Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christ Dwells Among US: Rocco De Leo

Nothing too fancy today. The pastor at my church [St Anthony Catholic Church in San Jacinto, Ca,) Father Art loves to tell stories. One story during the Christmas Vigil homily really resonated with me, so I want to share it with you...tell me what you think:

A rather rambunctious teenage boy (young man about 17) is a decent kid. He does have a tendency to stay out late, sometimes coming home drunk. His parents finally decided to lay down the law. "You need to come home earlier-stop staying out late every night". They told him "the next time you come home after midnight, the door will be locked, and you will have to sleep in the cold, creaky garage". A few weeks went by without any trouble. About a month later, the young man arrived home after a night of partying around 1:30 am...front door locked...back door locked...side door...yes...locked...He realized that his time had come, and he was going to have to face the fact that this night was going to be spent in the cold garage. He found himself a little corner to curl up into. He was asleep about an hour when he was awaken by a noise. He looked up to see a shadow above him. It was his father! He had two pillows and two blankets. "Son", he said, " now the rule was that you would be punished by having to sleep in the cold garage, but nothing was said stopping me from sleeping out here with you." Father and son shared the blankets and pillows until the morning.

God, the father, through Jesus Christ, came with "pillows and blankets" to get us-his children- through the night. He doesn't just open the door and say "come on in"- he suffers with us. Why not just let us/him in for the night? Any parents out there can answer that one pretty easily. God loves us so, he suffers with us to open up the opportunity for repentance, salvation, and his love (love is never lost- no matter our choice). God did much more than sleep in a garage---While this is a joyful time of hope, and new birth-being the Christmas season--his suffering came to fullness on Good Friday--on the cross!
God Bless-

Monday, November 26, 2007

Charlie Brown Christmas: Rocco De Leo

As we decorate, shop, carol, and all that good stuff, let us not forget that Jesus is the REASON FOR THE SEASON. People will say, with good intentions and all, that Christmas is about family, relaxation, etc...but not is about the birth of our Saviour and our Lord Jesus Christ. Without that, nothing matters. Watch this video with "faith like a child". Remember the days that Jesus would be mentioned on a broadcast channel in a positive light. I'm not even sure this would pass muster these out, the ACLU is going to blackball the Charlie Brown Christmas. Good tiddings and have a Blessed Holiday (CHRISTMAS) Season!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Patrick Henry Hughes - Inspirational Story: Rocco De Leo

Take a look at the You Tube video attached. We see two wonderful examples of the human spirit lifted by the power of Christ. This 6 + minute video does not even mention the word "Christ" or "Church", and I don't even know if Patrick and his dad are Christians, but I see Christ all over this story. Patrick was born without eyes and crippled. He was given a gift of music at a very early age and plays in the marching band at his University. That alone is a miracle. The story gets much better as a story of self sacrafice and the love of of father for his child. Remember that God the Father "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." This was, of course, the epitome of self sacrafice. Patrick's father attends class with him, all band practices and performances (as he is his legs and eyes). To do this, he must work graveyard shift at UPS. The man his probably exhausted beyond anything most of us will ever know---but he maintains a constant smile and the love he has for his son radiates throughout this video. Learning about the Catholic faith is very important--but learning how to LIVE that faith is even more important. God Bless.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Welcome Back: Confession

It has been nearly a year since I posted on this site, but I am back! Just like that, isn't it great. What is even greater, is the majesty of the Catholic Church. The ability to simply confess to a priest (with true contrition) and be welcomed back into the fullness of God's church. Try to find any other relationship for which you can simply say "sorry" and all is forgiven. You won't find it. Jesus, through his Church, is always waiting with arms open, for you to come home. Think of the prodigal son---what an image! We all slip, we are human, we are sinners, but only through the Catholic Church and the Sacrament of Confession are you brought back into the full grace of God. Wow! Take a look at this video, the great folks at SQPN ( have put together some great (and entertaining) short films about Catholic subjects. Also, I want you to confession...your FATHER is waiting...God Bless!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Assumption of Mary

