Thursday, September 30, 2010

tried and true

Job 19:21-27; Psalm 27 I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living; Luke 10:1-12

Words of St. Jerome...
"Happy the man who makes progress daily, who does not weigh what he did yesterday, but make shis resolution for today and keeps it. The holy man sets his heart on ascending..."

We turn our attention to Job. There are many things that can be said about Job and his predicament. He goes from a man who has everything, house, family, wealth, faith, happiness to a man that is covered with sores sitting on a heap of ashes, mourning the loss of all that he had known.

He goes from rejoicing in his life to renouncing the day he was born.

Sounds like life, doesn't it. How quickly things change. How quickly we go from the hero of the hour to the villian. How quickly we fall from the heights we ascend.

Change is inevitable. Change we do not plan for is guaranteed. The true test of character is seen in what we do when thngs turn sour, when the world falls apart and our hands are left with nothing.

Job was being tested for his faith.
This is how the story begins: "Have you considered my servant Job, there is none like him on the earth, a simple an dupright man, and fearing God and avoiding evil."

The voice of God resounds with such acclamations.

"Stretch forth your hand a little, and touch all that he hath, and see if he cursed thee to thy face."

The vocie of Satan echoes forth a challenge.

This conversation is not soley reserved to Job, but is this not the lot of humanity. Do we not base our faith on our comfort, our wealth, our good times.

Does not God demand more from us! Shoud not God expect more from us.

Who of us wants to be loved soley becasue of what we can offer? Do we not want to be loved for the sake of love?

Does not the God, our Father, also desire this, to be loved for his own sake and not because of the things he can offer?

Job 1:22 "In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke any foolish things against God."

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I shall go back. The Lord gives and the lord taken away, blessed be the name of the lord."

And today we hear these words of faith that have been tried and found to be true, without alloy, refined in the furnace of suffering faith comes forth shinning and brilliant, "But as for me, I know my vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see; my own eyes, not another's, shall behold, and from my flesh I shall see God, my inmost being is consumed with longing."

True faith requires purification.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

st michael

"Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, that is, all who obey God's commandments and bear witness for Jesus...Revelation 12:1-17"

The battle rages and the strength of God is on our side, St. Michael "strength of God."
Let us pray....

Saint michael the archangel, defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the other spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

Quis et Deus? Quis resistet sancti Michaelis gladio?

Who is like God? Who could resist the sword of st Michael?

Excerpt from Pope Benedict on angels...

In his moving homily the pope recalled that in the early Church – and in Revelations – bishops are referred to as “angels”. Just as angles, explained the pope, bishops must lead humanity to God; they must knock on the door to their hearts to announce Christ; they must heal the wounds of relations between man and woman and save them from sin with reconciliation and forgiveness.

Throughout his entire discourse the pontiff referred to this similitude, starting with the names of the three Archangels, which contains the suffix “El”, which in Hebrew is the name of God. “God – said the pope – is written in their names, in their very nature…. they are His messengers. They bring God to mankind, they reveal the heavens and thus, they reveal earth….. the Angels speak to man about what constitutes his true being, what is often is often covered or buried in his life. They call man to himself, touching him on God’s behalf”. And he added: “In this way even we humans must become angels for one another – angels who lead us from the wrong path and guide us once again towards God…..

Benedict XVI then went on to highlight the characteristics of the three Archangels of the feast (the only ones named in the Bible), illustrating other aspects of the Bishop’s role.
Michael (“Who is as God?”) “defends the cause of the one God against the dragon’s presumption, the “ancient serpent” as his called by John. It is the serpent’s continuous attempts to make men believe that God must disappear, in order for making to obtain greatness; that God stands in the way of our freedom and so we must be rid of Him”.

In reality, explains the pontiff, “he who puts God aside, does not make mankind great, rather he denies mankind his dignity. And thus, man becomes an unsuccessful product of evolution”.
This is why, adds the pope; “it is the Bishop’s duty, as a man of God, to make space in the world for God against those who would negate Him and in doing so defend the greatness of man”. And again: “Faith in God defends man from all of his weaknesses and inadequacies: God’s radiance shines on every individual”.

Gabriel (“Man of God”) is the archangel who announces the Good News to Mary. He said the pope “is the messenger of the incarnation of God. He knocks on Mary’s door …… repeatedly God knocks on the human heart ….. on the world’s door and on the door to the heart of every individual. He knocks waiting to enter”. And turning to the candidates the pope added: “Dear friends, it is your duty to knock on the man’s hearts in Christ’s name. By entering in union with Christ, you will be able to take on Gabriel’s role: bringing Christ’s call to men”.

Raphael (“God heals”) is the archangel healer, protagonist of the Book of Tobias. The pope recalls that Raphael heals the relationship between Tobias and Sarah, marked by the curse of death: “he heals the wounded union between man and woman. He heals their love. He crushes the demons which tine and time again attempt to destroy their love. He purifies the atmosphere between the two and gifts them the ability to welcome and accept one another always”. “In the New Testament – recalls the pontiff – the order of marriage, established in creation and threatened in a multifaceted way by sin, is healed by the fact that Christ gathers it into his redeeming love. He makes marriage a sacrament: His love, which takes on the cross for us, is the saving strength, which in the midst of confusion, gifts us the ability to be reconciled, purifies the atmosphere and heals all wounds”. The bishop (and indeed every priest) “is entrusted with the duty of guiding men towards the reconciling power of Christ’s love. He must be the “healing angel” who helps them to anchor their love to the sacrament and live their love with renewed commitment drawn from the sacrament”.

