“I began to lose my heavenly perspective after being here, in Medjugorje, this grace-filled week, this grace-filled place. And I started to allow the voices of the world, even my own family to take my focus away and my trust in God away. And I began to sink to where they were all at.”
It was Our Lady’s “note” during Adoration one night that got him back on track again.
About two months ago I was at a baccalaureate Mass at one of our all girls Catholic High Schools in Boston and one of the campus ministers asked me the question while eating dinner, “Father, do dogs go to Heaven?” I said, “That’s kind of an unusual question to ask while you’re eating a dinner at a baccalaureate celebration.” And she said, “Well, inevitably, someone’s dog dies over the course of the year, one of the teenagers’ dogs die and they ask is my dog in Heaven, what do I say?” So my quick response is always, “Well, you know what? There are no disappointments in Heaven. There are no disappointments in Heaven, God gives us what we need, everything, which is Himself.” The priest sitting next to me, after a little bit, added something that I thought was quite profound. He said, “You know, when we think about Heaven we think about being reunited with someone whom we love, a mother or a father, a grandfather or grandmother, brother, sister, child, aunt or uncle, friend—and we can’t wait to see that person. And we can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to be reunited with that person in Heaven.” He says, “But there’s a greater joy to be experienced in Heaven than even being reunited with a lost loved one. And that is to stand with that loved one and to behold the face of God—to worship and adore our God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” My friends, we were created for worship. We were created for friendship with the Lord. We were created for communion with Him. And when we enter into worship and into prayer, and devotion—when we adore the Lord, we begin to get a taste of Heaven. Heaven seeps in. When you step off the bus into Medjugorje, this Holy land, you experience Heaven. Why? Because of the worship that is going on here. All of the sacrifices, all of the penances, all of the Rosaries, all of the Adorations, all of the praise and worship, and especially all of the Holy Masses being offered, all of the worship of God, God pouring down His graces and blessings for sanctification and holiness. And you step right into it, and you get into the river of God, and you start worshipping God and you get a taste of Heaven. You get a taste of Heaven, what you and I were created for, for all eternity. And what begins to happen when we start worshipping God is we start to see ourselves as who we are, as God’s beloved children. And we begin to see who we’re not. And the layers of sin and all those masks that we can wear begin to be pealed off and we become fully, authentically His children. We come to understand who we are as the children of God, as the children of Mary. Can I get an Amen? That’s what happens when we worship. When we worship God, Heaven seeps in and when Heaven seeps in we begin to see things from a different reality and we begin to see ourselves from a different reality of who we are as God’s beloved children.
But the problem is that we have to go home. We can’t stay here. We can’t stay here. My question to you is, “How are you going to bring Heaven home with you?” It’s so easy for us to be Catholic and Christians here and to sing nice songs, and to wear our Rosary beads around our neck, and do all those things, but how are we going to bring Heaven home and allow that to overflow, to allow that to overflow, to those who desperately need Jesus in our lives? Jesus gives us a profound teaching today when He says that for a rich man, a rich person; it’s very difficult for them to enter in the Kingdom of Heaven. And He said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, to pass through the eye of a needle then to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, our common sense thinks that, we think of a needle for sewing, we picture a camel going through a sewing needle. That’s not what it means. A needle that Jesus is referring to has to do with an opening in the wall that fortified the city of Jerusalem, Mt. Zion. The great big walls that fortified the city had one enormous gate and many other smaller gates. And it takes a lot of work to open those gates for people to easily pass through. But at certain points along the walls there are what’s called, “needles”, and these are small little openings, where you have to step up and bend down to get through the wall. No army could pass through an eye of a “needle”. But they were created for the common person to be able to get in and out of the city rather hastily. And if you think of a camel with its humps and how tall it is, a camel could never crunch down and get under an eye of a needle to get in. And so the apostles understand this so they say, “Well, Lord, then who can be saved? A camel could never go through an eye of a needle. Who can be saved?” “For man it is impossible, for God nothing’s impossible.”
But it serves as a profound warning for us. Does Jesus condemn the rich? No. What is He teaching us about the rich? They have many possessions, they have much money and the danger is that their heart can be separated from God because they can have many loves, they can become divided in their devotion, in their trust in their reliance upon the providence of God. And the same goes for me, and you. Same thing. When you and I go home, if we don’t live in Heaven, if we don’t remain in worship, we’re going to become like everyone else again. We’re going to sink down to the lowest common denominator. And then we’re not going to be that leaven, and that light and that salt in the world. And then our heart can become divided again and we can begin to forget who we are as God’s beloved children. And we can start putting masks back on again and start assuming practices that take us away from the dignity of being called a child of God.
