Sunday, November 30, 2008


Isaiah 63: 16-17,19; 64:2-7; Psalm 80 Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Advent is time for rehab.  Re-habituating ourselves to living our true identity.
Like most rehab programs there are four aspects that enable us to rehab in such a manner that is lasting in its fruitfulness, lasting in its transformation.

The program consist in the four R's of Advent.

Advent is a time to remember.  As Isaiah reminds the Israelites so the Liturgy invites us to remember who we are.  We must be re awaken and roused from our slumber to remember our true identity.  We are heirs to the kingdom, we are sons and daughters to the Father and we have forgotten. 

Remember who you are, you are my son and you have forgotten me, these are the summation of God's call to the Israelites and to ourselves from the Father. 

Advent is a time of reflection.  We have been distracted by the economy, the market, the presidential election, by college football and everything else.  Advent is a time to set aside quiet moments and reflect on how we have lived our identity. 

It  is not just a time for reflecting on what we have done wrong, but it also a time of reflection on what God has done right.  A time to reflect on how God has led us through even in the hard times.  

Often times we are nearsighted when it comes to God's plan unfolding.  We just see the immediate confusion and chaos but we fail to look far enough ahead.  Thus we get impatient. 

We are also farsighted when it comes to ourselves; we are afraid to take a closer look to see our our life is unfolding in cooperation with God's call. 

When we are nearsighted when it comes to God's plan and farsighted when it comes to our life then sinfulness takes over and our life begins to unravel.  Advent is a time of refocus.  A time to be watchful, to recognize the presence of Christ in our life.  It is a time to see Him not in the big moments but also the quiet subtle moments. 

Advent is a time of repentance.  Repentance is often looked upon as a negative action but in reality it is a positive action in our life.  It is where we open our hearts and no longer live close din on ourselves.  It is about reaching outward and upward.  It is about returning to reclaim our identity.  

It is a time of facing our guilt, confessing our guilt and confessing our faith.  Here we allow our faith and identity in Christ to conquer our guilt and to set us free.

Advent is a time of rejoicing.  We must remember the first words that inaugurated Christianity in to history, jesus into humanity.   The angel Gabriel declared unto Mary, "rejoice, highly favored one."  In deed we are to rejoice for in Jesus through Mary we are highly favored.  

Rejoicing is about recognizing God's victory and we are invited to be victorious along side of him. 

We rejoice because though we may abandon God he does not abandon us. 
It is rejoicing that enables Mary to stand at the foot of the cross and enables us to stand erect and make ourselves ready for the coming of Christ. 

Remember, Reflect, Repent, Rejoice, here enter fully into advent and are re-habituated to being who we are called to to be, heirs to the kingdom. 

Remember you are my son, and you have forgotten me. Let us rouse ourselves from slumber and never forget who we are called to be and never forget who calls us into being.

but my words will not pass away

Luke 21:29-33

Jesus continues His exhortation on the end of time.   He ask us to be on the look out for the signs that manifest the kingdom of God and its proximity to fullness. 

Then he says these words, "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

We must never forget that God reveals himself not as an image or an effigy but rather as a voice. He reveals himself as a voice that speaks, commands, guides, creates. 

The first biblical reference to God is his words, "let there be light."
His is a voice that speaks words that have power to defeat nothingness and create being. 

Through out the scriptural reference it is God's voice that captivates and calls. 

To Moses, he reveals himself as "I am who am" a voice that is always now.  To Elijah he is a whisper that can not be out done in magnitude or strength. 

In the prophets it is is words that warn his people and bring them back. 

In Jesus, the word of God becomes flesh, the word of God has a face. 

God's voice is steady and can not be denied. 

His is a voice that speaks the words that brings being from nothing, light into darkness, life from death, unity out of diversity. 

Gratitude is about recognizing the reach of God into our lives, recognizing the word of God that can never be silenced, "Our God comes he keeps silence no longer."

We never go alone, for the voice of God accompanies us on this journey, calls us forth, leads us on, and sets us free.  His is the words of everlasting life, to him we cling.

All may pass away, but his words remain for it is his words that bring into being.  
We beg to hear is word, "only say the word and we shall be healed" and thus we shall find what we are looking for the source of the voice that has called us his own.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks and praise

Rev 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9; Psalm 100 Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the lamb; Luke 21:20-28

Today across the United States we all come to a stop; there is a pause in our daily routine; most businesses are closed down and most people gather together with  family and friends to give thanks and praise. 

This is the moment we are called to be thoughtful.  In the words of scripture, "thoughtfulness put flesh on his bones."  Thoughtfulness keeps things real.  In some sense, as we ponder the gifts we have received, we put flesh on the hand of God who wrought them all so that we might be where we are.

The proclamation that set aside this day was given at the hand of President Lincoln in 1863.  In response to the progress of people in the land in light of the civil strife, President Lincoln spoke these words, 

"they are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger  for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It seems to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American set apart the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." 