“The book of Tobias – added the pope – speaks of the healing of blind eyes. We all know that today we are threatened with blindness to God…… healing this blinded through the message of the faith and witness of love, is Raphael’s service which is entrusted each and every day to priests and in a particular way to bishops. Thus we are spontaneously led to think of the sacrament of reconciliation and penitence, which in the deepest meaning of the word, is a haling sacrament. The true wound of the soul, in fact is sin. And only is a forgiveness in virtue of the power of God, in virtue of the power of Christ’s love exists, can we be healed, can we be redeemed”.

archangels:Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

A few words from St. Gregory the Great

You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy”.

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle. Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fire fall or grace rise

Do you want us to call down fire to consume them! These are the words of the disciples to Jesus when they face obstacles and opposition.

Interesting fact about today's feast: st lawerence ruiz.
He was martyred in Nagasaki, Japan.

Nagasaki, Japan is the place where fire came down when the Bomb was dropped.

In Nagasaki we see how man deals with man. Violence seems to be the answer when concupiscence is exposed.
Yet Jesus shows us another way.

He refuses to let violence be the answer. Rather than destroy he allows himself to be destroyed. It is this destruction that brings peace. This is the life of a martyr, to be consumed like an offering so that in the offering grace falls down.

Monday, September 27, 2010

st vincent de paul

today we honor st. Vincent de paul.

Here are a few words that i think are worth hearing over and over again.

"When the demands of life seem unfair, when you are exhausted and have to pull yourself out of bed yet another time to do some act of service, do it gladly, without counting the cost without self-pity. for if you persevere in serving others , in giving yourself to the poor, if you persevere to the point of completely spending yourself, perhaps someday the poor will find it in their hearts to forgive you. For it is more blessed to give than to receive, and it is also a lot easier."

somethings are a necessity to help us remember lest forget...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

return the favor

Amos 6:1,4-7; Psalm 146 Praise the Lord, my soul; I Timothy 6:11-16; Lk 16:19-31

As we read the story of the rich man and the poor man, the one who dines sumptuously daily with his purple garments (guicci shoes and armani suits) and the one who covered with sores can only get the pity of dogs, two questions comes to mind...

1)Why does God allow there to be poor people? Often times, many will ask me this question. Father, they say, if God is love then why do people suffer, why is there poverty in the world, people who are hungry, thirsty, sick and fill in the blank. Why poopr people?

2)What would get the rich man out of hell? Perhaps this question is more immediate, more pressing, more urgent. Besides, in the words of JEsus, "the poor you will have with you always!" But, Hell, now that is something worth talking about.

Why poor people? What would get the rich man out of Hell?

Hang on to these questions as we move forward.

I often spend a lot of time reflecting on my experience at home with family as a source of insiration and also a source of wisdom. I learn much from my family continually.

Growing up I was somewhat of a rebellious child. My father and I never saw eye to eye. I was the obstinate kid that did not want to learn what my father had to teach.

So we were often butting heads.

There is one lesson I do remember though at the time I often didn't understand and seldom agreed with but it continues to guide me in life.

My father was quite the handy man. He could do anything from building homes, plowing fields, making hay, raising corn, tending to animals, fixing vehicles, plumming and the list goes on.

He was a jack of all trades and for the most part a master as well. I never gave him much credit but looking back I realize it was my youth that blinded me.

My Dad had a rule about life. He would never take payment for service rendered. If someone needed him to fix their roof, or replace a sink, build a home, harvest their crop, deliver them hay, round up the cattle whatever it was he never took payment for serving. UIf he did it was always just enough to pay for gas and nothing more.

It was frustrating to us boys because we were usually right their with him, sweating and toiling and taking up our day that could have been used with more interesting things like basketball, footbal, watching TV or simply doing nothing.

When we would complain about Dad not taking payment he would often say, son, there is going be a time when we need it and these people will be there to return the favor.
I always thought he was full of it. I always thought he was letting people take advantage of him.

Now that was my dad's rule of life. Do unto others, be generous because that is the only way to live.

We thought he was crazy. We grew up in society that told us you had to earn your keep and pay for services rendered.

Fast forward 2006. I was being ordained in Shiner. The whole city was coming out to see there native son humbled by the gift of the priesthood.

We were expecting the entire city of shiner to show up and not to mention others from various parts of where I had been.

It was going to be 1000 plus at the ordination. Usually, there is a reception afterwards. It fell to my family to provide the food that was going to welcome all of these people and feed them.

So I was calling aorund trying to find a caterer, someone to tend to the business of feeding. I called several people and they were all booked. I was runnign out of options. I called a local man who owned a resturant and also did catering. I had grew up with his sons. I knew him very well and his family as he did mine.

When I spoke to him about the situation, the people the food and payment and all that stuff, he stopped me on the phone and said these words, "David, your father practically built my house. He spent weeks of his life helping me get my house up for my family and he would never take any payment for it. So, let me take care of the food and drink as an opportunity to return the favor .

I was floored. This man was willing to feed 1000 people with brisket and all the trimmings simply so he could return the favor.

I mentioned it to my father and he simply smiled.

So much of life is returning the favor. We live out of the generosity of so many people. We have life out of the generosity of God himself. He simply invites us to return the favor.

