A BIBLICAL QUESTION A. M. D. G.

John 19: 23 -34 “ The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him took his garments (and they made four parts, to every soldier a part) and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from top throughout.

“They said then one to another: let us not cut it, but let us cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, saying: TheY have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture they have cast lot. And the soldiers indeed did these things.


“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen.

“When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman behold thy son.

“After that, he saith to the disciple: behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

“Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst.

“Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar. And they, putting a sponge full of vinegar about hyssop, put it to his mouth.

“Jesus therefore when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.

“Then the Jews, (because it was the prasceve,) that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day (for that was a great Sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

“The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him.

“But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead they did not break his legs.

“But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.

“And he that saw it, hath given testimony and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true ; that you also may believe

First, I would like to point out that the phrase: “The disciple that Jesus loved” is a kind of signature of St. John. The reason is that all love, especially Divine Love is a personal experience; a sort of communication. That is why a verbal declaration of love is inadequate while and action of kindness is the way love is experienced. Love, really, is an act. I assume that everyone else is loved by God, but I have directly experienced it. I know that God loves me personally. The other I know by analogy. Therefore, John is saying that the one who is reporting this is he who has the experience of Divine love, himself. In no way can we say that Jesus loved John more that he loved Peter or any other of the Apostles.

The words, transcribed above from the Douay version of the Lain Vulgate, are the most important words in history. This describes an event that is at the very heart of the meaning of existence itself.

The reason is that the man who was dying on the Cross between two thieves, had been delivered by the leaders of the Jewish people because he was a man who claimed to be Divine. However, when he rose from the dead three days later he proved his claim.

Therefore when John reports that “ Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished..” he is talking about the reason for the coming of God on this earth as this man Jesus.

Considering the existential reality of the present Creation, it really exists so as to provide the venue for the Incarnation.

Thus, the “all things were now accomplished” refers to the reason for, and all the events that led to the birth of Jesus ( who is the reason, and logic, of reality itself) and his death on the cross. Every act of His life from the time of his conception led to this moment and every event in the History of the present Cosmos since its inception took place to produce the Incarnation of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Thus, what is happening here is the reason for Creation itself.

We have the tendency to assume that this refers to the whole series of events labeled “the passion and death of the Lord”. This is true enough, but the words are recorded by John immediately after the commission of John to take care of the Virgin Mary as his mother and her commission to adopt John as her son.

What we are seeing here and what is the pupose and end of Creation is the birth of the Catholic Church.

The purpose of the coming of God among us humans, as the Church teaches, is to heal the corruption of His Creation that we and the Angels have wrought by our sins. As creatures tainted with the results of Original Sin, we humans ( all of us – with the possible exception of Our Lady ) have failed to return to the Creator that which is due to Him as his Creatures. We have been formed to love and serve our Creator here on earth and to be happy with him forever. That is what we must do as simple justice. Somewhere Jesus says that when we have done all we have been told we are doing only what we must do and so we confess ourselves as unprofitable servants. With the exception of Mary , the handmaid of the Lord, every single human has failed this responsibility except Jesus who “”went (to the cross) because he loves the Father and DOES HIS WILL” (John 14:31). In this way He Glorified the Father and so atones for our basic debt to the Creator.

It is the Will of the Creator that Jesus would not only atone for our not giving God the Glory due Him, but also to save us and heal the defects of our Nature and the nature of matter itself so the “God will be all in all” (Romans 8; 18 -25; Ephesians 1:20 -23; Colossians 1:12 -20; etc.).

It appears that the instrument of this great work of Redemption is the Church into which we enter by being baptized into the death of the Lord and his Resurrection.

Now when we look at John 19:27, the action immediately preceding the statement that now all was accomplished, the action that completed His work on earth was the community formed by the Virgin Mary and John : a community of Caritas — the Church of Jesus Christ at its birth.

Then, after the demonstration of our complete lack of Charity by giving this tortured man vinegar instead of water to drink, he bowed his head and “delivered up his spirit”.

Now it is true that most exegetes assume this refers to the human soul of the Lord, but nothing in the record necessitates this only — the Spirit of Jesus which he gave to his Church is the Holy Spirit of Dvine Loove. This is the essential feature of the Church of Jesus, and that it is the way the Holy Spirit works in History : in and through the Church.

In the Preface for the Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart we are reminded that the blood and water that flowed from the wounded side of the dead Lord is the “fountain of Sacramental Life in the Church”.

Thus we have in the community of the Virgin Mother and John all the elements that are characteristic of the Church of Jesus Christ: Mary, the First and Model of all Christians and John the Minister who takes care of the Christian. Note that the first Minister of the Church, as all the ministers, is a son of the Church , symbolized by Mary. The Holy Spirit entrusted to the Church and subsists in the Charitable relationship of Christians. This is why the Lord exhorts us to love one another. Finally, the Sacraments, are entrusted to the Church.

This is the Catholic Church at its inception, born from the side of the New Adam, asleep on the altar of the Cross.

Fr. Filice

NOTES: see Mystici Corpus Christi, encyclical from Pius XII , 29 January 1943.

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Another example of God’s love for us

Posted on September 14, 2012

Another great example of God’s patience

I want to send this incident because I have found so many people who “give up” and turn to worldly things to help them cope with what appears to them to be a disaster.

This is a true story of an event that took place when I was in Tijuana, BC.

The Missionaries of Charity used to visit the hospitals, especially on Sunday afternoon. There are two kinds of government funded hospitals: For the middleclass — not bad hospitals; and for the really poor. These latter are miserable. The staff does its best but the workers are so poor they steal everything they can carry off so that the patients are left sleeping on bare mattresses or springs.

Anyway, one Sunday the sisters called me and said that they had found someone who needed the sacraments.

I went and found a man of about forty five years of age who was dying of tuberculosis of the spinal cord. He was almost immobile and could only lift his hands and eat. The staff was really very kind and tried to make him as comfortable as possible.

Since he has long ago passed to his reward I can tell you about him without betraying the seal of confession.

He had been born in Mexico City to a very poor family. He had been baptized but never made his first communion. In order to help support the family, when he was 12 years old, he started working in the harvests north of Mexico city. He had never returned home or seen his family. He kept working from harvest to harvest through Northern Mexico, up in Texas, over to California — as so many harvest workers do. Whatever he could spare he would send home.

Now, he wound up in the Government Hospital in Tijuana, dying. He could not read. He never learned his prayers. I had to instruct him in the Sacraments of the Church . He never went to Mass. All he did was work and send his money home. He told me that he had one thing: a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The said that wherever he was he always went to Mass on her Feast –12 December.

I gave him the last sacraments. The next day I brought him first Communion. A few days later he died.

Please consider this –This man had nothing going for him. Never received the Sacraments that are so available to us. Did not even know the formal prayers of the Our Father and Hail Mary in Spanish. His faults were very human but really spent his life trying to do what he thought God wanted him to do. No complaints.

But he did have one thing: he loved Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I want you to notice that She accepted his humble homage and arranged for a priest to come to his side to prepare him for death. Our Lady welcomed him into the heaven.

Lesson: NEVER GIVE UP — Our Lady loves each of us and will do everything to bring us to Her Son. Have confidence.

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The mystery of Hector

Posted on September 14, 2012

14 June, Feast of St. Eliseus ANOTHER WONDERFUL PERSON I KNEW

I want to tell you about a friend of mine who died on the 4th of this month.

His name is Ettore Borradore. We called him Hector. He was from a family that came from Piedmont in Italy, and was raised in North Beach. He was a few years younger than me, but experienced the same problems of the Depression.

His father was a Merchant Seaman and so was in and out of his life. Hector was dyslexic and found school difficult so, in the third or fourth grade he simply stopped going to school. In those days these things were not much of a problem and so Hector spent his youth working in one job or another as well as experiencing the streets of North Beach. He was a pretty good mechanic and was very strong so never lacked for work.

He was drafted at the end of the War and spent a few years in Texas. He enjoyed the army and then returned to San Francisco and, again, worked at one job or other.

After the War, a Paisana of his mother brought from Italy a granddaughter whose father was a German soldier. That was not accepted by the Italians at that time when feelings against the Germans ran high. The girl worked in the Post Office in Italy and came to the US to avoid the persecution attending her mixed heritage.

By that time Hector had outgrown that part of our lives where we experiment with different ways and things. He was content to work and spent his time in the Church of St. Peter and Paul enjoying the tranquility that is there.

Finally, his mother and the Paisana decided that he should marry the cast-off girl, and, to obey is mother, he did. He said that he hardly knew here and never kissed until after the wedding!!

He found that he did not enjoy married life but, discussing the matter with a Salesian priest , he settled down to be a good husband.

They had FOUR retarded children in a row.

You know what Hector said? “If the Lord sends me twenty I will take care of them”.

I remember seeing him and his children on the streetcars. I thought that he was running a school for retarded children.

After the fourth child, his wife refused to have more children (which seems quite natural to me) and that was an additional cross that he had to carry.

There were two boys and two girls. One boy is so severly retarded that he has never spoken. Since he was in the teen ages he has been institutionalized and today lives in a care facility.

One boy was less retarded and loved to fish and work with his father. Hector quit work and spent his life caring for his wife and children, living on welfare and in public housing. At one point he bought a boat and used to go ocean fishing with his son.

When that son was around twenty years of age, he committed suicide.

Some people have a heroic trust in God. Naturally it hurt Hector very deeply but he knew the boy was incapable of such a decision and he trusted the love and Mercy of the Creator. Without any questions, he shouldered that cross also.

