Monday, October 31, 2011


Romans 11:29-36; Ps 69 Lord, in your great love answer me; Luke 14:12-14

We have been reading from the letter of Romans over the past few days and even weeks.

In chapters 9-11, St. Paul is presenting a case for the Jews who have not believed in Christ. His argument is quite a spin job.

"In respect to the gospel, the JEws are enemies of God for your sake; in respect to the election, they are beloved by him because of the patriarchs. God's gifts are irrevocable."

"Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their (jews) disobedience, so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all."

It kind of makes your head hurt just reading it. Sounds like a theological spin cycle to me.

But the last part of today's reading really sums it all up.

"Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! HOw inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!...For from him and through him and for him are all things. To God be glory forever."

IT may seem a bit confusing to our weak and feeble minds. It may be down right overwhelming.

But in the end, it is the inscrutable judgments and unsearchable ways of God that ultimately become the ground of our hope and source of our strength and the cause that urges us on.

Now for the gospel.

The words of Jesus ring true especially as we look toward thanksgiving. "When you hold a dinner, do not invite your friends or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have your repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the blind, the lame, the crippled' blessed will you be for their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

How many of us do this?

How often do we want to be repaid immediately for what we have done? Perhaps we should check ourselves against this gospel and discover the freedom to give and not desire repayment.

All Hallows Eve: Saints Quiz

Know Your Saints Quiz Scroll down for the choices. Good Luck!

1. I am the apostle to the Gentiles whose letters you read in the Bible.

2. I am the first American citizen to be canonized whose work among the immigrants gave me the title of 'Patron of All Immigrants.'

3. I am the Carmelite saint whose "Little Way" shows us how offering joys and sorrows daily can make us a great saint.

4. I am the foster father of Christ and the patron of a happy death.

5. I am the cousin of Jesus who prepared the way for the Lord.

6. I am the woman who offered my veil to wipe Jesus' face when He was carrying His cross.

7. I am the apostle chosen by Christ to be head of His Church.

8. I am the missionary who made Ireland famous for its piety and learning.

9. I am the beloved apostle and the writer of the fourth gospel.

10. I am the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose baby was Presanctified.

11. I am the patron saint of music because I sang the praises of God while I was cruelly put to death.

12. I am the modern day saint who chose martyrdom rather than to be impure.

13. I am the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus.

14. I am the valiant young girl who led France to victory over England and then suffered death by being burned at the stake.

15. I am the 'Little Poverino' whose order is now the largest in the world and who so resembled Christ in my life that I was privileged to bear His sacred wounds in my own body.

16. I am the 'Wonder Worker' of Padua and a Doctor of the Church.

17. I am the Patron saint of schools who was once called the Dumb Ox by my classmates but who wrote many treatises on the faith. My teacher was St. Albert the Great.

18. I am the saint who reformed the Carmelite Order and who became the first woman Doctor of the Church.

19. I am the simple parish priest who was tormented by the devil because my great sanctity brought my people closer to God.

20. I am the Visitation nun to whom Jesus appeared showing His Sacred Heart and to whom He delivered His message of love and plea for reparation.


St. Peter, St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Anthony, St. Joan of Arc
St. Elizabeth, St. Anne
St. John the Baptist, St. John the Apostle
St. Margaret Mary , St. Patrick
St. Maria Goretti, St. Paul
St. Teresa of Avila, St. Cecilia
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. John Vianney
St. Joseph, St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Francis Assisi, St. Veronica
* 20 point bonus for those who know the century in which their saint lived.

* 5 points for each piece of information you know about your saint.

Here is the Litany of Saints; pray it sometime today and tomorrow

Here is a nice article on the history of All saints and Halloween and how they mix

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Malachi 1:14-2:2,8-10; Ps 13 In you Lord, I have found my peace; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9,13; Mt 23:1-12

Listen the words of the prophet Malachi, "I will send a curse upon you and of your blessing I will make a curse."

These are the words of of God spoken by the prophet. Think about those words, "I will send a curse upon you and of your blessing I will make a curse."

Really! Wow! what appropriate readings with Halloween right around the corner.

Is God really going to curse someone? Cursing doesn't seem like something the God of love would be about. Cursing seems a bit vindictive rather than merciful!

Would God really wish that evil or harm would befall someone?

What is this curse business all about anyway.

The answer is both a yes and a no.

No, God doesn't wish evil to befall anyone. God is love. God is good. Evil is an absence of good, as St. Augustine put it.

God is not some warlock in the sky sending evil and harmful realities our way.

But God does let us experience the effects of our wonderings. God will let us experience the negative effects of our choices and decisions.

God will give us what we ask for, this is true.

This is what the prophet Malachi is speaking about when he speaks of God cursing.

God will grant our desires. He will let us experience the negative side effects of the decisions and choices we make.

These negative side effects have a far reaching effect.

Listen to Malachi again. "You have turned aside from the way, and have caused many to falter by your instructions; you have made void the covenant of Levi, says the lord of hosts."

God does not cheat us from our freedom but lets us experience the reality of the freedom by which we choose to live.

How often is this the case and we blame God and refuse to be responsible and accountable for our own actions.

I try to remind people of this every time I celebrate a baptism. I smear the children with the oil of Catechumen on the chest prior to baptism.

I often remark how the oil is slippery. The oil reminds us that we are slippery from the hands of the devil the moment we are baptized. The devil has no power any longer. The only way evil can be brought into our life is by the abuse of our freedom or the abuse of some else's freedom.

I try to remind people of the necessity of being prudent with the choices we make so that good is served.

God desires to bless us abundantly but he will also grant us what we desire and with it comes all the negative side effects as well.

IT isn't that God curses us; rather we curse ourselves by our choices and actions.

Now we move to the gospel...

The words of Jesus are a warning not just to the scribes and pharisees but to all of us in leadership.

"For they preach but do not practice."

This is reminiscent of the old adage, "Do as I say not as I do" morality.

This never works. We all know integrity is what moves us. Words are cheap. Actions matter most of all.

Are we guilty of this? Do we preach and not practice?

Secondly Jesus says the scribes and pharisees only want to be noticed, "They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor...(not to mention titles such as) "Rabbi".

The phylacteries are leather boxes that would be worn on the forehead and left arm during morning prayer. These boxes contained scriptures. Apparently, size did matter to some.

Some would increase the size of their box so that others might comment about their piety or devotion. The focus shifted from glory to God to glory to oneself.

We all can fall into this trap. How easy is it to be seduced by the lime light? How easy is it to be seduced by the titles and prestige and the notoriety?

How often do we make our life about us rather than about God in Christ?

Leave the show behind. Be who you were created to be, that is to remember we were created for glory first to give it then and only then receive it.

Again we go back to Malachi, "If yo do not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name..."

This is the central theme of the readings. This must become the check list for our lifestyle and actions.

Does it give glory to His name?

Ad majorem Dei gloria: for the greater glory of God

mountaineering: lover of high place

Romans 11:1-2,11-12,25-29; Ps 94 The Lord will not abandon his people; Luke 14:1,7-11

Look at the Psalm today.

It is short and sweet. The last part of the psalm is striking and rings true for all of us who are honest on this journey.

"Were not the Lord my help, my soul would soon dwell in the silent grave. When I say, "My foot is slipping," your mercy, O Lord, sustains me."

Mountaineering or the sport of climbing mountains is simply one of the finest outdoor opportunities available to the lover of high places.

Mountain climbing is all about challenge and perseverance, about putting hands and feet onto rocks and ice and snow and finally reaching a summit. There, high above the world of cities and civilization, the climber can pause and look across a natural world ruled by nature and her raw beauty.

