What Ever Happened To Sin.?

Injustice , Exploitation , Pollution , Hatred .These are all around us. We read about  them, we hear  about them  and we argue and fight about them.  Something is wrong in our society. What is it ?  Is it sin ? But nobody sins any more.  We call sin an experience, an inhibition. What we are saying  is, ” We are not responsible for any evil”.

Whatever happened to sin ?

We have ‘a  new type of psychology’ which sees  sins and crimes as illnesses, and  therefore not always responsible for our actions.

The fact remains, that there is such a thing as ‘moral concern’, a personal responsibility, as something Evil. Sin is a reality,  it is the absence of Love , love of  God and love of neighbor. We are to take responsibility of our actions , we are to take  responsibility in all human acts. good or bad. We are to feel guilty and to repent if we are to  revive the acknowledgement of Error,   Offence and  Responsibility.

There are also what we call, ‘Group Sins’ as genocide, war, racism,  exploitation, pollution etc. In these cases, we can call sin  ‘a collective  irresponsibility. ‘The Arab Nations, who would not lift a finger to aid their own people are guilty of ‘collective sin’  The UN who sits down for endless talks and do not take any action to alleviate the lives of the poor, the weak and the unfortunates is guilty of a ‘collective sin’.  “Man, too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will “.(Pope Benedict XVI).

Helping  the poor requires more than just handouts. “Helping the poor financially must always be a provisional solution in the face of pressing needs. The broader objective always be to allow them a dignified life through work”. P0pe Francis).

What are we to do as individuals ? As Christians, we are to speak up . It is not only our privilege but also our obligation. Then remember that ‘Charity begins at home’. We cannot expect to find love when we do not live it. You have been  loved and cherished by your God, A God of mercy, who expects you to do the same.

The  Bible teaches that every human being is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness. ” This shows us the immense dignity of each person, who is not just something, but someone.  How wonderful is the certainty that each human life is not adrift in the midst of hopeless chaos, in a world ruled by pure chance or endlessly recurring cycles! We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason, “each of us  is the result of a thought of God. Each human being is willed, loved and necessary”. (Pope Francis).

God bless you and yours.                                                Fr. David, O.P.

 

 

 

 

 

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Resurrexit ::He is Risen , Alleluia.

Today, on Easter Sunday, we rejoice over the victory , Jesus  accomplished over sin and death. We are now ‘Alleluia’ people for we share in his glorious resurrection.

In celebrating the  mystery of Christ’s glorious resurrection , we are to reflect on our own resurrection, since  Christ’s resurrection is the cause of our own resurrection.

Here are some of Thomas Aquinas’s thoughts on the resurrection  of the body.

The resurrection is not natural. It is the work of God; it is miraculous, for there  is no natural return   from ‘privation ‘ to ‘activity’ and  death is privation of life.

We are created for happiness. It is only fair and just, that the person as a whole (body and Spirit) receives the reward. If we cannot be perfectly  happy in this life,  we must of necessity hold the ressurextiom.

Now, we cannot call it ressurextion , unless the soul  returned to the same body, otherwise, it be rather an assuming of a body. The same person has to rise again if that person has to obtain the last end for which  he/she was made.

Aquinas  also says that the risen body will have Integrity ::it will be a complete body as it was meant to be ( no defects).  It will also have Quality::it means that we will  rise with the most perfect stage of nature, at age of perfection.

Prayer::God our father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and  opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raises us up and renew  our lives by the Spirit that is within us,  Amen. (Bk. of Christian Prayer).

God bless you and yours.       HAPPY EASTER                  Fr. David, O.P.

Good Friday::Anguish and Triumph

Jesus revealed to his disciples , that  except  He, as the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, there can be no salvation .

By saying  this ,  he teaches us the necessity of the cross , he  shows  us the anguish of the cross, and the glorious triumph of the cross.

Two trees of great importance   are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. The tree in the garden of Eden and the tree of the Cross. The one in Eden, brought  misery, pain and a great loss to our First Parents, Adam and Eve. By eating its forbidden fruit, they disobeyed God  and  this tree became a symbol of  death. The tree of the cross, on the contrary, is a sign of life and victory  over sin and death. ” When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself”.

Jesus preached  God’s message in the synagogue , on the lake -shore , even from a fisherman’s boat. He preached in the streets and on the mountains. But the most effective sermon was preached from the cross. Jesus brought God’s love to mankind : the cross was the climax of his teachings, the completion of his mission, ” I have finished the work which my Father gave me to do “. Now it is finished. Our salvation is completed  through the wood of the cross. Jesus on the cross , made us for ever certain of God’s love.  ST. Paul writes , ” It is precisely in this way that God proves his love for us , that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

After the crucifixion  , we can no longer say that God is indifferent to the human situation, God has loved us to death. From the cross Christ demonstrated his love. On the cross, we see the defeat of sin and death  and the wonderful universal love of God. If you want to see how much  God loves you, look at his crucified Son.

