Saturday, April 28, 2012

Parody of Psalm 23

The TV is my shepherd I shall not want,
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith,
It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake.
Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,
There will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote control, they comfort me
It prepares a commercial for me in the midst of my worldliness
And anoints my head with consumerism.
My covetousness overflows;
Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.

What a dreadful way to live, living in a way that leads to death. But there is another way to live:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
For his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage. (Ps 23:1-4)
That is a beautiful way to live, a way that leads to life, peace and true happiness. Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that he came precisely so that may live with that life, peace and happiness described in Psalm 23.

Friday, April 27, 2012

St Gianna Beretta Molla

Recounting the story of the generous personal sacrifice made by Saint Gianna Beretta Molla on behalf of her fourth child often results in the request for more medical details regarding her situation. A few of the medical issues surrounding her pregnancies will be reviewed as the starting point in examining her final sufferings and immolation.

Pregnancy was always a difficult experience for Gianna. During each of her pregnancies, she experienced hyperemesis, which means excessive vomiting. She also experienced intestinal binding and dysfunction, and other gastric disturbances. These caused her much pain. Her first pregnancy went 25 days beyond her due date, and had a labor that lasted 36 hours. Because of the large size of the baby, the delivery was a forceps delivery. 

During the course of her second pregnancy, she experienced similar difficulties, and again went 10 days late with a long and painful delivery. 

In her third pregnancy she had to be admitted to the hospital due to acute symptoms similar to her first two pregnancies, with vomiting but also with acute spasmodic contractions which she thought meant she might lose the baby early. In the end her third pregnancy was also delayed about 10 days, and followed the course of the earlier ones with a painful delivery. 

Gianna never seemed to lose her serenity during her deliveries, though she sometimes would clamp down on a handkerchief with her teeth in moments of pain. She appears to have always declined pain medication during her deliveries. 

In the second month of her last pregnancy, she was diagnosed with a large fibroid. A fibroid is a benign tumor of the uterus, and often it is small enough and unobtrusive enough that one can leave it alone, and allow the course of the pregnancy to continue normally. Gianna's uterine tumor caused her considerable pain, and based on medical documents from Italy, it appears that the fibroid was large enough that it might have threatened the continuation of the pregnancy by compressing the fetus. Such compression, if not directly disruptive of the pregnancy itself, could nevertheless result in abnormalities in fetal development. Large fibroids can also be a source of other complications during pregnancy. They may cause preterm labor. They may cause the uterus to become trapped in the pelvis under the sacral promontory such that it would need to be manually elevated to allow further progress of the pregnancy. They may occasionally outgrow their blood supply and degenerate or infarct, causing considerable pain as well as presenting the risk of becoming infected.

Her husband Pietro recalls that there were three options presented for Gianna's case: 

1. Considering the dangers, she could have chosen to have her uterus removed (hysterectomy) in order to remove the fibroid from her body. This would be a fairly low-risk approach for her situation. It would result, however, in the death of her 2 month old fetus, and preclude the possibility of future pregnancies. Based on the particulars of her case, this option would not have been morally problematic; Catholic moralists have analyzed cases of this sort under the Principle of Double Effect 1. Such an intervention is directed towards saving the life of the mother by removing the cancerous uterus (which has the undesired effect of ending the life of the unborn child). Morally, such a case would be properly considered under the aspect of a hysterectomy, not under the rubric of elective abortion.

2. A second option in St. Gianna's case would be to have the fibroid removed as well as terminating the pregnancy, thereby still retaining the possibility of future pregnancies. This option, by requiring direct abortion, would be morally contraindicated. 

3. A third option would be to have the fibroid surgically removed and risk the continuation of her pregnancy, which is the option St. Gianna chose. Because she was a physician, Gianna understood that the risks were several: the surgery on the uterus might irritate it to the point that the pregnancy would be threatened and would spontaneously abort. The blood loss can be difficult to control in a pregnant uterus. Surgery on the uterus under these circumstances also presented the danger that during the remainder of the pregnancy, there might be a re-opening of the scarred wound from the surgery. A flare-up of this sort could be dangerous from the rapid bleeding that would ensue. 

Gianna followed the recommendation of her advising physician and had the fibroid removed, but insisted that the maximum care be used during the surgery so as to avoid interrupting the pregnancy or harming the developing fetus. The myomectomy was successful, and her pregnancy continued. The surgery revealed that the tumor was partially subserous, partially intramural. Although some of her colleagues had advised her to terminate the pregnancy, Gianna never considered the possibility of abortion. Being faced with two morally acceptable options in the early stages of her pregnancy, she freely chose, with great generosity on her part, to proceed with a higher risk pregnancy for the benefit of her child. A typical therapy offered in Gianna's day for a woman with uterine cancer or a tumor of uncertain type would have been hysterectomy.

