Thursday, March 31, 2011

that Guy

Jeremiah 7:23-28; Ps 95 If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts; Luke 11:14-23

Today is the feast of St. Guy of Pomposa.
No he is not the one pictured above from the food network. Same name but different Guy, you get it....

Today is my first encounter with St. Guy. He lived during the 11th century in Italy. From early on he was moved to give away everything and embrace the life of a hermit for three years before entering the abbey at Pomposa.

His wisdom and holiness became the talk of the town and people from all over flocked. That Guy was Good and Holy.

I love that Guy. What a Guy! Pun intended.

Of course in Italian his name is probably Guido, which means leader. Yet, with a name like Guido you would think he belonged to the Mafia. In some sense, he belongs to God's Mafia, also known as the Church Triumphant or otherwise the Communion of Saints. St. Guy pray for us.

The words of Jeremiah strike to the heart today, "They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me...They have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers...This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech."

Wow! SOunds the people of Jeremiah's time were in need of a holy Chiropractor to un-stiffen their necks, to un-harden their hearts, to loosen their joints so that they may once again seek to Lord.

The phrase that takes the ticket for our day and age is, "this is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the lord, its God, or take correction."

Isn't that true for all of us. We love to think we are right, all the time. We love to think that others are wrong. We love to presume that we could never be wrong. But we are wrong.

We can be wrong in our ways, in our thinking, in our acting. It is exactly this reality that makes the presence of God so essential for healthy living. We live in age that says that everything is dependent upon my personal opinion or whim. We have created a world view that seeks to eliminated the objective truth God seeks to reveal in Christ through his Church.

Our necks are stiffen and our hearts are harden when it comes to admitting that perhaps we can be wrong and that truth is not equal with our personal opinions.

It is true we must have a personal relationship with God, with Christ. But we do so because Jesus is a person, Our relationship must be mediated by his truth, his presence, his teachings not rooted or based in what I might think is good for me.

This is the error we face.

Like in the gospel, we must be willingly to allow Jesus, the one who waves the finger of God, to remove our armor, the wills we have built. We must let his truth penetrate in order to guide.

We must be willing to be corrected often.

Otherwise, we will be too hard.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

teach them to your children

Deut. 4:1,5-9; Psalm 147 Praise the Lord Jerusalem; Matthew 5:17-19

In today's first reading we encounter Moses standing before the people of Israel and giving them a last minute pep talk, getting them ready to enter into the promise land.

Moses will not be joining them in the promise land, he will be handing the reigns over to another. Of course, we know transitions can be tough and trying times. How often do we encounter people seeking to take advantage of times of transition for their own advancement.

Moses aware of the human element at play in every community, he takes these last breaths of his to encourage and warn the people about fidelity and infidelity. He reminds them of all that God has done and all that God will do and all that God ask from his people as they receive the promise God had desires to give them.

Today's reading ends with these words, "Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children's children."

The future of the nation of Israel is dependent on the future generation and how they are taught and guided. This generation is meant to be formed and shaped by the words and deeds of God as he revealed himself in the desert wanderings.

You would think this is a no brainer. You would think that training and educating the children is par for the course. But apparently it wasn't then and certainly isn't now.

I once had a couple who told me that they were not going to teach their children the faith because they wanted them to choose on their own. They didn't want to interfere with their children.

This seems to be a common misunderstanding that many parents embrace today.

If we do not teach our children, if we do not formed them and shape them, then what will they stand on. If do not give them a foundation or basis of right and wrong or good and evil then what will their minds grab hold of, what will be the anchor of strength in their life.

Parents tell me they don't want to indoctrinate their children. Isn't not teaching them, still teaching them! Isn't refusing to pas son doctrine in itself indoctrinating them!

The parents who tell me this really are not concerned about their children. They are more concerned about themselves. THey excuse themselves form the very responsibility God places upon them. They use their children as a scape goat. Rather, they embracing the role as guardian they pass the buck to their unsuspecting child who is thrown to the wolves with the defense.

Most time I reminds the parents that they go out of the way to protect the health of their child. They buy the best diapers, the best lotion, the best clothes. they spend countless dollars of good food and good nutrition. They take their child to the doctor when he is sick. They do all this for the body, won't they also have the same concern for the child's spirit.

Common sense has been trampled upon in our society. Perhaps it was the same in the time of Moses.

It is time to rediscover this reality. It is time for parents to be parents. It is time for them to give them a foundation to stand on so that they know what it good and evil, right and wrong. Without a foundation the children are left to their own device and we know how that turns out.

Give them a foundation. What they do with it is their business. Not to give them anything is like refusing to feed them and clothed them. Even CPS would have something to say about that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Matthew 18:21-35

In today's gospel we here those familiar words spoken by JEsus, "seven times seventy" when asked the question "how often must I forgive someone?"

