To Whom Shall We Go?

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls on Sunday, August 26, 2018.
Jesus had said over and over again: I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…these words were truly difficult and incomprehensible to accept, because they were understood in a purely literal sense. These words foretold the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, His Death and Resurrection, in which He was to sacrifice Himself for humanity’s salvation.
Seeing that hoards of people were deserting Him, Jesus turned to His disciples asking them, Will you also leave me? Why does Jesus ask this question? Because He sought for them to acknowledge within their hearts if indeed they still believe or like the rest, might they choose to leave.
Peter answered on behalf of the Twelve, Lord, to whom should we go? We might ask ourselves, to whom should we go if no longer to Jesus Christ? We believe in order to know, but we are unable to either know or believe, unless we are in communion with the Lord and Savior. 
Though Peter spoke for the Twelve, there was one among them who had ceased to believe. Judas, like the others could have simply gone away; indeed if he were an honest man, he would have been bound to leave like the others. Instead, he stayed, continuing to accompany Jesus, but no longer out of faith, no longer as a believer, no longer as a disciple of love, but rather, harboring the secret intention of betrayal and desertion.
What brought Judas to such darkness? Judas felt that Jesus had let him down. He was not the kind of Messiah that Judas had expected and desired. So the problem for Judas was that he did not go away. His great sin was not denial or desertion. The great sin of Judas was to linger in deceitfulness, to pretend that he was loyal and faithful.
For this reason Jesus says, one of you is a Satan. IE, an accuser, a seducer, a liar. We have focused on Judas but over the centuries there have been many Judases who have used the ‘pretend game’ to hide their diabolic appetites for money, power or lust.
Every century has its scandals, but as far as we know, nothing that can compare with our own. We must admit that even the successors of the Apostles have not been immune from the ‘pretend game’.
Like Jesus, we have a right to be sad and angry, to feel betrayed. We have been betrayed. And those who are indicted with these crimes must be held accountable.
The lesson of the Scriptures is not only about the fallen, but an encouragement to those who seek in their heart to remain faithful. 
The Church is human, a human institution subject to scrutiny and punishment for sin. The Church is not ‘them’. The Church is you and I. We must all take responsibility for our sins. We must all take responsibility for spreading the gospel, or are we going to let it die? Will we allow Christ’s sacrifice to go in vain?
This is why Christ died for us. Because we are sinners in need of redemption. This is why Jesus is very frank with His disciples, asking will you continue to follow me? If you continue to follow Jesus you will witness many miracles and you will also witness many faith-shaking situations.
The Church is the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Spouse of Christ. Painful though it may seem at this time, we need the Church and the Church needs you. Look around, where are the young newly-ordained? In most parishes today, you see only the elderly priest with trembling hands, even the retired still called out to serve.
To young people today I plead for Christ: Do not be afraid, Jesus needs you. Jesus loves you. You can make the difference between destruction and reconstruction.
Have we come to believe? Do we truly believe? Are we convinced that Jesus is God’s Holy One and that we who are His Body in living faith are also holy ones? This is what we celebrate in this Eucharist.
In accordance with the prophetic words of Joshua: if it does not please you to serve the Lord; then decide today whom you shall serve. The greater sin is not to decide against God or His Church – the greater sin is to not decide, to pretend, this is the sin of all the Judases. 
Choose today: Betray, Begone or Believe.


Mary in the Month of August

The following homily was given by Fr. Herbert Nicholls at the Mother of Light Convent on Wednesday, August 22.
When you do a little research, it’s interesting to find how customs begin and develop over the course of time. We usually associate Mary with its beautiful fresh flowers as the month of Mary and would hardly thick twice about August.
Yet two of the greatest feasts honoring Mary occur this month. Her assumption into heaven on the 15thof August. In earlier times it was referred to as the Dormition of Mary or Lady Day. It was the custom of the Bishop or Pastor to bless the fields and collect the harvest of flowers and first fruits.
On the Octave, our Blessed Lady is honored in the Coronation as Queen of heaven and earth. Certainly this is a more fitting day for the crowning of statues and honoring of Mary as queen and mother rather than the first Sunday of May which more often than not precedes even the Ascension of Jesus; thereby introducing confusion and ambiguity into the Liturgical calendar.
There are many other feasts during the month honoring devotees of Mary such as St. Dominic, who according to tradition received from the Blessed Mother the Rosary and instruction on how it is to be prayed. This tradition has been encouraged and continues to our present day.
Dominic was originally ordained as an Augustinian Monk, later organized his own society called the Order of Preachers. Along with a contemporary, St. Francis of Assisi, who began his Order of Friars Minor in the Chapel of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, where he also died. The chapel has a liturgical commemoration on August 2nd.
On the last day of July, we remember St. Ignatius of Loyola, who like St Paul was a soldier. He was not particularly religious. Wounded in battle with a shattered leg, he had a lot of time during his recovery to read. Unable to procure his more desirable romantic reading, he settled for the Scriptures and the lives of the Saints. He was also gifted with a visitation from Mary, in which she directed him to make a pilgrimage to her shrine in Montserrat. There he stayed for 11 months studying with the Dominicans. In 1534, Pope Paul II approved the formation of the Society of Jesus.
A little more than a century later, Alphonsus Liguori was born. He was a brilliant scholar and became a masterful lawyer in both civil and canon law. In 1726, he too was ordained in the Dominican Order, but 6 years later founded the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists).
He was given a powerful ministry in moral theology which he reformed in light of Sacred Scripture. Among his famous works is his masterpiece, The Glories of Mary. His feast is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, August 1.
Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney was born in 1786. He was a slow student who experienced great difficulty with Latin. Ultimately overcome all obstacles and was ordained a parish priest and assigned a pastor in the village of Ars. A small town of about 500 lapsed Catholics. It was a very difficult assignment. The people were content and happy with their irreligious and materialistic way of living. His preaching seemed to fall on deaf ears. Then one day, John Vianney, reading the words of the Gospel: some devils can only be driven out by prayer and fasting, he began an intense vigil of prayer and fasting, eating only one potato a day. Slowly at first, they began coming to confession. To their amazement he often told them the sins which they had not confessed to him. Quickly word spread, and soon people came like flocks of sheep from all over France to make their confession to this holy man. He often spent 16 hours a day hearing confessions and reconciling sinners. His feast is also observed on the anniversary of his death on August 4.
August 5 commemorates one of the oldest liturgical appointments. It is the anniversary of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, built by Pope Sixtus II following the Council of Ephesus and the decree of Mary as Theotokos, Mother of God.
When the Holy Father in prayer asked our Blessed Mother where the Church was to be built, legend says that she showed him with a localized snowfall on the Palestine Hill. To this day, the Church is affectionately referred to as Our Lady of the Snow. Although the present edifice is the third building on this spot, it marks the site of the oldest Church in the western world dedicated to Our Lady.
So you see how one day in the future, the month of August may come to be celebrated as Mary’s month and May can be recognized for what it is – the month of her Son’s paschal mystery and the sending of the Paraclete.
There is room in the Church for all kinds of devotions and Vatican II did not intend to abolish them except for some which made frivolous, inauthentic and extravagant claims and were more superstitious than faithful. 
So now is a time like no other to praise and honor Mary as our Queen and Mother, to bring flowers of the fairest and fruits of the rarest and crown our August Queen.


Vocation Presentation – Assonet, MA

By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light gave a vocation presentation on Wednesday, August 9, and witness for the children enrolled in the one week “Summer Fun” program at St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Assonet, MA.
We taught the children a number of beautiful things about a religious vocation, specifically, what a nun is and what is her role, mission and purpose in the Church. We explained to them the religious habit and the three vows of obedience, chastity and poverty.  The group also had the opportunity to ask us questions which they did with enthusiasm. Some of them asked whether we were born as nuns, what we do on a daily basis, and where do we live.
At the end of the presentation, we prayed with the children and  gave each a cross necklace to remind them of God’s great love for them.