What would get the rich man out hell? All he needed to do was to return the favor. He had been given so much, talent, treasure connections. All he needed to do was to take the time and talent and treasure and direct it outward. If he would have returned the favor by simply tending to the man at his gate, how different would the outcome have been.

Why do we have poor people? Perhaps they are they to give us the opportunity to return the favor, to be generous. Perhaps they are there to get us out of hell.

The distance between heaven and hell, the bossom of Abraham and the fires of torment is measured by the distance between ourselves and the poor that we always have with us.

Return the favor and in the end the favor shall be returned to you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

time keeps on slipping

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Psalm 144 Blessed be th eLord, my rock; Luke 9:18-22

ecclesistes 3

"there is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens; a time ot be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to uproot; a time to kill, a time to heal; a time to tear down, a time to build; a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time t mourn, a time to dance; a time to scatter, a time to gather; a time to embrace, a time to separate; a time to seek, a time to lose; a time to keep, a time to cast away; a time to rend, a time to sew; a time to be silent, a time to speak; a time to love, a time to hate; a time of war, a time of peace...God has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into man's hearts...

Time is the one thing we all have; time is always to short or too long; it is never enough when we want it and always too long when we don't.

But as we ponder time and its illusive reality the one thing that changes time as we know it is that in the fullness of time God becomes man and fills time with eternity.

Now that is something to think about; that is worth spending our time...

All time is embued with eternity and in time we discover the timelessness of God's love with every tick and tock of the clock.

Here is a little steve miller to get you going: fly like an eagle

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Psalm 90 In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge; Luke 9:7-9

Today we enter into the autumnal equinox, in which the sun is directly above the equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal.

But this should be no surprise, for it happens evey year about this time.

In the words of the first reading:

"What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun."

Initially the first reading comes across as a downer. It is a gut check for all of us "the eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear satisifed with hearing."

Where is meaning to be found? This is the question posed before us as we peer into the vastness of the world and recognize the patterns of time and space that keep returning over and over again.

In light of the first reading and its gloomy sentiments about the world and time and space, I have another persepcive to ponder.

"Two men looked out beyond their prison bars, one saw mud and the other stars."

Perhaps Quoleth, the preacher, is inviting us to take another look, to see the world anew, not from the perspective of seasons, and weather. Yes, things do repeat and indeed we are thankful. For it is the repetition of nature that makes life possible.

We should be glad that the sun rises and the sun goes down. We should jumb for joy that the wind turns again again resuming its rounds. We should be estatic that the sea never becomes full and the rivers keep going. We should be tickled that our eyes are never satisifed and our hearing never satiated.

All of this, this constant and ever present ebb and flow is what makes our world so grand. Quoleth is not a pessimistic person, rather he is a realist, a realsit who recognizes in the end that all of this though seemingly meaningless is indeed what enables us to find meaning, to move beyond, to go deeper and to truly enjoy the gift.

And perhaps this is it, to recognize all this repetitionist natural behavior of the world as a "gift".

To see it as a gift, a product of another is where we begin to truly see the stars and even the mud as beauty for the soul and fuel to love.

The spiritual life in a nutshell is to be surprised by that which does not surprise.
Now we turn to HErod the Tetrarch. In the gospel he is greatly perplexed about this JEsus he keeps hearing about. He is curious and afraid at the same time. The gospel ends with this phrase, "And he kept trying to see him."

And you know, his wish came true. Herod finally had his moment with Jesus, Luke 23:8-12.

And what does Herod do with this momentous oocassion. He makes light of it. He treats Jesus like a circus clown, and wants him to perform a miracle, to do some tricks and appease his curiosity. He wants JEsus to entertain him. He winds up mocking JEsus and sending him on his way to the cross.

How often are we like Herod? How often do we simply what Jesus to do some tricks and appease our curiosity? How often have we gotten on our knees begging God to entertain us, our whims and our fancies?

How often do we treat religion and faith and church as entertainment rather than true spiritual awkening, true spiritual worship?

Like Herod, we keep trying to see JEsus and yet when we get the opporunity we never stop long enough to look, to gaze, to allow him to penetrate our thoughts, hearts, minds.

Herod was seeking JEsus for his own sake. We must seek Jesus for His sake. Life is all about where you fix your gaze: on ourselves or on Him.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


proverbs 30:5-9; Psalm 119 your word O Lord is a lamp for my feet; Lk 9:1-6

Here are a few words from Our Pope from his visit to the United Kingdom, London, England and surrounding areas. This is taken from the vigil mass for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

"If we have accepted the truth of Christ and committed our lives to him, there can be no separation between what we believe and the way we live our lives. We do not merely accept the truth in a purely intellectual act as embrace it in a spiritual dynamic that penetrates to the core of our being. Truth is passed on not merely by formal teaching, important as that is, but also by the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness."

What the world needs is more witnesses, and I am not talking Jehovah.

In the words of the proverbs today, "put falsehood far from me, give me neithe rpoverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need; lest being full, I deny you,saying, "who is the Lord?" or being in want I steal and profane the name of my God."

The man that searches for the good life discovers that goodness of one's life revolves around honor to God above all. Is this not what a true witness of faith is all about. Honor is never just a mental thing. It must be seen in the physical world by our active life.

Give me only what I need, nothing more, nothing less and this is the intsect between faith and life; this is where our witness beocmes true and authentic.

Jesus demanded this of his apostles as he sends them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God taking nothing for the journey, "neither walkign stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, andl et no one take a seocnd tunic."

