Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Feast of the visitation

"the man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed." These words are spoken by Henry Ford as the last Model T rolled off the assembly line in the late 1920's.

What a mentality. It seems a far cry from today's mentality of greed, in which people try to give as little as possible for the dollar. The give you less and less and charge you more and more.

HOw much can you give for the dollar not how much yo can get for the dollar. What would our society look like if we carried this through and practiced it in our daily lives, seeking to give as much as possible.

IS this not what God gives us in Christ. As we celebrate the Visitation today, we ponder the great mystery of the incarnation. God gives much.

MAry with JEsus conceived in her womb goes to aid her cousin Elizabeth. MAry does not hoard the gift but spreads the wealth and her joy brings joy to others.

As we we hear these words a fresh, "the moment your greeting reached my ear, the infant in my womb leaped for Joy."

What a greeting and what a leap.

This image of John leaping in the womb of Elizabeth after hearing the greeting of the one who carried JEsus in her body is the image for our lives. This is what we are called to do.

Blessed are the feet that bring glad tidings so says the scriptures.

Are our feet blessed? Do we seek to give as much as possible so that others may feel the bang of joy from Christ our Lord through us.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Sanctify christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation for the reason for your hope.

These are the words of St. Peter in the second reading for today.

Hear them again: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation for the reason for your hope.

IN church circles, in school, in homes, in places about we often find ourselves discussing the topic of faith and or love.

We talk often about faith as that ascent to God, allowing God to lead.

We also talk often about love; in fact, we seldom tire of speaking or waxing about love.

But we do not speak often about Hope.

Hope is important. It is the power that gets us moving and keeps us moving. It is what keeps us holding on when everything in u wants to let go. It holds us firm when all things fall and crumble around.

What gives you hope? What keeps you moving? What gets you up each morning when the alarm clock rings? What keeps you coming home each day to your family and your children?

This past week we celebrated the end of the school year. And for the teachers it was a celebration.

And part of the closing ceremony we handed out the perfect attendance awards. There were 6 students who received the award.

It the catholic school, the standards are different than public school. In order to get the award in catholic school, yo cannot miss one minute of school. Thin about that. This is no easy task.

But we had 6 students who didn't miss one minute of one hour of one day of school. They received a certificate along with a $20 dollar gift card to walmart.

After it was announced that they would get the gift card to walmart, we had everyone talking about not missing school next year. This was their motivation.

Such is hope, it motivates. SO what is your motivation as you move through life, through lives of others, as you make it down the road.

What is the anchor that holds you firm when everything in you wants to let go.

A few years back our Pope wrote an encyclical to the faithful. This letter to the faithful was entitled, "SPe Salvi" or "saved in Hope."

In this letter the Vicar of Christ wrote to you and I he states that "Christian Faith is hope. It has paved a way to the future. In Christ the dark door of time has been thrown open; the future has been laid bare."

In Christ we can see around the bend; we know what awaits us as the mystery of tomorrow unfolds for each us.

In Christ we have hope and the one who has hope "lives differently" and the one who has hope "has been given the gift of new life."

As he wrote about Hope he also gave several examples of where we encounter hope in our life.

The first place he mentioned was in prayer. The person who prays is a person of hope. Prayer engenders who.

Even when it seems no one is listening to us; even when it seems no one cares; God listens; God cares.

Now we have all been in that place where we think no none is listening to us; we have all been in that place where it seems our words fall on deaf ears. Parents to children and children to parents and spouses to each other. All of us have that experience.

We also have been in that place where we felt no one cares. In our society we often judge usefulness as the standard for care. If yo are useful to me then I care about you.

My almost 90 year old grandmother in te nursing home has mentioned that she feels as if on one cares. Her family dropped her off and forgot about her. She likes the place and enjoys being there, but are sentiment is felt by many.

THis is why prayer is hope engendering. God cares absolutely. Prayer isn't about getting what we want but rather about being purified and stretched to seek the things of the kingdom.

Often times when I speak to people whose life is falling apart and they are ready to give up, i will ask them what their prayer life is like. 90% tell me they have no time to pray.

I tell them going through life without set time for prayer is like trying to use the microwave without it being plugged in. It just doesn't get the job done. Prayer keeps us plugged in for the journey; we tap into the power source that is Christ.

The second setting of Hope the Pope mentioned was that of suffering.

Now this may sound strange. Who goes to suffering to find hope? In fact, most of us try to reduce suffering as much a possible.

Yet as much as we try we can never eliminate suffering. To eliminate suffering would be to eliminate humanity.

Suffering is part of life. We suffer the alarm clock each morning. We suffer our muscles to walk. We suffer our knees to bend in worship.

We can not eliminate suffering but we can choose what to suffer for. We can intentionalize suffering in our life. We can choose to suffer for goodness itself and for truth. When we do this we encounter hope for the journey.

This is where the mentality of "offering it up" comes in. When we offering things up we unite them to the suffering of Christ and we experience his strength for the journey.

Here is an example.

Some years back in my first assignment a man in his mid fifties came and wanted to join the church so that he could receive communion.

SO I invited him to come to RCIA. RCIA was too much for him. HE could not handle it. HE had a mentality of about a 4th grader. He was smart but just could not comprehend as quickly as others. SO we started to meet one on one for about a hour a week.

In our conversations, he informed me that he had a roommate. This particular roommate had schizophrenia. ANd often she would not take her medication. When she did not she became mean and somewhat hateful toward him; she would verbally abuse him as well as throw things. IF was taxing on him.

So I asked him why he let her stay in the house. She wasn't paying for anything so why bother. THis was what he replied.

HE said, "If GOd can suffer for me and for my weakness could I not do the same for others."

Think about that for a moment. If God can suffer for me and for my weakness could I not do the same for others.

Here is a man who had sanctified Christ as Lord of his heart. HEre is a man who knew how to give an explanation for the reason for his hope, for what kept him moving forward in life.

