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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Monday, March 12, 2018

LATEST SERMONS FROM OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS (GARDEN GROVE, CA)

LATEST SERMONS FROM OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS (GARDEN GROVE, CA)

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent by Monsignor Patrick Perez – March 4, 2018

Why are Penances Such a Penance?

As we approach the midpoint of our Lenten penances, there are two things I would like to say. First, when you are doing your Lenten penances --and please God a good many of you are living a good Lent – just remember, if you fall off the wagon, get back on the wagon. That’s basically it. If you blow the penances then just get back up and dust yourself off and continue the penances. It’s not like a light bulb where if you drop it on the ground you can’t get it back together. Rather, you start over again when you do fail. 


And those of you who are able should be doing penances because remember what I was talking about last time and I will just reiterate it. After Vatican II the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was replaced with an ineffective and useless ceremony, namely the Novus Ordo Mass. Also following Vatican II the healthy and necessary penances imposed by the Church were replaced by useless penances that do people no good whatsoever. Two days of penance in the year is equal to zero really. It’s nothing; it’s not enough for us.
 So, this is not the whole of my sermon but it’s like I’m doing two mini-sermons. So by the same token, in the Lenten Preface it says, “O holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God: Who by this bodily fast –“ So the preface assumes we are fasting for the forty days of Lent, for every weekday of Lent which is what we should be doing for those who qualify. “Who by this bodily fast, extinguish our vices, elevate our understanding, bestow on us virtue and its reward through Christ Our Lord.”  So these penances ultimately can have the effect of extinguishing our vices, elevating our understanding and bestowing on us virtue and its reward. But what I like to remind people about in a practical sense, because as you know I try to give you the practical way of doing this, is that the penances do not automatically do these things. For example, if you want to enter the Olympics, you have to train an awful lot, you have to get in shape, and do running or whatever you do. But the purpose of doing all that has to be kept in your mind. It’s like if you are exercising and you get tired, you can’t just see the being tired from exercising as what the fruit of the Olympics. You have to say I am doing this for a greater purpose and the purpose is this….. – Which is to do well in the Olympics and so forth.
 Demon Lasagna
So it is with our penances and this happened to come to my mind last week because your mind is supposed to be elevated and you are supposed to get more virtue, but all I had was this constant thought of lasagna. Well this is so weird because I don’t even crave lasagna so where did this come from? And I know I was having just one meal a day and was just really hungry and I’m going, you know that is just the devil, that’s not the purpose of this thing. The purpose is to go beyond thoughts of things like lasagna, as wonderful as lasagna is, to what this fast is really supposed to be accomplishing. Then that particular demon was driven away and things got more clear. So first of all just recall that.
 Demonic Possession or Oppression?
The second thing I want to mention is, since we are in this part of Lent, the Church naturally takes this into account. In fact, we had the very same Gospel yesterday and today which is the Gospel of Our Lord casting out the demons, with the people calling Him on doing these exorcisms saying, well, He does it by the devil himself kind of thing. What can that mean for us in the first place? If you look at the Epistle and Gospel for today it’s like St. Paul is saying okay, here is what you need to live a good spiritual life and to improve yourself and how to live virtuously and avoid all these things. And then the Gospel is saying, well, yeah, but this is what happens if you don’t live a spiritual life and avoid all these things. Our Lord was casting out demons from people. So the notion of demons bothering us, tempting us and in fact sometimes possessing people is one that the Church wants us to think about at least from time to time as a real possibility.
 What I would like to say about it is, Yes, demons can possess people. However, actual possession is a fairly rare thing. You know how we tend to think every time that we get a bad thought or something like that that the devil is putting that into our minds. Most of the time it isn’t. Most of the time our minds are just kind of bad and we like to have these ideas. Or maybe we don’t specifically like to have it but it’s stored in there somewhere. Those of you who have had computers and they start getting old know, stuff comes on like, wait a minute, that file, where did that come from. Or it disappears or whatever. Well that’s what happens in our brains and sometimes we have these thoughts; sometimes they are from the devil, sometimes they are not from the devil. We don’t have to know actually. If it’s a bad thought just get rid of it. You don’t need the specifics of it.
 In any case, if you are close to the sacraments you will not be possessed, unless by one of the odd cases where Our Lord allows somebody to be a victim soul and be possessed which is extremely rare but has happened before. Most of the time what we are talking about is what they call oppression. Oppression is probably not with you if you are close to the sacraments. But maybe a relative of yours or somebody you know, where they are seen to fall into a bad lifestyle, they seem to have troubles with various things whether it be alcohol or drugs or whatever it is. This is very likely demonic, especially if it is somebody who grew up being in the Church and all of a sudden goes off, leaves the Church and goes in some bad direction where their life degenerates and visibly degenerates. Now this is what we call oppression. Can it lead to possession? Yes. Most of the time it doesn’t because most of the time the oppression, the demonic oppression, is enough to get the person’s soul and they don’t have to bother with possession.
Prayers for Family by Family are Most Powerful
So what do we do about that? Well, first of all like I said, if you have problems with particular temptations you stay close to the sacraments; more confessions, more Holy Communions, and the like. If the temptations continue there are different kinds of prayers you may say, which are specific for getting rid of demons, getting them off your back. Now the reason I mention it is not so much for you, or for us personally, although I think these prayers are beneficial in general, but for those people who are in your family especially. Now whether they be children or even parents or siblings, cousins, immediate family – why am I talking about these in particular? It’s because in the realm of the spiritual, the prayers of relatives, especially for parents for their children or children for their parents or siblings for each other, have a special effect that prayers of this kind for people outside of the family do not have. This is by the will of God; we don’t know why it is, but those of us who have been involved with the science of demonology and exorcisms and things like that can tell you that this is simply the case.
