Sunday, October 31, 2010

pray for the dead: month of November

This week is an important week for us as believers. Monday we celebrate All Saints Day and on Tuesday we celebrate all souls Day.

In doing so, we remember that the real frontier that awaits us all is not the one between earthly life and death but rather that which is between life with Christ and life without him.

St. Paul reminds us that if we have faith in Christ and are Baptized in him nothing can separate us from his love not even death.

The Christian faith tells us that there are two permanent realities that await us: Hell and Heaven.

Hell is a real possibility. Hell reminds us that God has an unconditional respect for the freedom he has given us. We have a personal responsibility to choose our destiny, to cooperate with the gift of faith. Hell is a relationship in which we are completely isolated and alienated from all that is good and beautiful. It is a permanent state of rejection.

Heaven is the definitive completion of the human existence which comes through love which faith tends. It is a relationship of complete communion and intimacy with God and with those who are in God. It is a communion that is fully alive and vibrant.

We cannot pray for those in Hell for they have made their choice and by their choice they do not want our prayers anyway. We need not pray for those in Heaven for they are already there and are praying for us, thus they don't need our prayers but we need theirs.

Who do we pray for today?
This is where the Church's teaching on Purgatory comes in.

In the book of Revelation 21:27, John tells us that "nothing profane shall enter heaven."

What does this mean? It means that only those who have been perfected shall enter heaven.
We are saved by the full ascent of faith. However, this basic option of faith often times lies buried beneath layers of wood, straw, and stubble and needs to be dug out. Our fundamental yes to Christ is often hidden because we drag our feet and continue to cling to small sins and attachments to evil that weigh us down like barnacles on a ship. WE hesitate and resist and refuse god's grace at various moments of our life and all these moments add up and thus need to be removed.

In this life we experience purging with every act of faith and charity thus we remove ourselves from these things; but sometimes we die with them. What next?

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:13-16,

"the work of each will be made clear. The Day will disclose it. That day will make its appearance with fire, and fire will test the quality of man's work. If the building a man has raised on this foundation still stands, he will receive his recompense; if a man's building burns, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one fleeing through fire."

This fire of purgation is nothing but the divine flame of Jesus' love, fueled by mercy and justice, that burns brightly and seeks to cut open our closed heart and melt it and pour it in to a new mold so that it might fit into the living organism of the glorified body. Through the fire we are made into perfected vessels of God's glory.

The impurities that have weighed us down, that we have carried with us are now removed. This purgation is a product of God's mercy and love shown to us on the cross. Redemption belongs to Christ but we too have a personal responsibility for appropriating the gift of redemption in our life.

God refuses to remove our personal responsibility.

Purgatory is like the going to dentist. My mother used to take me to the dentist because she loved me and she wanted me to have healthy teeth. Though she loved me she could not brush my teeth for me, that was my responsibility.

While in the chair, the dentist would be peering from above gazing into my mouth. And there all my sins would be revealed. All those moments of dragging my feet in not flossing, all those moments of dragging my feet and not brushing as I should was revealed. The tartar and plaque was evidence of my neglect; so was the receding gum lines and the cavities. There the dentist worked to remove all that which had built up over time. It hurt. I had to suffer the loss of that which had become part of me; I had to suffer the loss of that which was a product of my neglect, a product of my refusal to love myself.

My mother could not do it for me; but it was because of her love I was given the opportunity to be renewed and reformed and refreshed.

Then the dentist polished my teeth and I was a brand new man restored and made whole enabled to receive fully the reward, usually a sweet candy, a sweetness that always points to Heaven.

The question remains how can our prayers be effective?
How do we pray for the dead? How does what we do help those who are being purged?

The central expression of Christianity is self-substituting love. Jesus substitutes his love for us so that we might be redeemed. When we are baptized, we share in the ministry of Christ. We become ministers of reconciliation, ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul tells us.

We share in the charity of Christ.

We must remember that God could have done redemption without us but he always chooses to incorporate us in the work of redemption. This is why he took the form of flesh. Thus he chooses to allow us to be a part of redemption not only for ourselves but also for others.

Also, we must remember, it is a greater act of charity to allow others to participate in charity as well, rather than just to do it alone.

Our praying for the dead and offering sacrifices for them does not take away from the charity of Christ but it magnifies it. We do because Christ did.

We must never forget that we are all part of the body of Christ and we are all connected. What one does affects all, when one rejoices we all rejoices and when one suffers we all suffer.