But this is no reason to be afraid, friends. Because throughout the Scriptures, God is saying it is impossible for you, but all things are possible for Me. I will be with you. But my friends, my brothers and sisters, I beg you, I beg you, I beg you in the Name of Jesus Christ, worship the Lord, go home and worship Him. Enter into Heaven every single day. I challenge you to a 30-day Mass challenge. You’ve gone to Mass everyday this week. Hallelujah! Greatest form of worship you could ever have. Continue it when you go home. Everyday. Enter into Heaven in the most supreme form of worship that we have as Catholics.
And if you can’t do that, pray. Pray the Rosary. Cut time out of your schedule. So often….Father read that prayer during Communion yesterday… you know when we think of our cup of coffee or our cup of tea—in the United States its more coffee, in Ireland its more tea—but we think of that first shot of caffeine in the morning, but do we think of Jesus, of entering into that time of prayer, with communion with Him? We have to live in Heaven, we have to be worshippers, because if we lose our heavenly perspective we will forget who we are. And that was the greatest sin of the people of Israel over and over again. They forgot that they were God’s beloved children, His prized possession. And when they lost sight of that they wanted to become like all the other pagan nations. And then they suffered punishments because of that.
In 1995, I came here to Medjugorje, it was my third trip. And when I was here I felt like the Lord, Our Lady was calling me to come back. It was towards the end of the war here, there was devastation about me and I felt a call to come back for an extended period of time, to pray and to discern the vocation of the priesthood and to see how I could help in any way what so ever to serve the poor and the most devastated, displaced because of the war. When I went home and I told my parents this great idea I had, or that God was giving me, which I believe it was, they were like, “O.K., well how are you going to do this?” And they said, “If that is God’s will, let God’s will be done.” And we began to pray about it and to talk about it and I un-enrolled after having completed three years of the University and I began making my plans where I would come here, to Medjugorje, for two months, and I did.
In that time of preparation my friends thought I was nuts. They’re like, “Your so stupid! Why are you doing that? You’re not going to be happy doing something like that, becoming a priest, going away there. That’s not the way to be happy.” Some of my brothers, they thought I was doing this because I was fulfilling my parents dream and wish for their son. Even my own parish priest discouraged me from going saying that I should get my degree first and then do something like that, that the seminary would want me to have completed my college degree. And so what began to happen is that I began to lose my heavenly perspective after being here, in Medjugorje, this grace-filled week, this grace-filled place. And I started to allow the voices of the world, even my own family to take my focus away and my trust in God away. And I began to sink to where they were all at. To the point where I was saying, “What am I doing with my life? This makes no sense. I’m crazy for doing this. Lord, what am I doing, what are You doing to me? You’re ruining my life, Lord.”
I went to Adoration one night and I just poured my heart out before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, poured my heart out. And when I had finished praying, I picked up my prayer books and underneath the prayer books was a piece of paper and I don’t remember that piece of paper being there. And I opened up the piece of paper and it was a picture of a priest, a xerox photo copy of a priest from his waist to his shoulders dressed in vestments like these and he was holding a chalice in one hand and the Eucharist, the Consecrated Host in the other hand. And someone had written in pencil at the top, “This is your answer.” I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!” I ran home. Meanwhile, one of the lady sodalities was like, “Oh, you look like a nice priest, let me send a message.” But I ran home and showed my parents and my parents were like, “Oh, my gosh, you heard from God. God has spoken very clearly to you. This is what you’re suppose to do.” Well, my sister, who is actually here on this pilgrimage with us, she’s like the St. Joseph of the family, she gets all the dreams, the prophetic dreams. She wasn’t home that night when we all got in. The next morning I was traveling out with my dad somewhere. My sister comes downstairs. My mom can’t wait to tell Julie the story.
And Julie says to my mom, “Mom, I had a dream last night, kind of a weird dream.”
My mother says, “Well, what did you dream about?”
“I dreamt about Matt.”
“Yeah. And in the dream, Mom, he was going to Adoration everyday.”
“Yeah! And Mom, the craziest thing. Every time Matt would go to Adoration Chapel to pray, Mary, the Blessed Mother would leave him a note.”
Mom said, “He got a note last night!”
My brothers and sisters, that was a true story. And however Our Lady decided to use that, it’s as true, it’s as true as anything that is true in this world. “This is your answer.” The first message wasn’t about me being a priest. It was about the Eucharist. Our Lady was saying, “The Eucharist is your answer Matthew. Jesus is your answer. And you’ll never be able to figure out God’s plan for your life unless you make that the center of your life, unless you come before Him often and worship Him. When you do that Matthew, then you will know God’s plan for your life.”
My friends, we were made for Him, we were made for worship. Please, as you go home, live in Heaven by living at the altars of your parish.