Tuesday, April 25, 2006


The image of Our Lord as The Good Shepherd dates back to the Church’s earliest days. Subsequent to the apparitions of Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary, beginning on December 27, 1673, there has been a greater emphasis on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Devotion to the Sacred Heart reveals His immense love for us and inspires us to a deep love of Jesus. Yet, the image of Jesus as The Good Shepherd is also a source of great devotion. In today’s Gospel, Our Lord tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. “For (my) sheep,” He says, “I will give my life.” This is precisely at the heart of our Easter reflections.

The Introit of today’s Mass sets the theme for Good Shepherd Sunday: Misericordia Domini plena est terra, alleluia. The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord, Alleluia. Next we read the 32 Psalm: “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just, praise becomes the upright.” The Church rejoices in the mercy of the Good Shepherd which descends upon us like the gentle rains from above.

In the Epistle, Saint Peter, the Head Pastor of the Church, tells us that Jesus is the Shepherd of our souls. Although we had gone astray, perhaps many times over, Jesus never leaves us. The Good Shepherd does not abandon us to roam the hills of life aimlessly as sheep without a shepherd. When we go astray, as all have, the Good Shepherd leaves the “ninety-nine in search of the one that has gone astray.” Christian art portrays Jesus with the lost sheep held safely around His neck. What a consolation! Although we leave the Lord because of the lore of sin, He never leaves us. Rather, He goes out to seek us out if we go astray.

In the Gospel, Our Lord said: “I know my sheep and my sheep know me in the same way that the Father knows me and I know the Father. For these sheep I will give my life.” In these texts, we see the true measure of Our Lord’s love. It is the Redemption accomplished on the Cross of Calvary. What is the measure of our love for the Lord? This also He has revealed: “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”

In our times, many claim that can continue in a life of sin with no purpose of amendment and still live in God’s grace. This is a tragic error for they misunderstand God’s mercy by mistaking it for a permissive attitude on His part. The Gospels are clear that we must strive to keep His commandments if we are to live in His love. Saint John said that anyone who says that he loves God while not keeping His commandments is a liar.

How do we know what God’s commandments are in these confusing days when so many conflicting messages are prevalent? To combat these grave errors, Our Lord left us visible shepherds who stand in his place and who act “in His very Person.” He has left us the Holy Father, the Pope of Rome, to guide us with infallible certitude in the path of Catholic truth and Catholic morality. He has left us bishops to shepherd every diocese in the world preaching the “Good News” of salvation. He has left us priests, Pastors of souls, to be our immediate contact with Him through the Mass and the Sacraments. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has left no stone unturned to bring us to eternal life with Him.

To hear the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, we must be obedient to our Pastors whom He has left in His place. Yet, we must be clear that every Catholic must obey the teachings of the Holy Father, for he is the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth. Every Bishop and Priest must teach in union with the Pope. United with the Pope, they transmit the teachings of Jesus. Everyone in the Church must heed these voices and be obedient to their teachings.

My dear people, let us never fear the teaching authority of the Church for it infallibly leads us to eternal salvation. The Church is the Bulwark of Truth, as Saint Paul calls her. The Catholic Church teaches us the truth of the Gospels. Good Shepherd lead us, the sheep of your flock, to the Kingdom of Heaven.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


In the ancient liturgy of the Church, today is know as Dominica in Albis, White Sunday. Those who had received the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Sunday wore the same white garment to Mass the following Sunday because the rebirth of baptism is a life long commitment.
By the decree of Pope John Paul II, the first Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. Actually these two ideas do not conflict but rather are complimentary. Although we have been washed clean in baptism, we are sinners still. The Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ is our hope. Divine mercy Sunday is the ideal time to reflect once again on the Sacrament of Confession.
The Sacrament of Penance is the ordinary means for the forgiveness of sins committed after baptism. This is the unmistakably clear teaching of the Roman, Catholic Church. The new Universal Catechism confirms the same doctrine taught in the old Baltimore Catechism. Indeed, it is even more emphatic and precise. On the Second Sunday of Easter, Holy Mother Church recalls Our Lord’s institution of the Sacrament of Penance. Our Lord said to the Apostles: "Receive the Holy Spirit; if you forgive a man's sins they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound."
On March 12, 1994, the Pope, in an address to the confessors of Rome's Basilicas, said: "It is really God who is offended by sin and it is God who forgives sin. It is He who scrutinizes `what is in man,’ that is the individual conscience. God has graciously associated the human priest with this healing, sanctifying conversion, raising him to the ineffable privilege of acting in persona Christi."
With these words, the Pope is teaching the Church that the priest forgives sins acting in the very person of Jesus Christ. He acts neither as the representative of Jesus Christ nor in the place of Jesus Christ, but rather, in the very person of Jesus Christ. In confession, the priest sacramentally becomes one with Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest. Like Our Blessed Lord, he becomes the mediator between God and man. He intercedes for us, prays for us, and advises us. Yes, at times, he must admonish, but if he does, he must do so with the "aroma of Christ" (2Cor 2:15). Like Jesus, the priest prays, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Acting in the Person of Jesus Christ, the priest of Jesus Christ forgives our sins with the words of absolution: "I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." What a consolation to a spirit that has been broken by sin and restored by God’s mercy.
The Priest of Jesus Christ has the power to forgive every sin, no matter how vile or frequent they may be. This power is a living witness to God's infinite mercy. When the priest lifts his hand in absolution, the Precious Blood of Christ drips from his hands washing our sins clean. Moreover, in confession we are alone with God in the inviolable sanctuary of the confessional with the priest at our side. Under no circumstances, may the priest reveal a penitent’s sins. This is known as the Sacramental Seal. The Holy Father also said: "Church law binds the priest to total silence usque ad sanguinis effusionem {even to the shedding of his last drop of blood}." To this rule of silence, there is absolutely no dispensation or exception of any kind. The sacredness of the sacramental seal is the Church’s guarantee to penitents that their sins will never be revealed under any circumstances.
As penitents, we must have sorrow for our sins and make a firm purpose never to commit them again. Then we must confess our mortal sins in number and kind, what we did and how many times that we did it. If there are no mortal sins, we can either confess some or all of our venial sins or some sin of the past. Finally, we must do the penance that the priest imposes on us. It is just that simple: sorrow, confession and satisfaction.
During this Easter Season, if we have not been to Confession, let us do so now. Even if we have committed no mortal sins, the frequent confession of venial sins is vitally important. Many graces flow from frequent confession. In confession, we encounter Our Lord Jesus in His Priesthood, in His mercy, in His forgiveness and in His love. As we have read so often in the Gospels, we too hear those wonderful words of Our Savior: Go and sin no more! Your sins are forgiven. Praised be Jesus Christ on this wonderful feast of Divine Mercy Sunday! Amen!

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

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Mary Magdalene was at the tomb of Jesus, weeping. The tomb was empty; Jesus’ Body was gone. She informed the Apostles. Immediately, Peter and John ran to the tomb. It was empty. Totally perplexed, they left. Mary remained, weeping. Suddenly, she saw someone she did not recognize. "Woman, why are you weeping? Who is it that you are looking for?" Mary responded: "Sir, if you are the one who carried him off, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away." Our Savior simply said: "Mary!" Immediately, she recognized Him. It was the most electrifying moment in all of human history. Mary Magdalene's desolation turned into supreme joy.

Isn't it interesting that Our Lord's first recorded appearance after His Resurrection was to Mary Magdalene? She was the great sinner from whom He had driven seven devils. Yet, it was for the Marys of the world that He became Man. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, came for the lost sheep. No one was more lost than Mary Magdalene.

Most Fathers of the Church agree that Mary Magdalene was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Faithful Israelites, they had become dear friends of the Lord. Yet, somehow their younger sister went astray. In her youth, Mary left home for the seaport resort of Magdala where the idle rich went to play and sin. With shameless abandon, she plunged into all the pleasures of this world. Mary broke the hearts of her brother and sister.

Then, one day, Mary saw the Lord. How they met matters not! When Mary's eyes met the eyes of Jesus, her search for this world's fleeting pleasures ended. She had found Infinite Love in Jesus, the Son of God. Deep remorse came over her. She repented of her many sins, never to sin again. From that moment, she never left the Lord. The great sinner became a great saint.

Throughout Holy Week we find her with Jesus. What a comfort it is to know that, in Mary, we repentant sinners are also with Our Lord. She washes His feet with her tears of repentance. Her tears represent our tears. On Calvary she is at the foot of the Cross. Again at the Lord’s feet, she is being washed clean by His Precious Blood. There, frozen in time, Mary represents us. We too are being washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb.

Just as Jesus suffered and died for Mary, He suffered and died for each of us, individually. Our Blessed Lord loved us to the last drop of His Precious Blood. On Calvary, He who was without sin became sin, your sins and mine. In His passion and death, we too find divine forgiveness, as did Mary. Our Divine Savior loved us, "even to death on the Cross."

