Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Semper Paratis…

Father John J. Lombardi

…Always prepared. I recently celebrated the wedding of a Coast Guard officer, and the limousine for his beautiful bride didn't show (yikes!). He was taught, though, as their Latin motto above indicates-to be prepared-always. Anyway, he and all his men and bridesmaids all worked together, and the bride eventually came in an SUV-just in time for the Marriage Feast and Holy Eucharist!

Are you always prepared-esp. for the Lord's return in Glory? St Bernard of Clairvaux teaches that there are "Three Comings of the Lord": The first was His birth (Christmas); the Second Coming is the End of Time, the Parousia, referred to in this Sunday's Gospel when He will Judge the Living and Dead. The "Middle Coming" of Jesus-the-Bridegroom is in each present moment-when we can greet, love and embrace Him. Are you ready for All Three Comings of the Lord?

People are prepared for all kinds of things-football on Sunday (the players get psyched, and animate the adrenalin; pep rallies are held); trick-or-treaters put on costumes (I asked my altar boy this past Sunday what he dressed as: he replied, as St Dominic-- he put on a robe, a rope-belt and a Rosary-and said he had kaki pants underneath. Didn't know they had kakis in the Eleventh Century!). And my friends the Bolger's prepared for a camping trip recently by packing food, water, soups, hot dogs and even a cold beer!

In this Sunday's Parable on the Presence of the Lord, Jesus uses the image of a Wedding Feast, describing wise Virgins who were prepared for the bridegroom's arrival (this is how Jews then actually held weddings and consummated marriages: with all the neuroses around weddings, limousines and bridal consultants these days, maybe we should go back to this!); but the foolish virgins were not ready. One of the worst sins these days is sloth-lukewarmness: "I-don't-care-ness."-whether about one's soul--some do not believe in this supernatural reality and substance as materialism is overtaking a myriad many), or about morality (illicit sex-education in public and private schools-a court in California just ruled parents do not have an exclusive right for their children's sex-education); or about charity towards others. The Parable also shows, via Jesus' Tough Love metaphor, that "You either have it or you don't"-Faith Hope and Love as the spiritual "oil" or burning, desirous lamps of the soul to meet Jesus. Also: you can't borrow oil or lamps from others: too late! Ergo/therefore: be always prepared!

In the Book of Wisdom, the First Reading shows us that we should seek this Gift-eternal truths applicable to temporal times-as a personal relationship, exemplified by "Lady Wisdom" in this instance-- i.e., we really need it, Wisdom,, because all kinds of people are trying to feed us tons of false truths ( i.e., you do not have a soul; you can kill children thru abortion; there is no Second Coming or Judgment of Hell; The Catholic Church is not Jesus' Church; piety and acts of devotion are not needed today; marriage is negotiable; homosexualism is a civil right; you don't have to pray or give alms to the poor, sick and dying; priests are no longer needed, and ditto for the Mass-as-Sacrifice and the family as two parents and, God-willing, children. My dad and I just read an excellent article by Catholic Joseph Califanao, past Secretary during Pres. Carter) who wrote that, after surveying a study of Columbia Univ. on Substance Abuse of 12 to 17 yr. olds, "America's drug problem is not one to be solved in courtrooms, legislative rooms or courtrooms or school rooms or by politicians or judges or teachers. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables and by parents and families." Amen: Ditto that for youth issues on sexuality and the Faith. Actually Mr. Califano says just that: families, Moms and Dads worship together on Sunday will help children keep clean-from harmful sexuality and drugs! Hey-today in the USA Wisdom is needed, i.e. Spiritual Common Sense-as my dad often says!

Here's some ways to Cultivate Wisdom for Expectation and Preparation….

Four Last Things: meditate on Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. It will help you-really. Some monks used to greet one another with the phrase: "Remember your death, O Brother." Humm, that'd go over well in school or the office, huh?! But, think about it-i.e., your death, and cultivate the expectation that you will die and therefore be always prepared-make preparation Now! Judgment-"the Final report Card"-- means we will be graded according to our Faith and Good Works. We will either go to Heaven (Eternal Bliss--God's Uncreated Mesmerizing Essence and The Mystical Communion continuously penetrating, beautifying and uplifting the soul, with each Eternal-Moment delivering more and more Love and Peace Spiritual Pleasure-obviously unlike this life's temporal, passing pleasures), or souls will enter Hell-which is, in "negative essence" everlasting separation form God. The Lord-as the One, the True, Good and Beautiful, and Union with Mary and All the Saints-should help us to prepare for Jesus' Return more, however: if a Countdown or Final Cut will help us, in a holy fear of Hell, so be it-Bottom Line: Got Jesus?

We just hiked up on Mary's Mountain to Indian Lookout in yesterday's Indian Summer beauty, and, after arriving, catching our breath, eating some nuts (organic foods preferred up there, you know) we prayed a decade of the Rosary. I asked if there were any special intentions. I was heartened: one lady form Texas asked for prayers for unbelievers and those who would soon die; another asked for families and birthday-priests (hmmm: moi!); and then a little non-Catholic lady, sitting amidst thirty other Catholics, said: "I pray that I can become a Catholic." This same soul said, earlier that she was going to RCIA-convert's class and was dropping out and disappointed-the class was one night spending a lot of time talking about tattoos. She went to another Catholic Church and then was getting fed-on Spiritual Doctrine and Truth.

In Sunday's Second Reading we hear about Jesus' and, hopefully, our own, Resurrection form the Dead: body and soul will finally be re-united in total precision and permeating Beatific permeation.

So, in this Month of All Souls let us pray that the Faithful Departed, esp. those in Purgatory-"The Final Purification," God's merciful Cleansing and Love-that we and they all meet in Heaven, s one Holy Family. Just recently I buried a little baby: I mean little. Turns out: mom and dad--faithful, devout Catholics, and wise, too-- had a miscarriage and knew that this baby of theirs (they eventually gave it a name) was an incarnate-spirit, body and soul, a real person, and that all which was left (this is rare, I found out, in miscarriages) was the tiny, fragile body. They said: "We want to burry our child with dignity." And so we did on Mary's Mountain after preparations with many holy helpers. Alternatively, we should remember that death-with-dignity means interring ashes appropriately. Last week I counseled, unsuccessfully, a family whose loved one died suddenly, to inter the ashes: our Catholic Church counsels this must be done in a cemetery and soon after death. Ashes should never be kept in one's home (even though there is, of course strong attachment) or spread over land or sea. As a matter of fact a priest can help and bless the place of interment, and then others can visit this place where the earthly body lies, to intercede, mourn and love. Otherwise there will be, even with many good intentions, many different situations of interment without proper spiritual-communal-- order.

Anyway, as we make expectation and preparation for the Lord, let's avoid the twin extremes of loose-laxity (He will not come, or soon) and inappropriate "apocalypse-now"-scenarios of chaos and illicit fear lurching-leery "left behind" falsities. Remember: He is a Lord of Love and we should long for Him! Semepr Paratis-always be prepared!...May Our Lady of the Lourdes and of the Mount help us to pray the aspiration of the Book of Revelation: "Maranatha!-Come, Lord Jesus." O, yes: in this sometimes Veil- of -Tears and beautiful-world, that's a good thing!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi