Father Moreno began by praying the “Hail Mary”.
We find the “Hail Mary” in song, in poetry, in paintings.
He has prayed the “Hail Mary” since he was a kid and from the “Hail Mary” he got that Mary was his mother.
Everyone he knew believed that Mary was their mother; his mother, his grandmother, his family and all the neighbors, well not all the neighbors. There were some people on his street who were not Catholics and he was told not to go to their church because the walls of the church would fall down on him and he would go to hell.
He was about 8 or 9 years old, but he would go to the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, and the Baptists churches because they gave cookies and Kool-Aid.
One day he was asked to come up front and give his witness. He didn’t know what to say so he began “Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with Thee . . .” He was told that was not right to believe, because Mary was not the Mother of God. He was humiliated; this was his first failed attempt at evangelization. Not only did he not convert anyone that day but he was more confused.
He had the innocence of faith and he asked the priest why some people didn’t believe that Mary was the Mother of God and the priest's response went over his head. Years later in the seminary he learned the syllogism: Mary gave birth to Jesus and Jesus is God; therefore, Mary is the Mother of God. Duh! What’s so hard to understand about that?
The Council of Ephesus in the 5th century declared that Mary was “Theotokos” meaning the Bearer of God, the Mother of God. Mary is not divine, she is not a goddess. Like Mary was the Bearer of Jesus, we are to hold Jesus in our being. Mary is to be our model, Mary points to Jesus and is focused on Jesus. We are to ask, “Who is Jesus?” and “What is my relationship with Jesus?”
In Luke 2: 19, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Mary is reflecting Jesus in her heart. Our Number 1 New Year’s Reflection/Resolution should not be to lose weight, although he admitted that has been his New Year’s Resolution every year. He loves to eat half a pie with ice cream and whipped cream and if it’s pecan pie, he eats the whole pie. Father Moreno said to please don’t give him any pecan pies; he’s trying to lose weight.
Our Number 1 New Year’s Resolution should be to reflect all things in our heart, to reflect on the life of Jesus and the best way to reflect on the life of Jesus is to pray the Rosary because the Rosary leads us through the life of Jesus as presented in the Gospels. When we pray the Rosary we are pondering and reflecting like Mary. He challenged us to commit to reflect on Jesus the Word made flesh every day. Mary is our friend, our friend that walks with us, our model, and our intercessor revealing Jesus to us.
If we want to lose weight we can exercise and pray the Rosary while we walk, ride the exercise bike or swim. He said that when he goes to the gym at the Base he walks up and down in the swimming pool praying the Rosary, he walks in the water - he doesn’t walk on the water. The life guard told him that she would see him mumbling to himself and he told her he was praying the Rosary.
Another way to really lose weight and add to the spirituality of our resolution is when we eat, that in-between each bite we chew, that we pray a “Hail Mary”.
He recommended praying/reading the Blessing of God every day.
In Number 6: 24-26:
The Lord blesses me and keeps me!God calls us by our name and he loves us by our name. We can fill in our name instead of Mary’s in the “Hail Mary” and God says: “Hail Antonio, full of grace the Lord is with you”.
The Lord lets his face shine upon me, and is gracious to me!
The Lord looks upon me kindly and gives me peace!
Shalom means wholeness, harmony and peace. During the Sign of Peace at Mass we should be conscious that it is God’s Peace we give when we say, “Peace be with you” to each other. Some people don’t like the sign of peace; they barely give three fingers and mumble something out of the corner of their mouths.
He has been reflecting for the last 2 weeks on the following from Galatians 4:6, “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Abba means Daddy, Papa, the intimacy of a child to his father.
We are to claim God’s blessings every day. There will be suffering, but nothing that with God we cannot handle. We are to offer our suffering as a prayer. God loves us dearly, graciously, kindly, tenderly and uniquely.
After Mass we prayed one “Hail Mary” for an increase of faith, one “Hail Mary” for an increase of hope and one “Hail Mary” for an increase of love.