Thursday, May 31, 2012


Zephaniah 3:14-18; Ps among you is the great and Holy One of Israel; Luke 1:39-56

"Shout for joy...sing glad and exult with all your heart...The Lord has removed the judgment against have no further misfortune to fear...The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty savior...He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love...He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals."

What a beautiful sentiment to begin the day.  Picture God singing because of you.

The particular image from the prophet Zephaniah now can be easily misunderstood.  Initially, we may read it and think it is meant for an individual person of faith.  But this would be a misread of the prophet.

The prophet is proclaiming a day of rejoicing for that small remnant, community of believers who remain faithful to God's call and God's Commands.

God always rejoices over a community of believers.  This is important for us to remember.  Too often we have diluted the communal aspect of faith and solely focus on the individual and how the individual becomes righteous before God.

Righteousness also primarily is rooted in the community that is faithful and true.

This is what cause great joy to God.

In today's feast, we catch a glimpse of a community rejoicing in the presence of the Lord.  Mary, ELizabeth, and John experience this movement of joy as they encounter the mighty savior.

What a greeting that must have been that reached the ear of Elizabeth that caused the vibrations of delight and joy to fill her being!  "At the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant leaped for joy."

Then we hear those words of Mary, "He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever."

God comes to build a community that is alive with his presence.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

voice and visions

St. JOan of Arc 1412-1431
Joan of Arc is probably one of the most bizarre and beautiful stories of women or men of faith. 
She began to have visions  and hearing voices at the age of 12, St.Michael, St Catherine and the like would speak to her and encourage her to help win France back from the English. 

Spurred on by these heavenly locutions and visions, she single handedly began to turn the tide of the French and English conflict.  Under her leadership France began to regain confidence and territory. 

Not bad for a lady who was in her teens as well as one who went around dressed like a man. 

Yet, for all of her heroic effort, she was to be betrayed by the king of France and later tried as a witch and heretic and burned at the stake. 

Some 30 years after her death, the ruling was overturned and she was declared innocent of those said charges. 

In 1920, some 500 years after her death she was canonized a saint. 

What a strange and beautiful story. 

St. Joan of Arc reminds us that divine callings do happen, but they are not always accepted or understandable to those in the church or in the world for that matter.  The mystery of God's calling can leave many bewildered. 

Never the less, the conviction of the call can lead to great acts of courage and heroic virtue.  It can also lead people to do things that form the outside looking in seems a bit rash or foolish or even crazy. 

Yet, the calling  remains a force of which to be reckoned. 

Here is a bit od transcript from her trial which demonstrates St. Joan of Arcs intellect.

The transcript's most famous exchange is an exercise in subtlety. "Asked if she knew she was in God's grace, she answered: 'If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.'"
Pope Benedict's homily on Pentecost this past Sunday"
 But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which men have concentrated so much power that they think that they no longer need a distant God and they believe that they are strong enough to build a way to heaven by themselves and open its gates to put themselves in God’s place. But precisely in this situation something strange and unique occurs. While the men were working to build the tower, suddenly they realized that they were working against each other. While they tried to be like God, they ran the risk of no longer even being men, because they lost a fundamental element of being human persons: the capacity to agree, to understand and to work together.
This biblical account contains a perennial truth; we can see it throughout history, but in our world too. With the progress of science and technology we have developed the power to dominate forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to manufacture living beings, almost attaining the ability to make human beings. In this context, praying to God seems like something obsolete, useless, because we can build and realize anything we want. But we do not grasp that we are reliving the very experience of Babel. Indeed, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of having information, of transmitting news, but can we say that the capacity to understand each other has grown or is it perhaps the case that, paradoxically, we understand each other less and less? Have not a sense of diffidence, of suspicion, of mutual fear worked themselves into our lives to the point that we have become dangerous to each other? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


1 Peter 1:10-16; Ps 98 The Lord has made known his salvation; Mark 10:28-31

The other day I had a conversation with two gentlemen that have been well seasoned through life.  They were just a  few good ole boys who liked to live off the land and were unafraid to work with their hands.

In fact, I could tell they had done their share of manual labor, they were thin as a rail but their forearms were like massive pipes and their fingers were like steel rods from gripping and shoveling and hammering and doing whatever else came their way.

One of them shared this bit of wisdom with me.  He said if you hire the laziest guy to do the hardest task they will find the easiest way to get it done. 

IT is true not just for the lazy folks.  All of us look for the easy way out, the loop hole. 

IT is especially so when it comes to living the gospel, following in the footsteps of Christ.  How often we look to cut corners, make excuses, justify our inaction all in the name of the "path of least resistance."

Peter and Jesus remind us that the task at hand requires a total commitment.

