By Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Fascinating story, this one I read some time ago.
On one occasion, Madame Katharina Tangari, we shall call her Kathy, along with her friend Rosaria, visited a famous resort in Carovilli, Italy. In the resort was a large villa, surrounded by a magnificent garden. This was owned by a wealthy lawyer who was a freemason or someone who is an enemy of the Catholic church. People who came to visit the villa where not allowed to take any flowers. However, since Rosaria knew the lawyer, they were able to have coffee with him. They talked about the beautiful flowers in the garden, avoiding any mention of religion.
But at one point the lawyer said to them: “I’m already an old man. I don’t have many more years to live. The thought that I must leave this garden some day is quite bitter to me.” Then taking a deep breath the lawyer continued: “But I made a pact with the devil.”
“With the devil?” the two ladies exclaimed.
“Yes, my whole life I have served the devil well. After my death he must compensate me by allowing me, every so often, to return to my garden, to my flowers.”
“But sir, you don’t really want to go to hell?” the ladies protested.
“Yes, yes. The devil is my best friend,” the lawyer smiled.
“I can’t believe that, sir, I think your best friends are these beautiful flowers of yours.” But at that point the conversation ended, and they parted ways.
Later Kathy was thinking: “Poor lawyer he does not have Jesus in his life that’s why his life is upside down.”
Months later, Kathy thinking about Padre Pio, decided to visit him at San Giovanni Rotunda. She went to confession and later talked to him about the lawyer of Carovilli. On his part, Padre Pio promised to pray for the lawyer and instructed Kathy to write him immediately inviting him to take advantage of the coming Good Friday and Easter. The holy priest said this would be a good time for the lawyer to be reconciled with Christ.
The next day, Kathy wrote the lawyer, enclosing a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, not knowing that the lawyer was very ill. Then just after Easter that year, Kathy received a letter from him. Here’s a portion of it.
“My good Lady, I remember you and my friend Rosaria when you came to my place. Oh, I would not have imagined then that I would receive your letter, overflowing with goodness, which led me, by its call, to receive Jesus on the occasion of Holy Easter.
A similar appeal was often addressed to me by my loved ones, but I must tell you that your letter, which was quite penetrating with Christian spirit, carried great weight in my decision, and on Holy Thursday a friar of St. Francis, brought me Holy Communion and heard my confession.” End if story.
This reminds me of what Padre Pio said: “Don’t be discourage when you fall, but animate yourself with new confidence and a profound humility. Your becoming discouraged after the fall is the work of the enemy; it means you surrender to Satan and accept that you are beaten. You will not do this, because the grace of God is always vigilant in coming to your aid.”
Great advice. Clearly we can make the point that pure love, authentic love, never gives up. Because, as Padre Pio said, God’s grace is always vigilant in coming to our aid. I often refresh my weak and broken spirit with this principle when it seems that I am overwhelmed by the challenges of life and the evil one. I pray, I go to mass, I read the bible, and I awaken my spiritual eyes. It never fails. Love never fails. Love never gives up. That’s why I am a happy camper.
P R E V I O U S I S S U E S
Dcn Nemsy Gubatan
Holiness is a big word. Like a prism, there are many ways of expressing itself. However, our Catechism tells us: “... it is doing the will of the Father in everything for His glory – and in service of his neighbor. In some ways this is accomplished through spiritual progress through ever more intimate union with Christ.”
In addition, our Catechism tells us: “The way of perfection passes by way of the cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.” And St. Gregory of Nyssa adds: “He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.”
Yes, as believers, we desire holiness. For Mother Teresa of Calcutta this means doing everything for the love God. This also means for her, striving toward ever greater humility. To manifest holiness in a more reflective way she wrote this prayer:
Breath in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Guard me then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Now, this manifestations of holiness in thoughts, work, and genuine love, inevitably blossoms into inexplicable joy.
One time a beggar approached Mother Teresa and said: “Mother Teresa, everybody gives you things for the poor. I also want to give something. But today, I am only able to get ten pence. I want to give that to you.” The holy nun thought: “If I take it, he might have to go to bed without eating. If I don’t take it, I will hurt him.” So she took it. Mother Teresa was amazed at the tremendous joy expressed in the beggars face. She never forgot the incident. She later said: “This is the joy of loving.”
Is it possible then, that holiness is simply the joy of loving Jesus? Like a prism, there are myriads of ways, big and small, of loving the Son of God. Why do we miss so many opportunities? What robs us of this joy? Think about that.