As I grow in my faith, I can’t help but grow in my deep love and admiration of Mary, the Mother of God. There is no doubt or argument among any of the mainstream Christian religions that Mary is the Mother of God. There is also no argument that she was a virgin (at least at the time of the conception and birth of Jesus). We, as Catholics, believe that she remained a virgin throughout her life. A further discussion on her perpetual virginity is for another day. Since Mary, of her own free will, accepted the gift (and great burden) of conceiving Jesus, she sacrificed a “normal” life of the time. The Nativity narratives we all read from Luke around Christmas time point to just the beginning of her sorrow. Her sorrow, of course, reaches it’s climax at the foot of the cross 33 years later on Good Friday. How can we not have a deep love for this woman? She was totally human, not divine and without any merit aside from that given by God (We don’t worship her!). While she was rather astute in Jewish beliefs, and had an understanding of the importance of the coming messiah, she could not truly understand what she was in for, but her great love for God brought her to her “fiat”…her yes…and the rest is history…eternity…The question today, is how can we properly explain the “Assumption of Mary” to our separated brethren. This, of course, is the belief that she was taken “body and soul” into heaven. Let’s take a gander:
To approach most “Bible Loving” Protestants (I am a Catholic “Bible Lover”), we must remember that the ONLY authority most of them believe in is the Bible itself. The doctrine of Sola Scritpura eliminates any other authority other than the bible. The best way to present a Catholic argument to Protestants then, is from a biblical referential point of view. I will attempt to do that. Another way to present an argument is with reason and logic.
Our first point to make from a biblical sense is that not everything that happened was put into print. Remember, Jesus did not known write a single word. The scriptures are recounts and instructions for his Church. Jesus preached his Gospel. Many things were common knowledge of the day, and did not need to be written. Jason Everet of Catholic Answers (link attached)
points to a few biblical references:
Paul advised Timothy to take as his norm the sound words that Paul spoke to him (1 Tim. 1:13). Timothy knew that even if a particular teaching was not written down, Christians were still expected to abide by it (2 Thess. 2:15) and to defer to the authority of Church leaders (Heb. 13:17). The only way a person could know what these unwritten binding traditions were was to keep their ear to the mouth of the Church. If the Church were merely a collection of saved individuals-none with any real authority over the others-then Scripture would not tout her as the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15) whom we must listen to or be cut off (Matt: 18:17).
Jason Everet, who is a well respected Catholic scholar and author, is not so much arguing the assumption as he is arguing for the authority of the church. Another “amazing” source for teaching on the authority is John Martignoini’s free MP3 download “One Church” at To properly discuss the assumption, the point of strength truly comes from understanding and truly believing in the authority of the Catholic Church and the Pope. This, of course, can be a challenge to explain to protestants.
Mathew 18: 15-20 is a great foundation to begin the discussion of authority:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses’. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”---this is a direct giving of authority upon the church.

There are, however, a few implicit references in the bible to the assumption. Both Enoch and Elijah are assumed into heaven (Heb. 11: 5; 2 Kings 2:11). We see bodies of “saints” raised after Jesus death:
…tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many (Mat 27: 52-53). St. Paul tells us “…if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him”(Romans 8:17). We all are promised this if we “suffer” for Christ. By taking Mary, body and soul, he granted her this gift sooner, rather than later, in a unique way.
The book of Revelation reads:
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple” (Rev. 11:19). “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;…she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12: 1,5).

Everet’s article quotes St. Robert Bellarmine, “ Who could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, crumbled into dust? I shudder at the very thought that the virginal flesh of which God was conceived and born, which nourished him and carried him should have turned to ashes or been given as food to worms.”
It is time to move toward logic, truth, and history. The idea of resurrecting the body is a big part of Catholic “End Time” theology. This is not exclusive to Catholicism. Many of the more “historical” protestant churches pray the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. “…I believe in…the resurrection of the body and life everlasting” or We believe…the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting” (or similar verbage). What is this saying? We will all be resurrected; to join our body and souls in perfect union for eternity. We, of course, will spend that eternity in heaven or hell. Most Protestants agree in one way or another that we will be in heaven in some form. Why, then, is it so difficult to believe that Mary, chosen from all eternity to bare the Baby Jesus, to endure unimaginable sorrow, is was not given a “perfect ticket” to heaven. Martin Luther believed in the assumption 400 + years before Pope Pius XII proclaimed (1950 Munificentissisimus Deus) it as doctrine. As stated earlier, there is no dispute that Enoch and Elijiah were assumed into heaven, why then could Mary not have been assumed into heaven. Logic, coupled with history will tell us a story as well. No one has claimed to have the body of Mary. People have the head of John the Baptist, the body of Saint Nicholas; why then has no one claimed the body of Mary? Could it be that she never really died…at least the way we normally define death. Wouldn’t the body of Mary, or any relic thereof be a well sought after treasure?
As with many faith issues, we must remember the words of Christ, “ whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Luke 18: 17). Not everything is understood fully at an “intellectual level”. When we surrender ourselves to the love of God and the wisdom of His church, we find the security and happiness of a child in the arms of his/her mother.