In order to truly enjoy the height and breath of the mountain experience, the climber can't start at the top but must begin at the base of the mountain and slowly and steadily work upward.

There are a lot of tools that necessitate the climb: axe, ropes, harness, boots, crampons, webbing and cord, slacklines, slips and runners, quickdraws, carabines, etc.

On perilous journeys, the rope acts as a safety line that gives support and safety as the climber heads upward. Just in case there is slippage, then the rope will catch hold and the climber will not tumble to his or her demise.

Mountain climbing is a good analogy for the spiritual life. The spiritual life is only for those lovers of high places.
There are no slick mountains, for then the climb would be impossible.

The climb necessitates crevices and steep and sharp cliffs as wells as gentle slopes and rocky terrain all of which allows the climb to move upward.

This is our movement back to God.

All the while we climb upward it is the mercy of God that is our safety rope, that which sustains us. IT is always there to encourage us and to eliminate the fear of the climb, the ascent.

Jesus doesn't say we hsould be in high places in today's gospel rather he just reminds us not to cheat ourselves of the climb. We have start at the bottom.

We start at the bottom and we slowly make our way to the top but we only do so with humble awareness that were it not for the rope of mercy we would all simply fall.

All that is left is simply to climb on!
From the Pope: through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Simon and jude

Ephesians 2:19-22; Ps 19 Their message goes out through all the earth; Luke 6:12-16

As we close the month of October and get ready for November and December, we are asked to pause and as we say good by to October we recognize to of the apostles: SImon and Jude on this their feast day.

Not much is known about Simon, the Zealot or Jude aka Thaddaeus.

But we do know a little.

Simon, was called the zealot. He was a man of great passion and at least passionate attachment to his Jewish identity, God and the divine law. He was driven by this passion in all that he did.

This zeal certainly set him apart from Matthew, one of the other apostles. In fact, Simon and Matthew were worlds apart: Simon the zealot, passionate for his Jewish identity and Matthew, the sell out who was a tax collector.

It is hard to imagine any two more different people, yet in Christ they were called to stand together.

They lived side by side bound by Jesus Christ.

As Pope Benedict points out, this difference in unity reminds us that Jesus did not care about labels or social class but rather he was interested in people. Despite our differences, difficulties can be overcome in Christ, for in Christ we are given strength to get the better of our conflicts and allow them to be fruitful for unity.

Something to think about as we move and rub up against so many different types of persons and personalities. We can get the better of our differences and difficulties in Christ rather than letting then get the better of us.

Secondly we look to Jude aka Thaddaeus. Jude has a letter in the New Testament, which would be worth reading today on his feast.

Jude had a very important and timely question he asked Jesus at the Lord's Supper, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world."

Why did God in Christ not reveal himself in full glory to his enemies in order to win them over, to show them he was God?

Why only show his disciples?

Jesus' answer is very revealing for us, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

The Risen one must be perceived not by sight alone but by the heart. Jesus, the Lord, does not address himself as a thing, but he desires to enter our lives, thus he requires an open heart.

Check you heart today. IS it open or has it been hardened shut.

Will you let Him in and let him make his home within you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

who can be against us

Romans 8:31-39; Ps 109 Save me, O Lord, in your mercy; Luke 13:31-35

St. Paul sums it all up in just a few simple and well ordered words, "If God is for us, who can be agianst us?"

Is there really anything else that can add to this simply and noble statement of faith by St. Paul.

It really is a rallying cry for the person of faith as the journey of life unfolds, as the mystery of tomorrow is unveiled, as darkness gives way to light.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

How do we know God is for us?

What has God done to prove this reliabilty. How do we know God is reliable? How do we know God has got our back?

"He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not give us everythign else along with him?"

Sounds like a pretty convinving gesture. Sounds like a reason to believe to me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The man who prays is in glory...

Romans 8:8:26-30; Ps 13 My hope O Lord is in your mercy; Luke 13:22-30

Below is a commentary Pope Benedict gave on prayer a few weeks back. The commentary on prayer is a reflection on Psalm 3.

"This is the great temptation to which the believer is subjected -- the temptation to lose faith, to lose trust in the nearness of God. The just man overcomes this ultimate test; he remains steadfast in the faith, in the certainty of the truth and in full confidence in God, and it is precisely in this way that he finds life and truth. It seems to me that here the psalm touches us very personally; in so many problems we are tempted to think that perhaps not even God can save me, that He doesn't know me, that perhaps it is not possible for Him; the temptation against faith is the enemy's final assault, and this we must resist -- in so doing, we find God and we find life."

"This interweaving of the human cry and the divine response is the dialectic of prayer and the key to reading the whole of salvation history. The cry expresses the need for help and it appeals to the faithfulness of the other; to cry out means to express faith in the nearness of God and in His readiness to listen. Prayer expresses certainty in a divine presence already experienced and believed in, [a presence] manifested most fully by God's saving response. This is significant: that in our prayer the certainty of God's presence be important, that it be present. Thus, the psalmist, who feels himself besieged by death, confesses his faith in the God of life who as a shield wraps him with invulnerable protection; he who thought himself already lost can now lift up his head, for the Lord saves him; the man who prays -- threatened and scorned -- is in glory, because God is his glory."

Think about that last line. The man who prays in in glory, because God is his glory.

What a beautiful reminder about the necessity of perseverance in prayer.
How often we forget; how often we need to be reminded.

Flipping to the gospel today we encounter the question posed to JEsus by "someone". "Lord, will only a few people be saved."

This random, no name person poses a very important question. The question could be from anyone and many times it is a question we ourselves grapple with on a regular basis as we look out into the world.

In about 33 days the new translation of the Roman Missal will go into effect. We will be praying with different words. One of the new translations is going to affect the words of consecration.

Previously the priest prayed the following in the consecration of the wine, "Take this all of you and drink form it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."

The new translation will have a few alterations, "Take this all of you and and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.

Notice the change of words as highlighted. Especially note the words are changed from "for all" to "for many."

Some scholars suggest that not only are the words "for many" more in lined with the actual words of scripture, as mentioned in isaiah 53:11-12, where the suffering servant would come to bear the sins of "many" and making "many" righteous but also some suggest that "for many" is a response to the question posed by the "someone" of today's gospel.

The person was aiming low, where as God in Christ was aiming high, not "for few" but "for many."

In deed Jesus Dies for all and the universal scope of the saving mission remains intact. Jesus dies for all, but not everyone chooses to accept the gift. Each individual must choose to accept the gift of salvation in Christ and live according to the grace so that they may be counted among the "many."

Thus, those who gather to celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday have chosen to respond to God's gift in Christ and thus they enter into that time of prayer in deed in glory, the one who prays is in glory, for God is his glory.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Red handed

Romans 8:12-17; Ps 68 Our GOd is the God of salvation; Luke 13:10-17

Tid bits form the scriptures this morning

"if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him." Romans 8

"God arises; his enemies are scattered." Psalm 68

"He laid hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God." Luke 13

In the gospel for today, Jesus is caught red handed. There is no doubt that he is guilty as charged. THe synagogue official saw it, every one in the synagogue saw it, and there was no getting out of it.

For 18 years This woman had been afflicted, bent over, stooped to the ground. JEsus reaches out to her and she is healed, set free from this infirmity that has hounded her, oppressed her, slowly sucked the life out of her.

On side note, the fact that that she was in the synagogue, suggest at least some what that she had not given up on God; she still held on to hope and faith in Him even in the midst of her trials and struggles and sickness. This alone is worth meditating on.

But Jesus does her a good turn. In fact, Jesus' heart is always prepared to do Good, regardless of the potential fall out. He lets no one stand in his way of doing Good.

