More Reliable than the Groundhog


Forty days after Christmas, we commemorate a unique and dramatic moment. When the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph brought the firstborn to Jerusalem, the eternal Son entered the Temple of the eternal Father.[SPANISH.]

Now, this coming of the Son into the bosom of the Father—this is an eternal thing—the eternal thing that explains everything else. Literally everything.

The only-begotten Word, coming forth from infinite Love, returns, with infinite Love, to His Origin. The triune communion of God, unending and glorious—from this life all things come, and towards this life all things tend.

On February 2nd, Mary carried the baby into the Temple, and this reality of the eternal triune love became visible on earth. Visible, that is, under a veil. At that moment, the human eye could only see a small, poor family carefully fulfilling the Law of Moses. But the eyes of faith, like Simeon had—they perceived at that moment divine Light, the Light of triune love. Simeon’s eyes perceived the fulfillment of all things in the love that brings the only-begotten Son back to the bosom of His heavenly Father.

When we believe, we see light overcoming the darkness of winter. It is absolutely not a co-incidence that Candlemas and Groundhog Day are the same. Centuries ago the Germans has a superstition that if clouds covered the sky on Candlemas morning, then winter would end early. The custom involving Punxsutawny Phil comes from this superstition getting imported to Pennsylvania.

Some people believe completely in the groundhog, even though statistics demonstrate that he only gets it right 40% of the time. We, on the other hand, believe 100% in the baby Who made this day special in the first place.

We believe in His light. He grew up and died, at the end of winter. But then He rose again, and brought a springtime that will never end.

No Hand Wringing

The triune God makes us His people by Holy Baptism. He pours the Spirit into our hearts. We cry out, ‘Abba, Father,’ because He has made us His children. And we seek His kingdom, striving to build it every day, by exercising virtue and kindness, denying ourselves and living for the good of others.

The fact is that Jesus Christ has opened up a door for us, us human beings. A door we didn’t even know was there, until He opened it—the door to true life. The door to a life united with the immortal love of God.

Trinity ShieldGod Himself abandons Himself to the other Person. By that Gift of Himself, He attains His fullness. God is self-giving love. Christ has revealed that fact. Christ’s grace draws us into the adventure of loving as God loves.

If we are left to ourselves, the door to true life remains shut–because we inevitably succumb to the inertia of our selfishness.

But this is the Good News, which we should always have on the tips of our tongues: Christ has liberated us from the prison of our self-centeredness. He has given us the true way of life, the way of divine love.

A couple weeks ago, a lot of good Christians wrung their hands about the rising number of people who do not call themselves Church people. The “Nones.” As in ‘Religion: None,’ as opposed to consecrated nun.

I refuse to wring my hands, for three reasons:

1. When it comes to going to church or not going to church, the soul I have to worry about is my own. If I, hopefully a mature individual, honestly try to assess reality, I conclude immediately: I owe the Lord weekly worship at His altar, according to the ceremonies that He has established. Nothing could be more obvious.

So let me dutifully apply that conclusion to myself, since I am the one over whom I exercise sovereign control. Wringing my hands about any other full-grown adult, and their appearance or non-appearance at Mass, is a pretty big waste of time.

2. In the end, death will find us either in a state of grace or not. The two ways to get into a state of grace, if I am not in one right now, are: Baptism, Confession. How we responded to survey questions, put to us by well-meaning sociologists, won’t matter all that much on the Day of the Lord.

3. If the highways and byways of our land course with “Nones,” then God has a plan for every last one of them to be Catholic. Our job involves facilitating that process as best we can. And the best way for us to facilitate is: to walk always towards the door that opens to true life, that door being Jesus Christ Himself.

Yes, the primary avenue of Christian evangelization is churched parents churching their children. But we don’t need a survey to tell us that America finds herself largely un-churched in 2015. And it’s not the first time. America wasn’t heavily churched in 1815, either. Or: one week after the first Pentecost, back in AD 33–how churched was the Roman Empire then?

the_holy_trinityThat brings me to the other thing that people wrung their hands about a couple weeks ago. The President of the United States decided to give the churches of America a little lecture about how our worrying over the rights of innocent and defenseless unborn children has gotten in the way of our worrying about the poor.

Now, let’s be the first to acknowledge that we do not worry about the poor anywhere near as much as we should. The Lord asks us to make ourselves poor by giving to the poor. When we ourselves become poor, then we will have half a chance of actually being happy.

But we also have to acknowledge that we haven’t worried anywhere near enough about the innocent and defenseless unborn children, who are, of course, more poor than anybody. Which makes them richer than anybody in the deep wisdom of utter, total dependence.

Utterly and totally dependent–like embryos, like fetuses, drawing life from mommy through the downy uterine tissue and the umbilical cord: that is who we are. We are helpless nothings in the uterine wall of God–Who makes the sun rise, and fills our lungs with oxygen, and turns us into something beautiful.

Anyway, I have a question and a statement. Question: What kind of mental world do you have to live in, to set the interests of the poor against the interests of innocent, defenseless unborn children?

Lord, save me from ever entering such a mental world! What a strange place! Reality makes so much more sense–the real world where every human being has rights endowed by the Creator. Rights which I, at least, have to respect with untiring zeal, even if other people don’t respect them.