Good Friday is a day of mourning , of prayerful contemplation on the sufferings and death of Jesus. The Church is in mourning .To  impress us with a sense of mourning,  we are left  with a sense of emptiness :: the tabernacle is empty,  no holy water, no flowers or devotional candles , it is a time  of sorrow.  But , we are not to sit and watch the Cross as something done and ended. Christ finished his work when he was lifted up on the cross. We finish ours when we permit  Jesus to draw is unto himself. ” Into your hands,  O God, I commend my spirit”.

Then we wait. We wait with all believers for a renewal, for a new life brought by the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday , the principal and the oldest feast of the Christian Church. ‘Resurrexit , sicut dixit’::He rose,  as he promised ‘. ALLELUIA.

Prayer:: Father, look with love upon your people, the love which our Lord Jesus Christ showed us when he delivered himself to evil men and suffered the agony of the cross, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Bk. of Christian  Prayer).

God bless you and yours.                                              Fr. David, O.P.

 

 

 

 

The Sultana Basseba , Osmal and The Dominicans

The Sovereign Military Order of the Hospital of ST. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, commonly known as the Knights of Malta was established as a religious Order in the 11th century. The Order  defended the pilgrims  and the Christian kingdom against Moslem attacks.  The Knights’ mission  and commitment today , is ‘To Serving  the poor and the sick.

The Knights moved to Rhodes  from Jerusalem  and eventually to Malta. The Knights ruled the Maltese islands from 1530 to 1798.

The Great Siege of 1565.  A Turkish fleet with about forty thousand men besieged Malta , the battle  went for about three months ending on September 8, 1565.  The Grand Master, Jean Parisot de la Valette and his army of Knights and Maltese, defeated the Turks on the 8 of September 1565.  Historians believe that this victory  undoubtedly  contributed to the  eventual weakening and ruin of the European presence of the Ottoman Empire.

Malta  was saved, for Europe and Christianity. The Knights of ST. John of Jerusalem , Rhodes and Malta had won.

Now , what about Osmal and the Maltese Dominicans ? The Dominicans have an old presence in Malta. They arrived from Sicily in 1492.

In 1663, Jean Paul de Lascari-Castellar was elected Grand master of the Knights of Malta. This brave  Grand Master died in 1657 at the age of 97.

Under Grand Master Lascaris, the navy of the Knights was strengthened and naval expeditions against the Turks were carried out on an even larger scale.  In 1644  six galleys of the Order, under  Boisboudrant, captured a large and powerful Turkish ship, whilst cruising off Rhodes. A fierce struggle took place in which the Knights lost their gallant captain, Boisbourdrant.

Among the captives was a young mother, Basseba, of the Imperial Harem of Ibrahim with her young son, Osmal, they were on a pilgrimage  to Mecca. The mother died shortly after arrival in Malta. The orphan child was educated and was received into the Catholic Church. He , then  joined the Dominican Order under the name of Father Ottoman and died in Malta in 1676 while Prior of the Porto Salvo  Priory  in Valletta, Malta’s capital.  Two quite large portraits  of him are in existence, one in Valletta and the other at Our Lady of the Grotto Priory , Rabat, Malta.

God bless you and yours.                                        Fr. David , O.P.

 

 

” Tu Es Petrus “…”You are Peter”

The majestic dome of ST.Peter ‘s   in Rome , has these  powerful words chiseled  around it, “Tu es  Petrus et super hanc petram edificabo ecclesiam meam “. ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church’.

These are powerful words  coming from Jesus Christ , appointing  Peter the head of the Church. What did Jesus see in this rugged Galilean fisherman to give him such responsibility and honor ?

We all know stories about young men and women who coasted  along  for a long time.Then, all of a sudden began to put their lives on the line in a way they had not done before.  Class reunion can be a great surprise! The great Thomas Aquinas was nicknamed the ‘ dumb ox’ by his classmates, for he rarely spoke or asked any questions in class. Guess what ?  He became the greatest Philosopher and Theologian that ever lived.

Peter was not a great intellectual. He was not always  brave,  and scripture says that he  could not run as fast as John, who was younger. He argued with Jesus,  he wont let Jesus wash his feet at the last supper. Three time he denied that he knew Jesus. He was not as powerful with the Jews as James was and not as influential as Paul.

Simon Peter most of the time coasted along.  But, after the resurrection this all changed.