Thanksgiving and praise to God is the cure for all that ails.  It gives us strength for the journey and clarity in out mission.  It alleviates depression and gives us hope in despair.  It is a shot of courage as the mystery of life unfolds. It keeps us focused in the trials that abound and opens our heart to the truth of God's love.  

When we give thanks and praise we have what is necessary to "stand erect and raise our heads" as Jesus proclaims in the gospel, for we are able to recognize the hand of who wrought redemption in our lives. 

Today we begin to habituate ourselves to thanksgiving and praise, a true sacrifice fitting for those who seek to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who at the last supper took the bread and cup and gave thanks and praise...

May we follow Christ in thanks and praise on earth so that we may be with him in heaven. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Rev 15:1-4; Psalm 98 Great and wonderful are your works, Lord, mighty God; Luke 21:12-19

G.K. Chesteron writes, "courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die."

Into today's gospel Jesus exhorts us to courage and perseverance.  In the words of Pope Leo XIII, "To suffer and to endure is the lot of Humanity."

We can never eliminate suffering in our life. We suffer the moment we are given life.  We suffer the consequences of being human.  We feel pain and discomfort and agony and stress and worry.  Our bodies are frail and weak and gravity is too much for us.  We suffer love when it is found. 

We can ease pain by comfort; we can never eliminate suffering.  It is foolish to think otherwise. 

Jesus in the gospel exhorts us to remember though we can never eliminate suffering, we can choose what we will suffer for. This is the mark of true freedom. 

Take courage! Persevere!

May our suffering be of value as we fill up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.
What we choose to suffer for will magnify the true value of our lives.  

May we choose Christ for He chose to suffer for us.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

all that glitters is not gold

Rev 14:14-20; Psalm 96 The Lord Comes to Judge the earth; Luke 21:5-11

Jesus, in the gospel, responds to some people commenting about how the temple was adorned with costly  stones and votive  offerings, "all that you see here-the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

In other words Jesus is wanting us to finally see things as they are.  

How easily are we deceived?  How easily we get distracted by the "costly stones and votive offerings" that decorate many places? 

We forget the reality that is before us.  We are blinded.  Remember the old saying, "all that glitters is not gold."

This saying comes from the Merchant of Venice in which Shakespeare put these words in a scroll.  The lady Portia is being courted by several men, and the one who picks the correct casket that contains her picture will get to marry her.  There are three caskets: gold, silver and lead.  The prince of Morocco chooses first; he chooses the gold casket. 

On the inside he finds not a picture but a scroll that reads:

"all that glisters is not gold; often you have heard it told.
many a men his life hath sold; but my outside to behold;
gilded tombs do worms enfold;
had you been as wise as bold; young in limbs in judgment old;
your answer had not been enscrolled;
fare you well, your suit is cold."

Jesus reminds us in the gospel that: 
"all that glisters is not gold; often have you heard it told... had you been as wise as bold."

Jesus invites us to wisdom to judge clearly and wisely for as the book of revelation reminds us the harvest is near, the sickles are raised and the vintage of the earth is about to be reaped. 

May we see things as they really are and prepare ourselves for the harvest fall. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

The widow's might

Luke 21:1-4

"When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.  He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

What does Jesus see when he looks up at us?

Life unexamined is a life not worth living. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the king's good servant

Matthew 25:31-46

In 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted the solemnity of Christ the King.  As He looked out in to the world from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, he felt that the world was mounting opposition to Christian values and that it was insulting the name of the Redeemer and the right of the Church to teach the way of Christ was being out right denied and rejected. 

He hoped that by honoring Christ as King society would be returned to the loving Savior.  By bringing to mind the celebration of the Kingship of Christ he hoped that Christ would begin to reign in the mind and wills and hearts of the faithful.  They would allow Christ to renew how they think and what they think about; they would allow Christ to direct their will to build the society such that it would become a fountain of mirth enough to set the kingdom laughing with joy; they would begin to emulate the kingly love of Christ who laid down his life for all. 

Thus, Christ reigning in us then the kingdom is built up within us then all we have to do is let out. Enthrone christ with us and the kingdom comes through us.

Only by doing this, Pope Pius XI mentioned, would we receive the blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, and peace and harmony. 

Only then would we be reawaken to our truest identity, the King's good servant. 

Christ invites us in the gospel today to understand what the king's good servant must be about. we must attend to the least of society.


As we ponder the way of the cross it is important to note from the beginning to end Jesus becomes the least. 

He is hungry and thirsty and they give him vinegar to drink, a sponge filled with gaul.  He is stripped of his clothing and is left naked and exposed.  

He is mocked and spit upon as a stranger.  Even his closet friends abandon him and pretend him to be a stranger, unknown.   As Peter professes, " I tell you I do not know the man."   St. Paul reminds us, if they would have known who he was they would not have crucified him. 

He was ill for his body was racked with pain, bruised and battered as he sought to destroy the sickness of sin.  He was a prisoner.  Arrested in the garden, bound hand and foot and confined through the night, only to be scourged like a common criminal and crucified like the worst of criminals. 