To that end, I want to recommend if you have a relative – you know, a child that you’ve seen go off in the wrong direction, a grandchild, something like that, then there is a book that I ordered. It’s like $20 but it’s worth its weight in gold for any parent or anybody with a relative with one of these problems. It’s $20 because I think I paid $16 plus shipping for it, so we are making like $2 off it. So sorry we’re making $2 for the Church. It won’t buy a single candle. (Monsignor laughing)
In any case, this book, Deliverance Prayers for Use by the Laity was written by a well-known  exorcist. He didn’t write the prayers, he collected them. Now why would they have Such a book? Why wouldn’t you just say, well, why don’t I just get a hold of the exorcism that you priests use and do that for my son or whomever it is? The reason is this: first of all it has to do with authority. For a real full-blown exorcism using the one in the exorcism book, you have to be a priest. Not only that, the bishop has to give you the authority to do it. Even if I wanted to, if I picked up the book and said, okay, I’m going to do an exorcism on somebody, I could be killed doing that because I haven’t got the authority of the bishop or the Church behind me. If I could find a bishop, as if I called Bishop Williamson or somebody and said, Would you give me the authority to do it?, first of all they would try to dissuade me. They would say you have to be very sure that this person needs an exorcism and so the first remedy is to get them close to the sacraments.
But let’s say it’s one of your children or whoever who won’t get close to the sacraments? So the reason then is I have the authority to do the full-blown exorcism. And the wording of the full-blown exorcism is much different. In the wording I can command a demon because of the authority of the Church. I can say By the Power of Christ I command you. The laity is not in that position and so the prayers in this book are prayers of deliverance where you are asking God to command rather than you commanding, and it’s a very important distinction. It keeps you from being killed by the demon as a matter of fact. So it is something you have to be careful of.
 But like I said, as matters of authority, it seems that God gives authority to parents and children and relatives of the immediate family to basically accomplish most of what a priest would do in a regular exorcism. And this is what you should be doing.
 Deliverance and the Sacraments are Inseparable
So  you have a kid who has gone off and left the sacraments, isn’t doing their responsibility, so you say these prayers of deliverance and it seems the person actually gets deliverance from the demon or demons oppressing them. Then what? Then they’ve got to get back to the sacraments, go to confession and stay there. Why? Because it is mentioned in today’s gospel. Our Lord says, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through places without water seeking rest”. And what is this? Well, when he leaves the heart of the person who he had gotten to be in sin, when he leaves their soul and goes off for a while because of the prayers of deliverance said by the person or a relative of the person, he goes to other souls but if they are close to the sacraments he finds no refreshment, no water there to relieve him, no inroad, no nada, so he says, well, let’s go check out the one I just left. And if that person hasn’t gotten back to the sacraments then it’s like the Hilton for this demon with a fully stocked bar and all that. He says, well, great, look at this place. I’m just going to move back in but only brings with him his frat buddies from hell and then the state of that person is worse than it was before. It goes together hand in hand with getting back to the sacraments and whatnot.
Just so you know what kind of content is in here, the exorcist who compiled these makes clear a very interesting point as it were, that what we call vices, let’s say impurity or sloth, they are not just abstract vices but they are also the names of the demons who specialize in those things. So if somebody is plagued by let’s say alcoholism or some kind of thing like that, Alcoholism is also the name of the demon who specializes in that. It’s not just this disease because they are Irish or whatever or Scottish sometimes too. (Monsignor laughing) What they say is the angels are named for their mission. Every angel is completely different from every other angel because of what they were created to do specifically. Well so it is with the bad angels; when they turned away and became demons they begot new personalities as devils specializing in particular vices and that’s what they do. So that is an interesting thing that you get from this. And then you name that demon in many of the prayers.
These are just beautiful, beautiful, powerful prayers in here that you would have never thought of that you wouldn’t even think were in there. There is one particular prayer I like, its call a punishing prayer. It’s one of the shorter ones I was reading through. I couldn’t stop reading this thing because one was better than the next. It’s like well, I have to say all of these for people.  There is one called the punishing prayer where it is a prayer for yourself and it’s a prayer that God may, (whatever the demon that has been bothering you – let’s say it’s tempting you to have a drink or something like that, drugs, or whatever it is,) that God punish this demon by focusing his mind on the thing that gives him the most pain and then leaving you alone. I love it. It’s like the Church comes up with such great stuff. You’d never think of that kind of thing. I have gotten feedback on the book. The reason I looked into it is somebody gave me something like this, its brother book which is meant for priests and I started researching. Priests and laity have had so many blessings from this book, especially conquering these particular vices and sins that these demons are responsible for.
So my dear friends I just kind of want to leave that with you. If you can’t afford it I only ordered like twenty of them and I think we had some already but you can always get one amongst your ladies’ sewing circle or something and Xerox off the particular – Oh, I can’t let her see which vice I’m Xeroxing off. (Monsignor laughing) because then she will know and she will tell the other ladies in the sewing circle. But that’s one you could do. Please at this time of the year when the Church obviously wants to focus our attention for our Lenten penances on the demonic and the vices that result from them, educate yourself and arm yourself – put on the amour of light as St. Paul says, and have hope. Do you have a child with a problem, left the Church, is living with somebody out of wedlock or drinking too much, whatever, do this and do it with conviction and love for the ones you love.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Hope leading to JOY and Eternal Life – March 4, 2018 by Fr. Stephen

