Friday, November 30, 2012

red rover red rover let Andy come over

Romans 8 10:9-18; Ps 19 The Judgments of the Lord are true and all of them just; Mt 4:18-22

Today is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.  He was the first one called to follow Jesus.

Think about being called to follow Jesus.

When did yo first experience a calling, an invitation to surrender your life and entrust it to Christ?

How do you live that calling, that invitation out in your life?

As St. Paul reminds us in the first reading, "And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can can people preach unless they are sent?  as it is written, 'how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'"

How are your feet?  What news do you bring to your family, your job, your  gatherings, your friends, your life?

As St. Paul reminds us, "not every has heeded the good news."

Indeed this is true.  But who is responsible for making the news available to others?

Surely not just the clergy!  We all have a part to play.  The problem currently it only a few play the part given them by the call of Christ.

Many of us stand idly by with our hands in our pockets watching it all unravel before us.  At some point we have to jump in and get with it.  IT is our witness, each of us, that is lacking in the program of proclaiming the faith.

Our silence is deafening.  Our voice needs to be rediscovered.  Our witness needs to sharpen.

Remember when we are all young and on the playground.  Remember how loud we could be.
Remember playing "Red Rover" and yelling at the top of our lungs, "RED ROVER, RED ROVER, LET, (insert name here) COME OVER!"

How exciting; how exhilarating!  We need to rediscover that energy and redistribute it in our witness, our lives.

We need his intercession so that we can get on with fulfilling our duty.

St. Andrew upon hearing the call went to get his brother.  HE spread the message.  HE made it known.

"at once they left their nets and followed him."  Fishers of men they became.

Fishers of men its who we are called to be!

Like a game of tag, it is our time to reach forth no longer sparingly and touch someone with our witness of faith.  Imagine being on the play ground.  Imaging that exhilaration and energy.  Pray for strength to be that witness.  Do not get discouraged, no, rather GET LOUD!

A word from Archbishop Chaput


Catholic Life Congress, Philadelphia, 11.17.12 +Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
My comments today will be simple. I want to focus on just three points. The first point is where we are as a Church and as individual Catholics, given the current environment of our country. The second point is what we need to do about it. And the third point is who we need to be – or become – to live the kind of witness God wants from us. Before we get to that though, I want to offer a few preliminary thoughts.

Language matters. It both expresses and shapes our thinking. Vulgar language suggests a vulgar soul. Obviously lots of exceptions exist. A peasant can have a rough vocabulary and still lead a saintly life. And a political leader can have a golden tongue and still be a complete liar. But in general, words are revealing. They have power because they have meaning. So we should take care to understand and use them properly.

The words of the Nicene Creed are the defining statement of Christian identity. They’re the glue of the Catholic community. Jews are Jews by virtue of being born of a Jewish mother. But being a Christian has nothing to do with blood or tribe or ethnicity or national origin. Christian identity comes from the sacraments, Sacred Scripture and the Creed. What we believe and profess together to be true as Catholics is the foundation and the cement of our unity.

Every word in the Creed was prayed over, argued over and clarified by decades of struggle in the Early Church. The words are precious and uncompromising. They direct us toward God and set us apart from the world. When people sometimes claim that Islam and Christianity have so much in common, they need to read – or reread – the Creed. Catholics pray the Creed every Sunday at Mass as the framework and fundamental profession of our faith. Devout Muslims reject nearly every line of it.

Over a lifetime, a Catholic will recite the Nicene Creed, or the Apostles’ Creed, thousands of times. But if we’re honest, we need to admit that we often mumble the words without even thinking. That has consequences. The less we understand the words of the Creed and revere the meaning behind them, the farther away we drift from our Catholic identity -- and the more confused we become about who we really are as Christians. We need to give our hearts to what we hear and what we say in our public worship. Otherwise, little by little, we become dishonest.

Here’s my purpose in saying all this. The theme we’re here to talk about today is “Renewing the Church and Her Mission in a Year of Faith.” Four of those words warrant some attention: renewing; Church; mission; and faith.

Let’s start with that first word: renewing. Over time even the strongest marriage can wear down with hardship or fatigue. Couples renew their vows to remember and reinforce their love for each other. The story of the Church is much the same. History has shown again and again that over time, the life of the Church can become routine; then an afterthought; and then stagnant and
cynical, or worse. God sends us saints like Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena to change that; to scrub the heart of the Church clean – in other words, to make her young again. They rekindle the “fire upon the earth” (Lk 12:49) that Jesus intended all of his disciples to be.
In our own day we can see the same work of the Holy Spirit in the Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Christian Life Movement, Walking with Purpose, ENDOW, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, and so many other new apostolic efforts. The new ecclesial movements are a very important moment of grace for the Church, including the Church in Philadelphia. We shouldn’t fear them, because this is exactly how the Franciscans and other religious communities once began. We should welcome the zeal behind these new charisms wholeheartedly, even as we test them. The Church is always in need of change and reform – but change and reform that remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the soul of Catholic teaching. Real renewal is organic, not destructive.