Praying for the dead is sharing in the charity of Christ and is fully realizing the impact of being a member of the Body of Christ.

Those who are dead look at us and say, "I hope in you for me" and when they get to heaven we say, "I hope in you for me." It is a beautiful tapestry of charity that reflects most perfectly the God, Deus Caritas Est, as Sacred Scripture reveals, God is love, a love that is forever communal and thus in eternity God will be all in all.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

quote of the day

As we near election day in November and ponder our role in this democracy, our task, and our responsibility, I thought a few words from John Adams might be a necessary lift for those who have fallen embittered with the political war that rages in our land.

John Adams said, "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

How do we keep from killing ourselves?

Democracy kills itself when people stop trying, stop pushing, stop pressing, stop being active and simply remain passive spectators.

Democracy doesn't last long becasue people stop caring and they hand the decisions over to the few. Thus the people are no longer represented; the voice of the people become silent and the voice from the hill make all the noise.

"This land is my land, this land is your land..." should be the continued melody that lingers in our cerebral folds and urge us on to take hold of the task at hand.

Thus we honor God and country by taking a stand and refusing to surrender our responsibiltiy and our duty in this democracy we have inherited.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Opening prayer

All week long at mass we have been praying the same opening prayer. The repetition of the prayer has slowly been penetrating the hardness of my heart and darkness of my mind. In a subtle way it has invited me to stop and think about what I do and how I do it.

Here are the words of the prayer, "may we do with loving hearts what you ask of us and come to share in the life you promise."

There it is! It is not a dramatic request but it is precise.

May we do with loving hearts what you ask!

What is a loving heart?

I have realized that often the heart I wear on my sleeve is not as loving as it needs to be.

God promises in the OT to give us a fleshy heart to replace the one of stone.

A fleshy heart that is capable of lovingly carring out His request.

I long for that gift.

Come holy Spirit renew our hearts and make them hearts of flesh like the heart of Christ who took our flesh to show us what a heart of love looks like.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

some measure of light

Eph 6:1; Ps 145 The Lord is faithful in all his words; Lk 13:22-30

A few words from the poet Dylan Thomas
"Poetry is the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an overclothed blindness to a naked vision that depends in its intensity on the strength of the labour put into the creation of the poetry. My poetry is, or should be, useful to me for one reason: it is the record of my individual struggle from darkness towards some measure of light."

"my individual struggle from darkness towards some measure of light."

In today's gospel Jesus invites us into that struggle, "strive to enter through the narrow gate."

The striving we are asked to engage in is a battle for some measure of light that shall overcome the darkness. It is the only struggle that matters.

Our life becomes a poetic display of virtue over vice, darkness conquered by light.

"Dead men naked they shall be one / With the man in the wind and the west moon; ... / Though they go mad they shall be sane, / Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; / Though lovers be lost love shall not; / And death shall have no dominion." D Thomas

A few words from the Pope
"But each of us, in accordance with his or her state of life, is called to work for the advancement of God's kingdom by imbuing temporal life with values of the gospel. Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person...light must shine in the sight of all."

what a beautiful struggle from darkness to some measure of light!

Just for laughs a tidbit from Albert Einstein
"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is the kingdom of God like?

Ephesians 5:21-33; Ps 128 Blessed are those hwo fear the Lord; Lk 13:18-21

Here is that famous question posed by Jesus, "what is the Kingdom of God like?"

As we look around and think of the many analogies or symbols that can be used to describe the kingdom of God, not to mention the mustard seed that becomes a large bush or the yeast that leavens the dough and enables into rise, there is one analogy that is right before our eyes and yet remains somewhat distorted by our society.

What is the kingdom of God like?

St. Paul gives us the perfect example. We don't have to ponder mustard seeds growing or dough rising; all we need to do is take a long steady gaze into our own lives and the lives of those around us and we shall see, even if for the first time the proof for the kingdom: "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for christ...Each should love his wife as himself and the wife should respect her husband."

The great spousal analogy St. Paul speaks of into day's first reading is a glimpse into the kingdom of God. This is what the Kingdom looks like when embraced fully...the one flesh union between husband and wife bringing forth the icon of God into our midst.
The power of Grace made manifest in the promise of fidelity and simply words "I take you to be my..."

Where a man gives himself fully to his wife and his wife gives herself fully to her husband and the union that comes forth shines brilliantly the glory of God, the kingdom thus is in our midst.