Prior to her surgery, Gianna's doctors would not have known many of the details appertaining to the tumor, for example whether it was cystic or solid, or perhaps even whether it was of the uterus or the ovaries. It was quite different for Gianna going into surgery for a tumor in the early 60's in Italy than it would be today. With ultrasound and other technologies, much more information would be available to the modern day surgeon. The heroic part of what Saint Gianna did was to choose life for her child under these difficult and uncertain circumstances, no matter what the consequences to herself. It is in this sense that Pope Paul VI could state that Saint Gianna "was a mother who, in order to give life to her baby, sacrificed her own life in deliberate immolation." Towards the end of her pregnancy, when talking to her brother, she seemed to have a premonition that trouble lay ahead. She said, "The greater part has yet to come. You do not understand these things. When the time comes, it will be either he or I." And again when speaking to her husband Pietro on another occasion, she said in a firm voice and with a penetrating gaze, "If you have to decide between me and the child, do not hesitate; I demand it, the child, save it." Such was her generous attitude throughout her pregnancy. 

At the end of the pregnancy, her physicians attempted to induce labor with oxytocin, but contractions were not forthcoming. Other means were attempted, lasting from the afternoon of Good Friday until the next morning around 10 o'clock, but without success. Though her water had broken, labor was not proceeding. The decision was made to deliver the child by Caesarean section. 

She underwent general ether anesthesia and a healthy baby girl weighing nearly 10 pounds was delivered. Gianna's condition began to decline soon afterwards, with symptoms including an elevated fever, a rapid, weakened pulse, and exhaustion. She died 7 days later of septic peritonitis, an infection of the lining of the abdomen, notwithstanding the fact that antibiotics were utilized in her treatment. During the painful abdominal sufferings caused by the septic peritonitis, she declined any narcotic pain medications, because she felt that such drugs did not allow her to be herself. In her final sufferings, she once remarked to her sister, "If you only knew how differently things are judged at the hour of death! ... How vain certain things appear, to which we gave such importance in the world!"

The infection she contracted almost certainly occurred consequent to the Caesarean surgery. The question is occasionally raised as to whether it would have been helpful to St. Gianna to have had a hysterectomy after the C- section delivery of her baby, so as to forestall or stave off the eventuality of infection. A hysterectomy at such a point would not have likely altered the pathogenesis of the infection, since it had already arisen in the abdomen during the C-section. C-sections, it should be recalled, are not always neat and tidy operations; the surgery, in effect, opens up a communicating channel between the microenvironments of the uterus, the cervix, indeed the whole birth canal, and the abdomen. This can result in unwanted microbial exchange. However the source of Gianna's infection remains unknown; pathogens might also have been introduced as a result of improper sterile technique during the C-section surgery itself. 

It is unclear whether the decision for the Caesarean section was related to the fact that St. Gianna had undergone surgical intervention previously for the tumor, but there may very well have been a connection between the two. In the past, obstetricians were often of the conviction that if a woman had once had a significant surgical intervention on the uterus (e.g. large tumor removal or a Caesarean), future deliveries should be by Caesarean, since there seemed to be a greater risk involved with a normal labor and delivery after such interventions. Her physicians may have felt a certain urgency in St. Gianna's case to deliver the child on-time, since she had a propensity for delayed deliveries, which presumably stretch an already stressed uterus even further. In this sense, the death of Saint Gianna may have been an indirect result of her previous choice to undergo the tumor resection.

In the medical world of today, of the 1990's, it might well have been possible to save Gianna's life in addition to her daughter's. Septic peritonitis today is rarely fatal when identified early and aggressively treated. Physicians often have recourse to a highly effective triple regimen, three types of antibiotics at the same time. But in Gianna's day, methods of antibiotic treatment were not as advanced, and the means available for monitoring the progress of a pregnancy were also not as sophisticated as they are today. With ultrasound, highly specific blood tests, and CAT scans, we are Saint to live in an age where the making of a life or death between mother or child is becoming progressively more uncommon and unnecessary

Sadly, though, we live in an age where life and death decisions against the unborn child are made with an ever greater casualness, and pregnancies are terminated for reasons that can only be termed trivial. Saint Glanna's example of heroic commitment to the life of her own child throws into clear relief the scandal of the easy-abort mentality of our day. She believed that the privilege of being a mother, of being a cooperator with God in bringing forth new life meant always defending and protecting her children, whether in or out of the womb, even to the point of giving up her own life on their behalf. Even though it is rarely to the point of death, every mother is aware of this profound maternal reality of being immolated and making great silent sacrifices on behalf of their children.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

eternal life

acts 8:26-40; Let all the earth cry out to GOd with joy; John 44-51

"whoever believes has eternal life."

Think about eternal life.  Eternal life is not a matter of lasting a long time; rather this expresses a certain quality of existence, in which duration, as an endless sequence of moments, disappears.

To long for eternity in some sense then is an act of defiance.  It is the refusal to settle for the finite, the material, the things of earth.  It means refusing to be satisfied with the here and now.  It is in some respect  the refusal to live for the moment, which certainly goes against our current societal's mantra.

It means pushing forward and living with greater expectations. Eternal life connects us to every moment, not just one moment for it belongs to all moments and no moment at the same time. To speak of a moment is already to lose sight of eternity, that which has no moments to speak of for there is not brevity in heaven nor movement from one point to another there is only and simply the "now" of love.

Thus the longing for eternity  remains an act of defiance.
In our heart we are defiant for we know there is something more, we want love that is forever "now."

