark on this journey. It will be a difficult and arduous journey, but it will be a journey that leads people to the eternal goal, to the attainment of the Lord God Himself. And He is helping us on this journey. Well, what have we to fear? What have we to fear? For behind us stands not a weak man, but God Almighty Himself!

We already know what the Lord Jesus asks of us and what he offers us, so let us follow him and choose him! Here, with the priest, let us offer our hearts to Jesus at this Mass. Let us consecrate ourselves to him; let us become his best friends. Let us leave everything else behind, for it is secondary. Let Him stand first in our lives from now on. Instead, we seek God’s kingdom, and everything else will be added to us.

Let us ask Jesus to give us the strength to persevere in this resolution, are his alone, and never fail Him in our lives.

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Love.

One for another. We cause Jesus joy when we help one another.

We need one another. Sometimes we realize this more and sometimes less. Jesus healed the sick. St. Matthew writes this: “Get up, take up your bed, and go home” (Mt. 9:7). Jesus proves his power not only in word, but also in deed. But Jesus did not come into the world to present Himself as a miraculous healer. He came to reconcile humanity to the Father. Original sin has inflicted consequences on all people until the end of time. In the same way, every personal sin a person commits causes consequences on both the physical and spiritual life of a person.

Jesus teaches people to love throughout his life. Many around him are aware of this. What we must not overlook, not underestimate, what is important is: to behave according to the words of Jesus. He wants us to believe his teachings. The command of love touches our convictions, our life in the soul, and our outward expressions about God, our neighbors, and ourselves. The power of love addresses specific attitudes, actions, and behaviors. When we are faithful to the words of Jesus, “Thy will be done,” we must not and cannot be indifferent to helping or not helping our neighbor. This is not only true in the social or charitable sphere. It is to apply whenever and wherever we are to communicate to someone the graces they need from Jesus. By fulfilling the command of love, God will give His graces to us who fulfill the power of love and those for whom we have undertaken to do the knowledge of love.

Shall we, therefore, turn a blind eye to fulfilling the command of love? Do we prefer the philosophy of “what doesn’t burn you, don’t burn you”? That is not and cannot be Christian. Do we know what the works of Christian corporal and spiritual mercy are? They are based on the Beatitudes of Jesus. Jesus rewards man’s genuine love for the man with still other gifts. He not only heals the lame man of the gospel in his body but also forgives his sins.

Indeed, we often forget our sins. Yes, mercy acts of charity by which we help our neighbors in their physical and spiritual needs, but we must remember that our genuine love for God and our neighbors should also be mindful of the soul. In that spirit, it is appropriate to instruct, counsel, comfort, and strengthen to act in the heart that these are also acts of spiritual mercy. The works of corporal mercy are especially these: to feed the hungry, take in the homeless, clothe the ragged, visit the sick and prisoners, to bury the dead. Giving alms to the poor is one of the principal witnesses of fraternal charity among these acts; it is also the doing of justice which pleases God” (CCC 2447). Material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and mental illness, and ultimately death is human misery. A man comes to this state after original sin.

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Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles Mt 16,13-19

“Never say never!” This is a saying that many of us are familiar with, and it is certainly not wrong.

I think about Peter and Paul and what brought them together. They were different people; they only met a couple of times. They had in common that they were apostles – albeit in another way. The common thing is that they were martyrs. But the commonality is, I think, that they would probably subscribe to the saying “Never say never!”

I’ll summarize what we know. Peter was outstanding. Even today’s Gospel passage (Mt 16:13-19) testifies that he sometimes knew how bulls-eyeball’s-eye. Some theologians conclude that it was with Peter that Jesus had the most to say. But he also learned how to hit it completely wrong. At one point, Jesus called him Satan, a tempter with no understanding… Peter explicitly used the word “never.” He promised Jesus that he would never leave him, to which Jesus had to tell him that he would betray him three times before morning. At the Last Supper, Peter said: “Lord, you will never wash my feet!” When Jesus explained what was going on, Peter turned around and wanted to wash not only his feet but also his head and whole body. Peter certainly would have had no problem signing our saying, “Never say never!”

