Tuesday, July 31, 2012

St ignatius

Jeremiah 14:17-22; ps 79 for the glory of your name,O Lord, deliver us; Matthew 13:36-43

Listen to the words of Jeremiah, "we recognize, O Lord,  the guilt of our fathers;"

He goes on to say,"that we have sinned against you."

The beginning of hope for the future,for a new life,  new dream,for a new tomorrow in the biblical record always seems to stand or fall upon one little thing: acknowledgement of sin.

Repentance seems to always be associated with hope for tomorrow.  Repentance always seems to be a sign of maturity of God's people.

The moment they recognize their folly and foolishness,their offense against God, then and only then are they able to grab life by the horns and truly begin to experience the fullness of life as God so desired for them and created them to experience in the first place.

Repentance was the hinge on which life of rel possibilities opened wide.

This is true not only for the people in the time of Jeremih but also for us.

Remember the first words of Jesus as recorded by the gospel writers as he begins his public ministry: Repent,the kingom of God is at hand.

There is that word again, Repent.

Something's never change.  There are many in our society and in our world tht no longer want to recognizes in or even give it any credence in life, in the world, in their personal decision making prowess.

Sin has been over looked, pushed out of sight  and mind and has been replaced by this seductive mentality that sin was just another attempt for control.  we are civilized and we no longer need to bother ourselves with the notion of sin, or guilt, or anything else that seems to bring us down.  rather, we should live and let live.  We are told that each person can determine for themselves what is right or wrong;in fact, we have come to a point in our society where right and wrong are  no longer options.

We have become to civilized for such petty arguments of right and wrong.  Truth now no longer has any color: Black or white or even gray.  There are no shades of truth.  Truth is no longer necessary.  We now operate solely on feelings.

Therefore sin and guilt have been annihilated by the our personal whim.

And yet our society has not found peace and stability.  One very corner we live out what Jeremiah recognizes his day: "if I walk out into the field, look! Those slain by the sword.  If I enter the city, look! Those consumed by hunger..."

Violence and hunger, death and destruction continue to rise.  Families are destroyed.  Marriages are being wrecked. Children are being slaughtered under the pretense of the right to choose.

Perhaps it is time for us as a society to return to the heart of not just the gospel but thievery center of what it means to be human.  Perhaps it is time to let Gods show us the way. Perhaps it is time to no longer take our life in our own hands but to let the revelation of God to shine light on the land of shadows we creat the earth to be.

Perhaps it is time to let the light of heavens love to restore us to life and free us from the prisons of our own making.

Perhpas it is time to repent,to acknowledge our sins and truly experience life as it was meant for us by the creator's hand.

The field is the world as Jesus tells us in the gospel for today.  It is time to sow the good seed of repentance and thus shall we beamed ready for the harvest.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ark of the heart

Jeremiah 3:14-17; ps The Lord will guard us as a shepherd gourds his flock; Mt 13:18-23

 I sit here beneath the shadows of the mountains in Durango as I pause in my journey to Montana where Yellowstone and a wedding await. I have been here a few days now in Durango enjoying the beautiful hospitality of friends and the beautiful hospitality of God's creative touch we call Colorado.

As I was reading the first reading this morning I was struck by the immensity of Jeremiah's words. "when you multiply and become fruitful in the land, says the Lord,They will in those days no longer say,"The Ark of the covenant of the Lord!" They will no longer think of it, or remember it, or miss it, or make another."

 This is truly amazing and shocking words. The Ark of the covenant was considered the place of God's dwelling on earth. In it were the jar of manna, the stone tablets containing the ten commandments, as well as, the flowering staff of Aaron denoting him as the chosen high priest for the duties of the temple.

 It was on the ark of the covenant that the mercy seat was located where God's glory accompanied the people on their earthly journey. It was the concrete manifestation of God's presence. It marked what set the Israelites apart from all other people. God was near and he had revealed himself through the concrete realities of the Manna, the tablets, the staff of the priest. It was where the people were reminded of God's nourishment, God's law, God's guidance.

Yet, Jeremiah says there will be a time this will no longer be needed. This realm will give way to something more meaningful, more lasting. He is saying that the concrete manifestation of God's presence, the mercy seat of God will no longer be on the ark but rather will be seen and experienced in the very lives of the people.  It will be people themselves and the lives they live which will be proof of God's presence and action in the world, "when you multiply and become fruitful...." No longer will the box be the pinnacle of God's presence but rather now it will be the human heart, the human will, the lives lived.