The synagogue official raised a stink, arousing the crowd against Jesus for this act of goodness. The official just flat out missed the point.

And the beauty of the gospel is that Jesus let him know it. Jesus didn't back down. "Hypocrites!" comes forth from the lips of Jesus. Jesus isn't labeling or name calling he is simply pointing out the truth that is obvious to everyone but the official himself.

Sometimes we should walk away from a fight but there are others when we must stand fast and speak boldly, holding our ground, especially when it comes to defending the life of another.

This was one of those moments.

Today, be on the look out for these kind of moments. Be prepared to do good; be prepared to speak out against injustice. Be prepared to not back down. Be prepared to be caught red handed in goodness. Be prepared to stand erect and give glory to God.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Loves DNA

Article written by Fr Ron Rolheiser

Recently, in a theology class, I was asked this question: “Why is it that whenever we talk about love we soon end up talking about rules and commandments? Invariably we end up talking about what we can’t do! And it’s the same thing with faith: We begin talking about faith and then end up talking about dogma, creeds, and heresies. Why can’t we just talk about love and faith without immediately bringing in a bunch of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’?”

Fair enough. A good question. This is not unlike the famous ecclesiological query of a century ago when a French theologian asked: “Jesus came preaching a kingdom, how did we end up with the church?” Where do commandments, creeds, dogmas, and structures come from?

First off, we should admit that, sadly, sometimes they come from the wrong places. Rules, laws, and dogmas too frequently come from administrative offices that are too concerned with their own power. As well, they come from fearful, jealous, and petty places inside of ourselves. Small wonder that they do not always serve love and faith very well. However, in their best expression they come from love and faith themselves, just as an oak tree comes from an acorn and a mature man or woman develops out of a single set of chromosomes. Love and faith, like an acorn or a set of chromosomes, carry a clear, determined DNA.

We see this with faith: Bernard Lonergan once said that faith is the brand of the first principles inside the human soul. Henri Nouwen, using a different language, said the same thing. For him, faith is the primal memory of the kiss of God in the soul, the dark remembrance of true first love, of having once, before conscious memory, been caressed by hands far gentler than our own. These are wonderful, helpful images for faith. Faith is a brand, a kiss. However once we begin to try to touch that kiss in any way—through words, imagination, or even through feeling—we find that not all expressions of what we think this kiss is are true to its DNA and that only certain things can grow out of that acorn. The thing itself—however inchoate, dark, and beyond our imagination—dictates the lines within which it can validly be taken. As soon as we try to give expression to the kiss of God in us we find that some things we say are true to that kiss and others are not and soon enough that makes for creeds, dogmas, and heresies. We see this right in the way our Christian creeds developed. Immediately after the resurrection, the earliest Christians had only a one-line creed: Jesus is Lord! That’s a powerful little acorn! It says it all. However, as they tried to un-package what that meant, while all the time remaining true to its DNA, they eventually ended up with a couple of lengthy creeds and a whole series of dogmas that were needed to challenge a number of false understandings along the way.

Love works the same way. It too is a brand inside of the heart, an acorn with a unique DNA. Love can grow legitimately only in certain directions. What is its DNA? At one level this is clear. Love, in order to be love, must contain gratitude, respect, selflessness, and a willingness to let the other be free. Selfishness, envy, taking-another-for-granted, disrespect, and violation of all kinds can never pass themselves off as love. They are its antithesis. All of this is already written into the acorn. Hence there are some non-negotiable “dos” and “don’ts” within love. These are not arbitrary, humanly-imposed, dictates that limit love, but are rather the inherent lines for health and growth written right into love’s DNA. Thus, love, like faith, necessarily ends up with a number of commandments, creeds, and dogmas.

Sometimes today we are too easily seduced by a naive concept of love and freedom. This naivete would have us believe that faith and love can exist without boundaries, that there is not within them a defined DNA that may not be violated. The belief here is that love and faith can mean whatever we want them to mean. But, as we know, something that means everything means nothing. Love that is potentially anything, that exists without any non-negotiable protective principles, can also then mean incest, rape, and murder. The same is true of faith. Faith without boundaries, without creed and dogma to specify it, can then just as easily mean racism, Nazism, and bigotry.

Why do we inevitably end up talking about creeds, dogmas, commandments, and boundaries? Because love and faith have a set DNA. Every acorn is meant to be a very specific kind of tree. So too with love and faith. Already in their nascent forms, as in any tiny seed, there is present a fairly complete script for health and growth. Good creeds, dogmas, and commandments simply lay out that script so that it can be consciously read.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Friday, October 21, 2011

forecast: cloud of concupiscence with 100% shower of grace

Romans 7:18-25; Ps 119 Lord, teach me your statues; Luke 12:54-59

we can’t change yesterday or forecast tomorrow. All we have is the present. How will you spend it?

Hear the words of St. Paul from todays reading, "The willing is ready at hand, but the doing the good is not... I discover the principle that when I want to do good, evil is at hand...I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members...Who will deliver me from this mortal body?"

Talk about a ominous forecast painted by the spiritual meteorologist, St. Paul.

It reminds of my little nephew. He is a first grader. He is is trouble a lot at school. His dad, my brother, sat him down and asked him why he is always getting into to trouble at school, and his response is classic St. Paul, "Daddy, I am a good boy but my mind tells me to do bad things."

Even at 7 years old, we experience what St. Paul speaks about and describes so well in this 7th chapter of Romans.

There is often a seemingly great chasm between what we ought to do and what we actually do. A sense of helplessness rise to overwhelm us in this endless struggle.

The theological term for this reality described by Paul is "Concupiscence" which is the inclination of fallen man to misuse free will in sinful and selfish ways. It manifest itself in a unremitting desire for pleasure, power, and possessions.

What is the answer?

St. Paul will go on to teach us in Romans 8, "You are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you....If Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of have received the spirit of sonship. when we cry Abba! Father!It is the spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order to be glorified with him."

Our resolutions are often inadequate but in faith through baptism, we have the resolution of christ flowing through our bodies. We do not struggle alone. Christ fights in us and with us. THis is our hope for glory.

THis is why it is so important that we remember our date of baptism and celebrate it annually. There in lies the hope for the journey. We do not go alone. Christ is alive in us. THis makes all the difference.

Though we may fail time and time again, if we cling to Christ then we shall always have the strength to rise anew and begin to move forward in the present moment. We shake off the dust of disappointment and frustration that clings us and we say boldly with St. Paul, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

turn up the heat

Romans 6:19-23; Ps 1 Blessed are they who hope in the Lord; Luke 12:49-53

Words form the gospel
"I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!"

Now certainly we understand fire. We have recent experience of the destructive force that a fire brings to community, how quickly it spreads and how quickly it gets out of hand.

Texas has had its experience, in particular Bastrop. Fire is madness when it is unleashed on the earth.

But it is also very productive. It is the fire that actually enriches the soil once it has passed. The fire releases nitrogen other important nutrients back into the soil, creating a more suitable environment for growth. Fire also brings with it rapid regeneration of growth. Thus a greater diversity of species enlivens the ecosystem. Fires also release seeds that enable species of plants to be spread.

Now imagine that kind of force and madness of faithfulness to God, faithfulness in discipleship.

What would the world be like if the fire of seeking God's will were blazing in each of us?

We would be madness on the world, not causing havoc but just the opposite, bringing order, enriching the soil around us and enabling regeneration.

Thus, is the reversal JEsus brings to the earth.

Do we burn and blaze or is our life just puttering along.

It is time to turn up the heat.