On Easter Morning, when our Lord said, "Mary," He was also saying, "Richard, William, Frank, Peter, James, John, Sandra, Deborah, Elizabeth, Ann, Mary Jane!" Think of it! Just as the Risen Lord saw Mary, He sees you! He loves you! He redeemed you! Never doubt that for a moment! Like Mary, may we never again offend Our Lord by sin. Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

May the joy of the Risen Christ be with you on Easter Sunday. May we all meet in heaven, gathered around the Lamb, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus Christ takes away your sins and my sins! Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

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

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


On Palm Sunday, the Priest, vested in a red cope, blesses the palms at the start of Mass. It is the red of royal triumph. Triumph, indeed! We claim triumph because Holy Week is not a week of mourning for the Cross of Calvary and the Resurrection are inseparable. We must not separate the Passion of Our Savior from His glorious Resurrection. By His Cross, Jesus has overcome death! In medieval times, this week was viewed in a strict sense of sorrow and tearful sympathy with the Suffering Jesus. Now, through the whole week, there runs a note of victory and joy, a realization that Our Lord’s sacred passion was a prerequisite to the glory of Easter.
The Palm Sunday liturgy begins with: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. O King of Israel: Hosanna in the highest! After the Procession of the Palms, we pray in the Introit: O Lord, keep not thy face far from me; look to my defense, deliver me from the lion’s mouth - - - O God, my God, look upon me - - - Far from my salvation are the words of my sins!
It is a humble prayer for without the, King of Israel, we are helpless. The weight of our sins overwhelms us! Only in the triumph of Our Redeemer can we find victory. Like Daniel in the lion’s den, the lions of the pagan world seek to devour us in sin. Just as the One, True God delivered Daniel, so too will Our Divine Savior rescue us
The Key to the Palm Sunday liturgy is the reading from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippians. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the Suffering Messiah. True to His mission, the Redemption, He was obedient to the Heavenly Father. He was obedient, “even unto death, death on the Cross.”

Thus, in Christ’s Victory Procession, we too cry out: HOSANNA, FILIO DAVID!
Father Richard J. Rego

Saturday, April 01, 2006


On Passion Sunday, the ancient liturgy brings the Church into a period of mourning over her divine Bridegroom. Just as the Pre-Lenten Sundays prepared us for the holy season, we now prepare for the Sacrifice of our Redemption. Our Divine Savior will be lifted high on the Cross of Calvary. In ancient times a vigil was kept at the tomb of Saint Peter during the night before Passion Sunday. This was done because Peter was called to be the Successor of Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest.

The Introit of today’s Mass begins with Judica me, Deus, the supplication of the 42nd Psalm. At the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the Priest begins each day’s Mass with this Psalm:“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy. Deliver me from unjust and deceitful men: for thou art God, my strength. At today’s Mass, we identify with Jesus in His struggle on the Mount of Olives. Our Lord begs the Heavenly Father for a judicial decision between Himself and His unholy people, particularly the wicked and treacherous Judas Iscariot, who seek to kill Him. We are making the same plea as we struggle with the evil forces in our midst for these forces attempt to lead us away from Our Savior.

The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus, the mediator between God and man, will bring about man’s redemption by means of His death. But, make no mistake; no one will take His life from Him. In obedience to the will of the Father, He will lay His life down of His own of His own will. Jesus, the Messiah, is the Son of God.

In the Gospel, Saint John shows us the growing hatred of the Sanhedrin for Jesus. They should have recognized that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. They knew the signs. Although they had eyes to see and ears to hear, they refused to see and hear. Because they refused to believe, Jesus told them that they would die in their sins. Infuriated by this rebuke, they insulted and blasphemed Him. They even had the audacity to accuse Jesus of being possessed by the devil.

Our Lord’s answer: Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day; he saw it and was glad. Then in response to their continued denial, He said: Before Abraham was, I AM. With this, they took up stones to stone Him to death. Why? Because, they knew that His words could have meant one thing only - - - He was identifying Himself as the Son of God! Still, they refused to believe.

Were they responsible? Could one argue that they made an honest mistake? No! Our Lord’s words make that very clear. They knew the Scriptures extremely well. The signs were clear! The blind saw, the lame walked, the dead rose, and the poor had the Gospel preached to them. Yet, they would not believe; they would not follow Him. They wanted no part of His teachings.

Today, two thousand years latter, many do the same. They still refuse to believe. Like the Sanhedrin of old, they too want a Messiah whose kingdom is of this world. They do not want the Kingdom of God, as presented by the Jesus of the Gospels. They want a kingdom their way, not God’s way.

Let us not fall into the same trap. We have been baptized into Christ Jesus, into His Mystical Body, which is the Church. The Church is the Sacrament of Salvation, as Vatican II identifies it. She is our ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven. God grant that we will never depart from the truth of her teachings. May Mary, the Mother of the Church and our holy Mother of Sorrows, lead us safely home to the Kingdom of Heaven.

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