The way of the cross is the path of enthronement; this is how Jesus becomes the universal king. He identifies with the least so that he might rule all. 

We are asked to attend to the least so that we might walk in the footsteps of the king.  Here we make our oath of allegiance.  Here we become true stewards of the kingdom, and the King's good servant.   In the face of the least we fulfill our oath in fealty and love, valor and honor.  We become who we were made to be from the foundation of the world, the king's good servant making known the King who lives and reigns.

Friday, November 21, 2008

gracefully fills the temple

Revelation 10:8-11; Psalm 119 How sweet to my taste is your promise; Luke 19:45-48

Today in the Church we celebrate the memorial of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today we draw from the deep memory of Mary as a child being brought to the temple being presented to God. 

What an image, Mary, the one full of grace, now gracefully fills the temple. 

As the Psalm proclaims this day, "how sweet to my taste is your promise."

The promise begins to unfold slowly and methodically; the plan of God is set in motion and the beautifully prepared creature, this handmaid of the Lord, this arc of the covenant, this unblemished vessel of divine presence, this temple that will contain the source of life and grace and light, moves ever so gracefully into the temple realm proclaiming the glory of God.

All eyes upon her and the mystery of God's plan stares them all in the face and to bright for their eyes is such majestic blueprints for the salvation of the world. 

Such a humble hand maid is easily overlooked by the multitude; yet there within her shines the hidden virtues necessary for redemption to fill the earth and restoration to the kingdom to begin, for as the angel declares, "his kingdom will be with out end."

For today we do not celebrate the mother of Mary, today we celebrate her discipleship. 
The Father's will has a resting place.  Mary, ever virgin, is more blessed to be a disciple than mother for it is in her yes that her motherhood flows. 

The disciple of the King embraces her destiny to be Queen mother of all.

In her we see  all that humans build is already diminished by the praise and salutation of her heart to God most high, "be it done unto me according to thy word."

Truly these words are the foundation that edifies.

As we see Mary enter the temple we are brought face to face with reality; the temple is the place where God's glory dwells.  Mary is the place in which the Father's will has a resting place.  Mary in the temple reminds us and directs us to the reality that the glory of God can never be separated from his will.  These two are in fact one reality.  God's glory fills the earth where His will is done unceasingly.  

In Mary's heart we find that unique place where glory and obedience are and inseparable force that transforms the world. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

tears of God

Revelation 5:1-10; Psalm 149 The Lamb has made us a kingdom of priest to serve our God

In the gospel this day we encounter Jesus making his grand entrance into Jerusalem.  This is the scene we encounter on Palm Sunday.  He sits upon the colt and the disciples praise as he rides into Jerusalem, "Blessed is he who comes as king in the name of the Lord, Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens."

The King returns to claim his throne.  The king returns to establish is reign and to unite his kingdom.

As Jesus comes down upon the mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem he weeps.  

The tears of God roll down the face of Jesus. 

This is not the image one thinks of when a King comes to claim his throne. 

Jesus laments and mourns for the reality that these people do not recognize the hour of their visitation, a visitation that is meant to transform them, awaken them, set them a blaze with new fervor and new hope. 

Jesus comes to give hope to men and keep none for himself and yet they do not recognize his presence. 

How often do we fail to recognize the visitation of God in our life?  How often is the soil beneath our feet dampen by the tears of God?  How often do we fail to become the visitation, the presence of God for others in our life's journey? 

Pray for the gift to see, to recognize the encounter with the King that has made us a kingdom.  May we embrace the hour of our visitation. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Below is the morning prayer the Church universally prayed tuesday morning:

"God our Father, 
hear our morning prayer 
and let the radiance of your love
scatter the gloom of our hearts.
The light of heaven's love has restored us to life:
free us from the desires that belong to darkness.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, 
your son, who lives and reigns 
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."

Every time we pray we close the prayer with the doxology; in the doxology we acknowledge that Jesus Christ, lives and reigns

This living and reigning that we acknowledge is the concrete manifestation of heaven's love, a love that not only conquers darkness and death, but a love, as the prayer states, that has restored us to life. 

This day give thanks for the restoration we have received and the restoration that continues forth as we journey toward union with God. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dedication of Basilicas of Peter and Paul

acts 2811-16, 30-31; Psalm 98  The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power

On Vatican Hill and the Ostian way the tombs of the apostles remain.  From their blood, one upon the cross the other beneath the sword, the faith was spread through out the world. 

Upon the tomb of St. Paul it reads: Apostle Martyr.  The one who was called to be sent to bear witness to love itself.   Both Peter and Paul, a fisherman and tentmaker, exchanged their trades for something greater.  They were consumed by their task and the world has been made the better for it. 

Through their lives, we can say with the psalm, "The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power."

Today rising high above the ground and towering above Rome, St. Peter's Basilica and St. Paul Outside the Walls remains for all the world to see the victory of God. 

Peter and Paul lived proclaiming the Kingdom and in death the Kingdom continues to be proclaimed. 