 It will be the heart of man where the law of God, the nourishment of God, the guidance of God will be made known. This is certain foreshadowing of Christ, the incarnate one, God in the flesh. It is also a prediction about our lives and our purpose and meaning. As St. Paul tells us in the 2 nd letter of Corinthians, in Christ we become the very holiness of God. God's glory, presence ,power, might, mercy is now active in us who believe, who have been washed by the waters of baptism and live and walk in the way of faith. Faith empowers us the allow God to take up residence in the lives we lead.

 Wow! what a great confidence God has in us. God thinks the world of us.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

a deserted place to rest a while

Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23 The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I should want; Mark 6:30-34

"The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

A deserted place to rest a while...

A deserted place: a place  where one can be alone with him/herself, removed from the daily goings and comings of life.  A place of solitude, absence of human activity, an uninhabited place.

to rest: to have the opportunity to recollect, to think about life and one's place in life.  The ability to let the debris of life lived settle to increase visibility.

a while: short time, not too long; just enough time

Jesus thought it was important for the apostles t remove themselves from the business of their tasks and from the constant presence of the people.  The noise of living and doing needed to give way to the silence of being.

Prayer is a fascinating reality.

There are two things I have come to realize when it comes to prayer.

One: people for the most part yearn to pray, to develop prayer life and to set aside time for prayer.
two: people also avoid that which they yearn for.

We year for it and we practice avoidance of it.
It is strange.


Remember the beginning of the story of salvation.  Adam and Eve have an untroubled friendship with God; they walked together in communion.

After the fall things changed.  When god draws near to man, man hides himself. (Gen 3:8-10)

It is this reality we have inherited.  We yearn for communion with GOd and at the same time we are overcome by the possibility of that communion.  We practice avoidance.

Thus, prayer becomes a battle.

It is a battle for time, a battle of distractions, a battle of dryness, a battle of silence and surrender.
Time:  we must set aside time to pray.  We need to be intentional and faithful to this time.

Sticking with it strengthens our will.  Even when we give some time, we are acknowledging God as giver of time.  It is a gift back to the one who gave it.  Even God rested on the 7th day.  We imitate God.

Distractions:  distractions are normal.  We are so engaged in life with so many things at hand and rubbing up against people on a daily basis that distractions are common when we slow down.
IT is like stepping into a pond. The mud gets stirred up and for a while it remains mess.  But after sometime, the particles settle and visibility begins to return.  This is what happens to us.

Distractions is really the settling of all that we have been involved in.  Slowly, visibility returns and we get to see ourselves as we are and ultimately as God sees us.

This is the true gift of prayer.   When distractions arise, we should not be bothered but simply make them apart of our prayer experience in the moment.  Beside, if they are part of our life then God wants to be a part of it as well.

Dryness: Periods of dryness are important.  Perhaps, they may be the most import an time of prayer. Often times we may complain about not feeling anything in prayer, having no enthusiasm,  or experiencing no consolation.  Dryness is important because God is refining our desires and purifies them.  It helps us to be there for God and not just for us.

Silence:  Silence is one of the most important aspects of a healthy life.  Mother Teresa teaches us that to be bale to pray, we must learn to be silent.  We must love silence.

In 1978, the Surgeon General put out a warning, "calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere."

In 2007, Intel started an exercise in which it made a group of its employees to have 4 hours of uninterrupted silence with no phones, no emails, just time to be quiet and think,  They found it to increase peace and productivity.

In a recent New York times opinion article entitle "The joy of quiet" it was noted that there seems to be an increasing trend to seek silence and solitude.  People are paying up to 2300 dollars a night to stay in a place where there is no internet, no tv, and no cell phone coverage. We are over loaded.

Noise pollution is all around us.  This is why Pope Benedict has been inviting us to develop an increase awareness of the necessity of silence.  He tells us, "When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary."

He continues by telling us, "it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of ‘eco-system’ that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds."

It is only then are we able to cultivate our inner lives, our interior life.

This is what Jesus was doing with the Apostles when he invited them to come away for a while to a deserted place and rest. 