A homily for Laetare Sunday
Dear Faithful,
Today's Gospel is about coming Home to our real and final Home, where our Heavenly Father awaits us, His children. 
Jesus' parable reveals to us all,  -- sinners ---, that our only way to Everlasting Joy, -- giving us hope -- by recognizing, acknowledging, admitting and confessing our sins. This is what the prodigal son learned and did.
 
In the beginning of the parable the younger son, either immature, misled by his self-centered foolishness, deceived himself, and the devil knows how to deceive by using our weaknesses, false promises or plain lies, always contradicting God's wise counsels His straightforward commandments!
 
The devil does not bring us sinners to hell with our eyes open, covering them with darkened desires.
 
As the devil did with our first parents, he first blinds us sinners from seeing the evil as evil, the concealed malice of sins. But the Word of God tells us that “malice blinds men." So, does the devil lead men to eternal perdition. Before we fall into sin, the devil is busy covering up, blinding us, so that we may not see the malice of disobedience, but, instead, points to and promises delight, incites us to refuse to see the evil in the sin we do, and the ruin we are about to bring upon ourselves in disregarding, and in not adhering, not obeying, but disobeying and offending God. Once we commit sin, then the devil comes around once again and seeks to silence even our weak conscience, to make us dumb, that, through false shame, we might hide our evil, the fact that we have sinned, even to commit sacrilege, to conceal in confession our sin rather than truthfully admitting them with sorrow. St. Augustine prays: "Lord, keep a door at my mouth, that it may be closed against all improper words, but be open to confess the sins I have committed. So that it will be a door of restraint, and not of destruction." Let us choose to disregard sin and temptation in silence, not to utter words offensive to God or to our neighbor; but speak the truth, if we had failed or sinned, to reveal the truth in confession and find our liberation by God’s mercy. Jesus said the truth shall make you free. To keep silent over sin in confession, is a grave evil, killing our conscience, the ruin of the soul. After we have offended God, the devil is busy to suppress the voice of our conscience, and to keep our mouth closed to prevent us from confessing the truth, namely our guilt, our sin. 
A saint once asked the devil, what he was doing there. He said: "I am now restoring to the eyes of the penitents the shame that I took away from them before, while they were committing sin; I now restore their shame so that they may have a horror of confession." 
St. John Chrysostom says "but God helps us to see sin as shameful, so that we may abstain from it, and gives us courage to confess it by promising pardon to all who accuse themselves of their sins in true sorrow. The devil opposes God: he induces us to a false confidence in order to bring us to sin by multiplying excuses; but, when once sin is committed, he scorns us to shame, to prevent us from facing and confessing our sin. For he who conceals his sin in confession abuses and invalidates his confession, and tramples under foot the blood of Jesus Christ. says Tertullian: "Unhappy souls! they think only of the shame of confessing their sins, and do not reflect that, if they conceal them, they shall be damned."
 