Let’s turn to the second word: Church. The Church is not a “what” but a “who;” not an “it” but a “she.” Nobody can love the Church as an institution, any more than they can love General Motors or the IRS. The Church has institutional forms because she needs to work in the legal and material structures of the world. But the essence of the Church is mother and teacher; guide and comforter; family and community of faith. That’s how we need to think of her. And the Church is “his” Church -- the bride of Jesus Christ -- not “our” Church in any sense that we own her or have authority to rewrite her teachings.

The great Third Century bishop, St. Cyprian, once said that "You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.” We should belong to the Church as her sons and daughters. The Church should live in our hearts like our family does, and we should come together on Sunday to love and reinforce each other as a family, to praise our Father and to share the food he gives us in his Son. Our Sunday worship should be alive and full of faith, and celebrated with conviction and joy. Bricks and mortar are a dead shell without a zeal for God and for the salvation of each other burning inside the parish walls.

The third word is mission. Our mission – our purpose and task as Christian disciples -- is simple: “Make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Jesus meant exactly what he said, and he meant those words of the Gospel for all of us, including you and me. We need to bring Jesus Christ to the whole world, and the whole world to Jesus Christ. Our mission flows straight from the inner life of the Trinity. God sent his Son. The Son sends his Church. And the Church sends us.

Obviously we can’t convert the world on our own. We’re not called to succeed. Success is God’s business. Our business is trying, working together and supporting each other as believers, and always asking God’s help. God does listen. He’ll handle the rest. But we do need to try. We need to be more than just maintainers of old structures. We need to be missionaries.

Fourth and finally there’s that word faith. Faith is not an emotion. It’s not a set of doctrines or ideas, though all these things play an important part in the life of faith. Faith is confidence in things unseen based on the word of someone we know and love – in this case, God. Faith is a gift of God. He chooses us. We can certainly ask for the gift of faith, and when it’s offered, we
can freely choose to accept it or not. But the initiative is God’s, and only a living encounter and a living relationship with Jesus Christ make faith sustainable.

Faith opens our eyes to God’s real reality. Because we see with new eyes, we have reason to hope. And hope enables charity by allowing us to put aside fear and to look beyond ourselves to the suffering and needs of other people. History is shaped and life is advanced by people who believe in something more important than themselves. So faith is the cornerstone of Christian life because it enlarges us; it animates us; it’s restless. It must be shared or it dies. It takes us outside ourselves and allows us to risk.
Now let’s go back to the three points I mentioned at the start of this talk. The first point I want to talk about is where we are as a Church and as individual Catholics, given the current environment of our country. We need to know the facts of our pastoral terrain before we can renew or achieve anything.
Some of you here today probably saw the movie from a few years ago called Cinderella Man. It’s based on a true story – the story of Jimmy Braddock, the Irish Catholic boxer who came from nowhere to win the 1935 world heavyweight championship. Out of work, injured and poor in the middle of the Great Depression, Braddock never betrays his wife. He never gives up on his duties as a father. He’s honest, humble, grateful, hard-working, faithful to his friends, and he pays back every dime he receives in unemployment assistance from the state. Most of all, Braddock accepts the pounding that life gives him both in and out of the ring. He endures it without bitterness. He never quits. And in the end, he does something almost miraculous. He wins the title from the great champion Max Baer.

People who love this film love it for a reason, despite its violence: In many ways, the character of Jimmy Braddock embodies the very best of American virtue. The trouble is, less and less of that virtue now seems to survive in American life, except as a form of nostalgia. And nostalgia is just another thread in the same cocoon of unreality that surrounds us 24 hours a day on our TVs, in our theaters, in our mass-marketing and on the web.

In a sense, our political and economic power, our addictions to comfort, consumption and entertainment, have made us stupid. David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, said recently that we’ve become “historically illiterate” as a nation. He told the story of a student at a prestigious university who attended one of his lectures and thanked him afterward. Until she heard him speak, she said, she had not known that all 13 of the original American colonies were located on the east coast.i
The illiteracy goes beyond history and other academic subjects. Notre Dame social researcher Christian Smith and his colleagues have tracked in great detail the spiritual lives of today’s young adults and teen-agers.ii The results are sobering. So are the implications. The real religion of vast numbers of American young people is a kind of fuzzy moral niceness, with a generic, undemanding God on duty to make us happy whenever we need him. It’s what Smith calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Or to put it in the words of a young woman from Maryland, “It’s just whatever makes you feel good about you.”iii As Smith observes: “It’s not so much that Christianity in the United States is being secularized. Rather more subtly, either Christianity is [degenerating] into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, [it’s] actively being colonized and displaced” by a very different religious faith.

