Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This week is a week for the martyrs.

Monday we celebrate the feast of St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr in the early 2nd century. Yesterday we celebrated the martyrdom of Peter and Paul around the year 64 AD. And today we celebrate the first martyrs of Rome.

There is a whole lot of dying in the early church. The church itself is raised from the ground on the foundation of the those who ought to give their life completely to Christ, shedding their blood as He shed his.

Keeping that in mind.

When i was in the seminary as a student discerning the call to the priesthood, there was a moment where i hit a rough spot. In fact there were many moments where I hit rough patches along the way.

This particular rough patch was in my first few moments in the seminary. I was struggling and i could not understand why. I figured if i were doing God's will then it should be easy. (at least i mistakenly thought)

The someone gave a book to read and they thought it might help me. The book was entitled, The Road Less Traveled.

I opened the book and I remember the first lines of the first chapter of the book. The line went as follows, "Life is a struggle."

I stopped reading the book after the opening lines penetrated my cerebral folds. I was both shocked and relieved by those words. No one had ever told me life was a struggle. I had gone through assuming that it was suppose to be easy.

Life is a struggle.

It is true. Life is a struggle. There is suffering in life.
We cannot avoid it. We cannot escape it. We cannot have life without it.

But we can choose what we will suffer for. We can choose what we will struggle with.

This is what the martyrs in the church teach us and model for us.

We may never eliminate the struggle. We may never eliminate the suffering, But if we choose to suffer and struggle for that which is beyond ourselves than we will truly know fullness of joy and the abundance of life.

This is what martyr-ology is all about. The study of how to live our life in the midst of embracing the struggling and suffering that comes our way.

In the words of St. Irenaeus: THe Glory of God is man alive.
In the words of St. Paul: I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me...THe Lrod stood by me and gave me strength. (2 Timothy 4:6ff)

In the words of St. Peter: Do not be surprised beloved that a trial by fire is occurring in your midst. It is a test gor you, but it should not catch you off guard. Rejoice instead, in the measure that you share i Christ's sufferings. When his glory is revealed you shall rejoice exultantly. (1 Peter 4:12ff)

In the words of JEsus: You will suffer in the world. But take courage, I have overcome the world. (John 16:32ff)

Life is a struggle. True life is struggling with Christ and living the faith.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Irenaeus: bishop and martyr

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr.

Just a few words from the the saint

"God will be seen by men who bear his spirit and are always waiting for his coming."

Think about that today as you live your life and enter into the activity or activities of the day.

God will be seen by those who bear his spirit and are always waiting for his coming.

We spend a lot of of our time and a lot of our life waiting for things to happen or things to come. The anticipation prepares us to act appropriately when that something or someone arrives. The anticipation of the event helps us embrace and respond properly and promptly.

What would our life look like if we woke up each morning anticipating a meeting with God. How would we dress? What would we do to prepare for that meeting? How would we rehearse? How would we act differently if we knew that at each moment or just around the corner God was about to break through our lives and make himself known?

I suggest it would change everything. It would certainly change our attitude. This in itself would begin to change our lives for the better.

Today we should try living with that mentality. Today let us anticipate God's arrival, God's encounter, God's visitation. Allow that anticipation become an attitude on life and living especially in our relationships with ourselves and with others.

The more we wait the more we are able to see and experience the face of Christ today.

As the psalmist tells us, "happy are those who wait on his love."

Friday, June 25, 2010

fish rots at the head

2 Kings 25:1-12

As we read the book of Kings (1&2) we see a detailed description of the rise and fall of one king after another. And through the kings' unfaithfulness to God the reason behind the exile of the nation of Israel is made clear.

Both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (northern and southern kingdoms) in the person of the kings were offensive to God and thus in their sin destruction follows.

As the old saying goes, the fish rots at the head or rather the fish rots from the head down. As leadership goes so does the followers, so does the country.

This idiom is certainly lived out in the book of kings.

However, the positive side of the book of kings is that no matter how bad the leadership of the kings are, no matter how destructive and sinful they may be, they reap what they so but God remains steadfast to his promise.

It is the promise to David that his dynasty would be forever that stays the hand of God from allowing absolute destruction.

No matter how bad leadership gets and how corrupt they can be or just how plain awful they seem, we must remember that God, our Father, keeps his promises; his leadership is without corruption or defilement. His kingship knows only how to be faithful and true.

As we look to the last words of todays readings we see that not all were exiled, the poor, the vinedressers and farmers, were left behind to till the soil and more importantly keep the faith alive.

Corruption may come from the top but faithfulness is guarded by the simple of heart.

Hope remains and it is found with those whose hands are callused but whose hearts remain pure and untainted.
May we be like the latter while praying for the former.