In this life it seems that every moment is too short and life seems to pass away with the moment before we are able to grasp it, catch hold of it.

Eternal life thus is not that which comes afterwards but a new quality of existence.

Thus, eternal life does not belong to chronological time but can be present in the midst of earthly life; it is in the midst of time, whenever we come face to face with God.

Eternal life  thus takes its beginning in communion with God here and now; the here and now is seized and taken up into the great expanse of true reality, where living for the moment gives way to life itself where no moments remain.

This gives new meaning to the words of Christ, "I am the living bread that came 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."

In the moment of communion we are given a taste of eternity, the "now" of love enters into us and we into love.

This is why we proclaim, "Amen!"

By our life of faith, we bring eternity with us when and where we go.  There is no need to look outside of yourself; just take a long deep look to the inside.

Be defiant: live not for the moment but for the now of love.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mark: whimper into a roar

1 peter 5:5-14; Ps 89 For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; Mark 16:15-20

 Today in the life of the church we celebrate the feast of Mark the evangelist, the writer of the Gospel of Mark.

 We know just a little about the evangelist. We know that his home growing up was a central meeting place for Christian worship (Acts 12:12). Thus, we know that Mark grew up in a home that was filled with Christian worship and this reality gave him ample opportunity to hear the story of Christ from the mouths of Peter and Paul and the other Apostles but also to grow up with faith being a concrete part of his lifestyle and his family's lifestyle.

 Having heard, he was then inspired; so much so he was sent on the missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13).

 However, Mark abandoned the journey and returned home. Paul (Acts 15:37-40) initially was upset with Mark for leaving the missionary expedition, considered Mark to be a quitter on the faith, and refused to take him along on the next journey.

 Yet, being not discouraged, Mark persevered, and overcame his fear and is believed to be the founder of the Church in Alexandria; Paul, toward the end of his life (I Timothy) no longer looked upon Mark as a quitter but rather someone who was transformed and became a very useful servant.

 It is amazing what grace can do, when we do not give up. Not only was Mark instrumental in spreading the faith in the early church, but he continues to be instrumental in spreading the faith today, through his heroic proclamation of the good news of Christ in the Gospel, we read still today.

 Even quitters can be a lasting instrument of God's grace, given the opportunity.

 What is interesting is that the symbol often associated with Marl and his gospel is the Lion. In England the Lion is a symbol of: leadership strength royalty courage honor .

Other symbols are the following: Power Dignity Authority Dominion Justice Wisdom Ferocity.

 Mark started out in a whimper than eventually found his roar.

 It is often said there is a lion that paces in every one's heart.

 Sometimes it just takes while to find the roar.

 BE Blessed!

 St Mark pray for us that we may not get discouraged with those we label as quitters, but always trust in God's grace to lead the way. May we also never get discouraged when we see the quitter rise within each of us at different moments, but learning from Mark's example we can just keep pushing forward.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

oppose the Holy SPirit

Acts 7:51-8:1; PS 31 Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; John 6:30-35

JEsus is often called the Advocate. St. John this past SUnday, if you recall, mentioned that we have a Advocate with th feather, Jeus Christ the righteous one.

An Advocate is the one who urges us on in support either by argument or recommendation. Jesus speaks in defense of us, who pleads for us before the Father. The Cross is the defense and support for us.

Jesus is the Advocate.

The HOly Spirit according to St. John, on the other hand, is the other counselor. This is not to be equated with our modern understanding of counseling or counselors of that matter. Their jobs are to help us find peace with ourselves certainly but often times they miss the boat.

We must remember, Jesus is the one that tells us the Holy Spirit will "instruct us in everything and remind you of all that I told you." John 14:26.

This is the role of the Counselor, not to make us feel good but rather to get us on the right footing by directing us to the truth.

Here in lies good counsel. The SPirit of God is meant to helps us an instruct us to choose what is right and good and true and beautiful and cling to it.

Counsel without truth well is just pop psychology and this is not The Holy Spirit.

How do we oppose the Holy SPirit, simply put, when we reject the truth, the truth of our creation in the image an likeness of God, the truth of our redemption in Christ, the truth of his church found on Peter, the rock, the truth, deposit of faith handed on to the Apostles and brought to us via sacred scripture and sacred tradition,

Again if there is not truth there can not be good counsel.

Jon 16:12-12, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the SPirit of truth comes, he will guide you in all truth." We don't make the truth we receive it.

Think about the Holy Spirit today as you go through your life. Ask God to help you be attentive to his promptings and stirrings in your heart. Every now and then raise your eyes upward and pray, "Come, Holy Spirit, Come." When in a hurry simply pray "Come!" The more we are attentive and conscious of the Spirit of God around us the more we will be aware of the presence stirring us daily. The spirit of truth isn't just about knowledge but it is about loving purely and most concretely in our life. Here is where the life we live and the love we hold begin to take shape. The counselor is always near. Call out to him. Be led by Him. Experience the power and grace.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Acts 3:13-5; Ps Lord, let your face shoe on us; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48

The words of Jesus in the gospel should remain echoing in our hearts and minds, "Look at my hands and feet, that it is I myself."