We must remember that prayer is our answer to God. It is not so much about telling God what to do or even listening to what God wants us to do.  IT is simply being in his presence. 

When i was on retreat in Feb., the retreat master would begin each prayer experience with the following, "Lord, I know you are here; I know you hear me and you see me.  I come before you with reverence and ask for pardon of my sins and the grace to make this time of prayer fruitful."

I have adopted that I'm my own prayer moments and it has been especially beneficial to just remind myself God is present.  I don't have to look for him, i just have to be and not do for a moment.

Now if you notice in the gospel.  JEsus was able to respond to the needs of the people with compassion.  WHy?  Becasue perhaps because he had disposed himself to silence and prayer on a regular basis. 

Prayer and silence gives us the ability to look upon the world with the compassionate lenses and to see as God sees and thus act accordingly. 

As Blasie Pascal once noted: "all man's problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone."

Friday, July 20, 2012

More time

Isaiah 38:1-6,21-22,7-8;  YOU saved my life, O  Lord, I shall not die;
Mt 12:1-8

Words from the YOUCAT  catechism about the end, "Toward those who have chosen life, GOd will act creatively once again.  In a "new body" they will live forever in GOd's glory and praise him with body and soul."

The redeemed shall stand face to face with GOd-as his friends.

In the first reading Hezekiah is mortally ill.  He is on the verge of death.

Think of the words of the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah, "Put your house in order, for you are about to die; yo shall not recover."

What would we do if this message came to us?  What does our house look like?  Are we ready to depart?  Is all in order?

Hezekiah weeps bitterly at the pronouncement.

Perhaps he was humbled by the advance notice.  Not everyone gets an advanced noticed of their death.

But wait.  Death does not come just yet.
HEzekiah is granted fifteen more years.  The Sun goes backwards ten steps just to prove God's ability to turn back time.

What would you do with more time?

How would you live if you knew you had only fifteen years left?

What kind of urgency would captivate your heart as the clock slowly ticked down?

Fifteen years is a good amount.  But we must remember that in Christ we have been given a bit more.
In Christ, we have been given the eternal day where no shadows remain.

Regardless of what is left, we know what remains for those who believe and live their life faithfully.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

rest & goodness

Isaiah 26:7-9,12,16-19; Ps 102 from heaven the Lord oops down on the earth; Mt 11:28-30

"When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world's inhabitants learn justice..."

Isaiah in today's first reading above everything else is predicting the restoration of the nation of Israel.  He points out that God is the one that gives rebirth to a nation, "for it is you who have accomplished all we have done."

A nation does not make people good, only God can make people good.

It is God that ultimate ensures the rebirth of a people, not laws passed, not law suits made, not supreme courts, or legislative branches, or executive orders.

God makes a nation good.   His direction alone ensures goodness.

What would happen if we as citizens carried out the words of Isaiah, "YOur name and title are the desire of our souls."

There in lies the beginning of goodness.

JEsus tells us in the gospel, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."

What keeps us from the rest Jesus offers?

What are we pursuing that hinders us form receiving fully the gift Christ comes to give?

Often times we seek many things and these are counterfeits to the one thing we are lacking: Christ himself.

"take my yoke upon you and you will find rest for yourselves."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The great writer, C.S. Lewis, had an idea he explored many times:  that God has paid us, quote, “an intolerable compliment.” God made us to be something great and glorious,  and as much as we wish he’d just leave us alone,  that is—as Lewis said—to ask God to love us not more, but less.

 This is why we do what we do. This is where we arrive at the courage to live out our faith without watering it down. This is why when things get dirty, as Catholics, we roll up our sleeves and push full speed ahead.

 Today in the office of reading, we are meditating on the life of Elijah. He was a courageous man of God who at times was over come with fear. If you look at ch 19 of 1 book of Kings, you will discover that Elijah was afraid.

 The narrative relates that Elijah was "afraid and fled for his life...he went on a wilderness journey and sitting under a furze bush wished he were dead. 'O Lord' he said 'I have had enough. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."

 Now Elijah has hit rock bottom. He is ready to throw in the towel. Yet, God had not had enough of him.

 He sends an angel to encourage him to eat for the journey is long.  40 days and 40 nights he journey until he hears the whisper of God in the sound of a gentle breeze.