Just as their tomb is marked with 'Apostle Martyr' so to we are called to do the same to be sent in to the world and bear witness with our life.

This is how we fulfill our own dedication and consecration as a temple of God thus singing joyfully before the King. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday's ebb and flow

Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote about the dance of love

"When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way from moment to moment.  It is an impossibility.  It is even an lie to pretend to.   And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.  We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships,  We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb.  We are afraid it will never return.  We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity  possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity, in the freedom [to allow the ebb and flow]."  

(The brackets is what I added in order to complete her thought.  Freedom with out direction is not freedom at all) 

Such it is with our relationship with God.  We expect the duration of feeling close to linger through out our life, but we forget that it is in the ebb and flow that we grow in relationship with Him.  Maturity in the Spirit demands this space where the ebb and flow brings us ever closer to seeing God as he is and becoming who we are meant to be...built up into the full stature of Christ. 


Friday, November 14, 2008

progressive faith

2 John 1:4-9; Psalm 119 Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord; Luke 17:26-37

Today we read from the 2nd letter of John; The 2nd letter of John may be the shortest book in the entire bible.  It consist of just 13 verses. 

The letter is meant to keep the Church, "the Lady, the chosen one" from going astray on false teachings of different sects.  

One of the sects being dealt with are those that "refuse to acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in human nature."

This may be a early reference to the sect that does not believe that God became flesh.  The modern name version of this sect is the Jehovah Witness.  They do not believe that Jesus is true god and true man and they do not believe in the Blessed Trinity. 

John warns the church to be on guard against such false teachings about Christ. 

Not all Christians faiths are the same, since not all "christian faiths" are Christian at all. 
The reality of false teachings the early church dealt with is the same reality we deal with on a daily basis. 

 Every body claims to have the Christian faith but how can we know for sure. 

Many want to claim Christ under pretense of leading people astray.  The surest way of discerning the authentic church is to make sure to go all the way back to the apostles; start with Peter and go from there. 

For as John says, "anyone who is so progressive  as not to remain  in the teaching of Christ does not have God."  It was Christ who gave the teaching authority to the apostles before he ascended, "go teach all that I have commanded you, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit, and behold I am with you always."

Many people want to be progressive in their faith.  They want to be "post-denominational. " Be weary; be on guard; stick to the truth handed down for two thousand years from Peter the rock upon whom the Church, "the lady, the chosen one" was built to Benedict XVI together with the successors of the apostles, the bishops.  

Here you find the fullness of truth, the fullness of faith, life on high in Christ Jesus established 33 A.D. and still moving forward.   The Church, our mother, has moved through the ages defeating heresy and making truth accessible to all; this is what true progressive faith is all about, slowly moving forward making the truth of Jesus known through it all. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

useless to useful

Philemon 1:7-20; Psalm 146 Alleluia; Luke 17:20-25

St. Paul speaks of Onesimus and gives this remark, "was once useless to you but is now useful."

This is the power of conversion and the power of faith active in our life.  We go from being useless to being useful for the Kingdom.  

In the eyes of god we are always useful; this is why we should never give up on anyone. 

The usefulness can some times be overlooked because of our own spiritual blindness.  We need to just remember what God has done with us, could he not do that and more with the other. 

There is a great scene in the "Lord of the Rings" triology.  Frodo wants to kill Gollum.  Gandalf stops him from taking his life and tells him, who are you to decide to take this life.  You do not  know what role he will still plan as life unfolds.  

Though we may be through with people, God, however, is never through with anyone.  As long as life remains, there hope remains, there usefulness for the Kingdom can be found. even it means we are forced to be a little more patient, a little more charitable, a little more merciful then the pillars of the kingdom stand firm.

As Jesus reminds us as lighting flashes so the kingdom will be made present.  Each of us as we hold and live our faith become that flash of light in a dark world making known the kingdom.  Just as when lighting flashes the darkness gives way and the horizon can be seem so to we,  in  living  our faith, fill the darkness with light and allow the horizon of hope to be seen. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

faith saves

Titus 3:1-7; Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want; Luke 17:11-19

In today's gospel we encounter Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem.  The entire gospel witness is centered on this journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. 

If Jesus had not journeyed to Jerusalem, had he not completed the journey, we would be faithless. 

The gospel witness always points toward Jerusalem and the events that unfold.  It is in Jerusalem that we discover time and time again that Christianity begins with a martyr. 

Christ embraces true freedom when he chooses to die so that others might have life. 

The victory of freedom fills the pages of the gospel as Jesus journeys toward Jerusalem. 

On his journey he encounters ten lepers.  They begged for mercy and Jesus sends them on their way.  While journeying away from Jesus, they discover they were healed.  In obeying his word healing came. 

The foreigner in the bunch returns giving glory. Jesus tells him he should go because his faith has saved him. 

In deed his faith has saved him.  His faith has saved from the despair of not having a reason for gratitude.  It was his faith that taught him to say thank you.  It was his faith that empowered him to turn around and journey toward the one who was journeying to Jerusalem, encountering this Jesus who set him free. 