The last words of the book of kings paints a lasting picture of hope, "Jehoiachin king of Judah was released from prison...changed his prison garments and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life..."

Jehoichin means "Yahweh establishes". Even in the midst of hopelessness comes hope from the hand of God, our father.

Indeed, Yahweh establishes and what he establishes can never be undone.

In fact every time we gather at the altar we experience what Jehoiachin experiences; as we come to the altar we cast off our prison garments and embrace freedom as we feast on the bread of life the promise of Christ who brings us back from exile and fulfills the promise of the father.

In the Eucharist the promise remains, the leadership of Christ is true.

stamped with beauty

2 kings 25:1-12; Psalm 137 Let my tongue be silenced, If i ever forget you; Matthew 8:1-4

Wisdom from St. Gregory of Nyssa

"The life of the Christian has three distinguishing aspects:deeds, words, and thoughts. Thought comes first, then words, since our words express openly the interior conclusions of the mind. Finally, after thoughts and words, comes actions, for our deeds carry out what the mind has conceived. So when one of these results in our acting or speaking, we must make sure that all our thoughts, words, and deeds are controlled by the divine ideal, the revelation of Christ. For then our thoughts, words, and deeds will not fall short of the nobility of their implications.

What, then, must we do, we who have been found worthy of the name of Christ?

Each if us must examine his thoughts, words, and deeds, to see whether they are directed toward Christ or are turned away from him.

If you draw from him the thoughts in your mind and the inclinations of your heart, you will show likeness to Christ, your source and origin, as a gleaming water in a jar resembles the flowing water from which it was obtained.

For the purity of Christ and the purity that is manifested in our hearts are identical. Christ's purity is the fountainhead; ours has its source in him and flows out of him.

Our life is stamped with the beauty of his thought."

Today stay tuned in to the radiance of Christ and allow that radiance to impress upon your heart the beauty of eternity, the beauty of heaven, the beauty of harmony with Christ himself. Then the life we have will become something beautiful for God.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

narrow gate

2 kings 19:9-36; Psalm 48 God upholds his city forever; Matthew 7:6, 12-14

JEsus says, "How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. ANd those who find it are few."

It is fitting that today as we remember the lives of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More we reflect on the narrow path that leads to life.

Both St. John Fisher and St. Thomas Moore chose to enter through the narrow gate.
Both chose to defend the dignity and sanctity of marriage, refusing to acknowledge and accept the divorce of King Henry VII and his marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Both also refused to take the oath of the Act of succession acknowledging King Henry VII as supreme head of the Church. They stood firm in the face of opposition and danger. Both guarded the dignity and sanctity of marriage and the primacy of the Papacy.

They both were tried as traitors, executed for treason to the throne, and martyred for the faith.

St. John Fisher, on his way to the tower as he prepared for his execution is said to have prayed and then open the Bible one last time for inspiration and consolation. Upon opening the bible his eyes met this passage from the passage of the gospel of John where Jesus prays to the Father, "This is life eternal, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have glorified you on earth and finished the work you gave me to do."

They both chose the narrow gate and found life eternal.

May we do the same.

"Remember the Christian life is one of action; not speech and daydreams. Let there be few words and many deeds and let them be done well." St. Vicent Pallotti

Sunday, June 20, 2010

learn to lose; prepare to win

Zechariah 12:10-11;13:1; Psalm 63 My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24

Recently I have been intrigued by the game of chess. I have dappled in chess a bit here and there over the past ten years. But i decided I was going to get serious. So I got a few books to do a little reading and hopefully a lot of learning. In my search for books, I came across one book that was most helpful. It was a book that was 9 pages long and it was entitled: The Art of Losing at chess. The premise of the book was simple; if you learn how to lose then you will learn how to win. Learn to lose; prepare to win.

Now, if you look out into the world we discover one constant: the world doe snot love a loser. But according to JEsus, the key to life is learning to lose, "Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

Any fool can win, but it takes a true man of genius to make losing an art, thus a masterpiece of wonder and awe.

God wants us to lose, but he doesn't want us to settle for being an ordinary loser. God wants us to be extraordinary at losing, at least appearing to lose.

Take Jesus for instance. Jesus in the gospel appears to be an ordinary loser. He is arrested. He is tried. He is condemned. He is beaten. He carries the cross like a criminal. He is nailed and crucified. He dies. He is buried. The end.

At this point it seems to most that he lost. It seems he was just an ordinary loser who thought he was something.

But the third day changes everything. That day makes all the difference. The resurrection not only suggest that JEsus was no ordinary loser but makes it clear he lost in an extraordinary way. In losing, he wins.

God wins by way of the cross. This is the reason of our hope; this is the reason for true optimism. Salvation comes through the cross. God can turn crucifixions into saving events. God wins through the cross.