Secondly, the gospel mentions, Do you think I have come to establish peace? No, I tell you division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father divided against his son, and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Again the words of JEsus seem to be striking and shocking. Does he really mean division?

The meaning is simple and clear. Our attachment to the kingdom must be prior to any attachment or bond regardless of its nature whether it be parents, children, or spouse.

There is a lot of division in families already but it is not caused by the right motivation. Most division is caused by selfishness or greed or hormones.

But what would the world look like if we attached ourself first to the kingdom of God and let that became our driving force.
Division would happen and what a beautiful reality that would be.

How would the world look if we no longer forsook our faith or our faithfulness?

Our task is to make sure the divisions that happen are happening for the right reason.

Perhaps then the fire would truly blaze.

The greatest division however is within ourself. We must never forsake the kingdom for our own selfish desires.

As St. Paul tells us in the first reading, "But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? You have been freed form sin and are slaves of God, the benefit that leads to sanctification."

We must let the word of God in Christ divide us, cause division within us. Is this not what JEsus means when he ask us to deny ourselves, pick up the cross and follow him.

Only then do we bear the torch, only then do we set the world on fire.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Last Judgment: justice and mercy collide

Romans 6:12-18; Ps 124 Our help is in the name of the Lord; Luke 12:39-48

Words from Pope Benedict on this wednesday

"Faith in the Last Judgment is first and foremost hope...Only God can create justice. And faith gives us certainty that he does. The image of the Last Judgment is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope...It is an image that evokes responsibility, an image, therefore, of that fear of which St Hilary spoke when he said that all our fear has its place in love. GOd is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ."

Words of Jesus from Luke 12"39-48

"Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."

"The servant who knew his master's will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will shall be beaten only lightly."

"Much will be requires of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

Words from Plato

"Often when it is the king or some other monarch or potentate that he has to deal with, he finds there is no soundness in the soul whatever; he finds it scourged and scarred by the various acts of perjury and wrongdoing; it is twisted and warped by lies and vanity, and nothing is straight because truth has had no part in its development. Power, luxury, pride, and debauchery have left it so full of disproportion and ugliness that when he has inspected it he sends it straight to prison, where on its arrival it will undergo the appropriate punishment...

Sometimes though the eye of the judge lights on a different soul which has lived in purity and truth...then he is struck with admiration and sends him to the isles of the blessed."

Pope Benedict continues...

"With death, our life choices becomes definitive- our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love...On the other hand there can be people who are utterly pure, completely permeated by God, and thus fully open to their neighbor-people for whom communion with God even now gives direction to their entire being and whose journey toward God only brings to fulfillment what they already are."

Which road are we on? Which shape or form is lour life beginning to take? Are we ready for the judgment that awaits us all?

Quote for today:
"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatutes bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity." Dale Carnegie

above a picture of St. Isaac Jogues and companions who were martyred in present day canada. Today is their feast day.

Words from St. Isaac Jogues after he returned from Paris after being rescued from the grip of torture, only to return to face martyrdom.

"Yes, I want what the Lord wants, even if it cost a 1000 lives. The tortures are great but still God is greater and immense."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Storyteller who lives the story of faith.

2 Timothy 4:10-17; Ps 145 Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom; Luke 10:1-9

Today we remember St. Luke the writer of 1/4 of the New Testament the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

Luke is a storyteller. His gospel contains some of the most moving stories of the encounter of God in history, especially the infant narrative of Christ, the annunciation narrative of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the unfolding of Christ in history as he reaches out and touches those who were considered unworthy of touch.

Luke paints a beautiful picture with his pen.

In the gospel we meet the Good Samaritan, the Rich fool and Lazarus who lets the dogs lick his wounds, the Shepherd who looks for the one lost sheep as he leaves behind the 99, the prodigal son who returns home. In the gospel of Luke, we encounter the great agony of JEsus where he sweats drops of blood and an angel is sent to console him. Luke informs us of the repentant thief who dies with Christ to whom paradise is offered.

The pen truly is mightier than the sword especially in the hands of St. Luke, the great storyteller of the Mercy of God in the flesh of JEsus Christ.

Of all that St. Luke writes, it is what St. Paul tells us that probably solidifies his character. As we read the first reading today, notice what St. PAul says about St. Luke, "Luke is the only one with me."

Luke is the only one with me. Luke not only writes a good story but he lives a better one. There he is a loyal friend standing with Paul who had been arrested and thrown in Jail.

Luke remains living out what he wrote about, the MErcy of God in fleshed in Jesus Christ.
Luke is the storyteller who lives the story of Faith.

Luke stood fast.

Then we go to the gospel of today written from the hand of St. Luke himself.

"Jesus appointed 72 disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit."

JEsus sends the disciples to prepare the way for him. Thus, is our mission and task in life. Do we prepare the way for Christ?

"Say to them, The Kingdom of God is at hand for you." Here n lies the theme of St. Luke's writings, both the gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles. Here in lies the theme of his life.

What about ours?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ignatius of Antioch: rich in what matters to God

Romans 4:20-25; Ps blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people; Luke 12:13-21

Click here for a little theme song for this Monday morning

Ignatius was a bishop in the early church. He gave his life in 107 by being thrown to wild animals under the EMperor Trajan. On the way to Martyrdom he wrote several letter to several communities of Christians.

He spoke about many things but in particular was the gift of the Eucharist.

In the letter to the Smyrnaeans he identifies Heretics as those who "abstain from the EUcharist and from pryer, because they do not confess the EUcharist to be the flesh of our Savior JEsus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again. Those, who speak against this gift of GOd, incur death in the midst of their disputes. Yet it would be better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise."

He also spoke about the role of the Bishop, "Wherever the Bishop shall appear their let the assembly also be-just as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Apart from the Bishop, it is not lawful to Baptize or to celebrate an agape. But whatever he shall approve is pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid."

Just a few words from Ignatius of Antioch.

Now for the readings of the day.

St. Paul invites the Christians in Rome to believe in the promise. We are empowered by faith and we can give glory to God and thus are convinced that what God has promised he will be able to do.

Look again at the words St. Paul uses to describe Abraham as well us:

empowered by faith, give glory to God, convinced, God has promised, be able to do.

These are clear and precise and invigorating for us as we journey forth.

Are we empowered by faith? What in our live reveals that power full active in our life? What is driving us forth?

Examine your life today! Where is the semblance or evidence of your faith?

St. Ignatius was certainly empowered by faith as he was thrown to the wild animals. He was also empowered by faith has he clung to the reality of the Eucharist as the body and blood and soul and divinity of Christ, that gift from God's goodness.

He was empowered by faith as he trusted in the Role of the Bishop to gather the people.

As you enter into the world of wild things today, it is a jungle out there, don't lose sight of you faith it will empower you.

We think about all kinds of energy and energy crisis in our life: fossil fuels, natural gas, oil, going green, solar, wind power and the list goes on.

Faith surpasses all of those. We just have to engage it. Every day provides ample opportunity to be empowered by faith. The issue with faith is the more you use it the stronger it becomes.

This is what JEsus speaks of in the gospel with that one liner, "Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."

Remember those commercials, "Got milk?"
St. Paul and JEsus ask "Got Faith?"

Friday, October 14, 2011

notice of God

(Image is portrait of JEsus found in the Catacombs of St. Callistus)

Romans 4:1-8; Ps 32 I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble; Luke 12:1-7

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Callistus. He was born to a Christian slave in the 3rd century. Later in his life he was put in charge of a bank that eventually went broke. THus, he was on the run, until he was caught and sent to the mill (prison). He was ransomed and later ordained a deacon and put in charge of the Christian Cemetery that today still bears his name: Catacombs of St. Callistus just outside of Rome along the Appian Way. He became Pope Callistus in 217 and was martyred 223.

As I recall to mind St. Callistus, I cannot but think about my trip to the catacombs of Callistus several years ago. I had the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist in the catacombs, surrounded by the tombs of Popes and martyrs and many of the remains of the early Christians.

It was very moving.

The profound aspect of the catacombs was the silence. It was an "uproar" of silence. As I journeyed through the catacombs, everywhere I looked I encountered frescoes or mosaics, or sculptures of hope and faith and love.

The silence resonated confidence.

The Good Shepherd clinging to the lamb is all over the walls and tombs. Also depicted are images of JEsus at work: raising Lazarus from the dead, making the blind to see, multiplying the loaves and fishes, changing the water in to wine.

IT is as if the martyrs are telling the visitors that JEsus continues to be active and that his work lives on in the life of faith and even in the death of those who die in faith.

There are no crosses in the catacombs but rather there are anchors which are symbols of hope. The Good Shepherd and the anchor stand out as the source of hope and confidence that resonate from the tombs of the catacombs.

We are always in his grip. This is the message of the catacombs that comes to the visitor in silence.

The voice of the martyrs continues to sing the praises of God in Christ.

The early greeks called the place of the dead a necropolis, which means city of the dead, but the Christians adopted a new name for the cemetery, they called them dormitories, a place of rest.

They knew death was not the end.

The catacombs put flesh on the gospel for today. JEsus tells us "there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known...Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. YOu are worth more than many sparrows."

Believe it, profess it, live it.

The catacombs present to every visitor true transparency. Transparency of faith only leads to confidence and trust. The martyrs have nothing to hide, and we should follow their lead.

We do not escape the notice of God.

Here are some links to the Catacombs online.

The first link is a Litany to the martyrs of the Catacombs: pray them today as an act of faith.

click here for litany

Here is a link to a virtual tour of the Catacombs

Virtual tour click here

Here is general information on the Catacomb themselves

Click here

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No distinctions

Romans 3:21-30; Ps 130 With the Lord there is mercy; Luke 11:47-54

Here are the words of St. Paul from the letter of Romans this morning

"There is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus. whom God sent forth as expiation, through faith by his Blood...What occasion is there then for boasting?"

There is a sobering thought. The cross is the great equalizer. Why do we boast?

Go back to the first part of that statement by St. Paul. "There is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the Glory of God."

Now "distinction" is different than "exception". Obviously there are exceptions looking at all humans though there are no distinctions between gentiles and jews. JEsus Christ is an exception. He was fully human and was sinless. The church teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was is also sinless, by the words of the greeting of the angel Gabriel, "HAil, full of grace the Lord is with you." Though Mary's sinlessness is still prescribed as a result of Christ and his redemption.

A lot to think about.

But remember we can be saved in many ways. IF we are walking and fall into a hole, then someone who rescues us by pulling us from the hole saves us. Or we can be walking and headed toward a hole and then someone comes along and guides us around the hole, we are still saved though we do not suffer the effects of the fall.

The former is our experience. THe latter is Mary's. Both cases we are saved by grace that comes from Christ.

The argument St. Paul is presenting is the argument that Jews and Gentiles alike are all the same in Christ. None are better than the other for it is by the Blood of Christ that we are justified in faith.

To be justified means to be vindicated or to arrive at an acquittal.

When does this acquittal happen? Where according to Paul, by Baptism 1 Corinthians 6:11. In the waters of Baptism, the sinner is acquitted and the sinner is adopted as a child of God himself in Christ. thus an heir of eternal life. Thus an inward transformation occurs, an indelible mark as the church teaches.

St. Paul goes on to say, "a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law."

Works of the law are different than good works.

For later, St. Paul will say that faith manifest itself in lives of believers by obedience (Rom 1.5), love (Gal 5:6), good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Works of the law refer to the Mosaic Covenant and the many prescribed precepts added on by the scribes and Pharisees through the ages.

Good works are those things that come because of faith, such as we encounter in Galatians chapter 5, the fruits of the Spirit.

Just something to think about on this Thursday morning.

Turn your attention to the gospel.

The Pharisees and the scribes began to act with hostility toward Jesus.
Jesus speaks the truth and calls them to the mat. They do not like it and they react violently toward it.

This is a good thing to remember. If they persecuted him, they shall persecute us who also call people to the mat by speaking and living the truth. Jesus made them feel uncomfortable.

So be it.

A Poem: sometimes

sometimes things don't go, after all
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all is well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

conscious discipline

Romans 2:1-11;Ps 62 Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works; Luke 11:42-46

A few words from Pope Benedict as he spoke to the southeast region of Italy, Calabria, though he spoke to them he always speaks to all:

"never give in to the temptation to pessimism or to withdraw within yourselves. Draw from the resources of your faith and your human capacities; make an effort to grow in the capacity to collaborate, to look after your neighbor and the whole of the public good, guarding the wedding garment of love; persevere in giving witness to human and Christian values ..."

Words from St. Paul, more like an exhortation, "YOu, O man are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge do the very same things...?

Here St. Paul is not speaking about being critical but rather about passing judgment in the sense of condemning. This is a problem.

What is our standard? We must examine our measuring stick and make sure it measures at the same breadth and height and width of the Cross of Christ.

None of us have the authority to condemn anyone, though we must help them to arrive at a better place. It is easy to write people off. It is easy to want to get rid them, out of sight and out of mind. It is a lot harder and takes a greater love to encourage them continually and seek again to move them to a better place so that they collaborate with God's grace of transformation.

Paul continues, "the just judgment of God will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness..."

St. Paul mentions that God will repay. What we shall receive depends in a large portion on us. I remember being at St. Rose last year and all the teachers were working on implementing conscious discipline, where the teachers teach the children accountability and consequences based on their choices, helping them to see the positive choice to every situation.

It seemed to be an affective tool. St. Paul is using conscious discipline in the letter to the Romans. He is inviting us to look at the consequences of our choices while trying to reenforce good behavior. We have a choice, we can either be with GOd for eternity or not.

You decide.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Romans 1:16-25; Psalm 19 The heavens proclaim the glory of God; Luke 11:37-41

What is hooptedoodle?

Inflammation of a story caused by infectious or toxic writing that gets in the way of the story's making progress. It is wordy, unnecessary, space-taking, and typically should be edited out.

We have all read articles or novels or other books where we thought to ourself that what this story really needed was an editor. How often are too many words used? How often does words just seem filler and it hinders the story and we readers wind up just skipping those parts anyway.

What a waste! What a waste of a beautifully laid out page. What a waste of our time!

I wonder how often the story of our lives as we live them is filled with hooptedoodle? There are many things we do that really get in the way of the story's making progress.

How often too much of our life is spent on too little of importance!

Perhaps this is what Jesus was getting at in the gospel for today.

Here is a tidbit of the gospel.

"Jesus entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, "Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. YOu fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you"

In other words, eliminate the hooptedoodle and behold clarity shall be yours.

Give alms: simply put give mercy, give your life, make your life a benefit for others; be a benefactor for those around you.

Thus, eliminate the hooptedoodle.

Words from Blessed Pope John XXIII whose feast is today

"We must open our hearts and empty them of the malice with which at times the spirit of error and evil seeks to infect them, and thus purified, we must lift them up confident of receiving heaven's blessing as also prosperity in the things of this earth."