Let nothing get in the way of the witness you are to bring to the world. Your only possession is the faith of a mustard seed, be not afraid to plant it, to use it, to let it grow wild.

What interferes with our witness of faith in our life? What do we chose to cling to outside of our dedication and trust in Our Father above? What gets in the way of authentic living of faith?

What do you truly need and what is excess?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Today we turn our gaze to the apostles, especially St Matthew.

Three things to note about St Matthew:

Matthew was considered a public sinner. As a tax collector, Matthew was on par with extortionists, adulterers, murderers, and the like. He was a public sinner, an outcast.

And yet he was the one Jesus called forth. Jesus does not exclude but includes.

Secondly, like many of the apostles, Matthew was called while working. It was in the ordinariness of work that Matthew hears the voice of God. This reminds us that as our hands are busy our ears should be open and attentive to the voice of God.

There is no place and no time that the voice of God can not reach and penetrate the human heart.

Thirdly, Matthew followed immediately. He rose and left all. There was no question, no worries about what tomorrow would bring, but just a simple and complete trust that God would provide.

Jesus I trust in you was the essential and immediate response to the call. I trust therefore I will follow wherever you lead.

The essential aspect of being true to the call is one of absolute trust and surrender and thus we learn to rise. Here we encounter true progress and real advancement for the mankind.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

patience is not passive

A reading for today from st. Peter

"What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and the new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace. Think of Our lord's patience as your opportunity to be saved."

We often have the misconception that patience demands inactivity or passivity. However, true patience is very intentional and very active. It is the ability or virtue to discern how to act and when to act.

This is why St. Peter tells us that as we wait we should "do our best to live lives without spot or stain." We should be diligent and make haste to be unsullied and blameless for the choice we make and the life we live.

IT isn't about just sitting back and doing nothing but rather it is about learning to love what is good for you and for others and ultimately for God.

Patience is not passive, rather it is very active and engaging for it steps back in order to seek the good, then once it is found, it grabs hold and does not let go.

Patience and prudence go hand and hand. Prudence directs us to the highest good, and patience is the power that enables prudence to lead the way home, one step at a time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The art of living and dying

1 corinthians 15:12-20; Psalm 17 Lord when your glory appears my joy will be full; Lk 8:1-3

This is probably one of my most favorite gospels to meditate on. We have JEsus on the move, doing what JEsus comes to do, healing, preaching, proclaiming, from town to town he goes.

HE is not alone. He has companions for the journey,the twelce plus some women who had been cured of evil spirits and informities.

JEsus doesn't travel alone, he allows people to come along for the journey. The people that follow him have been touched by him,affected by his presence, renewed, rejuvenated, filled with hope for life.

This is often the case for many who proclaim the kingdom of God. There will be a contagious attrcation about them. Holiness attracts. Holiness is attractive not for its own sake but it reveals the power of the kingdom living within the osul who has surrendered to God. The kingdom of God is like a magnet, its force is immeasurable.

Secondly, this force doesn't just attract people of same circles. It is not a force that creates clicks or groups that are limiting in who they allow to partake of such a reality.

Look at the women for a change who accampany JEsus.
Could you think of any more diverse group of people?

You have Mary Magdalene, who had seven demons cast out from her. Imagine what kind of dark and distroted lived she lived before her encoutner with Christ. Imagine what she dabbled in that availed herself to possession by demons.

Then we have Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza. Here we encounter a lady of the court. She was the wife of HErod's financial officer, the one who was in charge of the money. She was probably well accustomed to the finer things in life. Everyone probably wanted to be her friend, get close to her. Knowing her and getting into her confidence availed them a little closer to the money man. When she walked into the room everyone paused and took notice. She was use to the lime light, to the riches, to the of the rich and famous was her lot.

Then we encounter Susanna. Not much is known about Susanna. She was more or less that lady that would get lost in the shuffle. No one paid any great attention to her. She was lost among the shadows. The fact thay we know her name suggest that she was generally well liked though no one held her in high esteem.

So who would imagine these three ladies would be seen togther. Only the drawing power of Christ breaks down barriers, stereotypes, divides and creates a space for all, regardless of their diversity and differences. Jesus comes to unite and to intill and the human heart that drive to look beyond the superficial.

The women allowed Christ to be Christ and were willing to focus their attention not on themselves but on Christ, making his message known and felt. They realized that what they had in common was far greater than what separted them, love that christ had for each was a bond that united them all as one in service of that love.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine
St. Robert Bellarmine was a bishop in the church around the 16th century. He was active during the time of the reformation and thus devoted his time to teaching the faith and helping people understand the beauty of the church.

One of his writings entitled, "The Art of Dying well" he gives a commentary on the life of the "Good Thief", the one who was crucified alongside JEsus. Of him he says,

"For burning with love for God, he openly defended Christ from the calumnies of the wicked; and burning equally with love for neighbor, he admonished and corrected his own blaspheming companion and tried to recall him to a better life as is seen in his words "do you not even fear God, seeing that you are under the same sentence? And we indeed justly, for we are recieving what our deeds deserve; but this man has done nothing wrong and then he cried, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

In the good thief we are to recognize clearly our task at hand, to love God above all and to love our neighbor as ourselves and thus we shall live and in living well, we shall die well.

EVen at the cross, In JEsus most intimate embrace of death, he not only created space for his mother, the other Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas, the beloved disicple, but also the good thief.