These words of JEsus are given to the apostles in response to their fear and terror that had seized them in the upper room. As terror pressed in from all sides and fear began to weaken their knees, it is the wounds of Christ that bring them back to a place of peace and reassurance.

How often in our life does terror and fear seek to capture our hearts and minds? How often are we on the verge of being paralyzed by that inner turmoil? In these moments, our minds and hearts race for a solution, a way out.

And here in the upper room, Jesus gives us that place of peace, that place of security, that place where fear and terror can no longer live, "Look at my hands and feet that it is I myself."

What a beautiful gift for us as we journey here and now. What masterpiece has God worked, where the wounds of sadness and pain become the source of secure joy in our life!

In the wounds of the resurrected Christ, joy and love that cast our all fear has entered into our world.

As the psalmist echoes forth, "When I call, answer me, O my just God, you who relieve me when I am in distress; have pity on me, and hear my prayer!...O Lord let the light of your countenance shine upon us! You put gladness into my hearts."

Through the glorified body of Christ that bears the wounds of love, joy has entered in and fear has been defeated and scattered.

"Look at my hands and feet that it is I myself."

Indeed, take a look, see it again and again and know the peace and joy that Christ can bring.

Friday, April 20, 2012

but what good are these...

Acts 5:34-42; Ps 27 One thing I seek; to dwell int he house of the Lord; John 6:1-15

In the first reading today the apostles get flogged and they rejoice.

In the gospel 5000 people get fed with 5 loaves and t fish.

God's has a way of keeping us guessing. God has way of stretching out minds and turning reality upside down.

In the words of St. Paul it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of God. Why? God only sees possibilities. Imagine living in the world where we see only possibilities rather than limits and boundaries and fear and reluctance.

The multiplication of the loaves reminds us that with God the impossible is always a possibility, just incase we missed it with the resurrection.

Look to the gospel. The story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. One of my favorite lines are the words of Andrew.

When Jesus looks up and sees all the people, he poses this question to the apostles, "Where can we buy enough food for them?"

The apostles get busy with calculations, as Philip testifies, "200 days wages worth of food would not be enough for each to have a little." In the calculations they get discouraged.

The human mind can never truly be able to calculate what God's providence will do.

How often do our calculations leave us frustrated and discouraged? Think! Be honest! We calculate to our demise sometimes.

Yet the words of the apostles Andrew are refreshing at least at the start. "There is a boy here with 5 loaves and 2 fish." There is so much hope in that statement. Andrew begins to set aside his calculations and trust in the one who brought him, Christ himself.

Yet, in hear himself he seems a bit foolish, perhaps worried what the other might say. Perhaps he is scared they may laugh at him for suggesting 5 loaves and 2 fish could feed 5000.

The eyes around him, the expecting ridicule, changes Andrew's tone, "But what good are these for so many.?"

Jesus shows them all what good they were.

We also must let Jesus show us up. Jesus take the little and transforms it. He take the little we offer and reveal greater possibilities.

Nothing is impossible with God. We see that now. Imagine what it was like for that little boy to watch his meager offering become so bountiful.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Because life only gets bigger and broader and more amazing. Today, set aside the calculations and go all in and discover what good are these for so many!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

obey God rather than men

Acts 5:27-33; Ps 34 The Lord hears the cry of the poor; John 3:31-36

We have been following the unfolding of the early church since the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. All week we have been witnesses of Peter's action as he leads the crew, the apostles on their mission to proclaim the message to the end of the earth.

Around every turn and bend as the story unfolds the one thing that has been common is violence toward them.

Even after they heal the cripple and are released from jail mysteriously, the leadership reacts violently to their stance on Christ.

Every time Peter stands up to testify there are those who receive the message and their are those who are infuriated, "they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.".

What gives?

Strange how the good news of the resurrection brings such hostility and animosity, the very thing the death and resurrection of Christ was suppose to overcome and transform.

Even St. Paul speaks of the blood of the cross that has for e down the wall of hostility, that by which God was reconciling the world to himself.

Why does the cat of reconciliation bring such hostility and opposition?

What is there in the human palate that has an aversion to the truth?

Perhaps is the fact the truth is demanding. perhaps it is because the the truth is personal. The truth once recognized has to be dealt with, so rather than deal with it, it is pushed away and avoided or even depicted as something other than truth itself.

We see this all the time in today's media. How often does the media turn things around and twist the truth?

For instance abortion is labeled prochoice. What a spin!

Or currently the HHS mandate insist that the having free access to birth control pills is about reproductive health.

Recently Mrs Gates, the billionaire's wife, who claims to be catholic, " argued that contraception has been mistakenly associated with population control, abortion, forced sterilization, and mortal sin and insisted they are “side issues” that “have attached themselves to the core idea that men and women should be able to decide when to have a child."

The church doesn't say that men and women do not have the right to decide when to have children. Of course men and when have the right to regulate births according to the plan God has created and written in the human body.

The pill isn't about regulation of births as it is about sex with out responsibility, with out consequence. Here is the ugly lie that so many weave in our society.