This is the legacy – not the only part of it, but the saddest part of it -- that my generation, the boomer generation, has left to the Church in the United States. More than 70 million Americans describe themselves as Catholics. But for all practical purposes, they’re no different from everybody else in their views, their appetites and their behaviors. This isn’t what the Second Vatican Council had in mind when it began its work 50 years ago. It’s not what Vatican II meant by reform. And left to itself, our life as a Church is not going to get better. It’s going to get worse. So if we want a real renewal of the Catholic faith in Philadelphia, in the United States and worldwide, it needs to begin with us, right here and right now.

That leads me to my second point: what we need to do about the pastoral realities we face. In calling for a Year of Faith, Pope Benedict said that “the renewal of the Church is . . . achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers.”v That means all of us – clergy, religious and lay. We all need repentance, and we all need conversion.

The clergy abuse crisis of the past decade has been a terrible tragedy. It’s caused great suffering. It’s wounded many innocent victims. It’s turned thousands of good people away from the Church. As a bishop, I regret these things bitterly, and I apologize for them – especially to the victims, but also to our people and priests. God will hold all of us who are bishops to a hard accounting for the pain that has resulted. And I accept that as a right judgment.

But if we’re honest – and there can be no real reform, no real renewal, without honesty – we need to admit that the problems in American Catholic life today are much wider and much deeper than any clergy scandal. And they’ve been growing in our own hearts for decades. If young people are morally and religiously ignorant by the millions, they didn’t get that way on their own. We taught them. They learned from our indifference, our complacency, our moral compromises, our self-absorption, our eagerness to succeed, our vanity, our greed, our lack of Catholic conviction and zeal.
We made this moment together – clergy, religious and lay. And God will only help us unmake the failures of the past, and remake them into a moment of renewal, if we choose now to serve God’s purposes together.

If we really want new life in the archdiocese, some of what we need to do is obvious.
We need to protect and educate our young people. We need to impress on their hearts that salvation is not just a pious fiction, but a matter of eternal consequence; a gift that cost God the life of his own son. Our Catholic schools are vital in this work. St. John Neumann founded our schools 150 years ago to protect the faith of our young people from Protestant pressure in the classroom. But our same Catholic schools are even more important today in a time of aggressive secularism, moral confusion and bitter criticism of the Church.

We need to do much more to support the priests, deacons and religious who minister so generously to our minority communities. Minorities bring a huge transfusion of new life into the
Church. We also need to help our minority communities see that they too share God’s call to be missionaries.

We need to use our material resources far more wisely – and then we need to be accountable for them.
We need to be eager again to invite young men to the priesthood, starting with parents who encourage their sons in the home. Nothing is more heroic as a way of life than a priesthood lived with purity and zeal. And we need to form our young priests to be more than just maintainers and managers, but real missionaries; new men for a new kind of mission field, with a hunger to bring the whole world to Jesus Christ.

Finally, we need to build a new spirit of equality, candor and friendship that weaves together every vocation in our Church. Priesthood, the diaconate, religious life and the lay vocation: Each has a distinct and irreplaceable importance. There are no “second class” Catholics; and no “second class” vocations. We need each other.

In a way, being together today in mid-November to talk about the future of the Church is exactly the right time for our theme. November is the month of All Saints and All Souls. It’s a time when the Church invites us to reflect on our own mortality and the universal call to holiness we all share. Life is short. Time is the one resource we can never replenish. Therefore time matters. So does what we do with it.

In the end, renewal in the Church is the work of God. But he works through us. The privilege and the challenge belong to us. So we need to ask ourselves: What do I want my life to mean? If I claim to be a Catholic, can I prove it with the patterns of my life? When do I pray? How often do I seek out the Sacrament of Penance? What am I doing for the poor? How am I serving the needy? Do I really know Jesus Christ? Who am I leading to the Church? How many young people have I asked to consider a vocation? How much time do I spend sharing about God with my spouse, my children and my friends? How well and how often do I listen for God’s will in my own life?

The Church has many good reasons why people should believe in God, believe in Jesus Christ and believe in the beauty and urgency of her own mission. But she has only one irrefutable argument for the truth of what she teaches – the personal example of her saints.