Now isn't that a question for the ages. How often must i forgive when someone offends, hurts, ridicules, betrays, hates, harms and the list goes on.

The ultimately the question is really about when is enough a enough.

The reality is this. Forgiveness doesn't entail putting oneself continually in harms ways. Sometimes we have to choose to love from afar, from a distance.

Forgiveness doesn't mean we are gluttons for punishment as they say. We have to be smart. Giving the gift of forgiveness does not mean we leave our brain at the door.

We have to learn from our experience. We must take what we learn and live smarter, better, more resourceful. At the same time we can forgive and choose not to bound by thoughts of vengeance, grudging, revenge and the like.

So forgive seventy times seven, it makes life truly blest.

However, what is most fascinating about this particular passage is the story Jesus tells about the servant who is forgiven his debt by the king but yet refuses to do the same to his servant. Rather than do to others has he received he tries to hold the burden over the head the other.

He takes the mercy he was given and chooses to uses it as a power trip. Rather than being humbled by the gift he allows his pride cause a uprising.

As you notice in the story what is really fascinating are the onlookers. The spectators who know what has happen, who know the mercy that was given. They are bothered by the unforgiving servant's actions.

Rather than stand idly bye and do nothing they interfere, they stand in the way. Rather than turning a way and choosing not to get involved they take a stand for justice.

Mercy and justice go hand in hand.

This is what we must do. We must be like the spectators who upon seeing injustice act in order to rectify. They refuse to be silent and they choose to step in and make a change rather than let the innocent suffer at the hand of a brute who is too prideful to let humility be his guide.

"Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to the master and reported the whole affair."

They were tattletales. And isn't that great.

Sometimes we got to get involved and let justice truly be served.

Reflection by St Peter C.

Every now and then I come across a reflection from a saint and I think that it worth sharing with many. This morning a came across a little Ditty from St Peter C. Here it is in it's entirety. Read it slow and let it sink it like a nice summer shower. May it water the furrows of your soul giving your will and intellect nourishment.

Second reading
From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop
Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.

Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Give something To drink

Jesus in his conversation with the Samaritan at the well ask her to give him something to drink. St Augustine in his commentary on this passage tells us that Jesus ask for a drink because He is thirsting for her faith.

Think about that for a moment. How often we ask Jesus to do things for us? How often we are on the seeking and wanting end of the conversation with God, yet we seldom reflect on the fact that Jesus also is on the seeking end or the wanting end. Jesus wants something from us. He is thirsting for our faith!

Have we given him something to drink? Have we sought to quench his thirst for faith?

What a marvelous way to live out lent seeking to quench the thirst of Jesus by living out our faith boldly and courageously refusing to be stymied.

The Samaritan women leaves the well and goes and tells everyone about Jesus. By her changed life she quenched the thirst of Jesus. He gives her living water of faith and she in turn gives to others. In giving she quenched the desire of Christ.

Instead of thinking about what you desire for God to do or what you desire to change this lent, spend a few moments thinking about what God desires. What does God desire but nothing less than a drink or a drop of faith from us.

Give him something to drink and never thirst again. In giving we receive!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here are a couple of morning hymns to Jump start the day and recharge for lent

"Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart."

"Glory be to thee who safe hast kept,
and hast refreshed me whilst I slept;
grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless light partake.

Lord, I may vows to thee renew;
scatter my sins as morning dew;
guard my first springs of thought and will,
and with thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
all I design, or do, or say;
that all my powers, with all their might,
in thy sole glory may unite.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise him, all creatures here below;
praise him above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Preparing for this Sunday

Here is a reflection on this up coming gospel about the Samaritan Women who encounters Jesus at the well. Talk about life changing encounters. Read the reflection and prepare your mind and heart for the encounter that awaits you this third Sunday of lent.

Reflect on these words by Jean Vanier in light of the Gospel of the Samaritan woman: "Our brokenness is the wound through which the full power of God can penetrate our being and transfigure us in God. Loneliness is not something from which we must flee but the place from where we can cry out to God, where God will find us and we can find God. Yes, through our wounds the power of God can penetrate us and become like rivers of living water to irrigate the arid earth within us. Thus we may irrigate the arid earth of others so that hope and love are reborn."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The greatest among you should be your servant. The exalted shall be humbled and those who are humble shall be exalted.

These are the words of Christ in the end of the gospel for today the Tuesday of the second week of lent.

Sometimes I find myself putting that in reverse. Sometimes perhaps all of us put it in reverse. I mean who does not like being served. Who does not like being pampered. It feels good to be exalted. Yet Jesus tells us do not let it go to your head.

Our main business is to serve. That is we are to be there for others. But our presence and our service should be that of Christ's presence and his service. Certainly, many things count as service but it is intention as well as action that solidify the service we live.