The church, like Peter, stands up and says should we not obey God rather then man. Should we not obey how God has created us male and female and use the gift of our sexuality for his glory.

OF course birth control is about abortion,especially if it can cause abortion of a fetus in utero and the decision to have children is a beautiful thing that the Church is fighting for at each every turn.

Besides, how can mortal sin, be a side issue?

Ultimately the question is "do we certify that God is trustworthy."

Can we trust him who created us? Can we trust him who redeemed us? Can we trust him who founded the church to guide us?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter Duty

Acts 5:17-26; PS 34 The Lord hears the cry of the poor; John 3:16-21

What is the Easter duty?

The church asks that all the faithful receive communion at least once a year. That prescribed time to receive Communion is designated during the Easter Season.

Now, one should receive communion worthily, therefore, associated with the Easter Duty of receiving communion is also celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation.

I find this one of the most intriguing realities of the life of the church.

Easter Duty.

What does this Easter Duty have to do with living our Catholic faith daily.

Jesus is the one who says unless we eat his body and drink his blood we will not have life within us.
For obvious reason, Easter is the season in which we are meant to stop an examine our lives and see where we have been and where we are headed.

The stark reality of Good Friday, the suffering and death of our Lord, is meant to bring us back to our senses.

The God of unbounded freedom wills to be bound by love for us. This is a harsh and dreadful love.

The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.. But all the trespasses of all the people of all time gravitate to the killing grounds of Calvary.

Here in that place the perfect surrender of the cross is at the heart of what it means to say that God is love.

It is precisely in this reality that the church hopes our memory will be jarred and our hearts will be cut to the quick and thus we will stop long enough to be moved to turn back and run toward the altar and receive fully the gift that flows from the wounded side of Christ.

The Eucharist is the fruit of Christ's Passion. Should we not receive while the gift is fresh on our minds and hearts?

It is then we are awaken to the joy of Christ's presence coursing through our veins.

Then the words of today's gospel ring true, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life."

Pope Benedict's message during the Easter Season

"After this greeting, Jesus shows His disciples the wounds in His hands and His side (John 20:20), the signs of what had gone before and what shall never be erased: His glorious humanity will be forever “wounded”.

This act is intended to confirm the new reality of Christ’s Resurrection: the Christ who now stands in the midst of His disciples is a real person, the same Jesus who just three days prior was nailed to the Cross.

Thus it is that, in the brilliant light of the Resurrection, in the encounter with the Risen One, the disciples grasp the salvific meaning of His passion and death. Then do they pass from sadness and fear to the fullness of joy. Sadness and the wounds themselves become sources of joy.

The joy born in their hearts comes from “seeing the Lord” (John 20:20). He again says to them: “Peace be with you” (verse 21).

At this point, it is evident that it is not only a greeting. It is a gift, the gift that the Risen One wills to make to His friends, and at the same time it is a handing on: this peace, which Christ obtained by His blood, is for them but it is also for everyone, and the disciples will have to carry it throughout the world. In fact, He adds: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."

Easter Duty is also to spread the joy. We take Jesus with us. The joy of his presence coursing through out veins is meant to change how we relate, speak, think, love.

We are called to become the gift we celebrate during the Easter Season and beyond.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

holy madness

Acts 4:32-37; Ps 93 The Lord is King; he is robed in majesty; John 3:7-15

"With great power the Apostle store witness to the resurrection of the Lord JEsus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they would distribute each according to need."

What a marvelous picture of the early church, this community of believers.

This community of believers who were determined to live generously.


Most of us today are a bit stingy. We reluctantly stretch forth our hands. We reluctantly give to others, yet we always make sure we have what we need, what we want.

We think about others usually when they come knocking or we see the them holding a sign next to the traffic light.

Then we might give them a few bits of pocket change or even in buy them a burger.

But to live totally committed to generosity and sharing as witness in the first reading for today, that would truly be a witness.

Think about Barnabas, who leads by example. "Barnabas, translated son of encouragement, sold a piece of property that eh owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles."

Barnabas was all in. IT is a lot easier to preach when you have first lived it truly in your life.

St. Jose Maria Escriva states the following, "Self-giving is the first step along the road of sacrifice, joy, love, union with God. And thus, a whole life is filled with a holy madness which makes us encounter happiness where human logic would only see denial, suffering, and pain."

And again, "there is only one step between the lack of generosity and lukewarmness."

"The more generous you are for God, the happier you will be."

Don't wait for the example; be the example you wait for.

Discover the peace and joy of holy madness.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Acts 4:1-12; Ps 118 The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone; Jn 21:1-14

IN our first reading we find that Peter and John are both being arrested and held in custody for preaching in the name of Jesus. So much for religious freedom.

Nonetheless the state of reversal is quite obvious. Things have changed for the apostles. They went for scared and timid, fleeing the scene where Jesus was arrested, to now standing up and in the midst of opposition they preach.

No fear. No worry. Just action.

Being arrested for proclaiming Jesus doesn't stop them from being witnesses but rather it enhances the witness, making it more meaningful, more attractive, more effective.

The harder our circumstances the greater the witness.