Statement: We will lead souls to Christ by selflessly loving the poor, starting with the innocent and defenseless children in the womb, and working our way up through all the age brackets from there.

How could we claim to belong to the love of Christ if we don’t love the people who need love the most?

If we, each of us, love the people who need love the most–the people of whom the world does not even think—if we love them, and think of their welfare before our own, we will gradually conquer every soul in this country. We will have a million priests and a gazillion Catholics.

This is My Son!

“This is my beloved Son.” Every eye was fixed on Jesus. The voice from the heavens spoke. This is My Son.

baptismchristgreco1Every once in a while, I think it pays to review the basic doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. The Catholic doctrine of the Trinity comes directly from the life of the Christ. To believe in Jesus is to believe in the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. All ‘mainstream’ Christians share these same dogmas, which go back to the Ecumenical Council of… Nicaea!

Okay. Point one: It makes no sense to say that there are multiple gods, or that there is no God. God, the genius and the power behind and above and in everything, the artisan of all things: there can only be one, and there must be one. If there were more than one, then none of them would be God. And if there were less than One, then we have no rational explanation for the existence of, the order of, the goodness of, and the beauty of all the things we experience.

God is the one and only being Who always has been. God’s infinitely powerful existence gives existence to all other existing things. One Creator, one Lord, one absolute, ultimate good and beautiful Truth with a capital T.

So: the religious teachings of the world can be divided into doctrines of God that make sense and doctrines that don’t. The world is divided into Jews and Gentiles, into those who recognize the one true God as the most important fact of life, and those who don’t. We are Jews.

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Simple Religion and the Trinity

What do we RCs say at the very beginning of Mass? “In the name of…”

The thing about the most sublime mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is: it is actually very, very simple. Religion of the simplest kind leads us right into the life of the Trinity.

Let’s start at the beginning. Wherever we are, no matter what is happening, whether there are other human beings with us or not… —Who is always there? Who is always with us, because He is everywhere, and knows everything?

…Now, where is everybody from? Who is from Hannibal, Missouri, like Mark Twain? Who is from Hampton Roads, like Allen Iverson? London, England–like Samuel Johnson? New York City, like Jonathan Goldsmith? How about Vancouver, British Columbia?

samuel-johnsonBut Who made us? Who put us here on this earth?

He is where we are really from.

I mean, I could say, ‘I’m from Poughkeepsie,’ or ‘I’m from Corpus Christi,’ or ‘I’m from the Province of Shanxi.’ But where I am really from is God. God is my Almighty Father. We all have God for our Father. We’re not all from Mexico. Be we are all from God.

Now, Who is the Son of God?

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Divine Love Speedway

You shall love. You shall love. You shall love. To love is worth more than burnt offerings. Love, and you are not far from God’s kingdom. Love God. Love neighbor. Love. Love.

According to the readings, Sunday is the Sunday of Love. The first reading commands love. The gospel reading commands love. And the second reading has to do with love, too. In Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church, we read, about ourselves:

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Baptism, Holy Trinity

Whenever we baptize someone and make him or her a Christian, we need two elements:

1. Water.

2. The words.

“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Everyone really ought to know these words, just in case you find yourself in a situation where someone might die unbaptized. The right thing to do under such circumstances is to baptize the person.

Generally speaking, we priests and deacons baptize people. But, every Catholic can and should minister the sacrament in an emergency, using any water available and the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Now, some scoffers might watch us baptize and say, “Well, this is really just so much superstition and magic!” Okay. Fair enough. If we Catholics just slathered water over unsuspecting babies, muttering an incantation that really doesn’t mean anything, then the scoffers would have a point.

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Familiar Trinity

I am not trying to criticize anyone. But, back when I was a layman, I heard a lot of lame homilies on Trinity Sunday. Who knows? Perhaps by the time we are done here, you will be saying the same thing.

trinity coverThe thing that annoyed me was when the preacher would begin his Trinity Sunday homily by saying something like: “The Trinity is such a mind-boggling, impossible mystery, I simply cannot begin to explain it.” Then he tells you the story about St. Augustine trying to write a book about the Trinity, and the little boy by the sea, and putting all the ocean into one little hole, etc. Okay, okay—we get it. The Trinity is a mystery which surpasses our understanding.

The reason this annoyed me is: The best possible explanation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is right in front of our noses. The Mass explains the Holy Trinity perfectly. The Holy Trinity is not abstruse, not remote, not unfamiliar. There is, in fact, nothing more familiar than the Trinity for people who go to Mass. Let me explain.

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Mission Invisible

Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost

Here is a question for you: Has anyone ever seen the Holy Spirit? Has anyone ever watched the Holy Spirit, like you watch a movie?

mission impossibleThe Holy Spirit has always been God, always the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, and He always will be. With the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit dwells in unapproachable light for all eternity. With the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit created the universe out of nothing. With the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit sustains everything in existence. With the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit called and guided the Chosen People of old.

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Priestly Prayer of Christ

christ_high_priest_crucifixJesus raised His eyes to heaven and said…

In the Sacred Liturgical Year of the Church, this is the final week of the Easter Season.

During this week, at Holy Mass, we read the Priestly Prayer of Christ.

This prayer is recorded in John 17.

The prayer is explained in Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 3 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Lord Jesus prays this prayer to the Father in every Holy Mass. It reveals the unfathomably intimate friendship of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.

You and I are invited into this friendship.