Dcn Nemsy Gubatan
When I was in college, as most men do, I dreamed of getting married and raising a family. I dreamed of finding the right partner in life and living a fulfilling life. It was all in my head, but deep within me I believed that I would someday meet this special person. So without seeing, I believed that someday I would meet the love of my life. And it happened, I did meet the right person, got married, and raised a family.
An atheist is different. They usually do not believe in things they do not see. They have to be able to use all their senses to confirm the existence of a person, place, or thing. I once read a story and it went like this:
An atheist had a friendly conversation with a Christian believer. He said: “Prove to me the existence of God and I will become a Christian.”
The believer responded saying: “But you are a minority in this world, there’s not too many of you. Prove to me that there is no God, and I will be an atheist.”
The atheist was silent for a moment and then said: “I can’t.”
“Amazing,” the believer exclaimed. “You believe in something that you cannot prove! By your own criteria, then you will never know the truth. But for me, since I believe, in faith, that there is a God, then I will forever rejoice in this knowledge. And my benevolent and loving God will take me to His Kingdom where I can be happy forever. Unlike you, I have found the truth.”
For most of us, not only did we find the truth, but we have also found Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Like my believing that I will find a good wife, I also believe that I will meet the Lord and see Him face to face at some point in time.
As a mystic once said: “The virtues of faith, hope, and love are supernatural gifts that lead the soul to God.” And as Jesus said: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” That’s why we understand, that it is because of faith, that we exchange the present for the future. So smile, and be happy, you know the truth – Jesus if Lord. And the truth will set you free.
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Many times we try everything we can to make things happen. Sometimes we want it spontaneously, other times we give it some time. On our own, it is simply a trial and error basis, or a hit and miss process. Oftentimes, we have no basic framework to work with, we simply hope for the best to happen.
So consider this. To get things done we simply need to know that “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.” Whether it is an emergency or a long lingering problem, the mantra is; “Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.”
One time St. Columbanus a revered Irish monk was traveling alone in the forest. He was on his way to visit one his monasteries.
Suddenly, a pack of twelve wolves surrounded him ready to tear him to pieces. Calmly, and with confidence, he looked into the heavens and prayed: “Incline into my aid O God. O Lord make haste to help me.” Finishing his prayer, the pack of wolves fled.
Miraculous! Instant, spontaneous prayer answered without delay. Indeed, “Prayer moves the hands that moves the world.” Whether facing a Goliath or a pack of wolves, to know this simple principle by heart can make us rejoice in God’s goodness and mercy. Likewise, we can be happy as we place our trust in Him.
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Sr. Kalyani became my friend. She used to work for Mother Teresa in the adoption center of the Sisters of Charity in India. Now she is retired confined to a wheelchair challenged by paralyzed legs. Her relatives brought her to Florida. One day she told me this story.
When she was a postulant in Calcutta, she slept with five other nuns in a room. In the middle of the room was a big wall clock to help them to be on time for mass, adoration, and other activities. But one day it broke down, and they felt somewhat helpless. Who would keep time? They were not allowed to wear wrist watches. Fortunately, there was a small statue of St. Joseph in their room, and they decided to invoke his help; after all they had a devotion to the saint.
First they drew a picture of a wall clock on a piece of paper, and placed it under the statue with the words: “Please, we need this.” That night, they began their nine day novena to St. Joseph.
On the second day of their novena, there was a middle age woman who knocked on their door saying: “While I was praying, I was given the impression to give you this old clock of mine since I just bought a new one.”
Sr. Kalyani told me that the donated clock lasted for several years. Also that St. Joseph was a humble intercessor and provider for the nuns.
Wow! What childlike trust and confidence the nuns had in St. Joseph’s assistance. After all, as I often say: “Love is a miracle because it is always willing to do the impossible.”
Another true story. William Frey from Colorado volunteered to read for a student named John who was blind. One day he asked John, “How did you lose your sight?” He answered. “A chemical explosion, at the age of thirteen.” William continued, “How did that make you feel?”
John sighed and said, “Life was over for me. I felt helpless. I hated God. For the first six months I did nothing to improve my lot in life. I would eat all my meals alone in my room. One day my father entered my room and said, ‘John, winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up, and that’s your job. I want those hung by the time I get back.’
“Then my dad walked out of the room and closed the door. I got angry, I thought, ‘Who does he think I am, I’m blind.’