Peter became the  Rock.  Jesus gave Peter the chance to wipe out the memory of his denial by a threefold declaration of love, “Peter , do you love me  ? “.  Jesus, here gave him the ‘keys’ of the kingdom, and made him the leader, the head of the early Christian community, ” Feed my lambs, feed my sheep”.

Peter’s leadership and primacy is evident in the early Church. He is mentioned more often than the other disciples. He is always mentioned first and is the one who speaks for others.  Peter presided over the election of Matthias and worked the first miracle and received the first Gentile convert. He confirmed the others (apostles) in the faith. (See the Acts of the apostles).

His life was not easy. To be a Christian is not a vocation to popularity. Even  less so , to be a leader of the Church. But Christ promised his lifelong support..” I will be with you till the end of time”. Peter as tradition  has it,  led the Church in  Antioch  then moved to Rome and eventually died in the eternal city, Rome. Peter was the center of unity and protector of Christ’s  message of salvation.

As time went on and the Church grew, the successors of Peter as bishop of Rome continued to be a sign of unity and leadership. ” The Church is a sign , a sacrament of unity. As Peter was the center of unity, so is the person of the pope.” (Vat.11)

The Church has a message to deliver. Often she seems as a sign of contradiction, but so was Christ. The pope’s message many a time is distorted by the secular media. Let us always remember  that Christ and His Church are not  on a popularity contest. We are to look at the Pope as a unifying  principle: tending the sheep and the shepherds. This obligation and privilege has been given to Peter and his successors  by Christ  himself.

Prayer::All powerful Father, you have built your church on the rock of St. Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. (Bk. of Christian Prayer).

God bless you and yours.                                         Fr. David ,O.P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unsinkable Bark Of Peter.

Jesus founded his Church on Peter, the Rock. ” You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church  and the gates of hell shall Not prevail against her”. ” I will be with you always, till the end of time”
There is truth in the words of Jesus . The kingdom of God on earth, the Church, had a very humble  beginning. A Galilean carpenter  surrounded by a few  fishermen, walking  through the region, preaching and working  wonders. The Church was firmly established on Jesus, as the corner stone and has been under the same ‘management’ for over two thousands years.

On the feast of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God  promised by Jesus, came upon the disciples, a wonderful  beginning took place. The  Church was rejuvenated  and  the bark of Peter became unsinkable . She will  sail triumphantly on and on till the end for she has the promise of Jesus .

The lesson that runs though the gospel and through history is ‘not to be afraid, not to lose heart’ . We are to live, to teach  and to spread the gospel with courage. Our message is backed by Jesus and his  Devine authority.

As the Church flourished from east to west , all kinds of people found  shelter among its branches. That does not mean that Jesus planted  a ‘rose garden’.  As history attests,  from the beginning persecutions arose, crisis of humiliation and defections  marred the Church quite a few times  but the words of Christ remain strong, ” The gates of hell, shall not prevail against her”. Pastor, in his’ History  of  the Popes’, writes, “The Church’s periods  of deepest humiliation are always the periods of her greatest strength and that the tomb and death,  are only symbols of her resurrection to a new life”.  In out times. Church is persecuted in quite a few countries.  Her  doctrine, many a time is branded as outmoded, many a time it has to endure  restrictions on her freedom of action; yet the Church will survive and will emerge stronger and purified  more than ever before.  Her purpose is to proclaim the good news of the gospel, both when convenient or inconvenient. It is her duty to safeguard the Christian principles, to teach morality and to foster peace, love and justice.

We cannot become ‘ paralyzed Christians’ we have a job to do. Be not afraid to stand up and be counted for what you believe in. The Church has a role to play in human history.

As someone said, ” A Church that is not persecuted, should question the reason of  her existence .

This is your Church, founded on the apostles with Jesus the corner stone. Love it, cherish it and defend it.

Prayer::: “O God, from living stones, your chosen people, you built an eternal temple to

your glory. Increase the spiritual gifts you have given to your Church that

that your faithful people may continue to grow into the new and eternal

Jerusalem. Amen. ( Book .of  Christian Prayer).

God bless you and yours.                                  Fr. David. O.P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saul , Paul of Tarsus.( Terrorist turned Apostle)

I always was fascinated  by the austere,  vigorous  and workaholic  Paul the apostle. Who was this mysterious man ?  What kind of an impact he left on the very people he persecuted and who was determined to eradicate  Christianity ?

Saul (Paul ) was born in Tarsus , of  Hebrew  parents  about the A.D. 5. ” I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary  city”( Acts 21 :39). Paul ‘s  ancestors somehow were  granted Roman citizenship and Paul used this privilege to his advantage at least three times. We also know from the Acts of the Apostles, that he earned  his keep by being a tentmaker. It is said that he had both names, Saul and Paul from birth and utilized them selectively in various cultural settings.