I can’t find any statement in Paul in which he explicitly said any “never.” But he was a man who was fiercely convinced that this new sect-that is, the Christians-needed to be silenced, punished, and put in prison. Destroy it. People like Paul would not admit that one day they would preach the complete opposite and stand on the other side. But all it took was one particular moment and years of searching for their place. But even Paul would sign us up: “Never say never!”

If I were heading toward a conclusion now, that would be enough. Many of us – and perhaps all of us – have had moments when we have let others down. We’ve experienced times when we’ve had to say no, even when we were sorry, AND most importantly, we’ve experienced times when we’ve added lines and scars to our life stories that we can’t erase. That is when we let ourselves down. But Peter and Paul – like so many people throughout history – are hopeful that one can still go on and improve. In our day, it is no small thing to be reminded of such a simple truth. For today we are much more willing to change everything around us – we have many options for doing so – we expect change from others, we can back out of marriage, out of school, out of a job… if we don’t like something. But it’s not all that common that we want to change ourselves, to work on ourselves. Therefore, one could stop here and point to Peter and Paul as those who changed, bringing great blessings to whole generations.

But I won’t stop here. In the Gospel, we heard how Jesus promised Peter he would be the rock on which the Church would stand. In doing so, Jesus knew Peter, knew of his weaknesses. But he trusted him. Despite everything, Jesus believed Peter.

I was reading a commentary on the Bible, particularly the first chapters on the creation of the world and man. The author of the article, Rémi Brague, took great pains to emphasize the message of those pages: God believes in man. That is, not that man thinks and ought to believe in God. But that God believes in man. That’s why he gave us the earth – in the hope that we won’t destroy it, that’s why he gave us life, that’s why he gave us free will – the ability to choose good or evil, that’s why even after the first humans are expelled from paradise, they are offered salvation – in the hope that they will cooperate. God believes in man despite knowing what they are like and what we are like.

Can we also believe in man? I would be more cautious here. We can have hope. We can hope that man will be put on good paths; we should try to find the good that can be cooperated with. But many historical events warn us that we cannot just naively believe in man. We cannot rely on the fact that being human; one will necessarily grow into a good person. That is why it is valuable to remind ourselves that God – not men and man, but God – believes in us. This is an invitation that awaits a response.

And here’s one more note. Peter and Paul discovered in Jesus the center of their lives and the center of their selves. Peter’s confession, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” can be seen as a confession to which he returned even after his falls. As a confession that kept him on his feet. And Paul wrote: “To me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We can see clearly in him – and in other sayings – that Christ became the checkpoint, the center, and the direction of his life. In such a case, people can be believed. In such a case, they seek not themselves but the greater good. Then they are answering the call of God’s faith in us.

We will pray for the church in today’s Prayers of the Faithful. Let us also remember that we may be faithful to what we have come to know as good and earnestly seek the right center and centering of our lives. That we may be trusted, that God Himself may trust us.

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The Sacrament of the Altar.

The Sacrament of the Altar is the body and blood of Jesus Christ under the species of bread and wine. We say the Sacrament of the Altar because it takes place on the altar. At the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus changed the bread and wine into His body and blood. Then he said to his apostles. Could you please do this in remembrance of me? With these words, He gave the apostles the power to change the bread and wine. From the apostles, this power was passed to the bishops and priests.

Do this  in my memory.

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Love in the heart-peace in the soul.

The sight of our sins makes us sad, disappointed, questioning… How quickly we can fall into sin, why are we so weak and corrupt again and again, when we offend God so much when we realize the greatness of our sins, our unbelief, our indifference, the unrequited love of God …will God forgive us, will we find grace in God’s eyes…?