Out of diversity comes a single heartedness dedicated to the love of God and neighbor.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I also recieved

1 corinthians 15:1-11; Ps 118 Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; Lk 7:36-50

Words of St. Paul, "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also recieved..."

Paul speaks of having recieved the message he proclaims. He expresses in his writings that he had an encounter with Christ and it was in this encounter he was called forth to preach (Gal 1:18).

He speaks of his credentials as an apostle. An apsotle is one who had eye witness experience of Jesus Christ. This is the valid and authentic way of determining who's who among the the many who claimed such authority.

Obviously the 12 apsotles with Matthias replacing Judas had eye witness experience, they had known Christ before and after the death and resurretcion. This eye witness experience gives them the credentials as apsotles chosen and commissioned by Christ.

Paul also speaks of his eye witness experience on the way to Damascus (Acts 9, 22, 26). He encunters the living Christ and is commissioned to preach.

This commissioning is not apart from the other apostles. Paul seeks out the other apsotles as he mentions in Gal 1:18 and as we see in Acts 9.

Thus he is acquainted with the work of the church and is commissioned by the church as a valid apostle sent to preach and spread the message of Christ.

He did not stand alone nor was he a preacher at large.

Even Paul understood the necessity of the Church and its unity.

This is why he speaks of recieving the message that includes the appearance to Cephas, the twelve, 500 brothers, James and then to himself.

He realized that he was not in it for himself, nor was he in it by himself.

we have many today who want to do their own thing, start their own church in the name of Paul and yet disregard the very foundation of unity he sought to uphold.

As the Pope Visits England, may he also help bring forth a much needed unity and ocnversion ot that land. May they be open to recieve what has been passed down through the apostles and the successor of Peter himself.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stabat Mater dolorosa

1 corinth 12:31-13:13; Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own Ps 33; John 19:25-27;

Our Lady of Sorrows.

It is strange on such a feast of the sorrowful mother that we have the reading from 1 corinthians, that upbeat description of love, "love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it doe snot seek its own interest, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over over wrong doing, but rejoice with the truth. It bears all things, endure all things, hopes all things. Love never fails.:

Now read it again, but this time look in to the eyes of the sorrowful mother standing at the cross. Read it slowly as you read the tears on her face, the sorrow in her heart, the pain and agony reflecting from her eyes.

Then hear the words of Paul again, "if I do not have love, I am nothing."

Only love knows sorrow. Only true love can experience deep sorrow. Perhaps Paul should have included this reality as well to round off the experience and depth that love brings to the human heart.

True love is not afraid of sorrow, it does not run from pain, but rather it stands at its side, "standing at the cross were his mother..."

Love never fails, but it does hurt and in hurting in transforms the world. Only love that is willing to endure pain can truly be redemptive.

So she stands at the cross, heart pierced, and she invites us to stand with her, for she is now our mother and we are her chidlren, "Woman, behold your son, then he said to hsi disciple, "Behold, you mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."

She stands firm! Though her tears fall to the gorund she remains erect and steadfast, for she knows that indeed love never fails and she will discover that love is stronger than death. There is joy in sorrow if we let the sorrow pentrate our heart then the love of God that is waiting there will transform it as the resurrection transforms the crucifixion and thus love is consummated for the world.

At the cross her station keeping
stood the mournful mother weeping
close to Jesus to the last

Oh Sweet mother! font of love,
touch my spirit from above
make my heart with yours accord
make me feel as you have felt
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy mother pierce me through
in my heart each wound renew
of my savior crucified.
Let me share with you his pain
who for all our sins were slain
who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with you
mournign him, who mourned for me
all the days I may live

By the cross with you to stay
there with you to wee and pray
is all I ask of you to give.

Christ, when you shall call me hence
be your mother my defense
be your cross my victory
While my body here decays
make my soul your goodness praise
safe in heaven eternally. AMen

Meditation music: stabat Mater London Orchestra

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78 do not forget the works of the Lord; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17

Today in the Church we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Triumph of the Cross.

"So must the Son of man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:13-17

"Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:6-11

"I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me." Galatians 2:19

"We are celebrating the Feast of the Cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light. As we keep this feast, we are lifted up with the crucified Christ, leaving behind us earth and sin so that we may gain the things above...The cross is something wonderfully great and honorable. It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation...The cross is honorable because it i the sign of God's suffering and the trophy of it the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world. The cross is called Christ's glory' it is saluted as his triumph." St. Andrew of Crete

How many people have in their homes crosses plastered all over their walls? How many have crosses used as decorative art work rather than a place of veneration and homage?

What have we done? How far have we fallen? Rather than exalting the cross as a means of redemption, it has now become a pretty piece that looks good on that bare wall. The worst thing imaginable is to hear someone introduce their "decorative cross wall."

It makes my spine itch, and my heart saddened.

The cross has become just another object for sale.

How we forget? How we have forgotten?

The cross before it was decorative was an instrument of destruction, and instrument of torture, an instrument of pain, an instrument of death. Yet, it was the Person of Christ in his body that transforms that instrument of destruction and death into a place of peace, forgiveness, and life itself. The ugliness of the cross becomes beauty in Christ.

But without the body of Christ the cross remains only a piece of art, only a decorative remembrance of what was once a bare wall.