Here is a man who "lived differently" who received the gift of "new life" in Christ.

Be hopeful. Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart and keep moving.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Philip Neri

Today is the feast of the Apostle of Rome. St Philip Neri of the 16th century.

He spent his life ministering to the parishes in Rome and to the people all about.

Here are the words of Jesus in today's gospel:

"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this than to lay down his life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."

Here are the words of St. Philip Neri:

"My Jesus, my love, all the world is vanity. HE who wishes for anything other than Christ does not know what he wishes. HE who asks for anything other than Christ does not know what he is asking. He who works and not for Christ does not know what he is doing."

When we follow Christ we are following the one who promises to give us lasting joy. And who in this world does not want Joy that is lasting?

Who in this world does not want to experience that deep satisfying embrace of happiness and joy that lingers in the heart long after the circumstances change and change and change some more?

This why Philip Neri says these words: "He who wishes for anything other than Christ does not know what he wishes...HE who works and not for Christ does not know what he is doing."

Anything less than Christ is not true joy, is not true happiness, is not lasting but only fleeting. In our world we have grasped at to often for superficial joy only to be let down time and time again.

Today, examine what you reach for to give you joy and see how often you reach for that other than Christ. Perhaps this is why so many in our society are thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. They have to keep piling one experience on top of the other and discover that they need more and more.

We are a society of addicts. Yet what would it be like if we were truly committed to Christ.

How would we relate and act if joy was the primary reality in our life.

In truth, joy is not a feeling, it its is not a choice, it is not an experience, it i snot an emotion, it is primarily a presence. Joy is the presence of Christ inhabiting our soul.

In the words of Jesus, "if you keep my commandments, you ill remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love."

For Christ, to reman in his love is to be in his presence.

In his commandment, we know where we stand before God; this knowing is what secures our joy complete.

St. Philip Neri pray for us

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

rapture and dooms day

we are all familiar with the fail prediction of the end of the world this past saturday: 5/21/11.

Here is a billboard that says it all.


There are many people who desire to follow Christ. There are many people who want what Christ offers. There are many who wake each day ready to experience that love in their hearts and bring that love to others in the world.

And then Hardship comes. The knees begin to get weak. The resolve begins to waver. The mind begins to question. Doubt slowly seeps in and in the midst of such a circumstance faith burns not brighter but cold.


Really! We often suppose something went wrong when hardships come our way. How can this be? How can love invite such tragedy as pain and suffering? Yet is this not what we see in this first reading as we a again open our hearts and minds to the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 14:19-28

"In those days" it begins and then it proceeds "they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead."

Hardships faced and endured.

"But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city."

Paul faced the hardships head on. No whining! No complaining! No tantrums! He got up and went back into the city.

"It is necessary to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."

Ponder that for a moment. What hardships do you face because of your faith?

Living the gospel is not the path of least resistance; it not all fluff and stuff. It requires a heart refined and a will determined.

We too must learn to "get up" and face it head on.

We must make sure that the hardships we endure are endured for doing right and following Christ.

Hardships are like the old lye soap, course but yet cleansing, paving the way for truth and love to be the cornerstone of our life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Preparing for the Spirit

Todays gospel gets us stirred up in anticipation of the coming of the Holy spirit, which we celebrate at Pentecost.

Listen to the words of JEsus, "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy SPirit whom the Father will send in my name he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."

Usually in the church there is a Novena of prayers which start nine days before Pentecost to prepare our mind and hearts for that celebration.

This year Pentecost is on June 12th which means we should begin our prayer to the Holy Spirit 9 days prior, which would be June 2nd, Ascension Thursday. According to the Biblical record Jesus Ascended 40 days after Easter and Pentecost was experienced 50 days after Easter. So a Novena is that prayer which enters into the that time of waiting, waiting for the power of God to be made manifest.

Each day you say a prayer invoking the HOly SPirit to come. YOu try to do it at the same time so pick a time in your day when you can truly enter into the prayer, not rushed or hurried.

Here below are a few links with Novenas to the Holy Spirit. MArk your calendar and enter into this time preparing your hearts and mind for the coming of the Spirit.

Novena at EWTN

Here is one at Catholicculture.org

Here is another site you will finds a lot of prayers to the Holy Spirit, just click and scroll

Here is a prayer composed by St. Josemaria Escriva

Come, O Holy Spirit:
enlighten my understanding
to know your commands;
strengthen my heart
against the wiles of the enemy;
inflame my will…
I have heard your voice,
and I don’t want to harden
my heart by resisting,
by saying ‘later…tomorrow.”
Nunc coepi! Now!
Lest there be no tomorrow for me!
O, Spirit of truth and wisdom,
Spirit of understanding and counsel,
Spirit of joy and peace!
I want what you want,
I want it because you want it,
I want it as you want it,
I want it when you want it.

Get your prayer on!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

friction: living stones

When i was a young kid, I would often come home somewhat frustrated. I was a thin kid and i came from a large familty. And often times, I would be picked on by my classmates because of this. They would make fun of the fact i had 9 brothers and sisters or the fact i was really thin.

Usually, I wanted to beat some kids.

My dad decided to show me how to handle it. He took me aside at home and told me that he would show me how to fight. He got in a sparring position and raised in hands and in one swell swoop I swung and hit him in the stomach.

HE crumbled in front of me. I was a little scared. But he grabbed me and told me that that wasn't exactly what he had in mind. He really wasn't wanting to show me how to hit someone. That was not what he meant when he told me he was going to teach me how to fight.

What he meant was learning how to deal with tension and adversity in amore subtle way. He informed me that learnig how to fight had little to do with learning how to hit but rather using the tension and friction and allowing it to shape us in a positive way.

Friction and tension will always be present. Hitting seldom solves anything.

This is what St. Peter is talking about int he second reading today.