And that brings me to my third and final point: who we need to be, and who we need to become.
When we end our time together today, I have a homework assignment for you. Sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend, I want you to rent or buy or borrow a copy of the 1966 film about Sir Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons. I want you to watch it with your family. Here’s why. More was one of the most distinguished scholars of his time, a brilliant lawyer, a gifted diplomat and a skilled political leader. Jonathan Swift, the great Anglo-Irish writer, once described him as “a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom [of England] ever produced.”vi

Above all, More was a man of profound Catholic faith and practice. He lived what he claimed to believe. He had his priorities in right order. He was a husband and a father first; a man who – in the words of Robert Bolt, the author of the original play and the 1966 film – “adored, and was adored, by his own large family.”vii

A Man for All Seasons won Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Actor, and it’s clearly one of the great stories ever brought to the screen. But it captures only a small fraction of the real man. In his daily life, Thomas More loved to laugh. He enjoyed life and every one of its gifts. Erasmus, the great Dutch humanist scholar and a friend of More and his family, described More as a man of “amiable joyousness [and] simple dress . . . born and framed for friendship . . . easy of access to all,” uninterested in ceremony and riches, humble, indifferent to food, unimpressed by opinions of the crowd, and never departing from common sense.viii

Despite the integrity of More’s character, and despite his faithful service, Henry VIII martyred him in 1535. More refused to accept the Tudor king’s illicit marriage to Anne Boleyn, and he refused to repudiate his fidelity to the Holy See. In 1935, the Church declared Thomas More a saint. Today – half a millennium after he died and a continent away -- this one man’s faith still moves us. That’s the power of sainthood. That’s the power of holiness.

Here’s the lesson I want to leave you with. We’re all called to martyrdom. That’s what the word martyr means: It’s the Greek word for “witness.” We may or may not ever suffer personally for our love of Jesus Christ. But we’re all called to be witnesses. In proclaiming the Year of Faith, Benedict XVI wrote that:
“By faith, across the centuries, men and women of all ages, whose names are written in the Book of Life . . .have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called.”ix

The only thing that matters is to be a saint. That’s what we need to be. That’s what we need to become. And if we can serve God through the witness of our lives by kindling that fire of holiness again in the heart of Philadelphia, then God will make all things new – in our Church, in our families and in our nation.

i McCullough to Morley Safer on Sixty Minutes; aired November 11, 2012
ii See Christian Smith and colleagues, Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011; and Soul Searching; The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005
iii From the Smith lecture, “On Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as U.S. Teenagers’ Actual, Tacit, De Facto Religious Faith,” Princeton Theological Seminary, 2005; adapted from his book Soul Searching
iv Ibid.
v Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, No. 6, October 11, 2001
vi Note that the Swift quotation is sometimes attributed to Samuel Johnson
vii Robert Bolt, A Man for Seasons: A Play in Two Acts, Vintage Books, New York, 1962; p. xv
viii Desiderius Erasmus, from a 1519 letter; as quoted by T.E. Bridgett in his Life and Writings of Blessed Thomas More, 1913
ix Porta Dei, No. 13 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

CS Lewis Birthday

Today is the birth of C.S. Lewis one of the most convincing converts to Christianity from atheism.

Here are few of his insightful thoughts:

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.

The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

God's fury

Revelation 15:1-4; Ps 98 Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God; Luke 21:12-19

"for through them God's fury is accomplished"

These are the last words of the first lines of yesterday's reading from the book of Revelation.

When it comes down to the Brass tax of things, as they say, as Christians and believers alike, we delight in pondering the goodness of God, his mercy, his love, his care, his kindness, his generosity and so on and so forth.

We usually can't get enough of that sort of thing.

We like to think of God as this cuddly bear that keeps us warm at night and gives us those good "feelings", yo know the "warm and fuzzes."

Of course this is part of God's goodness that Jesus comes to invite us to receive.

But we can't take part of God without receiving all of God.

I think our society would benefit form a little more time pondering the "furry" of God a little more often.

Think about God's fury!

To say that God is furious is not the same as saying God is hateful; it is also not the same as saying God hates.

God's fury is directed toward all that which is opposed to his goodness.

As followers, we must carefully discern what is opposed to God's goodness; we too must learn to be infuriated.  We know where God's fury is, but the real question id where is our fury.

This whole modern sense or rather perverted sense of tolerance as removed our backbone.

We have no bite nor bark.  We have forgotten what we to be opposing.

This is why it is good for us to ponder and meditate on the fury of God. It will do us some good to get in touch with that side of things. We need to get our blood boiling every now and them. Lest we just accept everything and in accepting all things then we lose everything.

Tolerance is not a virtue.  It is a sham if the truth of things is forsaken.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

gut check

Revelation 14:14-19; Ps 96 The Lord comes to judge the Earth; Luke 21:5-11

Normally when we think of heaven, we perhaps have the not so uncommon image of little angels sitting on clouds floating in bliss; they might even be wielding a harp from which they play a merry little tune.