Exalt the cross...see it as a triumphant and victorious work of redemption...see it as beauty not just art.
Pope John Paul II proclaimed that in the end we are saved by beauty...The Exaltation of the Cross should remind us of that beautiful reality upon whose life we now live.

meditation song on this feast: at the cross
another meditation song: sweetly broken

Monday, September 13, 2010

Word smith

Today we turn toward another Doctor of the Church from the 4th and 5th century.

St. John was known for his oratory, his ability to turn a phrase and leave his listners gasping and weeping and moved to conversion.

He is a true word smith and his nickname was the golden mouth.

Today i have just one quote or phrase from the golden mouth himself. It is like a stick of dynamite.

It is worth memorizing and meditationg on over and over and over again.

"slander is worse than cannibalism!"

The next time you feel moved to gossip or speak those disparanging words about someone, stop and let the words of St. JOhn Chrysostom pulle dyour from the clutches of temptation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

becoming the Father

Growing up in a household of Ten wasn't always easy, but it was always a great adventure filled with much to do about everything, especially when everybody's business belonged to everybody, a large part because there was only one bathroom and no where really to hide or escape.

One thing that stands out in the family is that we often compared each other to our parents. This was the big "insult", the one that we would hurl at each other as kids. When ever we got into a fight with one another and when we were losing the fight and had no where to run, we would look the other in the eye and say those damaging words, "oh, Yeah, well you are just like your Father."

Those were fighting words and hurtful comments that often caused the other person to stop momentarily and give us, who were losing, the opportunity to run for our lives.

Now, I am not saying being called your mother or father has to be an insult, i just know as kids that was the last thing we wanted to become. We wanted to break from beneath our parents watchful gaze, we wanted to get out on our own, be our own man.

Flash forward to college, some years back. Who I am kidding, more than some years back, more like 8 or nine years back. I remember waking up one morning, looking into the mirror, and seeing not me but my father. I recognized his cheek lines, his eye brows, his nose, his facial expression, his blue eyes staring back at me.

It was frighting, but true. I spent a life time running from my father, only to discover him written all over my face.

It happens to all of us at some point in our life; we recognize our parents in ourselves, the way we look, the way we talk, the words we use, the love we share.

There is no complete getting away from it...At some point we must learn to become our father, our mother, at least the good aspects, those aspects that brought us life, and growth, and love...

THis is true spiritually as well.

The reason Jesus invites us to become like chidlren, to become children of God in order to enter the kingdom, is not just so that we learn how to become dependent and open to the guidance of the Father, but also so that once we understand our true parentage, then we can become our Father as well.

This is in the invitation of the gospel this Sunday. The story of the prodigal Son.

This passage, luke chapter 15, is probably the most read, most memorized, most easily relatable story of all the gospels. Many would say it is a gospel within the gospel.

The man with two sons, as the story is told, one who desires to leave and go off on his own, to do his own things, to become his own man and the other who stays behind obedient and duty oriented.

But at the heart of the story, though we can relate to both sons, the rebellious one who squanders his inheritance and comes begging home and the other son, who grows resentful and angry at the sight of the brother of his who abandon all, stands the Father. The mysterious figure who opens his arms and makes room for his sons.

Here is where our attention must go and remain fixed. We must see the Father, witness the Father, learn form the Father, so that in time we too may become the Father...growing up in spiritual maturity and become like our Father in heaven.

It is easy for us to relate to the one who is forgiven, but we must be the one who forgives!
It is easy for us to relate to the one who is being welcomed back home, but we must be the one who welcomes!
It is easy to be the one who recieves compassion, but we must be the one who offers it!
It is easy to be the one recieves the homecoming celebration, but we must be the one gives it!

We have one vocation in life and that is to grow old, to become the Father figure for the world.

This is why Jesus says time and time again, he who sees me sees the Father.

How do we learn to beocme the Father, how do we embark on our own spiritual marutirty, leaving adolescents behind and embracing our true patrimony?

Three movements stand out, though there certaintly may be more, but these three stand out.

Grief, forgiveness, generosity

we must be willing to be effected by the sins and decisions of others. We must be willing to grieve the pain and suffering caused by so may hurtful and rash decisions.

We recognize that this sorrow is the price of freedom and makes love possible. In true grief we see beyond ourselves and look to how others are affected. This grief becomes a prayer that invites true and penetrating compassion. It is the same kind of grief that enables Jesus to weep over Jerusalem to weep at the death of Lazarus. A grief that moves beyond the "I" of selfishness and recongizes pain and suffering in others.

Secondly we must be willing to forgive.
Jesus says time and time again, unless you forgive your brother your Father will not forgive you. We pray about forgiveness in the Lord's prayer everytime we gather, forgive us as we forgive others.

Our forgiveness must not have conditions. How often we wait for apologies, excuses, schemes, reasons, actions, yet the Father in the story didn't even listen to the excuse of the Son. All he needed was repentance, the simple gesture of returning home. Forgiveness without conditions but that which is constant and ready at a spurs notice to be given.

Notice what is absent in the dialogue in the story: there is no pointing figures, no "i told you sos", no words of anger or condemnation, no begrading, no insults, no getting back, no revenge. There is just simple acceptance of the repentance offered.

Thridly, we must be generous.
The generosity of the Father is prompt, without delay. He holds nothing back for himself. He kills the fatted calf, brings out the robe, the shoes, the ring. It is a complete and prompt welcome. The celebration is deep and encouraging not degrading and tearing down.