Faith leads to freedom and freedom finds its completion in gratitude.  

What good is the gift without identifying the one who gives it.  Faith enables us to correctly identify the giver of the gift.  Jesus does not want to be an anonymous giver.  He desires recognition and thanksgiving.

The ability to correctly identify the one who is the giver of such gifts, gift of life itself, is how faith saves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

told you so

Titus 2:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 37 The Salvation of the Just comes from the Lord; Luke 17:7-10

Jesus today speaks of duty.  "When you have done all you have been commanded, say, "we are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do."

Often people will come up ask why we do what we do as Catholic.  Why do we got o mass?  Why do we ask the saints to pray for us?  Why do we go to a priest for confession?  Why do we receive communion?  

And the list goes on and on.  A simple answer is, because Jesus told us so. 

No one likes to be told what to do, yet when it comes to a healthy and wholly faith life, Jesus reminds us that being told what to do is at the heart of who we are. 

As we celebrate Veterans Day today, we are reminded of the beauty and necessity of following orders.  Our country survives because men and women faithfully and dutifully walk the straight and narrow and do what they are told.  Because they can follow orders, we have freedom secured daily. 

In some sense, freedom in our life when it comes to following Christ rest on following commands and obeying orders.  

When soldiers don't follow commands they are consider to be insubordinate and they destroy the stability of the military.  When they abandon their duties and go AWOL they run risk of severe punishment.

Many Christians have gone  AWOL in their faith.  They are absent with out leave.  Their freedom suffers, their life suffers, their testimony suffers.  As St. Paul says, they are a discredit to Christ and their life is empty.

May we seek to give our selves more fully to our faith like Christ who gives himself and thus truly and boldly proclaim we are unprofitable servants doing our duty.  Our duty will lead us to the fullness of life with joy that is complete. 

Lord increase our faith that we might give our selves daily to your commands and thus recieve fully from your bounty. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Faith filled living

Titus 1:1-9; Psalm 24 Lord, this is the people that long to see your face; Luke 17:1-6 

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Leo the Great.  He was the Pope in 440.  1568 years ago he stood in the shoes of the fisherman, he walked in the footsteps of Peter seeking to fulfill the commands Christ had given to Peter in the gospel of John, "to feed my sheep, tend my sheep."

It is quite a beautiful gift of continuity we celebrate as Catholics.  The faith that Pope Leo the Great taught and lived is the same faith we as Catholic teach and live.  The continuity and depth of such a faith is truly a gift of God's ever abiding presence until the end of the age. 

Here are few words spoken by Leo the Great some 1568 years ago, "every human being situated among the hazards of life must seek the mercy of God by being merciful."

These are old words but with lasting significance, ancient texts with modern appeal.  

Jesus in the gospel tells the apostles and all of us that we must forgive those who wrong us even if they wrong us seven times in one day when they come before us we should forgive them as often. 

The apostles, when they hear this, beg the Lord to "increase their faith."

The apostles remind us that forgiveness is not just a faith filled thing to do, it is the faith fill way to live. 

Living a life of faith is about freedom.  Thus, forgiveness, giving that to others, is about choosing to live in the freedom that Faith brings.  When we forgive,  we choose to uproot the mulberry tree of doubt and confusion and animosity in our life and embrace freedom.  We give freedom to those who offend us and we give freedom to ourselves when we choose to live a faith fill life of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the faith fill way to live because it is the way that Jesus lives in his own life.  While we were sinners, Jesus died for us.  He gives us freedom in forgiveness. 

May we faithfully live the gift of forgiveness and embrace the path of freedom as we live the 'hazards of this life" thus seeking the mercy of God by being merciful in our lives to all. 

St. Leo the Great reminds us "all human beings, regardless of who they happen to be, should come to terms with the fact that they have a mortal nature subject to change-and usually for the worse.  In view of this shared condition, let them have sympathy toward their own race." 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

St. John Lateran

I love to go back home.  As you drive from the big city setting to the small country town things change.  The land becomes quieter and the atmosphere is little more peaceful.  The rushed pace of city living surrenders to a slower pace existence of the rural affair. 

As you approach my home town, as you maneuver over the rising and falling of the hills, there off in the distance the steeple of the Catholic Church rises high to greet you.  The steeple stands tall and towers above casting a shadow upon all who are below. 

It is striking and beautiful image.  It is a reminder to all that we always live beneath the shadow of the cross.  We live, breathe, move and have our being in the shadow of the cross which is the wake of victory.   

Every time I spy the rising steeple as it cast it shadow below, as it marks the horizon, I think of Jesus' words to his disciples before he died.  He gathers them together to encourage them and he tells them, "do not fear, do not be afraid, I have already conquered the world."

As the steeple rises high it is a public testimony of victory, a public testimony that all who gather beneath the steeple gather to celebrate victory. 

It wasn't always this way.  The cross wasn't always allowed to be on public display.