In meeting the risen Jesus, the Apostle Thomas said: “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). The problem of Thomas, who did not believe the apostles that they had met the living Jesus, ends beautifully. Thomas’s normal condition for thinking: “Unless I see in his hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail wounds, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25), is answered by Jesus himself on the eighth day, when, after Jesus’ greeting, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:26), without Thomas’ condition being uttered by anyone or communicated to Jesus, Jesus said to Thomas: “Put your finger here and see my hands! Put out your hand and put it in my side! And do not be an unbeliever, but a believer” (Jn 20:27)! Thomas did not put his finger or his hand into his wounds. Thomas, however, spoke historic words: “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28).

These words of Thomas, spoken in faith, become hope and mercy again. Jesus can thus bestow upon the confessor of his divinity the forgiveness of sins and new graces.

In the first words after the resurrection, “Peace be with you,” Jesus points to the irreplaceable value of living a sinless life. Only Jesus can forgive us, give us peace, and bestow His love and mercy on us.

The words “see and believe” and “believe and see” remind us that no man lives alone, and no man believes alone. Jesus addresses his word to us, and when he speaks it, he calls us into communion – he forms us into his community, his people, his Church. And the Church, through the priest, until the end of time, has the power to forgive sins. Jesus “in the evening of that first day… came and stood in the midst and said to them: “Peace be with you!” … And again, he said to them: Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and spoke to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you will be forgiven, and whose sins you retain will be retained” (Jn. 20:19, 21-23).

Jesus gives his power to the frightened disciples. So we believe that Christ’s death is a sacrifice, an act of love for our sins, and Jesus’ victory over death is our greatest hope for new life. He adds the sacrament of Reconciliation after his resurrection to the gifts he gave us before his death, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of the priesthood, the Holy Mass.

A student asked the priest: “Are you saying that a person who had lived in sins all his life and asked God for forgiveness before he died that he would be saved. And you claim that a person who would commit just one serious sin in his lifetime and not repent of it and die would end up in hell. Is that fair? Are a multitude of sins lighter than one sin?” The priest gave this answer. “If I put one pebble on the lake’s surface, will it sink or stay afloat?” “It will sink,” was the answer. And if I take a hundred large stones and put them in a boat and sail out on the lake with it, will they sink, or will they remain on the boat’s surface?” The answer is, “They will not sink.” “Are a hundred heavy stones and the boat lighter than one pebble?” The priest explained to the student. “Even a man who, though he has sinned greatly, leans on God, will not go to hell. A man who has sinned only once and does not ask for God’s mercy will be damned.”

Today – the example of St. Thomas the Apostle – strengthens us not to despise God’s mercy. God is infinite in His mercy, but also His justice. Our sins have their number and measure, but God’s mercy has no action.

A man watched a little boy flying a kite in a meadow. However, it was strange that he never looked up to see the kite floating in the clouds. So he came closer and found that the little boy was blind. He asked, “Do you like to play with the kite?” Yes, I like it very much.” But the man could not suppress his curiosity. He asked, “How so? You can’t see it…” The boy replied: “I can’t see him, but I can feel him tugging at the string.”

While we cannot always see God’s love and mercy in this world, we can recognize it through its many effects. Let us pray that the Lord may also fill us with His peace, love, and mercy so that we may experience the foretaste of heaven already here on earth.

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God is a God of freedom.

To assure believers of the rightness of choosing Jesus as their Lord. When I decided to study theology to become a priest, much to my surprise, my mother wasn’t scared. In tentatively announcing her decision, she accepted it in the silence of the living room, and so vaguely, looking into the unknown, she said: “Don’t you want to wait yet? Won’t you try another college and then…?” I confess, I expected all sorts of things, but not this. My mother’s questions weren’t about discouragement but her concern for me. That question probably meant: “Is this what you want? Do you know what it will require of you? Are you ready? Will you be happy? And do you realize the demands of such a life?” Why do I mention this? Because that is precisely what Jesus’ words sounded like: “The foxes have their hiding places, and the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head… Let the dead bury their dead” (Mt 8:20-22).