We look to the gospel.
Peter and the boys decided to go fishing. This was their default. This is what they knew. Was it their attempt to return to their old way of life? Maybe they were unsure of what to do next and needed to clear their head?

A little breeze and a little fishing goes along way to just recalibrating one's life.

Then the encounter came.

Peter upon realizing in was the Lord who awaited them in the beach, he tucked in his garments and jumped in to the water. Splash!

Why the tucking in his garments? The Jewish faith understood the greeting to be a religious act so to do it properly one needed to be clothed. Peter was preparing to greet the Lord.

Upon arriving we hear that invitation, "Come, have breakfast."

Even in his resurrection, Jesus remains a servant.

St. AUgustine states the following,
"In Christ everything was working for His resurrection."

Yet the resurrection did not affect his identity as a servant leader.

"Come, have breakfast."

What a breakfast that must have been for the apostles gathered on the beach. What joy, what happiness, what strength.

Jesus did't berate them for their faithlessness. He didn't scold them for abandoning him. He simply offered them a opportunity to sit and eat and be strengthen thus surprised by the joy of his presence.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

But God

Acts 3:11-26; O Lord our God how wonderful your name in all the earth Ps 8; Luke 24:35-48

A few lines from the mouth of Peter from the first reading of the Acts of the Apostles:

"The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are all witnesses."

"I know that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer."

The phrase that stands out for me this morning as we continue to enter more deeply into the Easter reality is "but God."

The phrase "but God" acts as in invitation to look at reality from a new perspective. It reminds us that God is always acting and he uses our decisions, good or bad, to bring about that which ultimately is the best for all.

Think about the first line from above, "The author of life you put to death but God raised him."

In other words, you can't keep God down. God does not give up. God continually works.

Or the second phrase, "I know you acted out of ignorance, but God has brought fulfillment what he announced."

The beauty of that phrase used by St. Peter "but God" is that it reminds us that neither human violence nor human ignorance can derail the plan of God.

"But God" is always on top, shining through, his light penetrates all darkness whether it be the darkness of violence or the darkness of ignorance, "but God." It shines forth and moves forward unhindered.

God has a plan and as St. Peter states so well, "of this we are all witnesses."

"But God" is not just a catch phrase but rather it should be the heart of the Christian's attitude and life style.

How often we hear people talk about being optimistic, which is good in its own right. However, St. Peter invites us to a new level of living where our human optimist is replaced by the divine reality, "but God" from which lasting hope shall spring.

As we look to the gospel we hear the words of the gospel in reference to Jesus, "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."

How often in scriptures from beginning to end do we encounter that phrase, "but God".

Sometimes we forget that we do not go alone. SOmetimes we get down having lost sight of the one who holds us in the palm of his hands. Sometimes human optimism wanes and the subtle darkness of doubt sets in. Sometimes.....but God makes all the difference.

As Jesus tells the disciples so he speaks to us, "you are all witnesses of these things." And what do we witness, "but God...."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mistaken Identity

Acts 2:36-41; Ps 33 The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stays outside the tomb and thus she is grieved and full of sorrow. Her eyes are clouded by this grief, this deep hurt she experiences.

THe moment she looks into the tomb, that is she enters into reality, then she is able to move from grief to joy.

But that movement is made permanent only when she hears her name called. The personal address of Jesus with her name upon his lips awakens her and brings her back to her senses.

"She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him. Jesus said to her, "MAry" She turned and said to him Rabbouni, which means teacher."

Then those words of Jesus solidify reality, "I am going to my Father and your Father."

Mary goes to announce to the disciples.

St Jose Maria Escriva remarks the following, "My Father-talk to him like that, confidently=who art in heaven, look upon me with compassionate love, and make me respond to thy love. Melt and enkindle my hardened heart, burn and purify my unmortified flesh, fill my mind with supernatural light, make my tongue proclaim the love and glory of Christ."

"God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling thought. JEsus is my dear friend who loves me with all divine madness o this heart. The Holy SPirit is my consoler, who guides my every step along the road. Consider this often: you are GOd's and God is yours."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter vigil

Mark 16:1-7

When we begin the Easter vigil, we all gather in the dark, in silence, waiting. Our presence while waiting symbolizes all human history before Christ. Humanity walked in the darkness of the uncertainty of what tomorrow would bring, what was waiting for us beyond the grave. Hoe often they thought this was as good as it gets.

Then we bless the fire which symbolizes the divine love from all eternity. Once blessed then a flame leaps forth and enters into our darkness, our waiting. The light is now with us.

We gather around light, that solitary flame, as the darkness gives way to its brilliance.

The silence of Good Friday and Easter Saturday as the mute lips of Jesus entered into death is broken by that proclamation, "light of Christ."

And on our lips we find pressed the most essential response to such a gift, "Thanks be to God."

We followed the light. The light was contagious and we found ourselves no longer just following but nor bearing the light within ourselves. The darkness grew weaker as our tiny flames united in strength.

By the third proclamation, "light of Christ" the whole church erupts in brilliant light. We recall Sacred Scripture and the words of St. John, the darkness is over and the true light has begun to shine.