 Remember this. Discouragement will come. We will want to end it and give up.

 Yet God is never done with us whether we see it or not is not important. We must eat and keep our strength for the journey will be long and we must be in it for the long haul.

 As the first reading related today at mass: let not your courage fail...unless your faith is firm you will not be firm."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

As you go

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

 This is how today's gospel ends. What do we proclaim as we go? What do the people we are around sense from us?

 When we approach, do they sense the kingdom breaking through our lives and words or do they get a sense of something else altogether?

 As you busy yourself with many things today, whatever it may be, ask yourself whether or not the kingdom, the very kingdom of God, is being allowed to be experienced through your decisions.

 Is the kingdom of forgiveness, truth, light, love, shining forth?
 Is the kingdom of blessing and turning the other cheek and exercising demons and healing of sick making itself known through you and your family?

 Is the kingdom of hope in the resurrection the guiding principle of what you cling to and what you let go off radiating outward? As you go, proclaim the kingdom not as acdistantvreality till to come but as that which has already Ben victorious in your heart!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Make haste but do not hurry

Hosea 2:16-22; ps 145 the lord is gracious and merciful; mt 9:18-26
 "I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD"

 Yesterday we read the gospel where Jesus was asked to heal the official's daughter from the infirmary of death, "my daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live."

 Jesus rises and follows him. On the way, he encounters a women who had been sick for twelve years and she seeks his touch for healing and whole ness. Jesus is making haste to attend the girl who has died but he is not in a hurry.

 He is attentive to those around him and he gives them the attention they need as they need it. He pauses and not only cures the lady but converses with her. He doesn't dismiss anyone on the way. He makes haste but he is not in a hurry.

 What about us?

 I think of the Alabama song. A few years back the country band came out with a song that went something like the following, "I am in a hurry to get things done; I rush and rush and life is no fun. All I really got a do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why."

 How often are we in such a rush, a hurry through life that we dismiss those God puts in our path as we are on our way? How we miss the grace that we long for because our eyes are shut to the needs of those around us because all we see are our own needs.

 We seek to be satisfied and yet we refuse to satisfy others on the way. Like Jesus we pray for the grace to make haste but not get in a hurry that on the way we may be open to receiving the grace filled encounters of those in the path.

 Make haste, but do not hurry.

Friday, July 6, 2012

maria goretti

Amos 8:4-6, 9-12; Ps 119 One does not live by bread alone; but by ever word that comes from the mouth of God; Mt 9:9-13

Follow me.

these are the words of Christ to Matthew the tax collector.

Jesus catches him in his sin.  Tax collectors notorious for their ways of cheating.  YEt, Matthew could not cheat his way out of the call he received.

Immediately he got up and followed him, the gospel informs us.

Promptness and readiness.  Overcome by the gracious word from the lips of his savior, Matthew is moved to set aside his life and seek a new life.

Think of how many men, women, children have responded in a like many.

How often has the silence of God been broken by that simple invitation: follow me.

Daily these words search for hearts that are willing to follow where they lead.

It was Matthew's response that inspired so many to do the same, "While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with JEsus and his disciples."

BEcause one was willing, many were converted.

The power of one heart responsive to the call of God can never be fully understood or comprehended.

Today, we celebrate the feast of St Maria Goretti.

At the age of 11 years and 9 months and 21 days she was brutally assaulted, stabbed 14 times and eventually died from the wounds her little body received.

With her last few breaths she forgave her attacker wishing to be in heaven with her.

HEr attacker, Alessandro would spend the next 27 years in prison.  After 6 years in prison, he encountered Maria in a dream which led to his conversion where the light of grace would transform him.  She gave him 14 lilies, one for each stab wound.

UPon release he sought out Maria's mother seeking forgiveness.  Her mother responded, "MAria forgave you, Christ has forgiven you, why should I not forgive you."

He spent the remainder of his life in a monastery.

In 1950, at St Maria Goretti's canonization, there sat her mother and her attacker/murder side by side giving thanks to God for such a witness.

The power of one willing to hold firm to virtue, to follow Christ, has brought conversion to so many.

IT is amazing what happens when the heart is open to receive the call.

More of the story click here: 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

no fuss

Amos 7:10-17; Ps 19 The judgments of the lord are true, and all of them just; Matthew 9:1-8

Just a few notes as i think back on the readings for today.

"And there people brought to him (jesus) a paralytic lying on a stretcher.  When JEsus saw their with, he said to the paralytic, "courage, child, your sins are forgiven...Rise, ice up your mat and go home..."

Note one:

Jesus was impressed by the friends of the paralytic.  Jesus was impressed by the friends he kept.

Now, Would Jesus be impressed by the friends we keep?

The faith filled friends moved Jesus to act.  Friends can not make one or force one to follow christ but by their life choices they can bring the other into presence of Christ.

What is a good friend?  A friend is one who brings others to the presence of Christ and simple lets the presence of Christ do His thing, without hinderance, or nagging, or constant breading but simple brings the presence of Christ to the front.

This is what we are called to do by a life of faith.  We don't have to convince people we are right and they are wrong.  We don't have to be smarter, or have better arguments, or be slicker with words.  We just have to live it and the example alone sways...

It is good to have faith filled friends around who constantly bring the presence christ with them when they arrive.  It is better to be a faith filled friends and let the presence of Christ sway and charm.

Second note:

Jesus forgives.  He didn't make a big stink about it.  He just offered it, plain and simple.

This forgiveness brings new life; it lifts.   One of the clearest ways we can model Christ is to do what h does, he forgives readily, promptly.

How easy for us to follow.  Just give the gift that lifts and direct another home: rise, pickup your mat and go home.

No fuss, just gift.

Note three:

The last line of the gospel, "they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men."

Yesterday I was at the bed side of a man who was dying.  As I ministered the rites for the dying, I said the words of the apostolic pardon which borrows the power from Jesus words to Peter, "what you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, what you lose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

here is the prayer: Through the Holy mysteries of  our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishment in this life and the life to come; may he open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.  By the authority which the apostolic see has given me, I grant you a full pardon and remission of all of your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

I was struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

We priest are humbled by the gift we are asked to share with everyone: rise, pick up your mat, and go home.

The gentlemen died this morning.  He rose and went home.

BE blessed!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


AMos 5:14-15, 21-24; Ps 50 To the upright i will show the saving power of God; Mt 8:28-34

"When they saw him they begged him to leave their district."

This is a haunting line.  Jesus just cast out several demons.  According to Mark's account, a legion of demons were cast our from the demoniacs in the land of Gadarenes.

They were so savage they harassed the passer byes, tormented the locals.  Yet, when Jesus comes to solve the problem, the people, rather than rejoicing in their new found freedom from harassment, are afraid.

Rather than welcoming the new change they want to get rid of the one who comes to set them free.

Haunting.  What is it about the human nature that is rebellious against that which is good for it.  Why chase Christ away when he has proven himself to be on their side?

When independence comes, the people choose to remain bound.
They forsake the freedom Christ offers for what they have always known, even if it is torment.

Not all welcome the change christ brings.

Why do the people scorn the good and cling to the evil?

We see it all the time in our society.

Out often does JEsus comes to cast out the demons and yet we like the locals int he gospel beg Jesus to depart.  We choose our comfort over the freedom.  We choose what we now rather than seeking to know him whose love changes everything.

He comes to loosen our bonds and yet we remains staked to the ground.

On this independence Day, perhaps it is time try a new way, the way of Christ for a change for the better rather than a change for the worse.

Monday, July 2, 2012

hanged, drawn, and quartered

Amos 2:6-10,13-16; Ps 50 Remember this, you who never think of God; Matthew 8:18-22

 Today we reflect on the life of St. Oliver Plunket.  He was archbishop and primate of Ireland in the 17th century.

He was arrested for treason against the monarch of England for teaching and proclaiming the Catholic faith.

Having been tried in England and found guilty of being "catholic" he was sentenced to death.

He was hung (almost to the point of death) then he was emasculated, disemboweled, quarter (chopped into four pieces) then beheaded.  His remains were displayed for all to see.

All of this because he refused to be bullied against his beliefs.

He truly lived out the words of Christ, "follow me."

He made no excuse unlike the gentleman in the gospel, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father" then after follow.

Oliver had no excuse ready, he just followed.

Would dew be found guilty?  Or are we busy making an alibi?

No excuses today, just live it.