Peter int he first reading exhorts us to "gird up the loins of our minds to live soberly, and set our hopes completely not he grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

As JEsus instructs us, "There is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age."

IT isn't easy.  To be a follower of Christ is certainly not for the lazy man nor the pathos least resistance.

Somethings have to go.

IT requires "everything."

Have we given everything?

Do we not hold back.  Do we not keep in reserve things we do not want to let go.  Do we not keep back parts of our life in hopes of the path of easier resistance.

Today we must take a long look into our lives and begin to let go, to no longer hold back, to give up and over to him.

The reward, the hundred times more now int he present age we long for is kept from us because we keep from him.

IT is time to gird the loins of our mind.

There is no easy way, there is only the way, the truth, the life.

Then the salvation will be made known to all.

Today is the birthday of G.K. Chesterton.  So here are few jolts form Chesterton to get you going:

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions"

"Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”

“I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

What a gem of a man. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

living under the influence

Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104 Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth;  Galatians 5:16-25; John 20:19-23

Today we celebrate Pentecost.  The experience of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church enters history as the tongues of fire fall upon the apostles and the mission of Christ is proclaimed.

"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."

The response of the crowd, "yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."

When is the last time we spoke about the mighty acts of God?

St. Paul in the 2nd reading gives us a recipe for living under the influence of the Spirit.  In Galatians chapter 5 we get the fruit of the Spirit; it is how we are meant to be transformed as we live our life.

Notice that St. Paul calls it the fruit of the Spirit not fruits of the Spirit.  It is one fruit, one reality. They all come together.  When we live under the influence of the Spirit, we get the whole package. 

Here is a look at the fruit of the Spirit as outlined by St. Paul

1)Agape/love: It signifies that power which enables the believer no matter what to always seek the highest good for the other; it is a deliberate effort to seek the best and to live with an active good will.  Here we should remember the song of the angels when they announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds, "glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will."  Th birth of Christ enables us to see what love looks like in the flesh.  

2)Chara/Joy: the rough translation of the greek is to be grace-filled: it is a life of rejoicing; joy is proportional to the gift received; we have been given heaven  thus we have heaven's joy within us. Joy is not a feeling but rather a realization of the gift we have received in Christ.

3)Eirene/Peace: good order; relationship and wellness; peace is centered on our relationship with God.  Knowing where we stand with God creates that peace that strengthens us.  Here in lies true wellness.  The power of the Spirit enables us to  continually stand before God as his child.

4)Makrothumia/ long suffering or conquering patience; It is the power that enables us to never seek retaliation; it is often associated with God’s attitude toward men; long tempered verse short tempered: it involves a refusal to retaliate or get even, get back; it is not about saving face but keeping one's eye on the face of Christ no matter the trials or sufferings.

5)Chrestotes/Kindness: doesn’t chafe; we are empowered not to create undo friction in life; we put people at ease.  It is attribute that includes being charming without actually trying to be charming.  Treating others as God treats us.

6)Agathosune/Goodness: generosity; go beyond the required ; do more because we are more; go beyond the call of duty.  We are empowered to give and thus rejoice in the goodness of others.  

7)pistis/Faithful: we are  trust worthy, reliable, dependable, loyal.  

8)Prautes/meekness: gentleness: tame domesticated; the ability know who our master is;  implies a courteousness or a polished or refined demeanor.

9) engkrateia/Self-control: self-possessed, we have the  freedom to say no so that we can say yes to God fully in every aspect of our life.  To be self-possessed is to be able to make a gift of your life.  

Together we have composure and full use of our faculties: intellect, will, appetites, feelings and emotions. Our life is geared toward bearing the message and thus proclaiming the kingdom. 

This is what it looks like to live under the influence, to be drunk with the spirit of God. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

do you love me more than these

Acts 25:13-21; Ps 103 The Lord has established his throne in heaven; John 21:15-19

Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air.  Ralph Emerson

"After Jesus had revealed himself to  his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these..."

Thus begins the interrogation of the soul.

Do you love me more than these?

What a very important question for all of us to raise to ourselves.

We should all look at our life, how we live and what we do, does it reflect a love that is more than  these...

Identify what "these" might refer to in your life.

Identify your love and where does it reside, what is its focus and motivation.

"Do you love me more than these..."

Jesus looks for a love that is more than.

How do we know if that love we profess, that love we posses is of the stature it needs to be or a stature Christ desires?

Are we "tending and feeding the lambs and sheep?"

Then the climax of the interrogation of the soul is sounded in that clarion call, "Follow Me!"

Peter's initiation into the discipleship of Christ begins and ends with the same two words, "Follow Me."

It is in the footsteps of Christ we discover the depth of our love and we give it a chance to grow deeper and deeper daily in our lives.