For the first 300 years of the early Church, Christianity was a forbidden religion, a forsaken faith.  Christians were considered to be enemies of the state, public enemy number one; they were looked upon as criminals, renegades, rebels reeking havoc on the Roman Empire.   

They had to gather together in secret places, hidden and out of sight.  They would worship in cemeteries at night, or locked behind close doors in someone's home, or underground in the catacombs. 

Then something happened. 

Around the year 300, a Roman Emperor, who had come from a long line of Roman emperors who made sure that the soil of the empire was fertilized by the blood of Christians, had a conversion. 

As the Emperor Constantine was riding out to battle he had a vision.  The cross appeared in the sky and he was told 'by this sign you shall conquer.'  He marked the armor of his men with the cross and rode out to battle and came back victorious.

In 313 AD, out of gratitude, he declared that Christianity was to be a lawful religion.  It could be publicly celebrated.

Over night it seemed the Church went from hiding under ground to standing tall above it.  The prayers of faithful that were once spoken in a whisper, hushed behind closed doors was now echoing through the open streets of the empire, resounding through the vaulted ceilings of cathedrals publicly dedicated to Christ our Saviour. 

In plain sight, in broad day light, Christians now publicly proclaimed the Good News; they would bend their knees and bow theirs heads in worship, raising their voices in praise for love had conquered fear and light had come into the darkness and the darkness did not over come it. 

As they gathered to public worship the words of Jesus flooded their memories, "do not be afraid, I have already conquered the world."

The first church to be publicly dedicated was St. John Lateran, whose dedication we commemorate this day,a  church raised on the blood of martyrs. 

It is the mother of all churches.  It is the Church of the Bishop of Rome.  It stands as a sign of unity, as a sign of hope that God's kingdom is at hand, that God's Kingdom will not be denied. 

As you approach the Basilica today, towering above the city of Rome is a 7 meter statue of Jesus with a cross in one hand and the other pointing out toward world.  He is surrounded by his apostles and he gives them the great commission, "go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, of the Holy Spirit, teaching them all I have commanded you and behold I am with you always until the end of the age. 

For 1700 years the steeple has stood tall, it has marked the horizon for all to see, and men and women have walked through the ages beneath the shadow of the cross gathering publicly to celebrate victory in Christ. 

We gather today to commemorate this victory.  As we gather, we too give the men and women  who shed their blood, who share in Christ' victory,  honor, not just today but every time we gather publicly.

When we gather, we become that public sign of victory.  For like the church, that was dedicated with sacred oil, so too we remember that we ourselves are dedicated a temple at Baptism; as the oil is poured upon our heads we are consecrated and set apart for a mission, to be a public sign of victory in our very lives we live.  We remember that just as the steeple marks the horizon, so too our forehead was marked with the sign of the cross at baptism, we were claimed for Christ to be that sign of victory.

As the steeple rises high and reminds us of victory may each of our lives always carry the message forth that the Kingdom of God is at hand, salvation has come, the world is redeemed in Christ's blood; may we hear the words of Christ and may they be our strength, "do not be afraid, I have already conquered the world."

Friday, November 7, 2008


Philippians 3:17- 4:1; Psalm 122 Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord; Luke 16:1-8

In today's readings we are given two options as far as living it the world. 

St. Paul tells us that there are those who live as "enemies of the cross of Christ."

Jesus in the gospel exhorts us to be "children of light."

We have options.

St. Paul tells us to be "enemies of the cross" is to live in such a manner that our minds are preoccupied with earthly things.  We remain grounded and thus never sore.  In such a lifestyle, we choose to clip our own wings and refuse to live the fullness of our own dignity and our end will be how we choose to live, buried beneath an empire of sand.

Jesus tells us that to be "children of light" then we must be prudent.  We must keep one eye on the end, what lies ahead.  We keep our eyes looking beyond then we will truly be a bright spot in a dark world. 

Our reach must always be beyond our grasp, other wise what's a heaven for.  This is how we live out our life as children of light; those who illumine the path for all to see; this is how we truly become light of the world,  light for the world.

If we keep heaven in the foreground then we live with a heavenly air and we shall truly dwell in the kingdom of light and god will be all in all.

We have options. One leads to destruction the other leads to life on high in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

morning prayer

  This is the morning prayer for the liturgy of the office...

sometimes the prayer resonates wonderfully with what is needed in our life.

"Lord, as daylight fills the sky, fill us with your holy light.  May our lives mirror our love for you whose wisdom has brought us into being, and whose care guides us on our way."

Every time we receive the Eucharist we are filled with this light, every time we go to confession we are filled with this light, and when light comes to fill, it fills every crevice and every place available with such tremendous ease.

This is the gift of grace in our life.
Come Lord Jesus, come fill me, drive away the darkness with your wonderful light.

hate and renounce

Philippians 2:12-18; Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and salvation; Luke 14:25-33

 Does Jesus really mean what he says?

In today's gospel passage Jesus tells his disciples that we should hate our father, mother, wife, children, brother, sister, even his own life or we cannot be his disciple. 