The Kingdom is made present in our bodies when we give ourselves, hand ourselves over to the other...

And two shall become one flesh...Marriage is the ICON of the Blessed Trinity when without reservation the gift of self is made one to the other.

What is the Kingdom of God like: like a husband who loves his wife and a wife who respects her husband and together they walk hand in hand through the mystery of tomorrow, no circumstance to deter them from the faithful love they profess...

The Kingdom is borne on the lips and hearts of those who stand by their words. Hand in Hand they walk toward Heaven carrying eternity in their hearts for the Kingdom of God is within a heart of faithful love.

Monday, October 25, 2010

be creative, imitate the creator

Ephesians 4:32-5:4

On this monday I came across some interesting marriage advise I thought I would share. This tid bit of wisdom comes from an author: Ann Tyler

She says the following:
"I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances. It's lucky I do it on paper. Probably I would be schizophrenic — and six times divorced — if I weren't writing."

Writing seems to be the cure for what ails her in her marriage. A little creative juice never hurts love's chances to continue to make strides in the right direction.

Perhaps the problem with many marriages, not counting all the other problems, but perhaps one problem is that there is a lack of creativity, inner creativity, inner resources that can fuel love and express the deepest longings that often lie buried beneath bruised egos and battered dreams and broken expectations.

Perhaps every spouse should see themselves as a writer and the story they create togther be the novel that unfolds the beauty of love, the great adventure of the gift of married love.

Even St. Paul today asks us to "be imitators of God and live in love as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma."

The one thing we can say about God without doubt or hesistation is that he was pretty creative.

It takes great creativity to makes one's life a living offering for a fragrant aroma.

Christ was creative in love for us towards the Father.

Creative energy keeps love alive.

If you think about it, all good things require creativity: compassion, forgiveness, thanksgiving and living as children of light.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Introibo ad altare Dei

On this saturday as we anticipate the celebration of mass, that which makes present the sacrifice of Christ and thus draws us into the Divine Life, these words come to mine:

Deus, tu conversus vivicabis nos: Thou O God, with one look will give us life
Et plebs tua laetabitur in te: and thy people will rejoice in thee

Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam: Show unto us thy mercy, O Lord
Et saluarte tuum da nobis: and grant us the savior whom thou hast prepared for us

The heart of the true penitent is revealed in this ancient dialogue that is prayed in the Latin Mass; it reverberates the words of the tax collector in the gospel: Have mercy on me, a sinner.

The closer we draw to God the nearer we are to our sins, thus deeper our understanding is of our need for that which only God in Christ can give: pardon and peace.

This is why right before communion, the priest will say: the Peace of Christ be with you all... and let us offer each other a sign of peace. We have been cleaned and made ready by the sacrifce we celebrate, the re-presentation of Christ on calvary.

Not only have we been cleaned and made ready for communion with God, we have been empowered to reach out to those around us. Communion with God demands communion with our neighbor.

In the mass God has heard our prayer and has come to fulfill the deepest longing of our heart, Christ has come to take away our sins and restore us to favor in communion with our Father, communion with our brothers and sisters whom we stand togther at the beginning of mass to acknowledge our common ground, sinners in need of mercy: "I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault, in what I have done and what I have failed to do..."

The answer to our humble acknowledgement is presented in the words of the priest and the response of the people"

"Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, happy are those who are called ot his supper...Lord, I am not worthy to recieve you but only say the word and I shall be healed."

This is why our "Amen" after the words "The Body of Christ" is so very important.
We acknowledge what God has done, we accept his invitation to enter in to full communion for our sins have been forgiven and thus the obstacles have been removed and mercy has come to restore the bridge that makes love and life possible for us all.

The prayer of the humble has once again pierced the clouds and it will not rest until it reaches its goal and the Most High responds, judges justly, affrims the right and the Lord will not delay...The words of the first reading are fulfilled in the celebration of the mass.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Think, then judge rightly

Generally speaking, I know a fair amount of people who like quotes. they like things that people say and they write them down and stash them away in their memory for a rainy day.

I also do this. I often search for wisdom and insight from the lives of others.

But there are some quotes that I find rather inept. Words are strung together that sound good and insightful and almost ingenius until you look at them again and begin to question is it real that is, does it relate to truth and reality or is it just an opinion that loses its value the more you examine it.

Here is one for example from a Nobel Prize winner, Doris Lessing:

"Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself."

Initially this seems to be an insightful thought, initially. But if you delve deeper, then what is unearthed is a senseless statement that has little bearing in reality.