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."  Ralph Emerson

I would like to add, don't forget the blunders and absurdities but learn the way of love through them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

a little more than a skirmish

Acts 22:30-23:6-11; Ps 16 Keep me safe, O God, you are my hope; John 17:20-26

Here is a few words from Pope Benedict's letter on World Communication Day

"Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. 
By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.
 It is often in silence, for example, that we observe the most authentic communication taking place between people who are in love: gestures, facial expressions and body language are signs by which they reveal themselves to each other. Joy, anxiety, and suffering can all be communicated in silence – indeed it provides them with a particularly powerful mode of expression. 
Silence, then, gives rise to even more active communication, requiring sensitivity and a capacity to listen that often makes manifest the true measure and nature of the relationships involved. When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. 
Deeper reflection helps us to discover the links between events that at first sight seem unconnected, to make evaluations, to analyze messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds. "

Listen to St. Paul's testimony as to why he is on trial:

"I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead."

Then a fight breaks out.  The scribes and the pharisees are fighting over whether or not there is a resurrection from the dead.  It wasn't a small matter, as scripture describes the event as a "great uproar"  and a "dispute so serious  that the commander, afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go to rescue Paul from their midst..."

This is quite an argument.  But, if you stop to think for a moment, it is refreshing to hear about the fight.  The scribes and pharisees were passionate about the truth.

I think we have lost that edge.  I don't think people in general are willing to fight about anything these days, except for all those frivolous lawsuits that have no meaning or bearing in matters of consequence.

We have become a people who have lost sight of the certain in search of the uncertain. We have lost sight of what maters most.  We have jeopardized our lives because we no longer pay attention to the truth of things.

We no longer what to live in reality but rather we seek to create our only little reality, our own little world, where we bury our heads and refuse to engage the world around us.

We are as C.S. Lewis put it men without chest.

What was the result of this argument, this fight, this dispute?

The following night scripture tells us Jesus stood by Paul and said, "Take courage.  For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome."

JEsus doesn't say, "can't we just all get along."  Jesus doesn't say, "why all this senseless arguing over doctrine."  JEsus doesn't say, " well, it really doesn't matter since we all are going to heaven anyway."

Jesus says, "Take courage.  You witnessed for my cause in Jerusalem, now you will do it in Rome."

Bravo to Jesus.  This is what we need to rediscover about catholicism, about being a disciple, about truly living the message.  We need to bring the heat if we are going to close.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

blessed to give

Acts 20:28-38; PS 68: Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; John 17:11-19

Words of JEsus "consecrate them in the truth...I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth."

Words from the Pope, "Being Christian is not a type of outfit one wears in private or on a special occasion but it is living and totalizing."

Words form St. Paul, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

St. Paul is bidding farewell.  He is saying good bye.  He will not see these people whom has served on this side of heaven again.  So he gives them a few things to think about.

"so be vigilant..."

He encourages them to be on the look out.  He wants them to be attentive.  He also wants them to be active.  To follow Christ means we cannot be passive in life.

HE also warns them about those "wolves" men who will "come forward perverting the truth to draw disciples away."

Truth.  THere is that often despised word in our current society.  No one likes the truth.  We have sacrificed the truth so that we can cling to our own opinions and thus live our own way.

But opinions won't get it.  Opinions aren't building blocks but rather they tear away at foundations.

This is what St. Paul wants the community to get through their head.

We all have opinions, but with out truth then anything goes and thus nothing matters.

Lastly, he quotes Christ, the words of JEsus, "It is blessed to give than to receive."

This is the only time Paul quotes Christ directly.

This is Paul's parting shot, last word spoken before he sails off to his own martyrdom.

What a word to end on.  "Blessed to give than to receive."

Paul is about to give his life for is faith and love in Christ.

He is about to imitate Christ himself who came to give.  In fact, giving seems to be a fundamental attribute of God from all eternity: God gives.  This phrase explains creation and redemption.  IT answers the question why is there something as opposed to nothing: God gives.

St. Paul just simply invites us to do as God does:give.

Don't worry about getting what his owed; don't worry about getting yours.  Put your attention on giving and let that become the fundamental attitude and attribute of alive well lived.

Be sure like Christ it is truth in love that is given.

"Blessed to give than to receive."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

perfect scoring conditions

Acts 20:17-27; Ps 68 Sing to God, O kingdom of the earth; John 17:1-11

Words of St. Paul, "But now compelled by the Holy SPirit, I am going to Jerusalem.  What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy SPirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God's grace."

How often have we misunderstood our call to discipleship?  How often have we thought following Jesus was primarily about us and the feelings we get when we are close?  How often have we lost sight of the goal?

St. PAul reminds us, exhorts us, warns us as to what is at stake when we hitch our will to the will of God in Christ Jesus.