“But I was so angry, I decided to do it. I felt my way to the garage, found the windows, located the necessary tools, found the ladder, all the while muttering under my breath, ‘I’ll show him. I’ll fall, then he’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!’
“So I got the windows up,” John continued. “But I found out later that never at any moment was my father more than four feet away from my side. He was always there. And that’s when I discovered, I could do something better with my life, than mope in my room all day. So now here I am in college.”
“He was always there,” John concluded about his earthly father. But so it is with God our Father, who is in heaven. We may not see Him, but He is always there for us. Thanks to Jesus who made sure we know this by heart, that we have a loving Father in heaven.
In Matthew 11:27 Jesus tells His disciples, “My Father has given me all things. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and to those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Pay attention to what Jesus is challenging us. He alone, by choice, can reveal the Father to us, and He is giving us this opportunity to know the Father; but we must ask Jesus.
We understand that to know Jesus in a personal way makes us happy; would we not be even happier if we also know the Father better? So if we dare, let us ask the Son of God, in some humble way, to reveal the Father to us. I believe that Jesus wants us to come closer to the Father too. Why? Because it will make us happy. As we pray, “Abba, Dad, Father, I love you,” there will be a new ring of joy to our prayer. Jesus’ revelations of the Father will make this happen. Why? Because pure love of God is life, and pure love is joy.
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
This is a true story. In August 18, 1996 in Buenos Aires, Fr. Pezet was told by his sacristan about a discarded consecrated host (dispensed at Holy Communion) left in a candleholder. Following protocol, he placed the host in a small water container to allow it to dissolve and then placed it inside the tabernacle.
A week later he checked the host, but it did not dissolve. Instead it turned into a bloody fragment of flesh. He then informed Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, who told him to have a professional photographer take picture of the fragment. For several years the host or bloody fragment remained in the tabernacle under strict secrecy. Subsequently, the Cardinal decided to have the fragment scientifically analyzed.
In October 5, 1999, Dr. Castanon, under the direction of the Cardinal, took a sample of the bloody fragment to New York for scientific analysis. He did not tell Dr. Zugiba, the analyst, who was also a cardiologist, where the fragment came from.
After extensive testing, Dr. Zugiba has determined that the bloody host was “a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves.” He also disclosed that “the heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the fragment was taken since the white blood cells die outside a living organism. The white blood cells require a living organism to sustain them. Therefore the presence of white blood cells indicate that the heart was alive when the sample fragment was taken.”
Dr. Zugiba continued by saying: “What is noteworthy is that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the person had been severely beaten about the chest.”
Later Dr. Castanon, the one who brought in the sample fragment, informed Dr. Zugiba that the analyzed sample fragment came from a consecrated host which is a white unleavened bread.
Dr. Zugiba was in disbelief saying: “How and why a consecrated host would change its character and become a living human flesh and blood will remain an inexplicable mystery to science.”
Yes, a mystery to science but not to believers. This Eucharistic miracle simply attest to our belief of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Our eyes of faith can see Jesus in the Eucharist even without the miracle. We know that the Eucharistic Jesus wants to live in us. He wants to be close to us. So when we pray, we don’t have to shout. We can simply whisper. As I keep saying with great pride and joy:
“Jesus, the One you love lives in you.”
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Mother Teresa, sometimes referred to as “the angel of the slums” by the people of Calcutta, India, was truly a symbol of God’s mercy. Dying old people abandoned in the streets of Calcutta was a common sight. No one paid attention to them since they were relegated as human trash. But not for Mother Teresa and her nuns who would pick them up and care for them in a place called Kalighat, or home for the dying. As God prospered her humble work, many young women from other countries joined her congregation known as the Missionaries of Charity.
One day a new member of the congregation, or a novice, from another country, was assigned to work at the Kalighat. Before she left, Mother Teresa told her: “You saw Father during Holy Mass and with what love and care he touched Jesus in the Host. Do the same when you go to the Home for the Dying because it is the same Jesus you will find there in the broken bodies of our poor.”
At the end of the day, the novice came back to the Mother House with a big smile in her face saying to Mother Teresa: “Mother, I have been touching the body of Christ for three hours!” Mother Teresa inquired: “How?” The excited novice replied: “When we arrived there, they brought a man who had fallen into a drain and was there for some time. He was covered with wounds and dirt and maggots, and I cleaned him, and I knew I was touching the body of Christ.” Mother Teresa smiled and commended her for her work.