Do we really what people to think wrongly about life, about love, about reality itself. We would classify people who hold to their opinions rather than be persuaded by truth as isane.

Should we jeopardize the truth for the sake of our personal opinion or our subjective stance. At what point does the individual give way to the common good of all.

The above quote says a lot but means nothing.

Now lets look at the quote from Jesus of today's gospel

"Why not judge for yourselves what is right?"

Jesus invites us to think for ourselves but to do so in light of truth and objective reality. We are called to think indeed but to make sure the judgments we make are real and worthy of life, love and truth itself.

Thinking for oursleves should never mean thinking alone in isolation apart from the wisdom and truth that has been passed down.

Many people choose to put their personal opinions above any other standard and this is what causes much chaos and disorderly living. If we have not ground to stand on, then surely we shall fall.

In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, "wisdom is to taste things as they really are."

Think for yourselves, please, but do not think wrongly. After all, a small error in the beginning can lead to a great fall in the end.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

3D love

3D Tv and movie going experience has been on the hot seat once again. It is the latest fad and seems to be gaining ground in the entertainment industry.

Currently on the market there is advertised the latest 3D TV; you can now bring the 3D experience to your home. You no longer have to go to the movies.

Most people enjoy the 3D experience. They like to feel part of the movie; rather than a spectator, the 3D experience incorpartes you in to the film and makes things come alive.

all you need is the right pair of glasses and you are good to go.

3D is better because that is how we live. We do not live on a 2 dimensional relaity. Living requires a complete immersion and a full engagement if life is to be squeezed for all it is worth.

St. Paul understands. This is why he invites us to "comprehend with all the holy ones" the love of God in Christ, its length, height, depth and thus we can "know the surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ."

To love God is a 3D experience, complete immersion and full engagement.

This is what St. Paul is wanting us to understand. YO can't just say you love, dream about love, write about love but rathe ryou have to live love with complete immersion and full engagment.

God's love for us is 3D. Is thi snot what the cross of Christ is all about. God becomes one of us and lives and loves us as we are in history, complete and full.

He simply wants us to do the same.

This is how the world is set ablaze as Jesus tells us in the gospel: "I have come to set the earth on fire, an dhow I wish it was already blazing."

Each day we should pray to the Holy SPirit that enables us to enter in to the 3D love of God in Christ and allow our hearts to be set a fire.

Here is a little prayer that may help:

Breathe in me, O Holy spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work may be holy
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, That I may love what is holy
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy
Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be Holy

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, consume me with your fire
Holy spirit, Holy Spirit, set my heart a fire
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, fill me with you power

Come Holy Spirit, Let you fire fall, let your fire fall, let yor fire fall on me!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

springs of salvation

Ephesians 3:2-12; you will draw joyfully from the springs of salvation; Luke 12:39-48

The responsorial psalm: you shall draw joyfully from the springs of salvation

The other day I was back at home on my day away, as I like to call it. There i was in Shiner just taking it easy.

all of sudden my brother shows up and informs me that it was time to round up the cattle to take the calves to the auction.

In the Berger family, rounding up the cattle was never a fun thing to do. It usuall involved a lot of hollering and kicking and spitting and that was usually our Father toward us. It wasn't fun.

As soon as I heard round up. I started to have flash backs of childhood years running up and down the pastuer trying to get the stinking cows and calves in the pen.

Needless to say, I wasn't excited about using my day away to run up and down a pasteur chasing calves and cows all the while not getting stampeded.

But, to my surprise, it went okay. I suppose somethings do change. With relative ease and a minimum amount of exertion, the cows and calves were in the pen and it was time to load up and move out.

Afterwards, Dad decided to drive down the pastuer and let the remainder of the cows into another part of the pasteur that had been fenced off. As we were driving, we came across a dry creek bed that was once had been a lively spring.

Dad was giving me the history of the creek bed, how once upon a time it was filled with cold deep pools that were great for fishing.
As I looked upon them, all I could see was dry cracked ground.

So I asked Dad the question, "what happened to the springs?"

His response was simple and precise: "I guess nature just takes its course."

Nature just takes it course was the answer. Often this is a common response to the many questions, "nature just takes its course!"

St. Paul in the first reading reminds us that though nature make take it course, God's plan is more decisive, a "plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the Church."

The Church brings that plan to every generation, revealing Christ, making him known. The Church becomes a spring that never runs dry for it is of heavenly origin, whose source is eternity it self.

