Sunday, August 31, 2008


Matthew 16:21-27

Here is a quote from St. John Chrysostom:

"To be men of wisdom means to honor Christ in the way he desires.  For a person being honored finds greater pleasure in the honor he desires and not in the honor we think best."

In today's gospel Jesus gives us the recipe for honor:

"whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

Unless we deny ourselves then we simply live in denial, in the denial of all that is good, true, and beautiful, in the denial of God himself making himself known in Jesus Christ. 

When you find it difficult to carry your cross, it probably because you are walking in front of Jesus and no longer behind him.  

Get behind him and let his strength claim hold of your weakness.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In her own words I

Saturdays are often considered to be the day of Mary, the Blessed Mother.  It is a day in which we set aside a few moments to ponder what kind of gift is this to us.  What kind of love does God have for us that he gives us a mother so tender and so mild yet so keenly aware of God's will and plan in our life. 

This day will be devoted to Mary and her words in scripture.

What were Mary's first words in scripture.  We must go to Luke 1:34. 
Here the angel declares unto Mary that she will conceive and bear a son, naming him Jesus, and he will be great in dignity and will be the son of the Most High.  He will be given the throne of David and rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will without end. 


What kind of introduction is this.  Most parents would be overwhelmed to hear all of that about their child.  Most parents desire greatness from their children and work hard at making that possible.  Most would be excited about having the inside scoop into their child's life for it surely would alleviate stress, worry and anxiety. 

Yet, Mary's words echo with great force as she responds to this inauguration of Jesus into history, "How can this be..."

Mary, the mother of God, Virgin of virgins, conceived without sin, responds in a way we might not expect, "How can this be since I have no husband?"

Mary in her humility and in her deep sense of reality recognizes her own inexperience.  She is way to inexperienced to be given all this and to handle all this.  

Her inexperience will become her greatest attribute.  She doesn't need all the experiences to be an instrument of grace. She simple just needs to be and God does the rest. Her inexperience keeps her from betraying God's favor and love. 

It was Adam and Eve's inexperience in the garden that led to the fall and disorder of sin to affect us all.  It will be Mary's inexperience that will lead Jesus to the garden to reawaken humanity from its fallen state and introduce the power of grace to us all.  

How can this be...?  The answer to the question finds it source in the angel's salutation, "Hail full of grace."  

"How can this be..."
God's favor...
that is how...

The mystery of the future can be overwhelming; the uncertainty of tomorrow can be weighty; the anxiety about things to come can be blinding; yet the mystery of God's favor is always ready to claim hold of our doubt; the mystery of God's strength is always ready to claim hold of our weakness; the mystery of God's experienced hands is always ready to steady our hands of inexperience.  

How can this be...?
God's favor will see us through! 

Friday, August 29, 2008

lose your head

Jeremiah 1:17-19; I will sing your salvation; Mark 6:17-29

Often time growing up Dad would say something to the effect of, "boy, where is your head," or "if your head wasn't attached you would lose it," or "is your head screwed on right."  Usually the comment was a result of a not so good judgment on my part. 

But, nonetheless, I was glad my head was attached that way I always knew where it was. 

Today  we celebrate the beheading of John the Baptist.  He lost his head.  
On a silver platter it was carried forth to Herodias and her daughter. 

What kind of mother would ask her daughter to share in her sinful ways?  What kind of mother would justify her sinful act of adultery by involving her innocent child in such a despicable request?

John the Baptist lost his head because he kept his head screwed on right. 
The true test of a martyr is to keep one's head even if it means you have to lose it.

To be a herald of Jesus sometimes can be costly.  In this world of cost effectiveness and red tag sales, and cheaper by the dozen and bargain shopping, when it comes to Jesus, there is no sale price or cost cut that defines the truth. 

What corners do you cut in your faith life?  What bargains do you look for in following Jesus? The witness we give loses its luster when we cut corners on the gospel life of Jesus.  John the baptist was a lamp shining brightly, Jesus said in the gospel.  Are we?

Have you hid your light beneath the bed or put it under a bushel basket?  Or do you let it burn brightly?  

What gives light must endure burning!

St. Paul put it best, "you have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but to suffer for him."

What a privilege, what a life, what a light! Instead of the saying, 'go ahead, make my day' now just 'Go lose your head', for the crown awaits those who give at any cost so that the costliest pearl might be made known. 


Thursday, August 28, 2008

the doctor is in

1 Corinthians 1:1-9; I will praise your name for ever; Matthew 24:42-51

What does it take to become a doctor? 

Some would suggest that determination, dedication, resolve, perseverance, intelligence, sacrifice, desire, and a good support system, not to mention 8 years of study for a piece of paper that declares you to be a doctor. 

These are all very necessary for a medical doctor.  But what does it take to be a doctor of the Church?

Today is the feast of St. Augustine, the Doctor of Grace. How did he get such a title?

For Augustine to be a doctor it took the tears of his mother St. Monica, the instructional wisdom of St. Ambrose, and the divine assistance of grace.  

Of course the tears of St. Monica and the instruction of St. Ambrose were instruments of grace for Augustine.

Augustine finally arrived at fellowship with Jesus, as St. Paul directs us toward in the first reading, because he was around those who had fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict reminds us that St. Augustine became a Christian by conversion and not by birth.  This is a permanently valid principle: humans become Christian not by birth but by conversion. 

For St. Monica and St. Ambrose is was the primacy of prayer and worship that awaken St. Augustine to the redeeming face of Christ.  The power of prayer should be never underestimated. 

For St. Augustine it meant a constant searching and a refusal to accept mediocrity in his spiritual development.  

Brought together, the tears of St. Monica, the instruction of St. Ambrose, and the searching of Augustine and a doctor was born by way of conversion. 

May we follow the same path, always seeking to be converted to Christ so that we may have life.

"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have  loved you!  You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.  In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things you created.  You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all.  You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.  You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.  You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.  You touched me, and I burned for your peace."  St. Augustine

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

strain out the gnat and swallow the camel

Matthew 23:23-26

If Jesus was a prize fighter, his best punch would be the jab. 

Over the last few days we have been reading about Jesus confronting the scribes and pharisees.  He has saying, "woe to you, scribes and pharisees, you hypocrites," then he jabs them right in the nose...

The beauty of the jab is that it isn't meant to knock someone out; the jab is a set up punch.  It is a punch that gets the opponents attention and it will also sting a bit.  The jab sets up the knock out blow.  

Jesus throughout his ministry jabs with the left and right setting people up for the blow.  Today Jesus jabs pulling the scribes and pharisees from their own hypocrisy.  He does this to only later hit them with the knock out punch that shows them exactly what one looks like who isn't a hypocrite.  

The cross is the knock out punch that floors us all.  There we see what it looks like to be a person of integrity, to actually live what you profess.     

Sometimes we got to let Jesus jab us in the nose to pulls us out of our own hypocrisy so that our witness to truth and goodness and life and love might be more vibrant and more authentic.  The better our witness the more joy we will have in Christ. 

Recently, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house and proclaimed Catholic had an interview on Meet the Press.  She insists that she is an ardent Catholic yet she continues to vote for partial birth abortion and the women's right to choose.  Yet, to vote to kill a baby is completely against the catholic Faith because it is completely against God who chooses life for all. 

She and many others like her who claim to be Christian yet discount their own testimony by witnessing to that which is against Christianity are like the scribes and pharisees, they strain the gnat and swallow the camel. 

Abortion is quite a camel to swallow that destroys the witness of the Christian.

Below is a link to Archbishop Chaput's response to Nancy Pelosi's interview.  It is definitely worth the read:

Be careful not to swallow the camel when keeping an eye out for the gnat; for a mouth full of camel leaves little room for the Word of God to enter in and is far less appealing than a mouth full of gnats.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

gathering place

Isaiah 22:19-23; Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20

When we were growing up, the most exciting times for us was having the opportunity to go to the store shopping.  We did not go shopping often, so it was a treat.  The only draw back to shopping was where one went every body went. 

This was often times quite embarrassing especially with 6 sisters.  There were many a time where us boys were put in compromising situations because the girls were wanting to buy undergarments.  The girl section in the store was not a place we wanted to be. 

Our parents wised up and eventually allowed us to separate in groups so that we could go where we needed and wanted to go and not go to those undesirable places. 

Usually we would set our watches, choose how long we would have and then choose a place to meet back.  This gathering place enabled us to move freely around but yet always gather back to make sure everyone was doing alright.  Let's face it with 10 children running around, gathering back together was necessary.

The gathering place brought us together, enabled us to check up on one another, helped us remember what we were about so we wouldn't get distracted and gave us the freedom to move forward.

When I was in Sydney this summer with a group of 24 we did the same thing.  There were days when different people wanted to do different things and we all couldn't be in the same place at the same time.  Therefore, we would set our watches, pick a time to meet back, and pick a place to gather us together. 

It worked out great.  We would be off in Sydney, each group going about its business, then we would gather together at our chosen place and time to make sure we were doing alright.  The up side of the gathering, was it enabled us to remember we were on pilgrimage and that we shouldn't let the distractions of the city tear us away from what we were about. 
The gathering place was necessary. 

The other day I was visiting with a parishioner and as we were talking at the bar, which separated the kitchen from the living room, I looked at the wall and  above the bar was hung a painting of the last supper.  There was Jesus holding high the bread and on either side was the twelve apostles.  Below the picture there was a metal work sign that read, "The Gathering Place."

As I read the sign and spied the painting, I thought to myself  that this is exactly what the Eucharist is about.  The Sunday Eucharist is the time and place in which we are gathered together to remember who we are, to check up on every one in the community, to make sure we are all still focused on what we are about, pilgrims on a journey, and to not lose our selves in the many distractions that abound. 

The last supper, which we celebrate at ever mass, is the gathering place that holds us all together and helps us remember.   The beauty of this gathering place is that it stretches beyond time and place.  It has been gathering Catholic Christians together for 2000 years; it has occurred in a variety of places: in prisons, in back yards and front porches, indoors and outdoors, under ground in catacombs, in grand cathedrals and small country chapels, in homes across the world.  The gathering has kept us focused on who we are and helped us remember just how much we are worth. 

The gathering place at the Eucharist brings us face to face with the judgment of God.  There at the mass we encounter God's judgment in Christ.  As Jesus takes the bread and gives it as food to eat and takes the chalice and pours it for the forgiveness us sins, we encounter the truth that we are worthy of love, we are worthy of forgiveness, at every cost to himself.   There we are gathered and brought to the realization of our very dignity

Our dignity is realized at the celebration of the Mass, where the cross and resurrection  of Christ makes known to us just how worthy and valuable we are in the eyes of God.  We are made worthy and this is what gathers us together. 

In today's gospel Jesus tells Simon that he is Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.   The word church means to gather people together from the world in order send them back into the world.  Jesus sets up a gathering place.  The gathering place, if it is to be authentic, Jesus reminds us, must have Peter as its guide.  Jesus grafts Peter into himself and makes him a visible sign so as to gather people together.  

Peter and his successors, the popes, have been doing this for 2000 years.  If you want to be gathered to Christ then you must be gathered by the Pope.  It is Peter and his successors that have maintained the authentic gathering in the authentic Eucharistic celebration.  If Peter and his successors are not present, then it  isn't the gathering place that offers the fullness of truth so that we might be fully nourished for the journey of being sent out.

It is in the gospel of John where Jesus gives Peter the commission feed my sheep.  The truth of the Eucharist feeds us completely.

Behind the Pope we come to the gathering place where we meet the fullness of Christ who waits for each of us. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Ezekiel 34:1-11; The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing is shall want; Matthew 20:1-16

The parable of the workers reveal much about the generosity of God. 

The landowner hired workers at different times throughout the day and at the end of the day he paid them all the same. 

Those hired first complained against what they perceived to be an injustice on the landowner's part.  They valued their own judgment of fairness rather than being overwhelmed by the generosity of the landowner. 

Their judgment value of fairness became a hindrance and source of irritation.  They were too occupied with their own standard and thus missed the greater reality of the standard of generosity exhibited by the landowner. 

Do we not do this with God?  Are we not often too occupied with our own standard of judgment of fairness and miss out on the greater standard exhibited by God, His true greatness.  

Just because we don't immediately see something as great doesn't mean it is not great.  This is what faith is about.  Faith is about setting aside our standard and opening ourselves up to the hidden generosity of God, a generosity that makes us all equal in Christ.

St. Bernard, whose feast we celebrate today warns us of the 'numerous preoccupations that can lead to a hardness of heart.'  He speaks of the necessity of having some time apart from activity and busyness  to recollect ourselves and to ponder the generosity of God in our life that we miss so often because we are to caught up in the fast pace world.

Only when we stop and think and pray can we truly recognize the depth of God's generosity in our life and in the life of those around us.  Then we can truly develop an attitude of appreciation and gratitude that will become for us a source of strength.  

Psalm 103 reminds us, "His justice reaches out to children's children when they keep his covenant in truth, when they keep his will in their mind."  The psalm invites us to take some time to hold in our mind the will of God, so that we can recognize the generosity of his will in our daily lives. 

Recollection of the mind leads to recognition in the sight which creates a heart filled with gratitude and a soul that overflows with appreciation that directs the life to be lived with generosity. 

This is the recipe for greatness.  This is the recipe of a soul well lived. 

St. Bernard pray for us

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

no good sense

Ezekiel 28:1-10; It is I who deal death and give life; Matthew 19:23-30

In the Psalm today we read from Dt 32.  In it the Scripture tell us of those who mistakenly boast when they proclaim, "Our own hands won the victory; the Lord had nothing to do with it."

The writer goes on to exclaim that these people who say such things, who perceive such things, are "devoid of reason having no understanding."

Most scientist and philosophers and modern critics of belief in God, religion, and faith claim that they are the ones who are reasonable and have understanding.  Yet, scripture points out that without Faith and trust and recognition of God's hands in and around us, we are unreasonable and lack understanding, in other words, we have no good sense.  

The Church teaches that Faith directs and perfects our reason and understanding.  The mere fact that we do not know something about the mystery of God doesn't mean we are unreasonable, it means we have finally arrived at what reason is all about.  

For all those out there who claim to be reasonable and yet lack faith, their fault is they misuse the reason that God gave them.  Not having faith and claiming to be reasonable is like clipping the wings of a bird and still wanting them to fly.  

A bird without wings is less a bird, for they were made to fly...A reasonable man with out faith is less a man.

What good is having reason if you don't let it soar perfectly in the flight of faith.  The problem with atheist and those who don't believe isn't with their reason or understanding; the problem is they are afraid of heights; they choose to remain on the ground.  They lack courage, and because their fear is so overwhelming, they don't want others to fly either. 

Where courage is not, no other virtue can survive except by accident.  Atheist are cowards.  Their lives are ruled by cowardice.  This is what is so tragic.  They mask their cowardice by clinging to reason and in the process they remain grounded because they are afraid to fly,  afraid to be taken to the heights where faith alone can take us, as scripture says, "Lord, you have kept my foot from slipping and raise me to new heights."

Keep your sense about you, let your faith guide you: remember angels fly because they have perfect faith that keeps their reason from being grounded and this is why they soar. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Feast of the Assumption

Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10; Psalm 45 The queen stands at you right arrayed in Gold; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother.  We celebrate the reality that Mary upon death did not suffer corruption, but rather God in his gratitude and generosity for Mary's yes opened up the heavens and assumed her body and soul, where she now sits and intercedes for us all. 

In the book of Revelation we read, "God's Temple in heaven was opened up, and the Ark of his Covenant could be seen in the temple."

Question: What is the ark of the covenant?

The ark of the covenant was a portable box that the Israelites carried around with them during their wanderings in the desert and in their entry into the promised land.  It was at the center of their worship.  

The ark contained within its walls the tablets upon were written the ten commandments, a jar of manna, the bread that was sent from God to nourish the Israelites it he desert, and the rod of Aaron, which was a sign of his selection to be the priest who attended to the liturgy and altar of sacrifices for making peace between God and his people all along the journey. 

It was a sign of God's ever abiding personal presence.  It was a sign that God chose to meet the people of Israel, give them the law of life, and offer them continually his saving mercy.  The ark was the place upon which God communicated his goodness and favor. 

Mary, our blessed mother, is also considered to be the ark of the covenant.  She, like the ark of the old testament was portable.  She carried with her the ultimate sign of God's personal and ever abiding presence, Jesus Christ, God's son and her son. 

Jesus, is the law giver.  He brings forth the new law of life, for he is the way the truth and the life. He is the bread of life, for as he tells us, take this all of you and eat it, and whoever eats my body and drinks my blood will have eternal life.  He is himself the bread from heaven sent to nourish us on our journey.  He is the high priest and the sacrifice.  He give his life on the altar of the cross so that we might receive the mercy and compassion of God.  His death on the cross and resurrection enables hope to be born in us. 

Mary, herself is the ark that contains, life everlasting.  This is why John the BAptist leaps in his mothers womb, for the ark of God's mercy and grace, was in his presence. 

This is why we honor the blessed mother.  Just as God is grateful for her yes and welcomes her into  heaven, the final ark of the covenant, so to we must allow her to accompany us on the journey so that we might also leap with joy as she brings us close to Christ, the giver of new life.

Mary, who are in heaven, pray for us... 



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

like a gentile

Ezekiel 9:1-22; Psalm 113 The Glory of the Lord is higher than the skies; Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus tell the disciples that if someone has sinned against you then go tell him his fault between him and you alone.  If that doesn't work than bring a couple of witnesses.  If he still refuses tell the church. If he still doesn't budge than treat him as you would a gentile or tax collector. 

A couple of things: 
First we should keep the sins a private matter between ourselves and those involved.  So often today, people want everything to be a public matter immediately and they wish to broadcast their dirty laundry to every one and all.  Think of the number of law suits in the world.  The world is filled with adolescents who never learned to do for themselves so they want every one else involved as well.

Jesus reminds us that we should be discrete, especially in regards to protecting their reputation and ours.  We must fight the urge to gossip and let every one in on the dirty little secret. True dignity demands a more discrete approach to seeking reconciliation.

Secondly, Jesus ask us to treat them as we would a gentile or tax collector.  What does this mean?

Pope Benedict in his address on World Mission Sunday, reminds us that we all have a duty to be missionaries bringing forth the liberation power of the gospel.  He reminds us that just as Paul was a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles, bound to offer the liberation of Christ to the gentiles, so too we must also embrace this mission.  We must bind ourselves to offer liberation.

In other words, if our brother doesn't acknowledge his sin, are we not bound to offer the forgiveness won in Christ anyway.  After all, it was Christ who reconciled the world in him self through the blood of the cross, and then he entrusted that message to each of us at Baptism. 

To treat them as a gentile suggest we offer them time and time again the power of liberation in forgiveness gain by Christ for us. 

Only then, Pope Benedict reminds us, do we truly dedicate ourselves completely and unconditionally  to spreading the perfume of Christ's Charity around the world by offering it first to those around us.   

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

their angels in heaven

Ezekiel 2:8-3:4, Psalm 119: How sweet to my taste is your promise; Matthew 18:1-5, 10,12-14

Are there really such things as angels?  Are we not beyond such fairy tales?  

In today's gospel, Jesus reminds us "see that you despise not one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."

Above is a link that reveals what popes have taught concerning angels.  It is worth a look. 

We must remember that all things are made through Christ.  Who is better to direct our mind to what is real than the one whose hand is in creation of all that is seen and unseen.  Who is better to direct the mind to what is real than He who stepped out of is natural state of invisibility and stepped into the visible when HE became man 

Jesus states that "their angels always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."  To Look on the face of God, is the highest manifestation of adoration.  How blessed are we to have an angel in adoration for us, for each of us continually.  

This reminds us that prayer and adoration is a way to assist people to stay close to God.  It is by adoration our angels lead us closer to God.  Should we not pray for others in the same manner our angels are entrusted to pray for us?

"Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God's love entrust me here; ever this day be at my side, to lead and guard to rule and guide. Amen." 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

how long

Matthew 17:14-20

"A man came up to Jesus and knelt down before him."

This is not a bad way to begin a conversation with Christ.  Amazing things happen when we come up Jesus and kneel before him.  On our knees we truly begin to see. 

The man makes a request and then Jesus responds in a seemingly harsh tone...
"O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?"

Doesn't sound so inviting. Think about it.  Jesus has to endure us.  What does that say about us?

But the question is meant to get us to think about the reality of Christ.  We should repeat the question not with a sigh of bitterness but with an air of hope, How long, Lord, will you endure us?

We are hopeful because we know the answer.  Jesus at the end of the gospel of Matthew finally reveals to the disciples and ourselves just how long He will endure, 

"all power in heaven and earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  and, behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

He is with us always.  How long will he endure, 'until the end of the age.'  Or in layman terms, as long as it takes to see us through

This is why we ask the question with hope in our hearts.  We know the answer.  Jesus will endure with us as long as it takes, even if it takes until the end of the age. 

Patience is a virtue that Christ ask from us because He himself lives it for us.

How long?  As long as it takes.  What a savior!

Friday, August 8, 2008


Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples, "whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Often times, especially in movies, but also in daily conversations among men and women, between parents and their children, sometimes out of rashness, often without thinking often without meaning anything, someone will say the phrase, 'for Christ sake.'

Usually, it said in an alarming fashion, and seldom it is meant to actually get the person to think about Christ.  It has become a cliche.  

Cliches are those things that are so overused that they lack originality and they also lack meaning.  They have lost the original force because they were used so often with out meaning. 

For instance: 
*you couldn't hit the broad side of a barn
*don't count your chickens before they hatch
*don't put all your eggs in one basket
*early bird gets the worm
*good things come to those who wait
*an apple a day keeps the doctor away
*a penny saved is a penny earned
*put the pedal to the metal
*it is raining cats and dogs

And the list goes on an on...

The problem with cliches isn't that they aren't true but that they are so overused that the meaning gets lost.  This is the tragedy.  They don't mean anything anymore because people no longer take the time to ponder the depth of meaning involved. 

Imagine a world where "for Christ sake" has become a cliche.  Where is meaning to be found if not in Christ?

In fact, it is, "for Christ sake"  which is meant to direct us to what life is about.  For the sake of Christ is why we do what we do; it is why we forgive, and love, and laugh and live. 

Living for the sake of Christ is a life well lived. 

We must rescue the phrase from the roster of cliches and restore it to its original purpose and then perhaps our lives will be restored to their original purpose.  For it is only for his sake that we will find it; find what we truly are looking for the joy of living and the beauty of life.

Otherwise our life is just a cliche that ends in the grave

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Matthew 16:13-23

On August 6th, Pope Sixtus and three deacons were celebrating mass in the Cemetery of Callistus.  This was an established tradition i the early church, to meet in cemetery and offer prayers for the dead.  While praying, a troop of soldiers of emperor Valerian, came and arrested the Pope and the deacons.  The group was charged with sedition and were beheaded on the spot.  The Christian onlookers were paralysed with fear, for the imperial sword was never far away.

Two things about the the way Pope Sixtus died: 
Sixtus  died while praying for the dead.  Praying for the dead is a act of charity and mercy.  We should never lose sight of the great act of charity we can do for those who have passed on simply by commending them to God's mercy and begging that they be with God.  Often times, after someone has died we forget about them because we quickly put them into heaven. 

Well, we forget that God's judgment is not only merciful but it is just and fair.  Purgatory is necessary for many of us, and our prayers assist them through the purgation process of entering into heaven.    We must remember that the anchoring of a person in the Church is not something which death disrupts or destroys.  Even though  death has come, we can still carry each other and bear other's burdens.  The real frontier of life is not the boundary between death and earthly life but between being in Christ and being without him.  Thus as we make our way through the judging fire of Christ that purifies, judging fire of Christ's intimate presence, we do so not alone but with the companionable embrace of the family of the Church.  We assist each other in the process because in Baptism we all are members of the body of Christ. The process of purification is, on all levels, an activity of reciprocal caring. 

Please do not let your caring and concern cease with the death of loved ones and even those we do not love.  Assist them with your prayers and walk with them through the judging fire of Christ's purifying embrace. 

Secondly, may the prayer of the mass give you strength to bear witness to Christ and your faith:

Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you enabled Sixtus and his companions to lay down their lives for your word in witness to Jesus.  Give us the grace to believe in you and the courage to profess our faith.  

The sword of the secular society is often seeking to decapitate us who are Christians.  Pray for the courage to take a stand in the face of such opposition.  


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Feast of the Transfiguration

Daniel 7:9-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9

Feast of the Transfiguration is upon us.  Jesus climbs the mountain and turns on the lights.  He converses with Moses and Elijah and his face shone like the sun and his garments become white as light. 

The important events of Jesus' life are inwardly connected to the Jewish festival calendar. The gospels reveal this trait.  When a public act of worship is celebrated by the Jewish community a particular event in the life of Christ is unfolding, an event that is of great importance.

When Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Lord, Son of God; he does so at the time of the clebration known as Day of Atonement celebration.  This is when the priest enters the Holy of Holies and proclaims the name of YHWH (God).  This is done only once a year out of reverence for the name God revealed to Moses and the Jewish people.

When Jesus is being crucified, the passion and death of Christ, the Jewish people are celebrating the Passover.  This is when the people remember how they were passed over, saved from Death, by the marking of the lamb's blood upon their door post.  Here they recall the gift of life and freedom from slavery. 

When Jesus is transfigured the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is occurring.  This is when the Jewish people put up little tents or booths and remain there for 7 days remembering their journey in the wilderness for 40 years, a time when they only lived in booths and they were fully depended upon God who led then with a pillar of fire and cloud and nourished then with Manna from Heaven. 

So what does all this mean?

It means that in Jesus the liturgical celebrations truly become alive.  It means that Life leads to liturgy, public worship, and liturgy, public worship, seeks to become life. 

This is the beauty of the transfiguration.  Jesus reminds us that as he embraces the passion, life is transfigured; life is transfigured because for Him it is all one act of public worship. 

For the Christian, this too is how life is transfigured.  This is how the grind of ordinary life becomes exalted and glorified, when it becomes worship, "in all that you do, do it in name of Jesus the Lord."

Elizabeth Browning state that "earth is crammed with heaven, and every common bush a fire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes, the rest sit around it and pluck blackberries." 

For life to become an act of public worship, at each moment in all that we do, the heavens open up to us and the world is set afire with the divine and brightness shines forth.

So stop picking at the blackberries and start taking off your shoes, worship in all that you do.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cure D'Ars

Ezekiel 3:17-21; Ps 117; Matthew 9:35-10:1

Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm in the Book of Psalms.  Of the 150 Psalms, it is also by the far the one that summarizes all of scripture.  It captures the longing of the Human Heart for God and God's revelation and longing for man.  

It is worth putting to memory and it is worth taking to heart and reciting daily.  Because it is short you can take it with you where ever you go:

"O praise the Lord all you nations,
  acclaim him, all you peoples! 

  Strong is his love for us;
  he is faithful for ever."

That is it. Just having the words on your lips will elevate the soul to God and you will find strength for the journey each day.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Vianney.  He is the only Diocesan priest to be a saint.  In many dioceses this day is set apart to offer mass for all deceased priest.  It should be a time also to pray for those priest still alive in the vineyard. 

We should pray for our priest often.  Pray that God will give them the wisdom and courage and charity and perseverance they need to carry out the gift of their vocation so as to lead the faithful and themselves ever closer to Jesus and more alive for God. 

A few words of encouragement from St. John Vianney the Cure D'Ars

"We should say every morning" "My God send me the Holy Spirit to teach me what I am and what you are."

"When we are before the Blessed Sacrament, let us open our heart; our good God will open his; We shall go to him; he will come to us; the one to ask, the other to receive.  It will be like a breath from one to the other."

"Virtue demands courage, constant effort, and above all, help from on high."

"we are each of us like a small mirror in which God searches for his reflection." Holiness is God seeing himself in us. 

John Vianney pray for us as we pray for priest

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Psalm 69: Lord, in your great love, answer me. Matthew 14:1-12

In today's Gospel we read that "Herod heard of the reputation of Jesus..."

I often wonder what kind of reputation Jesus had as He moved in and out of the surrounding towns and cities of Jerusalem.  He must of had quite an impact.

There must have been rumors of how he was a man of healing, a man of mystery, a man of miracles.  I always imagine little boys and girls with bright eyes and wondering minds seeking to get the latest scoop or to hear the latest tale of this wandering man from Nazareth.  

The mystery and the mystic that followed Jesus every where he was, every where he had been, every where he was yet to go must have been invigorating. The whispers echoed from house top to house top, spread through out the land, some positive some negative. 

His reputation was vibrant and alive and captivating.  It held every one's attention, it caught every one's ear, it moved many to seek out for themselves. 

Some were troubled by it, some were in awe of it, some embraced it, some sought to destroy it.

Yet, His reputation remained. 

Jesus' reputation continues today to do all those things.  2000 years later Jesus continues to captivate, inspire, trouble, bother, disturb, overwhelm.  Why?

Is it because Hs life was so profound a mystery and His personality so dynamic that even 2000 years could not touch it, or defeat it? No! It has nothing to do with time.

It is because Jesus is still alive, he is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow.  His reputation continues to be present because he is still present, "I will be with you always until the end of the age."  

Jesus' reputation does not depend on us, it depends on Him.  

Yet, we as Christians who bear His name do have a part.  His reputation is carried in and through us. This is why St. Paul says, "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives with in me" and again "we carry the death of Christ in our bodies so that the life of Christ might be revealed."

We must move cautiously aware of the pearl of great price that accompanies us.  The shadow of His reputation must invigorate us. 

Jesus Honors us with His presence yesterday, today, and tomorrow; should we not Honor Him with our presence?  Is not this the root of all Moral decision making: letting our actions give Honor to Him who Honors us so that His reputation might be spread further, wider, richer.

Let the reputation of Jesus be carried in you, let the reputation of Jesus carry you, let the reputation of Jesus be written all over your Face.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

do you know him or know about him

Matthew 13:54-58

And he did not work many miracles there because of there lack of faith.

We read in today's gospel and intriguing narrative about Jesus going back home.  He arrives at home, a very familiar face on very familiar turf surrounded by very familiar faces staring back him.  

The people who grew up with him, walked on the same roads as Him, went to the same school as Him, worshiped in the same synagogue as Him, shopped at the same market as Him were astounded and confused and they took offense at Him. 

The reality was they knew all about Him but they did not know Him.  Knowledge about someone is very different than knowledge of someone.

They let this knowledge about Him become the foundation of the prejudice, the foundation of their judgment. Because they judged without knowing, they missed out on the miracle Jesus was so eager to give. 

How often do we, who know about people, judge them before we actually know them and miss out on the miracle waiting to happen?

How do we discern the difference between knowledge about someone and knowledge of someone?  True knowledge is meant to lead to compassion and love.  False knowledge, superficial knowledge will always lead to judgment and prejudice and distance.

Do we know Jesus? Or do we just know about Him?

A detective story I once read made this declaration.  If you want to guess who someone is then you keep your distance in front of them but if you want to know someone then you must follow behind them,stray when they stray, and walk where they walk, move when they move, and you begin to see what they see and then you shall discover true knowledge of then, true intimacy.

This is what devotional practices are about.  They give us the opportunity to stay behind Jesus and walk where he walks and move when he moves and see what he sees.  The way of the cross gives us the opportunity to  walk with Christ and experience his conviction and earnestness, the rosary gives us an opportunity to live with Christ the mystery of his life, scripture gives us the opportunity to meet and converse with Christ and enter into a lively conversation, the Mass gives us an opportunity to sit with Christ on the last night before he died and see him give himself away.

We Know Him by following after Him, walking in his footsteps and thus getting to love what we know.  Only then do we surrender those false judgments, only then do we move from having knowledge about Him to actually knowing Him, and then our faith grows; here we might begin to open up to experience the miracle He waits to give.