Thursday, April 30, 2009

These hundred days

Obama in the White House
The hundred days that didn't shake the world
One thousand three hundred sixty-one days separate Barack Obama from the end of his mandate. No one can know nor imagine what will happen in this time. In fact, many analysts describe the "occupation" of the president as a reactive one. Planned political strategy leaves the post -- as the case of the Bush presidency after 11 September 2001 proves -- to choices dictated by events.

In another perspective, this 29 April marks a hundred days of the first African-American president in the White House, traditionally a much-awaited point for an initial assessment, however inevitably partial. But rivers of ink have already flowed over these weeks that, according to many commentators, they've signified a decisive turn from the past, a redefinition of the very image of the United States in the world.

It might be that this capacity to communicate is one of the great traits of the president, recalling that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like the architect of the New Deal, Obama utilizes the modern media -- radio then, internet today -- to spread the message of hope which the nation needs. The great crisis of 1929 can't be compared to the current one. And still the imprint seems the same. So too the ability of shifting the attention of public opinion in a pragmatic and functional way.

In these months Obama has seen his popularity grow only by having opened the doors to changes: he proposed direct negotiations with Iran to resolve the question of Tehran's nuclear program and invited Russia to new discussions for the reduction of its strategic arsenals. Above all, he's proposed a different role for the United States on the American continent, beginning to imagine new relations with Cuba. But in other and more concrete international scenarios, continuity in respect to the past is anything but compromised. Like in Iraq, where the administration is applying the exit strategy begun by Bush, and in Afghanistan. Here -- Obama declared -- is found the new front of the fight against terrorism. New only to a point, as it was in Afghanistan where the first US military intervention after September 11 took place. And not everything as a wish for discontinuity can be seen by the retention of Robert Gates at the helm of the Pentagon.

Even when, opening to Cuba, he's broken a taboo, Obama isn't much moved from his predecessors in the request for tangible signs on the part of Havana.

Similar evaluations can be made for the economic stimulus undertaken by the president. It's been accused of excessive statism by some, if not placing the country on the path to socialism. A calmer analysis, however, notes that Obama moves with caution: very reluctant in the face of the nationalization of financial institutions, he opened the private sector to his plan to save credit institutions. Revealing, according to the International Herald Tribune, an unexpected similarity with Ronald Reagan, the president who placed a flag for the state's retreat from the private sector. And much more statism revealed itself in the final months of the Bush-Paulson team with the partial nationalization of the titans of property lending, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Even on ethical questions -- which, from the electoral campaign, have been the forceful concern of the Catholic episcopate -- Obama doesn't seem to have confirmed the radical changes he had aired. The new guidelines regarding embryonic stem-cell research don't, in fact, line up with the changes foreseen months ago. They don't permit the creation of new embryos for purposes of research or therapy, for cloning or reproductive ends, and federal funds may be used solely for experimentation with surplus embryos. These don't remove the motives for criticism in the face of unacceptable forms of bioengineering that contrast with the human identity of the embryo, but the new regulations are less permissive.

A certain surprise has otherwise come about in these days through a bill designed by the Democratic party: the Pregnant Women Support Act would move to limit the number of abortions in the United States through initiatives of aid for distressed women. It's not a negation of the doctrine until now expressed by Obama on matters of the interruption of pregnancy, but the legislative project could represent a rebalancing in support of motherhood.

Signals of innovations in the Obama administration are undeniable. Above all on matters of the care of environment and in particular the partnership that seems born with Beijing. But maybe it's early to talk of revolution or imbalance in judgment, whether positive or negative. These hundred days have not shaken the world. Better to await the next one thousand three hundred sixty-one.

Compliments of L'Osservatore Romano the Vatican Newspaper and Whispers of Loggia blogspot.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

bread of life

Acts 8:1-8; Psalm 66 Let all the earth cry out to God with Joy; John 6:35-40;

Jesus in the gospel speaks of the bread of life and ponts toward himself.  In the connection of this bread of life he also points toward the "last day."

Pope Benedict speaks of the bread of life in this way:

"What we call bread contains the mystery of the Passion.  Before there can be bread, the grain of wheat must be placed into the earth, it must die, only then can new growth begin."

Bread has within it the capacity to receive the mystery of Christ' passion, death and resurrection.  For bread to be bread it must suffer death and rise anew in order to offer nourishment and life.

This bread captures the fullness of the passion.  It unites both the death and the resurrection and thus contains the full spectrum of life: birth, death, birth again.

Every eucharist thus brings forth the fullness of life.   Every reception points us toward the last day that will give way to the first day of forever.  This is the bread of life in totality.

We can never truly understand the gift of life and receive the gift of life unless we understand its totality and its finality.  As we hold the bread of life in our hands we peer into the last day no longer with fear and trembling but with gratitude and great expectation for the moment when we shall see "be like him, for we shall see him face to face.'

Monday, April 27, 2009

the face of an angel

Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 119 Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord; John 6:22-29

"This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the laws.  For we heard him claim that this Jesus of Nazorean will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us."

What was the custom that Moses handed down?

It is interesting to note that the Sanhedrin is being involved in this heated debate with and about Stephen.  It is the Sanhedrin that is the "custom" that the people are referring.  In Numbers 11:16 God ask Moses to "assemble 70 of the elders of Israel" and to these God distributed some of his spirit so that they could assist Moses with dealing with the people.

This tradition was passed down.  When one of the 70 died another was added.  Eventually they became known as the Sanhedrin, the council that was to help interpret the Torah, the law, for the people.

So, when the accusation is made that Stephen is speaking about Jesus destroying the "custom" handed down from Moses, it is an accusation of seeking to destroy the Sanhedrin itself.  It certainly got the Sanhedrin's attention pretty quickly.  They were being threatened.  I am sure they did not want to lose their position of power any time soon. 

It was a pretty clever plan to get Stephen to be quiet. 

Yet, Stephen as we will see tomorrow, chooses to speak the truth regardless of who in power was involved.  He refused to bow to the powerful around him.

"All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel."

His face was like an angel as he listen to their accusations.  He didn't defend himself.  He did not get overly excited.  He did not act out in anger.  He held his mind's gaze on God.  

This is what is meant by the "face of an angel."  What do the angel's do in heaven?  Their face always beholds the Father.  They contemplate goodness itself.  Stephen, while he was being accused, did not lose focus or get distracted.  He kept his interior gaze on the Father and thus was strengthen and calm during the whole ordeal. 

This is how we too should embrace life as it unfolds.  We should keep our interior gaze on God. This is how we pray always without ceasing.  From here shall come our strength, calm, peace, and courage to stand and speak when needed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

3rd sunday Easter: resurrection of the body

Today in the gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room.  They are spooked.  They thought they had seen a ghost. 

But Jesus quickly crushes that false notion by asking for food and eating in front of them.

This certainly was no casper the ghost. 

Jesus appears to them in his resurrected body. 

What does this mean?  Like the disciples,  questions rise in our hearts; as we fix our gaze on Jesus and his resurrected presence we begin to peer into the future of humanity. 

All love wants eternity; God's love not only wants eternity but effects it.  This love brings man whole and entire into eternity, body and soul.  Man is indivisible from the beginning into eternity.

We will be raised as whole persons, not some segmented separated soul minus a body.  We will be whole persons, body and soul.

What a great mystery! What a great article of faith we profess every Sunday: we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

What we do in the body will have effects in how we spend eternity! 
We can never compartmentalize our spirit and bodily action; they are a unity, a unity that remains indivisible even in eternity. 

This is why our faith must have affects in our bodily behavior.  
Sin affects our whole person and redemption comes to the aid of our whole person. This is why St. John tells us in the 2nd reading, "my children I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin." 

Why? Because sin is an attack against the very work of redemption.  Sin corrupts the whole person and such corrosive behavior in the body will destroy the truth of our destiny: to be fully redeemed and welcomed into eternal life in heaven. 

Our whole person, body and soul, belong to Christ and shall receive the grace of redemption. 

"The body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God raised the Lord and will raise us up by his power.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?...You are not your own; glorify God in your body." (1 corinthians 6:13-15, 19-20) 

"But as God's word is sure, what is sown is raised; the earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, shall become glory to glory, and life to the living God, and a true incorruptible image of the Spirit made perfect.  Here the saints sleep, here they shall rise.  A great sight will a Christian country then be, if earth remains what it is; when holy places pour out the worshippers who have for generations kept vigil therein, waiting through the long night for the bright coming of Christ!" Venerable John Cardinal Newmann

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Divine Providence

Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34 The Lord hears the cry of the Poor; John 3:31-36

"When the court officers brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them. "We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name.  Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us. But Peter and the Apostles  said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men."(Acts 5:27ff)

In a Synod of Bishops in 1985, November 28, an appeal was made to Pope John Paul II for the Catechism.  Cardinal Tomasek made a speech and at the end of the speech he said these words:

"We must work for the kingdom of God-that is a great thing.  We must pray for the Kingdom of God-that is more important still.  We must suffer for the Kingdom with the crucified Christ-that is everything." 

This is what the Catechism states in regards to Divine Providence and our actions:

"God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of cooperating in the accomplishment of his plan" (ccc 306)

St. Thomas teaches that "God grants his creatures not only to exist but also to act, each in its own way.  It is precisely here that we see the incomparable majesty of the creative activity of God."

Peter and the Apostles were fulfilling God's plan.  They were allowing Divine Providence to unfold through them by their deeds and actions.  They were getting the message out.  They were willing to work for the kingdom, pray for the Kingdom, suffer with the Crucified Christ for the Kingdom.  Thus, Divine providence was at work in them. 

May it be at work in us.  May we seek to obey God rather than men and refuse to be quiet and make the message known.  

Above is a picture of the chains of St. Peter that he wore after being arrested for preaching the message Jesus.  They can be found in San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.  It is a lasting reminder of Divine Providence at work through man.  God's plan refuses to surrender.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not Perish

Acts 5:17-26; Psalm 34 The Lord hears the cry of the Poor; John 3:16-21

Pope Benedict in his Easter Message to the World invites us to ponder anew the resurrection as our hope, 

"Easter does not signal a moment in history, but the beginning of a new condition.  Jesus risen is not simply a memory that lives in the heart of the disciples but He himself lives in us."

What is that new condition?

"God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

That new condition that rises from the empty tomb is the gift of everlasting life.  We shall not perish. 

Jesus does preserve us, he doesn't increase our shelf life.  When John speaks of not perishing,  he is speaking of a new reality, a new gift, a new way of living that is no longer bound or limited between the womb and the tomb.

By our belief, we become the glory of God as sharers in Christ's victory over death. 

The resurrection stands as the defining distinction between having just a memory alive in our hearts and having a true reunion of persons. 

As Christians, memory gives way to reunion and thus 'we shall not perish' points us to the truth that those who believe shall be reunited in the Person of Christ who is risen and who brings about the communion of saints.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Doctor Anselm

Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 93 The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty; John 3:7-15

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Anselm, a doctor of the church.  Born in the 11th century Anselm lived a quiet but forceful life in Christ as a Monk, a Bishop, a Scholar, a Mystic, and a Disciple. 

He was a man of great tender affection for love, for truth, and for his God. 

For Anselm it was always Faith seeking Understanding.  He taught us and continues to teach us that we must begin and end in faith, understanding comes as we live and believe. 

If we seek first to understand prior to faith we will miss out on the beauty and power of faith and how it is meant to guide our reason and intellect, not the other way around. 

For most of our present society, we got it backwards.  Thus, this is why their are so many unbelievers, so many professed atheist; they expect reason and intellect to do what it was not meant to do.

Reason and intellect without faith is like a compass with out arrows; a GPS system with out a map or satellite hook up; it is like a car with out a steering wheel. 

Faith must direct us or we shall simply be lost in the dark.

Excerpt from St. Anselm

"Lord, teach me to seek you 
and reveal yourself to me when I seek you.  
For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, 
nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me.  

Let me seek you in longing and long for you in seeking. 
 Let me find you in love and love you in finding.

O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find my joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress  every day, until at last that knowledge , love, and joy come to me in all their plenitude."

Doctor Anselm pray for the world that we might put Faith and reason in its proprer order and thus come to love as we ourselves are loved.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Divine Mercy

John Paul II declared the 2nd sunday after Easter to be devoted to Divine Mercy.  

In doing so the faithful are invited to make an act of devotion to God's abundant mercy by going to confession and receiving communion.  We should also include prayers for the Pope's intentions.

"The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blessed-it blesseth him that gives, and him that takes."

For Mercy Sake
from where does mercy come?
how does is fall upon the earth below?
from where does mercy come: how does it fall, fall so low?

from where does mercy come?

from the wounds is where mercy flows;
from the wounds of love so told;
from the cross so high to earth below;
this is where mercy does flow!

this is where mercy is bestowed;
For mercy sake, does mercy flow!

Below is the link that will help enlighten us in what the church means when she speaks of indulgences attached to Divine Mercy Sunday.

Te Deum

All week during the Octave of Easter the Church as asked us to say the liturgy of the hours the same as we were celebrating Sunday.  Every day we recite the Te Deum. 

It is an ancient hymn worthy of reprinting for all:

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the Eternal Father: all creation worships you.

To you all angels, all powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of Power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit,
advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.

When yo became man to set us free
you did not spurn the virgin's womb.

You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

You are seated at God's right hands in glory.
We believe that you will come, and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood, 
and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sea of Tiberias

Why the sea of Tiberias? Why were Peter and the disciples gathered at the sea of Tiberias? The sea of Tiberias was part of the Sea of Galilee.

It was the place of origin. It was the place where Jesus first called the disciples to come follow him. It was there the disciples were invited into that intimate living communion with Jesus.

It was the place where the disciples were told to meet up with him, "Go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you." (Mark 16:7)

Thus, the disciples were seeking to meet up with the risen Lord. The Lord chose to meet up with the disciples at very place he first called them forth. The place origin becomes the place of encounter once again.

Peter was perhaps a bit impatient waiting on the Lord so he decided to go fishing. He decided to be productive with his time. He decided to do what he always did. He decided to make a living. He went backwards.

From the beginning, they were called off the sea. They were called and they left the nets and the boats behind. (Matthew 4:18) They went from making a living to making a life. Here they found themselves back where they started. They went from being fishers of men to just fishermen. They had forgotten their call and they were in need of a reminder.

And then it happens!

What an encounter!

They recognized the Lord, and Peter jumps into the lake, careless and determined, bold and daring. He swims a 100 yards just to make it to the Lord.
Peter never loses this enthusiasm and zeal for the Lord. Even in today's first reading he is still burning for Jesus.
"Come, have breakfast."

The Lord once again invites them into a living communion with him.
Some things never change. Jesus remains humble as he cooks for all. Jesus remains true to himself even in the glory of the resurrection, humbled enough to serve them and eat with them, to offer living communion.

Thus, begins the journey for the disciples. Taken back to the place of origin they rediscover the power of Christ and thus are nourished and sent forth. Once again they leave the nets and the boats and become fishers of men.

Political incorrectness

Acts 4:1-12; Psalm 18 The stone rejected by the builders as become the cornerstone; John 21:1-14

We have been following Peter all week in the book of Acts of the Apostles.  He was going up to the temple area with John to pray at the the three Clock hour.  On the way they encountered a cripple and by the power of God in the name of Jesus the cripple was healed through the intercession of Peter. 

This healing, which was a good thing, got them in some hot water. 

Peter and John were being ruffed up by the chief priests, temple guards, and Sadducees because they were teaching in the name of Jesus and proclaiming the resurrection. 

In fact they were held in custody over night.  

The next day they were questioned:
"By what power or by what name have you done this?"  Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, " was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands healed...there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are saved."

So much for Political correctness.  

Peter moved by the Holy Spirit did not apologize for his faith in Jesus.  He did not back down seeking to make other people comfortable or to minimize the offense.  He was bold and daring.  He stood his ground, held firm to his faith, and proclaimed the truth. 

The disease of political correctness has ruined our society.  It has weaken our faith.  It has destroyed our families.  It has led to more doubt and uncertainty.  The truth needs to be proclaimed in season and out of season.  We should do so in charity but also firmness.  

If we make a stand then the conviction alone would become a witness for all.
When we water down our faith then the faith itself begins to sink beneath the water of uncertainty.
May we follow Peter's example and  let us with charity be politically incorrect so that society might have some political rest.   Peter refused to be censored and he refused to minimize the offense.  When it comes to truth, there can never be censorship only conviction.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Acts 3:11-26; Psalm 8 O Lord, Our god, how wonderful your name in all the earth; Luke 24:35-48

IHS is an ancient monogram that represents the name of Jesus.  It is found throughout the US at many if not all of the Catholic Universities. 

It stands out as a sign of honor due to the one who bore the nails and who continues to bear the marks of his readiness to die for Love.  His name is above all other names, as the psalm speaks to day: "O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth."

Earlier this week president Obama was given an invite to speak at one of the oldest Catholic Universities in the US, Georgetown University.  There in the Gaston Hall where the speech was to take place, on a wooden archway, were inscribed the monogram IHS, representing the name above every other name. 

For the speech, however, the university decided to cover up the name so that it would not be seen.  Watching the video, I was appalled that the monogram was covered over.  Yet it was not surprising.  Many of our Catholic universities are turning away from our Lord.  

The one who shows himself today to the apostles, the one's whose hands are out stretched with wounds to show the proof of his sacrifice, the proof of his love, is being neglected. 

We pray for our universities that they may have a conversion.  We pray they do not sell out like the rest of our country and hold fast to the name by which every tongue should confess and every knee shall bend.    

O Lord our God, how wonderful is your name in all the earth.  May it been done in our hearts and minds as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

third day

Acts 3:1-10; Psalm 105 Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord; Luke 24:13-35

The road to Emmaus is a quite familiar story to many.  The disciples heading away from Jerusalem and along the way they encounter a stranger who walks with them only to discover later in the breaking of the bread this stranger was the risen Lord himself. 

In the conversation the disciples have with Jesus they mention the importance of the "third day," as they say, "besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place."

The third day is so very important.   It is so important it finds it way in our creed, in our profession of faith, "on the third day he rose again."  These are primitive words that trace their origin to the early Jerusalem community, all the way back to the original third day itself.  

Pope Benedict points out that "Christendom wanted to establish the first day of the week with absolute certainty as the new day on which the victory of life took place...The Day of the Resurrection is put into the Creed.   It belongs to the center of Church faith and life.  It is the day new life entered into this world."

Pope Benedict again looks into the Old Testament and helps us see that the "third day" even in the Old Testament stands out as a day of theophany.   It was on the third day at mount Sinai that God appears and speaks in regards to the covenant.   Thus, the third day of Jesus Resurrection stands as the conclusive event of the Covenant.  It is the final entrance of God into history.   

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

heart surgery

Acts 2:36-41; Psalm 33 The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; John 20:11-18

The people gathered to hear Peter on the day of Pentecost were "cut to the heart. "  

Their hardness had been overcome by the eloquence of truth.  Once where their spiritual arteries were clogged with false hood were now cleared away by the precision of the truth.  The preaching of Peter empowered by the Holy Spirit changed their lives for ever.  They received the word proclaimed and were set on a new path, a  new direction, a new course in their life.   Their hearts were set free.

Newness was granted and the old was discarded.

Their eagerness turned to a question, "what are we to do?"

The answer to the question was simply, "be a believer."
Believe and let your life be transformed.  Thus 3000 were baptized and added that day. 

They were added to the household of believers, to the household of God. They chose to turn from corruption in put their faith in Him who remained incorruptible.  

What are we to do?  This is the question we also ask in this season of Easter.  Now that the tomb is empty and Jesus is risen, What must we do?

We must embrace the newness given to us in the Risen Lord.  The old ways must go.  There is something new that had not been before.  Death is destroyed, life gains a foothold in eternity through the one who bears the marks of the crucified. 

What must we do?  We must believe and let that belief penetrate every aspect of our life, every ounce of our being, every movement we make.  We must let our hearts be operated on by the precision of truth revealed in the empty tomb.  We can never be the same.  We too must turn from corruption and believe in Him who is incorruptible. 

Monday, April 13, 2009


Acts 2:14,22-33; Psalm 16 Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope; Matthew 28:8-15

Today as we look into the gospel we encounter a conspiracy.  

The scribes, pharisees, and chief priest conspired against Jesus to put him to death.  They wanted to get rid of Him. 

And it worked.  He was put to death. 

On the first day of the week after the resurrection, we find the guards who were guarding his tomb overcome with fear and anxiety as the earth shakes and stone is rolled away. 

They run to the chief priest to tell them what had happened.  They were paid to keep their mouths shut, "they gave them a large sum of money to the soldiers."

They were also told to spread a rumor that the disciples came during the night and took the body of Jesus.  Not only did they conspire to kill Him, they conspired to keep him dead.

The conspiracy against Christ continues today.  Many people seek to keep Jesus dead.  They conspire to shut the mouths of believers and thus eliminate the witness of true belief. 

Jesus in the gospel reaches the women and tells them to go tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.  What is Jesus looking for?  He is looking for men and women to help Him affirm his victory to the world. 

This is our role.  We must take a stand against the many conspiracies that want to keep Jesus dead and bear the witness to the ends of the earth.  We bear that witness by the choices we make and the life we live.  Only this way does the true light shine forth.      

As John reminds us in the gospel, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."

There will always be darkness.  There will always be those who oppose the truth.  We must choose each day to take a stand for Christ, be a witness to his victory with our life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

silence no longer

Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118 This the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9

Yesterday evening we gathered to celebrate the Easter Vigil.  We entered a dark church with a solitary light.  As the Easter Candle processed down the aisle the darkness gave way to its brilliance and the silence of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the death of Jesus, was broken by the proclamation, "Christ Our Light."  

In the words St. John in 1 john 2:8, "the darkness is over and the true light begins to shine."

Soon all who were present were given the light of Christ and at the second proclamation the light began to spread and the darkness grew weaker and weaker.  At the third proclamation, "Christ our light" the whole church erupted with light and the darkness was shattered and new life had begun.  Hope springs eternal in the light that could not be overcome, "The light shines on in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it (Jn 1:5).

As we read in the ancient Easter Sequence to be proclaimed this day before the gospel,
 "Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando: dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus: Death and Life had contended on that combat stupendous: the prince of life who had died, reigns immortal!"

In the gospel we encounter Mary Magdala coming to the tomb on the first day of the week only to discover the tomb to be empty.  when she looked into the tomb she saw nothing, no body.  Thus begins our faith.  Our faith is founded on nothing, no body.  It is truly amazing how from nothing God created the world, and in the absence of body raised from dead in Jesus, faith is born a new. 

On the first day of the week a newness filled the world that had never been known.  The empty tomb was an invitation for Mary Magdala and all of us to to embrace the first day of the rest of our lives.  Each day is the first day all over again.  Each day is a new beginning for in it we experience fresh the invitation of immortality in Jesus the conqueror, whose love is stronger than death.

Let the Bells ring out and the GLoria be sung and the Alleluia echo forth for no longer are we bound to waste away but a new purpose is given in the person of Jesus, as the Easter Exsultet proclaims so well,

"what good would life had been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer; Father, how wonderful you care for us!  How boundless your merciful love! To ransom a slave you gave away your son...Accept this Easter Candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God...May the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still burning: Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen"  

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Triduum: Silence

We have entered fully into the Easter Triduum, the central mystery of our redemption. 

Thursday evening we gathered to celebrate the Lord's supper.  We celebrated not the Last Supper but the Lord's supper.  This is important.  

When Jesus gathered with his Apostles in the upper room, he was celebrating the Passover meal, the meal to commemorate and make present the saving act of God.  The Israelites, who had marked their door post with the blood of the lamb, sat down to eat the lamb as God passed over them, saving them from death and leading them to freedom.  The angel of death was not to touch them for their fidelity to God's command.   It was the blood of the lamb that saved them.

Traditionally many misconstrue this event of Christ to be the last supper.  If anything it should be called the first supper not the last.  Here Jesus elevates the passover meal and enriches the meaning and purpose.  He gives his body and blood as the new unfolding of God's plan of salvation.  The bread and wine are instituted as the body and blood that is shed for all.  The institution of the Eucharist is brought to the front.  A new meal is given to draw the people of God together, to teach them charity, to empower them to live according to the new lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. 

The Lord's supper was not last.  For Jesus from that point until Judgment day is present at every celebration, which is a sacrifice, a meal, and the real presence of Jesus.  How could it ever be the last if he is present every time in all places at the altar? 

We also celebrated the institution of the priesthood.  Jesus makes himself present in the ordain man who is called to be in Persona Christi.  As the priest celebrates the sacraments, it is Christ who performs in them.  The perpetual priesthood is a sign of Christ the High priest, the priest who not only makes the sacrifice but is the victim for life.

We instituted the reality and call of brotherly love.  As Jesus knelt before his disciples and washed their feet, he gives us all a new commandment, "love one another as I have loved you."  
On His knees we become friends of God.  As faithful friends, we are called to do as he did. Empowered by the Eucharist, the heart of Charity, we must allow that charity to be animated through us to all in service.

Then we sat in vigil until midnight.  We entered into the prayer of Jesus in the garden.  "Father take this cup from me, but let it be your will not mine."

We, like the apostles, were invited to stay awake for an hour.  Then we were encouraged to rise and embrace the plan of salvation.  Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, abandoned, condemned, and began the journey to Golgotha.

Good Friday we followed the way of the cross.  We journeyed with Jesus along the way.  As he was crucified at 9 until his last breath at 3 in the afternoon, we felt the blows, we felt the whips, we felt the falls, we felt the nails, we felt death.

We silently looked upon Him whom they had pierced. 
Our gaze remained fixed upon the Crucified Lord.   

At the service of the Passion of Our Lord, we prayed for all.  The church reminds us that is is not enough to love those who love you, but we must love those who God loves.  The crucifixion is a sign of love for all.  

Then we venerated the wood of the cross upon which hung the savior of the world.   The instrument of torture, ridicule, shame, humiliation, and death is transformed into a sign of victory and life.  We bow to the wood of the cross, acknowledging the undeserved gift we have received in the will of the Father.  Jesus' death reveals that he was the lamb that was to be slain; his death reveals his great loyalty and obedience to the Father; his death reveals that he refused to betray love.

Now we come to Holy Saturday.  Jesus is taken from the cross and laid into the tomb.  Today we experience the "death of God." God is dead and we have killed him.  His lips are mute, he no longer speaks.  The grave hides him and he no longer awakes.  We experience the reality that not only is God's speech but also his silence a part of the Christian revelation, as Pope Benedict reminds us.

Jesus enters into death to hallow the grave and make it a sign of hope for all who believe.  
Jesus descends in to Hell, the place of the dead, to set the captives free,  "Awake O sleeper and rise from the dead, and Christ will be your light."

Today we experience in an exceptional way this article of faith.  Jesus is alone with death.  Is this not one of man's greatest fears, to be alone with death?

From this moment every experience of death, especially for believers, is no longer one of being alone.  Every experience of death is now accompanied by the hand of one who has gone before us and conquered it.  In death, we experience the crucified hand reaching forth to guide us through; we experience the voice of the one who embraced the silence of death to strengthen us in our fear and loneliness.  Christ strode through the gate of our final loneliness and fills it with his presence, with a love stronger than death.   

The gate of death is thrown open, and our fear and loneliness gives way to his ever abiding presence in all things human.

The Easter Triduum is rich in grace for all for in Jesus we have received grace upon grace.
   1 John 2:8 "The darkness is over  the real light begins to shine." 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Holy Wednesday

Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 69 Lord, in your great love answer me; Mt 26:14-25

The betrayal of Judas.  The passion of Jesus unfolds as a friend turns his back on him.  The potential of Judas in all of us adds urgency to the narrative.

As Pope Benedict reminds us, "the possibility to pervert the human heart are truly many."
Jesus, in respecting human freedom, does not force his will on Judas or protect it from the temptations of satan.

We celebrate the liturgy so that we might grow in faith and be more firmly allied with the Lord.  In celebration of the Paschal sacrifice we drive away the potential for betrayal and unite more fervently to the friendship offered in the paschal mystery of our redemption. 

Pope Benedict states that "God assumes Judas' inexcusable gesture as the occasion for the total gift of the Son for the redemption of the world."

An act of betrayal never stays an act that hinders but becomes an act that leads to salvation.  How gracious and merciful is God to undo the perversion of the human heart by rending his heart for all.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Tuesday

Isaiah  61; Psalm 89 For ever I will sing the goodness of the lord; Rev 1:5-8

Today we celebrated the Chrism mass.  The oils to be used throughout the year was blessed and consecrated(Chrism).  Also, the priest of the diocese renewed their commitment to service as ordained ministers, priest of the people for the people.

As the bishop reminded us all, we all belong to the priesthood, "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His Blood, who has made us into  a Kingdom, priest for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever."

The priesthood of the faithful we all share in at baptism.  We are all called to enter fully into the life and mission of our mother the Church.

To be leaven for the world, to be light in the world, to be the salt of the earth is the mission set before us.

Yet, so many are busy with their own opinions, their own beliefs, their own agendas and the yeast has gone stale, the light has dimmed, the salt has lost its flavor.  

May we all renew our commitment today to live in Christ fully alive and serve his Church, not our agenda, and thus build the kingdom established by his blood.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Monday

Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Jn 12:1-11

Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant, the one who suffers silently, "he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street."

The silence of Jesus on the cross empowers us to speak out for justice.  Only in entering the silence of our redemption are we able to hear  what needs to be heard and thus become heralds of the gospel of life for all.

In the gospel Jesus is anointed by Mary at  Bethany.  The fragrance of the oil fills the house.  This costly perfumed oil was poured upon Jesus' feet.  

What of this anointing?

The anointing of oil was, especially at death, meant to preserve life.  The fragrance of the oil was to drive away the stench of death.  Here Mary at Bethany in an act of love and faith seeks to preserve the life of Jesus.  She seeks to drive away the stench of death, the very thing that will save us. 

Yet, it is not wasted. 

Mary shows to us what faith and love are about.  The justice from faith and love must always seek to drive away the stench of death and preserve life for all. 

Only in the sacred exchange, Jesus takes upon our death so that he may give us life are we empowered to anoint the world with the aroma of Christ and thus preserve life for all. 

As St. Augustine reminds us, "Accordingly, Jesus effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live. "


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

The passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark

The drama of our salvation begins as we peer into the past and make present Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem.  A triumphal gathering blossoms as the donkey bears the weight of the one who was to bear the weight of the world upon his shoulders. 

The branches sway in the wind as Jesus makes his ascent to Jerusalem, to the temple, the place where God makes his name dwell a midst the hallowed cheers, "Hosanna in the highest". 

Then the triumph gives way to pain and suffering and the cheers of rejoicing give way to the cries of persecution, "crucify him."  The victory of humility begins to unfold.   No longer will the temple be the place that God will make is name dwell but now at the foot of the cross, upon calvary.

This is the mount in which God reveals himself, at the place they called Golgotha, "the skull" here God's name will be forever known as "Savior."

To better understand the unfolding of these events, from the triumphant ride to the forsaken cry, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" I leave you with the Hymn:

"What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul?  What wondrous love is this, O my soul?  What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing; to God and to the Lamb I will sing.  To God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM, while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing; While millions join the theme, I will sing."

May we enter fully into this week we call Holy and come out the other side fully alive in faith bearing love that is crucified for the transformation of the world.


Saturday, April 4, 2009


As we enter into Holy Week I thought a brief reflection on marriage was in order.


Well, the passion of Jesus is a marriage feast.  It is on the cross that Jesus lives out his wedding vows as the bride groom and we as the bride.  He promises to be true to us in good times and in bad, sickness and in health, to love and honor all the days of his life. 

Jesus is faithful and true.  He sets the pattern and tone for every one who seeks to enter into the marriage.  We have all have been betrothed to God in Jesus.  We must look upon the cross not only as a sign of great fidelity and love but also as an invitation for us all to strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gift, the gift of lasting love.  

On the note of marriage between husband and wife:

three things to ponder:
Why do we place the ring on the 4th finger on the left hand?

The greeks and Romans used to wear the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand because they believed there was a nerve that ran from that particular finger directly to the heart, which is the human organ associated with love, fidelity, sacrifice.  Thus, the ring would stimulate the nerve and thus encourage the heart to be faithful.  

That reality has been carried over for close to two thousand years.

Why do we have the bride and groom join right hands when they declare their consent?

This is another symbol from the Roman world.  the parties joined hands as a sign of political agreement, a sign they will live publicly what they declare in private.

The joining of right hands has always been looked upon as a sign of agreement among men.  It was a sign of commitment in which the persons declare that they will stand by the words they had spoken.   It is a sign of concord, a sign of unity, a sign of willingness to do what they say and to say what they are about to do.  The joining of hands symbolize the union of mind and hearts, 
a  union that will manifest itself in the public forum, as a public witness for all to see. 

Thirdly, what makes a marriage?

Ultimately it is the consent that unites a couple.  No one can accidently get married.  Both have to want it, will it, choose it, declare it not just in word but in deed.  Marriage is a bodily event that allows love to be made manifest in the flesh.  

It is incarnational.  Just has God becomes flesh in Jesus to manifest is fidelity and love as seen in the cross, so husbands and wives enter into an incarnational love on their marriage day.  Each day their love is crucified and redemption is experienced in good time and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love and honor all the day of my life.



Friday, April 3, 2009

sticks and stones

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 18 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice; John 10:31-42 

The gospel today begins with a quite shocking tone, "The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus."

Wow!  What a way to begin the gospel proclamation.  We must remember the word "gospel" means good news.  What is the good news in that opening line. 

Obviously the readings, not just the gospel but the first reading as well, point toward growing hostility toward Jesus, the plotting of detractors against his life. 

Where is the good news?

The readings point toward the unfolding of the events that comprise the heart of Christian faith-the paschal mystery. 

What appears to be betrayal and murder actually turns into victory and triumph!

The paschal mystery begins to unfold.  It is easy for us to cling to faith in Jesus and forget the price that was necessary to make faith possible. 

The people want to stone Jesus because of his "blasphemy", "you, a man, are making yourself to be God."

How ironic it is that the complaint of the Jews against Jesus is actually partially true except they got it backwards.  In Jesus, it isn't a man that makes himself out to be god, but rather it is God that becomes man.  
This is what makes the paschal mystery, the suffering, death, and resurrection, so much more awe inspiring and faith enriching.

This is why the paschal mystery stands at the heart of the Christian faith and at the heart of the good news.

Later in the gospel it is read that the "everything John said about this man was true."
What did John say?
"Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29)
The paschal mystery beheld in the eyes of John, death that gives way to life, grace that conquers sin, love that does not falter.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

on your part

Genesis 17:3-9; Psalm 105 The Lord remembers his covenant forever; John 8:51-59

God said to Abraham, "On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages."

Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death."

There is a great continuity in all of sacred scripture from the beginning to the end. 

God seeks man, established a relationship with man, then invites them to share in that relationship simply by doing their part.

That part which falls to man always revolves around keeping and guarding something, that is remembering. 

It is when we forget then things begin to sour for us and those around us. 

We have to constantly foster a good memory, a memory of that which is good. 

This is why Jesus  tells us to "do this in memory of me" when it comes to the last supper. 

It is the one good memory that purifies all memories, all actions, all decisions in life. 

Part of doing our part is keeping his word.  Strange to think that we struggle with keeping our own word, yet here Jesus ask us to keep his word.  By keeping his word, we free ourselves from ourselves and begin to experience true strength and freedom. 

It is in keeping his word, that is letting his word take root in our hearts and mind do we begin to free ourselves from the fear of death.  It is his word that unlocks our fear.  It is his word that brings light in our darkness.  

The beauty of faith is that we do not have to keep our word for it is unreliable but we are invited to keep His word, that word that is an unbroken reality of love that is stronger than death.  

This why we say at the Mass, "only say the word and I shall be healed." Our word is shaky at best but his word is guaranteed.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Daniel 3:14-95; Psalm  Glory and praise forever; Jn 8:31-42

Jesus into today's gospel speaks these words, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Pope Benedict reminds us that "the thirst for liberty is inseparably connected to man's inborn need for truth."

It is only in "becoming like God"  can man be free, the Pope continues.  

How is this achieved?  The answer lies in being drawn into the divine life itself in Christ, remaining in his word becomes the place of liberation. 

Pope Benedict points us to the Agony of the Garden.  The garden becomes the place of liberation.  In the person of Jesus we see the liberation of man. 

Jesus, true God and true man, is the one that can give us both truth and liberty.

In the garden, in the agony, the anguish of man is transformed into the strength of obedience and the speech of the servant is transformed into the words of the son and true liberation finds it culmination in the prayer, "let it be your will and not mine." When we remain in his words of prayer we enter into the freedom of life he offers.

Here Pope Benedict states that the liberation of man and the "becoming like God" is set forth in Jesus for all to experience.  Here our way of liberation becomes comprehensible, our sharing in the freedom of the son is not only possible but a mandate. 

The human will of Jesus and the divine will of Jesus are completely united into the one personal will, a free union created by love.

Only when our prayer enters into Jesus' prayer in the garden do we enter into the "laboratory" of freedom.  Here we encounter that profound change in a person that makes the world better because liberty and truth are united and the "truth shall set you free."