In the Church we draw joyfully from the springs of salavtion that never run dry, where nature is surpassed by grace and the natural enocunters the supernatural and Christ is all in all.

What a gift! We will never have to worry about the spring running dry for the life giving waters of grace shall flow continuously through the outpouring of Christ's redemptive and eternal gift of self that is made known in and through the Church he found, "You are peter and upon this rock I build my church...the gate sof hell shall never prevail."

This spring shall flow unto eternity and thus we have access through faith in Him who is the source of such lively spring.

So please draw joyfully, drink fully, indulge yourself in the grace that flows freely!

Words from Pope Benedict

"Faithful to Christ's command to "do this in memory of me", the Church in every time and place celebrates the Eucharist until the Lord retunrs in glory, rejoicing in his sacramental presence and drawing upon the power of his saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

pray always and do not grow weary

When you look into the bible, the biblical record that we cherish, you discover many commandments. We are all familiar with the the Big Ten, which are ultimately summarized and condensed in the Two Great Commandments: Love God above all and Love your neighbor as yourself.

Every commandment we stumble across in the bible reflects back on these Ten or the Two great ones.

Most of us, for the most part of our life seek to fulfill these commandments, that is live them in the life we have. Generally speaking we do okay. We can do better but we aren't terrible at it.

But there is one commandment that we stink at. We neglect it to our own detriment.

It is the commandment that is at the center of this particular parable, Jesus speaks of often in his gospel, and it reechoed in the words of St. Paul: Pray ALways without Ceasing.

Prayer is a mandate.

It is a commandment that demands not that we make prayer a part of our life but rather that our life becomes part of our prayer.

We pray as we live, we live as we pray. Prayer is indicative of our faith in the living God. Pray is a sign of life, our life and God's living reality in our life. No one prays to a God that is dead. When we do not pray then we live as if God were dead.

God waits. No time is bad time and all time is prayer time.

Most of our life is about showing up. Such is the reality of prayer. It is about setting aside time, creating space for the living God to come in and move through us and thus guide us along the way.

Most of us experience prayer in time of trouble, crisis, anxiety. We use prayer to pressure God, to bend his will in our favor. We often use it as a means to tell GOd what do, when to do, how to do ti, how soon to do it and on and on.

Prayer is not about getting what we want. IT is about surrendering, It i about learning. It is about listening. It is about waiting. It is about growing in silence and solitude. It is about discovering the living presence of God right before us and allowing that presence to transform us.

The Habit of prayer transforms us, molds us. When we go to pray we never leave the same as before.

Just a few things of note;

1) prayer is a battle
It is a battle for time; it is a battle with distractions; it is a battle with dryness; it is a battle of selfishness; it is a battle to surrender; it is a battle that calls us to action; it is a battle for patience.

We need to give time to prayer and be faithful to it.

If we say we are going to pray for fifteen minutes or ten minutes or thirty minutes then we need to be faithful and persistent. Sticking to a program actually strengthens our will toward the highest good which helps us in other areas of our life. We teach our will what to seek and how to stand firm in seeking.

Also, God will hold us to our desire and thus may wait to speak in the last second of the last minute. We do not want to cut it short unless an emergency occurs. But training our heart and mind to listen attentively enables us to hear God speaking in the noise of living.

Distractions are normal. When you step in to a tank and stir the mud, visibility declines. But once the agitation subsides then the mud settles and visibility returns. The business of life stirs up the mud in our hearts and minds. When we go to pray the mud will settle and appear as distractions. We need to bring these distractions to God and allow him to help us see them clearly. They may be God speaking to us.

In prayer we think about our families, our jobs, our relationships, our life. This is okay. God wants to be part of all of that. We must accept them, embrace them and surrender them: Lord, I give these to you, show me what I need to see.

Then we bring ourself back to the center, giving our attention to God. Again this is training our will to put God at the center of our life.

Dryness is inevitable.
Often people complain about not feeling anything in prayer, having no enthusiasm or experiencing no consolation. But this is okay. Thing about the Israelites in the desert for 40 years. There they had God accompany them with a pillar of fire and cloud. Yet they experienced bitterness, grumbling, rebellion, complaining. God continued to lead them,

Dryness is important because it refines our desires and purifies them. It helps us to make sure we are in it for God and not just for ourselves. Dryness is what teaches us trust and fidelity. Here our faith grows.