He tells us that we are called to be "living stones built into a spiritual house...a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own..to announce the praises of Christ."

"Living stones!"

What does this mean?

Peter is drawing from a image that we are not familiar. In order to understand this we have to go all the way back to Peter's time with JEsus.

Jesus often hung around at Capernaum, a village near the sea of gallilee. This was JEsus' home away from home. In this little village there are many homes built of small black stones.

What is unique about these stone homes is that no mortar is used. We are all familiar with brick and mortar. Mortar is that sticky stuff that allows the bricks to stay in place.

But in Peter's time, homes were often built with out mortar. In order to get the stones to stay in place, they would take the stones and rub them together. Using the fiction and the rubbing, the stones would eventually stick togther.

The friction and the tension would be used to create durability and sturdiness.

This process is called making "living stones."

this is what Peter is talking about. As Christians we are called to use the friction and tension we encounter in life to be life giving. This is what it means to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Faith changes how we deal with everything.

These moments of friction and tension that often accompanies relationships of all kinds: family, children, spouses, work,s chool, etc, are meant to shape us and bring about a strudy and durable unity.

In the presence of friction, we discover what real charity and real commitment is all about. Growth and change accompanies the process of friction.

This is what we discover in the first reading. Their is tension in the early church. Division and fractions are compalining about being neglecting. the apsotles take that friction and tension and use it to move the early in a new direction establishing the Diaconate, where seven men are chosen into service.

What a marvelous testimony and witness of grace being active. Divisions and diversity bring strength and intensify unity.

We are a race of grace. No longer are we bound by ethnicity, origins, language, financial status but we are bound in Christ. We have one thing in common, we are all differnt and in this difference the sameness of Christ holds us together.

This is what it means to learn to fight in life, in grace; this is how we walk the way, the truth and the life.

So the next time to find tension i your marriage, in your family, in your work place, in yor relationships, stop and think about these living stones and how frictiona and rubbing is necessary for durability and sturdiness and unity.

Use it properly and only then can we truly announce the praises of Christ.

Friday, May 20, 2011

dream home

acts 13:26-33; Ps 2 you are my son; this day I have begotten you; John 14:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not let you hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be..."

Many people are focused on finding their dream home. They spend hours looking over pictures and designs so that when their time comes they make their home exactly as they want it.

Some how this is meant to bring them satisfaction, happiness, peace.

Dream home.

Yet, how much better to have a home built by the hand of Christ? How much more dreamy is this home that awaits? How much more work and effort should go into preparing ourselves for that great arrival, that great moment when we finally catch a glimpse of our true home?

HOw much more satisfying is the home GOd desires to give us, God's dream home for us in Christ. This why we are told "do not let your hearts be troubled." There is still more to come, a reunion of sorts that trumps all we have imagined or hoped for.

But in order to receive this gift that awaits we must change. We must be willing to follow after Him who is "the way and the truth and the life."

"No one comes to the Father except through me."

Here is thought to ponder. There are no other contractors that can leads us to our dream home. Not all roads lead to heaven as might be persuaded to think. We must go through Christ.

This is the task placed before us each day. We must choose to let JEsus be lord of all of our life; every aspect must be touched by him, which requires a continued purification.

Thus, we must be willing to be changed.

W.H Auden states the following, "We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and see our illusions die."

Our illusions must die. We must give way to reality and only the one who is the way and the truth and the life shows us reality as it is.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Word from the Pope

We must learn to spend more time in front of God,
before the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ;
we must learn to recognize in silence, within our very selves,
his voice that calls us and leads us to the depth of our existence

shepherd me O GOd


Acts 13:13-25; Ps 89 For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; John 13:16-20

First glance at the the first reading for today, "From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and arrived at Pergia in Pamphylia. But John left them and returned to Jerusalem. THey continued on from Pergia and reached Antioch in Pisidia."

Paul and Barnabas on are on a journey. And John, also known as Mark, the one who is believed to have written the gospel of Mark, decides to leave, abandoning the mission. He decided to go back home.

Perhaps he got scared. The journey to Antioch in Pisidia was not an easy jaunt but rather a dangerous and daunting climb. To get there the group had to scale the Taurus range of mountains, which was 3600 feet above sea-level, as well as, doing so by way of the hardest and most notorious roads of Asia Minor.
This was no journey for the weak of heart or the weak of knees. This journey required perseverance, endurance, strength, stamina and most of all the willingness to risk it all.

IT seemed, John was not up to the challenge, so he went home.

St. John Chrysostom stated that John was a Momma's boy.

In Acts 15:38, we catch a glimpse it what Paul thought about John's decision to leave them high and dry.
Acts 15:37-38 is as follows, "Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, but Paul insisted that, as he had deserted them at Pamphylia, refusing to join them on that mission, he was not fit to be taken along now."

St. Paul doesn't mince words. He considered John a deserted and perhaps even a coward.

Perhaps like Paul we have been disappointed with someone in our life. Perhaps we have been abandoned by someone at an important cross roads in our life and felt betrayed by their decision. Maybe like Paul, we made a personal decision to not let them back into our life.

Maybe we have seen people turn away from challenges and felt compelled to judge them because of their cowardness. Maybe we have met "momma's boys" in our life and have been frustrated with their lack of maturity or resolve.

Perhaps we have the coward lack resolve. Perhaps we have been the ones who abandon others or gotten weak in the knees or betrayed someone we love at important times in our life.

If so then what?

Well, we turn to 2 Timothy 4:11. Here we encounter Paul some years removed from the event at Pamphylia where John left them high and dry. Here we encounter Paul in Prison. He is writing a letter to his friend and companion Timothy and in it he states the following, "I have no one with me but Luke. Get MArk and bring him with you, for he can be of great service for me."

That is right. You read correctly. Paul is requesting Mark, aka John, to be brought to him because of great service.