In fact, heaven is often depicted as these rolling clouds not to be confused with the rolling hills of Texas, rolling clouds with angels or even saints with giant  halos perched upon with this euphoric look of peace and contentment.

Yep that is what heaven is like, fat little cherubs with perpetual grins strumming harps as they roll on by in their nimbus like chariots.

Yet in today's reading with a get a different glimpse and rather stark encounter of one riding a cloud,

"there was a white cloud and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand."

The last time i checked there was nothing musical about a sharp sickle.

So much for the rolling clouds of sweet contentment.

Then a loud voice is heard, "use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth's harvest is fully ripe."

Then another angel wielding a sickle is sent forth to "cut the clusters from the earth's vines, for its grapes are ripe."

Then what happens.  That which has been reaped, cut, sickled is thrown into the "the great wine press of God's fury."

The vintage of God is brought to the front; This vintage has a hint of vengeance though it belongs complete and entire to Divine Justice, where there is vindication without vindictiveness.

God is patient with humanity.  But God cannot ignore evil.  He will not condone oppression.  There is a place for his "wrath", his radical incompatibility with evil.

The angels are not Grim Reapers. This is not about death as much as it is about life with God or life without him.  There are worst things then death, as is often noted.

IT all depends where we fall in that line of choice for Christ or without Christ.
God's justice triumphs over all injustices committed by his creatures and God's love is stronger than death...CCC1040

This image of the last judgment, this reaping, is meant to inspire in us a holy fear of God and commit us to justice that belongs to His kingdom.  Even in judgment we see the "blessed hope" of his return.

The book of revelation gives us a "gut"check, a call to continues conversion.  We should not get too comfortable.  May we heed it well.

How's that for a depiction of judgment; how's that for a real glimpse into the rolling clouds of heaven.

Friday, November 23, 2012

chinese take out

Revelation 10:8-11; Ps 119 How sweet to my taste is your promise; Luke 19:45-48

Initially reading the first reading an encountering the command of the angel to John to eat the scroll that would be both "sweet & sour", I couldn't help but think of chinese take out and that oh so delicious sweet & sour cause.

There are uncertainties as to when the sweet & sour sauce was invented or where it originated but perhaps we could just point to the book of revelation, it seems heavenly after all.

Why "sweet & sour?"  Why does the scroll have that combination, that bitter sweet reality.

The notes in the bible commentary suggest that the sweet and sour have to do with the message the angel hands over to John.  The sweetness refers to the "final victory" contained with int he message.  The sour refers to the suffering the people will have to endure.

It could also point to the fact that when the prophet speaks a word from God there is both sweetness from having heard God but also the sourness in having to proclaim the message.  The word of God is both grace and challenge for the hearers and the speaker.

When have you encountered the sweetness of God's word in your life?
When have your felt the sour tone of challenge and woe?

How do we allow the sweetness of God's word strengthen us through the sufferings we endure for living our faith?

Today we we honor Blessed Miguel Pro.  He was ordained a catholic priest in 1925 and spent a year in Mexico during the persecution of the church.  He went around giving the sacraments, teaching the faith,  and encouraging the catholics not to surrender to the persecutions.  He was a bit of sweetness in the sour of persecution for the people of God.  Though anticlerical and antichurch, the government did not deter Fr Miguel from proclaiming the message.

HE was arrested for being a Catholic priest in 1927, on november 23, 1927 he faced the firing Squad.  HE extended his hands in the form of a cross and as the bullets came his way he prayed, "viva Cristo Rey!"  A little sweetness echoing through his life and in his death.  He did not lose sight of the final victory even in the midst of sufferings.

Chaplet of Miguel Pro
Blessed Miguel, before your death, you told your friend to ask you for favors when you were in Heaven. I beg you to intercede for me and in union with Our Lady and all the angels and saints, to ask Our Lord to grant my petition, provided that it be God's Will. {mention the request}
We honor and adore the triune God. The Gloria. We ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. Come Holy Ghost. We pray as Jesus taught us to pray. The Our Father. We venerate with love the Virgin Mary. Hail Mary. All you angels, bless you the Lord forever. Saint Joseph, Saint {name of your patron}, and all the saints, pray for us.
Blessed Miguel, high spirited youth, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, loving son and brother, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, patient novice, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, exile from your homeland, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, prayerful religious, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, sick and suffering, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, defender of workers, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, courageous priest in hiding, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, prisoner in jail, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, forgiver of persecutors, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey. Blessed Miguel, holy martyr, pray for us. Viva Christo Rey.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Yesterday we celebrated the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the temple.  Part of yesterday's celebration was the reading from the gospel of Luke 19:11-28.

It is a fascinating reading and very appropriate to the day of thanks.

In the gospel, JEsus tells a parable about a man who goes off to claim the kingship for himself and then return to rule.

As his parting gesture, he calls ten of his servant and gave them ten gold coins and told them to "engage in trade with these until "he) returns."

Upon his return, he calls his servants to "learn what they had gained by trading." What is unusual about this parable is only three servants return to give an account of their business, how they fared.

30 percent of the servants thought it important enough to seek out the master.
What of the other seven?  They are never mentioned.  They get their gold coin and they high tail it out of there.

 Perhaps they assumed the master would never return?
Perhaps they lost it and were ashamed and so they hid?
Perhaps they were just selfish and used it completely for themselves for their own advancement?

Either way 3 out of the ten return.

How often are we like the 7 who disappear off the radar.  How often do we receive and use it for ourselves, our own advancement, our own desires and forget who gave it in the first place?

Yet, we focus our attention to the first servant who returned to give an accounting.  He did well.  HE took the one and made ten.  The masters words are striking, "Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter..."

Being faithful in small matters.  That little line could sum up the purpose of our lives.  That simple word of praise from the lips of Christ through the parable should be the gem we have been looking for to get the ball rolling again in our lives.

What small matters have we neglected?
What small matters have we pushed aside as of no consequence?

What i said, giving thanks might just be the smallest matter that matters most of all.  We get it right there we get it right every where.

Just a few thoughts as journey through the day of thanks and enter into the evening hour, ready to begin the day after the day of thanks, knowing tomorrow should be more of the same as today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Rev 3:1-6,14-22; Ps 15 I will seat the victor beside me on my throne; Luke 19:1-10

the book of revelation is a fascinating look into the realm beyond.  John has a vision; the veil between heaven and earth is peeled back and we catch a glimpse of what awaits.

Reading the book of revelation would be a good exercise for the preparation of Advent and Christmas.

As you read there is one thing to keep in mind, the one defining thing that separates us from all other animals:  freedom.

We, being created in the image and likeness of God, are made with a free will.  We are self movers.  We can determine which path to follow.  We do have a say in the matter at hand.  We can choose how we will respond to each given moment.

As you read from today's reading, as the various churches are spoken to, the on thing that is constant is that they are given another opportunity.

"Be watchful and strengthen what is left" the angel says to Sardis.

"Be earnest, therefor, and repent" the angel says to Laodicea.

"Behold, I stad at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me."

We do have a say in the matter at hand.  We can say yes to the invitation that comes to us at each moment of each day.

We are free.  Our freedom is strengthen by the Spirit of God working in each one of us.

Think about freedom.  Be free.  Choose the highest good and watch heaven take effect in your daily life.

Friday, November 16, 2012

many deceivers so look to yourselves

2 John 4-9; Ps 119 Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord; Luke 17:26-37

John points out in his letter that there are many deceivers out there.  If there were many deceivers in his time then that number has certainly grown exponentially in our time.

The deceivers John speaks of are those who do not acknowledge Jesus in the flesh.

Then John gives the command, "look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for but may receive a full recompense."

Look to yourselves!

Are we one of those deceivers?  What in our life suggest we acknowledge Christ come in the flesh?  More importantly what in our life suggest to others that we don't acknowledge Christ in the flesh?

Remember to acknowledge Christ means there are those things that are no longer options in our life.

I truly love the last line of the first reading, "anyone who is so "progressive" as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God: whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son."

Instantly i think about all those women religious out there who rebuke the church for her teachings on sexuality and contraception and health care and the like.  IT makes you wonder whether they are truly in love with Christ or themselves.

They claim to be "progressive" but wants the point if it leads to abandoning the faith.

Lastly, i direct your attention to the gospel.
The words of Christ are striking, "Remember the wife of Lot."

Go back and reread the story of Lot and his wife.  God was leading them to safety.  God was rescuing them from danger.  They were on their way to a place of refreshment and peace.

All they had to do was listen, no matter the noise and sounds coming from behind them, they needed to just keep walking.

Yet, the wife of Lot could not resist the burning curiosity; she could not resist the urge to stop and turn around, to change diction, to disobey the command of the one who was going to set them free.

Here is a ancient description of the modern problem; we are like the wife of Lot.  We hear the command but don't believe it.  We too have let our curiosity run wild.

We refuse to restrain our desires and appetites for the fanatical. We just have to look one more time.

Keep moving forward in heeding the command of Christ and his church this is how we are to be progressive.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

heirs of hope

Titus 3:1-7; Ps 23 The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want; Luke 17:11-19
" be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise, slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone."

This is the admonishment St. Paul asks Titus to pass on to the early church. 
Look again at the behavior St. Paul exhorts:

to be we measure success by disobedience, doing your own thing, not being confined by the rules or standard of another

to be open to every good enterprise...When have we applauded another for taking the initiative, doing a good deed, taking charge.  How do we rejoice in the goodness of the other?  How do we support enterprises that work for the common good?  How often do we support those enterprises that do not bear good but we do so because of the profit margin we may obtain?
slander no not speak false accusations against someone.  There is a difference between denunciation and accusation.  Denunciation is for the amendment of another, that is, wanting them to be better, where as, accusation is for the punishment of the another's crimes.  How often do we seek the betterment of the other rather than just bringing accusations against them?  It is easy to accuse and a lot harder to journey with in order to assist one in getting better.  Secondly, we don't always have the facts, yet we seem as a general rule, eager to accuse and even accuse false without knowing every thing. We are eager to prove guilty even with out the proper evidence. 

to be peaceable and considerate....this is certainly lost amongst many.  To be considerate is to have a regard for the feelings and needs of others.  It boils down to thoughtfulness.  Are we careful and deliberate in regards to the needs of others.  Do we put the needs of others before ourself?  This is a constant area of improvement in our lives.  Thoughtfulness is that which makes sure that everyone at every time matters.  Is this not the way to peace!  HOw often do we dismiss people we meet along the way?

exercising all graciousness toward everyone...  Being pleasant or in an agreeable manner when socializing with others.  Why be gracious?   St. Paul goes on to say the kindness and generous love of God has appeared in Christ not by our own merit but by the simple gift of God himself.  Why be gracious because God is gracious.  We are invited to imitate him in our response to others in our society.   

Thus our life can begin to express the gratitude we have toward God.  Like the one leper who returns to say thank you to Christ for the healing received, so our lives should weave a garment of gratitude daily.   
In this gratitude of living we are able to stand tall and live as heirs of hope in Christ.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

older women

Titus 2:1-8,11-14; Ps 39 The salvation of the Just comes from the lord; Luke 17:7-10

As I was reading the first reading and came across these words of St. Paul,

"Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited"

My first thoughts went to the Ronnie McDowell song I would hear growing up on the radio, 680 am KKYX.

The song lyrics are as follows

Older women, make beautiful lovers
Older women, they understand

I've been around some, and I have discovered
That older women know just how to please a man.

Everybody seems to love those younger women
From eighteen on up to twenty-five
Well I love 'em too, but I'm tellin' you
Learnin' how to really love, takes a little time.
Older women, make beautiful lovers
Older women, they understand
I've been around some, and I have discovered
That older women know just how to please a man.

So baby don't you worry about growin' older
Those young girls ain't got one thing on you
It takes some living, to get good at giving
And givin' love is just where you could teach them a thing or two.

Older women, make beautiful lovers
Older women, they understand
I've been around some, and I have discovered
That older women know just how to please a man.

Older women, make beautiful lovers
Older women, they understand
I've been around some, and I have discovered
That older women know just how to please a man.

Older women, make beautiful lovers
Older women, they understand
I've been around some, and I have discovered
That older women know just how to please a man.

In deed it does take some living to get good at giving and giving love is just where they could teach a thing or two...

I always loved that song growing up and now I know why.  Who would thought that Ronnie Mcdowell was such a fan of St. Paul. 

But the scope of the reading, at least St. Paul in the letter to Titus is simply this, "be a good example."  Our lives should be such that others learn from us the path of goodness. 

The problem with our current generation is that they have no one to look up to, no one to show them the proper way of reverence and respect.    This is where we have failed as a society, especially as an entertainment enterprise. 

Movies and TV series or sitcoms are no longer about showing the proper way to live or the proper behavior for the betterment of society or for the common good, rather it is all very self centered and simply reduced to getting laughs. 

Reverence, self-control, chaste, good home makers, are not laughing matters.  As they go so goes the family, so goes society. 

If you don't believe me, just open your eyes and look around. Unfortunately, our older men and women are leading the charge in moral decay.  Rather than being a good example, exemplifying the character of a true Christian they are self absorbed and concerned with feeling good and getting their fix.

St. Paul's words are as necessary today for our time as they were for his. Read it again.  Let these words be the guide to true up right living.  for your listening enjoyment.

Friday, November 9, 2012

watered by the flow from the sanctuary

Ezekiel 47:1-12; Ps 46 The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High; 1 corinthians 3:9-17; John 2:13-22

The word of the prophet Ezekiel come to mind: Every month they shall bear fresh fruit , for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary..."

Being watered by the flow from the sanctuary.