This week I have been in the hospital with my sister and her family. My nephew was diagnosed with tumor in the brain. I haven't done much but I have been present. Sometimes that is the greatest service of all it seems.

I feel like Mary and John at the foot of the cross. They did not do much but they simple stood and remained present throughout the ordeal. I am helpless but hopeful.

Service is diverse. But thing is constant, sometimes just standing by, standing near can be humbling and yet somehow fruitful.

Serve, be humble and God will do the exalting in his time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The last penny

Ezekiel 18:21-28; Ps 130 If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?; Matthew 5:20-26

The refrain from today's Psalm is intriguing, "If you , O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand."

This should certainly give us a pause, a moment to stop and ponder our own reality of weakness and failures and falls.

What a statement of truth, "If you O Lord mark iniquities who can stand."

Yet, as i read this I am also reminded of the prayer at mass in EUcharistic Prayer II after the consecration, the priest says these words standing at the altar, "Lord, we give you thanks for having made us worthy to stand in your presence to serve you."

Lord, who can stand and thank you for allowing us to stand in your presence.

What an interesting dynamic for the human mind and soul to dive right into and swim awhile!

Now we transpose that with the last words of today's gospel as Jesus tells his disciples, as he tells us, "AMen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

Can when stand, will we stand, what about this penny.

The last penny is a daunting reality. But in some sense the penny has been found and been paid.

On Friday's during Lent it is a tradition for many in the church to practice the devotion of praying the way of the cross, where we meditate on the journey Christ takes to calvary. As we walk with him, we must discover that the penny is being paid as he carries the cross, receives the nails, breathes his last.

IT is paid in full. Yet, this doesn't mean we are off the hook, but it does give us a reason to hope, a reason to move forward. we no longer have to worry about the last penny, now it is a matter of simply receiving the goodness of Christ and returning the favor.

THis is what Christ means when he invites us to "surpass" the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees."

TO surpass implies to be more super abundant. That is we are called to be more super abundant in our goodness toward others in our goodness in opening our heart to the will of God seeking his will and living it in obedience.

The last penny is no longer dangling over our head; it has been nailed to the cross. So no what will we do to return the favor?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

greater than jonah here

Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 51 A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn; Luke 11:29-32

The gospel, "This generation is a evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation."

Jesus looks out into the world, looks upon the people gathered and opens his mouth and speaks words of chastisement, "This generation is a evil generation."

An evil generation.

What a proclamation! What a description! WHat harsh words from the Lord of Love!

Can love and harshness go together?

We are told not what makes "this" generation evil, but we are told it seeks a sign. Perhaps, the generation is looking for a reason to believe, or an excuse to keep on not believing. Perhaps, the generation is trying to build an alibi against belief and alibi for justifying their way of life, steady as it goes.

Sounds a lot like our generation. Many are looking for a reason to believe. Many are looking for an excuse not to believe. Many create alibi's for not believing such as blaming the priest of the church, or blaming their parents for making them go to church, blaming their teachers for not explaining it, and the list goes on.

Their are a thousands reason not to believe. There are a thousands ways to build a legitimate alibi for our unbelief. Their are many people who fail to live their faith that give us a cause to stray.

But there remains one sign that disturbs us, shatters our false walls of unbelief, cracks the shady alibi's we have stowed away in our hearts; this is the sign of jonah.

What is this sign?

Why was jonah effective in preaching repentance to the Ninevites as he walked to and fro through city, a 3 days journey, yet after just one day repentance began to spread like wild fire, reaching the ears of hearts of people long before Jonah could ever arrive on the scene.

IT wasn't because of his words, rather it was because of his reputation. News had spread the one who was thrown overboard in the middle of the sea was now walking in their streets. The one who was presumed dead was now alive and he bore marks of his journey into the tomb of the belly.

Here was the sign in the flesh staring the Ninevites in the face and they were struck to the heart. He bore the marks and they shown forth illuminating and piercing the hearts and minds of the citizens.

Is this not the sign of Christ himself. The one who enters into the tomb, the belly of death, and stands before all alive. The one who bears the marks of the journey on his hands and feet.

The one who was silent in death is now alive.

Of all the reasons to believe and disbelieve, is this not the one sign that shatters our alibis and our pretenses and our vague notions of justification against faith and religion and the like.

The evil generation is no match for this sign, if they but look and behold and be transformed by the reputation that proceeds this one who is greater than Jonah here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

tuesday first week of lent

Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34 From all their distress God rescues the Just; Matthew 6:7-15

I have had a book of lenten reflections on my shelf for several years now and i had yet to really open it and look at it. This morning i woke up early because it seems my cell phone, which is my alarm clock, as been acting strange since the time change. It has been ringing an hour earlier then i have set it. It keeps trying gain an hour.

It must have a glitch in its system. But again, i think we all experience that with the hour change.