I met Hector a few years ago when he came to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel on Ashbury St. for morning Mass. I felt sorry for him, not knowning at that time anything of the above story, because he was obviously a very odd person. He had the tendency to Orate and Preach. He would berate the women who came in wearing pants and without head covering. I assumed that he got upset because of his difficulty in expressing himself. He dressed oddly in army surplus clothes and had badges of the Blessed Virgin in his cap.

So, for awhile I just put up with the times he would get angry at me when I would try to correct him.

As clearly as I can recollect, one day in the Fall of 2006 My cousin Suzie called one evening and told me that if I wanted to say goodby to her husband , Joe, I had better come down. Joe was a farmer in Hollister and well known for his physical strength as well as for his gentle kindness. He was a Deputy Sheriff patrolling his end of the County of San Benito; a job he really enjoyed.

As he got older his healh deteriorated and he had problems with his blood pressure and other things. The physicians had him onf medicine that kept his blood pressure up but the medicines began to make him very sick. Since he was around 90 years old the doctors decided to stop the medication and let him die a natural death.

I called Linda, a relative, and she willingly came to take me down to Hollister after Mass the next morning . At 7:30 am we started to go down to Hollister to the Hazel Hawkins hospital where he was interned. As I left the chapel I passed in front of Hector and asked him the pray for my cousin Joe, who was dying.

Alhough I had lived in the area and had gone back and forth hundreds of times, for some reason we got lost and had to ask directions. One reason or another we got to the hospital close to 10. I figured the Joe had died and I would go in and pray by his corpse.

When Linda and I entered the hospital we saw Suzie walking in the hall with her niece talking and joking. I was not a little disedified at the sight of the widow taking his death so lightly. I asked where the body was and they took me to his room. Instead of a corpse Joe was sitting up in bed eating a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes, etc, He paused for just a moment and said: “I didn’t die” and went back to stuffing food into his mouth. He had a Pressure cuff on his arm that was registered on a meter hanging on the wall. I looked at the meter, to my surprise his pressure was almost zero , but as he ate the pressure gradually went up to a normal range.

I am certain that I witnessed a real miracle through Hector’s prayers.

Two years later , I think it was 2010, a friend of our family had a heart attack. I visited her in St. Mary’s hospital to bring her the sacraments. It turned out that they found a hole between the ventricles. It is natural in the womb, but when the child starts to breath air and use its lungs the opening closes up and the two sides of the heart are separate in the kind of blood they are pumping. In a very few cases the closure fails. Usually this is detected soon after the child is born nd easily corrected. In still fewer cases it will surface in adult life as it did with my friend. The doctors scheduled an open heart operation. On the day of the operation she came to Mass and afterwards came into the sacristy to ask for a blessing. Just casually I told Hector that she was going in for a serious operation on her heart and would he please pray for her.

When she got to the hospital there was no sign of the opening.

Why were miracles performed at the prayer of this imperfect person who found it difficult even to express himself or control his temper? It is because he completely trusted God and realized that he was a helpless child in Gods hands. Jesus said, as you remember:”If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to that tree to uproot and be planted in the sea, and it would be done for you”

The lesson of Hector’s life for all of us is that we have a Father who is a kind and loving God and we have to obey him because we love him and we know that he will never fail us.

Rev. F P. Filice

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Portiuncula Indulgence – a plenary indulgence

Posted on September 4, 2012

August 2: Portiuncula Indulgence – a plenary indulgence

The Portiuncula Indulgence can be received on August 2, the Franciscan Feast of Our Lady of the Angels. This Feast commemorates the dedication of the tiny Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels (aka the Portiuncula or the Little Portion) in Assisi. It was in this anointed place that St. Francis began the Order of Friars Minor, inaugurated the Order of Poor Clares, and ended his earthly sojourn.

One night, in 1216, St.Francis awoke from sleep with a great desire to go to the Portiuncula. As he prayed there Our Lord and His Mother appeared to Francis and told him to ask for that which he desired most. What was his response? “O God, although I am a great sinner, I beseech You to grant a full pardon of all sins to all who, having repented and confessed their sins, shall visit this church.” Our Lord then granted Francis’ appeal, sending him to the Roman Pontiff for ratification of the indulgence.

To Pope Honorius III, Francis begged for the necessary permission for the indulgence, asking that “all those who after confession shall visit the Portiuncula with contrite hearts may obtain the full remission of the punishment due to the sins of their whole lives from the day of Baptism to the day they enter this church.” After some hesitation, permission was granted. Francis then returned to Assisi and proclaimed: “I want to send you all to Heaven!”

