Saturday, May 31, 2008


Zep 3:14-18; Romans 12:9-16; Among you is the great and Holy one of Israel; Luke 1:39-56

Visitation is not a word we necessarily associate with good news.  Normally, when the word visitation is mentioned it is linked to a funeral pending.  

A visitation is often associated with what people do the night before a funeral as they gather, friends and family, to pay their respects to a loved one who had died.  They gather to remember, to console, to grieve, to pray, and to hope together as a small community. 

A visitation is meant to be a time of communal strength by which hope is enlivened, faith is awakened, and love is shared. 

In today's feast we celebrate the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It sounds like we are commemorating the night before she died, but this is not the case. 

Actually, we celebrate the trip she took after she said 'yes' to God.  She did not stay hidden or out of sight, but rather, she took the good news and brought it to share with her cousin Elizabeth. 

It was the first visitation from which all others take their meaning and direction; in it hope was enlivened, faith was awakened and deepened, and love was shared: "when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed, most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb."

It must have been some greeting to elicit such a response.  

What do our greetings elicit?  

If we say 'yes' to God, and bear the Christ in us, then we too join in the missionary journey of Mary who brings light to the world visiting upon all an occasion by which hope is enlivened, faith is awakened, and love is shared.  

Don't wait until the night before the funeral to gather at the visitation: do it now, do it often, and let the Blessed Virgin Mary show you the way.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sacred Heart

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

"Come, let us worship Jesus, whose heart was wounded for love of us".

This is the phrase repeated in the morning prayer of the church on this solemn occasion as we fix our gaze on the sacred heart of Christ.

On this solemn occasion we hear the words of St. Paul as we peer into the side of Christ and glimpse the heart given for us:

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Trial, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? ... Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of him who loved us."  Romans chapter 8

None of these things above will separate us from Christ because all of this as been experienced by the heart of Christ.  It is His sacred heart that fills all the above with sacredness. 

Where ever there is heart ache, there is the experience of the sacred heart of Christ.  Where ever there is pain, there is the experience of the sacred heart of Christ.  Where ever there is despair and desolation, there is the experience of the sacred heart.  Where ever there is love and closeness, there is the experience of the sacred heart.  

All of reality has been made sacred because the sacred heart of Christ has assumed it all and filled it with  His sacred presence.  

In His heart there is room for all. 

"Come, let us worship Jesus, whose heart was wounded for love of us."

Come, let us worship, for his wounded heart fills all our wounds with His presence.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


1 Peter 2:5-12; Come with joy into the presence of the Lord. Mark 10:46-52

There is a story told of a sparta king who would go around boasting of the magnificent walls of his kingdom.  The fame of these walls spread across sea and land, far and wide. One day a fellow king, having grown weary of hearing of these walls so magnificent, decided to look upon these wonderful walls for himself. 

Upon arriving into the kingdom he was dismayed for he saw no walls.  The more he looked the more he was discouraged, the more he thought the sparta king a liar.  Finally, he approached the king, and asked where these walls were of which he spoke so fondly.  

The sparta king, laughed a royal laugh, and motioned, "they are right before your eyes." He pointed to the people of the city and said, "these are the walls of sparta," don't you see, "every man a brick."

Such it is in the church, each of us is the brick, that living stone of flesh and blood, that establishes the walls of the church, the walls of the sanctuary that enclose the presence of God to the world.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

precious blood

1 peter 1:18-25; Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. Mark 10:32-45

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, every time we gather at the altar, every time we come to worship, something amazing happens. 

As we pray the Mass, our minds are once again turned toward the reality St. Peter speaks about in the first reading.  Our mind is filled with the reality that it was by the precious blood that we were ransomed. 

We are reminded just how much we are worth in the eyes of God each and every time we pray the Mass, each and every time we spy the chalice upon the altar, we discover the truth about our existence.   There upon the altar, in that solitary chalice, we encounter our true and infinite value. 

Often times as I look into the chalice, I see in the consecrated wine, the precious blood, my own reflection.  As I peer into this reflection, and as this reflection peers back at me, the words of Jesus echo forth, "Can you drink the chalice that I drink?" 

Here is not only the gift given for each of us, but also the challenge laid before all of us.

Uniquely and individually, we are called to drink the cup.  And we do this, by living our life, with the refusal to sell our self short, and embrace the value God has placed upon us.  Only in embracing our value do we truly become human, do we truly experience the joy and abundant life Jesus came to give.  

In this way we truly build a life with its foundation firmly set on the precious blood that has ransomed us and sent us forth. 


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


1 Peter 1:10-16; The Lord has made known his salvation; Mark 10:28-31

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury; St. Augustine was a missionary, he was sent to spread the gospel to England. 

Initially, St. Augustine was filled with zeal and ready to spread the message and then half way to England, the men who accompanied him became scared, fear overtook them and this negative reality began to extinguish the fervor and zeal to spread the message.  The danger to their lives was greater than their love of Christ.  Their willingness to bring the news of salvation at any cost was overcome by their desire to save their own skin. 

St. Augustine was persuaded to cease his journey and turn around.   He turned around and went back to Rome, where his heart was filled with discouragement.  

Pope Gregory the Great received him kindly with words of assurance; the doubt and fear scattered and Augustine's heart was once again fueled with fervor and desire to make known salvation to the world.   The desire to spread the message of salvation increased in fervor and they like the Apostles in the gospel chose to give up all, even their own flesh, so that all flesh my see the salvation of God. 

Thus, England was evangelized and converted to Christ.  

Fear may initially accompany us on our journey of living our faith; but fear is necessary for courage to push forth and refuel the desire to make known the message in all aspects of our life. 

It is important to recognize those who fill us with doubt and fear when it comes to living our faith.  We also need to know where we can go to get re assurance, so that the doubt can be scattered by hopefulness in Christ. 

We all are surrounded by those who discourage us; we also need a Pope Gregory to enlightened us for the journey of living the gospel and spreading the gospel.  

Monday, May 26, 2008

memorial day

1 Pt 1:3-9; Ps The Lord will remember his covenant forever. Mk 10:17-27

Today is Memorial Day; it is an opportunity for us to pay honor to all the men and women who died while serving the country, especially for those who died in battle.  We fly the flag half-staff to give us all a pause, a moment of remembrance, so that we do not take for granted the gift of our civil liberties for they were won with a price. 

This day finds its roots in the action of liberated slaves; after the civil war they removed the body of union soldiers from a mass grave and gave them each individual graves.  Then, the following May, they returned to decorate the graves with flowers out of honor and respect and gratitude. 

To die for one's country is a great sacrifice; it is to be honored and respected. 

Jesus in today's gospel ask us to do the same for Him; Each time we gather at the Altar and celebrate the Eucharist we enter in to a Memorial Service in which, we, the liberated slaves, gratefully re commit ourselves to following the one who set us free in renewing the covenant and seek the strength to give it all, so that we lack nothing and thus follow after Him.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

this is my body given for you

Dt 8:2-3, 14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

We live in a society that has been slowly eroded from reality; we live in a society that has been based upon people's beliefs, as varied and bizarre as they are.  

A society built upon people's beliefs may sound right; however, the problem is that in our current society belief as been equated with opinion.  When someone says they believe they are actually saying they hold this opinion, this opinion which may change, and may change often.

We must, if we are to salvage society and restore order, must not base our life on beliefs that we hold, we must base our life on reality that holds firm our belief.

This is what we celebrate in today's Feast of Corpus Christi. 

We do not celebrate our belief in the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist; we celebrate, rather, the gift of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, that directs our belief and gives it  a direction that always finds its meaning in the depth of reality.   Our beliefs do not determine reality but it is reality that determines our belief. 

We believe that all reality comes from God for he spoke and it was made.  In the story of Genesis, in the beginning, we encounter a God who speaks and his words bring about reality, his words are the foundation of creation itself.  This is real. 

In today's Gospel, we encounter, Jesus, the Son of God, who speaks and he brings about reality: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Eucharist is not about trusting what we believe; the Eucharist is about trusting reality and letting what Jesus speaks bring life to our belief.   He speaks and thus we believe.

As you open your hands today and say 'Amen'; you are saying 'yes' to reality; you are allowing the truth of things to restore and reorder your life and society.  Only reality and truth can bring about a transformation; only then does our belief have true meaning and true depth that leads us to the one who brought us into meaning and feeds us on the journey: "for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink."

It is true, now we can believe. Our faith has substance because the substance of our faith is real and this reality is rooted in the words of God, for man live not on bread alone but by every word from the mouth of God, and today the word that directs us to reality are these: "for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" and "this is my body given for you."


Friday, May 23, 2008

adultery v affair

James 5:9-12; Mk 10:1-12

I have been reading the last Apostolic letter that John Paul II wrote before he died; it is an letter concerning the rapid development of technology and communications in the world. 

He states that "a vast work of formation is needed to assure that the mass media be known and used intelligently and appropriately.  The new vocabulary they introduce into society modifies both learning processes and the quality of human relations, so that, without proper formation, these media run the risk of manipulating and heavily conditioning, rather than serving people.  This is especially true for young people, who show a natural propensity towards technological innovations, and as such are in greater need of education in the responsible and critical use of media."   

The new vocabulary is every where: we no longer say killing babies but we say 'pro-choice'; we no longer say fornication but we say 'casual sexual partnership' we never say adultery but simply we call it an 'love affair'. 

The media has been seeking to manipulate and heavily condition us for quite some time. 

We have followed suit. 

The next time you read a paper, news article, magazine, or watch TV: note how many times the media refuses to recognize the reality and try to appease and gloss over with softer sounding words especially in light of serious and grave matters contrary to the law of God and the benefit of society. 

You might be surprised and hopefully you will be changed by recognizing the lie and be formed anew by God's grace.  

Thursday, May 22, 2008


James 5:1-6; Mk 9:41-50

"Keep salt in yourself and you will have peace with one another."

When I was in college one of my summer jobs was working on at a meat packing slaughtering house.  I worked on the kill floor, I worked in the smoke house and I worked in the cold room making sausage.  I also, every now and then, had the opportunity to salt the hides.  

I would have to drag the hides from a big barrel and slap them on the the floor and shovel salt all over them in order to keep them fresh, keep them from rotting. 

Sometimes this is what we do as Christians.  We come across people who are like those hides, just a mess, rotting away and they are need of a little salt to preserve them.  This is what being a Christian is about; it is about seeking to preserve life and prevent rotting, even if others would rather rot. 

So it is okay to be a little salty, it might just preserve someone's life.   Bear the salt of Christ and keep life alive.    

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

If only

James 4:13-17; psalm: blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is theirs;Mk 9:38-40

Most of us woke up this morning ready to live just another day as we've done before; most of us went about business as usual. 

We made our bed or didn't; we hopped in the shower to begin the day; we ate our breakfast and drank our coffee;  we ushered ourself off into the world of busy busy things of great importance, matters of consequence. 

Our minds swirled with thoughts of many things; our minds quickly began to plan our next move not unlike a chess master always seeking to keep our king from checkmate all the while seeking to check mate the world, aligning our pawns in to position seeking to get ahead, always getting further ahead.

We keep both eyes on the world and turn a blind eye to God. 

And then tragedy comes; our life is in check and the game we have played seemingly well, planning and strategizing, is now in  jeopardy.  We are on the verge of checkmate. 

"If  only..." becomes our phrase of choice.  If only we spent more time with them; if only we would have studied; if only we would have told her we loved her; if only we would have made more time to visit;  "if only" fills the mind.

The one thing we take for granted is the time we have and time we do not have.  James reminds us how quickly it all fades.  We discover that what we thought were matters of consequence were trivial and what was trivial was truly the only matter of Consequence.

The Will of God truly enables us to keep all things in perspective and allows our judgments on what should be planned to give way to what God has planned for us: If God wills it then we do it and life is enriched and meaningful.  

The will of God keeps us from a life of alienation and isolation; it keeps us from withdrawing in and forces us to reach out: love your neighbor as yourself; do good to those who hurt you, bless those who curse you; love your enemies; forgive us as we forgive others.

"If only I would have..." gives way to "only if God wills..." then truly we understand "blessed are the poor in Spirit, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

Thus, "on earth as it is  in heaven" becomes not just a phrase in a prayer but a driving force that keeps us in check, keeps us in focus, keeps us attentive to the matter of consequence of now. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

For God's Sake

James 4:1-10; Mark 9:30-37

Reading the letter of James sometimes makes your stomach hurt, not because it is acidic, but because of his brutal honesty: "where do wars and conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?... Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God."

But there is hope for the weary, "Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you."

St. Bernard describes the journey back to God as such:
There are degrees of love that are awaken in the soul as we seek to follow God.  The first degree of love is to Love ourself for our own sake.  Here we are the center of our life and world. 

The second degree is to Love God for the our sake.  Here we remain the center of our world but we are slowly awaken to God in our life because of the good He does for us.  But we at least recognize God and call upon Him. 

The third degree of love is to Love God for God's sake.  Here we slowly move from the adolescent level of faith into a more mature understanding and living.  Here we not only love God but we seek to love what God loves. 

The fourth degree of love is to love ourself for the sake of God.  Here just like a drop of water disappears in a quantity of wine and is enriched so our life gives way to the will of God completely.  This is truly a greater degree for it requires a more personal involvement of self-surrender.  We learn to surrender what is closest to ourself, which is ourself.  

St. Bernard reminds us that this process of purification is aided by the gift of our weak bodies.  It is the weak body that becomes a source of motivation for the soul to constantly call upon the Lord, to beg for guidance and direction and strength.  The weak body helps the soul love God because it gives us entrance into the humble awareness that we need that which is beyond ourself, we need what Jesus dies to give.  

The weak body and the desires and passions that wage war within us keeps us humble and needy; it keeps us begging and asking correctly thus we progress forward and our love is purified. 

Like the drop of water enriched by wine so to our drop of neediness via our human weakness is enriched by the mercy and grace of God until eventually we desire what God desires and thus are exalted.  

Thus we say as every one who has ever loved says, " I love Him, thus I want to be with him, and at last, I am with Him."

'For God's sake' becomes our interior motivation; it becomes our battle cry as this war wages on. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

i believe help my unbelief

Mark 9:14-29

Two further reflections.

We hear Jesus respond to the father's cry for help, "but if you can do anything have compassion on us and help us," with what seems to be filled with harsh and edgy words of choice: "if you can! Everything is possible to one who has faith."

We initially interpret this statement as a statement directed toward the father and his son  or even an accusation against them.  In some regards even against us.  We see it has a statement about the faith level or at least the lack of faith of the father and son.  

But in reality the statement is a statement about Christ himself.  The statement is meant to get the father to look beyond himself, to not get lost within his own inability or his own self-doubt but to put his focus on the one who has faith.

Jesus simply reminds the father and us who read that He is the one who has Faith.  Even John in the book of Revelation calls Jesus the Faithful Witness.

Jesus reminds the father that he has come to the right place; he has finally arrived at the well that has not run dry, the well spring of life that heals and strengthens and provides. 


The father responds with a statement that rings true for all of us: "I believe, help my unbelief."

There has never been a more truer statement that describes each of us, all of us equally, at every moment of our life.  If we are honest with our self, we are always in the state of belief and unbelief.  

The reality of our faith life is such that different situations throughout our life will often reveal our unbelief  gradually and thus provide an opportunity for our faith to be enriched.  Our unbelief  is always being revealed to us bits and pieces at a time, especially in times of trials.  These are the moments that our faith is purified.  Our faith is always in need of purification and thus deepen.  One cannot deepen what one does not realize is shallow.

We never know the full extent of our unbelief, but time reveals it; every corner of life, as the mystery of tomorrow's trials encounter us,  shows to us the true countenance of our faith.   We must go to Christ, be honest, and let him purify our faith as we seek to trust in ourself less and trust in him more.  

The journey of life is a journey of thousands steps that repeatedly purify our faith in him who is the faithful one, Jesus Christ.

Spiritual discernment, practical living

James 3:13-18; Mk 9:14-29

In today's gospel We encounter a Father who has a sick child and he is seeking help.  He brings him to the the disciples and nothing happens.  The man is a bit distraught and yet he seeks continually to bring about the healing he so longs for his child.  He finally discovers that healing in Christ. 

I would like to point out the words used to describe what the evil spirit does to the son and what Christ does as a way of detailing a means to discern the spirit of God in our life as opposed to the spirit of evil. 

The father describes what the evil spirit does as follows:
It seizes him: in greek the word means to take hold of with destruction in mind, seeking to destroy.
It throws him: in greek the word means to tear apart, rend asunder, break as if throwing upon the rocks; to do violence to one's self, to one's person.
It leaves him rigid: in greek the words means to wither and dry up; to no longer be fruitful or of benefit to others; to be closed in on it self.

The gospel writer then describes what Jesus does when he encounters the boy:
He took him: in greek the verb means to hold carefully and tend to faithfully, suggesting great concern and gentleness.
He raised him: in greek the word used means to construct, to build up, to cause to be born, to bring forth a life.
the boy stood up: in greek the word used to describe the boy standing is a word that is used to describe a king rising from his throne; he suggest a sense of majesty, a sense of purpose, a sense of renewed vigor with the ability to be of benefit to others.

The gospel writer deliberately makes the contrast between the evil spirit and Jesus to guide us on our own journey that we might recognize what is the Spirit of God and the evil Spirit by the action sent forth. 

We must choose each day to let one of the Spirits guide our thoughts and mind and actions; may we seek to be one who attends to all carefully, build up, enable those we encounter to stand upright with majestic dignity.  

Ma we follow the one who has faith, the faithful witness himself, Christ, as we interact with many people today, friends, loved ones, strangers, co-workers, bosses and all.  May they experience the power of the Spirit of Christ through you and thus may the spirit of evil be exorcised.  

Anno Domini

May 18th we celebrate the feast of Pope John I. 

Pope John was a man who knew what history was all about.  He commissioned a monk to rework the calendar of the church in order to better organize the feast of the saints. While the monk was carrying out this task, he found it very difficult to get a correct date for some of the saints who had died. 

It seemed the dating system set by Julius Caesar was quite archaic. Julius Caesar had set up a dating system based on the foundation of Rome as the center of history.  Everything was dated based on its relationship to the city of Rome. 

The monk, in a moment of grace filled insight, approached the Pope and suggested they change the system.  He suggested that the center of history wasn't the foundation of Rome but rather the birth of Christ, the one who was to open up to us the eternal Jerusalem. 

The Pope agreed!

Thus, from then on the dating system was no longer from the foundation of Rome but from the birth of Christ; thus all history became meaningful, with an eternal destiny, in so far as it always relates to salvation history.  History without salvation would be a history without purpose. 

From then on, time and dates were distinguished as being before the birth of Christ or after the birth of Christ, also known as, Anno Domini, year of the Lord.

All of this took place because the Pope agreed to an idea that was not his own.  

Humility makes Saints in the year of the Lord, Anno Domini.

Saint John I pray for us that we might recognize good ideas not our own and allow them to come to fruition, standing not in their way as we live and breathe here in the year of the Lord.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

cross shaped life

Mk 8:34-9:1

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

I was watching a movie, "The Rookie" the other night and there is a scene in which the star who is an older man in late thirties seeks to try out for the major league.  He has made it to the AAA league, which is one notch below the big leagues and he is questioning his decision to leave his family, wife and children, to pursue this childhood dream.   

One night he goes off by himself to think it through.  And he finds himself at a baseball field watching little leaguers play and enjoy the game.  He has a strengthening in his ambition, a  strengthening in his desire to continue. 

The next day he walks into the dressing room and he is excited and pumped.  He walks over to another AAA player and he poses a question followed by an answer.  He ask him, "Do you know what we get to do today...we get to play baseball."  He is grinning with such delight, he had rediscovered what it was all about and he was ready to live the dream. 

Some days, we are like that.  We re-discover what it is all about and we are ready to put it all on the line.  Some days we are excited about our faith journey, pumped about following Jesus and allowing the power of the kingdom of God to be manifest in our life.  We are ready to pick up our cross, deny ourself, and follow Jesus. 

But some days we are not.  Some days we want to leave it all behind, cross included, and walk away.  
What do we do then?

Those are the days we let the cross carry us.  This is the reality of the agony in the garden.  Jesus prays and searches for the strength to continue forth.  The cross carries Jesus long before He carries the cross.  

His whole life is motivated by the cross; it is the cross that leads him to Jerusalem; it is the cross that leads him to the upper room; it is the cross that leads him to the garden; it is the cross that leads him to calvary, one step at a time; it is the cross that brings him glory. 

The cross does the same for you and I.

Let the cross pick you up.  Let the cross carry you. Let the  cross shape you and bring you life.

Friday, May 16, 2008


James 2:14-24, 26; Mk 8:34-9:1

Ignoramus! Certainly this is a eye catching, ear popping word of choice.  To be  an ignoramus is to be one who is generally ignorant of everything, one whose life is empty of knowledge.

In this case if you do not see how works and faith are to be integrated and interconnected as quite obvious then ignorant you are in deed.  This is what James is trying to say. 

James simply asks the people not to miss the boat.  Faith is seen in how you live, in the choices you make, in how you reach out toward others.    Your life should be different if you have faith in Christ.  

This reminds me of when I was ordained a priest.  I had to make five promises.  The last of which sums up all of them, and becomes a promise not just for those ordained but for all who are baptized.  The promise is as follows:

Are you resolved to shape your way of life according to the example of Christ...?

Christ's whole life reveals to us a faith filled life in action, whose shape was that of the  Cross. 

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me," Jesus proclaims in today's gospel. 

What shape is your life? Is it cruciformed or otherwise?  
Remember we don't make the sign of the cross for nothing or do we?

Is is empty of knowledge, leaving us to be ignoramuses or not?  I hope not!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


James 2:1-9; Mk 8:27-33

"You are thinking not as god but as human beings do."

At the heart of seeking to put on the mind of Christ, to see with the eyes of God, to live with divine love finds its epicenter in the reality that James addresses: "my brothers and sisters, show no partiality."

"Show no partiality"

The word for partiality in greek means to lift up one's face toward.  It was originally a sign of just showing favor toward in a positive manner, something that the book of numbers relates to when it says" "may the Lord bless you and keep you, and show his face upon you."

Originally it was good but quickly over time it became radically different.  In the time of James it went from showing favor to showing favoritism.  It went from turn your face toward to turn up your nose. 

James is simply inviting us to get back to the original meaning and seek to be as God is toward us.  Look upon all with the same concerned countenance of love and respect. 

This is the look of Christ as he hung upon the cross; from on high he shed his countenance of grace and concern to all below.   

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The one who replaced Judas

Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Jn 15:9-17

Today is the feast of St. Matthias, the apostle who replaced the one who betrayed Christ. 

Two things of importance.

St. Peter in his prayer to discern which of the two men, Joseph called Barsabbas and Matthias, he mentions that the reason there was a vacancy in the Apostolic office was because "Judas turned away to go to his own place."

Is not this the heart of every temptation, to go our own way?

How many times do we leave a vacancy because we have gone our own way.  How many times have we vacated our own discipleship, vacated the love of God and sought that place of isolation, doing our own thing? 

Do we seek to go our own way or do we let Christ own our hearts?  Do we act as if we own the place or do we act as if Christ owns the place?

Pope Benedict reminds us in regards to the election of Matthias that the lesson to be learned is as follows.  While there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

You have been elected to fill the vacancy, now go forth and bear the fruit of the kingdom of God allowing the light of fidelity to scattered the darkness of betrayal. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Do not yet understand

James 1:12-18; Ps 94; Mark 8:14-21

Today we celebrate the beginning of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to the Children in Fatima.  Here, we recall The Blessed Mother's invitation to the children to pray and do penance for Peace in the world, conversion of Russia, and the end to WWI. 

Basically, the Blessed Mother was reminding us of the essential ingredient of prayer not only in the life of a Christian but for the life of the world. 

There is power in prayer.  It opens us up to the deeper reality of solidarity and human longing for harmony.  As St. Paul tells us, the whole creation groans for the salvation, for the freedom of the children of God.  Pray is not about telling God what to do it is about allowing God to increase our desires for what is good and just and intensify our will that we might truly become instruments to bring about what God longs to take place.

We think about prayer but not often about penance.  Penance is a concrete way of experiencing solidarity; Penance is not punishment it is grace, for St. Paul tells us we fill up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.  Here suffering does not equate itself with pain, but rather suffering directs our attention to true love.

Love is suffering if it is love.  Penance removes the false notion of love as a just a good feeling but reminds us it is a life decision, a willful entering into the wounds of Christ that embrace the world; it is willful acceptance of the stigmata, bearing the marks of Christ so that the power of love might fill the world.  

Pray and do penance and watch the world slowly be converted to the heart of Christ. 

Our Lady of Fatima pray for us as we pray for all. 

Monday, May 12, 2008

Words to remember

James 1:1-11; Psalm 119; Mark 8:11-13

As I was reading the local paper today I came across the section entitled, "Words to Remember."  Normally, in this section, there is a bible quote to inspire for the day followed by a quotation from some "famous" person that is meant again to inspire for the day. 

In today's paper, as always the section entitled "Words to remember" glared at me in news print. As I glared back I discovered that the section was blank.  Either do to over sight or under sight or all of the above the paper failed to print any words to remember; there was only a blank spot. 

There were no words to remember.  Sometimes no words are good words to remember.

Truth is we usually don't give our minds time to truly sink it to the the many words we have encountered. So, no words to remember is a good opportunity to reflect on words already memorized.

Just in case you are one of those that needs words to remember:

"Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,  And let your perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1:2-3

"The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire.  You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when he comes you may see and be utterly satisfied."  St. Augustine

Sunday, May 11, 2008


acts 2:1-11; John 20:19-23

I love to go home and visit, especially during the holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and even on an occasion such as today, Mother's day.  Usually it means a home coming for all or at least most of my siblings and more importantly it means I get to visit with my nephews and niece. 

There are three groups of nephews and nieces in the family.  There are the older group age 7 and up who spend most of their time outdoors.  They run and play in the field or chase chickens or chase pigs or explore the barn or whatever.  As soon as they arrive they are off on their own little adventure looking to go where had not gone before. 

There is also the younger group who are still attached to their mother's hip.  they go where mom goes.  They are age 1 and under.  They need a lot of attention and they want it as well. 

The middle group is the age between 3 and 5.  This is the group I like to call the little terrorist.  They come in and they hijack the place.  The living room becomes a land mine with their toys scattered from corner to corner.  These are not the soft cuddly toys, these are hard iron tractors and plow toys. These are weapons.  You step on them you will be hurting for a week. 

This group spends most of its time in the house running from place to place or playing with the toys.

Usually what happens is I will be with my siblings in the dining room conversing and then my little nephew will come in from the living room and go straight to his mother and start to plead his case.  "Momma, i don't know what happen but i didn't do it.' 

As soon as "i didn't do it" comes out the other nephew begins to wale.  All heaven breaks lose and this ungodly noise filters in.  Then sure enough here he comes walking in the dining room and he goes straight to his momma.  The other nephew is still pleading his case.  

His mother tells him. "go tell him you're sorry and give him a kiss."  "Go tell him you are sorry and give hi a kiss."

So he goes over to his cousin and tells him and kisses him.  The other mother tells her son to go give him a hug.  He gives him a hug and they look at each other for a while and then they go back to the living room and play continues where it left off. 

As I watch this time and time again, I realize this is what mothers do, they reconcile their children to each other. 

As we celebrate the birth of the Church, we celebrate the gift of the Mother that seeks to proclaim reconciliation to the world.  As Jesus tells the disciples, "receive the Holy Spirit, who sins you forgive are forgiven and who sins you retain are retained."

For two thousand years the Mother Church as been proclaiming reconciliation to all, that God has reconciled the world to himself by the blood of the cross."

Only with reconciliation can true communion take place.  Thus after the proclamation of the reconciliation, the people are all united and they all hear the mighty acts of God (Acts 2:1-11)

May we embrace the reconciliation offered and seek to be instruments of reconciliation in our own lives thus allowing the grace of the blood of the cross to be effective and not in vain. 

This is truly the way to celebrate Mother's day. 

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20

88 days have passed since we gathered in groves to begin our yearly retreat.  Lent began and the church offered us an opportunity to retreat from the world and to retreat into Christ.  we were invited to examine our lives, seek renewal, and open ourselves to experience the power of Christ alive. 

This experience of Christ alive parallels the experience of the apostles in today's first reading.  Luke tells us that Jesus after the resurrection presented himself alive to the disciples.  They saw him, and heard him.  This was a presentation that was an invitation to new life. 

When we gathered on Ash wed. we wanted that newness of life.   We wanted the power of Christ alive to invigorate us, invigorate our spouse, our family, and invade our life.  

So we came, promises in hand, seeking to make sacrifices, ready to offer things up, hoping and longing for a change.  

We processed down the aisle to receive the ashes.  We processed with our heads held low, hands in praying position, mind searching, and hearts rent.

Some of us came with a deep awareness of what was going on, of what God wanted and each step moved them deeper within. 

Some of us came merely out of routine; we came because we always came.   The desire for God and a new life remained buried beneath the anxiety and worldly concern of daily problems. 

Some of us came for the first time and some of us came for the 80th time.  Nonetheless we all were gathered for a common purpose; we wanted, we hoped for, we longed for a taste of the divine in our daily life.  

As came down the aisle we were marked on foreheads with ashes and we heard these words, "remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Lent began with an act of humility.  We were reminded of what was most real in our life that we are dust alive in the hands of God.  We share the same nature as Adam; we are clay with the gift of life, not because we wanted it but because God chose to give it.

You are dust.  This is a reality that humbles us and it strikes us not just in Lent but every time we gather at a funeral.  We gather to bid farewell to one who loved us or to one whom we loved.  We peer at the empty grave as the coffin hangs above and are hearts are full of grief as we pray these words of the church, "since God has chosen to call our brother from this life, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and unto dust we shall return."

And many of us are tempted to stop there.  We are tempted to live as if the grave is our final destination.  We enter this rat race of life and live as if we were merely rats destined to be dust for eternity.  We let the world direct our desires, influence our actions, determine our life.  We cling to possessions and we refuse to let go.   We suffer terribly great fear and we have no freedom to love purely. 

We ask the world to satisfy and it simply leaves us empty.  But we trudge along building our empire of sand and our true value and worth remain buried beneath the dirt.

Not only do we treat ourselves like dirt but we treat other like dirt in the process by the way we speak, by what we choose to think about, how we lust and seek self-pleasure at the cost of others, by refusing to reconcile and refusing to give charity, refusing to live simply so that others may simply live.

We are left with sorrow, despair, emptiness and a tragic irreverence for life. 

But something new happens today.  Our lent has come full circle.  

As we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension we discover not only do we share the same nature of Adam, dust alive in the hands of God, but in Christ something new is given, a greater dignity is bestowed. 

In the feast of the Ascension, our attention is given direction, our life finds purpose. 

Christ, in this feast, reveals that we are no longer just earth bound.  He takes our humanity, our mortality, our flesh and blood, our dust come alive and he exalts it. 

Our dust is completely united with God in full communion with Christ.  Christ as God, is man, who makes space for our human existence, our dust, in the very existence of God himself.

As the psalmist reminds us, "from the dust he lifts up the lowly, he raises them on high."

Christ by his ascension, rehabilitates man's desires.  He give us something more to hope for, to live for.

The humility of Ash Wed. finds it culmination in the exaltation of the Ascension.

We now have a new memory to guide us.  we are no longer just motivated by the memory of death.  Christ impresses upon us a memory of greatness as he ascends.  

We no longer just look up from the grave but now we look down from above and are given greater clarity as to how to live and experience to fullness of the power of Christ alive.

The prayer at the grave side doesn't end with dust, though sometimes that is all we hear.  The prayer continues, "since God has chosen to call our brother from this life, we commit his body to the earth , for we are dust and unto dust we shall return, but the Lord Jesus Christ will change our mortal bodies to be like his in glory for he is risen from the dead."

The ascension exalts us to greatness, exalts us to glory. 

Jesus as he departs tells the Apostles to go make disciples, 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 and behold i will be with you til the end of the age.

Jesus gives us an recipe for greatness.  Humility of obedience gives way to the exaltation of greatness, our true destiny. 

As Jesus ascends, he lifts his hands and blesses the Apostles.  Thus, this is how we live, always beneath the blessing hands of Christ, as he ascends upward our world is open up to that which is above.  All of heaven pours forth upon us, strengthening us in our need, empowering us to follow where he leads. 

Humility of obedience gives way to exaltation of greatness. 

We can refuse to let us be raised and seek to remain earth bound.  We can refuse to let the ascension rehabilitate our desires.  In doing so, we are left with the same ole life, where dust is no longer alive.  

We can ascend with Christ or choose to remain behind.

Friday, May 2, 2008


acts 18:9-18; john 16:20-23

"Do not be afraid.  Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.  No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city."

We catch a glimpse of the intimacy of Jesus' relationship with Paul.   Jesus speaks to Paul words of encouragement as one would speak to a friend.   
Jesus tells Paul that He got his back.  

We discover that having Jesus as friend means you have friends in high places, friends that you would not necessarily consider friendly. 

Gallio, a Roman proconsul is the instrument of God's choice of keeping Paul intact and on the the path of proclamation.  God uses anyone and everyone. 

This is why Paul takes the vow and shaves his head.  It is a vow of humility, by which he recognizes that by God's grace he was saved.  Paul realized that God used the unlikeliest persons to make clear the path for the gospel and he is moved to give thanks. 

Who has God used in your life to keep you on the right path?  What unknown person has become an instrument of grace to keep the gospel message alive in your life?

On another note: "God has many people in the city he can use."  This should always give a pause for caution as we deal we people.  Each of them and all them might be the instrument of choice. 

As Paul teaches us in Hebrews chapter 13, "continue to love each other like brothers and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it."

Perhaps Paul was reflecting on his experience with Gallio and how God used him to spread the gospel.


Think about it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Gen 1:26-2:3 or Col 3:14-24; Mt 13:54-58

Feast of St. Joseph the worker

Work is always a hot topic; every one does it; everyone talks about it; everyone seeks to avoid it. 
Work has a negative connotation, as something to be avoided or quickly done, or found a way around.  Yet in reality, work simply means an effort put forth to accomplish something.  All things are involved in work.  The cross itself was the work of redemption.

John Paul II reminds us that man imitates God both when he works and when he rest, since God Himself wished to present His own creative activity under the form of work and rest.  

Thus, man's work is a participation in God's activity and this awareness must permeate  through all activity even the most ordinary everyday activities. Only then can work truly lead to rest.

Thus all becomes an avenue to an encounter the divine.

This is why Jesus in his parables on the Kingdom includes references to human work especially in mentioning ordinary labor: shepherds, farmers, doctors, sowers, householders, servants, stewards, fisherman, merchants, laborers and others.  

The kingdom is made manifest when work is fully embraced and directed to the Glory of God.  In work, thanks to the light of Christ, the son of the carpenter, which penetrates it from the resurrection, the work of redemption,  there is always to be found a glimmer of new life, the echo of the good news proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is near.