Nonetheless this morning I decided to break open that book of reflections, having time on my hands, and see what it said.

I must say i was disappointed.

That is right. I was disappointed with the reflection for the tuesday of the first week of lent.

Here is an excerpt that really bothered me, the author posed this question, "Is it important, then, to get to work on our worst sins and try to sandpaper them away? In past times those pursuing a life of virtue might have made notes on their failings and falls from grace within a 24 hour period. This spot-checking as a long history, this kind of self-criticism may not be a good idea. such a blame game-even against ourselves-seems based on a narrow understanding of God as a vindictive Being who is pointing his finger at us and keeping track of whatever we do wrong."

The author goes on to suggest that rather than be self- critical we should focus on God's love and mercy and move forward.

THis disappointed me.

Do we try to better ourselves with self-critical eye because of our narrow understanding of a God as vindictive and pointing fingers or do we try to better ourselves with a self-critical eye in order to respond to the love and mercy we have received from God?

Doesn't Jesus tell us to recognize the wood in our own eye?
Does he not tell us to be attentive to our pray so that we don't babble like the pagans in today's gospel?

Is not self-examination essential to understanding our we respond to God's grace in our life, grace that builds and perfects our nature?

The author as a narrow view of grace. The author presumes that God's love and mercy are magic. That we have no part to play in our own perfection.

I examine myself and it isn't because I think God is vindictive or pointing fingers it is because to discipline myself to respond more e to God's offer of mercy and love.

Self- examination and wanting to improve by recognizing our short comings and failings isn't opposed to God's mercy and love as the author suggest but is because of God's mercy and love.

what is amazing about this author is that she is founding member of Chrysostom society named after St. John Chrysostom who states the following, "Let thy mind and thy thoughts sit in judgment over thy soul. Look into thy doings, cast out thy faults, and to each of them assign a fitting chastisement and a proportionate penance."

I think the author missed the point on this one...

Grace and nature go together. Love and mercy are not opposed to self-critical examination and desire to make amends. When we recognize our faults in light of God's mercy we are able to move forward and thus seek to learn to grow in perfection and learn to love truly as we are created to love.

Just a thought for today....besides all St. Charles Borromeo hired someone to follow him around taking note of his faults and failings just in case he would forget or fail to notice them himself. He did this in light of his desire to love more fully and to be available to respond to God's grace.

Sometimes I think the modern spirituality is a bit soft and presumes too much on God's love and mercy and yet remain unwillingly to get their hands dirty where true growth is concerned.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where was Adam

There are many things that are constant in our life.
One of those things is our desire to recall and remember the first time something is done or accomplished.

THis is why parents get excited about their child's first words or first step. They frantically hope to catch it on video so they can relive the moment.

Even ourselves we also like to store in our minds these various first time things like our first crush, first date, first kiss or even first heart break.

We like to recall our first job, our first paycheck, and many business will have the first dollar earned symbolically framed and hung on the wall.

The list of first could go on for awhile.

There are also the first time realities in our spiritual life as well. On this first Sunday of Lent the church invites us to go back to the beginning in order to think about the first experience of life and contemplate our first parents when life was brand new and fresh.

Our First reading form Genesis helps set the stage and get us in the mind set. while we are thinking about first, the church also asks us to think about the first temptation as well as the first sin, the first fall from grace.

As we look to the reading to day we see the setting for the plot to unfold. There in the garden is Adam, filled with the breath of God, surrounded by life abundant. At the heart garden is the Tree of life and the Tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Adam could have from any of the trees, food and drink was at his finger tips. Yet, there was on catch, from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil he was not to partake. The fullness of life was accompanied by a call of abstinence.

Adam in order to embrace the gift of life was told do without. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we are invited to abstain during lent. We are asked to reconnect to that original experience of life when it was brand new.

We too only discover the fullness of life when we learn do without thus allowing God to satisfy.

Here is a question, "why not eat from the tree of knowledge of Good and evil."

It seems like a good idea. Yet what is the author suggesting, exhorting, warning as this invitation to abstain is laid at our feet.
The author simply wants to remind us that it id God's prerogative to set the standard of what is good and what is evil, what should be incorporated into our life and what should be avoided.

Our freedom is fully actualized only when we choose the highest good the God has revealed and placed before us.

SO what is the temptation. The devil invites Eve to not just eat from the tree but really to usurp God's role, to make her own decision about what is good and what is bad. Rather than letting God's criteria to lead and guide, she is invited to come up with her own criteria.

The temptation is to make her freedom superior to God's goodness. IT is to make her freedom the center of the universe.

IS this not what we do today. Is not freedom hoisted at the be all and end all. We have the freedom to do whatever we want, with no restrictions. Is this not the lie our society tries to feed us continually. I am free so I should be able to do...fill in the blank. IT is up to me to decide...