Jesus is going pedagogical here, cautiously but above all truthfully. He does not hide from anyone the difficulty of the apostolic life, nor does he force anyone to accept such a life as his own. It is truly an invitation that one can both accept and reject. But let’s look a little deeper at Jesus’ statements. The first is addressed to the scribe who stands in the crowd of those whom Jesus has amazed with many and many miracles. To this one, he advises thinking carefully about his radical following of Jesus. He advises him to look at both sides of the life that would await him. As a scribe, he had a certain status among the people. But who will accept him when they see him as a disciple, this Nazarene? Wouldn’t the scribe then look back, backward, as his Israelite ancestors had once done in the wilderness, when, though free, they longed for the greasy pots of slavery?

Jesus’ second statement is already addressed to his disciple. To him no longer belongs the offer to change his mind. But to him, he very clearly implies what the Scripture says elsewhere: “He who once put his hands to the plow, let him not look back.” In other words: If once a man has chosen the way of Christ, let him not look for the tower of Babel. God’s way may be harder, requiring more effort, patience, and acceptance of challenging conditions, but it is undoubtedly more certain.

Who am I? A lawyer or a disciple of the gospel? Which words of Christ belong to my ears? I believe we are mostly “disciples.” We have been walking the roads with Jesus, meeting him, and following him for so long. But one fundamental question: are you not looking back? Have you buried your desires that you know wouldn’t lead you to true happiness? Or do you still go back to them? Do you want to be their slave again? Leave them alone! Don’t look at them all the time, but look at your God, who wants your happiness like no one else. For God is love, and in Christ, he has proved it to us so that no power in him would wish you the least ill.

You must have heard something about the parish priest of Ares. This saint – St. John Vianney, made his forgotten parish a place of pilgrimage. And that’s only because he took his role as a priest very seriously. His penitents often state that he, too, had his priestly desires – to retreat into solitude and there repent for his sins and beg for the salvation of his soul. But the bishop, though John Vianney asked him so much, never answered his call, for his charism to change the lives of believers and unbelievers alike was not to be thrown away lightly. And people always left happy from their encounter with this “prisoner of the confessional.” John Vianney is not the only role model in accepting God’s will. Even today, many good Christians follow Christ, even though the path is not the most comfortable. But it is undoubtedly the surest. Therefore, let us strive to follow Christ confidently, for we have already prepared a dwelling place with him.

Letting ourselves be known by the storm. To point out the necessity of God’s presence.

When someone invites us to go somewhere, such as to his house or to go with him, we are to consider the matter, lest we get into trouble or offend him… Jesus also invites us; his invitation is relevant, positive, and necessary. He says: “Follow me…” (Mt 8:22). Matthew describes an event when a crowd of people crowds around Jesus. God will never leave us. We must strive to reach out to him, using all available means, and always confidently say to Jesus as our Teacher, whom we want to follow wholeheartedly, “Lord, do not abandon me!” Together with him, we will be able to face trials because they will lose their bitter taste, and we will overcome them more efficiently, and even intense storms will not be able to intimidate us. Many are experiencing different batteries and different difficulties even at this very moment. If we want to be apostles amid the world, we must consider that some people – sometimes even our spouse, parents, or grandparents – will not understand us. In that case, we will work with calmness and decisiveness, and we must not be intimidated or turned away from our life course, for only Jesus knows what is best for us. He wants us to learn and never stop thinking of Him. At the same time, when difficulties arise, God’s grace will be made more abundantly evident. More of God’s grace will come from heaven when more problems arise. And in a way, it is also good that difficulties occur because along with them, we receive more of God’s help. Let us take this opportunity to purify our intentions, be more attentive to our Teacher, and be strengthened in faith. God always protects us and will not leave us in the devil’s power, who wants to win us for himself. God directs our life. He allows difficulties and trials, but at the same time, He watches over us. We are sometimes completely unaware of it, as the two tourists camping on the lake shore were utterly unaware of it.

