Monday – Final Week of Easter

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Acts 19:1-8  +  John 16:29-33
May 29, 2017

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

This coming Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost is the backdrop for all our weekday readings this week.  Wherever we Christians are, we are united in the Mystical Body of Christ, and together we are praying this week for a greater openness to the Gift who is God the Holy Spirit.

However, we receive God the Holy Spirit not for our own plans and purposes.  He comes to us in order to ‘equip’ us for the vocations that God the Father gives us.  The providential plan of the Father, and the grace of the Spirit, cannot be separated:  both meet in the life of Christ’s Mystical Body, within which we live.

Each of us is called first through Baptism to holiness.  For most Christians, this baptismal vocation—the vocation to live as members of the “priesthood of all believers”—is deepened by a further call from the Father.  The vocation to Holy Matrimony, or to Holy Orders, or to consecrated religious life, gives specific form to one’s baptismal vocation.  Even more specifically, each Christian daily discerns the call of the Father to make small sacrifices with great love, as St. Thérèse of Lisieux teaches us.  And so we beg the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit.

Easter 7-1 Ascension

The Ascension of the Lord [A]

The Ascension of the Lord [A]
Acts 1:1-11  +  Ephesians 1:17-23  +  Matthew 28:16-20
May 28, 2017

“‘And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’”

Eager Christians sometimes ask for spiritual direction.  But the greatest stumbling block to such direction going anywhere is the directee not being willing to practice authentic detachment.  Spiritual direction cannot lead to the Lord if the directee will not practice honest and thorough detachment.

Detachment is one of the chief truths to which the Lord’s Ascension points our attention:  to detaching ourselves from everything except God.  First, we have to detach ourselves from all things which we put in place of God, and secondly, we have to “cling” to God alone.

Being detached from all created things does not necessarily mean that we remove them from our lives.  Rather, being detached from created things means that we recognize that the happiness and meaning that any created thing can bring into our life is less than we might want to imagine.  We can go about detaching ourselves from created things in several ways.  We might need to remove certain created things from our lives altogether, especially if they prey on certain individual faults that we have.  We can also detach ourselves from created things through simple penance, or what the Church sometimes calls mortification.

We also have to detach ourselves from other human beings.  This, of course, is much more difficult.  Sooner or later we are, irrevocably, detached from others by death.  Often, the most difficult such detachment comes when two spouses who have been married for many years are separated by death.  At such a time, a spouse can feel as if the world has come to an end.  The mixture of faith and doubt in the lives of the apostles that we hear about in today’s Gospel passage is similar to the faith and doubt that one faces upon separation from a loved one.

Perhaps the apostles asked after the Ascension of Our Lord:  “Whom are we to cling to now?  How are we to love our Lord?”  This question is answered in two ways.  First, the apostles had to wait for another divine Person to enter their lives.  God the Son was leaving them, but He promised that He and God the Father would send them God the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit to whom the apostles would have to cling.

The difficulty with this, of course, is that the Holy Spirit is “no more” than a Spirit:  He is the “Holy Ghost”, without flesh and blood like God the Son made man.  How can you cling, then, to a Spirit?  Grace is something that we can only cling to “in spirit”.  This means that only by our souls can we cling to the Holy Spirit.  If we live according to the flesh, according to material pleasure, then only what we can see and taste, touch and purchase can bring us joy.  But if we regularly practice penance—not only the Sacrament of Penance, but also giving up and denying ourselves things on a weekly basis, especially Fridays—we can continually detach ourselves from material things, and thereby have a soul that seeks nothing other than God’s sheer grace.

As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, we hear of the apostles gathered together in that Upper Room, waiting in faith and in doubt.  When God the Father and God the Son sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles received the Spirit of Jesus not so that they could remember Jesus more fondly, but so that they might put that Spirit to work, to begin building the Church here on earth.  In whatever way God calls us, may we be ready and willing to serve our God by putting ourselves at the service of our brothers and sisters here on earth.

Easter 7 A Ascension

Our Lady, Queen of Apostles—IHM Convent homily

Our Lady, Queen of Apostles
May 27, 2017

Regardless of whether one’s diocese transfers the Ascension from the fortieth to the forty-third day after Easter Sunday, today—that is, the Saturday following the fortieth day of Easter, is the feast of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles.  Today’s feast helps us during these days of preparation for Pentecost, by reflecting on Mary as she prayed in the midst of the apostles in the Upper Room. Continue reading

Saturday – 6th Week of Easter

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:23-28  +  John 16:23-28
May 27, 2017

“The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father.”

The “spiritual momentum” of the Sacred Triduum and Easter Season moves us through the Passion and Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord Jesus… to the Solemnity of Pentecost.  In the Church’s celebration of Pentecost, we meditate not only on the divine origin of the Church.  We meditate not only on the divine mission of the Church. Continue reading

Friday – 6th Week of Easter

St. Philip Neri, Priest
Acts 18:9-18  +  John 16:20-23
May 26, 2017

“But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

Jesus uses the imagery of pregnancy to describe suffering in relation to joy, as both pertain to Jesus’ Resurrection and His sending (with the Father) the Gift of the Holy Spirit.  While it’s a truism of our culture that any goal worth achieving demands hardship, the image of pregnancy is more pregnant with meaning.  The image of pregnancy connotes new life:  a life independent of the life that came before, yet owing its existence to the one who begot it. Continue reading

Wednesday – 6th Week of Easter

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 17:15,22—18:1  +  John 16:12-15
May 24, 2017

“…when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, the famous nineteenth century convert to the Church from Anglicanism, is famous for many theological works.  One of the more famous is about the process of the “development of doctrine”.  Newman had from boyhood been a keen student of history, and later in life he said that “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”. Continue reading

Video Homilies

Reflections on the Sacred Liturgy now has a new feature.  Video homilies will be posted for Sundays and Holy Days as often as possible, incorporated into the text version instead of audio.  All video homilies can be found at Father Hoisington’s YouTube channel, located HERE.  Below is the homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter [A] (May 21, 2017).

The Sixth Sunday of Easter [A]

The Sixth Sunday of Easter [A]
Acts 8:5-8,14-17  +  1 Peter 3:15-18  +  John 14:15-21
May 21, 2017

“‘And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate.’”

This morning’s Gospel passage is set at the Last Supper.  Although Jesus’ disciples only dimly know at this point what’s ahead for Him, the Lord Himself knows completely.  Jesus was fully God all the days that He walked this earth.  He had divine knowledge, and fore-knowledge.  So what He said at the Last Supper was part of a plan.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate.”  In speaking these words, Jesus is looking beyond His death, beyond His resurrection, and beyond His ascension.  Jesus is looking to the day of Pentecost.

Now it’s true:  we shouldn’t forget that on the evening of His resurrection, Jesus said to His Apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive and forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”[1]  The Holy Spirit works in the Sacrament of Confession to forgive and heal.  But when—to use a different sort of example—you go to your physician to be healed of sickness or disease, your aim is full health, so you can live your life again.  Something similar is at work in the spiritual life.  When we go to Confession to be healed of spiritual sickness, our aim is full health, so we can live our spiritual life again. Continue reading