Later he tells his disciples that we should renounce all our possessions or we cannot be his disciple. 


Hate and renounce!

What gives?

Jesus tells his disciple that if we are going to do it then we need to be fully involved.  If we are going to be witnesses to and for the Kingdom of God then we need to be ready to be consumed by and for the Kingdom we witness. 

Only when we are consumed can we truly be that which "shine like lights in the world" as St. Paul exhorts the early Christian community in today's first reading. 

Jesus in the gospel is helping us understand what it means to be zealous, to have zeal for the Kingdom. 

We can't be lukewarm, our light can't burn some of the time.  Complete and total consummation is required for discipleship to be fully realized and for the witness to be genuine.

In the book of Maccabees chapter 2, there is a story told of Mattathias who was full of Zeal. 
The King at the time was demanding that all make sacrifices to the pagan gods.  Mattathias was astounded by such decree.  When one of the Jews approached the altar to profane himself and the Israelites with such an act of idolatry, Mattathias was consumed by Zeal and he sprang to action and killed the man before he could offer the sacrifice of  sacrilege and tore down the false altar. 

Then he fled to the mountains leaving behind all his possessions.  Upon his death bed he says this, "arrogance and scorn have now grown strong; it is a time of disaster and violent anger.  Therefore my sons, be zealous for the law and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers."

Jesus isn't asking us to kill anyone but in some sense he is asking us to be zealous for the law, that is to truly love God above all and our neighbor as ourself.  We must let our love for God inform our love for others and not the other way around.  

Too often have we compromised our love for God because we are afraid we might offend our neighbor.  How tragic! How insulting to God!

Jesus is also asking us to give our lives for the covenant of our fathers.  In deed, every time we gather around the altar we witness the covenant, we enter into the covenant by which Jesus sheds his blood, he renounces his possessions and he chooses to hate all so that he might love God truly and only then does he love us properly. 

We are called to give our lives in the same manner.  Ordered love is what we are called to be about so that our witness might be purified and our light might shine. 

Pope Benedict on Monday in his homily exhorts us, "If God loved us freely and shows that love in Christ gift of himself, we too can make our lives a free gift for others."

This is what hate and renunciation is about.  It isn't negative but rather positive.  It is about making space in ourselves so that we might become the gift of properly order love to the world and thus we will be "blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life..."

As you let the word posses you, you will dart like sparks through the stubble of the world setting the world a blaze with zeal for the Lord.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Philippians 2:5-11; Psalm 22 I will praise you Lord in the assembly of your people; 
Luke 14:15-24

St. Paul tells us today to"have among yourselves the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus."

What is an attitude?

Often times when we think of attitude we think of two classifications: good and bad. 
These are the two words that are associated with attitude. 

But there is more to attitude then just good and bad, positive or negative behavior. 

The word attitude actually comes from Italian word that means posture.  It refers to how we physically stand and move in the world.  In fact Ballet speaks of attitudes when it refers to particular dance postures and moves. 

What was Jesus' attitude?

We see his attitude on the Cross.  There his arms are raised high and wide open.  This is a posture of complete surrender.  It is both spiritual and physical.  

In the mass when we pray the 'Our Father', we are asked to extend our hands outward and upward.  We do this to imitate the attitude of Jesus. We do this to surrender ourselves to the prayer and allow ourselves to be fully involved in what we pray so that we can live the same way as we stand and move in the world.

It is good randomly throughout the day to lift your arms upward and outward in the posture of surrender, in the attitude of Jesus.  When we do so, we open ourselves up to God's grace and we allow the selfishness to subside and give way to magnanimity of soul, making space so Jesus may take control. 

Have the attitude of Christ, when you don't let his attitude have you with arms outstretched upward and outward. 

Monday, November 3, 2008

name calling

Philippians 2:1-4; Psalm 131 In you O Lord I have found my peace; Luke 14:12-14

Today in the life of the Church we celebrate the memorial of Martin de Porres.  

Martin grew up in serious poverty.  He was the illegitimate child of a black woman from Panama and a Spaniard noble man in Peru.  His father despised him because Martin favored his mother in complexion and eventually Martin's father abandoned them.

Martin was called many names growing up: mullato, half-breed, bastard child.  

He refused to let the names determine his value and what he valued. 

Though he was despised by his earthly father, he did not turn against his Father in heaven. It was his devotion to the Father in heaven that gave him strength to rise above is circumstance and to devote his life to the least in the kingdom. 

Martin dedicated his life to helping to poor, the slaves, the prisoners, the sick.  Since he was born the least he dedicated his life to the least. 
As his reputation spread of doing good people from all over started to call him a new name, "Martin the Charitable."

Martin knew that he could not change the fact that he was a half-breed, illegitimate son of a father who did not care but he also knew he could not change the reality that he was child of God, it was this heritage that determined his value and the value of others and nothing less. 