The third proclamation represents the Third Day, that decisive turning point in human history. The Calamity of the Cross is transformed as the stone is rolled away and a new dimension of human existence is laid bare at our feet.

He is risen.

We were invited to enter in to the celebration with exultation in union with the host of heaven and to fully engage the trumpet sound of salvation.

For on this night we remember something in the darkness as been changed forever. In the heart of death, the darkest of dark, now beats life.

Love now lives there in Christ who has conquered.

This is what we celebrate. This is why the bells toll during the gloria and the Alleluias once again fill the air.

Our lives are now caught up int he laughter of God. We now have a future. The uncertainty of tomorrow gives way to the bright promise of immortality as the stone is rolled away and the empty tomb shines forth.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.

The heavy lid of darkness has been lifted as the stone is rolled away and falls to the ground.

Easter Changes everything.

Nothing can ever be the same once the stone is rolled away.

Yet, how often we live our lives pretending the stone is still fixed in its place and the emptiness of the tomb remains hidden and out of sight and out of mind.

Easter changes everything but we must first let it change us.

The words of the Gospel ring true: Go there and you shall see him as he told you.

Our life is no longer founded on the whims of our imaginings but rather on the words of Him who have the words of everlasting life.

Easter changes everything.

THe resurrection brings hope for tomorrow but also a challenge for today. We can no longer live the same.
Our life must now testify to to the truth of the future we have received.

Something in the darkness has been changed forever. In the heart of death now beats life. Love now lives there.

Receive it, believe it, live it.

Let your life be the trumpet sound of salvation.
Easter Changes everything, but what matters most is that it changes you.

easter saturday

This day we remember that Jesus was buried. Jesus was really dead. He fully participated in the human destiny of death. Jesus traveled the path of death right to the bitter and seemingly hopeless end in the tomb.

Jesus has been buried. His lips that once proclaimed the beauty of the kingdom breaking into our lives are not mute and enveloped with that sinister silence of death. Those lips once flush and lively are now purple and cold.

Yet, this too is necessary.

For though his body fills the tomb and death fills his body, we await the glorious proclamation that the tomb is empty which is a necessary condition for the resurrection faith.

The third day approaches and all the world anticipates the verdict of life over death, life through death. a new dimension of human existence waits eagerly to be brought forth as the third day closes in.

The third day is almost upon us, that decisive turning point for history of humanity. The calamity of the Cross is transformed by the witness of the third day, he is risen.

Nothing can ever be the same once the stone is rolled away and the tomb is laid bare, empty for all to see.

The Pope Speaks about Good Friday

Once more in meditation, prayer and song, we have recalled Jesus’s journey along the way of the cross: a journey seemingly hopeless, yet one that changed human life and history, and opened the way to “new heavens and a new earth” (cf. Rev 21:1). Especially today, Good Friday, the Church commemorates with deep spiritual union the death of the Son of God on the cross; in his cross she sees the tree of life, which blossoms in new hope.

The experience of suffering and of the cross touches all mankind; it touches the family too. How often does the journey become wearisome and difficult! Misunderstandings, conflicts, worry for the future of our children, sickness and problems of every kind. These days too, the situation of many families is made worse by the threat of unemployment and other negative effects of the economic crisis. The Way of the Cross which we have spiritually retraced this evening invites all of us, and families in particular, to contemplate Christ crucified in order to have the force to overcome difficulties.

The cross of Christ is the supreme sign of God’s love for every man and woman, the superabundant response to every person’s need for love. At times of trouble, when our families have to face pain and adversity, let us look to Christ’s cross. There we can find the courage and strength to press on; there we can repeat with firm hope the words of Saint Paul: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35,37).

In times of trial and tribulation, we are not alone; the family is not alone. Jesus is present with his love, he sustains them by his grace and grants the strength needed to carry on, to make sacrifices and to evercome every obstacle. And it is to this love of Christ that we must turn when human turmoil and difficulties threaten the unity of our lives and our families. The mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection inspires us to go on in hope: times of trouble and testing, when endured with Christ, with faith in him, already contain the light of the resurrection, the new life of a world reborn, the passover of all those who believe in his word.

In that crucified Man who is the Son of God, even death itself takes on new meaning and purpose: it is redeemed and overcome, it becomes a passage to new life. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

Let us entrust ourselves to the Mother of Christ. May Mary, who accompanied her Son along his way of sorrows, who stood beneath the cross at the hour of his death, and who inspired the Church at its birth to live in God’s presence, lead our hearts and the hearts of every family through the vast mysterium passionis towards the mysterium paschale, towards that light which breaks forth from Christ’s resurrection and reveals the definitive victory of love, joy and life over evil, suffering and death. Amen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

logic of God

Isaiah 50:4-9; Ps 69 Lord, in your great love, answer me; Matthew 26:14-25

"The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed."

Several times through out the gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples as well as us that his suffering and death is not a matter of man doing it.

The suffering and death is not a whimsical decision of the the Chief priest or even of Judas, where 30 pieces of silver is exchanged.

Rather, as Jesus points out time and time again, his suffering and death is according to scripture. That is, the suffering and death of Christ himself is part of the divine logic of salvation.