Prayer is about activity.
Notice in the first reading Moses was on the hill with arms raised while Joshua was in the valley with sword in hand. The Victory needed both, Moses on the Hill and Joshua in the Valley. The strength of prayer enabled the fight to be fought.

Prayer isn't magic. It doesn't mean we do nothing. It means we pray and work and together God's will is accomplished.

Lastly we must begin every prayer with the words: thy will be done.
We ask God for everything but seldom do we ask for the one thing necessary.

Only then does the habit of prayer transform, guide, direct and lead our life to Christ.

If we do this then the answer to the question Jesus poses in the gospel today, "when the son of man comes will he find faith on earth," will be Yes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

love calls for love in return

Eph 1:11-14; Ps 33 Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own; Luke 12:1-7

Words of the doctor from spain, St Teresa of Avila

"whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return.

Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accompolish great things quickly and withut effort."

For love calls for love in return!

What love should we recall? What love should we seek to return?

St. Paul in Galatians 2:19-20 shares with us this reality.

First in spanish just becasue I like the way it sounds in spansih, "Vivo de la fe en el Hijo de Dios, que me amo hasta entregarse por is a life of faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me....

entregarse in spanish means to surrender, hand over, to devote oneself to...Jesus surrender his life as an act of devotion to each of us...This is the love we are called to recall, this is the love we desire to be impressed upon our hearts.

This is why the crucifix is prominent in every Catholic Church. Our Mother, the church, does not want us to lose sight of such a gift, such great devotion that when seen should stir not guilt but deep appreciation and a deeper desire to return the favor with a life lived in faith in the Son of God.

Here we discover our worth, as JEsus says in the gospel, "we are worth more than many sparrows."

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. May we always be the bird in the hand of Christ whose gentle caress teaches us how to soar in love.

(the picture above is of the pillow St Teresa would lay her head upon when she would rest....nothing like a 4x6 to get that necessary 6 hours of shut eye)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

i carry your heart in my heart

The words of St. Paul
"Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in his beloved."

What a beautiful picture of the Father. He does all he does with us in mind; though wretched and weak He thinks of us complete.

He carries us in his heart.

A poem by E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

In the Father's heart revealed in the heart of Christ we find our names written, we find our love to be had. Because you have loved me, you have made me lovable.

Here is a little tribute by George strait:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

judgement and to love for God

Gal 5:18-23; Ps 1 Those hwo follow you lord will have th elight of life; Lk 11:42-46
A snippet from Pope Benedict's homily at the Canonization of John Cardnial Newman, now Blessed JOhn Newman.

"Christian life is a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. Faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness. Quoting John Newman he states, "a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to god and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergencey, prayer has a natural effect in spiritualizin and elevating the soul. A man is no longer what he was before; gradually he has imbibed a new set of ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles."

We hear the words of Jesus directed toward the Pharisee in the gospel, "you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God." And to the scholar he proclaims, "You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you do not lift one finger to touch them."

Why are the pharisee and the scholar called out by Jesus? Why does he insist on their conversion more than others? They have the knowledge. Their mind is intuned with the law and history and revelation. It is their heart that is in need of transformation.

Knowledge alone doesn't save. It is love that opens the door and floods the path with light.

The Pharisees and scholars studied with great diligence but they did not pray. They did not give their heart opportuntiy to digest what their mind had unearthed. Only in a life of prayer, in a a a habit of silently listening, does our heart begin to recieve fully what the mind has discovered and does our mind begin to become more docile to the nudging of love that transforms and informs the knowledge we have.

Prayer elevates and spiritualizes the soul so that it can respond appropriately to the world in love, by love, for love.

For is not prayer simply turing our mind and heart to love for God, which carries with it judgment that frees.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

faith working through love

Galatians 5:1-6; Psalm 119 Let your mercy come to me Lord; Luke 11:37-41

We continue to hear the words of St. Paul written to the church of Galatia. There was a dispute within the community as to what constituted an authentic follower of Christ. The question amongst the community was whether or not following the way of the Mosaic Convent, the laws and precepts, were necessary. Some believed that in order to be a true believer circumcision was necessary.

St. Paul simply reminds the community even as he continues to exhort us that external realities like circumcision or dietary laws can never be enough for it is a life lived in love that truly becomes the mark of the believer: faith working through love. This is what matters; this is what counts.

We cannot go through the motions. It is our heart that must be touched by the Spirit, circumcised for love, to love.

Circumcision was a sign of the old covenant; shedding of blood was necessary for God's favor. God, however, does not want our blood he wants our life. Spilling a few drops of blood can never justify us. The blood of Christ as already done that. We are justified by Christ but the proof of our acceptance and recognition of this reality must be seen in the life we live; no longer hidden but now in the open for all the world to behold.

Faith working through love. What is the power behind our love. What is the motor that keeps our love moving forward. Is it not the faith we have received and the belief in our hearts. Faith is no longer a stagnant reality of scar tissue but rather it is love in action that cuts and wounds the world.

This is why Jesus tells us, "give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you."

Give alms and everything will be clean.

Only the gift of self can truly begin to realize faith as it was meant to be realized.

Monday, October 11, 2010

bound and free

galatians 4:22-5:1; Psalm 113 Blessed be the name of the Lord forever; Luke 11:29-32

St. Paul speaks that famous passage that our society loves to hear but fails to understand, "For freedom Christ set us free..."

Usually people will stop at this point and relish the idea of freedom spoken in light of the sacrifice of Christ. If Christ set us free then who can tell us what to do, they say, we say, all say? How dare we go against the sacrifce of christ! Should we not embrace the gift of freedom that comes at such a price?

Yet, if you keep reading St. Paul warns and exhorst us continually to understand freedom, the very freedom we have recieved in the shedding of the blood of Christ, "stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."

Freedom is not about having options or keeping our options open, but rather it is about choosing that which is good according to God's plan for us, "do not submit to the yolk of slavery."

Freedom is meant to keep us free but in order to truly live that freedom we must first choose to be bound to the new Jerusalem, our mother. Only in being bound to Goodness itself can we truly be free to live.

As JEsus tells us in the gospel, repentance is necessary for freedom to reign. We must recognize that which hinders our freedom in orderAn to enter more fully into freedom. An unbinding of our hands from the yolk is necessary so that we me freely bind our hands to the cross, as St. Paul speaks again, I am crucified in Christ."

If you want to know what true freedom looks like study the saints who have recieved the gift of the stigmata. THey bear in their flesh the binding of love and the beauty of freedom lived.
Today we celebrate the birthday of Eleanor Roosevelt. Elenor Roosevelt once said, " "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water."

Just thought this was a unique perspective on the feminine reality from the point of view of a woman herself.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our lady wears combat boots

Galations 3:1-5; Luke 1:69-75 Blessed be the Lord the GOd of Israel; he has come to his people; Lk 11:5-13

Today in the church we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Victory. This is also referred to as the feast of the Holy Rosary, instituted by Pius V to celebrate the anniversary of the defeat of the Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto.

For all purposes the muslim army should have destoryed the small and insignificant christain army, but it wasn't so. The victory was ascribed in part to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the recitation of the Holy Rosary for the cause at hand.

As once was coined by Fr. John Corapi, Our Mother wears combat boots.

She is not afraid to enter the battle. In fact, most statues of the BLessed Mother have her crushing the head of the snake, not by her might but simply by her "yes" and her life of grace.

At the heart of this celebration is the recitation of the Rosary. All battles worth fighting require the proper weapons. There has been none more proven than the recitation of the Rosary.

The Rosary allows us to meditate on the beauty of Christ through the eyes of his mother, the one who knew him initmately more than any one earth.

Keeping christ at the center enables us to weather the storms and fight the good fight and run the race of faith.

The Rosary works on a human level becasue it enagaes the whole person. It involves our speech, our hearing; it occupies our mind and incites our emotions; it assigns a task to our fingertips, those sensitive organs of touch. Is this not how the Lord confirms the faith of his disciples, "see my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see."

Jesus wants to fill up our senses. The Rosary is the perfect devotion that engages our existence with his presence complete. At the center of the prayer is theinvocation of his holy name: blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

A few words from Pope John Paul II

"The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at the heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety, of which can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perpetual Magnificat for the work of redemptive incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depth of his love. Through the rosary the faithful recieve abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the mother of the redeemer."

The Rosary allows us to enter the trenches with our mother who leads the way with her boots of grace to behod that precious and beautiful face of Christ.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Father

Today we read the "Our Father" at mass.

The disciples come to Jesus and catch him praying. They are moved by what they see and they want what Jesus has. So they ask him to "teach" them how to pray.

Upon this request JEsus gives them the "Our Father."

Jesus invites us to enter into his intimate dialogue with the Father; he wants us to enter in that spce where love is exchanged, perfect love is expressed.

In the gift of the prayer, we are shown from heaven how we can and should be.

We are invited to speak to the Father with the very words of the Father spoken to us in and through Christ. We pray to God with the words of God.

We hsould not take these words lightly. they are the measure for us of how to live and the direction we need in life.

"Lord, teach us to pray."

He has done this. In praying we learn to live. The words of the pray form and shape the life we live. In the OUr Father we are trained to embrace the inner attitude of Jesus himself.

As Pope Benedict tells us, "without a lif eof prayer, we can not radiate Christ."

The pray to the Father forms us to be like the son, and thus the light is truly ignited and fanned into a burning flame.

The "Our Father" invites us to a lif eof mysticism, intimate union with the Father and the Son. We are taken up int o the eternal exchange of love. Pray not rashly but truly listen to the words you pray.

on listening

Yesterday we read the gospel of MAry and Martha. Mary wa sitting at the feet of Jesus listening while Martha was busy with arranging the meal and setting the table and doing whatever it was that was necessary to accomodate JEsus and his friends, though not according to Jesus' request simply according to Martha's expectations.

Martha was irate and irritated for she felt cheated by her sister who simple sat their and did nothing while she was busting her tale and doign all the work.

Sounds familar!

How often have i enocutner similar irritations.

Yet, we often misunderstand the work involved in listening.

Listenign is not easy. In fact, listening is probably the hardest thing we are asked to do.

Mary, in order for her to truly listen, had to remove her center of gravoty and plac eit completely on Jesus. This is not easy. When we listen, we have to empty ourselves so that we may be filled by the other person.

How often we listen not to the other person but merely tour own little ocnversation going on in our head? How often we are more concerned with ur response then with what is being presented by the other person?

Listenin is not to be taken lightly.

Whenever someone says they have been listening to someone, we should stop and measure the work and attention necessary to make that act truly life giving.

Mary was listenign at the feet of Jesus. She had learned the art of emptying herself so that she might be filled with another, with Christ.

This is th better part, as Jesus says.

When we pray, we must learn to listen, to empty ourselves of all so that we may be filled with the voice of God alone, that which is a two edged sword.

Anyone can cook and clean, but to listen is a true measure of a soul's detemrination to follow.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

parishpriest: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

parishpriest: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: "Isaiah 5:1-7Psalm 80Philippians 4:6-9 ; Matthew 21:33-43   How many of you have recently read the Declaration of Independence?  It is the fo..."

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Friday, October 1, 2010

on tiptoes we go to heaven: skipping along

Today we celebrate the feast of the little flower, the carmelite nun who died at the age of 24. She invited us all to understand that we are all called to be great but to do so with the daily task we encounter each day.

True greatness doesn't require us to leave our home and go to some distant place where we kiss the leper or are killed for the faith. Rather, true greatness comes in little moments, each moment being just as important as the last. We all advance to heaven not in giant strides but tiny steps, tiptoeing along.

This is the little way that makes souls enlarged with true charity and faith.

Just a few quotes from this mistress of Christ

"From afar it seems easy to do good to souls, to make them love God more, to mold them according to our own ideas and views. But coming closer we find, on the contrary, that to do good with out God's help is as impossible as to make the sun shine at night."

Thus she invites us to humility. All good that is accomplished through our hands is ultimately the work of the Good God.

"with me, prayer is a lifting up of the heart, a look towards heaven, a cry of gratitude and love uttered equally in sorrow and in joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God...I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell our Lord all that I want and he understands."

What a beautiful understanding of prayer, a simple lifting up of the heart to God.

"I am a very little soul, who can offer only very little things to the Lord...a little victim of love."

THe measure of our gift to God is not seen in the size of the gift but the thought that accompanies it. Thus, St. Therese invites us to make everything a bountiful offering,a little sigh that becomes a giant token of love divine.

Therese on the importance of Scripture
"Sometimes when i read spiritual treatises, in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles in the way and a host of illusions round about , my poor little mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scriptures. Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons to my soul, perfection seems easy; it is enough to realize one's nothingness, and give oneself wholly as a child to the arms of the Good God..."

A little way that leads us all along the path of holiness and love, as we tiptoe to heaven as children do, skipping along in the arms of Christ. A life of holiness is child's play.

My life is an instant,
An hour which passes by;
My life is a moment
Which I have no power to stay.
You know, O my God,
That to love You here on earth -
I have only today.
—St. Therese of Lisieux