Blessed John XXIII on the Precious Blood: Click here for the Litany of the Precious Blood

"The Blood of the new and eternal covenant especially deserves this worship of latria when it is elevated during the sacrifice of the Mass. But such worship achieves its normal fulfilment in sacramental communion with the same Blood, indissolubly united with Christ's eucharistic Body. In intimate association with the celebrant the faithful can then truly make his sentiments at communion their own: "I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. . . The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul for everlasting life. Amen." Thus as often as they come worthily to this holy table they will receive more abundant fruits of the redemption and resurrection and eternal life won for all men by the Blood Christ shed "through the Holy Spirit."13 Nourished by his Body and Blood, sharing the divine strength that has sustained count less martyrs, they will stand up to the slings and arrows of each day's fortunes — even if need be to martyrdom itself for the sake of Christian virtue and the kingdom of God. Theirs will be the experience of that burning love which made St. John Chrysostom cry out:

Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love he has shown for us. . . This Blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them at a distance from us, and even summons to us angels and the Lord of angels. . . This Blood, poured out in abundance, has washed the whole world clean. . . This is the price of the world; by it Christ purchased the Church... This thought will check in us unruly passions. How long, in truth, shall we be attached to present things? How long shall we remain asleep? How long shall we not take thought for our own salvation? Let us remember what privileges God has bestowed on us, let us give thanks, let us glorify him, not only by faith, but also by our very works. 14

Sunday, October 9, 2011

the secret of life

Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23 I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; Philipians 4:12-14;19-20; Mt 22:1-14

First a brief overview of the gospel. Over the past three weeks, we have been listening to Jesus tell parables. Each of the parable offer a unique perspective on life in the kingdom. In fact, parables taken collective offer us a glimpse at the cut and contour of kingdom living.

This is important.

This weeks parable does the same.
The parable is about a King whose son is getting married. He invites the guest and they refuse to come. He sends out another reminder and not only do they refuse to come but they treat the servants badly, even killing them.

Now of course hearing this we know this is not going to turn out well for them who refuse.

the act of refusal is an act of rebellion. The refusal to attend the marriage feast of the King's son, is in some sense a refusal to accept the son as heir, as future king. The refusal to come is act against loyalty to the throne. Certainly, no king would stand for this.

The first sent of people are the scribes and pharisees and religious elite of JEsus time. They refused the invitation the King sends. Jesus of course is the one who is getting married, the bridegroom.

After the rebellion is put down then their goes out an open invitation to anyone and everyone. The servants rounded up the good and the bad alike. The good, the bad and the ugly get the chance of a life time. The invitation is undeserved and free.

They all jump at the opportunity. Of course folks the good the bad and the ugly are You and I.

The king, now excited and satisfied that the banquet is filled and the feast is being celebrated as it should be, arrives and mingles with the guest.

HE finds one who does not have a wedding garment. Now it appears that in the time of Jesus, if someone were to show up at a wedding feast without the proper attire then one would be provided. It is like going to a restaurant that requires a coat and tie. If you show up and don't have one then usually they have some set a side that can be used.

IT seems this particular guest though having been offered a garment refused.

Perhaps he thought that it didn't matter what he wore.

I hear this quite a bit from folks. They will say it doesn't matter what I look like God will accept me as I am.

OR they will say God doesn't care how I dress.

Well, Usually I tell then it is inadequate to say God doesn't care.  God cares absolutely and eternally. The issue isn't whether God cares, the issue is whether we care.

Just because the invitation is free and undeserved doesn't mean God lowers his standards.  Even God has standards.

The invitation is meant to give us courage to rise and meet the standard set before us. The standard of Course is Christ. We have all been baptized in Christ. We received a white garment at baptism with these words, "you have been clothed with Christ."

God provides the garments for us and how often we refuse.

God cares. Do we?

Now this past week we witnessed the passing of Steve Jobs. He is the mastermind and architect behind Macintosh. HE made the apple a universal symbol of communication. He changed the way we communicate and exchange information. He gave us the iPhone, iPad, iPod and itunes.

He died at the age of 56 after a 7 year battle with cancer.

A few years ago he was speak about this experience at a commencement speech at a graduating class.

He spoke about his experience after the doctors gave him the news of cancer and in fact told him he was going to die soon.

He said after that day, every morning he woke up he would go into the bathroom and look at himself in the mirror and ask himself the same question, "If today was going to be my last day alive, would I still do what I was planning on doing today."

Every day he would ask himself the same question.

He said if he answered "No" consecutive days in a row then he knew something had to change.

He said, remembering that he was going to die soon was the best tool he ever encountered. In the face of death, all external expectation, all pride, all fear of failure faded away.

It was remembering he was dying that freed him from falling into the trap of thinking he had something to lose.  Before the face of death, he said, we all stand naked.

In the face of death, we all stand naked. Think about that for a moment.

IT is true.  Death is the great equalizer.  None of us get out of here a live.  In the face of death we all stand naked.

Now think about today's psalm. Psalm 23 is important.

We all know PSalm 23 or at least we should. "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I should want. In green pastures he gives me repose, beside restful waters he leads me and refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name sake. Even though I walk in the valley of death, i fear no evil; for yo are at m side with your rod and staff that give me courage...."

It is beautiful psalm. It is the first scripture I ever put to memory. My CCD teacher asked us to memorize some scripture. I opened the bible and I found Psalm 23. It moved me. SO i put to memory.

It has stuck with me ever since.

In fact, every time I go to anoint someone who got bad news about their health or If I go to give some one the last rights in preparation for dying, I always start with Psalm 23. I want that to be on the persons mind and heart as they head down the next journey.

Think about Psalm 23 again. Hear the words, "He guides me in right paths for his namesake. THough I walk in the valley of death, I fear no evil, you are at my side with your rod and staff that give me courage."

There it is. The nearness of God transforms reality as we know it. The fact the Good shepherd leads us even the valley of death, the valley of death loses its danger, it is emptied of its threat.

It is true that in the face of death we stand naked, but in faith we never stand alone, the Good Shepherd is always at our side.

There is the beauty and truth of a life of faith. We never go alone. No matter the circumstances, no matter the road we travel. If we do it in sincere faith then on roads shall become that pathway that leads us to green pastures of repose.

No matter the road, if we walk in Christ then we shall arrive where we have always wanted to be: to dwell in the house of the lord all the days of my life.

We do not go alone. Naked yes, alone never.

This is what St. PAul speaks about in the second reading when he says, "I have learned the secret of life."

The secret of life. How many of us look for the secret of life, the secret of happiness. How many of us want the inside scoop on such things. ANd here St. Paul spells it our for us.

"I have learned the secret of life, of being well fed or going hungry, of living in abundance or being in need. I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me."

There it is  the secret of life. No matter the circumstance, In faith we do not go alone. We have one who has already gone before us. We have one who has experiences all the things we experience. We have one who has already gone down the road of death and has conquered.

The secret of life: we do not go alone.

We know this. We believe this. We profess this. It is time to live it.

Naked perhaps, alone never.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our Lady of the rosary fight with us and for us

Joel 1:13-15;2:1-2; Psalm 9 The Lord will judge the world with Justice; Luke 11:15-26

Today we celebrate Our Lady of Victory, Our lady of the Rosary. ON this date, October 7th, 1570, date the Turkish fleet was defeated by a much smaller and over matched Christian fleet. This battle was pivotal for it assured the Christian faith the freedom to be practiced in Europe.

The Battle of Lepanto was a navy battle between the Turks and Christian fleet consisting mainly of spain and venice. Pope Pius V, asked all of Europe to pray the Rosary that MAry might intercede and guide the Christian fleet.

Basically the battle was between the ISlamic fleet and the Christian fleet, but many who are politically correct will avoid that distinction so as to not stir things up.