When JEsus asks us to carry our cross daily, he is asking us to learn how to lose and thus prepare to win. Our loss in the hands of God becomes a masterpiece of victory. We give God an opportunity to win again.

Thus we learn to live not in our frustrations or resentments but rather in faith: One eye on the cross the other on the resurrection and we understand God is not done yet.

God pursues the salvation of each individual soul in unique and varied ways. Each life is a masterpiece of divine ingenuity.

Remember in the gospel: Jesus let Lazarus die. What a loss, but what a victory. Don't forget, God dies and yet victory reigns. From the death of God love rises to show its power...the third days stands as the one for the ages.

The cross carried becomes saving grace.

Our crosses may seem too hard, too great, too much but in the end if we carry it in faith, what seems to be a loss will become a story for the ages, victory for all.

Learn to lose; prepare to win.

Happy and blessed Father's day to all.
A Note for Fathers: Father's teach your children how to lose and prepare them for victory. (Ephesians 3:14-21 prayer for Fathers)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

"All Christ did, all he taught, was the will of God.
Humility in our daily lives, and unwavering faith, a moral sense of modesty in conversation, justice in acts, mercy in deed,

discipline, refusal to harm others, a readiness to suffer harm, peaceableness with our brothers, a whole hearted love of the Lord,
loving in him what is of the Father, fearing him because he is God, preferring nothing to him who preferred nothing to us,

clinging tenaciously to his love, standing by his cross with loyalty and courage wherever there is any conflict involving his honor and his name, manifesting in our speech the constancy of our profession and under torture confidence for the fight, and in dying the endurance for which we will be crowned-

this is what it means to wish to be a coheir with Christ, to keep God's command; this is what it means to do the will of the Father."

St. Cyprian Treatise of the Our Father

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Friday, June 18, 2010

the eye you see with

Friday continued...

JEsus in today's gospel Matthew 6:19-23 also states the following, "If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be filled with darkness."

What does Jesus mean?

JEsus is speaking how we see or how we look upon the world or look upon one another. We can have a "sound" vision or a "bad" vision.

The greek word for sound can be translated as generous and the greek word for bad can be translated as stingy or hostile.

Do we look upon the world around us with a stingy eye begrudging those we meet and increasing bitterness in the world or are we generous and caring, giving them the benefit of the doubt and seeking to bring grace to their lives and thus increasing happiness?

How do you see?

Think of the eye of Christ as he looked upon the world from the cross! IT is his sacred heart that teaches us how to be filled with light and look with a sound eye.

where is your heart

Matthew 6:19-23

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys. For where your treasure is, there your also will your heart be."

The greek word for "store up" is thesaurizo which means to accumulate or put in reserve but also can mean metaphorically to live day to day as to increase the bitterness of one's life or increase the happiness of one's life.

Where is your heart? Look around your home, what do you have most of? What does that say about your heart? Is it earth bound or heaven bound?

Look at your time? What is it used for most? Do you walk with and eye to eternal time?

Do you live to increase happiness for yourselves or others or does your existence increase bitterness?

What do you store up?

Often times we seek survival, security, affection, esteem, power, control. Our life revolves around these desires and often heaven gets pushed out of sight and out of mind.

What does your heart ache over? What keeps your heart in rhythm?

Stop, look around, examine.

What is it that moves your heart?
Where is heaven in the big scheme of things? Is it a large portion of your life or does it get the leftovers?

when in doubt just remember the wisdom of my mother: it is in one's best interest not to invest in shoddy goods, rather buy that which will last.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

fasting but its not lent!

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

JEsus at the beginning of his ministry, in his first inaugural address brings to the front the foundation of the christian life: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Theses are familiar tools to deeper our relationship with God. We speak of them often and we try to make them a part of our life at least during the 40 days of lent.

But the fact that JEsus mentions these at the beginning of his ministry suggest that perhaps these are important not just during lent but essential ingredients to our everyday and ordinary journey with God and neighbor.

Here are a few tidbits on fasting that Pope Benedict reminded the faithful in is lenten message, just in case we forgot.

*True fasting is directed toward the true food which is doing the Father's will
*the believer when fasting intends to submit himself humble to God trusting his goodness and mercy for life as he enters in to self depravation
*Fasting is the soul of prayer
*Faithful practice of fasting contributes moreover to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping us to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord
*fasting nurtures our interior disposition to listen to Christ and thus be fed by his saving word
*fasting and prayer allow Christ to come and satisfy the deepest hunger of the human heart: hunger and thirst for God
*Using words, food, drink, sleep and amusement sparingly sharpens our alertness with custody of our senses
*prayer and fasting prepares us and sustains us in the spiritual battle and restores friendship with God

As JOhn Paul II taught prayer, fasting, almsgiving allows us to make a complete gift of self to God.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

unusual suspects

Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples...we are his disciples so JEsus says to us.