In the evening, the hikers decided to swim to the other shore for a drink. They stayed there until late at night and managed to empty a few bottles to the last drop. When they left the bar, their feet were tangled, but they hit the boat for the return trip. They started rowing with gusto. Panting and sweating, they fought for about two hours, “Don’t you think,” said one, “that we should have been on the other shore long ago?” “Of course,” said the other. “I guess we didn’t row hard enough.” They redoubled their efforts and rowed, rowed for another hour. When it grew a little lighter, they were astonished to see they were still in the same place. They had forgotten to untie the thick rope that tied the boat to the pier. The tourists were lucky. Who knows how it would have ended if it hadn’t been for the string. They could have ended badly.

We need to be in the company of Jesus, and we will feel safe. We need his hand to watch over us. The Lord knows full well what is happening to us. He is still here in the Eucharist that we will soon receive. He will not abandon us. Neither will Our Lady leave us.

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Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Let’s say a little more about the Virgin Mary: we encounter the Virgin Mary quite a bit in the New Testament. Suppose it is always at a decisive stage of salvation history. We meet her at the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord Jesus. Mary is present at the manger and the cross of the Lord Jesus. Our Lady is often spoken of only in church. Is this not enough? The Second Vatican Council put the motherhood of Mary at the center of theology. It is appropriate today to remind ourselves that the Virgin Mary is truly the mother not only of Jesus-God, but of each one of us. The title “Mother” given to the Virgin Mary is not just an abstract title. Just as we cannot imagine our lives without the Redeemer and Savior, the Lord Jesus, our Lady, has a place in our lives.

Already the Council of Nicaea, in 325, defined that the Virgin Mary conceived the Lord Jesus by the action of the Holy Spirit. And the Council of Ephesus in 431 described the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God. The Second Vatican Council clearly defined the Virgin Mary as the Mother of the Church. If we believe that the Virgin Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was present at the sending of the Holy Spirit, she has an irreplaceable place in the Church. In the second reading, the Apostle Paul teaches us: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4-5).