To bear witness to God's grace is the task at hand.  Yet, hardships may be the vehicle by which the witness is revealed.

There is no fine print when it comes to following Christ, as many presume, that demands little hardships, no suffering or pain, an easy path of fame and good times.

There is only commitment, discipline, integrity, handwork, perseverance, and glory given to God by the one who walks in the wake of Christ.

Suffering and pain may be part of the mission.  We must be willing to witness through all conditions, not just when we think the conditions are right.

Often times, I joke with a friend of mine when we get the opportunity to play a little gold, chasing that white little ball, that it is perfect scoring conditions.  Because we both enjoy the game, we say that it is perfect scoring conditions regardless of the weather whether, raining, cold, windy, sunny, it doesn't matter, all times and all conditions are the right setting.

Such it is when it comes to witnessing to the gospel of God's grace.

It is always perfect scoring conditions.

It any condition, with JEsus at our side, it is always birdie time.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rain delay

Acts 18:1-8; Ps 98 The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power; John 16:16-20

Rain delays.   We are all familiar with rain delays.  Usually these occur during a baseball game.  Somewhere in the middle of an inning the skies will open up and the rain falls and the game is temporality  halted.   There is a delay in the cation until the skies clear and the rain either slows or stops all together.

Rain delays are usually where the fans get rowdy and the baseball players themselves get into the action of goofing off.

Often times, the rain delay will turn into a postponement.  This means the game is called and another day they wither resume or they forget about it all together and just move on with the schedule.

Today we encounter a liturgical rain delay.

This Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension.

It is forty days after the resurrection and thus as St. Luke tells us this is the time when Jesus ascends upward to be seated at the right hand of the Father.  This may be the only day we are most certain about.

Yet, the church in many parts of the world, as in ours, have decided to move the solemnity to Sunday rather than celebrated on Thursday.

THere is a stop in action until this weekend then we pick up where we left off.  A Liturgical rain delay gives us an opportunity not so much to goof off but to prepare for the celebration.

In fact, today marks the opportunity to begin a novena to the Holy SPirit, as we are now 9 days from Pentecost.

How quickly the 50 days of Easter fades.

Here is a quick little prayer to the Holy Spirit you can cut and paste and say it daily for the next 9 daysin preparation to celebrate more attentively the Pentecost reality:

"Come HOly Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your SPirit, and they shall be created.  and you shall renew the face of the Earth.
O God, who by the light of the HOly Spirit, did instruct hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations through Christ our lord. Amen."

Cut and paste and post it on your refrigerator or your office door or bathroom Mirror and pray in preparation for the out pouring of the Holy Spirit with those marvelous gifts: Understanding, wisdom, counsel, knowledge, courage, piety, and Fear of the lord!

Don't waste the liturgical rain delay.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Today we celebrate Mother's Day.

It was PResident Woodrow Wilson on May 9th, 1914 that stated the second Sunday of May would be set aside for "public expression of our love and reverence for the mother's of our country."

Public expression of love and reverence for the Mother's of our Country.

SO, Blessed Mother's day for all of those out there.

Also just a side note.

A few things about motherhood that can complicate the celebration
1)for some motherhood is an accident, not always planned or welcomed
2)for some biological motherhood is often times not possible
3)SOme mother's are all that nice
4)For some the joy of motherhood has been accompanied by pain and anguish, sorrow and regret as they witness their children suffer both physical and emotional and even die

None the less motherhood is still part of God's plan of bringing life and love into the world.  Even in the mist of soiled diapers, soiled wallpaper, spoiled pans, stumbling blocks, pitfalls, heartache it remains a natural part of God's creative touch by which life and love flow.

We gather to be thankful even as we are in awe of such a mystery as a mother's love.

Even in the midst of the complicated and dysfunctional reality in which motherhood lives, the gospel for today reminds us what ultimately remains at stake for a mother, "No greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Indeed, a mother's body has the stretch marks to prove the willingness to lay down's one's life.  Motherhood is a natural reality that closely resembles the gift of Christ on the Cross.

IT is about gift of oneself.

Motherhood remains a divinely instituted reality bestowed on the human race so that for a brief moment we can catch a glimpse of what love looks like as we peer into our mother's eyes.  Regardless of all the rotten mothers out there, the good ones remain as a standard we all strive for in our life.

"No greater love than to lay down one's life."

To become mother is not that difficult; being a mother is very much so.  

Thank you to all who have struggled daily in being mothers. 
May God's grace abound!