The word generosity has within it that root "gen" which we use in generation, gentleness, engender. IT simply means to belong to the same kind. We are generous to one another becasue we see into each other ourselves, we are all the same.

In these movements throughout our life: grief, forgivenss, generosity we learn to become like the Father and thus enter into true rejoicing.

It is never complete but always a work in progress.

Grief enables us to see beyonf our walls we put up once we are hurt and wounded; forgiveness empowers us to climb those walls offering a hand to help; generosity enables us to tear down the walls and create a space of welcome and celebration for we see in the other our very selves.

Thus when we arrive home, the Father will recognize us because he will be able to see himself in our reflection, and we will be able to say with confidence I am my Father's son.

We must learn to become like our Father and begin to know true joy in life.

Friday, September 10, 2010


1 corinthians 9:16-19,22-27; How lovely is your dwelling place ps 84; Lk 6:39-42

Today in the readings we have quite a mixture of things.

St. Paul is speaking of discipline and training, "Run as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus, I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if i were shadowboxing. no, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified."

Then we have Jesus speaking of that famous wooden beam in the eye, "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not percieve the wooden beam in your own...remove the wooden beam form your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye."

In light of the above, I am going to borrow a few words from confucious, "when you see a noble man, try to equal him. When you see an evil man, examine yourself thoroughly."

At baptism our parents take an oath to train us in the ways of faith. St. Paul is right on to use the anaolgy of disicpline in the life of an athlete in speaking of our faith life, except it isn't just an analogy it is reality. All of us are athletic when it comes to faith living. The race is not an option. We can't be bystanders and onlookers. We all must run the race to win. The power of the Holy Spirit in us from the moment of baptism urges us forward. We must enter into this training routine of faith. Practice makes better.

We should imitate St. Paul.

In the words of Jesus, when we see the mistakes and shortcoming of others, we should examine ourselves first. What we see in others we should be able to recognize in ourselves in some form or fashion. Thus, having seen our very own reflection then true compassion can come forth and change can be made possible not hindered.

We should never forget our wooden beams, they can be used to build bridges that bring true fellowship and true conversion.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

do good to those

1 corinth 8:1-7,11-13; Psalm 139 guide me Lord, along the everlasting way; Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples, "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. to the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who take syour cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.

do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?...

For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

Here it is once again, those words that strike a chord in all of us and make us stop an examine our conscience and second guess our lifestyle and cause us to blush with shame.

The golden rule jumps off the pages of scripture and smacks us right in the cheek. Instantly we all sigh and think, how easily it is to forget those simple words we learn in preschool, "do unto others has you would have them do unto you."

So today we start over and begin anew, and this time we really mean to make an effort to live out the teachings of Christ, this radical lifestyle of conversion.

Here we begin to love those who God loves and thus seek to want the highest good for them.

The central point of the message is found in these few words, "do good to those."

Focusing on what is goood enables us to move beyond our emotions and feelings and really seek to be a benefit for all. This is the question we must ask ourselevs whenever we deal with people who rub us in the wrong way, "What is good for them?"

What will help them to understand goodness itself. We shouldn't try to 'teach them a lesson' but rather model the good in our actions.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Claver. He was born in Spain and spent the last 33 years his life in columbia tending to the slaves who were mistreated and abused. Once asked how he manages to serve in such terrible conditions and make such progress, he simply responded with, "we speak to them with our hands before we speak to them with our lips."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

birthday of Mama Mary

Micah 5:1-4, Romans 8:28-30, Psalm 13 With delight I rejoice in the Lord; Matthew 1:1-16,18-23

I owe my little nephew recognition for the Title of this particular post. When he was 2 years old he was shown a picture of Mary and asked who it was he was looking at and he responded with a very sweet and gentle tone, "mama Mary."

How sweet children can be.

So today we celebrate the birthday of Mama Mary, Sept 8th. If you do the Math you quickly discover that this is 9 months after Dec 8th which is the feast of the immaculate conception.

Anyway back on topic. Today's gospel reading is the Genealogy of Jesus found in the gospel of Matthew. The genealogy is quite a read by the way, worth the time and effort it takes to pronounce all those names.

It is the family tree of Jesus, from Abraham all the way to Jesus the Christ.

Thinking of genealogies. I recently recieved a phone call from a lady here in Schulenburg, my new assignment, and she quickly informed me that after doing her own genealogical research, she discovered that we were related through my grandfather.

she was excited and wants me to come over and check out the lineage, the family tree, and help her fill in the blanks, especially those concenring my immediate family, siblings and spouses and children.

Genealogies are great fun and reveal fascinating ties.

The genealogical reality of Jesus is just as fascinating. It reveals that in and through the humanity of Mary, God becomes part of our family tree, and we become part of his.

This is the beauty of the birthday of Mary. Her birth introduces all of humanity in to that genealogy of Jesus for it is from Mary Jesus recieves his humanity.

What a fascinating reality for all of us.

Our Genealogical lineage just got a boost. I'm sure that if we look back at our family histories, we would find a list of good and bad, saints and sinners, scoundrels and humanitarians, but no matter what we disocver, in the birth of Mary we are rest assurred that the person of Jesus now belongs to the human family and in him we belong to God.

Mary's birth is the dawn of hope for us all. She is the embodiment of renewed humanity, untouched by sin. She shows us what it lookslike to be conquered by grace.