Over the course of history the conditions to gain the indulgence have been modified. While it used to be mandatory that the faithful visit the actual Portiuncula in Assisi, now it suffices to visit any parish church on August 2 to gain the indulgence. Thus the faithful who devoutly visit a parish church on August 2 may obtain a plenary indulgence, under the normal conditions (Holy Communion preferably on the day or close to it, Sacramental Confession about 20 days before or after, and prayers for the Holy Father on the day). According to Church Law, “this visit is to include the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed.” It seems St. Francis was busy working in Heaven to obtain this expansion of the indulgence desiring that all faithful around the world experience the fruits of his request!

…excerpt from Mother Angelica’s EWTN Family Newsletter, 2003

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Zachary Arnold

Posted on September 4, 2012

Zachary Arnold

I may have made you acquainted with Zack Arnold before, but I would like to ask your prayers for him.

We were in Graduate school together, sharing the same laboratory. This was at the close of the WWII and, although married, he came from Georgia to study under Dr. Kirby, the professor of Microbiology at Cal at the time.

He was a great companion although he had a deeply musical soul. He belonged to a politically active family in Georgia and, I think, baptized a Baptist.

However, the had a flute that he would play in the Lab when he got tired. Very talented, he would transcribe Vivaldi,s violin concertos by sight. That is when I became familiar with the beauty of the Classicaol Music tradition.

After we graduated I went to work at USF and he transferred to the Departement of Paleontology (he was an expert on foraminifera — a major component of sedimentary rocks) and eventually became the chairman of their department.

When the Free Speach Movement (1960 ‘s) hit Cal he quit and went back to Georgia. He was a lot, in nature, like my cousin Stanley; for example, he could not abide controversy and stress.

I really never saw him again but I vividly remember an experience we had that I would like to share.

Linda, my daughter, was one year old and he, too, had small baby daughters, but we were invited to go on an expedition to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. These are a group of Islands off shore from Santa Barbara,and in those days, privately owned except tor a few owned by the US Navy and used for firing practice. Since no one ever went there the organisms were in a completely natural state and Marine Biologists are always studying untouched nature.

So, both Zack and I were invited to go and it was too tempting to refuse. We drove to Santa Barbara together. He spent the trip telling me how sea-sick he was during troop transports during the War.

He told me, for example, that on the way back by transports he spent the entire ten days in his bunk suffering from this ailment.

I, personally, have never been sea-sick so I did not pay much attention.

We got to Santa Barbara harbor. The Weather was beautiful and the water in the harbor like glass so little movement of the air took place.

We were watching Mr. Sefton”s yacht from the pier. He was the prsedient of the bank in Santa Barbara and used to write off the expenses of his yacht by hosting scientists like ourselves for research purposes.

They caught sight of us and the launch came for us. When we boarded we found that we were the last to arrive and, as we were introducing ourselves to one another, Mr. Sefton told the Engineer to start the engens. A few mintes later I noticed the Zack had left the group.

I went below to stow my bag and, behold, in the stateroom we were sharing, Zack was in the lower bunk, moaning and throwing up.

I was surprised and I said :”Zack, but they only started the engens — we’re not even moving”.

He said with his eyes closed: “Filice, if you tell me that it’s all in my head I’m going to kill you.”

As you can see I had a lot of fun with Zack.

A few years ago, after a lifetime in which we never even corresponded, he looked me up on the Internet and phoned me.

He was sickly and being taken care of by his daughters and his voice was really weak. But we talked about onld and new times. He had composed a number of pieces for the violin. He would whistle them to me. I thought they were really fine.

Every several months since then we would talk be telephone. I kept steering the conversation (naturally) to the Last things, but he did not talk much about them.

Two days ago (11 July) I telephoned after a lapse of several months. The telephone had been disconnected.

Zachary would have been 91 this year,as I remember.

Please pray for the repose of his soul. It is good to know such happy warriors exist in our time and place.

rev. fpf

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The Kindness of The Lord

Posted on August 31, 2012

During the Kennedy Administration, Gaylord Perry , a very fine pitcher for the San Francisco Giants was being interviewd. Gaylord Perry hailed from the South and was a devout Christian. He had a large family of eight children. Mr. Perry was a very good pitcher but a very poor batter. That combination is not unusal in Baseball. During the interrview the interlocutor brought up the subject of his hitting skills. Mr Perry acknowledged his poor performance in that aspect of Baseball; and, as a joke, mentioned that we would probably have a man on the moon before he hit his first home run.

In 1969, Mr. Armstrong stepped on the moon; the first human to do so.

A few hours lateer, Mr. Perry HIT HIS FiRST HOME RUN OF HIS CAREER.

The reason I like that story is because it demonstrates how our Guardian angels are always with us and see and hear everything in our lives. It also demonstrates how kind is the Creator who would respond to Me. Perry in this beautiful way. It shows the truth that Our Creator loves us as a tender Father loves his child and so we need have no fear of repenting and going to Him in complete trust.

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