The deserted is now useful. The one who lacked courage is now one who can give strength and courage. The one who was not wanted is now requested.

Things change, don't they.

Perhaps here in lies the lesson for today.

We should not give up on any one. God's grace continues to be affected. People can change. People do change. The one we despise today might be the one we need tomorrow.

Just a thought.
Good day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The hand of the Lord was with them

acts 11:19-26; Ps. 87 All you nations praise the Lord; John 10:22-30

A few things about today's first reading. As we move through the season of Easter we are invited at Mass to enter into the life of the Early church. We experience the formation of the early church in the Holy Spirit, working throught he apsotles.

We also experience the kergyman, the preached message of the the Church to all the world, "Jesus is Risen, repent and believe in the gospel."

Today in chapter 11 if Acts of the Apostles we see a few things of importance for us today.

First, we read that "there were some Cypriots and cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak tot he Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus."

As we read the Acts of the Apostles, we come across the big guns in the early church, the likes of St. Peter, St. James, St. Paul, St. Barnabas. They carry a bulk of the load and get the bulk of the notoriety.

However, there are moments where others rise to the front as weel and are called out for their work in the vineyard.

These, however, remain nameless, as we just encuntered, "some were Cypriots and cyrenians."

The do not get named but they do get noticed for their good work. They were like Peter or Paul but nonetheless eseentail witnesses to the life of faith.

These nameles sones who bear witness and spread the message are a lot like most of us. We aren't on Tv or EWTN. We don't have our own network or radio show. Our names will not be household names across the country or even the globe, but nonetheless our witness is essential the work of the church and the spread of the faith.

We are ordinary. We won't get the notoriety. We will remain anonymous in light of the vastness of the world, but what we we do remains impactful.

We must be active where we are. Every city is Antioch for us, where those who follow christ are gathered and we call them Christians. It isn't our name that is important but his name.

Seconly we enocunter Barnabas. BArnabas' name means son of encouragement. What a nickname? Think of all the nicknames we have had or have given others. Could you think of another name more honorable than "son of encouragement."

Imagine goign through life known as the one who encourages others. What a way to preach the gospel.

Thridly, we read that ANtioch was the place where the name christians was given to those who followed Christ. We must rememeber that this nicknames wasn't a name of endearment. IT was a derrogatory term.

People would smirk as Christians walked by and say look at those "christ-folk." Christians were different. They didn't do things like everyone esle and this difference is what earned them the name of "Christian."

How great! We need to redisocver this difference. We need to reclaim our uniqueness. W eneed to choose to stand out and let people make fun of us. We have gotten to where we try to hard to be like everyone else and thus we lose our identity, we lose our mystique, we lose christ.

To follow chirst demands a that we can no longer just fit in and be like all the rest. we have to stand out, stand up, stand tall, be real.

The hand of the Lrod will be with us.
In the words of Barnabas to the Christians of Antioch, "remain faithful to theLord in firmness of heart."

Monday, May 16, 2011

might have life abundant

This week Jesus reminds us that he is the Gate keeper for the sheep. He is the Good Shepherd who calls to his sheep and they hear his voice and follow after him.

The image of the Good Shepherd is one of the most popular images of Jesus in the world today. In fact, in the early church it was Jesus the Good Shepherd who brought comfort to those who were being persecuted and killed because of their faith and religious beliefs.

In a cemetery outside of Rome that dates to the 3rd century, the catacombs of St. Callixtus, there among the tombs of the Christians who were killed for living their faith is a statue of Jesus the Good Shepherd. This statute is 1700 years old.

This image was the anchor of faith for the Christians as they saw their families and loved ones carried off to be killed. It continues to anchor our faith.
We all like the image of the shepherd who leads us and guides us to pastures to refresh our soul. We like the image of the shepherd whose rod and staff give us courage.

Jesus says that the sheep follow the shepherd because they recognize his voice. This is the goal in life. We must seek to recognize the voice of Christ in our life. Only in hearing his voice will we discover life abundant. And once we have heard is voice no other voice will do.

But there are a lot of voices trying to get us to live our life in a particular way.

Here is our question. How do we hear the voice of Christ? How do we know we are listening to the right voice and following the right shepherd home?

There are a few things that can guarantee that we are in deed listening to the right shepherd, that we have our ears tuned in to the voice of truth and love.

One) As Christians we must read sacred scripture. St. Jerome tells us that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. The bible helps us meet Jesus in action. If we do have the stamina for the whole bible we should at least read the four gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Reading and rereading these we cqn see the real Christ rise before us. Praying we talk to God, but in reading God talks to us. We must expose our selves to scripture.

Second) We must inform ourselves of the teachings of the Church. Even the hard and difficult teachings. The Church, the bishops in union with the Pope, the successors of Peter and the Apostles, have been given the task of guiding us in the way of truth and love from one generation to the next. The Church is the living voice of Christ interpreting for us how to implement the gospel into our daily lives. The living voice of the church comes to purify our opinions. There are many opinions but only one truth. We cannot piece meal the truth.

Third) we must go to Mass each Sunday. When we gather as a community once again we expose ourselves to Christ who makes himself present to us. HE is present in the proclamation of the Word. In a three year cycle we would have heard a large portion of the bible, God’s revelation, at Sunday Liturgy. God wants to have a word with us each Sunday as a community. We are not individual sheep but we belong to a flock. Then he comes to us in the Eucharist, his real presence to speak to each of us and nourish us. The good Shepherd in the Eucharist leads us to green pastures and refreshes our souls every time we “Amen” to the body of Christ.

Fourth) we should pray the rosary. Since this is the month of May I thought I would comment on the Rosary a bit.

This past Friday we celebrated the anniversary of the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to three children in Portugal on May 13, 1917.

Mary, when she appears, she always has the same message. 1) don’t offend the Lord by our sin. We should be careful and prudent.

