Monday, August 31, 2009


1 thess 4:13-18; Psalm 96 The Lord comes to judge the earth; Luke 4:16-30

Today we read psalm 96.  It is a very upbeat psalm: 

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the , all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

For great is the Lord and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are thing of nought,
but the Lord made the heavens.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills is resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.

Before the Lord, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.

What a beautiful way to begin the day. 
It is a berakhah or broche, an atmosphere of thanksgiving and praise for God.

One Jewish tradition says that a pious Jew should bentsch God one hundred times a day, pronouncing a broche over God.  these are the Berakah prayers: "berukh atah Ha-shem Elokaynu melekh ha-olam: blessed are you Lord our God, king of the universe"

Here are a few examples:

When one awakes: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the world.  You give the souls back to their mortal bodies and thus link the morning awakening to the hope of resurrection."

When the Jew looks around in the morning: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the World. You open the eyes of the blind."

When one gets out of bed and places their feet on the floor: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the world.  You have established the earth on the waters.'

In the mindset of the pious Jew everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected  and should be received with rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Rejoicing and thanksgiving is our benediction to God.

We should seek to live with a benediction in our heart and soul and mind and truly we enter into the new song daily. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

St. Augustine

1 Thess 4:1-8; Psalm 97 Rejoice in the Lord, you just; Mt 25:25:1-13

A few words from the doctor of the church:

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

"The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were wise, who brought flask of oil for their lamps....therefore stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the nor the hour."  Jesus

Keep the lamps lit, the wicks trimmed, and go out.  The bridegroom awaits our diligence.  
We must be externally prepared and inwardly ready and thus holiness is executed perfectly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

paths of holiness

Here are five ways of growing in holiness according to St. John Chrysostom:

First path: condemnation of your own sins; be the first to admit your sins and you will be justified.   A man who condemns his own sins is slower to commit them again.  Rous eyour conscience to accuse yourself with in your own house while their is time.  Better to accuse yourself now then have to face the judgment seat of God

Second path: put out of our minds the harm done to us by another; we must seek to forgive others often without cause without hesitation.  Jesus tells us, "forgive others and your heavenly Father will forgive you.

Third path: prayer that is fervent and careful and comes from the heart.  Communion with God awakens in us a deep awareness of ourselves and where God wants us to be.  When we look toward God in prayer we gaze into our own hearts and become aware of our own need of compassion and mercy.  Thus, we will be merciful in our life.

Fourth path: almsgiving.  We must be generous in our gifts toward others in need.  This way we show to God that what we have received from him is not in vain.  The power of almsgiving is great and far reaching.  We must always remember the poor for we ourselves are poor in spirit. 

Fifth path: humility.  A man who lives a modest and humble life and sin is removed form him.  We must remember the tax collector he beat his breast and hung his head and was heard.  The humble cry reaches the ears of God and God reaches down to lift us from the dung heap.  

Do not be idle, then, but walk daily in these paths.  Through them we can once again gain our health and thus truly approach the holy table with confidence, and go gloriously to meet Christ, the king of glory, and attain the eternal blessings through grace, mercy and kindness of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. 

Dios solo basta

1 thess 2:9-13; psalm 139 you have searched me and you know me; Mt 23:27-32

Pope Benedict reminds us that the love of God is the "love that moves the sun and all the stars."

Dios solo basta: God alone suffices. 

As we have been reading in the psalm 139 all week, that which gets intensified today, the psalmist reminds us of the essential character of God: "even there your hand shall guide me and your right hand hold me fast."

There is no place, no time, no condition in which the hand of God is not present. 

"Even there" is the recognition of faith, a recognition that brings assurance and confidence as we tread this way and that through life's toil and drudgery. 

"even there" reminds us of the "love that moves the sun and the stars, " the love that desires to move us to safety. 

God is near he is always within calling distance. 

Where ever we can imagine, place or time, even there his hand shall guide, even there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jesus the punster

1 Thess 2:1-18; Mt 23:23-26

Puns are a fascinating reality.  It is a play on words that is meant to be humorous, grab someone's attention and sometimes make a point. 

For instance>  Math teachers are known for having problems
>Two silk worms were in a race.  It ended in a tie
>I recently spoke to a soldier who had been in battle three or four times.  He said he survived mustard gas and pepper spray.  He was a seasoned veteran.
> Have you heard about the guy who got his whole left side cut off.  Yeah, that guy. Well, he is all right.

Jesus in today's gospel uses a pun.  He plays with a couple words that gets lost in translation. 

He tells us as the translation reads, "you strain out a gnat and swallow a camel."

In Aramaic it reads you strain out a galma and you swallow a gama.

Jesus makes a funny.  He does so to help the listeners to remember the point of the conversation. 

The point is, don't get so bogged down in the little details that you lose sight of the big picture.  In this case, we should focus on judgment, mercy and faithfulness.  These are the things that are most essential, and everything else flows from there. 

If we lose sight of these then we will be lost. 

Don't strain the galma and swallow the gama because you are liable to choke to death.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

John 6:66

Joshua 24:1-2, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69

We all are familiar with many scripture passages; early on we are asked to remember passages and store them away so that they can aid us in life. 

Most of us are familiar with Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd."

Most of us have been bullied with John 3:16 "God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that who ever believes in him might have eternal life."

Many of us are familiar with the scripture passage Lk 22:42 where Jesus says, "let this cup pass from, but let it be your will not mine."

Or we are familiar with the words of Jesus to the repentant thief, "this day you will be with me in paradise," as a response to the thief's words, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom" which can be found in Lk 23:42-43.

Many of us are familiar with Psalm 27, "The Lord is my light and my salvation."

or Psalm 139, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

How many of us are familiar with John 6:66?  It is an important passage for all of us to remember.  It comes up into day's gospel.  

What is John 6:66? 
"As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."

When the stakes get higher the group gets smaller!

Jesus follows this scripture passage with a question of his own, "do you also want to leave?"

The issue at hand is an issue of faith. 

It is said that 90% of Americans believe in God, yet only 20% go tot church on sunday.  Believe and faith are not the same.  One can believe and not have faith. 

Believe in God is a safe bet; where you can continue to live as you desire and not have God interfere with your life choices. 

Faith, however, involves trust that God is not only with us but for us.   Trust that God is actively involved in our world and life and he demands that we become actively involved as well. Faith entails a conviction, drawing the line in the sand and standing fast.  Faith involves a risk of vulnerability to the stares and laughs of the world.  Faith involves love, to receive the love offered and to love in return.  

The one who believes acknowledges that this is a "hard saying; who can accept it?"
While the one who has faith responds, "Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of everlasting life.  we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Rev 11:19; 12:1-6,10; Psalm 45 The queen stands at your right hand arrayed in gold 1 corinthians 15:20-27,Lk 1:39-56

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary body and soul into heaven.

God brings Mary to be fully united with her son. 

She does not suffer the corruption of death. 

This celebration points us to our ultimate destiny; it reminds us what redemption is about: union of body and soul with God forever. 

As we ponder the beauty of the Blessed Mother and seek to give her the honor due here are few words of poem that have always struck a chord with me:

"may our reach always be beyond our grasp, otherwise, what is a heaven for."

It is by the power and grace of God through Christ that heaven is made not only possible but accessible as we see this reality in the Blessed Mother herself. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

Saint Kolbe

Joshua 24:1-13; Psalm 136 His Mercy endures forever; Mt 19:3-12 

All week we have been walking through the vineyard of God, walking in the footsteps of the flocks seeking to catch a glance at the Shepherd. 

Today we follow in the footsteps Maximilian Kolbe. 

When he was a young child growing up he was scolded by his parents for getting in to trouble, for fighting. 

So taken by the scolding that night he asked the Mother of God what was going come of him and his life. That night he had a dream in which the Blessed Mother came to him with two crowns, a white one and a red one.  The white stood for purity and the red for martyrdom. She asked him, in the dream, which does he choose. In his dream his response was that he was willing to accept both.

This dream colored his entire life and all of his  actions. 

For the Christian, life can never be lived in the sleeping state.  At some point,t he dream must be brought into reality and lived in the moment.  The day dream gives way to a life of purpose.  The dream urges us forward but ultimately gives way to reality. 

Such is the the life of the saints. 

Maximilian Kolbe enetered the Franciscans and was ordained.  He spent his life in service to Christ. 

He was noted as saying, "No one can change the truth.  What we can do and should do is seek the truth and to serve it when we found it.  The real conflict of life is not on the battlefield but it is an inner conflict.  There are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of the human soul: good and evil, sin and love.  What good are the victories on the battlefield if we oursleves are defeated in our innermost and personal selves."

As a priest in Poland he was sent to Aushwitz, a extermination camp. 
In the summer of 1941, three prisoners escaped.  It order to punish the prisoners in the camp, the Germans ordered ten men to be picked randomly and be executed by starvation. 

Fr. Kolbe volunteered to take the place of one of the men who was chosen.  This man, once he was selected, screamed out, "my poor wife, my poor children, I'll never see them again."  In response to this plea, Fr. Kolbe asked if he could exchange places with this man. 

The guard agreed.  so, prisoner number 16670 stepped forward and the exchange took place, and he along with the other nine were led to the starvation chamber below. He spent two weeks encouraging the other nine to keep the hope, with song and spiritual consolation.  Slowly the nine died, leaving Fr. Kobe the last man standing.  After two weeks, the Germans injected him with poison so that he might finally die.

He had stayed true to his word and willingly accepted both crowns offered by the Blessed mother in the dream, the white and the red.  He gave his life in exchange for the life of another. 

His dream became a reality.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

salt of faith

Dt 34:1-12; Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire; Mt 18:15-20

Today we continue what the week started in celebrating the lives of the saints. 

Monday we gazed at the Deacon of the early church, Lawrence and reflected on martyrdom. 
Tuesday we gazed at Clare, the contemporary of St. Francis, who entered a cloister and dedicated her life to prayer and poverty.

Today we gaze at Jane Frances de Chantal.  She was married at the age of 20 and gave birth to several children.  At the age of 28, her husband went deer hunting and was shot accidentally.  He died a week later. 

She was left a widow and mother at a very early age.  She was grief stricken but never lost sight of faith. 

Many today in the midst of tragedy throw their hands up in the air and lose faith and blame God.  But St. Jane de Chantal continued to be faithful.

She invites us to ponder two questions of faith: "Lord why did this happen" and "Now that this has happened will you not see us through."

Pope Benedict reminds us that "Faith is once more becoming salt that wounds and heals, a summons that challenges us to take a position."

The position we are invited to stand in is that of never surrendering to the mystery of life but allowing our faith to season our experience.

St. Jane de Chantal in going through her tragedy recognized an opportunity. She dedicated her life to service of the poor and founded 86 monasteries before her death. 

She sought out assistance from two holy men, St Francis de Sales and St. Vincent De Paul, under their wisdom and direction she was able to allow her tragedy to become fruitful and faith filled. 

Her faith was truly a salt that seasoned life. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Dt 31:1-8; The Portion of the Lord is his people; Mt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Clare.  

She was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi. Upon hearing one of his sermons, she decided to give her life fully to God. 

Though destined to be married, one night she snuck away from home to meet St. Francis and his friars.  She made a promise to God, took upon herself a habit, and sheered her hair off as a physical sign of her interior dedication to Christ. 

She embraced the life of poverty and wore a sack cloth.  St. Francis then brought her to a Benedictine convent.  

Her family was irate and they sought to remove her, but she was steadfast in her commitment. 

Later, by her life and dedication, she won over her sister and eventually her mother, as both joined her in dedicating their life to poverty and prayer. 

Many young women and men sneak out at night these days; but how many sneak out for the love of God, to give themselves fully to God. 

We have come along way, and maybe we should stop and see that the long way we have traveled in society has been perhaps the wrong way. 

The saints remind us that God is the greatest lover of all, compared to Him all others pale. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

good cheer

2 corinthians 9:6-10; Psalm 112 Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need; John 12:24-26

Today we celebrate the Memorial of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, a deacon in the early church. 

In early August 258, the emperor Valerian issued an edict that order all bishops, priests, and deacons to be immediately executed.  On the 6th of August, Pope Sixtus II was executed in the catacombs.  Three days later, St. Lawrence, the last of seven deacons, was executed.

Now, when we look at the martyrs, most of the time we focus on the manner they were killed.  Some were beheaded, some were crucified up side down, some were skinned alive, some were staked to death, some were shot with arrows, some we burned, and St. Lawrence was basically grilled up a gridiron. 

When approaching the witness of the martyr we must remember that it isn't important how they died but rather how they die that speaks volumes. 

The manner of their physical death is a small detail, it is how they embrace it that speaks the truth of their witness. 

when we look at those martyred for the faith, there is one thing they all have in common: they were all cheerful givers.  Each of them cheerfully gave their life. 

The were cheerfully disposed to follow in the footsteps of Christ.  Joy emanates from every saint and it is an essential characteristic of those who follow Jesus. 

Mother Teresa when she would meet a prospective sister, she would always check to see if they had a cheerful disposition.  In fact, to be cheerful, was the fourth vow the sisters would take when they become a Sister of charity for as St. Paul says, "God loves a cheerful giver."

A cheerful giver is a great giver.  Mother Teresa would exhort her sisters with these words, "Let us greet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love."

We must embrace the difficulties of life with a smile, not one that is fake, but one that truly understands the depth of reality; God takes delight in the death of his faithful, the death to self and life on high in Christ. 

cheerfulness is a power of the will.  It has its origin never in the circumstances of life but always in the deep understanding of God's love for all, "For the Lord takes delight in his people," (Psalm 149)

The root of the word "cheer" comes from the Latin "face" and the greek "head"; thus, the deep joy of faith is written all over the face.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


1 kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34 Taste and see the goodness of the Lord; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; Jn 6:41-51

There are smells all around us.  The human nose can distinguish between 4,000 and 10,000 smells.  We classify them as either being an aroma or an odor. 

Aromas are pleasant and uplifting where as odors are normally unpleasant and cause us to grimace.

The other day I was at home visiting my parents and the aroma of homemade bread filled the house.  It was delightful. 

A few months back, I was at home and my sister asked me to change my nephews diaper.  This was definitely not aromatic.  It was odorous to say the least.  I think it singed my eyebrows. 

To add to the aromas and odors that bombard us, our body also produces smells.

There is a fascinating history to human odor. 

The ancient egyptians use to put scented wax upon their head.  Throughout the day the sun would melt it and the scent would be released masking the odor of the body. 

The Romans and Greeks would just soak their clothes, horses, pets in perfume. 

English ladies in the Victorian era would sale their handkerchiefs scented with their body odor. 

Of course doctors would use the odor of the body as a diagnostic tools to determine the health of the body.  

Today, billions of dollars is spent trying to change our odor into an aroma.  We spend a lot of green on breath mints, foot powder, deodorant sticks or roll ons, cologne, perfumes, secneted shampoos, and scented soaps. 

We continually want t hide the odor and leave off an aroma.

Recently a study has shown that their is a direct correlation between what we eat and how we smell. 

There are foods that make you stink.  A high diet of red meat, processed food, dairy, garlic, onions will cause you to stink. 

A high diet in leafy vegetables, fresh fruit,whole grains act as a interior deodorizer.

By simply changing our diet we change our smell.

Such is the case in our interior life. 

St. Paul tells us today that we "should be imitators of God.  We should live in love as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma." 

We are called to leave a good smell behind.  Our lives, as Christians, should be aromatic.  Where we have gone, the aroma of Christ should linger. 

This of course means, we have to change our diet.  We have to get rid of all "bitterness, fury, anger, shouting reviling, and malice" and in its place be "kind, compassionate, and forgiving as as God has forgiven us in Christ."

This is how we leave a good smell behind. 

Jesus in the gospel offers us a new diet as well.  He gives us the bread of life for our nourishment.  The bread of life is his words and teachings, and that of the church.  It is also, the Eucharist.  A daily does of the bread of life will eliminate the stink in our life and will bring about the aroma of goodness, the sweet fragrance of truth and love. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just a thought from a few saintly persons

St. Benedict in his rule tells us, "Let us, then, open our eyes to divine light,and hear with our ears the divine voice as it cries out to us daily."

Julian of Norwich, "thanksgiving is the deep inward certainty which moves us with reverent and loving fear to turn with all our strength to the work which God stirs us, giving thanks and praise  from the depth of our hearts. "

And again she writes, "God loves us and enjoys us, and so he wills that we love him and enjoy him and firmly trust him; and all shall be well."

St. Dominic pray for us 

Friday, August 7, 2009


Dt 4:32-40; Psalm 77 I remember the deeds of the Lord; Mt 16:24-28

Today we remember St. Cajetan 1480-1547.  He was a lawyer who was ordained late in life at the age of 36.  He joined the Oratory of Divine Love and later founded a hospital for the incurables. 

He remarked that in the oratory they seek to serve God by worship; in the hospitals we may say we actually find Him.

Cajetan was instrumental in seeking to reform the church.  He was a contemporary of Luther.  Whereas Luther separated himself from the Church, Cajetan stood steadfast seeking to reform the church and guide it back to holiness. 

He is a great example for us all.  It is easy to leave the Church when we get discouraged or disillusioned.  It is a greater act of Faith to remain and seek to reform it from the inside out. 

How many men and women have left the church, out of selfish concern for themselves without much consideration for the welfare of the souls they leave behind.  Cajetan sought to never abandon Mother Church and in doing so led many to be reformed in spirit and life. 

Upon his death bed, the doctors who attended to Cajetan wanted him to lay on a softer bed rather then the boards he was sleeping on.  Cajetan responded, "My savior died on the cross.  Let me die on wood at least."

St. Cajetan understood well the words of JEsus in today's gospel, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me...whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

In the words of Jesus, "What can one give in exchange for his life?"  The answer, we can only give in response to the gift we have received. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Dn 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 97 The Lord is king, the Most high over all the earth. 2 Peter 1:16-19; Mk 9:2-10

The transfiguration!

Jesus climbs the mountain with the three apostles, Peter, James, and John, and his transfigured.  His robes are dazzling white and he visits with two of the great historical persons, Moses and ELijah. 

Here he seems to be at the height of his powers and glory, and what do we hear?

We hear the Father say, "Here is my beloved son, listen to him." 

At the apex of Jesus' authority and glory, we encounter the love of the father.  We discover that Jesus remains a son, dependent on his Father's will, seeking his Father's plan.

Jesus always remains a son, always remains dependent. 

JEsus reveals himself not as a rugged individual, doing his own thing, doing it his way; rather he reveals himself in the mystery and beauty of humility.  

Humility, the science of the saints, underscores the very reality of the Life of Jesus. Humility enables one not to trust on his own strength or power but depend fully on the love of the Father who will see you through.

It is the Father who sees; it is the Father who knows; this is the life of faith.

The love of the Father is the foundation of everything.  It is the love of the Father that transfigures all things.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

St. John Vianney

Num 12:1-13; Psalm 51 Be merciful O Lord, for we have sinned; Mt 14:22-36

Today we celebrate the feast of John Vianney the patron of priest. 

He was born 1786, ordained to the priesthood in 1815, sent to Ars in 1818 where he remained the next 41 years as pastor.  He died in 1859 consumed by seeking souls for the Good Lord. 

Where the saints pass, God is found. 

John Vianney taught that the glorious duty of man was simply to pray and love, this is where our happiness is to be found. 

He said prayer was incense that gives God the greatest pleasure and it always made our small heart stretch so that we could surely love as we ought. 

As we read in the psalm today, "Be merciful O Lord for we have sinned" John Vianney would say that our errors are like grains of sands against the mountain of God's mercy. 

He would bless the hour every hour.  Every time the clock struck a new hour he would pause and reflect, giving thanks to God who gave him more time to pray and love. He would say "blessed be God, courage my soul; time is passing eternity approaches; may I live as I hope to die.  Blessed be the immaculate conception of the blessed virgin Mary Mother of God."

May we pause and bless each hour and watch our little hearts be stretched to a greater capacity of love.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Numbers 11:4b-15; Psalm 81 Sing with joy to God for help; Mt 14:13-21

Today we leave the book of Exodus and pick up with the book of Numbers.  We continue to follow Moses and the Israelites through the desert march toward the promise land.

If you notice, today we begin in chapter 11 of the book of numbers with verse 4b.  In the church, we do that often.  We split verses.

It is important to always read what goes before and what comes after the selected passage to get a better and more wholesome approach to the particular content contained. 

Today, it is important to look at verse 4a especially. 

In 4a we discover it was the foreign elements among the Israelites, the riffraff, which is a better translation of the Hebrew asafsuf  that begins to complain and insight the bitterness within the Israelites. 

They were the ones longing for fish and vegetable gardens in the middle of the desert.  They were the ones cranky and griping for the food of the earth and displeased with the food of faith. 

They were the ones who were throwing a tantrum in the desert that filled the Israelites with contempt toward God and Moses.

The riffraff, the smallest group of people, caused the bitterness to sweep over the desert land.   The Israelites could have stood up and challenged the riffraff.  They could have been firm in their faith and supportive of Moses.  They were the ones who were in the know and yet they let the one's who didn't know take the lead.  How unfortunate!

We, the people of faith, are the ones in the know and how many time we let others dictate the reality or determine the course of action.  How often we stand back silent, a silence that screams loudly in the face of God who ask us to be his voice on earth. 

We must always keep an eye out for the riffraff and let our voice rise to the front. 

"Father in heaven, when your strength takes possession of us we no longer say: why are you cast down my soul? Now that the surging waves of indignation have passed over us, let us feel your healing  calm of your forgiveness.  Inspire us to yearn for you always, like deer for running streams, until you satisfy every longing in heaven."