Saturday, October 29, 2005


The Catechism of the Catholic Church supplies this sobering statement: "The Church is clear in its teachings concerning the existence of hell and its eternal duration. Immediately after death, the souls of those who die in the state of mortal sin descend to hell where they are subject to the pains of eternal fire. The principal punishment in hell consists in eternal separation from God, who is the source of life and happiness and for whom man was created" (N.1035).
The existence of eternal punishment, known as hell, is a reality that no Catholic is free to reject. Our Divine Savior Himself was most clear concerning the concrete existence of hell. We read in the Catechism, N. 1034: "Jesus declares with extremely strong words that He `will send His angels who will gather all evildoers and hurl them into the fiery furnace' (Matthew 13: 41-42). Then He will say to the damned, `depart from me you accursed ones into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matthew 25: 41)."
No one likes to preach about hell; it is not an endearing topic. It is far more pleasant to speak of love and heaven. However, failure to preach of hell is a betrayal of the complete Gospel message. It not only lulls God's people into a false sense of security but it plays directly into the hands of the evil one. Satan is most anxious to have us believe that hell does not exist.
Our Blessed Lord did not become man to leave us in our sins. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became Man to lift us out of sin and to bring us to heaven with Him. The very first recorded words of Jesus were: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1: 15). But Our Lord will not force us against our will. We must cooperate with His graces by allowing ourselves to be "washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb." Our Savior is quite clear about the consequences of refusing His saving grace. For this reason, St. Paul makes no effort to moderate his language. The wages of sin, he insists, is death, eternal death (see Romans 6: 23).
The liturgy reminds us of this throughout the year, especially during this month of November. This is precisely the message of today's liturgy. In the Gospel we read of the wise virgins as opposed to the foolish. The wise virgins represent those who live their lives in accord with the Gospel of Jesus. The foolish virgins, on the other hand, are those who live their lives apart from the teachings of Christ. When the bridegroom arrives, they are not ready.
The Bridegroom is Jesus Christ. The foolish virgins lived and died in unrepentant mortal sin. Therefore, they could not enter the heavenly banquet of the bridegroom. To insure that we understand the consequences of unrepentant sin, Our Blessed Lord gives us this compelling warning. When they knocked: "The door was barred!” “Master, master,” they cried, “Open the door for us.” The frightening answer of the Lord is clear: “I know you not!”
The moral of the story is that we must be vigilant by being ready for death. “Stay awake and be ready!” If we refuse to repent, if we reject the saving power of Christ Crucified on the Cross of Calvary, then divine mercy demands divine justice. Today's Gospel Acclamation tells the story: "Be watchful and ready: you know not when the Son of Man is coming."
When is the last time that we have made a good Confession? If it has been weeks or months or years, the time for Confession is today! “You know not the day nor the hour!”

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Prayer! How badly it is needed in these days when evil abounds. Friday, October 7, was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. At Fatima, on October 13, 1917, Our Blessed Mother identified herself to the children with this title. She also asked each one of us, through them: "Pray the Rosary every day!"

We are engaged in a mortal struggle with Satan and his agents. The signs are clear that a persecution of the Church is unfolding, for paganism and Catholicism cannot exist side by side. The Church, in fidelity to its mission, must preach Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ Crucified. She must proclaim Catholic faith and morality. As always, the pagan world will respond with persecution and violence. Faithful Catholics will suffer, perhaps even to the shedding of blood one day! Yet, we must never lose faith. Our Lady has given us a weapon by which we can never be conquered. That weapon is the Holy Rosary.

Taking into consideration that the Mass is essentially a sacrifice, the Rosary can be said to be the perfect prayer. Pope Pius XII said that it is a Gospel prayer that recalls all of salvation history.

The Joyful Mysteries begin with the Annunciation, as Gabriel says: "Hail! Full of grace!" The promise of Genesis 3: 15 is about to become a reality. Mary says: "FIAT!" The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, True God, becomes True Man!

United with Our Lord in the Agony in the Garden, we recall the Sorrowful Mysteries. We humbly admit the reality of sin, which is man's horrible response to the Infinite Goodness of God. At the foot of the Cross, we join Our Lady, Saint John and that great sinner who became a great saint, Mary Magdalene.

Jesus won complete victory over sin, Satan and eternal death. Attending Mary's School of the Rosary, we meditate on the Glorious Mysteries. She teaches us that we are citizens of heaven. United with Christ, Our Savior, we will see the Divine Splendor of the Blessed Trinity. We will see Our Blessed Mother, our loved ones, and all the angels and saints, in the eternal bliss of God.
My dear friends, bring the Rosary into your homes. Our Blessed Mother wants you to pray the family Rosary every day. To combat the evil one and paganism, she wants us on our knees. Our Lady wants the family gathered around her with our rosaries in hand. Satan is no match for her for she has the evil one planted firmly under her feet. The Virgin Mary will protect you. She will protect your family, especially the children. If we are faithful to the Rosary, Our Blessed Mother will never allow us to depart from Catholic faith. She guards all of her children with a mother's watchful eye.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Who is the man, described in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 1-14), who came to the feast of the king without a wedding garment? Why was he cast into the night? Wasn't it harsh indeed to treat him so cruelly? You may have asked yourself this question whenever you heard today's Gospel parable related.

It has been revealed that God wills that all should be saved. The Father does not wish that "anyone should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2Peter 3: 9). The Father is "rich in mercy," St. Paul said (Ephesians 2: 4). Jesus Christ is the Mercy of the Father that has become Incarnate.

Nevertheless, Saint Theresa of Avila tells us that love must be returned. This the reason that God gave man a free will. He wanted man to love Him freely. God does not allow us to stand in the middle. We either love Him by obeying His laws or we disobey Him and sin. In today Gospel, as He does often, Our Lord warns us that heaven can be lost.

When interpreting a parable, do not look for every piece to fit. Our Lord used figures of speech so that all could understand. The wedding banquet is the Kingdom of Heaven. The invited guests are the Israelites. In God's plan of salvation, He addressed Himself first to the Jews and then to all the Gentiles (Acts 13: 46). The wedding guests rejected the first invitation. They were numbered among the Israelites. A second invitation was extended and rejected. Then the door was opened to the Gentiles and many accepted.

"When the king came in to meet the guests, however, he caught sight of a man not properly dressed for a wedding feast." Some Church Fathers would identify this man as one who responded to the invitation to Baptism and becomes a member of the Church. Yet, he did not have the disposition that one must have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He may be likened to some of today's Catholics who reject some of the Church’s teachings. I am a Catholic "but" I refuse to go along with the Church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. I am a Catholic "but" I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. I am a Catholic "but" what two people do together is his or her private business as long as no one gets hurt.

The man without the wedding garment then is not as far removed as we might expect. He or she may go to Mass every Sunday and even be members of the Parish Council. They may be Extra-Ordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, yet dissent from Church teachings on evils such as contraception. The person not properly dressed can be the Priest or sister who refuses obedience to the teachings of the Holy Father. He may be the popular theologian praised by many, yet he dissents from the teachings of the Magisterium. He may even be a member of the Church’s Hierarchy. He could be you or me if we refuse to repent.

The penalty? Our Lord is painfully clear! "The king then said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the night to wail and grind his teeth.' The invited are many, the elect are few."

Everyone has the ability to dissent from Church teachings. No one, however, will be able to escape the Day of Judgment. We affirm this inescapable reality every Sunday in the Creed. Regardless of the struggles of life and the weight of our crosses, we want to see God! We want to be with Our Lord and Our Lady for all eternity! May the Holy Mother of God grant us the grace to be "properly dressed" on the Day of the Lord! Amen!

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.