"YOu have heard that it was said, YOu shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that yo may be children of your heavenly Father for he makes his sun rise on the bad and good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect?"

The Gospel of the Lord.

In other words, we must not only love those who love God or love those who love us but we must love those who God loves. This is how we become unusual suspects of divine love for all.

Be unusual, out of the ordinary, break the mold, step outside the box: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Here we discover that love is not a feeling but it is a decision to reach out, stretch forth, be crucified.

Crucify our love Lord that we may do as you did, give your life for all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

broken eggs

2 samuel 12:7-10,13; Psalm 32 Lord, forgive the wrong I have done; Galatians 2:16, 19-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

One thing that my little nephews and nieces love to do when they go to the farm to visit grandma and grandpa is to pick the eggs. They are fascinated with egg picking. they can't wait to track down to the chicken pen, or rummage through the barn behind bales of hay and feed sacks looking for their treasure. For them it is like a safari hunt. With great eagerness and enthusiasm they will grab the hand and go, no fear just excitement, picking eggs to their little hearts delight.

One SUnday I was at home and one of my little nephews couldn't wait to go to the chicken house to pick eggs. SO he came and grabbed my finger and away we went. This day, rather than pick the eggs, he wanted to hold them in his shirt. His shirt became a basket and I would pick the egg and hand it to him and would place it gently in his shirt. Every egg collected became a source of excitement. He was beaming as his belly swelled, pregnant with chicken eggs.

He was so excited that in his excitement he grabbed one the eggs a little to tightly and it cracked. As yolk ran between his fingers, he was devastated. He thought that the broken egg would brake his grandma's heart. Tears rolled down his eyes. There was nothing I could do to put to the egg back and make it whole and there was nothing i could do to convince my nephew it was going to be alright.

He simply stood in the middle of the yard, yolk on his fingers, sadness in his face, sorrow in his heart.

Hold on to this image...

Being a priest over the past four years, i have met many of men and women who have come to me with a world of hurt on their shoulders. They came with the impression that they made such a mess of their life that their was no way God could make it right. Forgiveness for them was to be only imagined and never realized. Because of their decisions, forgiveness would always be within their grasp but beyond their reach. They could dream of it, but never embrace it.

Their decisions weighed heavy, pressed hard and strained their spirit. In fact, in their eyes there was only one word to describe their life. Like the woman in the gospel, they were sinful.

One particular person I remember came with the feeling that he could never or would ever be the same. That his past decisions and mistakes had left him in an irrevocable reality. He came saying, "Father, I can never live a normal life again. Even God can't unscramble a broken egg."

Perhaps yo have met people that feel that way about their life. They have closet full of skeletons. And they spend their life marred by their mistakes and they are in such darkness they are afraid to hope.

As we look to the first reading and the gospel we discover a truth that is essential for us today.

As we read about King David and about the sinful woman, two things come to the front.

One, there are consequences to our decisions. David because of his murderous affair is left with the agony of his son dying. The woman because of her sinful lifestyle is left with a bad reputation and has to deal with those hurtful glances and judgmental stares. Consequences are real. When we make decisions we set things in motion. This is part of life and part of the web we choose to live.

Secondly, even with the consequences that David and the woman have to deal with they both find a reprieve. When you approach God in repentance forgiveness is granted.

Jesus, when the woman comes to him, does not hold her bound in her sins. He does not define her by her past mistakes or sinful life but rather he simply offers her a new beginning.

The one phrase that is constant through the pages of the gospel on the lips ring true, "your sins are saves."

Human freedom is continually pursued by the grace of God.

Christianity, Christ teaches us not only how to live but teaches us how to start over, begin anew, how to live again, and again, and again.

With Jesus the door never closes. "Your sins are forgiven" and learn to live again.

God doesn't have to unscramble the broken egg. When we come to him he strengthens us and empowers us to start anew and learn to pick up the pieces and live again.

Here in lies good news, in Jesus name, hope remains.

As St. Paul tells us, "I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God."

As JEsus offers a new start to all those who come to him, should not we do the same. Could not we refuse to define others by their sinfulness and offer them hope and strength to begin a new, to live again and again.

The grace of God keeps hope alive and this is what makes living possible. The great tragedy of life is sometimes we forget that learning to live is about learning to hope no matter the consequences. In Jesus, hope is eternal and thus life can always begin a new.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

St. AMbrose on the psalms

Here is a tidbit from St. Ambrose on the importance of the psalms for the christian pilgrimage on earth back to the Father.