A religious peak experience for the novice? A personal encounter with the Son of God for her? To those who know and had a similar exposure, it speaks volumes. But the spiritual eyes must be opened for this to happen. The heart must be accepting and the truth embedded in it. To touch Jesus is to be filled with happiness and joy. And Jesus is available to all who care to touch Him among the poorest of the poor.
"A simple judge of my character is how I treat a person who can do absolutely nothing for me." - Anonymous
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Kim Carpenter, a baseball coach, fell in love with Krickett, a lovely gymnast. Theirs was an enchanted affair which ended up in an elegant wedding. Life was good.
However, a terrible car accident would change their lives forever. Krickett, the once lovely bride, ended up in the hospital, and later went into a coma. After four months, she woke up from a coma, only to discover that she had lost her memory of the past. She did not recognize her husband, nor felt any affection for him. He was like a complete stranger to her. Their marriage was on hold.
Fortunately, their parents reminded them of their marriage vows – to be faithful to each other in sickness or in health; in good times and in bad. Being committed Christians, they decided to work things out.
To make things feel right, Kim began the long process of courting and wooing Krickett all over again. They started dating and being together like best friends. In the end, and with patience, Kim won Krickett’s heart. Life was good again.
Three years after the accident, Krickett married Kim a second time to the delight of her parents and friends. Today they have two children, Danny and LeeAnn. In the end, everything worked out, because true love stories never have ending.
In a similar way, God’s covenant with his people, you and I, are irrevocable. His promise of fidelity is timeless. To put it in the simplest form, God is saying to us: “I will love you to no end. I will never turn my back on you.” Knowing this loving promise is to experience great joy. The Lord will woo us back again, no matter what it takes. This knowledge is happiness beyond measure. And our challenge each day is simply to be faithful to Jesus to the end.
"Life has no meaning without relationship. That's why God hardwired us to find someone to love for eternity. Him." - Bro. Nemsy
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
He was kind of short, 5 feet 6 inches tall, but Napoleon Bonaparte managed to become the Emperor of France in 1804. Today, when someone is embarrassed for being short, they use the excuse that they have a “Napoleon complex”. Altogether though, Napoleon was known for his military genius in the battlefield and his many victories brought him fame throughout Europe.
One day, his generals were discussing the many battles they have won and how Napoleon’s strategy lead them to triumph. So one general asked the Emperor which was the happiest day of his life – thinking he would mention his victory in Lodi, or in Lombardy, or in Austerlitz which made him the master of Europe.
Napoleon carefully pondered the question then replied: “Ah, the happiest day of my life? That was the day of my first holy communion. I was near God then.”
Unexpected. Beyond the radar. Perhaps even childish. The generals must have been stupefied by the response. But the Emperor spoke the truth. One of his peak religious experience was receiving the Son of God in Holy Communion.
Wow! That makes me proud and jubilant for being a Catholic. I have access to this unbelievable and unforgettable happiness in partaking of the Eucharist. Simply put, Eucharist equals interior happiness.
The more we receive Jesus in Holy Communion the happier we become.
“One thing alone sustains me, and that is Holy Communion; Jesus concealed in the host is everything to me. From the tabernacle I draw strength, power, courage, and light. Here, I seek consolation in time of anguish. I would not know how to give glory to God if I did not have the Eucharist in my heart.” – St. Faustina Kowalska
Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
He was known as the man with the “Golden Mouth”, i.e., St. John Chrysostom because of his eloquent and masterful preaching. Consecrated as Archbishop of Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) in A.D. 397, he reformed his priests by instructing them to spend time with the poor and the homeless. With his natural zeal and eloquence he successfully converted many sinners including heretics.
Unfortunately Emperor Arcadius, the ruler at the time, was told a string lies about Chrysostom which resulted in his persecution and exile. So the Emperor consulted with his advisors for the best method to punish Chrysostom.
“Confiscate his property!” said one.
“Whom will that harm?” the Emperor asked. “Not Chrysostom, but only the poor to whom he gives all he has.”
“Cast him to prison,” said a second advisor.
“What would be the use, he would only glory in his chains,” the Emperor retorted.
“Well then, kill him,” said another.
“How would that help? It would only open the gates of heaven to him,” the Emperor exclaimed.
Finally, one wiser than the rest proposed: “There is only one thing in the world that Chrysostom fears. He is afraid to sin. We must make him sin.”