Be grateful to Jesus Christ Who in our place died on the Cross to forgive our sins; show our love to him and do not offend him any more. 
 
Do penance daily cheerfully, showing him your love and gratitude for his love for you, for having you as his beloved. 
In gratitude and thanksgiving offer sacrifices to God so that many sinners by the grace you earn for them by your prayers and penance, may come to recognize their sins and return to Christ to live in his friendship without offending him anymore. Gather souls for Christ, and become a grateful and his useful servant, so you gain souls for God as your form of gratitude for his love for you. Lent is time to increase in grace and offer faithful service to God through prayers and penance.  Pray daily for conversion of misguided Catholics, so, many hapless sinners may return to God and his Church. Praise Christ and the devil will flee. 
Learn from Jesus' parable, decide to come back to Our Merciful Father by humble worship of His Majesty, who is His richness is willing to embrace us if only we ask for His taking us back by His pardon and rich forgiveness. .. Amen.
 

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent – February 25, 2018 by Father Paul Sretenovic

Father Paul Sretenovic, 02/25/18
Second Sunday of Lent
Father began the sermon by reciting a Hail Mary.
This, the Second Sunday of Lent, provides a startling contrast in the context of the Gospels, with that of last week. Last week described the threefold temptation of Our Lord as He finished His forty day fast in the desert.  Our Lord was at the weakest point He would be outside of the Passion itself.  This week we see him glorified in a way second only to the Resurrection.  This contrast is meant to be a lesson to us, vividly describing the reward of fidelity by a glimpse at the Beatific Vision.  If we are faithful to the disciplines of Lent, our soul will become more and more radiant, more and more transfigured. Our Lord’s soul even when He was not transfigured, was radiant but He hid it from the eyes of the Apostles. If we are in the state of grace, and especially if we are being faithful to our Lenten observations, our soul is radiant even though we do not see it. It’s hidden from our eyes but by our faith we recognize it. If we are faithful, if we are weaned from the world and spending time with Our Lord, extra time in prayer and penance, in His time He will reveal to us the progress we are making and we will get a bit of a glimpse of our soul and that we are in fact on our way to heaven.

The Lenten Fast should be forty days, not eight, of fasting, in terms of what exactly we can do. I gave a sermon a couple of weeks ago where I mentioned about the Honors class vs. the AP class, right? We should at least be in the Honor’s course here; we should at least do the forty days. It’s not just Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent where we fast and abstain. At the very least we should observe forty days in which although we may not abstain from flesh meat at every meal – that would be top notch. But even if you wanted to do that you should check with your spiritual director because your circumstances may require that you refrain out of holy obedience. The biggest thing is to become obedient, to not do our own will and sometimes we do more harm doing our own will, so we have to be careful about it. We should be subject to our superiors in such desires which may be very good. But the devil sometimes can use that as well.

At the very least we all can, unless there is some kind of health issue, fast for the forty days which means if we have meat it’s at the one main meal, the other two meals are smaller and they don’t add up to the one meal, like two snacks basically. This is a time of warfare, not a time of peace.