"What is more pleasing than a psalm? Yes, a psalm is a blessing on the lips of the people,a hymn in praise of God, the assembly's homage, a general acclamation, a word that speaks for all, the voice of the church, a confession of faith in song.

It is the voice of complete assent, the joy of freedom, a cry of happiness, the echo of gladness. It soothes the temper, distracts from care, lightens the burden of sorrow. It is a source of security at night, a lesson in wisdom by day. It is a shield when we are afraid, a celebration of holiness, a vision of serenity, a promise of peace and harmony.

It is like a lyre, evoking harmony from a blend of notes. Day begins to the music of a psalm. Day closes to the echo of a psalm.

In a psalm instruction vies with beauty. We sing for pleasure. We learn for profit. What experience is not covered by reading of the psalms?

What is the psalm but a musical instrument to give expression to all the virtues? The psalmist of old used it, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to make earth reecho the music of heaven."

When you find yourself in a tight spot, flip to the book of Psalms and there you shall find a gymnasium for the soul and enter into a full workout that will realign your heart and mind to the will of God, our Father, in Christ guided by the Holy SPirit.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Two things this morning.

We encounter Elijah on top of the mountain praying. During this time of drought, Elijah is praying, interceding for rain. He prostrates low to the ground and seven times he asks his servant to see if rain was on the horizon.

Elijah reveals to us an important lesson on reality. The art of praying is also the art of waiting. Both go hand in hand.
The art of praying is also about the art of humility, coming low to the ground and allowing God to choose his time to respond.
Prayer is often about waiting on the Lord, waiting for his love to be made known in his time.

The art of praying and the art of waiting are united in this life.

Secondly as we look to the gospel this morning, we encounter Jesus speaking those familiar words, "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees."

Unless it surpasses...

We look into the world of business and finances and often we encounter the insistence on maximizing potential. How often have we heard businesses trying to maximize their profit or maximize their income? How often have we been invited to maximize our tax return or maximize our retirement?

The world longs to squeeze every little bit out until the last drop has fallen.

Jesus invites us to maximize our goodness. This is what it means to surpass the scribes and pharisees.

Jesus doesn't want us to simply get by in life but he wants us to go beyond; he doesn't want us to minimize but maximize, to do more not less.

To maximize our goodness is simply to return the favor we have first received from God who maximizes his goodness toward us in Jesus himself.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eastern Muse and western doctor

Often times I encounter many people who are fascinated with Eastern spirituality. What this means most of the time is these people have decided to part from christianity and venture forth into the subterranean reality known as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and all the rest of the so called "Eastern religions."

This "eastern" reality seems to mesmerize and captivate and most often convince people of truth. People seem, for whatever reason, ready to surrender to the mystic offered in these "pseudo" spiritual pathways and world views.

What is most ironic is that what they fail to recognize is that Christianity at its heart is eastern. The roots of Christianity reaches deep into the eastern part of the world. In fact for the first 3 hundred years christianity was nourished on the eastern mentality. Not to mention its jewish roots that run much deeper into eastern thought and spiritual encounter with God.

In fact today in the church we honor one of the doctor's of the church, whose origin and beginnings was in modern day Turkey, a very eastern reality, St. Ephrem.

The church reminds us that what we often look for in others we can find at home.

The mystical prose of St. Ephrem steeps us deep into the eastern mentality and eastern encounter with the living God. We do not have to go outside the church to understand the eastern spirituality. In fact, the eastern spirituality is perfected in the church through the likes of St. Ephrem himself.

One of St. Ephrem's mantras as your might call it was to learn to "enjoy the favor of the Lord." He often prayed that God would teach him to find joy in the favor of the Lord."

This "favor" he spoke of was a deep realization of the the encounter of God brought forth in the gift of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, "In your bread hides the spirit who cannot be consumed; in your wine is the fire that cannot be swallowed. The Spirit in your bread, fire in your wine: behold a wonder heard from our lips...instead of the fire that destroyed man, we have consumed the fire in the bread and have been invigorated."

Teach us O lord to find joy in your favor. What eastern spirituality could ever compete with such reality as the eastern understanding of God's presence in the Eucharist.

Buddha himself would be at a loss for words and his silence would only affirm the beauty and grace and truth of what is heard from the lips of the angelic doctor, the eastern muse who sings God's praises.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

scarce but satisfying

1 kings 17:7-16; Psalm 4 Lord, let your face shine on us; Matthew 5:13-16

We continue to read the narrative on ELijah in the first reading.

Yesterday, we encountered Elijah on the run and in hiding. He was told to drink from the stream and he was to served his meals via the ravens. The life of a prophet isn't always glamorous.

Imagine eating meat brought by ravens. It was probably not gourmet. And the stream since is was in the middle of the drought was probably not you standard water cooler refreshment.