Martin lived out the words of St. Paul,
 "humbly regard others as more than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interest, but also for those of others."  
He also followed through on the gospel, 
"When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.  For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

"God of all mercy, you transformed Saint Martin de Porres and made him a new creature in your image.  Renew us in the same way...may each of us also be called by a different name, so that our names may be called in Heaven." 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

All souls: Deus Caritas Est

Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want; Romans 5:5-11, 6:3-9; John 6:37-40

Today we pray for those who have died.  We remember today that the real frontier that awaits us all is not the one between earthly life and death but rather that which is between life with Christ and life without him. 

St. Paul reminds us that if we have faith in Christ and are Baptized in him nothing can separate us from his love not even death. 

The Christian faith tells us that there are two permanent realities that await us: Hell and Heaven. 

Hell is a real possibility.  Hell reminds us that God has an unconditional respect for the freedom he has given us.  We have a personal responsibility to choose our destiny, to cooperate with the gift of faith.  Hell is a relationship in which we are completely isolated and alienated from all that is good and beautiful.  It is a permanent state of rejection.

Heaven is the definitive completion of the human existence which comes through love which faith tends.  It is a relationship of complete communion and intimacy with God and with those who are in God.  It is a communion that is fully alive and vibrant.

We cannot pray for those in Hell for they have made their choice.  We need not pray for those in Heaven for they are already there and are praying for us. 

Who do we pray for today? 
This is where the Church's  teaching on Purgatory comes in.

In the book of Revelation 21:27, John tells us that "nothing profane shall enter heaven."

What does this mean?  It means that only those who have been perfected shall enter heaven. 
We are saved by the full ascent of faith.  However, this basic option of faith often times lies buried beneath layers of wood, straw, and stubble and needs to be dug out.  Our fundamental yes to Christ is often hidden because we drag our feet and continue to cling to small sins and attachments to evil that weigh us down like barnacles on a ship.  These need to be removed. 

In this life we experience purging with every act of faith and charity thus we remove ourselves from these things; but sometimes we die with them.  What next?

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:13-16, 

"the work of each will be made clear.  The Day will disclose it.  That day will make its appearance with fire, and fire will test the quality of man's work.  If the building a man has raised on this foundation  still stands, he will receive his recompense; if a man's building burns, he will suffer loss.  He himself will be saved, but only as one fleeing through fire." 

This fire of purgation is nothing but the divine flame of Jesus' love that burns brightly and seeks to cut open our closed heart and melt it and pour it in to a new mold so that it might fit into the living organism of the glorified body.  Through the fire we are made into perfected vessels of God's glory. 

The impurities that have weighed us down, that we have carried with us are now removed.  This purgation is a product of God's mercy and love shown to us one the cross.  Redemption belongs to Christ but we too have a personal responsibility for appropriating the gift of redemption in our life. 

God refuses to remove our personal responsibility. 

Purgatory is like the going to dentist.  My mother used to take me to the dentist because she loved me and she wanted me to have healthy teeth.  Though she loved me she could not brush my teeth for me, that was my responsibility. 

While in the chair, the dentist would be peering from above gazing into my mouth.  And there all my sins would be revealed.  All those moments of dragging my feet in not flossing, all those moments of dragging my feet and not brushing as I should was revealed.  The tartar and plaque was evidence of my neglect; so was the receding gum lines and the cavities.  There the dentist worked to remove all that which had built up over time.  It hurt.  I had to suffer the loss of that which had become part of me; I had to suffer the loss of that which was a product of my neglect, a product of my refusal to love myself. 

My mother could not do it for me; but it was because of her love I was given the opportunity to be renewed and reformed and refreshed. 

Then the dentist polished my teeth and I was a brand new man restored and made whole enabled to receive fully the reward, usually a sweet candy, a sweetness that always points to Heaven. 

The question remains how can our prayers be effective?
How do we pray for the dead?  How does what we do help those who are being purged?

The central expression of Christianity is self-substituting love.  Jesus substitutes his love for us so that we might be redeemed.  When we are baptized, we share in the ministry of Christ.  We become ministers of reconciliation, ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul tells us.

We share in the charity of Christ.  

We must remember that God could have done redemption without us but he always chooses to incorporate us in the work of redemption.  This is why he took the form of flesh.  Thus he chooses to allow us to be a part of redemption not only for ourselves but also for others.

Also, we must remember, it is a greater act of charity to allow others to participate in charity as well, rather than just to do it alone. 

Our praying for the dead and offering sacrifices for them does not take away from the charity of Christ but it magnifies it.  We do because Christ did.  

We must never forget that we are all part of the body of Christ and we are all connected.  What one does affects all, when one rejoices we all rejoices and when one suffers we all suffer.  

Praying for the dead is sharing in the charity of Christ and is fully realizing the impact of being a member of the Body of Christ. 

Those who are dead look at us and say, "I hope in you for me" and when they get to heaven we say, "I hope in you for me."  It is a beautiful tapestry of charity that reflects most perfectly the God, Deus Caritas Est,  as Sacred Scripture reveals, God is love, a love that is forever communal and thus in eternity God will be all in all.