Well, you know the rest of the story. They could not make Chrysostom commit sin, so they simply exiled him to a far and remote place. Unfortunately, on his way to this distant place of exile, since he was already old, he fell ill and went home to God.
Extraordinary! The saint dreaded sin more than death itself. Today, the word “sin” is not even mentioned in newspapers, magazines, or the media. And yet it is real as tea and coffee. It is so real that the consequence of sin is felt almost instantly. Yes, people can hide it, push it away, or ignore it. Nonetheless, it catches up with the sinner, unless the mercy of the Son of God is invoked. And when repentance, followed by God’s mercy is received, then peace and happiness is restored.
"If love is not ingenious, then it is not love at all." - Nemsy
by Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Boris was a young idealistic Russian conscientious objector. After reading the New Testament and absorbing its true meaning, he began to question the ideals of the Bolshevik maxims. Soon his disturbing messages to the Russian elite got him into trouble.
He was brought before the magistrate to explain his thinking and behavior. With firmness and conviction, he tried to convince the judge of the beauty of loving one’s enemies, or overcoming evil with good, and bringing about peace and not war.
The judge understood Boris’ argument and said: “Yes, I get your point, but you must be realistic. These ideals you are talking about are the laws of the kingdom of God; and it has not come yet.”
After a moment of silence, Boris spoke up with conviction and fervor saying: “Sir, I recognize that it has not yet come for you, nor for Russia, but the kingdom of God has come for me! I cannot go on hating and killing as though it had not come.”
The judge was taken by surprise at the response. Clearly this statement has upended the judge’s premise. The battle for the pre-eminence of the kingdom of God has challenged the reality of the judge’s world.
On a deeper level, Origen, an early church father tells us: “According to our Lord and Savior, the kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, ‘Look it is here!’ or ‘There it is; because the kingdom of God is within us. The word is very near us; it is on our lips and in our hearts.”
Absolutely true, the kingdom of God is within us. It is the kingdom of the Son of God. It is the kingdom of goodness, beauty, and truth.
"Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but in and desiring nothing but God ... such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth." - John Wesley
by Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, known today as Pope Francis, was a lover of the poor and an ambassador of God’s mercy. He was also known for his humility and simplicity. Nonetheless, as a young boy of twelve, his heart was pulled in a different direction by young girl, his best friend. Amalia Damonte was her name, and the young Jorge had a crush on her.
With good intentions, Jorge sent her a letter with a picture of a house, indicating that this would be their domicile when they get married. Unfortunately, the letter was discovered by Amalia’s parents. Considering their young age, the parents were amused, and displeased with Jorge’s proposal. Subsequently, a strong disapproval followed.
The next day the two friends met. With childlike simplicity, Amalia sadly narrated the episode with her parents. Jorge was silent, then with measured firmness said, “If you can’t marry me, then I’ll become a priest.”
Was this the hand of God? Was Jorge being groomed for something bigger? At that time we would not know. But today we can confidently say – “Yes.”
“Each one has a mission to fulfill, a mission to love.” - Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The Flower of the Ghettos
by Dcn. Nemsy Gubatan
Mother Teresa, often referred to as the “living saint of Calcutta” who opened the first hospice for the dying was known to be sensitive to the various religious persuasion of those they cared for. So, respecting their personal beliefs, the sisters would read the Quran to the Muslims, give the Hindus water from the Ganges (considered holy), and for Catholics they would invite a priest to administer the last rites. Their goal was to have each one of them experience a “beautiful death”; although they may have lived like animals on the streets, hopefully they would die like angels ... loved and wanted by the sisters.
One time Mother Teresa, alongside a visitor, pointed to the rows of patients resting in pallets or stretchers saying to the visitor:
“Our work calls for us to see Jesus in everyone. He has told us that He is the hungry one. He is the naked one. He is the thirsty one. He is the one without a home. He is the one who is suffering. These are our treasures. They are Jesus. Each one is Jesus in His distressing disguise; Jesus in His distressing disguise”
Mother Teresa has her spiritual eyes wide, wide open. If we can even approach this deep vision of charity, we can be happy.
"In the ancient recipe, the three antidotes for dullness or boredom are sleep, drink, and travel. It is rather feeble. From sleep you wake up, from drink you become sober, and from travel you come home again. And then where are you? No, the two sovereign remedies for dullness are love or a crusade." - D. H. Lawrence