Look around our world. Ask the question,"has this mentality be favorable to our world?"

Every temptation is founded on this one be like be the arbitrator if what is perceived as good or evil. The temptation is to remove the objective reality of goodness altogether and limit or reduce our life to just the individual manipulation or perversion of "goodness."

In some sense Lent is meant to be the opportunity to rediscover God's plan of goodness and allow it to lead us. Lent is the time we stop being the rugged individual, doing our way and start living His way.

Let us go back to the narrative. The serpent is tempting Eve, so the question to ask is where is Adam while this is going on.

Go back and read Chapter 2 of Genesis. What you discover is the God puts Adam in the garden for a purpose. Adam was told to cultivate and till the garden. This doesn't make Adam a gardener. In Hebrew the words for cultivate and till is "Shamar" and "Abad". These words mean to serve and protect. Adam is placed in the garden to police it. HE was asked to guard it, protect it, to be on the look out so that nothing would harm God's good creation,the gift God had given. What we must remember is that Eve was also a gift.

Adam was meant to protect her as well. There was a job to be done. Adam's vocation was spell out and yet he is mysteriously absent in the dialogue between the serpent and Eve. So what gives.

In reality Adam is there the whole time. He is right next to Eve while the tempter tempts and yet he does nothing. He remains silent and lets it happen. Sounds a lot like many of us.

How often do we stand idly by and silently watch others fall, make mistakes and do nothing or worse we judge them, ridicule them, condemn them and do nothing to help them.

How different would it had been if Adam would have spoken up and encouraged Eve and reminded her that they could do it together that it would be okay. Or what if he would stood between Eve and the tempter and stared him down and did what he was called to do, protect and serve.

How different would our world be if we would invest in others and show concern to support and encourage and guide?

Something to think about.

Back to the narrative. What happens to the garden after the fall. The garden once teaming with life becomes a desert. Life was once at their fingertips after the fall had to be gotten by scratching and clawing through the thistles and thorns.

This is why Jesus in the gospel goes in to the desert. He goes to reclaim the garden. He goes to do what Adam didn't do. He goes to speak out and stare the devil in the face and back him down.

He shows us how to live our vocation and mission.

If you look at the words Jesus uses when he speaks to the devil, you notice he is quoting scripture. The scripture he uses comes from the book of Deuteronomy chapters 6 and chapters 8. This is Mose's farewell address. He is getting the people ready for the promised land and is reminding them how to move forward.

The one thing that is repeated over and over again in these two chapters is "remember the Lord your God." Moses is inviting to people to remember what God has done for them an din remembering God they also remember their identity as belonging to God. It is God's yes to them that will be their strength and help them resist temptation as they move into the promised land.

It is holding on to their identity and mission that will enable them to rise above and stand victorious.

Jesus Allows God's goodness and his identity to lead him against the assault of the devil. So must we.

Lent is given to us to rediscover God's goodness, to rediscover our identity, to rediscover who we are and thus live out our true self in reshaping the world through the eyes of God allowing our freedom to be shaped by God's goodness and thus refusing to do it my way but rather Making our life conformed to his way.

Life becomes no longer "my will be done" but "thy will be done."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ashes off denial on

Dt 30:15-20; psalm 1 blessed are they who hope in the Lord; Luke 9:22-25
Opening prayer at Mass: "lord, may everything we do begin with your inspiration, continue with your help, and reach perfection under your guidance. We ask this through Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen"

Jesus invites us to "deny ourselves" and "take up our cross daily" and only then will we truly discover who we are and learn to live fully the life we have been given.

Denial simply means we have the courage and strength to say 'no' to our selfish desires. We can renounce ourself so that we can be for others.

Lent is an opportunity to practice "living without" so we can truly "live for others." This is a life of denial.

We learn to say 'no' so that we can say 'yes.' We say 'no' in order to take possession of ourselves and then we can truly give ourselves faithfully and fully. every 'no' directed toward a greater 'yes.'

Each day during lent we say 'no'; each day in lent we say 'yes'; each day in lent we take possession of ourself; each day in lent we are able to give ourself away.

Denial is the pathway to freedom. We must daily walk that path trusting that we do not walk alone but we follow the one who goes before us living for others in giving his all.

We are not doing what Jesus ask, we are doing what he did.

Reflection point: "I have called you not to the secular journey where you must make everything in your life now as pleasant as possible. I have called you to the spiritual journey, to a process of enlarging your heart to desire Me above everything else..."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ashes ashes

A few words from Our Pope

“Salvation is a gift, it is God's grace, but to have an effect in my life it requires my consent, an acceptance demonstrated in deeds, that is to live like Jesus, to follow him.

"...understood in this perspective also is the sign of the ashes, which are imposed on the head of those who begin with good will the lenten journey. It is a gesture of humility, which means: I recognize myself for what I am, a frail creature, made of earth and destined to the earth, but also made in the image of God and destined to him. Dust, yes, but loved, molded by love, animated by his vital breath, capable of recognizing his voice and responding to him;"

We are dust alive in the hands of God. This is the truth of our existence the truth of our profession of faith, our consent to God.

Two things on this lenten journey

1) we are invited to see ourselves as we really are. We have to take a long look into our life and remove the disguise we wear . We must be stripped.

2)we are invited to see ourselves as God would want us to be. We must be clothed anew in the garment prepared for us in the gift of salvation. Our consent changes everything.

Our "yes" to God is really our own recognition that God first said "yes" to us.

With every act of faith: praying a little harder, fasting a little more, giving to others, our horizon stretches outward and upward and we become the sign this generation longs for. We become the sign of Christ; we let the world know there is something greater.

Praying, fasting and almsgiving are the tools we use to restore all things in Christ.
In praying we make space and time to listen to God's word; in fasting we learn to hunger for more; in almsgiving we learn to share; thus, these tools reshape our heart to be like the heart of Christ in the world.

Today we are marked with ashes to let the world know there is something greater. We become the sign the world looks for to show to them that love has been crucified, love has been redeemed, love has come to set us free.

Let the journey begin and may Christ be all in all.

Remember the word "Lent" means to slow down and it also means to spring forward. Lent is not so much about dying as it is about living, new birth, new life. Is this not what the season of spring is all about. Life that has been dormant now comes to full bloom. The journey of lent is meant to reawaken life within, life on high in Christ.

Pope Benedict Lenten Message 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Today, Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, we have a reading from Tobit. What a beautiful reading it is. We hear the story of the righteous man Tobit, who after burying the dead falls a sleep against a wall, perhaps out of exhaustion or perhaps out of penance and prayer for the dead, nonetheless, he awakens to the fact that bird droppings had fallen into his eyes through night and after some visits to the Doctors, his eyesight is lost and he is blind.

The reading that follows is a snapshot of the life him and his wife lived after the blindness. His wife had become the primary care giver as well as the primary provider, working to make sure they had enough to eat.

After this toilsome endeavor, one day she comes home and there erupts between Tobit and her an argument, perhaps a yelling match, not uncommon given the situation.

Perhaps the frustration of being blind had taken its toil on Tobit. Slowly his kind demeanor had been eroded by this prolonged sickness. He is cranky, frustrated, in a bad mood and he takes it our on his wife. Perhaps his wife feels a bit under appreciated, after all she has held all things together by working her fingers to the bone. Day and night toils and cares and toils and cares and perhaps seldom was heard a sigh of gratitude or thankfulness.

This is a common scenario in many lives, in many families. How often Chronic illness becomes a source of tension and frustration and bad blood in families. How often the anger that lies buried within finds an outlet in those that we love the most and those that love us?

It is ironic that it is our loved ones that get the harshest treatment. It is ironic that we often treat strangers and neighbors better that wives and children. What a sad twisted reality we live.

Listen to the dialogue between Tobit and his wife and see if you cannot relate.
"I called to my wife and said, "Where did this goat come from? Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners; we have no right to eat stolen food!" She said to me, "It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages." Yet I would not believe her, and told her to give it back to its owner. I became very angry with her over this. so she retorted: "where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself."

How quickly something so meaningless can be the source of great frustration and conflict. How a simple trust in his wife's honesty and hard work would have solved the problem and alleviated the tension. Yet rather than trust, Tobit, gave in to suspicion and paranoia.

Nonetheless, the beauty of the reading is that Tobit writes it as an apology. He acknowledges his fault and his anger. He is seeking to make amends. He swallows his pride and seeks forgiveness. This reading is meant to give us a glimpse into Tobit's ability to see that he was wrong and acted rashly toward a woman who simple did her best to serve him in love.

It is never too late to ask for forgiveness.

What a beautiful concept.
Lent is a perfect time to make amends, to swallow our pride and to seek forgiveness where forgiveness is to be found. It is also a time to not let petty things interfere in greater realities like love and trust and honesty and simple kindness.

This is the journey God invites us on these next 40 days.

Friday, March 4, 2011

daily daily sing to Mary

Mark 11:11-26

Today in the Church is the feast of St.Casmir.

He was a man after the heart of God, who in such a short amount of time, 26 years, reached the state of perfection in his service to God and his fellow man.

His body remain incorrupt even today. And he was known for his daily devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in his singing of the Hymn Omni Dei Dic Maria: Daily Daily Sing Mary.

"Daily, daily sing to Mary,
Sing, my soul, her praises due.
All her feasts, her actions worship
With the heart's devotion true.

Lost in wond'ring contemplation,
Be her Majesty confess'd.
Call her Mother, call her Virgin,
Happy Mother, Virgin blest.

She is mighty to deliver.
Call her, trust her lovingly.
When the tempest rages round thee,
She will calm the troubled sea.

Gifts of heaven she has given,
Noble Lady, to our race.
She, the Queen, who decks her subjects
 With the light of God's own grace.

Sing, my tongue, the Virgin's trophies
Who for us her Maker bore.
For the curse of old inflicted,
Peace and blessing to restore.

Sing in songs of peace unending,
Sing the world's majestic Queen.
Weary not nor faint in telling.
All the gifts she gives to men."

A short version of the latin Hymn is above in English.

Now for Today's gospel.
The gospel begins with an interesting scene. Jesus enters Jerusalem and went into the Temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve."

Of course this scene is setting up the cleansing of the temple area and chasing out the money changers. Jesus overturns the tables and does not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple and he gives his teaching on the temple being a house of prayer.

So why does JEsus scope out the temple the night before. It is almost like a trial run. Was he planning ahead? Did he have bad timing? Was he just late and realized the temple was locked and everyone had gone home?

I am not sure. I just find it fascinating that Jesus looks around at everything then leaves quietly.

What of the cursing of the fig tree? The tree did not have fruit and Jesus was hungry. Could he not have easily made the tree produce fruit on the spot. But rather he curses it and it dries up.

Then Jesus chases out the money changers and over turns the tables in the temple.

SO is Jesus just having one of those days! Is he just cranky! Or is there something more.

I can relate to this Jesus. I like to think he is just cranky and has one of those days and is having one of those moods.

But that is too easy.

All of these things are teaching moments for the disciples. It all moves toward the climax found in the words of JEsus toward the end of the gospel, "I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray forgive anyone whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions."

Obviously Jesus chases out the money changers and turns over the tables with forgiveness in his heart for those who transgress the Father. Forgiveness doesn't imply permission or license to do whatever. Even forgiveness makes demands for change.

Secondly, Jesus demonstrates the authentic reality of faith as witnesses in the fig tree. Faith makes things happen. It isn't just waiting for change it is bringing change about in concretely ways.

Thirdly, why the visit to the Temple the night before.

Planning ahead is not a bad idea. I suspect even Jesus liked to stay one step ahead just in case. Perhaps he was checking where the exits were. Perhaps he was seeing the layout of the temple. Perhaps he just wanted to prepare himself for the burst that would follow the next day.

Either way, it is worth meditating on the gospel. See how you answer the questions.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Today we celebrate the feast of St. Katherine Drexel, who lived 97 years. I am aslo celebrating a funeral for a lady in the Parish who lived 99 years.

The gospel I will be using for today's funeral is one that is striking considering the circumstances. This lady did not die suddenly. This lady was not sick. She enjoyed a long life, well lived in service to her family and her friends and her Lord for the most part.

The gospel comes from Luke 12, "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigiliant on his arrival. Amen I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, an dproceed to wait on them, And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants."

Think about that for a moment. It is easy being ready in the first watch while the zeal is fresh and the devotion is warm and the love is burning.

Even in the second watch, after some years of service, there seems to be anticipation of the arrival of God, the call to come home.

But it is harder the longer we live. The thrid watch can be excruciating. Having lived a long life, we encounter many changes, many obstacles, many reasons to no longer trust, no longer believe, no longer wait attentively.

Sometimes too much time is altogether too much.

It is easier to be faithful for a brief moment, it is much more demanding to be faithful for the long haul, to wake each morning, consecutive morningings for 97 or 99 years and keep the mind attentive and focused on the will of God and service to Him and our fellow man.

Practice certainly makes better but repetition can be tiresome.

This is what makes today's feast in celebration of St. Ketherine Drexel and her faithfulness of 97 years and today's funeral liturgy for the lady of 99 years so inspiring for us all.

They teach us the importance to be in it for the long haul, to pace ourselves. The race of faith is not a hundred yard dash rather it is a marathon where we find our stride and push on beyond the wall of ache and pain to Jesus who perfects our faith in time, through time, for a time into eternity.

Just something ponder today as you continue to run the race.

In the face of many changes these two ladies did not chnage in their faithfulness to God. Truly this is heroic.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


"For the son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

As I was browsing on the internet earlier I found a web site that offers the free service of generating ransom notes. You type in a text and hit the enter button and out pops this note that looks like the multicolored ransom notes you might see in the movies.

A ransom note generator. What a concept! I wonder what a ransom note for salvation would look like?

We look to the first reading and hear those words spoken by the author of Sirach, "Come to our Aid, O God of the universe,look upon us, show us the light of your mercies...Give new signs work new wonders."

It is cry for ransom.

"For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Ransom in greek means to liberate from misery, to set free, to release the captives.

To liberate from misery...Christ comes as ransom to restore to our life the joy and fullness we were suppose ot have. Today be not miserable but embrace the freedom gain for the ransom has been paid.

today is the birthday of the Author of Dr.Seus...Here is a quote to jump start your day...

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


In today;s first reading as we start the month of march, the book of Sirach invites to do the following, "Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means."

Give to the Most High as he has given to you!

What a concept!

How often we fail to truly appreciate what we have been given? How often we focus on the have not that we lose sight of the generosity of the Heavenly Father who daily gives and gives again.

How do you give back to the one who gives all!

We hear those words of the gospel that match the spirit of the first reading, "Peter began to say to JEsus, we have given up everything and followed you."

It almost sounds like a cry of entitlement. Peter asking JEsus to take notice of all that was given up. But when it comes to following JEsus are we "giving up" something or are we giving. Here is the change of attitude necessary for a disciple.

Jesus doesn't want us to 'give up' everything he just wants us to give. Is this not how we imitate the Father, who simple gives from all eternity.

We are not entitled anything but to live generously.

do not worry

In this past weeks gospel on Sunday we heard Jesus give us the invitation or rather a commandment not to worry.

What is neat about his particular gospel Matthew 6:24-34 is the way Jesus tells us about not worrying.

In the beginning of the gospel, JEsus sets the stage for the two forces that vie for our attention, our time, our life: God and mammon (material wealthy, prestige, power, position and all that stuff). These are the tow realities that are seeking to either build us or drag us down.

But right after Jesus mentions God or Mammon, he then proceeds with the invitation not to worry in a nonchalant way. There is not discourse on why choose one over the other, Jesus assumes that the decision is a no brainer. When you see both held up together, God and mammon then the obvious decision is really no decision at all. Jesus assumes we get it and that we already made up our minds of which we will serve.

Now, have we made up our minds? Have we made a decision?

Then why do we worry? why do we stay up late, remain restless through the night, and preoccupied through the day with worry on the brain? Have we made up our minds or are we still skirting the fence?

The word "worry" has a fascinating origin. It comes from an old saxon word that was created or developed to describe an event. "Worry" was a word that was used to describe the sound an animal makes when being strangled.

When a dog would have a sheep by the throat, tearing and pulling, the sound the sheep would make while in the grip of the dogs mouth is where we get the word "worry."

Think about that for a moment.

Worry is that which strangles one's life. Is that not what worry does!

It strangles our life, it saps our energy, depletes our strength and steals our joy. It suffocates us and imprisons us.

Worry is that little demon that whispers in our ears "what if"...what if that or what if this. It is putting question marks where God puts periods.

Bishop Fulton Sheen describes worry as a mark of atheism. Worry means we lack faith in the Father who holds all things in his hands. We lack faith in His providential care.

This is why JEsus in the gospel calls the disciples, "O ye of little faith." This is a greek term "oligipistos" that Jesus uses only with the disciples. IT would be equivalent as saying "yo worry warts, don't you yet understand who I am and who the Father is."

Is this not the source of worry, the inability to know who the Father is and trust his hands.

There are two things that cause worry in our life, as I see it.

First most worry is self afflicted. By our carelessness, laziness, wastefulness, extravagance, procrastination we feed the beast we call worry and allow it to grow. IT is our own doing for the most part.

Take a few moments to dissect your cause worry.

The other thing that cause worry in our life are those things that are beyond our control. How often we worry about things that don't concern us or that which we have no control over in the first place. It is amazing how often we fill our days and nights with that which is out of our hands and it makes us sick.

These are the two main categories of worry and they are unnecessary.

So how do we spell relief when it comes to worrying. Remember the R-O-L-A-I-D-S commercials, spelling relief. What is the remedy for Worry, the ROLAIDS solution?

Jesus gives us two remedies against worry.

First he invites us to look at the birds, the flowers, the grass. He wants us to stop looking at ourselves but start looking outward. When we look outward we are able to see how the world turns. We able to experience the rhyme and reason and season of life and how everything is held together by the Father's hands.

The created world is the first gift of God to us. It is the original surround system, high definition, or 3D experience. The heavens proclaim the glory of GOd and the world takes up the message and make sit known.

Creation is constantly reminding us who the Father is as cares for all.

Instead of just moving form place to place perhaps we should slow down and let the created world penetrate our lives and reveal time and time again the Father's loving hands.

Think about the birds for a moment. They are industrious but they only concern themselves with that which concerns them. Imagine what our life would be like f we just concerned ourselves with that which concerns us. How much free space would we have in our hard Drive to do other things. How much more energy would we have?

sEcondly JEsus invites us to seek the kingdom. He tells us that we should waste time worrying because we got better things to do. All too full is our soul with the material world when we tending to that which matters most, seeking the kingdom.

In short we can get busy dying with the weight or worry or we can get busy living, moving forward and directing our energy where it can be productive and vibrant.

SImple solution to spell relief for worry.