For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fr. Brankin's Homily--- Feast Day Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

[Ramblings - Fr. Brankin

How pleased and proud I was this week to celebrate this wonderful Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since I was a child—of Irish and Italian parents—born on the South side of Chicago-- I and my brothers and my sister and all our friends—every year—thrilled to hear of the marvels of this Feast Day.

We were amazed at the story—at the miracles—at the love shown by Our Lord and Our Lady first to Juan Diego and to the Mexican people and then to us—her children in the rest of America.

Yes, we heard those stories in school and in church. We thrilled to hear of the Aztec Juan Diego,
humble, poor, full of love and faith—making his 14 mile trip to church—to receive God’s Body and Blood at Mass.

We heard how he was stopped in his tracks—transfixed by a flood of light and color from which a
beautiful Princess from heaven emerged.

She told Juan Diego that she was the ever-virgin Mother of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ—that she wished to reveal the True God to the people—because she was their true mother—and the mother of all.

Our hearts melted when we heard her say that. She was just like a mother-- she would hear her children’s crying and know their sadness and relieve all their sufferings and miseries and misfortunes.

And all our lives—we little Irish—Italian children—and Polish and Bohemian and German and whatever---have thrilled to hear this story—because we have known all our lives that she is our mother too, and we all rest in the crossing of her arms and in the folds of her mantle and we all need – desperately--the protection of our heavenly mother.

And why?

Because the Ancient Serpent whose head the Virgin Mary crushes— is still loose in the world. And every generation of every nation is in danger from him at every moment. How carefully we must place our feet lest we step wrong and be bit by this Ancient enemy. And he has grown so much more subtle and deadly and poisonous in our modern era.

He comes to us not as he is—an evil snake—but he comes to us as our friend and our helper; and even though we know there is only one Messiah—he tells us that he is one who will save us.

But he is the Father of Lies—and he tempts us just as he tempted Adam and Eve and hissed in their ears:

“You don’t need God. All you need is yourselves. You can do whatever you want. You can take what you want—because you shall be as gods.”

We don’t even notice it, but he slithers into our homes and begins to live right there in our families. He talks to us every day and every night. He teaches us all we need to know to become just like him; and he does so through the television and radio, in the movies we watch and in the newspapers we read.

You know, he is the one who made those movies and he is the one who has written those newspapers. He sings to the children all the songs they know—the ones they won’t sing for you. He sits behind each laptop and keyboard and helps us type out all the pornography we can use to scar our brains.

He crawls into our minds and hearts and gives us ideas we never had before—to make us do things we never did before. He gives us visions of evil and dreams of death that make us sick and sour. His poison seeps through our veins and into the very lifeblood of our families.

It is the Ancient Serpent who creates all the discord and unhappiness in our modern families. He is the one who has littered our world with so many broken hearts. He is the one who has flooded this world and our lives with so many tears.

He laughs at the notion of family—father and mother and children all in sweet accord. He embarrasses us when we try to turn things around and change things in our homes-- like turning off the tv and eating together.

He makes us doubt ourselves and wonder if family really is a relic of the past.

And then the venom begins to paralyze us—and we begin to feel that we do not have to take care of each other—that we may ignore our grandparents, abuse our children, kill our babies and move on to the next adulterous affair.

We begin to believe the Ancient Serpent’s lies--that this modern life will fulfill us and make us happy.

But in our hearts we know that is a lie—because we know that living with no God—no love—no faithfulness—no sacrifice is the cause of all the sadness and anger and fighting we now see in our own homes. Who these days is untouched by Satan? What modern mothers and fathers and children are immune to the bitterness and resentment he has spread?

Our only hope against the Serpent’s venom of sin and suffering is to flee to the arms of our Mother. Because only Mary and Jesus can crush the head of the Serpent—as it was foretold in the Bible-- to save our families.

One of the other marvelous miracles that took place in connection with the tilma was the time when some anti-god anti- catholic political revolutionaries exploded a bomb in the sanctuary of the basilica. They were going to kill God and Mary His mother.

How stupid! The whole sanctuary was destroyed—all the marble and stone and plaster came crashing down-- but the beautiful Image of the beautiful virgin remained untouched.

That miraculous Image will never be destroyed because God cannot be destroyed. Therefore, when that Image—when that Virgin— is safely within our hearts as in a temple not built by human hands, but by God Himself, then Mary shines forth in the things we do and the things we say.

She and Jesus will live in our homes and in our families and cause all the joy and happiness we can stand. When the Image of Mary is deep within, it shows itself in our hands—on our faces —in our hearts.

And when that Image is imprinted on our hearts—not just on a wall in a building— then we cannot be harmed; for we go out into this world and confront the Ancient Serpent not alone, but protected by Jesus and Mary His Mother—who know exactly where he is and where he has always been. And what’s more, no one will have to go to Mexico City to see the beauty of the Virgin Mary—they will see her image in our faces and in our lives and in our homes. They will see in us—the Virgin of Guadalupe.]

We at St. Blogustine love Father Brankin and his homilies, and will post them from time to time. You can see him every Sunday at Mass at St. Odilo Parish (National Shrine Of The Poor Souls) in Berwyn, IL.