This is a pretty good image of what a healthy prayer life looks like.  How do we know we are praying enough: are we producing fresh fruit with our lives.

Are we  allowing ourselves to be watered by the flow of the sanctuary?

Ezekiel goes on to say, "their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine...they shall nourish and nurture.

This too is evidence of prayer in one's life.  Is the fruit of our life nourishing and nurturing those around us.

This is a litmus test for us as we continue our pilgrim journey.

How are we watered by the flow of the sanctuary?

How often do we spend time before the Blessed Sacrament?  How often do we go in the quiet of before him who has humbled himself to be here with us day after day?

How often do we attend mass to receive the very presence of Christ for us in the Eucharist?

How often do we avail ourselves to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

We must be watered by the flow of the sanctuary so that the fruit we bear will be the fruit the world needs.

The difference between praying in our car and praying before the Blessed Sacrament is the difference between water from the faucet and miracle gro for the plants.  It is different and necessary.

"did you know you are the temple of God and the spirit of God dwells in you?"

As we look to the gospel and see JEsus clean house with a whip in one hand the question to ask ourselves is what needs to be driven out from our temple, our lives?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The banquet is ready, are we.

In today's gospel we encounter the banquet.  Jesus speaks of invited guest who at the last minute excuse themselves  from the celebration.

How rude!

Yet, look at the excuses...

The first gentlemen excused himself because of a business transaction.  Worldly commerce is what he chose over the banquet spread.   The claims of finance usurped the claims of God.

How often is this the case?  How many husbands and wives refuse children because they are concerned with having enough money?  How often do we look first at our bank account before we ever look in God's direction?

The second man was caught up in his purchase of oxen.  It wasn't the purchase itself but his desire to see how they worked.  He was like a child with a new toy; novelty captivated him over the banquet spread.

How often do we get carried away with the latest innovation or technological advance and allow it to sway our hearts and minds?  How many people have made the iPhone or ipad or facebook or myspace the center of their lives: with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength they move forward with seldom a thought to God?

The third man declined because of his bride.  This is a good thing to be married, to want to spend time as newly weds.  This is good and necessary.  But, how often as husbands and wives we forget that the purpose of getting married is not our happiness but rather our holiness and getting to the banquet in the first place?

As lovely as our home and our relationships are, they too must be directed to the things that last.

Lastly, the fact that Jesus uses the image of a banquet is important.  The christian endeavor is about joy, the joy of being with others with God.  There is a feast going on and we are invited; our lives should anticipate that joy here and now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

self-substituing love

All souls and why do we pray for the dead

The central expression of Christianity is self-substituting love. Jesus substitutes his love for us so that we might be redeemed. When we are baptized, we share in the ministry of Christ. We become ministers of reconciliation, ambassadors of Christ, as St. Paul tells us.

We share in the charity of Christ.

We must remember that God could have done redemption without us but he always chooses to incorporate us in the work of redemption. This is why he took the form of flesh. Thus he chooses to allow us to be a part of redemption not only for ourselves but also for others.

Also, we must remember, it is a greater act of charity to allow others to participate in charity as well, rather than just to do it alone.

Our praying for the dead and offering sacrifices for them does not take away from the charity of Christ but it magnifies it. We do because Christ did.

We must never forget that we are all part of the body of Christ and we are all connected. What one does affects all, when one rejoices we all rejoices and when one suffers we all suffer.

Praying for the dead is sharing in the charity of Christ and is fully realizing the impact of being a member of the Body of Christ.

Those who are dead look at us and say, "I hope in you for me" and when they get to heaven we say, "I hope in you for me." It is a beautiful tapestry of charity that reflects most perfectly the God, Deus Caritas Est, as Sacred Scripture reveals, God is love, a love that is forever communal and thus in eternity God will be all in all.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints revisited: one heaven of a slogan

As I was thinking about All Saints and heaven and all that jazz that goes with it on this Holy Day; I couldn't but think that Heaven needs a slogan, a catchy phrase to keep our attention.

Every good product has a good slogan that lingers in our heads.  Think about the marketing business.  Some them are quite creative.

Here are just a few...See if you know which product they go with...

Melt in your mouth not in your hands...

Like a good neighbor...

Your 're in good hands with...

Every kiss begins with kay...

Be all that you can be....

Have it your way....

Just the way you like it....

Just do it......

Good to the last drop...

Heaven needs a catchy  slogan.

Here are a few I came up with.  If you have any to add let me know in the comment section.

Heaven: its where you want to be....

Heaven: if you want it; you can have it...

let the want of heaven trump all your other wants...

Sainthood: to be a saint you have to want it and the halo will follow...

Heaven: be holy or die trying...

The original Halo games...