Also, we acknowledge our mother the Church.  She has nursed us on the eucharist and the word and guided us to understand more perfectly the call we each have received in Christ.  She is there to offer to us forgiveness and encouragement in the sacrament of confession; she is there to give us a boost in the sacrament of confirmation; she is there to offer to us that heavenly milk, the eucharist, where Christ comes to live in us daily.  She gives us a new birth in to eternal life in the waters of baptism; she is there to fulfill the first command of GOd, "be fertile and multiply" as she celebrates the gift go married love; she is there to offer governance and guidance as men are called forth to the priesthood.

We bless her as our mother that leads us into the supernatural life.

Friday, May 11, 2012

friend or fiend

John 15:12-17

In today's gospel Jesus calls us friends.  IN fact he uses the term three times, almost as much as he uses the term love.

"No one has greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you."

If you notice in the english language there is only one letter that separates a friend from a fiend.

That little letter "r" is so important.  But it reminds us that to be friends requires details for the little things.

That is, laying down our life isn't just about dying for someone, rather it is about choosing to live for them.  It is a choice to pay attention to the details, to make sure the "r" is in the proper place lest the friend we think we are is viewed as a fiend instead.

Just pay attention today to those you call friends.

Are yo really?  Do let the commands of Christ transform the relationship?  IF not, then that friendship you think yo have may be something else less worthy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Pope on Hope

Here is a few words from Pope Benedict on the difference between optimism and hope

"The goal of optimism is the utopia of the finally and everlastingly liberated and fortunate world, the perfect society in which history reaches its goals and reveals its divinity.  The immediate goal is our success to do things.

The goal of Christian hope is the kingdom of God, that is the union of world and man with God through an act of divine power and love.  The immediate goal  is the perpetual presence of this love and this power that accompanies us in what we do and takes us up at the point where the potential of our own ability to act comes to an end. 

The aim of Christian hope, is a gift, the gift of love, which is given us beyond all our activity:  to vouch for the fact that this thing that we cannot control or compel and that is yet the most important thing of all for human beings does exist, and that we are not clutching at thin air in waiting insatiably for it, we have the interventions of God's love in history, most powerfully in the figure of Jesus CHrist in whom God's love encounters us in person. "

Just a thought for today as the rain falls down here in south central Texas.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Acts 15:1-6; Ps 122 Let us go rejoicing tot he house of the Lord; John 15:1-8

OF all the chapters and verse of the bible, one of my favorite is Acts 15.

It starts with a group of people trying to teach what they had no authority to do.  Therefore, dissension arose.

Sounds like our modern situation.  How often do we encounter people who think they are experts and have the "authority" to teach when in reality they are no and do not.

Recent survey has shown that their are 42,000 denominations of Christian faith groups.  Think about that, 42, 000.  Each one them thinks they are correct.

Who is left to determine the validity of their teachings and values?  Well, some will say that scripture alone is the authority; yet we all experienced different groups using the same scripture to contradict one another.

What are we left with?  Where do we proceed?

This is why chapter 15 is so important.  The early church held a council.  As Acts 15:6 informs us, "the Apostles and the presbyters accordingly convened to look into the matter."

After much discussion, Peter stand sup to testify then James spoke up and after it was all said and done the conclusion was thus, "It was resolved by the Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Jerusalem Church, that representatives be chosen from among their number and sent to Antioch...they were to deliver this message...therefore we have unanimously resolved to choose representatives and send them to you along with Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated themselves to the cause of our lord JEsus Christ.  Those we are sending are Judas and Silas, who will convey this message by word of mouth:It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and of ours too, not to lay  on you any burden beyond that which is strictly necessary..."

The power of the Holy Spirit was made manifest through the convening of a council headed up by the Apostles and the presbyters.

The church has done this 21 times in its history.  The ecumenical councils have gathered to pray and discerned the truth of things and how to implement them.

How blessed are we not to be  reduced to individual opinions about things as important as faith and morals!

What a beautiful gift the church,holy, catholic, apostolic church.  Where is the inspiration of the Holy SPirit, where the successors of Peter and the Apostles gather to pray and discern.

BE grateful for mother church as we move toward Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

troubled or afraid

Acts 14:19-28; Ps 145 YOur friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom; John 14:27-31

These are the words of Christ spoken at the Last Supper to his closest friends, those who would take the lead in spreading the massage, "Do not let hearts be troubled or afraid."

What does it look like to  surrender, to finally let yourself be one over by grace, A heart that is neither troubled or afraid.

IT seems on every turn of the page of the gospel, Jesus is continually giving "peace" to his disciples and those he encounters; on every page that peace is associated with the invitation to "be not afraid."

What is it about the human heart and mind that needs to be continually reminded of that reality? Why do we often forget and thus open our hearts to fear?

How quickly we set aside the peace we receive!

How quickly we get caught up in the external noise of living, the external noise of complaints and pressure and fears and anxiety and doubt.

The great nemesis of the human condition of tens greets us that fear of failure abounds stealing our joy and suffocating our peace.