The fact remains, it was by prayer that the those fighting the battle were aided in their victory. Mary our Mother interceded for us all as she did at the annunciation when God asked her to be the mother of Jesus.

Think about the Rosary!

In reciting the Rosary, we enter into the meaningful events of salvation history. The rosary is the compendium to the gospel. The rosary is like a 3D movie, where we can touch the life of Christ as we meditate and pray the beads.

The Annunciation of Christ when the angel comes to MAry, the birth of Christ, JEsus born into the world, the suffering Christ be it the agony in the garden or the crown of thorns, the public ministry of Christ form the wedding feast of Cana to the institution of the Eucharist, and the glorious mysteries of the EMpty TOmb and descent of the Holy Spirit, flood our mind with the recitation of the Rosary and with MAry;s guiding hand.

As Blessed John Paul II stated in his apostolic letter on the Rosary, with Mary's guiding hand while praying the rosary, we Learn Christ, we are conformed to Christ, we remember Christ, we pray to Christ, we proclaim CHrist.

At the very heart of the prayer is the repetition of the name of JEsus, "blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus" he whose name is salvation for all.

What more can you ask from a prayer?

Paul the VI on the Rosary, "As a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany- like succession of Hail Marys, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel's announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: 'Blessed is the fruit of your womb'.

Here is the apostolic letter on the Rosary

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Malachai 3:13-20; Ps 1 Blessed are they who hope in the lord; Luke 11:5-13

Jesus tells the story of a friend who shows up on your door late at night knocking and seeking bread.
The story's focus is not on the one who gives or why he gives but on the one who ask.

The punch line is as follows, "I tell you, if he does not get up to give him loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence."

Firmness of purpose, the unwillingness to give in or give up will gain you a lot of ground in the end.

Turn your attention to the psalm. today we read from psalm 1. Psalm one begins the book of psalms which consist of 150 psalms. The book is a mirror of the spiritual life.

It begins with two kinds of people: those who fear the Lord and are obedient and those who fear not and who are classified as the wicked.

"Blessed the man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night. He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade."

Blessed is the man that is persistent.

The thing about the psalms. If you follow them through you come to psalm 150, which is a psalm of pure praise.

Persistence in obedience and fear of the Lord leads to perfect praise.

This is the spiritual life: firmness of purpose and the willingness not to give in will gain you ground in the end.

In the words of Franklin Roosevelt, "When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."

Example: Abraham Lincoln
if you want to learn about somebody who did not quit, look no further. Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout his life. He lost 8 elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown. He could have quit many times - but he didn't and because he didn't quit, he became one of the greatest Presidents in the history of US. Lincoln was a champion and he never gave up. Here is a sketch of Lincoln's road to the White House: 1816 : His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them. 1818 : His mother died. 1831 : Failed in business. 1832 : Ran for state legislature - Lost. 1832 : Also lost his job. Wanted to go to law school, but couldn't get in. 1833 : Borrowed some money from a friend to begin business, but became bankrupt by the year end. 1834 : Ran for state legislature again - Won. 1835 : Was engaged to be married, but his fiancée died. 1836 : Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for 6 months. 1838 : Sought to become speaker of the state legislature - Defeated. 1840 : Sought to be elector - Defeated. 1843 : Ran for Congress - Lost. 1846 : Ran for Congress again. This time he won. Went to Washington and did a good job. 1848 : Ran for re-election to Congress - Lost. 1849 : Sought the job of land officer in his home state - Rejected. 1854 : Ran for the Senate of the US - Lost. 1856 : Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party's national convention - Got less than 100 votes. 1858 : Ran for the US Senate again - Lost again. 1860 : Elected President of the US.

In the end, persistence is a divine attribute. Think of how persistent God has been to get our attention. Think about the countless stubborn hearts and wills he has endured from the moment he spoke those words, "let there be light" to the Pentecost experience of sending his Holy Spirit. Right smack in the middle is the Cross.

Persistence means to be godly.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Jonah 4:1-11; Ps 86 Lord,, you are merciful and gracious; Luke 11:1-4

But the Lord asked, "Have you reason to be angry?"

What a question!

This is God's response to Jonah who throws a tatrum becasue the people of Nineveh are saved from destruction. He throws a tatrum because God is merciful.

Imagine that!

Here is the prophet who was coerced to preach repentance. Remember he preached agianst his will, he was reluctant. Yet, It was productive. God used this little man to bring about big changes for the people of Nineveh, the people jonah himself despised.

God allowed them to repent and to change their ways. God gave them warning, he gave them time, and in the end he gave them clemency.

But is mercy wasn't finished.

Then to show his mercy, God allowed a plant to grow and give Jonah shade even while he compalined. Then the plant withered and died.

Jonah's anger flared up.

It seems poor Jonah is only thinking about himself. Poor Jonah is only happy with God when God does what Jonah desires. Sounds a lot like us.

Don't we try to corner God in to doing what is our will rather than truly allowing ourselves to be transformed by his.

In the end, we do not have a monopoly on God's mercy. In the end do we really have a reason to be angry? when it is all said and done, is not his mercy really all that we hope for and all that we desire?

The Lord giveth and the lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

John Wayne's grandson is a priest

Here is a post for all of you John Wayne fans. His grandson is a priest.

Find the article here: Click here pilgrim

Wednesday's Audience but Sundays words from the Pope

Today I wanted to leave you with Pope Benedict's words form Sunday on the gospel as well as guardian angels, whose feast was this past Sunday. I've highighted a few parts I thought were worth looking over several times. The Successor of Peter really knows how to drive home a point. I hoep you enjoy.

"This Sunday's Gospel closes with Jesus' warning addressed to the chief priests and elders of the people that is particularly severe: "The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will bear its fruits" (Matthew 21:43). These are words that make us think of the great responsibility of those who, in every age, are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord, especially with the role of authority; they move us to complete fidelity to Christ. He is the "stone that the builders rejected" (cf. Matthew 21:42), because they judged him an enemy of the law and a threat to public order; but he himself, rejected and crucified, is risen, becoming the "cornerstone" upon which every human existence and the entire world can rest with absolute security.

The parable of the unfaithful tenants, to whom a man gave his vineyard to be cultivated to bear fruit, speaks of this truth. The owner of the vineyard represents God himself, while the vineyard symbolizes God's people as well as the life that he has bestowed upon us to do good through our commitment and his grace. St. Augustine says that "God cultivates us like a field to make us better" (Sermo 87, 1, 2: PL 38, 531). God has a project for his friends but unfortunately man's answer is often oriented to infidelity, which translates into rejection. Pride and egoism impede the recognition and acceptance even of God's most precious gift: his only begotten Son. When, in fact, "he sent them his son," writes the Evangelist Matthew, "they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him" (Matthew 21:37, 39). God gives himself into our hands, he allows himself to be an unfathomable mystery of weakness and manifests his omnipotence in fidelity to a plan of love that, in the end, foresees also punishment for the wicked (cf. Matthew 21:41).

Solidly anchored in faith in the cornerstone that is Christ, we remain in him as a branch that cannot bear fruit on its own if it does not remain in the vine. Only in him, through him and with him is the Church, the people of the New Covenant, built up. In this connection the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote: "The first benefit which we trust the Church will reap from a deepened self-awareness, is a renewed discovery of its vital bond of union with Christ. This is something which is perfectly well known, but it is supremely important and absolutely essential. It can never be sufficiently understood, meditated upon and preached" ("Ecclesiam Suam," August 6, 1964: AAS 56 [1964], 622).

