Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just a thought from a few saintly persons

Here is a thought from G. K Chesterton

"Some people do not like the word "dogma". Fortunately they are free, and there is an alternative for them. There are two things, and two things only, for the human mind,a dogma and a prejudice...

A doctrine is a definite point; a prejudice is a direction. That an ox may be eaten, while a man should not be eaten, is a doctrine. That as little as possible of anything should be eaten is a prejudice, which is sometimes called an ideal.

Now a direction is always far more fantastic than a plan. I would rather have the most archaic map of the road to Brighton than a general recommendation to turn to the left...

Men will walk along the edge of a chasm in clear weather, but they will edge miles away from it in a fog...

The essential of the difference is this: that prejudices are divergent, whereas creeds are always in collision. Believers bump into each other; whereas bigots keep out of each other's way...

Doctrine therefore does not cause divisions; rather a doctrine alone can cure our dissensions."

Why? Doctrines cause us to dialogue and enter into a real search for truth. Prejudices don't care for the truth but only whims, fancies, and opinions. Because these are always changing there can never be a true union of mind and heart and a temporary fix will never fix the real problem.

It is the truth that will set us free, free to build a society united both heart and mind.

IT is precisely a mind and heart fixed on a permanent truth that makes us able to love truly and live in harmony.

Friday, January 29, 2010


2 samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17; Psalm 51 Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned; Mark 4:26-34

Quote from Abraham Lincoln: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character give him power."

Lincoln had a deep insight into the human condition, especially since he held the office of president of the United States at a critical point in our history.

He understood adversity but he also understood the great risk involved in receiving power.

It is power that test a man's character not adversity.

Today in the first reading we encounter David, king of Israel. He was chosen to lead, to guide God's people at a critical point in the history of Israel. They were a new kingdom under a time of transition with new leadership but also a time of campaign where the kingdom was being extended.

David was on top of the world. He was in his prime. He was riding the wave of popularity. He was a man of great prestige and greater power.

We discover his character flaw because not of the adversity he endured but because of the power he wielded.

"From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful."

He knew she was taken, she belonged to another, yet he pursued her.

"Then David sent Messengers and took her. When she came to him, he had relations with her."

Bathsheba conceived a child. David tried to cover up his mistake. He had Uriah, Bathsheba's husband killed, "Place Uriah up front, where the fighting is fierce. then pull back and leave him to be struck down dead."

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

David's character is revealed in the presence of the power given. His character flaw is revealed in the light of the power bestowed.

Humility was demanded for the office he received yet pride continued to hold him in its grip.

We shall see how humility finds David and eventually transforms him to become a man after God's own heart. But we must follow the story to see how power gives way to mourning; repentance prepares David to be a true king of Israel.

It is often in our flaws that we discover the ability to be transformed. It is our imperfections that lead us closer to God and avail our hearts to God's saving grace.

We can never cover up our faults and flaws and imperfections; we must learn to find life within them.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

deal or no deal

2 samuel 7:18-19,24-29; Psalm 132 The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father; Mark 4:21-25

"For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing secret except to come to light."

"The measure you give will be the measure you receive."

According to Jesus in today's gospel, the secret life has ended. There is no such thing as secrecy in the life of faith. There is no hiding behind or obscuring from view. All of our actions and thoughts and plans shall be made visible in the light of Christ.

Our task is to live in the light. We must not be afraid of the exposure. Just like picture negatives need black light or a dark room in order to develop our soul needs light itself in order for it to be formed properly.

Secondly Jesus mentions that the measure we give will be the measure we receive. It the words of my mother as she searched the papers for coupons, this is a good deal not worth passing up.

It is a good deal, laid bare at our feet. You get what you see and there are no strings attached. The measure you give will be the measure you receive. A good deal: do you take it or leave it.

Is it a deal or no deal. Be careful what you risk for as they say a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

These words of Jesus are probably the most precise and easiest to understand and put into practice: the measure you give and will be the measure you receive. So measure wisely and well.

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, doctor of the church.
Here is a little excerpt of one of his teachings

"What may we learn from the descent of Jesus into Hell as we we profess in the Apostles Creed. We discover a firm hope in God. No matter how much one is afflicted, one ought always hope in the assistance of God and have trust. There is nothing more serious as to be in hell. If, therefore, Christ delivered those from hell, what great confidence ought every friend of God have that he will be delivered from all his troubles!..He that feared the Lord shall tremble at nothing and shall not be afraid; for He is his hope."

If Jesus goes there, then certainly he will come here to be with us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Angela's ashes

Readings for the mass

Just a note on the gospel: Today the parable of the sower and the seed strikes our mind with a very lucid image. The sower sows seed everywhere.
The image is meant to get us to understand that God the sower allows his word to go all places. There is no such thing as dead soil when it comes to God. He never sees it as a waste for he recognizes the potential in every place no matter how barren it may seem to us.

What may seem like dismay and despair to us will always look like potential in the eyes of God
Today in the church we celebrate the memorial of St. Angela Merici.

She was born in the late 15th century and died in the 16th century.

At the age of ten both of her parents died, as well as, later she sat at the bedside of her sister while she died.

A life filled with sadness and sorrow did not however distract her from loving God.
In fact, it inspired her and strengthen her to more devoutly give herself to God.

She became rich soil that bore much fruit in her life.

So, we honor her today.

We can still learn much from her wisdom and teachings.

Just a few bits of wisdom form her:

1) the disorder of society is rooted in the disorder of the family. If you want to know what is wrong with society and why you must direct your attention to the family. If you want to correct the errors of society and direct it anew then the remedy will only be discovered and implemented in the family as well.

2) The devil never sleeps. Therefore we must remain aroused from slumber by continued prayer and acts of love. By this life of devotion will we be able to beat the devil at his own game.

Stay awake, the devil prowls like a lion seeking to devour souls. But a soul full of prayer and love can never be overcome.

May St. Angela help guide us home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

pass it on

2 tim 1:1-8; Titus 1:1-5; Psalm 96 Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations; Luke 10:1-9

today we celebrate the memorial of Timothy and Titus. Both of these men were instrumental in helping to build and form the early Christian communities, the early church.

They worked hand in hand with St. Paul to proclaim the gospel message and to ensure the faithful were living it in the proper manner. See Titus 3:8, "I want to insist on these points, that those who have believed in god be careful to devote themselves to good works."

They were a faithful, reliable, consistent, and strong force for the gospel, for the kingdom.

They did what was asked of them, with no complaint and no hesitation.

We honor them today. But we do not just honor them, we honor those who taught them.

St. Paul in his letter to Timothy, mentions gratitude not just to Timothy but to those who passed it on to him, "...I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice..."

All faith comes from some where. It doesn't just pop out of the thin blue sky. It must have a history and a heritage if it is to be genuine and authentic.

St. Paul acknowledges the rich faith tradition from which Timothy comes. His heritage in his grandmother and mother gave him the foundation he needed to respond to God's call when it arrived.

They laid the seed bed so that God could reap his harvest.

When ever we celebrate the feast of the Saints, we must pause and think not only of them, but of those who helped them on the path. No saint becomes a saint in isolation.

We all have people in our life that have become for us what Lois and Eunice was to Timothy.

We should thank them. We should pray for them. We should bless them by living the faith we have received. What greater honor would there be than to embrace what was passed on and with gratitude pass it on as well.

excerpt from St. Basil
"What words can adequately describe God's gift? They are so numerous that they defy enumeration. they are so great that any one of them demands our total gratitude in response."

Monday, January 25, 2010


Acts 22:3-16; Acts 9:1-22; Psalm 117 Go out to all the world and tell the Good News; Mark 16:15-18

The feast of the conversion of St. Paul

Today we celebrate the reality of God reaching into the human heart and changing it forever.

As we encounter the conversion of St. Paul we encounter the desire of God for all. He wants to change us, convert us, open our eyes.

God wants our heart to be transformed.

There are two things to note about the conversion of St. Paul.

One: this conversion was initiated by God. All conversion is initiated by God in God's time. We should pray and work for all but also be patient with God. In his time, man's heart is ultimately awakened to the reality of God's presence and God's call.

As we pray for those around us, in our families or in our circle of friends, we must learn to be patient with God and this will give us strength and teach us endurance.

Secondly: St. PAul was a man who was hateful toward christians. He was constant in arresting them and punishing them for their beliefs. Yet, despite is character and zeal against the Christians God chooses him to be the champion of the Christian way and lifestyle.

God chooses the most hateful to become the most capable of preachers and teachers of the faith.

As you read the conversion accounts you discover that the people, especially the Christians, were surprised by this reality.

In fact, creating space in our life to be surprised by God, is necessary for a life of faith. Unless we are willing to be surprised by God we will never be able to experience the true depth of faith or enter fully into a genuine relationship with God in Christ.

We have to be willing to be surprised. We must learn not only to like surprises but begin to anticipate them with great joy.

In the same way we must also let God use us to surprise others. We must be willing to let God use us as his instruments to surprise others with the touch of glory and joy that comes in living our faith.

Here is a life of conversion: to be surprise by joy, to surprise others with the joy of God's presence and God's call in Christ.

(Above is the beheading of St. Paul by Algardi. A reminder that conversion is never just a one day thing, but a life lived in faith and a willingness to die for life.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where were you?

Nehemiah 8:2-10; Psalm 19 Your words, Lord, are spirit and life; 1 corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

"...the parts of the body that seem weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety..."

"God constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one suffers, we all suffer..."

"Now you are Christ's body and individually parts of it."

The analogy of the body that St. Paul uses and develops in his letter to the Corinthian community it by far the easiest and most clear to follow.

We all have bodies and we all understand how our body is affected when one part is afflicted or diseased or paralyzed or even cut off. Our body seems some what unbalanced, incomplete. Its ability to perform is greatly affected by the smallest of hurt in the smallest part.

I think of athletes. How often are athletes sidelined for an injury to their toe? The "turf Toe" ailment afflicts great discomfort and limits the body's ability to perform as it should.

Think of our own life. A simply tooth ache can be debilitating. A pimple on the tip of the nose can cause excruciating pain. A cut on a finger can limit one's ability to do daily and routine activity.

The body is a well designed work of art that needs full cooperation of all its parts for performance to be what it is made to be.

Such is the life of society. We are all one body. We are all affected by each other. What one does has a pull on the other. We are not isolated nor private. Especially as Baptized Christians, together collectively we all serve to build society; only together can we function properly and beautifully.

St. Paul mentions in the letter that "the parts that seem weaker are all the more necessary."

Isn't this true for our society, our life together as a human family? Isn't this true for our public reality as the body of Christ? Isn't our weaker parts in need a much more concern and attention and protection?

And yet, we fail at our duty. And yet we let them down.

This pass friday we marched on Washington, some estimated 250,000 to 300,000 men, women, and children seeking to take a stand for the weakest of our parts in the body, the unborn child in his/her mother's womb.

The weakest yet the most necessary is under attack. A new Holocaust has been ripping through our body, our society, our life. The most vulnerable has been left exposed to violence and they are in need of our help, our protection, our voice.

We are called to have "the same concern for one another."

Should not the unborn child get the same attention as the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti. Should not the 50 million that have been killed in their mother's womb be just as important as the 200,000 possibly killed in the earthquake.

Where is red cross, where is the clinton bush fund, where is the telethon raising money, where is the news media for the most vulnerable and weakest and yet most necessary part of all?

Our faith demands action for our body suffers.

When you visit the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. and you go through the exhibit that tells the reality of what the Nazis did to exterminate the Jews and anyone else who stood in their way you discover an important part of the Nazi Germany's weapon.

Half way through the exhibit there on the wall is written this note: the one thing the Nazia counted on and the on thing the that did not let them down was they trusted that people would remain bystanders. They trusted that people who saw what was happening would simply turn away and choose to be spectators.

We cannot be spectators or bystanders. Whether we like it or not we are involved.

St. Paul says, "God constructed the body in such a way that one part is concerned for the other part." We must choose to act, to take a stand for the weakest and most vulnerable part of the body of society: the unborn child.

Just as we enter fully into Ordinary Time in the church and focus our attention on the public ministry of Christ in the gospels, so too we remember that our faith is not a private affair. We must live it publicly. Just as Jesus lived his faith publicly so too we must as the body of Christ.

We must stand and march forward defending the weakest and most necessary parts of the body. If the child in the womb is not important then what is? If we have no concern for this part, what part is of concern?

I was marching for life this past Friday...where were you?

"He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

"He said to them, 'Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

Do not close your ears. You can no longer be a bystander. Your voice is not only needed but demanded by God, "You are the body of Christ.'

The unknown in the womb need your voice to be known in the public square.

They tried to silence Christ on the cross, yet his voice still echoes forth carrying the same message, "what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me."

If life in the womb is not sacred and worth fighting for, then life as we know it shall be destroyed.

Quote on the wall at the Holocaust museum as you leave the exhibit, perhaps as a warning for us all,

"first they came for the communist, and I did not speak out- because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionist, and I did not speak out- because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me-there was no one left to speak out." Martin Niemoller

We can all say that we are not many things. But the one thing we can never say is that we have never been an unborn child.

If we do not stand for life, we can not stand at all.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

extreme makeover

1 Samuel 16:1-13; I have found David, my servant; Mk 2:23-28

Today in the gospel we encounter one of Jesus' famous sayings, not that all of what Jesus has to say isn't famous, but this particular phrase is catchy, "the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

Interesting to note that even in the time of Jesus things weren't settled when it came to understanding what the Sabbath was and how to keep it holy.

The Pharisees had an understanding that the Sabbath was for God and thus made no provision for man and his needs what so ever. Thus, the disciples picking grain for food and nourishment was considered breaking the Sabbath.

Today, in our current society we discover just the opposite extreme. Today, the Sabbath is looked upon for the sake of man and his leisure or rest but there is no provision for God.

Strange how our society, as much as it seeks to find balance or complains there is not enough balance, always seems to find itself on the extreme end of things, still having not found the balance for which they are looking.

We do this in everything. We want freedom without constrictions and yet we discover we are not free and we want to constrict others. We want to say what ever we want and yet we do not want others to slander us. We want to do what ever we want yet we don't want others to do the same if it interferes with our coming and going.

Extreme make over is exactly for what we are in need.

We need balance. Jesus offers that to us. He is Lord of the Sabbath. God who is man comes to show man how to honor God in our life even on the Sabbath. We should take care of our essential needs but yet we must be mindful of setting aside time to honor God. Honoring God is at the same time taking care of what we need and what other's need as well.

One thing we forget is that we need time to pray, to be silent, to stop the noise and rush of life. We need time to rest in God's presence so that we can refuel and be strength for the duty that lies ahead.

Only together can we truly keep the Sabbath and let the Sabbath keep us.

The reading today provides an opportunity for us to rediscover the Sabbath, rediscover what it means to rest, to have holy leisure and be refilled with God's life and strength.

In the book of exodus God tells Moses to tell the people that the Sabbath is a sign for the children of Israel and God. May we rediscover the sign and let it speak clearly in our lives. May learn to rest in time so we may rest in peace eternally.

Just a thought!

Monday, January 18, 2010

what was saul thinking

We hear the words of Samuel, "obedience is better than sacrifice."

Saul was misinformed. He thought that sacrifice was better than obedience. He thought that he could please God on his terms and not on God's terms.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

How often do I hear people seek to do this everyday when it comes to a life of faith. They will offer sacrifice, but only what pleases them. They will want to be spiritual but not religious. They will want God to meet them only on their terms while disavowing God any room to speak.

They want to have the last word and the first word in regards to a relationship with God. They want God to sit quietly and just take them as they are.

Well, God's response to Saul is a wake up call to us. Saul's leadership was taken from him precisely because he wanted God to meet him on his terms, in his way, but not on God's terms.

He sacrificed without obedience and in the end he lost everything.

Obedience honors God.

One can sacrifice without being obedient; one can never be obedient without sacrifice.

We must learn to sacrifice our opinions and our ways and our terms; we must offer them up and let them be consumed by God's request and thus in our humble submission our life becomes a fragrant offering where obedience fuels our love and honor for God.

Is this not what the cross is about?

"Let it be your will not my own."
The obedience of Christ on the cross destroys the walls we put up and shows us more clearly the new wine that brings perfect praise and honor to the Father.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Haiti they have no more wine

Today we read the passage of the wedding feast of Cana. Mary's words to Jesus certainly ring true for us at many times of our life, but especially for the people of Haiti and those affected by the Earthquake, "They have no more wine."

In deed the wine of joy has turned to a time of anxiety and fear and deep sorrow. A place of life is transformed into a place of death. Every hole becomes a grave and every building now rumble.

Many have died and even those who survived are still fighting for their life due to the lack of food and aid.

Rescue workers, around the clock, seek to reach into this land of desolation and devastation and despair to bring forth hope, a pinpoint of light, to keep alive the fight to live and recover in order to rebuild.

"They have no wine..."

But though the wine has run out, the hope remains.

Numerous people have arrived to offer aid, to help in the rescue, to provide for the helpless.
Countless dollars have already been pledged and given to be sent.

In the midst of such tragedy, the generosity of a people is made known. Love always outshines despair. When it is the darkest, light shines the brightest.

On the lips of the waiter in the passage of the Wedding feast we learn to savor what God offers right now. We discover that God does not hold back, that he provides, he brings out the "the good wine", a far better one than the inferior served first.

This is our hope that through the many volunteers and the money and aid the people of Haiti will experience a far better vintage than what they had before.

But this will require work and time. Together, as the body of Christ, the new wine can be poured and hope shall remain and light shall be given and the darkness shall vanish in the presence of the hands of those who give and through the knees of those who pray.

Pray and work and together something beautiful for God shall be revealed.

The hour has come for us to set aside our greed and selfishness and to reach out and remember, "what we've done to the least of our brothers and sisters, we have done to Him" who invites us to taste and see the goodness he brings by "doing whatever he tells us to do."

Mary, the fountain of hope leads us to the fountain of holiness and invites us to participate to build up the body of Christ.

Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother and by the grace of almighty God, our Father, in the union with the redemption of the Son and the power of the Holy SPirit, together by the work of our hands God shall be glorified and the people of Haiti shall know there is a God who cares and hope is not lost and light continues to shine.

"The kind of work God usually calls you to do is the work you most need to do and that the world needs most to have done...the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." Frederick Buechner

Saturday, January 16, 2010

wedding at Cana

The fourth Luminous Mystery

a meditation:

"What do we do when the floor drops out of our Joy?

This is the dilemma of the wedding feast of Cana. Once they realize the want of wine, joy is gone and anxiety and fear set in.

In the Bible, wine symbolizes the joy and delight of life: 'you have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound,' (Ps4:8) or 'You bring wine to gladden our hearts' (Ps 104:15).

Wine represents delight; thirst represents desperation. Our parched souls long for more.

Yet the more we drink in the wine of the world, the more we remain wrung out, hung over, depleted, and defeated. Our life is filled with aches and pains of anxiety, stress, and unfilled yearnings.

We discover that what we thought was the best turns out to be only second best, the bottom of the barrel. We thought we drinking the good stuff only to discover the dregs.

Only in Jesus can we imbibe what satisfies our infinite longing.

Mary, the fountain of hope leads us to the fountain of holiness.

On the lips of the waiter, we discover how to savor what God offers, and we 'taste and see the goodness of the Lord' 'for you have kept the good wine until now.'

Here at Cana the senselessness of life gets filled with the flood of grace.

The miracle right smack dab in the middle of this ordinary reception leaves us longing 'to do whatever he tells you.' Once we have drunk we are thirsty to drink more.

For in Jesus we find a new friend and a 'new friend is like new wine, which you drink with pleasure' (Sirach 9:10)."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

state of the world

1 Samuel 3:1-10,19-20; Psalm 40 Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will; Mark 1:29-39

Recently, Pope Benedict gave his state of the world address. This is a statement of how he sees it.

In a brief overview, Pope Benedict mentioned that the denial of God distorts the freedom of the Human Person and devastates creation. In so far as nature expresses a plan of love and truth prior to us which comes from God, then we must protect creation.

In fact, it is in protecting creation we can truly begin to cultivate lasting peace. Protecting creation thus is a moral necessity.

The Pope is not only talking recycling and going green; he is speaking about the exploitation of God's good creation by greed and selfishness that leaves the world in danger and destroys human freedom and dignity.

We need to practice self-discipline.

Secondly Pope Benedict also pointed out a growing lack of respect and hostility toward christianity in many areas of the world but especially in the West, speaking of Europe and the United States along with other western countries. He noted that the political and cultural settings seem to be hostile toward christianity in particular.

He speaks of the necessity of dialogue and religious freedom.

But I suppose he also wants us to be up for the challenge of standing our ground and continually live the faith even in opposition.

Thirdly, he insists on human solidarity across the national borders. We must learn to reach beyond ourselves and be not only concerned with the plight of others, but we should put this concern into action realizing that we are all part of the one family. What we do in the west effects the east and what is done in the east effects the west. We are a global family for we have one God, "Our Father." We need to act like it.

Finally here is the last bit of the address:
"I am reminded of the words of the apostle paul, "all creation groans and is in agony" and "we ourselves groan inwardly" (Romans 8:20-23). There is so much suffering in our world, and human selfishness continues in many ways to harm creation. For this reason, the yearning for salvation which affects all creation is that much more intense and present in the hearts of all men and women, believers and nonbelievers alike.

The Church points out that the response to this aspiration is Christ, "the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created" (Colossians 1:15-16). Looking to him, I exhort every person of good will to work confidently and generously for the sake of human dignity and freedom.

May the light and strength of Jesus help us respect human ecology, in the knowledge that natural ecology will likewise benefit, since the book of nature is one and indivisible. In this way we will be able to build peace, today and for the sake of generations to come."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


1 Samuel 1:9-20; My heart exults in the Lord my savior; Mark 1:21-28

"I was only pouring out my troubles to to the prayers have been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery."

The words of Hannah to the priest Eli summon in us memories of our own struggles in life, the many times we poured out our troubles to the Lord in sighs and tears.

How often have we ourselves been filled with deep sorrow and misery and sought comfort in the Lord, allowing our hearts to be emptied before his face and in his presence?

How often have we, like Hannah, made a vow with the Lord, "if you remember me and do not forget me...I will give him to the Lord."

Though prayer should never be used as bargaining tool, the reality of prayer revealed in today's reading is important.

We must not go into prayer with predetermined vows and a predetermined will. Rather, we go to empty ourselves and only in emptying will God then give us the voice to speak to him and say the things we need to say.

Hannah's prayer is not primarily about her desire but rather about God's desire for her. Hannah's prayer has little to do with her bargaining in gaining what she wants but in God giving what he needs.

Only in pouring herself out in prayer in her "bitterness" and "weeping copiously" was Hannah then able to hear what God was inviting her to pray. It was God who empowered her to say the words and seek her request.

Emptying ourself before the lord is necessary; the words that flow from our emptiness is God speaking to us, informing us for what we should be asking.

God answers prayer not on a personal request but rather on understanding what is necessary for his plan to be unfolded in the world.

Every personal request before God is magnified to see how it fits in the big picture of serving to bring about a fulfillment of his will in the life of all.

Hannah's very personal prayer will be effective in the life of Israel as a nation. Her child shall be great and a man of God. Not because she knew how to bargain but because she asked in good faith, she first let God speak to her in her emptiness.

It would be irresponsible to treat prayer as a bargaining device; this would certainly make one a ne'er-do-well; but it is very responsible to empty oneself completely, listen for God's word and then voice his request that has echoed in our hearts from being in his presence.

Hannah shows us how to be responsible prayers in our relationship to God and the world.

Monday, January 11, 2010

As he was walking along...

1 samuel 1:1-8; A thanksgiving sacrifice I make to you O Lord; Mk 1:14-20

Three things about today's gospel:

1) Jesus begins his ministry after John the Baptist is arrested. Jesus starts his ministry fully aware of the reality of danger and peril associated with the good news. Jesus is aware of the risk involved in taking a stand and introducing change in to the lives of those around him. The risk is great. Yet, he preaches the good news anyway. He is willing to risk the danger for the sake of the gospel.

2) Jesus introduces his mission statement: The time of fulfillment as come. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel. The mission statement of Jesus is not some feel good phrase. Rather he goes to the heart of the matter. It is time to change. We must change and change often and thus create space for God in our life. Only then does the kingdom become visible and tangible in the world.

3) Jesus calls the first disciples while they are working: casting and mending their nets. Jesus doesn't wait until they are on retreat, or during prayer, or at some extraordinary moment. Rather, he speaks to them in the ordinary, day to day routine of their life. He invites them to make a life while earning a living.

God will speak to us in the routine day to day reality of life: while we are earning a living he invites us to make a life. In the dish pan hands, while doing the laundry, while making the beds, while stitching the holes in pants, while getting calluses on our hands, in the sweat of our brow, and the ache in our back, in the stress of business, JEsus speaks to us: "come, follow me."

Yet not only does JEsus speak to us in these moments, he also invites us to be his voice in these moments, to be the encounter that invites others to no longer focus on earning a living but to start making a life.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Better the devil you know...

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29 The Lord will bless his people with peace; Acts 10:34-38; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

There is an idiom that i find fitting for this Sunday: "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, we read from the book of the Acts of the Apostles that Peter stands in the house of Cornelius and testifies to the identify of Jesus, as the one "anointed with the Holy Spirit and power and went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil."

He was healing those oppressed by the devil.

Is the devil real?

There seems to be two strains of thinking and acting when it comes to the devil. Most people have no belief and some are terrified to the point of being paralyzed. What is the correct stance concerning the devil?

The correct stance is somewhere in between. The devil is real yet its presence should not terrify but should create in us concern and awareness as we live our life of faith.

Christianity is a militant religion. It is the original Jihad, Holy War, and the terrain and battle ground is the human soul.

Most people, when you ask them about faith, they tell you that faith is a good feeling or that it is consoling. Yet when you follow Jesus in the gospel it is important to note that Jesus speaks of perseverance, vigilance, and prayer long before he ever mentions consolation.

In fact the consolation only arrives after one has persevered.

As Christians, we are not on leave; we do not have a paid vacation from struggle; earth is not a resort that is all inclusive. No, there is a battle that rages.

From the beginning, already in paradise, in God's good creation, man is snared by an astute and seductive enemy seeking to abduct us from God's grace and lead us to peril all the while telling us it will be okay..."you won't die, you will be like gods."

At the end of the bible we have a picture of the final battle, a war between heaven and the demonic, where the history of humanity is completely caught up.

Like it or not, we are involved. We may not want to admit it or we may even seek to deny it, but history has shown that evil lurks amongst us. We are all on the front lines...there is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan, the devil, the one Jesus calls the father of lies, a murder, as St. John tells us he is a sinner from the beginning.

The battle is and it rages in every age, in every nation, in every human life, in every choice, in every decision, in every action. We can choose our side; we can't choose not to choose; not choosing is a choice.

We cannot be spectators. In fact being a spectator is exactly what the devil desires most.

The devil wants us not to care, not to be concerned, not to believe; the devil wants us to simply get on with our life, all the while he remains hidden and seductive and divisive.

What is the devil?

The devil is not the opposite of God. God has no opposite. God is perfect goodness, there is no perfect badness. God is omnipotent, all powerful and infinite. The devil is finite, he is limited, he is a creature.

He was created naturally good. He was given an opportunity to use his freedom to choose to be with God and yet the church teaches he turned away. Because he is pure spirit, his knowledge and freedom were absolute and therefore his decision to turn from God was irrevocable which has led to his depravity. There is no repentance for the fallen angels like there is no repentance for us after death.

The devil is or can be considered the opposite of the archangel Michael if anything. Yet, as i mentioned he is limited, finite, a created thing.

The devil loves to be hidden and given no mind. He likes to be subtle. He can seduce, entice, allure and tempt; he can propose images, thoughts, and get into your head. But the one thing he cannot do is bend your will.

The devil works on your intellect but what he wants is your will, your consent, your decision.

He seduces but we decide to follow.

He is the master marketer. He can only distort. Before he destroys he must first deceive. He must convince us to squander our inheritance as children of God by making the pleasure of the world seem more appealing than the security of eternal reward.

His power is limited by our choice.

How does he work?

The devil is like a great hunter. Think about hunters for a moment, especially as we wrap up deer season. Hunters are very sneaky and very deliberate. They start hunting long before hunting season begins. They set our feeders to allure the deer. They set out blinds that allow them to get close to the prey. They wear camo and mask their scent with pheromones. Then they sit and wait quietly for the right moment for the opportune time and then boom.

The devil starts by trying to twist the truth and get you to doubt God's plan; he insists that God is suffocating you with rules and regulations and that what you really need is a life without rules.

He suggest that God is limiting your freedom. Thus, he wants you to doubt God's love, God's concern, God's mercy, God's forgiveness, God's presence. He wants you think you could do better on your own; he wants you to take matters in to your own hands.

He wants division in your family so works on the embers of the lust and domination. The greatest workplace of the devil isn't in caves or dark corners of the world or prison but it is in the comfort of our own living rooms and bedrooms. This is where he does most of his dirty work: think about the number separated families and divorced realities and abuse and neglect.

He entices the addictive side of life, what's one more drink or one more smoke. What's a little fun.

He presses on the pleasure principle of the desires of the flesh. He uses thoughts and images and suggestions that weakens us. He wants us to get frustrated and angry. He wants us not to care.

The devil is more concerned not so much with what is put into our minds but more concerned with what is kept out of our minds.

He attacks us at our weakest and hounds us all day long.

Then he convinces us to postpone confession. He suggest that we are not worthy of forgiveness or that we do not deserve it.

He studies our hungers and presents alluring and appetizing solutions: riches then he presents easy money/success then he presents a short cut/ pleasure then he suggest a mistress or an affair and justifies it.

He convinces us to forsake Goodness itself in order to possess fleeting and imperfect reflections of goodness in created things.

He blows on the embers of our weaken nature then steps back and lets the fire rage.

And what are we to do?

Well, we must remember that the devil doesn't play fair and yet at the same time we have the upper hand. It was Jesus who healed those oppressed by the devil.

The power of Christ flows through our spiritual veins. In Baptism, when we are washed we have access to that same power. We are inserted into the mystical body of Christ. We are plugged in. Through the sacraments we stay connected, we stay juiced by God's life and grace.

The devil is no match for God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. The one thing that the devil wants is to get us to abandon the church, abandon our faith. We leave the church and we leave our faith then we are lost.

In Christ we are victors. We must maintain the connection. In today's gospel Jesus goes to pray after baptism. It is in prayer that we feed our strength. In baptism, we becomes sons in the son, which means we have a voice that is heard. We enter in Jesus' very communion with the Father; we have entrance into his prayer experience, his inner dialogue with the Father for all eternity.

We enter into the infinite love exchange of the Father and the son and anything infinite is stronger than anything finite and limited.

At baptism we are anointed with the oil of salvation and washed in the waters of baptism, which means we are made slippery to the hands of the devil. He has no power here.

The only way he can have access to us is if we choose to let him. The devil is allowed to rule in in a very democratic way. Only by our vote does he come in.

But we must choose to say yes to God.

We must stay connected; falling on our knees in prayer sharpens our instinct and helps us recognize the tempter when he calls. We must pray consistently and devoutly. Listening to the church and heeding her teaching and guidance. We must receive communion every Sunday and go to confession often on regular basis. We must know ourselves and our weakness and invite the redemption of Christ to strengthen what is weak on a daily basis.

When the temptations and images and suggestions come, lookup to heaven and say "Lord, I am weak and I am in need of your strength." Then make the sign of the cross and invoke all of heaven to be your strength and watch the devil flee.

When we draw close to God the devil flies far in deed.

As Jesus tell us in the gospel of John, "Take care I have already conquered the world" and as John tells us the victory over the world is our faith.

Friday, January 8, 2010

testimony of God

1 John 5:5-13; Psalm 147 Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Luke 5:12-16

"If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son... God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."

By water and blood, Jesus testifies to the world.

"By water and blood" points us toward the cross, where the lance pierces the side of Christ and water and blood rush forth, and the passion reveals the truth of God's love identified in Christ his Son.

The gift of Christmas finds its completion on the cross, where Jesus gives himself away; Jesus once again becomes defenseless love and the wood of the manger that held his vulnerable body wrapped in swaddling clothes becomes the wood of the cross that now holds his body tenderly in a caress of gratitude, where the straw on which is head slept so peacefully now becomes the crown of thorns that gives peace to us all.

The gift of christmas begins to be understood as a gift that remains true in all times and in all places. Here is the one gift that can never be set aside to collect dust. It remains a gift that gives continually.

It remains a gift of testimony that is greater than human testimony.

On the cross, as water and blood rushed forth, and the testimony echoes forth, God answers the cry of humanity, "Lord, if you wish you can make me clean?. "

Jesus stretched out his hand and said "I do will it. Be made clean."

The testimony for the ages, "I do will it. Be made clean."

Clean we have been made, washed in blood of the lamb, we now can enjoy eternal delight. May we keep ourselves washed clean...

Thursday, January 7, 2010


1 john 4:19-5:4; Psalm 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Luke 4:14-22

It is often said in our society by so called ministers, humanist, positive thinkers and the like that a man will get on if he simply believes in himself.

Believes in himself. What a fascinating and yet complete lunatic thing to say.

Crazy people believe in themselves, in fact they believe in themselves and they do not believe out side of themselves, this is what in fact makes a crazy person, well, not uncrazy.

Not only do crazy people believe in themselves but so do actors who can't act and debtor who can't pay and athletes who can't play. It a false notion that gets one well nowhere.

Belief in onself is what one might considered stymied.

Stymie is a rule in golf that is no longer in effect in the game of golf but as now become effective in life. Stymie is a situation where one player's ball obstructs the line of another player's ball. The other player must hit his ball around the obstruct, without lifting the ball in its way. Thus,t he player had to be creative with his shot, often slicing, drawing or even chipping his ball over the obstruct, the other player's ball. Obviously the advantage goes to the other player.

No matter how much the other person believed in himself, he still was stymied.

Belief in oneself stymies life.

For in fact it isn't belief in oneself that helps a man get along but it is belief outside of himself that gets a person somewhere.

Jesus in the Gospel as he unrolls the scroll and and reads the passage from Isaiah, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recover the sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free, and proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Jesus doesn't believe in himself. He believes in the one who sent him. Jesus gives us someone to believe in outside of ourself.

This is what gets a man along. This is the victory that conquerors the world as St. John says in the first reading, the victory that conquerors the world is our faith. It is faith not in ourselves but in Him who was sent.

Share in the victory, believe in Him, learn to get along and stop being stymied.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

perfected love

1 John 4:11-18; Psalm 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Mark 6:45-42

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us."

"his love is brought to perfection in us."

What does it look like to have love perfected in us?

For this, the church gives us the saints; as we look into their lives we begin to see what love perfected looks like. In their life, the mystery of God's love shines through and light pierces the darkness and the glimmer of hope brightens our lives and encourages us onward.

Today we see love perfected in the life of Blessed Andre Bessette.

Born 1845, one of ten, he lost his father at the age of 9 and his mother at age 12 and his family was dispersed. He did odd jobs between the border of U.S. and Canada and finally found his way to the Congregation of the Holy Cross at the age of 25.

The congregation soon discovered that he was illiterate, he could hardly read or write, and was always sick with stomach ailments.

Because of this, the congregation wanted to dismiss him. At the Bishop's request, however, the congregation kept him on and sent him to Notre Dame College for boys in Montreal where he was the porter.

He was in charge of answering the door, welcoming guests, waking up the school, giving the boys haircuts, washing the windows and the floors, and delivering mail. He spent 40 years as the porter.

Later in life he would joke that after his first year in the congregation they showed him the door and there he stayed for the next 40 years.

He loved what he did. His attention to the visitors and all who would come his way was tremendous. His care and concern brought consolation to all. He often invited people to invoke the intercession of St. Joseph for healing and strength.

He was so driven by his devotion to St. Joseph that he desired to build a basilica in St. Joseph's honor.

HE collected money, nickels and dimes, from haircuts and small donations and slowly with the bishops permission a makeshift building was erected.

It started as a 15 ft by 18 ft building with out a roof. Slowly, one step at a time over a period of
30 plus years things were added: a roof, heat, a paved road. Pilgrims started to come and gather and pray and ask Blessed Andre to pray. They were all moved by his poverty and humility.

He died at the age of 92 in 1937.

His road to sainthood was simply patience with the routine of life, allowing each moment to lead to a deeper conversion of God's love being perfected in him.

He is buried in the beautiful St. Joseph Basilica with a tombstone that reads: "poor, humble, obedient servant of God."

Quotes of Blessed Andre:

"It is with the smallest brush that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures."

"It is surprising that I am frequently asked for cures, but rarely for humility and the spirit of faith. Yet, they are so important..."

Blessed Andre, porter, pray that we may open our hearts to God's love and allow it to be perfected in our life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a simple blessing

1 JOhn 4:7-10; Psalm 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Mark 6:34-44

Today in the gospel we encounter a miracle.

The word miracle comes from the latin, miraculum, which means an "object of wonder." It is also related to mirari, "to wonder" and mirus, "wonderful."

A miracle is that which causes wonder. This of course seems a bit watered down but in fact a true miracle does cause us to wonder, it gets our attention, causes us to stop, to pause, to think anew.

The miracle of the loaves and fish in today's gospel passage certainly does all of this and more.

It grabs our attention, it causes us to wonder.

It all started with a simply blessing by Jesus: "then, taking the the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. Also, he divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. those who ate were five thousand men."

A simple blessing causes a great deal of wonder, it was in fact wonderful.

Every time we say blessing, over our meal, or over our children, or over our spouse or for someone we invoke the heavens to open and God's presence to come down into our world. It is wonder itself; it is an object of wonder; it is wonderful.

With every blessing we invoke we are asking God to do something wonderful with us and through us for the world.

A blessing from St. John Neumann:
"To you I consecrate all the powers of my soul and body, my whole being. Would that I could infuse into all hearts a burning love for you. What great glory would be given to you here on earth, if every heart were an altar on which every human will were laid in perfect conformity with your will to be consumed by the fire of your love."

Monday, January 4, 2010


Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American born saint. She is hope for all of us. If one american can be saintly then certainly the rest of us can follow.

St. Elizabeth is a saint for all peoples; she was a wife, mother, convert, and religious. Her journey, her pilgrimage on earth can speak to every pilgrimage.

She is also the founder of the parochial school system in the United States. Just think of her influence over the centuries; think of the number of children, teachers, and families educated in the ways of the Kingdom.

It is truly amazing what God can do when we let him use us.

Mother Seton was known for saying that "cheerfulness prepares the mind for noble acts."

What makes a saint a saint?

Jesus in today's gospel gives us a clue. He tell us, "repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

This is not a very catchy phrase that we might encounter at some churches, but nonetheless is captures the breath and depth of what is required.
The word repent simply means to change and to change often. It is not enough to change today, we must continually change at every moment, every day.

When celebrating marriages, there a question i ask the couples before the exchange of vows. I ask them, "do you come here freely without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage."

"freely without reservation" this is what repentance implies. We freely and without reservation give ourselves to God and give ourselves over to his grace and the change will happen and saintly we shall become.


"You renew the church in every age by raising up men and women outstanding in holiness, living witnesses of your unchanging love. They inspire us by their heroic lives, and help us by their constant prayers to be the living sign of your saving power."

May we be these men and women, constantly changing to let the unchanging love of God take hold of our life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72 Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; Ephesians 3:2-6; Matthew 2:1-12

In today's gospel we encounter many characters.

We have the Magi who are on a journey, following the light from above.

We have Herod, who is greatly troubled, who follows not.

We have all of Jerusalem who is troubled because Herod is troubled; they are paralyzed by fear. They let the personality of the leader determine their life of faith. Sounds like our society today.

We have the chief priest and the scribes who know the correct answer to the question as to where the Christ was to be born and yet they do nothing; they pretend it doesn't matter in order to save their own skin.

We have Mary, Joseph, and Jesus who are in the manger caught up in love.

We have the star, which obediently illuminates the path from above, inviting all to find the Christ below.

Let us zoom in on the Magi and Herod, they seem to rise to front of the gospel.
Zooming in on them we discover the attitude of response that lends itself to the epiphany; We catch a glimpse of what a disciple looks like...
For the Magi, the star brought hope; they found the light to be one of favor even with the risk involved; they trusted that God was leading them, and that no matter the outcome, circumstances, it would be far greater than never having gone. They did not care about themselves they wanted the truth; it was truth that led them and brought then security in their life and gave them courage to make the journey of faith.

For Herod the star brought despair; he found the light to be blinding because it challenged his rule, his plan, his lifestyle; he did not care about the truth but only himself; he wanted to do it his own way; thus, he was filled with insecurity and was a coward and never made the journey.
The Magi journeyed in trust; they risked everything, leaving all the comforts behind, they found the wealth of the nations; trusting in something greater than themselves they found consolation in the smile of a child.

Herod trusted only in himself; he journeyed not, risked nothing, lost everything. In the face of the child he found torment and a reason to kill. He refused to be consoled. Innocense brings torment to the perverted.

The Magi rejoiced at seeing the child; they brought gifts and opened their hearts in gratitude; their eyes were opened to see the beauty before them in this ordinary reality of a child in his mother's lap.

Herod was filled with fury and rage; he brought no gifts but only destruction; his heart remained closed to the ordinary; his eyes did not see for they were glazed over with self-gratification rather than be gratified by God.
The Magi were fascinated by the star and allowed it to lead them to worship; filled with humility they fell to their knees in silent reverence for the king of kings. They received a blessing and were given a new direction, a new way to follow.

Herod was enraged by the star; he brought fear upon the whole land; He was filled with pride and thus worshiped not, gave nothing; he refused direction and was left in darkness, stumbling over his own two feet.

The magi are true disciples in allowing themselves to be led, where as Herod remains obstinate and unrelenting, stubborn in his stance. The Magi are given the gift of rejoicing; Herod receives the gift of death.

The Magi learn to rejoice in the ordinary reality of life, for since the face of the child, every face can be an epiphany. Herod ends his life in misery, never knowing joy only destruction.

The choice is ours.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new year same mother

Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67 May God bless us in his mercy; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21

We begin the year off with a Holy Day of Obligation.

The Holy Day is quite different than a holiday; a holy day is the Church's gift to man. Not having to work has little to do with a holy day of obligation.

A holiday is a day in which we find freedom from work, freedom from the routine.
A holy day is different. It is holy because it is not dependent on our decision, it is not homemade but ordained. We do not make it, rather we receive it.

It is an acknowledgment that we receive our time not from ourselves, or by our own doing, not from the stars or the sun or the planets that revolve; we receive our time from him who creates and sustains the universe. We set our watches no longer by the rhythm of the sun and moon but by the rhythm of grace bursting in our time and filling it with the presence of him who knows no time but invites us to keep rhythm with eternity.

A holiday may be a time when we take a break from the routine of living; a Holy Day is where we pause to recognize God breaking through our day. Thus, the routine of living is filled with the giver of life himself.

The Holy Day reminds us of the beauty that is awaken by faith and thus our routine should be changed forever. A holy Day is not a break from something but rather it is a celebration of Someone breaking through into our existence so that it adds an eternal pep to our not so routine steps.
Not only do we begin the new year with a Holy Day of obligation we begin it by celebrating the Feast of Mary the Mother of God.

The entire life of Jesus is surrounded in deep significance of having his mother close by. She was there, everywhere:

Born in a manger, she was there; Shepherds and magi sneaking a peak, she was there; flight into Egypt, she was there;

lost in the temple, she was there; wedding of Cana and water into wine, she was there; working of miracles, she was there; teaching of the crowds, she was there;

choosing of the apostles, she was there; crowd seeking to kill him, she was there; agony in the garden, she was there; arrested and condemned, she was there; scourged and crowned, she was there;

the way of the cross, falling and tripping, she was there; stationed at the foot of the cross, she was there; piercing of his side, she was there; burial in the tomb, she was there;

resurrection, she was there; ascension into heaven, she was there; out pouring of the Holy Spirit, she was there; beginning of the Church, she was there.

Mary, the mother of God, gives Jesus his humanity so that in the flesh He could make the Father known, "he who sees me sees the Father." In his flesh, we are caught in love of the God made visible. Mary's yes, her role as mother, makes God visible. Because she was willing to be there, Jesus is here.

If we eliminate Mary, we eliminate the humanity of Jesus, his very ability to relate to us, for he is like us in every way but sin.

We pause this day, as we start the new year, to allow this reality of God's revelation to break through into our lives.

We take Mary with us into our homes as Jesus invited the beloved disciple to do from the cross, "Then he said to his disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from this hour the disciple took her into his home." John 19:27

May she lead us in the footsteps of Jesus, for every where that Jesus was, she was there.

Poem for a mother

"She always leaned to watch,
anxious if we were late;

In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.

And though we mocked her tenderly, who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe
because she waited there."

Mary, Mother of God, our mother, pray for us!