Hope is born with Mary for in her comes Jesus the Christ.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


1 Corinthians 6:1-11; Psalm 149 Lord takes delight in his people; Lk 6:12-19

St.Paul in the reading today has many words to share about Christians living together in a community. The course of actions that we must be about, the shape our lives must take in the way we intersect with one another has a ruling principle, a foundation that determines the do's and don'ts. He sums up that principle of life and relationships based on one thing, "but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, yo were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God."

You have had yourselves washed.

Think about that for a moment.

We often spend alot of energy and time seeking that life changing experience. Perhaps it is going on retreat after retreat after retreat. For many, in these areas, the number of bracelets from the Acts Retreats is suppose to be the mark of a spiritually mature person.

But we know that is not true. Retreats don't make the man. In fact life isn't about becoming a man or woman, spiritually mature. Rather, it is the Man,Jesus, who makes us all Children, this is the life changing reality.

It isn't something we do, rather it is something we recieve. We have been washed by the water...

When it all comes down to it, it is baptism that makes all the difference, or at least it is suppose to...As St. Paul says, "You have been washed."

You have been given the power, grace, honor, the duty to live differently for you now have Christ living in you.

This reality must change everything. It changes how we relate, how we handle "cases' amongst brothers. It is a "failure on your part that you have lawsuits against one another."

Think about that...those words of St. Paul are an invitation to a new life, a life we have access to in Christ in the waters of baptism...

How do you live out your baptismal promise and life? When is the last time you dipped you hand in the water font at Church and realized you cannot and must not live like all the rest. You cannot give into the peer pressure of the world but you must change it for the better for Christ.

Then St. Paul goes on to say, "do not be decieved." Do not be sucked in to the secular vacuum that seeks to devour your soul. Don't think that you can do whatever you want. There is a great responsibility that comes with the washing we have recieved.

Do our lives show it?

"Do you not know the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God...niether fornicators (those who seek sexual pleasure outside of lawful marriage), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor boy prostitutes, nor sodomites (homosexuals who are active in seeking sexual pleasure), nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom..."

There are some behaviors that are no longer options for those who have the power of Chirst living in them, those who have died with Christ in baptism and have risen with Christ.

The problem with most Christians is they want to go to heaven but they do not want to renounce the acts that will keep them from there. There are many like in Corinthian who want to remain nominally christians and think that because they have been baptised or accepted Christ they can do whatever they want...St. Paul seems to think otherwise as does the Church.

You have been washed, praise God, but do so in a life that has been changed for the better.

A song by needtobreathe that can be inspiring if understood correctly, Washed in the water click here

Friday, September 3, 2010

servants of the servants of God

Pope Gregory the Great.
Elected Pope in the late 6th sentury, Gregory was the first monk to be elected to the Chair of Peter. He had his hands in everything from corn prices to health care. But especially he was the Pope who sent St. augustine of Cantebury to bring christianity to England.

It was Gregory the Great who used the title of Servant of the servants of God to designate his office as Pope.

A little tid bit that is often not known. The reality or custom of saying "God Bless you" when someone sneezes or even making the sign of the cross over ones mouth when one yawns goes back to the time of Gregory the great. During the Roman plague, Pope Gregory asked that when people sneeze or yawn the above two things should accompany them becasue the plague was associated with sneezing and yawning. It was to usher in health and protection of God in time of crisis.

A few words from the Pope Gregory the great

"Who an I-what kind of watchmen am I? I do not stand on the pinnacle of achievement, I languish rather in the depths of my weakness. And yet the creator and redeemer of mankind can give me, unworthy though I be, the grace to see life whole and power to speak effectively of it. It is for love of him that I do not spare myself in preaching him."

“Since,” the Pope wrote Theodelinda, “since, then, by my own public profession you know the entireness of our belief, it is fitting that you have no further scruple concerning the Church of Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles. But persist in the true Faith, and ground your life on the rock of the Church, that is, in his confession: lest your many tears and your good works avail nothing, if they be separated from the true Faith. For as branches wither without a root, so works, however good they seem, are nothing if separated from the solidity of the Faith.”

Words from st.Paul

"I do not even pass judgement on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore do not make any judgement before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God." 1 corinthians 4:1-5

In the end the heart will be opened and we shall see what lies beneath...Saints will discover they were better than they thought and how much tye failed to see and the boastful will see just how much they overlooked and what they thought they saw wasn't what they were seeing afterall.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

word from the Pope: change

Yesterday was Wednesday the normal day on which the Pope give shis little exhortation or teachig to the crowd that gathers in St. Peter's square.

I missed Wednesday so in order to make up for it here below I have a few words from our Pontiff:

"And if God exists, everything changes, life is light, our future is light, and we have guidance for how to live. Therefore, believing constitutes the fundamental orientation of our life. To believe, to say: "Yes, I believe that you are God; I believe that you are present among us in the incarnate Son," gives my life a direction, impels me to be attached to God, to unite with God, and so to find my dwelling place, and the way to live." Homily August 15, 2006

Yesterday in the first reading at mass, St. Paul said that we are God's field...that God causes the growth in us.

God is active in our life, plowing and tilling in our life so that abundant fruit might blossom forth and be food for those around us. As Jesus tells the apostles, "give them something to eat yourselves," so he tells each of us to allow him to till in our lives in such a manner that fruit shall come forth.

If we believe in God then everything changes, andmore importantly, if we believe in God then we must let ourselves be changed, changed, changed... as the field is ploughed and made ready so too shall our God do with us with each new moment, a moment to cultivate change.