I am reminded of a great Croatian basketball player who played in the NBA, Dražen Petrović. I think he was Catholic; he was Crotian (I think he was Catholic vs. the Serbians who tend to be Orthodox). In this program where they detailed more of the distinctions or the division between those who were once brothers, who once played together, now were on opposite sides like Vlade Divac and all the Serbians and all the fallout that happened as a result of the war in Croatia and Serbia back in 1990/1991, the war for independence basically in Croatia. He said in an interview when asked why he could not still get along; why could he not still be brothers as they once were and play together basically. Petrović said very chillingly the way he said it – There is a war and I am Croatian. He said it very, very clearly, very distinctly to the point. And whatever one believes about that war there is a glimpse there of the supernatural that he said his country was more important than any friendship that he had. Well for us our faith must be more important than any other ties we may have. In other words, in this time we are called to do battle against our disordered inclinations against the things that wreak havoc on our soul. So whereas Christmas was more of a time of peace, this is the time for war, this is the time where we do battle, we show that we are Christian; there is a war and we are Christian. The eternal war is raging and we have to make a choice between one or the other. If we don’t make a choice we are choosing the devil. There is no such thing as not making a choice. We have to make a choice. Part of a choice is to commit at the very least to some kind of real penance that we are doing for the sake of recognizing that we are not in heaven yet, we are not Protestants. We are Catholic and we are called by our nature because of original sin. We cannot escape from this warfare. It is there whether we would have it or not.

Lent is also meant to help remove the stains and shadows from our otherwise radiant soul and that takes time. They are the toughest stains to remove because they adhere to the soul. Even if we have made a good confession if it is not a perfect contrition/confession, if there is only attrition at this point, then there are going to be some attachments that remain. If there is attachment to mortal sin then we know we are not actually forgiven then. We have to be detached from mortal sin but normally even after making a good confession there is some remnant of sin remaining, the effects of sin which is part of the reason why we are given the penance to do, to make restitution for those sins so that the stain may be removed. So in doing the penance we recognize at least that we have sinned and that we are trying to break with whatever it is that is the occasion for us. But that can be very difficult to do, especially if we are guilty of mortal sins in our lives. And it either will be purified here or in the next life.

One of the things which can help us acquire a greater resolution to overcome these things, to wash away these stains from the soul is to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and to remain in His presence. It’s like Moses in the Old Testament. He went into where the Shekinah or the presence of God was, where the Ark of the Covenant was and when he came out his face was radiant. We have in a way which is even greater than that, the Blessed Sacrament, the fruit of Our Lord’s sacrifice for us and it had not yet happened in the Old Testament.

We want to be careful, whatever we do, in the blink of an eye Lent will be over and we don’t want to be as Dom Gueranger who wrote the Liturgical Year said, to be as weighed down on Easter Sunday by our sins as we were on Ash Wednesday. So one and a half weeks of Lent is already over; we need to really take a very clear account right now what kind of progress we are making, what we’re doing, what we’re not doing and we are probably too attached to the world still. We might still be losing a lot of time focused on the things of the world. While we don’t judge the souls of the people of the world, in a way it’s like spending more time with the damned than the blessed, spending more time with those who are on the way to perdition rather than spending time with  the saints and with Our Lord and Our Lady. Who we spend time with shows really who we love. Now we may not love the people of the world but it shows that if we love ourselves maybe if we are spending too much time with the perverted culture rather than disciplining ourselves and making sure that we are not just saying our prayers but praying. There is a difference and doing the spiritual reading, making the efforts to be weaned from the world because God, as I may have said in the beginning of the sermon, gives the signs of the saints from those who are weaned from the world. If we are not, then we are basically trying to love both God and the world and then at the end of Lent we will really be no better. We will not have fulfilled the purpose; we will not have really waged warfare which is what this time is for.

So in conclusion, much of Lent then is about changing our dwelling place from the city of man to the City of God as St. Augustine would call it. And we look at last week as a contrast where Christ was dwelling and what the devil was offering and we make a choice of whom we are going to stand with, as I mentioned earlier, while we still have the time here.

Become more committed whatever it is you are actually doing and remember that by continuing to do the things we’ve committed to, we build virtue that way. Virtues are good habits so that whatever we gain in Lent is meant to remain in the soul after Lent and we grow in the rest of the year. This time is very important for us because maybe our virtues have become very weak, maybe we are not really again doing what we are supposed to do right now in forming those virtues and making little choices for the sake of God and for growing in sanctity. Our Lent could be a very good one, even if we are not fasting on bread and water all forty days.

Let us be encouraged to stay to fight the battle of the Lord and to receive Holy Communion with a renewed resolution to conquer ourselves and to conquer the world for Christ.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.