2)Pray for the conversion of sinners for peace in the world. Instead of rejoicing at the death of Bin Laden we should pray for those like him so that God may untwist the twisted.

Jesus says that heaven rejoices over one repentant sinner; should our prayers not give heaven a cause to rejoice.

3)She asked the children to pray the rosary daily so that they and others would hear the voice of Christ.

As we honor Mary this month with flowers as our mother and queen of Heaven, let us think about the rosary as God's gift to us.

All battles worth fighting require the proper weapons. There rosary is a proven instrument in helping us stay in tuned with the voice of Christ.

The rosary enables us to mediate on the face of Christ through the eyes of his mother. No one knows the Son better than his mother.

As we recite the rosary, we walk in the footsteps of Christ, thus Christ is put at the center of our life.

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

The rosary works on a human level because it engages the whole human person. It involves our speech and our hearing. It occupies our mind and incites our emotions. This way God can sanctify our mind, heart, and emotions as we meditate on the mysteries of sorrow, joy, light and glory. It assigns a task to our fingertips, those sensitive organs of touch.
Thus we fulfill the command of Christ who tells Thomas to see and touch his hands and feet and thus believe.

The rosary is an invitation to believe through our senses ad allow the grace of redemption to affect sensible nature.

The rosary incorporates the prayer Jesus taught us. As we pray the "our Father" we let the words of God roll around in our mind and our heart. Is there a better way to honor God then by letting his prayer be in our hearts and our minds as we seek to let his will be done on earth as it is in heaven?

At the beginning of the Hail Mary we simply recite the words of the Angel Gabriel that inaugurates Jesus in to History, "Hail, full of grace the Lord is with you."

These words are words of rejoicing. Mary is invited to rejoice because God has a plan in Christ to recreate the world in his grace. As often as we say these words, we are invited to enter into God’s plan; we are invited to remember that in deed in the mess of our life will make sense in the palm of God’s hand. God has plan and do we not need to remember and recall this often as we journey forth.

The words of rejoicing fill our life.

At the center of the prayer is the invocation of the Divine name, "blessed be the fruit of your womb, Jesus." On our lips is the name above every other name, that has brought redemption in to our world. What healing power is invoked as we say his name over and over again.

Once that name is pressed upon our lips, it should change how we speak any and every word. We should be softer, gentler, more meaningful with the words we share with others. Already redemption is taking over by the invocation of such a name.

Then with each mystery we ponder the life of Christ and ask Mary to lead us into a deeper understanding of Jesus life. Who better to lead us than his mother who walked with him every step of the way.

We think about truth, goodness, and beauty as we think about the life of Christ, his ministry, his service, his teaching. We hear his voice more clearly and thus we learn to do as he did as we conform our will to his.

We see goodness in action as we follow Christ. We see what he loves and how he loves and thus we learn to love what is good for us from goodness itself.

The most important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived and the steps of Christ are retraced. With Mary's guiding hand Christ is put at the center of our life, our time, our city. Through the mysteries of joy, light, sorrow, and glory we welcome the grace of Christ in our hearts and minds and thus the newness of God purifies our relationships.

In the recitation of the rosary the victory of grace fills our hearts and minds and we are strengthen to hear the voice of the Good shepherd and let him lead us to life abundant.

Who better to take us to the shepherd of our souls then the mother of the shepherd. We must ask Mary to lead us to Christ and only then do we truly experience the grace of true life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blessed Damien: leper priest

This past week, May 10 we celebrated in the universal church the feast of Blessed Damien of Molokai. The belgian born priest who spent his years of ministry on the Island of Molokai, the leper colony in the Island of Hawaii.

He is one of our own. He decided to live with the lepers in order to serve them in their need. He himself became a leper in serving them. "We lepers" was how he started his homilies. In some way he lived the incarnation in his very flesh. He lent his flesh to Divine providence.

Below are some writings of the Blessed Damien. Enjoy! May they bear fruit in your soul.

A reading from the Letters of Blessed Damien De Veuster ss.cc.

In August 1873, to his Superior General:
Divine Providence, having compassion on the unfortunate, has thought fit to look upon your unworthy servant to care for the spiritual needs of a well-known leprosy hospital that our Government had to establish to preserve the whole archipelago from disease. Thus, it is in my role as pastor of an unusual parish of eight hundred lepers, nearly half of whom are now Catholics, that I take the liberty to write to you these lines.

(...) Here I am in the midst of my dear lepers. They are so frightful to see, it is true, but they have souls redeemed at the price of the precious blood of our Divine Savior. He also in his divine charity consoled lepers. If I can not cure them as he did, at least I can console them and by the holy ministry which in his goodnees he has entrusted to me, I hope that many among them, purified from the leprosy of the soul, will present themselves before his tribunal prepared to enter the communion of the blessed.

My chapel, which was too big the first weeks I was here, has now become too small. Three weeks in a row I have had to ask some of the older Christians to stand outside along the windows in order to give their places to the new-comers or to the fallen away who have returned or to the catechumens of whom there are always some.

Besides Sunday, there are a good number who come regularly to Mass and evening rosary everyday of the week. A good number receive communion every Sunday. Besides the consolations that the heart of a priest finds in the church, there is also much good to do by visiting homes, going from one hut to another, almost all of them filled with poor unfortunates who can hardly drag themselves around as often their hands and feet have been eaten away by this horrible disease. They are condemned to breathe foul air. Ordinarily they listen with great attention to the word of salvation which I share with each one according to their disposition.

November 25, 1873, to his brother, Fr. Pamphile:
Even though I am not a leper, I make myself a leper with the lepers; when I preach, I always use the expression, "We, lepers". Thus may I gain all for Christ as St. Paul.

November 9, 1887, again to his brother:
As you know, it has been already quite a while that Divine Providence chose me to become a victim of this repugnant disease of ours. I hope to remain eternally grateful for this grace. It seems to me that this disease will shorten and narrow the way that will lead me to our dear homeland. In that hope accepted this disease as my particular cross; I try to bear it as did Simon of Cyrene, following in the footsteps of our Divine Master. Please assist me with your good prayers, so as to obtain for me the strength of perseverance, until I reach the summit of Calvary.
* * *
Father of mercy,
in Saint Damien you have given us a shining witness of love
for the poorest and most abandoned.
Grant that, by his intercession,
as faithful witnesses of the heart of your Son Jesus,
we too may be servants of the most needy and rejected.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

Rule one of all rules

I came across this poem the other day and thought I would share a part of it with you all.

Here s a snippet of the poem,

"Rule One of all
rules one:
No one ever knows
how much another hurts.

THis is a true statement for the most part. IT is true that no one knows how much we hurt. When it comes to pain or sorrow or hurt, we are always on the outside looking in at another's plot in life.

We can empathize with them; we can have compassion for them; but we are always a bit removed from their pain, their sorrow.

No one ever knows how much another hurts.

True and yet their is one who knows.

There is one who knows us better then we know ourselves. There is one who is not on the outside looking in but rather is at the very heart of our being.

Is this not what the reading of yesterday is all about.

Jesus says the following, "I am the bread of life...this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat and not die. I am the living bread that comes down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world."

The gift of the Eucharist reminds us that HE is with us always. He comes in us and makes a home. He is near to us. There is one who knows how much we hurt.

There should be a new rule one of all rules: no one ever knows how much another hurts but one; this is the one we put our faith in. This is the one who gives us his very life to nourish us and to lead us home.

This is the Good Shepherd Himself.

For this we never walk alone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

into your hands...

The response is yesterday;s paslm at the mass was the following, "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."

Now when we hear that, we should all stop for moment and think, "where have I heard that before."

These were the last words on the lips of Jesus before he bowed his head and died, "Into your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit."

Jesus last breath was utilized to say these very words. Jesus dies praying.

These words are words of trust and surrender. It is important to remember that this is exactly the sentiment and attitude that brings redemption in to the world. Redemption comes in surrender and trust.

Now it is easy to trust and surrender ourselves and lives to the hands of God when things go our way or go as we might hope or expect but what about those other times in life when we are left scratching our heads and wondering where the Good Lord is what he is thinking now.

These are harder moments to surrender and to trust.

But nonetheless this is where we learn to grow up in faith.

Even Stephen in the first reading mentions this as he speaks to the scribes and elders who as he calls them out as "stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in hearts and ears, always opposing the Holy Spirit..."

Opposing the Holy Spirit. Here is something ponder.

Are we stiff-necked? Do we oppose the Holy Spirit?

We do more than we think. Often we throw a tantrum in life because of the challenges and obstacles and mystery we face daily. But all of these are moments to trust and to surrender and to move forward in the SPirit that guides us all.

God is love. His providential carry is motivated by lover for love. It is his love that seeks to bring good out of all. All things work for Good for those that love god as St. Paul puts it so eloquently.

Many times we are kicking against the very love we seek and desire and want to experience. Challenges in our life are never met to destroy but build up. Into your hands, I commend O Lord, I commend my spirit.

We pray this prayer daily, nightly throughout our life. Every prayer is founded on this desire to surrender and trust and thus discover true freedom.

Someday we will actually mean it fully. Won't that be beautiful!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Risk and reward

Acts 2:14,22-33; Psalm 16 Lord, you will show us the path of life; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

Twelve years ago, I decided to enter the seminary to discern whether or not I was being called to the priesthood. It was a pretty important moment. In order to be accepted by the diocese and by the seminary I had to do some things first, like get a full physical, and I mean full physical. I also was required to do a psychological exam; they wanted to see If i was crazy or had other potential harmful qualities.

I guess I am okay. PErhaps???

The last part was required by the university. The university required myself and the rest of the seminarians to write an essay in order to get in to the university. This entrance essay, which many universities require, was on an interesting topic.

The question I was write and discuss was the following, "IF you could change one event or date or disinvent something in history what would it be in why?

Looking at history as we know it, what one event would I undo.

This question gave me a pause think about the major events and dates and inventions in the history of the world. I began to think about the top ten events in all of the world history.

What would make your top ten list of great moments in World History that altered the world forever?

I immediately thought about Aug 6, 1945, the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. This certainly changed the way we harnessed power from the earth and utilized it; it also changed how we understood warfare.

Or perhaps it was Dec 7, 1941. The Attack on PEarl Harbor certainly was world changing.

I thought about the race to space and how that changed the way we travel and communicate even today.

The invention of refrigeration was certainly big. Imagine a world with out refrigerators or AC. We would still be eating alot of salted meats.

IN door plumbing has had a drastic effect on our lifestyle. Outhouses were good but really, who doesn't like the current flushing system.

The discovery of penicillin was huge. How many lives have been saved? How many more advancements in medicine was piggy backed on this discovery?

The 4th century when Constantine legalized Christianity certainly has shaped the western civilization.

The birth of Mohammed and the rise of Islam? The birth of JEsus Christ? The Invention of the Printing Press?

There are so many major events even without mentioning gunpowder and dynamite; imagine a world with out fireworks.

But what would make your top ten list of major events.

As we look at your list and check it twice, How many of us would put the resurrection of Jesus on that list?

The birth of JEsus without the resurrection seems a bit inadequate.
Without the resurrection then we are left with the same sentiments as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. AS they speaks about JEsus they mention he was a good man, with a good reputation, he had mighty words and deeds before god and man. He was an inspiration but ultimately he was a failure; ultimate he was a dead man.

Without the resurrection this is where it ends.

But with the resurrection, the world begins to change. The resurrection is an evolutionary leap so to speak. It alters our human destiny forever.

Our life can never be the same after the resurrection. Not only doe sit alter our human destiny, it begins to impact daily lives. The power of the resurrection, the encounter with the risen Lord, begins to alter personalities. It brings out the best in people.

Look at today's first reading. Here we have Peter standing in front of a hostile crowd, staring them down and boldly proclaiming the message of the person of Christ. The message is no longer in the past tense but is focused on the present reality of Jesus being alive.

This is shocking. This Peter is a force to deal with, but just 50 days prior he was floundering and blubbering fool. He was in the garden avoiding recognition. He threw a tantrum when the servant girl asked about his connection with JEsus. He swore he didn't know the man. Three times before the cocked crowed, he denied him.

He was the one who wanted nothing to do with this suffering and condemnation. He kept his distance, he played it safe.

And now he risk everything. He stands tall and proclaims loudly, risking life and limb for the sake of Christ.

Talk about conversions....

This is what the resurrection does to people.

What has the resurrection done for you? What have you risked since you heard the news? How has your life been altered?

The resurrection is on the the top of my top ten list of events and dates that changed the world. Should it not be on yours.

If so, then prove it.

We have to risk the reward to truly proclaim this new life.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

We celebrate Mother's day this weekend. It is the opportunity for us to stop and think about the beauty of life we have received and those from whom we have received it.

Especially we pause to remember our Mothers. As Catholics we have many mothers. We have our mother who gave us birth and taught us many things in life. We have our spiritual mother the CHurch who continues to guide us and lead us and direct us. Our earthly gives us earthly life where as our spiritual mother the church gives us life eternal in Baptism and the sacraments and the word of God. We also have the Blessed Mother, the one who bore JEsus into the world from whom we all share in the sonship of God.

We are brothers and sisters in Christ which makes the Blessed Mother, MAry, our mother as well. She is the queen mother of us all.

So we certainly have much to ponder and contemplate this weekend as we acknowledge our mothers with grateful hearts.

Here is a little something that I picked up on the way and thought you might like the chuckle as you think and recall your mother.


: My mother taught me RELIGION: When I spilled grape juice on the carpet, she instructed, "You better pray the stain will come out of the carpet.

My mother taught me LOGIC: From her decisive words, "Because I said so, that’s why."

My mother taught me FORESIGHT: "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident."

My mother taught me IRONY: "Keep laughing, and I’ll give you something to cry about."

My mother taught me about STAMINA: "You’ll sit there ’til all that spinach is finished."

My mother taught me about WEATHER: "It looks as if a tornado swept through your room."

My mother taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.".

Now call your mother and tell her you love her and you thank her. Then pray for her as you know se prays for you.

Easter Sunday revisited

One of my favorite places to visit is cemeteries. One of my earliest memories is being in a cemetery with my family as we buried my uncle, my dad's brother. It was my first experience with grief and sorrow as I witnessed my dad shed tears at the loss of his younger brother.

It was also my first memory of love as my mother informed me that dad was crying because he loved his brother. Thus, cemeteries unlike what hollywood tries to get us imagine with ghost and haunting, have always been a we go to remember that we have loved and we have loved in return.

Every year during lent, my family would visit the cemetery to clean the graves of those family members who had gone before us and put fresh flowers down as a sign of respect.

I would often spend time roaming through the cemetery looking at the tombstones and reading the headstones. They were always fascinating for me. I was never concerned with the bodies beneath me but also curious about the untold stories written in abridged fashion on the headstones themselves. There I would catch a glimpse into the life lived.

When I was preparing to be ordained to the priesthood, I spent a week in silent retreat in Dallas. On this retreat center where I stayed was a really old cemetery. So I found myself spending time reflecting and thinking as I strolled through the cemetery, again trying to piece together the stories with the information etched on the headstones.

As I recall there was one family where according to the dates on the headstone, the wife was 20 years younger than her husband and that got married when she was 19 and he was 39. Imagine that conversation when she went to tell her parents she was going to marry a guy as old as her father. Now I am sure that was a interesting dinner conversation.

There was the stone family, where both children died young, one at 7 and the other at 10. Shortly after the children died, the mother passed on as well. The father was left by himself for nearly 30 years. I could only imagine the grief and sorrow and loneliness this man must have carried as e said goodbye to his children and his wife in such a short span.

There were some people who loved 80 years and others who barely made it to their 20's. Some had a long life of adventure and others never knew the adventure of life and love.

There were a few headstones that were nameless and just simply had the date of the death of the person. Nameless concrete slabs was all that remained of their life. Even that tells a story of how they journeyed in society. To remain nameless in death speaks volumes.

All of these stories would remain untold lying beneath the cold, dark, damp ground were it not for the story told at Easter.

The story begins with the tomb of Christ. The story begins in a cemetery. We must learnt o read the headstone of Christ and to penetrate the tomb so as to truly get what reality is.

The story of Christ changes everything. We discover that in the empty tomb, our life and our story does not end in a cemetery but rather it begins there.

The empty tomb becomes the guarantor that our story live in His story, will not end in the cold, dark, damp ground.

If we live with Christ we shall rise with Christ. He has made the grave a sign of hope even as it claims our mortal bodies. Our story has meaning in his story we celebrate these 50 days of Easter.

The limits of life have been stretched beyond our wildest dreams. We are no longer bound by the beckoning of the cold dark ground. The warmth of light radiating from the empty tomb that is filled with the brilliance of the resurrected presence of Christ calls us into a new dimension of being human.

Truly our life has endless possibilities, for in Christ, as we look into the empty tomb, we see a life that knows no ends.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wisdom of Gamaliel

We continue to encounter the development of the early church through the lens of the Acts of the Apostles. We see the apostles be filled with the Holy Spirit then go forth speaking and spreading the good news of christ, a task that encountered success as well as challenges along the way.

Today in Acts chapter 5, we encounter the Apostles in hot water. The Sanhedrin is seeking to silence this motley crew spouting off about Christ causing a disturbance. They want to get rid of them at any cost. Then Gamaliel, one respected by all people, stood up and said the following,

"Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the Cenus. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God."