Thus, whenever a person comes into the world as a brother and sister of Christ, he or she becomes a “son or daughter of the Virgin Mary.” Thus, we can say that we are children of Mary’s love. When Our Lady stood at the foot of the cross where our salvation was born, Jesus said to His mother in anguish, “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19:26), and at that moment, Jesus expressed the desire that in the Mother of God we also see our Mother. And this is what we have to think about today. Our life is a gift of God. No one gave his life to himself. God shows His love for us through our parents. And just as God gives us natural life through a biological, bodily mother, so as believers, we realize that Jesus gives us a spiritual Mother, His Mother, on the way to eternal life. It is the wish and will of God that in earthly life, at the intercession of Mary, we draw graces and strength on the way to eternity. We find more feasts of Our Lady in the Church calendar so that in the ordinary moments of life, we m, we may have the strength of Our Lady.
On the first day of the civil year – like entering something great, Mother Church gives us Our Lady as a strength every month. She wants to give us new birth for the Kingdom of God.
On the feast of the Epiphany, Our Lady stands beside those searching for the meaning of their lives, who are searching for God in this world. Isn’t this a boost for kings, scientists, and scholars alike?
On the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord, we remember that the Lord Jesus performed the first miracle in the Cana of Galilee at the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Let us not forget to ask Our Lady when we find ourselves in need.
On February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – the Feast of Trumpets, we remember that even in the demanding situations of life, we are to do the will of God as faithfully as Jesus and Our Lady did. Especially we realize that in difficulties, we earn merits which, when we meet God the Judge, will be the basis for words: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over little, I will set thee over much: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mt 25:23).
On the feast of St. Joseph, the Bridegroom of the Virgin Mary, more than one man asks Our Lady to grant him the virtues that her bridegroom had. The Annunciation of the Lord reminds us not only of Our Lady’s encounter with the Archangel but also of the need for our response to God to fulfill our state obligations. Our “fiat” is the desire to follow the Mother of God.
In April, we see the Mother of God not only on the Stations of the Cross but also at the foot of the Cross and among the disciples in the Upper Room as they prayerfully awaited the promised Holy Spirit.
In May, it is a tradition to gather for Marian’s devotions. The Litany of Loreto, with its invocations, becomes an inspiration not only to the young people to whom the month of May belongs for their lives but to everyone who feels himself to be a generator of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every month has other feasts, especially in many pilgrimage sites around the world, and especially in the summer months, they resound with the singing of Marian hymns.
And today, we commemorate the Saturday of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. From time immemorial, the Heart has been considered among people, of all the organs of the human body, as something extraordinary. On this feast, we remember the importance of the purity of our hearts. Especially at the beginning of holidays and vacations, when more attacks of the evil one are threatened when we are less vigilant during these days, the Mother of God becomes our protection. We begin July with the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To help, the encounter is an inspiration to grow or decline spiritually. Friendships and acquaintances are to be entrusted to the protection of Our Lady. We do not doubt the company is beautiful and valuable, but vigilance is necessary.
August 15 is one of the two commanded feasts when we are required to attend the entire Holy Mass. We are reminded that the Lord Jesus rewarded His mother’s faithfulness and took her to heaven with His body and soul. During the summer, we realize where our goal in life is. We pause and evaluate the path we are taking toward our goal. We ask for the strength to persevere in what Jesus intended for us on this earth.
The month of September reminds us of: the Nativity on 9/9, the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 9/12, and the Patroness of Slovakia, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, on 9/15. These are moments of repose. What mother does not rejoice at the visit of a son or daughter when they come to see her on her feast day, bring a flower, or exchange a few kind words? And we realize that although we cannot add anything to the glory given to our Heavenly Mother by her Son, we feel that it is we who receive many gifts from her.
The second month of the year, during which we especially pay attention to Our Lady, is October. The 7th of October is Our Lady of the Rosary. And we take the Rosary our hands-on that day and throughout the month. And not a few of us throughout the year keep this object always with us, in our pocket, on our finger, and often at least one dozen of the fifteen mysteries from the life of Our Lady and the Lord Jesus are recalled to our minds. And it is not only the Rosary that connects us daily with Our Lady. At the sound of the bell in the morning, lunch, or evening, we pause from work and greet the Mother of God with the Angelus prayer.
At the beginning of the Paschal month of November, when we remain standing in silence at the temporary resting places of our dear ones, more than one of us asks Our Lady, Queen of All Saints, to intercede for our departed ones. We trust in her powerful intercession. She said: “It has never yet been heard that one who has taken refuge under my protection has asked me for help and intercession, that I have not heard him.”
In December, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Not an old feast, but in the Church from the very beginning, brothers and sisters have believed that the Lord Jesus preserved His mother from all sin, even original sin. Yet the Blessed Virgin Mary has always remained a person free and endowed with reason.
For us, this is a challenge to work on our sanctification. Chastity is a state in which a healthy man and woman can never stop struggling. We are not alone. There is the Mother of God. The most widespread image of Our Lady is that of her holding the Child Jesus in her arms or playing beside her. May this image become our inspiration for the whole New Year: to draw closer and closer to the Mother of God, place ourselves under her protection, and be guided and formed. And this is regardless of our age, status, and condition. We accept the Virgin Mary as the gift that Jesus gave us when he died on the cross. We realize that we must not, and we do not want to, underestimate this gift. Every day we have an opportunity where can start anew. Let us ask the Mother of God to be the inspiration of our lives.Dies enthält ein Bild von:

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