As a young man he went up to Jerusalem to study  the law,   and became  versed in the law of the Torah.  He soon became a Pharisee and a fanatical persecutor of Christianity , the new religion. We can say that he was a ‘terrorist’. He himself asked for permission to apprehend  men, women and children of this new religion and bring them to trial and imprisonment. Saul only  thought of violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. We also know that he  was present at the stoning of the deacon Stephen.  Later on In his letter to the Galatians , Paul writes,” You have heard of my previous way of life , when I belonged to the Jewish  community ; I furiously persecuted the Church of God and tried to destroy it ”   On his way to Damascus with  this mission in mind, he was faced with the light of the Risen  Christ.” Saul, Saul! why are you persecuting me ?” Paul said, “Who are you, Lord?” . ” I am  Jesus whom you are persecuting “. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9).

It was an instant conversion, Paul from a lion became a lamb and  began preaching Christianity .He was chosen to bring the gospel to the nations.” God called me out of  his great love… to reveal in me his Son, to make him known to the pagan nations”. ( Gal.).

In Jerusalem many a time Paul  found himself in a head on collision with  the Pharisees and the Elders of the people. He also argued with Simon Peter::”I said to Cephas (Peter) publicly : If you who are Jewish agreed to live like the non-Jews, setting  aside the jewish customs, why do you now compel the non-Jews to live like Jews ?”.( Gal. 2).

In Jerusalem , the opposition to Paul and to his preaching of  the New Religion grew stronger. He was arrested ,  but  he  defended himself  vigorously  and here once again , Paul  used his roman citizenship to his advantage. ” I am a roman citizen,  I appeal to the  Emperor “.he said to  Governor Festus . Festus said to Paul, “You have appealed to the Emperor, so to the Emperor you will go”.(Acts 25.12)

In all 276 people including ST. Luke  boarded  a ship destined for Rome. There were soldiers, sailors and other prisoners.  From Jerusalem,  they sailed to Sidon, to Cyprus, to Pamphilia, to Alexandria , and to Crete. A violent  storm changed the ship’s  course . Paul assured the people on board that  no one will perish, ” we will be driven ashore on some island”.

This tragic shipwreck brought the Apostle Paul to the Maltese Islands. Being Maltese myself , I here with pride quote  the Acts of the Apostles.

” When we were safely ashore, we learned that the island was called Malta. The natives were very  friendly to us. ……Publius, the chief of the island,   welcomed us kindly and for three days we were his guests…..they gave us many gifts and when we sailed they put on board  what we needed for the voyage. …After three months we sailed  away….”(Acts 28)

This is how Christianity came to the Maltese islands and we have been Christians ever since. He is the patron saint of Malta  where a large number of churches and chapels are dedicated to the apostle of the Gentiles, ST. Paul.  His shipwreck is commemorated every  year, on the 10 of February. It is a National holiday.

Paul eventually was jailed and martyred in Rome in A.D.65. A majestic church  in Rome is dedicated to this great apostle of the nations. This basilica is known as ST. Paul Outside the Walls.

Prayer:::God our Father,  you taught the gospel to all the world through the preaching of Paul your apostle. May we who celebrate his conversion to the faith follow him in bearing witness to your truth. Amen.  (Bk. of Chris. Prayer).

God bless you and yours.      *****************   Fr. David , O.P.

(This is awesome and funny.)

In December, 1992, a letter was submitted to Dear Abby, by the Rev.C.W Kirkpatrick of Union Church of Christ, Ludlow, Mass.

” Dear Abby, one of the toughest tasks a church faces is choosing a good minister….The board of a church rejected applicant after applicant. Finally, a board member stood up and read a letter purporting to be from another applicant.

” Gentlemen: understanding your pulpit is vacant, I should like to apply for the position. I have  many qualifications. I’ve been a preacher with much success and also have had some success as a writer. Some say I am a good organizer. I Have been a leader  in most places I have been. I am 50 yrs. of age. I have never preached in one place for more  than three years. In some place , I have left town after my  work  caused riots and disturbances. I must admit I have  been in jail three or four times, but not because of any real wrongdoing.

My health is not too good, though I still get a great deal done. I have not gotten along with religious leaders in town where I have preached. I am not too good at keeping  records . I have been known to forget whom I baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you”.

The board member looked over the committee, ” Well, what do you think ? Shall we call him ?”

The good church folks were aghast.  Call an unhealthy, trouble-making,  absentminded , ex-jailbird  ? Was the board member crazy ? Who signed the application ?  Who, has such colossal nerve ?.

The board member eyed them all keenly  before he answered, ” It is signed,     ‘The Apostle Paul “…..