So, after 2000 years the answer to the question is staring us in the face. Is this church of human origin or is it of God?

Here Gamaliel again, "For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God."

Which is it? Human origin or Divinely orchestrated.

Here alone finds the answer to the comment I often here about the church. Many not catholics speak of the church being man made with man rules. Yet, after 2000 years does this not speak of divinely instituted reality.

In Christ the man God the church is founded and continues to spread the message and proclaim the good news.

In the words of Blessed John Cardinal Newmann, "to be deep into history is to cease being protestant."

To be deep into history reveals the truth of the church that is alive even today by the power and for the glory of God.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Primer for this Sunday: Emmaus bound

"We are once again pilgrims on the road to Emmaus…

Our heads are bowed as we meet the Stranger 
who draws near and comes with us.

As evening comes, we strain to make out His face
 while he talks to us, to our hearts.

In interpreting the Book of Life,
He takes our broken hopes and kindles them into fire:

the way becomes lighter as, 
drawing the embers together, we learn to fan the flame.

If we invite Him this evening, He will sit down
 and together we shall share the meal.

And then all those who no longer believed 
will see and the hour of Recognition will come.

He will break the bread of tears at the table of the poor 
and each will receive manna to their fill.

We shall return to Jerusalem to proclaim aloud
 what He has whispered in our ear.

And no doubt we shall find brothers and sisters there
 who will greet us with the words:

‘We, too have met Him!’
For we know: the mercy of God
has come to visit the land of the living! "

Reflection by Brother Roger of the Taize community


Here is part of a poem,

"We touch each other so many
ways, in curiosity, in anger,
to command attention, to soothe,
to quiet, to rouse, to cure.
Touch is our first language
and often, our last as the breath
ebbs and a hand closes our eyes."

Here is the psalm for today, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him."

The Lord is close to the broken hearted...

We long for human touch. The simple caress of another affirms our existence and lets us know that it is good that we are here, that we exist and that we belong.

Touch has amazing power to heal, to strengthen, to encourage, to motivate, to bring security.

It also can be destructive and decisively damaging tearing down before it ever builds up.

We must be cautiously aware of the power we hold in the palm of our hands and tread lightly and lovingly through life with our palms opened in a gesture of giving not closed in a gesture of harm.

God in Christ comes to touch us. He comes to caress us. He comes with hands held out and arms stretched forth in a gesture of welcome and peace. The touch of Christ remains the pinnacle of our human existence.

God has reached down and drawn us to himself in the incarnation. His embrace remains eternal and forever ours. He reminds us that it is good that we are here, that we exist, that we belong.

The scars from the cross remain in his hands to remind us of that gentle caress and that loving touch that comes from heaven.

As the gospel of John today reminds us, "But the one who comes form heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever accepts his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one who GOd sends speaks the word of God. HE does not ration his gift of the spirit..."

The touch of Christ certifies that God is trustworthy. The outstretched arm of Christ remains the only certification we need and the proof of affirmation that God thinks of us.

May our hands be like the hands of Christ, bearing the wounds of love and gently caressing humanity back to life in love.

Few words from Pope Benedict

as believers in the risen Lord, this is our mission: to awaken hope in place of despair, joy in place of sadness, and life in place of death. With Christ, through him and in him, let us strive to make all things new!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

james and Philip: pursuit of happiness

today we celebrate the feast of two apostles. James and Philip share this day as their memorial, in which the church ask us to recall their encounter with CHrist and how that encounter challenged and changed the direction they were headed.

In CHrist they encountered a way. Their life found purpose.

They both gave themselves fully to CHrist; they let themselves be won over by Jesus, to be with him, and to invite others to share in His company, and thus finding God and true life.

As Blaise Pascal reminds us, "Happiness is not in us nor outside of us. Happiness is in GOd alone. And if we have found him, then it is everywhere. "

The apostles understood this. In Philip's question we get a glimpse of this desire when at the last supper he ask, "Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

Philip is correct. Only the Father in his fullness will ever satisfy our deepest longing. Only in him shall we come to know happiness. But JEsus reminds us that God has a human face. That if we truly want to know the Father then we must pursue Christ, in contemplating Christ we come to the Father, "Whoever as seen me, has seen the Father."

In Christ we encounter life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The American Dream is realized in Christ.

Monday, May 2, 2011

continue to speak with boldness

Acts 4:23-31; Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord; John 3:1-8

"Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body's force;
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than..." shakespeare

Listen to the words of the Acts of the Apostles from today's mass...
"After their release Peter and John went back to their own people....as they prayed, the place where they gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."

Peter and John were arrested and dragged to court for preaching in the the name of Jesus. Society around them wanting nothing of this Jesus and the message. They tried to end it all; they tried to put a stop to it; they wanted to silence Peter and John.

Sounds a lot like today's society. How often is society at large seeking to silence the messagers of Christ?

How often are we discriminated agianst becasue we boast of Christ and proclaim his message to the world?

After Peter and John were warned to "never mention that man's name to anyone again," they went to report th ehostility they encountered and rather than folding under pressure and packing up and giving in they prayed for strength and the "place where they gathered "shook" and they were filled with the "Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness."

with boldness they continued to speak.

what a gift for us today. How we can learn from the apostles to garner strength in prayer and to never cower before hsotility and the clamoring voices of society. Peter and John understood that society needed what they were preaching.

To refuse to preach would to love them less.

As Shakespeare out it so precisely, "to love you is better than..." to love God is better than any hostility we may encounter.

May we be shaken and be filled with the Spirit so that we may have the boldness necessary to proclaim the message and bear witness in the lives w elive.

tribute to John Paul Ii

Here is a Vatican multimedia look at the life and times and writings and prayers and journey of Pope John Paul II.

It is fascinating and easy to surf through.