Jesus' destiny which includes suffering and death is located directly within God's logic as scritpure point toward.

It has already been marked out for him the path he must tread.

Spend some time pondering God's logic.

Now for Judas. Here are a few words of meditation from Pope Benedict in his Book Jesus of Nazareth,

"John does not offer any psychological interpretation of Judas' conduct. The only clue he gives is a hint that Judas helped himself to the contents of the disciple's money box, of which he had charge (Jhn 12:6)...For John, what happened to Judas is beyond psychological explanation. He has come under the dominion of another. Anyone who breaks off friendship with JEsus, casting off his "easy yoke", does not attain liberty, does not become free, but succumbs to other powers.

To put it another way, he betrays this friendship because he is in the grip of another power to which he has opened himself.

True, th elight shed by Jesus into Judas' soul was not cmpletely extinguished. He does take a step toward conversion, "I have sinned," he says to those who commissioned him. He tries to save Jesus, and he gives the money back (Mt 27:3-5).

Everything pure and great he had received from Jesus remained inscribed on his soul-he could not forget it.

His secnd tragedy-after betrayal-is that he can no longer believe forgiveness. His remose turns into despair. Now he sees onlu himself and his darkness; he no longer sees the light of Jesus, which can illumine and overcome the darkness. He shows us the wrong type of remorse: the type that is unable to hope, that sees only its own darkness, the type that is destructive and in no way authentic.

Genuine remorse is marked by the certainty of hope born of faith in the superior power of the light that was made flesh in Jesus. "

This week we enter into the logic of God.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Early to Rise

Isaiah 49:1-6; Ps I will sing of your salvation; John 13:21-33, 36-38

Today marks the last 6:30 am mass for Lent.

Here int he Parish we started a 6:30 every tuesday in lent mass just for the kicks. It was our lenten discipline as a parish, getting up early and dragging ourselves to church to unite ourselves in prayer.

Each mass was offered for the intentions of the people of Westhoff, Meyersville, Cuero.

Early to Rise, early to pray.

I must say, i have enjoyed it. It has been good to get the day started with prayer and Eucharist. I wonder if the people will want to continue it?

During these Tuesday morning Lenten Masses, I have been preaching on the wisdom of the saints, in particular the wisdom of St. Jose Maria Escriva.

And I will continue to do so.

IT has been said that wars are won by tired soldiers. The capacity to make demands of oneself is the key to success: sports, music,dance, business, study, etc.

Success is built upon stretching oneself, pushing oneself, disciplining oneself.

The same is true for the Christian life: St. Jose Maria Escriva reminds us that "tender, soft, flabby may be good for a belly but it snot good for the spiritual life. We must get rid of that peculiar pity we feel for ourselves. Our body has one fault, the more you indulge it, the more things it discovers to be essential to it."

We must stop excusing ourselves from the necessary task at hand: holiness. Everything, every circumstance points in that direction.

We must overcome indulgence, negligence, and idleness.

GOd desires and loves courageous souls.

Remember the words of St. Augustine. The moment you say "it is enough", that you have done enough, is the moment you are lost.

Early to Rise, Early to Pray, grace does not delay to strengthen us on the way.

St. Jose Maris pray for us!

"One of the disciples, the one that Jesus loved, was reclining at JEsus' side."

May this be us. Never too tired to recline on the chest of Jesus. We too must be willing to listen to his heart and their we find the courage to carry on.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The ugly duckiling

Isaiah 42:1-7; Ps 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation John 12:1-11

Today is the birth day of Hans Cristian Andersen, the author of several books including the tale of "The Ugly Duckling."

We all remember the story. It is a story of mistaken identity. A duck discovers an egg unhatched, thinking that the egg because of its size must belong to a turkey. That is right originally the ugly duckling was thought to be a turkey.

However, a swan hatches, certainly not a turkey but definitely an ugly duckling. The Swan gets picked on and begins believe it is ugly. Thus, the ugly duckling decides to venture out into the world to find a place it can fit in where it no longer feels outcast and unworthy.

Eventually through the adventure of living, the "duckling" discovers its true identity as he looks at himself in the pond and finally see himself as he is not at all as the world at led him to believe.

Here is a little excerpt of the moment of discovery

"But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome."

What a beautiful tale!

How often we spend our life living someone's else reality of how they think we look rather than having the courage to find see our selves as we really are.

It makes a big difference whether we live life through the eyes of another or we finally see for our selves what was always there before our very eyes.

One could surmise if one so delighted to do so that this week int he liturgical year is a week of discovery. As we journey through Holy Week and experience the ritual come alive we begin to see clearly who Christ is, how the Father loves, and the power of the Spirit moving in and through our lives.

At the end of the Holy Week experience we should be able to see ourselves as God the Father sees us through the eyes of the son. It is his gaze form the cross that reveals to us our true worth, our dignity, our identity as children of God.

In the cross of Christ we are awaken as we see our reflection upon the crucified face of Christ and thus finally see ourselves as we really are.

This is the identity we must embrace and live fully each day anew.

We are no ugly ducklings but certainly we are grace filled in Christ.

It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives with in me.

"I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lor in th eLand of the living. Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord."