•The next Moms’ Prayer Group meeting will take place this Sunday, April 29. All moms (and dads) are welcome.
•On Thursday, May 3, Fr. Victor and another priest will be taking a group of students to the Pacific Symphony. Parents of the students attending will be notified beforehand.
•The school’s Spring Concert is next Sunday, May 6, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help room. All are welcome to attend!
•We are planning on having an All School BBQ (as our last “all-school meeting”) on Wednesday, May 9. Mrs. Aeschliman will be contacting all the families.
•On Saturday, May 19, at 8:00 AM, the school will have another Entrance Exam for prospective students. Contact Mrs. Toni Aeschliman for more details.
•Graduation Day is Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day), at 7:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard. All are welcome to attend; all students are required to attend.
•The next baseball games Tuesday, May 1, at 3:00 PM, at City of Irvine, Cypress Community Park, 255 Visions, Irvine, CA 92618; and Thursday, May 3, at 3:00 PM, at St. Michael’s.
It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.
These words of Saints Paul and Barnabas, which we heard in today’s first reading, sum-up, in a way, the personal philosophy of the early Christians, who time and time again found themselves face to face with an unbelieving and even hostile and hateful world, one which was not slow to inflict on the followers of Christ many hardships. This, however, never stopped the Christians from proclaiming and living out the truths taught to them by Jesus Christ, even in the midst of the very men who killed Christ. I guess one would say that they were not very “politically correct.” In fact, anyone who followed Christ in those days could be sure of being accused of “not fitting in,” “an extremist,” of being accused of “making too many waves,” or even being labeled a “threat to society.”
The word “martyr” is a Greek word which means “witness.” To be a martyr is to bear witness to the truth, to bear witness to Christ and His Church, with one’s life—preferring to die rather than to deny even the smallest truth of our Faith. Every person in the first 300 years of Christianity who decided to be baptized and follow Christ knew what he was getting into, he knew that he was risking his life by witnessing to the truth, that there was a good chance that he would be killed for his Faith; but these brave Christians did not fear, they actually—as we hear elsewhere in the Acts of the Apostles—rejoiced when they were persecuted and hoped for martyrdom. History has recorded for us literally thousands of accounts of Christians going to their death for the Catholic Faith: men and women, rich and poor, the elderly and even little children. They were beaten to death, fed to the lions, killed by the sword, poisoned, burned at the steak, drowned, tortured in various ways, crucified—all for the love of Christ and His Catholic Church.
These are the heroes of our Christian Faith; but was it, is it, really necessary to undergo such hardships to enter the Kingdom of God? Can’t we just be good quiet Catholics, minding our own business, not making a fuss about anything? Do we have to be so extreme? Yes, we do. God does not call everyone to suffer the death of the martyrs. This is true; but all of us are required to have the spirit of the martyrs, to be ready and willing at every moment to suffer and die for Christ and our Catholic Faith, if we are so asked. And chances are, if you live your faith the way you ought, you will sooner or later, to one degree or another, suffer for it. Didn’t our Lord Himself say, If anyone wishes to be My disciple, let him take up his cross and follow Me? And again, If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you…and In the world you will have tribulation.
The devil and all those who foolishly fall into his snare, hate Christ and anyone follows Him, and attack His Church without ceasing. If you’re not convinced, just read a magazine or a newspaper; turn on the television. “Catholic bashing” is in; standing up for Christ and His Church is not. And, sad to say, faithful Catholics are under attack today even from other so-called Catholics, even sometimes from corrupt priests and bishops! I meet faithful Catholics all the time who tell me that they are criticized and even publicly denounced by their own pastors for wanting to kneel during Mass, for wishing to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, for having more than 2.5 children, for wanting to go to Confession more than once a year. These are not only legitimate options, they are even encouraged by the Church; and yet so many Catholics are persecuted for putting them into practice.
And so we can do one of two things: we can—like our brothers and sisters who went before us—boldly preach and practice, in the face of a world who things were a bunch of extremists, what has been handed down to us, or we can give in, be a “religious wimp” by not practicing our faith when someone else does not like it, denying Christ and the Catholic Church. But just remember Christ Himself said, He who denies Me, I will deny him before My Father.
Blessed Cardinal Stepinac, a very holy cardinal who was poisoned by the Communists some years ago, once said, If I had a thousands lives I would give each and every one of them for God’s holy Church. I think most of us would feel quite ashamed if we would read some of the heroic stories of those who suffered and died for our Catholic Faith, when we ourselves are too afraid to say grace before meals in public, too afraid to tell our co-workers that their dirty jokes bother us, when we bite our tongue when should speak out against things like homosexual relationships, contraception, euthanasia, abuses in the Liturgy, the destruction (or so-called “renovation”) of our once beautiful parish churches.
In the face of such things we must stand firm, and we will suffer for our courage. But remember Christ also said, Fear not, I have overcome the world, and again, Behold I am with you even to the end of time.
Pray for the gift of fortitude, for the courage to practice your Catholic Faith always and everywhere, and to endure faithfully all the hardships which will come to you, so that some day you too will join the saints in heaven, where, as we heard in today’s second reading, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
•For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
•For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
•For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.