But none the less, he was provided for. It was scarce but satisfying for it was from the Lord.

Today, we encounter ELijah being led by God to a widow at Zarephath where he was too be taken care of. Again, Elijah finds himself in a predicament. The widow only had a handful of flour and a little oil and she was as they say a bit bitter but faithful.

Elijah and the widow and the widow's son ate a morsel of bread a day.
Again this as not your HEB pantry bread aisle where every imaginable loaf with every imaginable flavor, style, cut was at your finger tips. It was a little bit of flour and little bit of oil and a lot of nasty, but it was sufficient.

It was scarce but satisfying.

It both instances and throughout the prophets life we discover that God's will takes care of those who are faithful; he provides, he sustains, he stretches forth to bring alive in time of famine, but often it is beyond our expectations.

Elijah had to surrender his expectation in order to take God at his word and trust the word he heard.

Scarce but satisfying.

Look around at your life today. How often have our expectations thwarted the bounty of God and interfered with true gratitude in learning to live on what God provides. Surrender your expectations and learn to recognize the bounty of God in the provisions he has provided.

Scarce but satisfying for those who are faithfulness.

Monday, June 7, 2010

don't worry be happy

1 Kings 17:1-6; Psalm 121 Our help is from the Lord who made heaven and earth; Matthew 5:1-12

We all search for happiness. We long to experience happiness in our life. But seldom do we stop to ask the question, what is happiness? what does happiness consist of? What will make me happy?

Most of the time we equate happiness with feeling "good" as they say, as if emotional contentment is all there is in this life we live.

So what is happiness? What is this elusive reality that seems to haunt us, beckon at us, and drive us mad? Perhaps insanity is the answer to the question.

Every time we gather at the mass, around the altar just before we receive communion the consecrated host is elevated for all to see and the words of the priest echo forth, "Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called to his supper."

There is that word, elusive yet within our grasp, "Happy are those who are called to his supper."

It seems not only do we want to be happy but God also desires our happiness. In fact he goes out of his way to make the path of happiness known. This happiness is about a relationship with Jesus, whom we seek to have communion with.

The beatitudes we encounter today from the mouth of Jesus speak of happiness, "blessed" in greek means happy.

When you look at those who are blessed, it should strike us as unusual; blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, those persecuted, those insulted...rejoice and be glad.

But in reality the Beatitudes simply paint the face of Christ himself. JEsus is the one who embodies the beatitudes in his life; he is poor in spirit, merciful, clean of heart, persecuted and insulted and all the rest. When we live out the beatitudes we see the face of Christ.

Sounds like a pathway to happiness. It certainly is unorthodox when compared to secular society who tells us to be selfishly driven. The secular society who promises the world with creative and sexual ingenuity, where the pleasure principle seems to dominate, yet why are so many people depressed and on pills, why aren't they happy.

The wrong path can never be made right.

"Happy are those who are called to his supper." The pathway of happiness goes through Christ, it isn't contentment but much deeper and longer lasting.

Rethink the beatitudes, spend time with them today and see if you can begin to piece together a pathway to happiness, a pathway to the beatitude itself, life on high in Christ.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

noon prayer on solemnity of Corpus Christi

Here are three readings from sacred scripture on this celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ

"You nourished your people with food of angels and furnished them bread from heaven, ready to hand, untoiled-for, endowed with all delights and conforming to every taste." Wisdom 16:20

"Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table." Proverbs 9:1-2

"The brethren devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and prayers, praising God and winning the approval of all people." Acts 2:42, 47

Let them roll around in you head as you seek a deeper insight into the gift of the Eucharist.

solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Today in the church we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ come to us in the appearance of bread and wine transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. The bread and wine offered on the altar receive the word of God and become real food and real drink that bring forth the very presence of Jesus, body, blood, soul, and divinity.

What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about this Reality:

*The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend...the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present." (ccc1374)

Can the church be any more clear in its teaching on the presence of Jesus come to us in the Eucharist. It is not a symbol or sign but rather it is what Jesus says it is, "my body, my blood." Jesus comes to us. What an encounter! this is no ordinary bread from you momma's kitchen. This is bread from the pantry of heaven.

*It has always been the conviction of the Church of God...that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation. (ccc1376)

It has always been the conviction of the Church of God. The church has never wavered on this fundamental truth. The protestants have protested the sacraments but we Catholics have been fed and nourished by them. Other sects have been led into error but the Catholic Church has maintained its identity in the gift of the Eucharist.

*the Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of Consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. (ccc1377-1380)

Jesus comes to stay. He is not here one moment and gone the next. Every time you come into a Catholic Church, this place of worship, you discover it is never empty. It is not just a place of worship it truly is the house of God. The little red light flickering upon entering reminds us to stop and pause, fall upon our knees, and acknowledge a presence greater than ourselves. We see his strength and glory in his sanctuary. The words of Jesus to the apostles ring true, "I will be with you always until the end of the age." The ever abiding presence of Jesus is the Eucharist.