Dear friends, the Lord is always near and working in human history, and he also accompanies us with the unique presence of his angels, whom the Church venerates today as "guardians," that is, ministers of the divine care for every man. From the beginning until the hour of death, human life is surrounded by their unceasing protection. And the angels are the crown of the august Queen of Victories, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary, who in the first Sunday of October, precisely at this hour, receives the fervid plea, from the sanctuary in Pompeii and from the whole world, that evil be defeated and the goodness of God be revealed in its fullness.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

From Riches to Rags

JOnah 3:1-11; Ps 130 If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand; Lk 10:38-42

What is happiness?

St. Thomas Aquinas dedicates a whole section of his Summa Theologia on Happiness of man.

His conclusion: final and perfect happiness can consist in nothing else than the vision of Divine Essence. He goes on to add that a certain participation in happiness can be had in this life, but perfection and true happiness cannot be had in this life. Though rectitude of the will is necessary for Happiness; since it is nothing else than the right order of the will to the last end.

The will has to be rightly ordered. Hence "Seek ye first the kingdom of God."

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Francis. He is known through out the world as probably one of the happiest men you will ever know.

There are many advertisements about the most interesting man in the world. St. Francis is the most interesting man in the world.

We often hear of stories of people going from rags to riches, well St Francis went the other way, from riches to rags.

He gave up his family's inheritance, his wealth, his fame, his fortune and all to boot. He even gave back the clothes on his back to his father and walked away from it.

But he really wasn't walking away from anything, rather he was walking toward someone, walking with someone, Jesus Christ.

IT was in this movement toward Christ, he discovered what happiness could be. He embraced poverty so that he could truly set his heart and mind on that which matter most of all. Unhindered, his will could then "seek first the kingdom of God."

He often spoke about Lady Poverty as the one companion that would assure that his will was always fixed on Christ.

Poverty isn't just about not owning any property or having any money, rather it is about being unhindered in seeking the kingdom.

What hinders us? What distracts us from seeking the kingdom of God? What runs interference in our life? What are we attached to in life? This is where Lady Poverty can lead us forth!

This is what St. Francis models for us even today some 800 years after his death. He let nothing get in his way of achieving the goal of seeing God face to face, where true happiness is found.

His actions, his words, his discipline, his renunciations, his lifestyle all reflected that one movement of the soul, a will longing to see.

What about us?

As we encounter in the first reading and the gospel today. Especially we hear it in the words of JEsus to MArtha, Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken form her.

Have we chosen the better part?

St. Francis pray for us

Monday, October 3, 2011

Won't you be my neighor

Growing up, I remember watching reruns of Mr. Roger's neighborhood. THat catchy little song sometimes continue to ring in my head even today, "Would you be, could you be, won't you be my neighbor."

What a refrain!

Here is the introduction to Mister Roger's neighbor via Youtube

Today in the gospel we read the story of the Good Samaritan.
We are familiar with the story. We all know the players: the robbers. the victim. the priest, the levite and of course the Good Samaritan.

We know the bad guys and the good guy in the story very well.

Remember the story is told in response to the question: Who is my neighbor?

Basically the response form JEsus is thus: we don't get to choose who our neighbor is. God has already chosen that for us. Each and every day God puts unfortunate souls in our path and we must choose to respond in a neighborly way.

We don't have the luxury to go to the opposite side of the road and look away and pretend we don't see.

This is why JEsus tells us, "Go and do likewise." Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber's victim? He replied, "The one who treated him with mercy." "Go and do likewise.

The invitation is clear and precise.

We know what God ask of us.

Be on the look out for victims of any sort. Do not seek to justify yourself but trust in the justification that comes from God who empowers us to do as he did.

BEcause in the end, we are the victims, abandoned on the side the road and Christ is Good Samaritan who has had mercy us, who carries on his shoulders and who binds our wounds by being wounded for us, "By his wounds we are healed" says St. Peter.

Won't you be a neighbor today.

sinner, satanist, saint

Jonah 1:1-2,2:1-11; YOu will rescue my life from the pit, O Lord; Luke 10:25-37

"But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the Lord."

We find these words written in the story of Jonah we experience today.

How often is this the case, where many a men and women flee from the Lord? There are too many to count.

What Jonah experiences on the boat as he flees, we experience in the world.

"The Lord hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up. Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god..."

Look out into the world. The world is shaken with violence and poverty and disease. Not that God is punishing us, but rather by turning away from God we also turn away from all that is good. We bring self-destruction upon our self.

Just look around!

But all hope is not lost. God finds a away to call us back to himself.

Jonah is thrown over board where a whale swallows him up. In the belly of the fish for three days he journeys.

The path back to God is not an easy one. We too must deal with the belly of the fish, the stench of our past lives and decisions. They too linger even though we seek to return to the lord. We must wade through our past lives in order to experience a true conversion.

"Then the Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore."

What a nasty image. Jonah being spewed out of the mouth of the fish. The story of Jonah can easily be seen as a paradigm for conversion.

Today in the church we remember Blessed Bortolo Longo. He was born in 1841 in Italy. He was raised in the faith but upon his mother's death at the age of ten he began to drift away. In college he turned away completely where he was caught up in all kinds of things even the Satanic cult, where he became a satanic priest devoting his life to speak against the Catholic faith and all that was associated with God and Christ.

After sometime, a old professor met up with him and told him that he was on the path of damnation. Assisted by this professor and an Dominican priest, Bartolo came back to the faith, as the writers of biography say, "after much study, prayer, and lengthy confession."

Bartolo began to devote his life to the sick, poor, and the uneducated, teaching them to read, and write, and reaching out to them in their need. He saw it as his way of making amends for decisions of his past and as an effort to repair the damage he caused to so many as a satanist.

He began to pray the rosary daily and he grew in holiness. What a turn around! Bartolo went form a sinner, to a satanist, to a saint.

Here you can read about his life

But in all actuality the potential for holiness was always there. Such it is with all of us.
The path of conversion is not easy but it is transformative.

He learned what Jesus tells us in the parable, of the Good Samaritan, it is not we who justify ourselves but rather Christ who justifies all of us and makes the path of holiness always with in our reach.

"Which of these three were neighbor to the robber's victim?" Asked JEsus. HE answered "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

for his love endures forever

This morning as we enter fully into the weekend, on this day, October 1st, we recall to mind the Little flower, St. Theresa of the child Jesus of Lisieux.

She struggled with her vocation, her calling in life. She wanted to be many things, a preacher, a teacher, a missionary, a martyr. She wanted to give God her entire life.

In the midst of her search she came upon a revelation: "Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will show you the way which surpasses all others. For St. PAul insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind."

She exclaims that "love appeared to be the hinge for my vocation... I knew that the church had a heart and such a heart appeared aflame with love...Love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love ebraces every time and every place. In one word Love is everlasting."

Thus began her little way of martyrdom, dying to self so that she might live for love, seeking the highest good for herself and for others.

Psalm 136 in the Old testament recounts God's actions in history. The psalm itself is built around a refrain that repeats every second line, for instance:

"who alone has wrought marvelous works
for his love endures forever
whose wisdom it was made the skies
for his love endures for ever
who fixed the earthly firmly on the seas
for his love endures for ever..."

And it continues. But the refrain is what makes the psalm, it answers the question, why does God do what he does, "for his love endures forever."

He is love; he is everlasting; his love and himself are the same thing; thus love never fails.

The hinge of every vocation is love because this is our destiny; therefore it must be our calling; it must that which calls us forth into life.

Read Psalm 136 today as your morning offering, perhaps with a cup of coffee. Let it soak in. Look upon the world and listen for the refrain: his love endures forever and there you shall find renewed strength for today, regardless of what happened yesterday, for his love endures for ever and it calls each of us forth into newness of life.

St. Theresa pray for us!