As St JoseMaria Escriva points out, "How we let our affairs buzz around in our heads" and trouble our hearts.  What is the solution?  HE suggest that we "try to establish times for interior silence and thus we guard our external and internal senses."

Only then can we truly begin to look at things with "supernatural perspective."

Just a peak into the first reading.
The early church struggles to convince the masses of the truth of Christ and the gospel.
As the reading begins, "some Jews arrived and own over the crowds.  THey stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city...but he got up and entered the city."

He continued to proclaim the good news anyway.

The gospel isn't always popular; the crowds will often bulk against it.
Proclaim it anyway.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22 I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people;  1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8

"I am the true vine, my father is the vinedresser.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every branch that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit."

In has been 11 months since I became pastor.  I have been working here in cure, meyersville, and westhoff.

When I arrived, 11 months ago, it was the middle of the summer and we were right smack dag in the grip of what has been a long long drought.

Due to the previous pastor being out a few weeks before my arrival and my vacation plans being right around when I was starting my new assignment,  and no one to oversee the grounds at the churches, the landscaping took a beating.

Hedges were being burned up.  Flowers were wilting.  Needless to say it needed some attention really quick.

I got a friend to come in survey the place.  As I gave her the grand tour of the place and was informing her what i wanted to see happen, I remember laying down this one rule.

I told her my schedule would be busy and hectic.  Therefore,  I informed her that I wanted her to create a maintenance free landscaping environment.  I wanted her to incorporate all the labor saving devices possible.

After I had my spill, She looked at me.  She told me that I needed to recognize one thing.  This was her rule for me.

She said, for lack of better words, "Father, without a gardener, there can be no garden."

In other words, there was no such thing as a maintenance free landscape.

If there is no gardener, there can be no garden.

Jesus, reminds us in the gospel this past sunday that we have a gardener, the Father is the vinedresser.  This of course that God is invested in our well being.   He is not of the philosophy, "maintenance free" spirituality.

He wants a hand in it.

How often I hear people speak of being spiritual but not religious.  For this means they want to believe in God but they don't want God to have  a say in the matter.  Eventually they want to be their own little gods of their own little world where they get to make up their own rules of engagement.

This is called delusional.  There is medicine for that.  IT certainly isn't healthy spirituality.

God wants to be part of our growth.

In fact, as soon as JEsus introduces God as the vinedresser, the gardener, then quickly he also mentions the knife.

HE will cut away the dead branches and he will prune the others that they may bear more.

Pruning doesn't sound fun but nonetheless it is a part of the journey.  IT is reality check time.

God wields his pruning shears daily in our life. When ever we feel the rub, then we should think to ourselves here is the gardener doing his thing.  Think of all those cutting moments in our lives.  We don't like them, we try to avoid them, but they are necessary.

Rose are cut way back so that i t he year to come their blooms will be more plentiful and more fragrant.

How much more is God wanting us to bloom abundant that the kingdom can break through more clearly through our lives and how we relate.

Pruning is essential.

As the second reading reminds us, "Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them."

As Jesus points out in the gospel, "you have already been pruned because of the word  that I spoke to you."

Daily God wields those heavenly shears and we should be thankful lest like the hedges and flowers our lives burn up and wilt away.

He cares.  We are part of his concern.  Be grateful for ever cut and snip along the way for the fruit will be worth it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Crowning

Acts 13:26-33; YOu are my son, this day I have begotten you; John 14:1-6

Today at the school we will celebrate the May Crowning, in which flowers are brought forth in procession  to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As the Church teaches in Lumen Gentium, Mary is a member of the Church that "occupies a place in the Church which is highest after Christ and also closest to us."

Mary by her yes to God "gives to the world the life that renews all things, and who was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role."

As we crown her, we recognize in her that beauty and nobility of saying yes to God.

We ask for her motherly intercession that we too might have the nobility of soul to say yes to God daily in our life and allow christ to born anew through our lives here on earth.

Mary is like a port hole you might find in the Hull of a ship.  Usually it is a window that is opened to let in light and fresh air in the dark damp quarters of the lower deck.   Mary, by her yes, opens our world to Heaven's light and Heaven's freshness.

By her yes our world is penetrated concretely by Heaven's goodness in Christ who is born of her.

It is not enough to adorn her with flowers, we must imitate her lifestyle.

We all know what it is like to say "no" but it is the "yes" that transforms everything.

Remember, O most Gracious virgin Mary,
That never was it known that anyone
who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you,
O Virgins of Virgins, Our Mother.
To you we come.  Before you we heel, sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions,
but in your clemency, hear and answer them. Amen.

Now for today's reading.
In the gospel we hear these words, "Do not let your hearts be doubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father's house there are many dwelling places."

There is no room for troubled hearts for those who hold firm to Christ.

Yet, our hearts are often troubled.  Pain, anguish, sorrow, doubt often vie for a nesting place in our hearts and minds.  We must shake ourselves free, often from this self imposed prison and conformity to the world and raise our eyes upward to remember their is something new in the world since the resurrection.

Hope is born in Christ who is risen.

Here are the words of the Prayers offered for the dying we refer to as "last rites." However, our "last rites" are a misnomer, for they are not the last words.

"Go forth, Christian soul, from this world...May you live in peace this day, may your home be with GOd i Zion, may you see your redeemer face to face."

Deaths should give us a sense of urgency.  For as St. John of the Cross tells us, "at the evening of our life, we shall be judged on our love."

Heaven thus is perfect communion with God, that eternal existence of love.  Here definitive happiness awaits. Love is stronger than death.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  Here in lies the remedy for heart trouble.

Look upward and outward and believe.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Words from the Pope in light of work

I'm taken in mind to how, in the New Testament, in the profession of Jesus before his public ministry, the word "tecton" appears, which we translate as "carpenter," because then homes were mostly homes of wood. But, more than a "carpenter," it's an "artisan" who is able to make everything necessary for the construction of a house. So, in this sense, you are "colleagues" of Our Lord, as you've taken up what he did willingly, according to his own choice, before he announced to the world his great mission.

The Lord has wished to show in this way the nobility of this work. In the Greek world, only intellectual work was considered worthy of a free man. Manual labor was left to the slaves. It's totally different in biblical religion. Here, the Creator -- who, in a beautiful image, made man with his own hands -- himself appears to give us the example of a man working with his hands and, in doing so, working with his mind and with his heart. Man imitates the Creator because this world given to us by his hand is an inhabitable world. This appears in the biblical story from the very start. But always, in a powerful way, in the fact that Jesus was "tecton," "artisan" -- "worker" -- appears the nobility and greatness of this work.

Having said all this... it's a moment to say "thank you" for all this, for your work which encourages me -- as you gave everything -- to give on my own part, in this late hour of my life, the greatest amount I can possibly give.

--Pope Benedict XVI
Remarks to Construction Workers
23 December 2005

Get out there and dance

1 Corinthians 15:1-8;  Their message goes out through all the earth; John 14:6-14

A poem I encountered recently:

The dead say little in their letters
they haven't said before.
We find no secrets, and yet
how different every sentence sounds
heard across the years.

My father breaks my heart
simply by being so young and handsome.
He's half my age, with jet-black hair.
Look at him in his navy uniform
grinning beside his dive-bomber.

Come back, Dad! I want to shout.
He says he misses all of us
(though I haven't yet been born).
He writes from places I never knew he saw,
and everyone he mentions now is dead.

There is a large, long photograph
curled like a diploma—a banquet sixty years ago.
My parents sit uncomfortably
among tables of dark-suited strangers.
The mildewed paper reeks of regret.

I wonder what song the band was playing,
just out of frame, as the photographer
arranged your smiles. A waltz? A foxtrot?
Get out there on the floor and dance!
You don't have forever....

It's silly to get sentimental.
The dead have moved on. So should we.
But isn't it equally simpleminded to miss
the special expertise of the departed
in clarifying our long-term plans?

They never let us forget that the line
between them and us is only temporary.
Get out there and dance! the letters shout
adding, Love always. Can't wait to get home!
And soon we will be. See you there.

I especially am moved by the last stanza of the poem, "Get out there and dance! the letters shout, adding, Love always....  

How often have we lived the reality of the poem, where we uncover or recover or discover old letters from loved ones who have past on; or even simply find a postcard or a picture of time long ago when life was still vibrant and full of action for those who have since  moved on. 

Do we not reminisce and wonder what they were thinking, or saying, or feeling as the picture captures the moment and the frame binds them in that state of mind. 

And yet, those pictures and letters also seem to speak to us in a real way about the fleeting reality of life.  They remind us that time keeps moving and we too must get out there and enter fully into life for one day some one will discover or uncover or recover a letter we had written while our heart still was beating and blood was  still pulsing; or they will see a picture where we are framed in a moment of time and they will wonder what we were thinking, feeling, doing. 

Our letters will say the same thing as the letters of those who have gone before: Get out there and dance....

Get out there and dance. 

As we celebrate the feast of St James and St Philip, apostles, martyrs and friends of God, we think about what they would say to us today. 

In the words of Jesus in the gospel they might state, "whoever believes in me will do the works I do, and will do greater ones than these...whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorifies in the Son..."

In other words, Get out there and dance.  Live while living is right.  BE not afraid. 

We have all received the same Spirit of God flowing through our veins.  Get out there and dance, and love always...these are the words of those who have gone before us in faith. 

James and Philip both were moved by the desire to "See the Father" and yet they are there and we are here and they root for us as we move toward them. 

Their  pictures and statues point us to the way.  Get out there and dance!  YOU will do the works I do, and will do greater ones than these.

There is greatness in all us waiting to be unleashed.  How often we hide it, like a superhero who doesn't want his identity to be found out we too masquerade as just another guy or just another gal yet there is greatness in us for we believe and we have been set on a course that is bigger than we can imagine. 

We got to let our hair down, remove our mask, and let the world know the greatness of being a believer, a lover of God, the one who is loved by God. 

Don't stifle the gift.  Don't put in a frame and keep it as a souvenir.  We are not dead yet.  

Get out there and dance!  Love always...See you there...

Here is an excerpt from the letter of St James chapter 4:13-15
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we shall go not such and such a town, spend  year there doing business, and make have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.  Instead you should say, "If the lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that."

Get out there and dance!

St. Philip and St. James pray for us!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

plan of sheer goodness

acts 12:24-13:5; Ps 67 O G0d, let all the nations praise you!; John 12:44-50

The  word of God continued to spread and grow.

These are the opening lines of the first reading today.  This was a description the writer of Acts  used to describe the mission of evangelization undetaken by the apsotles after the Pentecost experience.

The word of God continued to spread and grow.

It is a beautiful description of reality.

These lines can be usesd even today to describe the life of faith: The word of God continues to spread and grow in the hearts of every believer.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, that work which helps illucidate the deposit of faith given to the Church and passed on from generation to generation  begins with these words,

 "God infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.  For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man.  He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.  He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son asRedeemer and Savior.  In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life."

"so that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel, "Go therefore and make disicples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; lo I am with you always, to the close of the age."

This is   the plan of sheer Goodness.  This is what it means when the opening line of today's reading begins, "The word of God continued to spread and grow."

The plan of sheer goodness found the human heart and they welcomed it. It is through the human heart that the plan of sheer goodness continues to unfold in dynamic ways and spreads forth like a fire.

The word of God continued to grow and spread as God continued to draw man to himself in every time and place.

Today let yourself be drawn closer to God.  Exult in the plan of sheer goodness.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

St Joseph:making a life

Genesis 1:26-2:3; Ps 90 Lord, give success tot he work of our hands; Matthew 13:54-58

Today we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker.

This particular feast gives us a pause to reflect on the value and meaning of work.

How often in our society we look upon work as an annoyance.  We need it.  But at the same time we complain about it and we see in it something negative, that which we do in order to be able to get on with our life, to retire and finally do what we have always wanted to do.

This is unfortunate, considering most of our waking hours are spent, well, at work.

Work is energy and effort put forth to accomplish a goal.

What goal are we seeking to accomplish  while at work?  Is it just about making a living, earning dollars?

If so then that doesn't make a whole lot of "cents", if you get me to spend all that time and energy wasting our life in hopes for the tomorrow which may never arrive.  How often have I encountered in my life the words, "Father, we were going to retire and enjoy our life  together but we never got the chance because of ...usually sudden death.


We are called not to make a living but rather to make a life, and that should include not exclude the work we do daily.

Think about JEsus in the gospels.  How often does JEsus in order to get us to better understand the kingdom, to really begin to picture the cut and contour of the kingdom does he use this parables that all revolve around labor, ordinary work.

Almost every parable involves some aspect of work: shepherds searching for sheep, fisherman casting their drag net, servants tending to the household, vineyard work trimming the vine, sowers sowing seed, stewards tending to their duty and the list goes on.

In this ordinary events of work, labor that the kingdom takes shape.

IT is in the work of our hands that we come face to face with the kingdom of God breaking through into our lives.

In fact the church teaches that because God presents his creative life in the form of work and rest so to does work become an encounter with that creative presence daily.

Work matters, not because it leads to a better tomorrow where we can sit on our laurels and live off our retirement and our investment but because in and through the work of our hands we imitate God and thus open our hearts and our world to his kingdom breaking through in real time.

We are at the service of something greater than our 401K.  Something we must remember.

We are not just making a living but we are truly making life all for the glory of God!

Action steps for daily work:
1)pray for the people you work with and work for
2)Look for opportunities to serve with the work of your hands
3)allow the sacrifices you make to have an impact in eternity even as they impact your life here and now
4)Be generous and trust that your creativity stems from God who creates
5)Let your leisure truly be a holy down time of reflection and recollection

Work is valuable.  Work is meaningful.  Work leads us to eternity here and now.

Above is a picture of my little nephew embracing the sun of the new day before the heads off to school.  Thought I might sure with you all.  Kids get it.  We adults are bit slow in the uptake.