*"the mass is at the same time, and inseparable, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood." (ccc1382)

When we celebrate mass the reality of the cross and calvary is made present. The same sacrifice makes itself present. The death of the Lord we proclaim. It is this death of the Lord upon the cross that makes communion possible. The redemption of Christ offered to the world on the cross now comes to be made actualized in our hearts as we receive communion. In communion we apply Christ's redemption personally to us in our lives. We up root the cross from the soil of calvary and we plant it in the center of our hearts every time we say Amen to the words, "the body of Christ."

It is one and the same sacrifice that knows no boundaries of time and space. Its unlimited merit is unlimited by time and space.

*we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord...for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. Anyone conscious of grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion." (ccc 1384-1387)

We must tread lightly. We must never rush through the act of reception but be mindful of the gift we are receiving. We must prepare ourselves mind, heart, and soul. We tremble when we extend our hands to receive trusting in the mercy of God to strengthen us with his presence and transform us with every reception.

If we are guilty of grave offense then we should not receive. How often have we ate and drank judgment upon ourselves. When we receive communion we are saying we seek to follow Christ fully and faithfully. Yet if we are living contrary to the gospel as realized in the teachings of the Church then we bear false witness against ourselves and destroy the integrity of our lives.

*"Holy Communion augments our union with christ. The principle fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus." (ccc1391)

Intimate union with JEsus. The foretaste of future glory comes to be in our hands and on our lips. He is near to us; he is within us.

*Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ...preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism." (ccc1392)

Wow! Preserves, increases, and renews. Every time we come to communion we enter into a time and space of retreat, a spiritual awakening and renewal. A simple gesture of stretching forth and a simple word of 'Amen" begins the spiritual renewal, this encounter for the ages. Truly, communion is a life changing experience each and every time.

*The eucharist cleanses us from past sins and preserves us from future sins...the bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this wipes away venial sins." (ccc139-1395)

We are washing in the waters of forgiveness and we are strengthen to avoid the sins that lie in waiting. Our wills are fortified and prepared for the spiritual battle. Our desire is rehabilitated and disordered attachments are slowly broken. The fuel for charity in our life is found in this Holy Communion. Christ the perfect love of the Father comes to enkindle in us that same love.

*"those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body-the church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism." (ccc1396)

We become church more fully by the communion we share. We all eat from the one table and thus we realize our one family by which we all belong. We truly become brothers and sisters united in Christ and fed by him. We must learn to live in a community and allow the communion we share move us from our individual lives into lives that seek solidarity and fellowship, with deep concern and compassion for all. We are not in this alone. We go together or we do not go at all.

Corpus Christ, this solemnity is so much more than we could ever imagine. What a gift from God in Christ by THe Holy Spirit. May we always be thankful of this ever abiding presence of Jesus who not only calls us to heaven but journeys with us until we arrive, "The Lord is my shepherd...with his rod and staff he gives me courage" and he gives me life for he is the "living bread come down from heaven."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

remember JEsus Christ

2 Timothy 2:8-15; Psalm 25 Teach me your ways, O Lord; Mark 12:28-34

As we continue to read the 2nd letter of Paul to Timothy, we can not be but inspired by Paul's words of encouragement. He is writing to Timothy to spur him on in his ministry. He seeks to build him up and to aid him in moving forward with the task at hand, proclaiming the good news.

Today's segment begins with these words, "Remember Jesus Christ..."

think about that for a moment, "Remember Jesus Christ."

IT is sort of like the battle cry, "Remember the ALamo."

It is a charge that is meant to invoke courage. "Remember JEsus Christ."

As we go out into the world today and face all the temptations that await us, tackle all the problems lingering from yesterday, encounter new irritations and old weakness, uncover more short comings in ourselves or those we work with or live with, meet new barriers or seek to create more bridges just "remember JEsus Christ."

Here in this simple little phrase we are filled with courage and strength to put one foot in front of the other and carry that cross or crosses with a great joy in our heart, for we have Him on our side, he who is stronger than death, "Remember JEsus Christ."

This is the phrase that gave strength to the martyrs, like Charles Lwanga and his companions whose feast we celebrate today.

As Charles was being tied to the pyre and the fire was lit, on his lips you can still hear echoing forth, "Remember JEsus Christ."

The martyrs were able to resist and stand firm because they were not forgetful, rather they remembered the one good memory and there they found a place of rest, a place of hope, a place of encouragement, an encounter that led them forward in choosing life for Him in accepting death to the world.

"Remember JEsus Christ," and onward we go marching through this time and space longing for union as we "Remember JEsus Christ" who on the cross remembered us.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

action of grace

2 Timothy 1:1-3,6-12; Psalm 123 To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes; Mark 12:18-27

On Sunday during the Angelus, Pope Benedict speaking about the Most HOly Trinity reminded us as faithful followers of Christ to be "open daily to the action of grace in our life, progressing forward in love of God and love of neighbor."

We must be open to the action of grace. Grace is not something that is stagnant but it is a power that moves us, transforms us, challenges us, directs us, guides us. It is a power that is active and animating throughout our daily living.

It is not limited to our experience of Mass or prayer but is in and through the daily grind of life.

The action of grace is the power of God that JEsus speaks of in the gospel. The power of God that brings forth the resurrection of the body. The action of grace wants to renew and restore our life.

If we keep one eye on the resurrection as we move through life then the other shall be able to recognize the action of grace and the power of God in our life. If we know what the end of grace is, the resurrection and restoration of our body where the spirt of God animates completely our bodies, then we shall also be able to recognize its movement on earth.

The action of grace is that which leads us home, perfected in the image and likeness of God.

One thing to be sure, the action of grace is always that which points to truth and thus recognizes error.

As JEsus responds to the Sadducees in the gospel today, "You are wrong because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God" He points out the reality of the action of grace working in our midst.

JEsus was not afraid to tell people they were wrong. HE did not buy in to the relativistic view of things. We too must follow his lead and not be afraid to point out the error of those around us, trusting that the action of grace is leading us in truth.

In fact when we take a stand against error and for truth we become a living vessel of the action of grace for others.

This is what makes the martyrs such a beautiful witness. They were willing to take a stand and tell their captives that they were wrong.
In today's gospel Jesus shows himself to be the the leading expert of scripture and its interpretation. This is important. Because it is the same JEsus who gave the Keys of the Kingdom to Peter and his successors, "what you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven."

Thus, the same authority of christ who claims hold of the seat of expertise is also passed on to Peter and his successors in their infallibility of faith and morals. The Power of God remains with us in the church.

May we heed it and allow the action of grace to flow forth in our world leading us to the resurrection.

Quote from Pope John Paul II on the action of grace in our life

"Participation in the divine nature, participation in the inner life of God himself, penetration and permeation of what is essentially human by what is essentially that the life of the human spirit will reach a fullness that was absolutely inaccessible to it before. This new spiritualization will be the fruit of grace, of God's self communication in his very divinity, not only to the soul but to the whole of man's psychosomatic subjectivity...a new formation of man' s entire personal subjectivity to the measure of union with God in his trinitarian mystery and of intimacy with him in the perfect communion of persons...this will not absorb man's personal subjectivity, but, quite on the contrary, will make it emerge in an incomparably greater and fuller measure. "

In other words, Grace rocks our world!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

justin Martyr

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of St, Justin Martyr. Justin Martyr was, as his name suggest, martyred for the faith.

He lived between the year 100 and 165 (date of martyrdom). He was a philosopher, a thinker, the one who knew the badge of courage necessary to think a thought through. He never gave up on reason and understand faith as a necessary reality of allowing reason to become perfected in this life.

He was killed because he chose to stand firm in his profession of faith in Christ, in Christianity as the true and only way to God.

Here are few words of wisdom from St. Justin Martyr who speaks of the Christian faith and what it means to be Christian, to bear such a name:

"Reason requires that those who are truly pious and philosophers honor and cherish the truth alone, scorning merely to follow the opinions of the ancients, if they are worthless."

"the lover of truth ought to choose in every way, even at the cost of his own life to speak and do what is right."

"Unless both rulers and those that they rule become lovers of wisdom cities cannot prosper."

"Rulers of respect reputation rather than truth have as much power as brigands in a desert."

"That we may avoid all injustice and impiety, we have been taught to expose the newly born is the work of wicked men."

"But to begin with, we do not marry except in order to bring up children, or else, renouncing marriage, we live in perfect continence. To show you that promiscuous intercourse is not among our mysteries."

"And on the day called SUnday there is a meeting in one place who live in cities or country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. when the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites us to imitation of these noble things. then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And bread is brought forth, and wine and water, and the presider similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying Amen; the distribution and reception of the consecrated elements by each one takes place."

"This food we call Eucharist, in which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing of forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us."

"We have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."

Amazing that in the beginning of the second century the Mass as we celebrate today was already in full bloom for the faithful. Somethings never change and we are thankful for such continuity and dedication of faith of those who have gone before us preserving the faith with their life, shedding their blood so we may receive the very body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself in the Eucharist.

We are all Eucharistified, as St. Justin tells us. Could we be anything else?