taken from the letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians
Brethren: I pray you not to be disheartened at my tribulations for you, for they are your glory. For this reason I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth receives its name, that He may grant you from His glorious riches to be strengthened with power through His Spirit unto the progress of the inner man; and to have Christ dwelling through faith in your hearts: so that, being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, in order that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God. Now, to Him Who is able to accomplish all things in a measure far beyond what we ask or conceive, in keeping with the power that is at work in us – to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus down through all the ages of time without end. Amen.
Continuation ✠ of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
At that time, when Jesus entered the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to take food, they watched Him. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had the dropsy. And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath? But they remained silent. And He took and healed him and let him go. Then addressing them, He said, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fall into a pit, and will not immediately draw him up on the Sabbath? And they could give Him no answer to these things. But He also spoke a parable to those invited, observing how they were choosing the first places at table, and He said to them, When you are invited to a wedding feast, do not recline in the first place, lest perhaps one more distinguished than you have been invited by him, and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Make room for this man’; and then you begin with shame to take the last place. But when you are invited go and recline in the last place; that when he who invited you comes in, he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher!’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who are at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.
Homily by Fr. Carlos Zepeda
Sermon for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost.
My dear friends, The Apostle St. Paul tells us today, that those who adore God, must adore Him in Spirit.
What he means to say by this, is that it does not suffice for the children of God to do only the external acts of worship, as the Jews used to do.
We are made of body and soul, and therefore we must honor and adore and worship Our Creator, with both our physical being, and our spiritual being.
This is actually quite applicable to us, who as we attend the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, should be concerned not just with being there physically, but also in spirit and with our minds.
And so my dear friends, I would like to talk to you today about a very practical topic. I would like to tell you one of many ways, in which you may strive to keep your heart attentive during Mass.
As a matter of fact, I believe that many might struggle sometimes to keep attentive during Mass. It might happen that we are respectful and silent, but our heart is either idle, or somewhere out in the world, thinking of something else.
And before we realize, the bells bring us back to the Church, when we were perhaps some miles away with our minds, and we barely struggle to pay attention to the consecration, and to receive with some devotion our Lord.
This is not a complaint or a criticism. We all suffer of the same maladies, because we are all human. I am sure many of you perhaps don’t even get that distracted during Mass. But even if you do, it is in our nature, to get distracted as we pray. However, we probably could avoid many of the distractions, if we acted in the right way.
We probably ask ourselves: Why is it that I cannot profit as much as I would like from the Mass? Why do I get so distracted?
And someone might think, “Is the Latin” or “is the weather” or any other reason. But no, the reason why we get so distracted, is that we are not in the habit of praying. We don’t know how to pray.
And so, my dear friends, if we wish to pay attention to Mass, if we wish to profit as much as we can, we must learn to pray well.
How do we learn to pray? Well, the answer to this is actually very simple. You learn and excel in praying, the same way you learn and excel in anything else. By practice. By daily practice.
If we pay attention every day to pray carefully, at least our basic prayers, with attention and devotion, meaning what we say, not just repeating words but actually striving to connect with God, and if, as I said, we do this on a daily basis, soon enough we will acquire the habit of praying.
So, look at your praying at home, as an exercise, a spiritual workout if you will, to be able to pray each time better and better, get more results, and specially be able to get more from the Mass.
In order to help you out with this, I would like to speak also about one of many forms in which you can pray, and that is the prayer of petition, or supplication.
This is, perhaps, our must basic form of prayer, because we cannot live without it. We have to ask God for help, and for many things.
Well, if you want to be attentive during Mass, here is a way you can exercise your prayer of petition.
If you pay attention to the prayers in your Missal, you will see that the Mass is divided in many different parts. Whether you have a Missal or not, try to identify this different parts, so that your prayer may align with the prayers of the Priest, and so:
When the Priest comes in for Mass, make in your heart an act of contrition, as the Confiteor is recited, take your time to ask for forgiveness perhaps for some particular sins of your past life.
After the Epistle, the Gospel and the sermon, which require our attention, comes another section in the Mass, the Offertory. And in this section, Offer to God this Mass, for all the people in heaven that you love, bring to mind the Saints of your devotion, and particularly offer the Mass in reparation to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
After the Sanctus, will be the time you can use, to pray for all the living, which are in your intentions. And here, take your time to name them, to ask to God for their particular needs and problems. Don’t fear to take your time, because the more that we take care to pray for someone, the more our prayers merit to be answered by God. Don’t be afraid of repeating the same petition, and the same prayer for the same person perhaps, because again, sometimes God wants to see if we really do trust in Him, and care for our petition.
At this same time, while you pray for your loved ones, the Priest also prays for the living, and for your intentions, and what is called the “memento of the living” which is to say the “remembrance” of the living.
The Consecration comes, which again, demands our full attention. And after the consecration comes what is called, the “memento of the dead” which is to say, that is the time that we can use, to pray for all those who have died, and who are in our intentions.
Pray for them until you hear the Priest say: “Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus”. When He says that He prays for himself, that he may be allowed to go to Heaven as well, in the company of all the saints. So when you hear those words, take that time also, to pray for yourself.
And after these prayers of supplication, use the rest of the time to try to prepare your soul for communion, and after receiving, use the time to do thanksgiving for the grace of the most Holy Sacrament.
And you see my friends, in this way, without a Missal, without much need of science or knowledge, you may spend the time of the Mass in most useful prayer, and go to every Mass filled with purpose.
You will also be better disposed to receive the Blessed Sacrament.
If you can’t remember the divisions of the Mass we explained here, this sermon as always will be recorded and available online. But before we go, let us remember how we can split our intentions for prayer during Mass:
1.-At the beginning, confess our sins to God and ask for forgiveness.
2.-After the Sermon, Offer the Mass to Our Blessed Lord, O.B.M., and your patron Saints.
3.-After the Sanctus, pray for the living.
4.-After the Consecration, pray for the dead.
5. – At the Nobis Quoque peccatoribus pray for yourself.
6. – And then, use the rest of the Mass to prepare and give thanks for Holy Communion.
A communist writer in Mexico once said: “Catholic confuse me. They say that God is Omnipotent, and yet, they pray to Him as if he had nothing to give”. Don’t let that apply to you, pray to Our Lord, in prayer of supplication, for many, many spiritual things. Grow into the habit of praying, so that coming to Mass becomes a second nature.
And what’s more important, spend some time with your children, each one in particular, teaching them to talk to God in their heart, and connect with God in a habitual manner. Teach them what they should ask for, so that for them also, coming to Mass becomes a profitable and edifying experience.