Wednesday, May 31, 2006

An Encounter with Mary May 31


Jesus, you always seek out places to dwell in our world. You first found comfort in the womb of Mary and then in the home she and Joseph built for your protection. As you look for a place to dwell in the modern world, please find a comfortable and secure place in my mind, on my lips and in my heart.

Help me to believe as Mary did and to proclaim your goodness. But also, give me the courage to seek you out. As we look for each other on this amazing journey, we will increase the chances of finding each other than if only you, my Good Shepherd, are doing the looking.

Son of Mary, help me to do as you did and accept the will of God. After accepting it, help me to fulfill whatever you command in me. Amen.


“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

We end this month-long celebration of Mary, Mother of Jesus and the Church, with the Feast Day marking the Visitation of Mary to her sister Elizabeth – the second Joyful Mystery. Just as Elizabeth encounters Mary, we have had a chance to reflect on our encounters with Mary and her role in our faith especially this month.

And what an amazing role it is!

One of Mary’s principal roles that she models for us is as believer as Elizabeth cried out in today’s reading. Throughout Scripture, Jesus directly blesses those who believe and the evangelists place Mary in crowds of believers and single her out explicitly by name.

When the crowd encounters Mary in (Mark 6:31-35), Jesus elevates her modeling role from that of believer to one of action – one who does the will of God. We get the first hint of this role in Luke 1:38. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Jesus reinforces this through Mark’s story.

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers (and your sisters) are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and (my) brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. (For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Magnificat, the central prayer in today’s Gospel from Luke fits in well with all these themes and others: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God's favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises.

In contrast, while Zechariah is rendered mute because he did not believe (Luke 1:20), Mary, a believer, is given the beautiful hymn to sing. (Luke 1:46-55) After this poetic dialogue with Elizabeth, we hear only two more short declarations spoken directly by Mary in scripture.

Certainly we have other encounters with Mary:
When she presents Jesus to Anna and Simeon in the temple
When she and Joseph find Jesus preaching
When she waits outside while Jesus is preaching
When she stands at the foot of the cross
When she prayers with the believers in Acts

But, neither Luke nor any of the other evangelists provide detailed accounts of any lengthy dialogue spoken directly and solely by Mary except for three short sentences in which Mary models for us more behavior to emulate – seeking out Jesus and doing as Jesus commands.

1) In Luke 2:48, Joseph and Mary find Jesus in the temple and Mary greets her wandering son with these words: When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
2) In John 2:5 at Cana, Mary tells the wine steward, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Otherwise, she kept everything else to herself – the foreboding blessing of Simeon, Jesus’ ministry and miracles, the Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Spirit – reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19). Behold your mother.


Where can you seek Jesus today? What is Jesus telling you to do?

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Words You Gave to Me May 30


Jesus, how much have you told me that I fail to embody in my action. I have much more formation needed on the road ahead.

Help me to accept the words you spoke at face value and not put my meaning and interpretation in your mouth.

Help me to truly understand the words that you have given to me – not just the easy messages but the queasy messages as well because they are hard and challenge prevailing personal and cultural beliefs.

As Paul professed, we don’t know what lies ahead. However, we will go forth to the Ultreya you have planned for us. Amen.


“Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood.” John 17:6-8

Today, we hear Jesus begin to deliver the climax of his last discourse to the disciples. In the next chapter, he is heading out to the garden to pray as the Passion unfolds.

There are passages in this prayer with amazing similarity to what Jesus has said before as well as passages that depart from the earlier preaching of Jesus.

Similarities go back to the beginning of John’s Gospel. Thinking back to the opening of the Gospel (John 1:1-5), we recall:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

While on one hand, Jesus reinforces all these messages, now Jesus also veers off his earlier messages. In the beginning, he told the disciples to “Follow me.” Now, as Jesus fulfills God’s work on earth, he encourages and urges the disciples to follow God. Eternal life is “know[ing] you, the only true God.”

Jesus is perfect communication. He took the word from God and passed it directly to the people of God. The words Jesus gave to the disciples were accepted and understood. Perfect communication with God is just another way to express piety.

Jesus is perfect knowledge because he informed all humanity so we can know God, the only true God and Jesus Christ. Perfect knowledge of God is another way toward formation.

Jesus is perfect life, coming to be directly through the actions of the Father and carrying out the mission of the Father – “by accomplishing the work that” the Father gave Jesus to do. Perfect life is apostolic action.

Right there from the beginning to the end of Jesus’ life as expressed in John’s Gospel are the three cornerstones of Cursillo. Who said this movement started in Majorca in the 1940s? Cursillo finds its perfection in Christ.


If the weekend talking heads are any indication, the immigration debate is far from over.

Although the USCCB praised the legislation passed in the Senate last week, leaders in the House and in its Judiciary Committee have vowed to fight on issues of secure boarders and more.
The U.S. bishops view the immigration bill that passed last night in the Senate as a critical first step in reaching a comprehensive approach to dealing with the challenges of the nation’s immigration system.

“While the U.S. bishops’ Conference does not agree with each and every provision in the Senate bill, we applaud its comprehensive approach and believe it contains many of the elements necessary to help solve the problems associated with our country’s current immigration system,” said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, California, Chairman of the Bishop’s Committee on Migration.[1]

The U.S. bishops’ continue to support immigration reform legislation that requires 1) a workable and viable path to citizenship for undocumented people, 2) significant backlog reductions for family-based visas, and 3) a viable temporary workers program that protects both U.S. and foreign- born workers.

Keep urging the members of your hometown and home state Congressional delegation to support these principles.


The Father is With Me May 29


Jesus, how are you testing me today?

You tell us that in the world we will have trouble. As you have conquered the world, help me to conquer those temptations that the world lays at my doorstep, in my heart and in my mind. Help me not to be a prisoner of these desires that want me to turn away from you. No matter the test, in faith I know that you are at my side.

Be also with those who don’t walk with you today. We pray that you will be reunited with them as you were reunited with the disciples in Galilee after the resurrection. Bring them and all of us through the fire to the faith so that in you, we will have peace. Amen.


“I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” John 16:32

There is nothing in life, not even its end, which we do alone. God wants to be a part of this journey. In fact, God is a part of this journey whether we realize it or not. Even though God is at our side, in this last week of the Easter season, Jesus tells us that those who believe will be tested. This fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7-9.

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is my associate, says the LORD of hosts. Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be dispersed, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In all the land, says the LORD, two thirds of them shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left. I will bring the one third through fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested. They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them. I will say, "They are my people," and they shall say, "The LORD is my God."


In today’s Responsorial, Psalm 68 reminds us that, “The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.”

Where is God’s holy dwelling? In us. In you. In me. We are his “holy dwelling.” God needs us to care for the orphans and widows, the forsaken and the prisoners through the actions we are compelled to fulfill through our Christian faith and our Cursillo mission.

God is testing us to see how well we do this. How will you fulfill this call to mission this week? Today, we have a chance to offer comfort to the forsaken.

As Jesus died to conquer the world of sin, he called out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Remember all the children of God who died and those who lost a loved one in the ravages of war and terrorism. They did not die alone. They are among the forsaken whom we remember today Memorial Day, May 29, 2006.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Be One Just As We Are One May 28


Jesus, you tell us that everyone is a child of God.
The people of Staten Island are one with God.
The people of Jerusalem are one with God.
The people of the Gaza Strip are one with God.
The people of New Orleans are one with God.
The people of Yogyakarta are one with God.
The people of Villa Nueva, Guatemala are one with God.
The people of Buckingham Correction Center are one with God.
The people of Warsaw are one with God.
The people of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Kigali and Darfur are one with God.
The people of Fairfax, Virginia are one with God.
Jesus, help us to see you and love you in all the faces of the world. Amen.


Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,and his love is brought to perfection in us. 1 Jn 4:12

Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,so that they may be one just as we are one. John 17:11

One. God. Three in one. That is our Trinity. As Jesus ascends, the Son of God declares that we are one with God as he was one with God. All in one. That is the people of God. Our job is to love them all to keep God with us.

Getting on the plane yesterday in Mobile seems like an apt metaphor. Forty-two passengers on the journey with our flight leaders and untold numbers of workers in ground support from the gate agents, air traffic controllers, mechanics, baggage handlers, security personnel, baggage screeners, car rental agents, jet fuel technicians, meteorologists, flight attendants, pilots, even the persons who designed the plane, the airports and other systems that guided us to Charlotte and on to DC. One in our journey. Dependent upon the actions of the others. Each person needed to fulfill their role to make this journey a success.

God put us all on an airplane called Earth. He sent Jesus to design a new in-flight system for us that wee call the Good News. Jesus walked among us for a while but then left us to rejoin our grand design team in Heaven. The successful flight is now dependent upon each of us working together, loving each other, for all of us.


Reflect on ways that you already fulfill your role on the Christian pilgrimage. Is there more that we need to do in order to make our journey and the journey of others a success?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ask and You Will Receive May 27


Let us pray. O God, source of all our being, please help us to realize that whatever we ask of you in the name of our friend and your son will be given by you. Please grant us the strength of faith to believe so we may turn to you in confidence.

Speak to us clearly so that we may know the love you have for us. Grant us the faith and obedience that we need so that we can continue the work of you son in the world. Amen.


“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” John 16:24

In the world, we will have trouble, but in Christ, we will have peace. When Christ leaves us, those who believe can then turn directly to the Father. But that is not a recipe for giving up.

Clearly the world of New Orleans – and all the world “touched” by Hurricane Katrina – is still troubled. But signs of complete joy shine through the refuse and detritus of rural, urban and suburban lives.

Five sisters – ages three to eight – pop out when the elevator door slides open in the hotel lobby. They were scattered. Two sisters now live in Houston, two in St. Thomas and one in St. Louis. But today, they run and dance around the lobby because they have been reunited in their hometown for a while as their families plan to recover, rebuild, and renew their life.

At Fourth Street and Chippewa, four more sisters are jumping rope on the crowded city streets dodging cars that glide on past. They can’t play in their yard because these neighborhoods are not filled with storage PODS, dumpsters and contractors’ vans. Instead, the debris of recovery still lies strewn in yards, too dangerous for children to play around. These homes don’t have signs on them like “Osborne Construction – General Contractors At Work.” There are no “Interiors by Riverbend.” The only signs here are the exhausted, sweaty faces of the fathers, mothers, uncles, sons who work all night at rebuilding after working all day.

When you see Katrina’s aftermath exposed up close, you come to a quick realization that asking God so our joy may be complete does not mean we can check out of our responsibilities in this world. Piety adds a prayerful, spiritual dimension to our lives. We need study and action as well in order for our lives to be balanced and stable. A stool with one or two legs will certainly fall over.

Just as Joseph taught Jesus the skills of a carpenter so he could make a living, Christianity compels us to action so we can make a life – our own or someone else’s. Jesus isn’t here to do it himself. Jesus needs our hands and heart to work for him. Sometimes that action is devoted to building or rebuilding our own families and neighborhoods like these New Orleans families continue to do. Other times, when we are not the poor in spirit, our apostolic action can be focused in a more outwardly direction.


The next hurricane season starts in four days. From Florida to Louisiana, we’re not over the last two seasons yet.

At the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, there is a photo exhibit called “Katrina Exposed.” One picture by an eleven year old girl is inscribed in pencil with her handwritten words, “ Aren’t we tired of talking about Katrina yet?”

Maybe that answer is yes for some…but we can’t be discouraged and distracted. Much work still needs to be done. Just because we don’t see the faces on the evening news, doesn’t mean that the needs are met.

Can you still help? Will you still help? How? Here is some information to explore and links to groups still helping in the region.

Your Hearts Will Rejoice May 26


Jesus, when we put our trust in material things, any happiness we get is temporary. These possessions can be blown away or destroyed in a second by a storm, fire or flood. You can take these away from us. Help us to put our trust in your permanent love that will give us life and joy. You will never take these away from us. Amen.


“So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” John 16:20

Yesterday I drove into New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina struck. Seeing the images in newspapers or on television does not adequately express the devastation. Later today, we will tour the hardest hit sections of the city.

Ten miles east, on I-10, the trees on the south side of the highway are all dead, twisted and rotting. Yet on the north side, there is new life already. The destructive forces of the storm become more evident as you enter the city. Trees are bent in half but despite that, some are not broken. Windows and roofs are missing. PODS and dumpsters line the streets. In some places apartments have new windows but the trash is still strewn in front yards and streets nine months after the storm.

Getting around the city for the visitor is hampered by a lack of street signs and traffic lights. That is the least of the worries for the people who live here. Entire houses and businesses which were cornerstones in the community no longer stand.

Talking to some who live here, they immediately took to the task of rebuilding. Even without yet getting to the poorest neighborhoods, you can see that reality is based upon income and location.

The anguish the residents feel is evident with the view of the city we see. However, the attitude of the people is upbeat and positive. Many businesses are open and clean-up and security work is evident all around as they rebuild.

However, the experience drives home how our lives today still reflect the timeless message in scripture.


As you mark Memorial Day Weekend, remember all your blessings and keep in mind that Katrina victims in our midst as well as those in parishes throughout New Orleans and spread across the country also need our help.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Your Grief Will Become Joy May 25


Jesus, change me. Take this vessel that you have given to me and empty it of all desires except the desire for you. Then, take the empty vessel and fill it with love, enough love to give away to those we meet. Send us back into the world to proclaim the Good News through obedience and service, through faith that leads to good works. Then, the emptiness that we felt when we pursued material wealth will die. Our grief at that death will turn to joy as we ascend to the spiritual life dwelling through you, with you and in you. Amen.


“Your grief will become joy.”

Jesus changes.
Jesus changes water into wine.
Jesus changes fishermen into disciples.
Jesus changes the sick into the healthy.
Jesus changes the blind into the visionary.
Jesus changes our grief into joy.
Jesus changes.

Jesus changes everything for its goodness. The contrast John offers in today’s readings gives us a glimpse of the opposite poles represented by the world and the disciples. When the world rejoices, the disciples weep. However, their weeping will turn to joy because of Jesus.

Just as opposite poles repel each other in magnetism, the world repelled the message Jesus sends. So Jesus descended into Hell to free is from sin. The one who descended then ascended. Jesus gave up his life so we might live ours more fully. But we don’t. We still want that big screen TV, those concert tickets, getting our name in lights. We want to be accepted and loved by all. We want to be the American Idol or at least vote for the winner.

But Jesus says otherwise. He says that we have to give up in order to live up and understand the joy of the resurrection. Who among us of us have not been failed by the things other than God – money, status, security, work? Life (the spiritual life) only begins when life (the material life) ends or ascends into a higher realm.

But we have to let God into our life – through Jesus and the Holy Spirit – in order to change. It won’t be easy. It will be hard, very hard. But when we do, our grief will become joy!


What is your Rosebud? Remember Rosebud was the sled in the movie “Citizen Kane.” After a life of power, wealth and influence, all Charles Foster Kane wanted was the sled from his happy childhood days. But no one shared that with him. The sled ended up in the incinerator. Kane ended up dead like the rest of us will. Do you want to die clinging to a toy or clinging to Jesus?

What do you cling to and not want to let go of? No matter what money, status or fame we get in life, all else will fail us in the end. As we get ready for Memorial Day Weekend, the first weekend of summer, clean out the closets of your material life and give something of value away. Not just the junk you don’t use anymore but something of real value. Maybe those items remind you of some periods of temporary joy. Give it away and share that joy with someone else.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Seek God May 24


Seek the Lord and the Lord will find you.

Knock and the Lord will open doors for you.

Ask and the Lord will answer questions for you.

The Lord is near to all of us. As near as a beating heart or blooming flower, a breathing child or a begging man. You can and will find the Lord! Amen.


He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

The Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth. (John 16:13)

The attempt to find God is a constant human endeavor. People live all over the world and God is near all of us. Unlike the Greeks who built temples to unknown gods, the God of our faith is known to us and we can seek and even find God.

Through the sacraments and grace God provides we can grope for and find God because he dwells with us, within us and with all creation.

The Holy Spirit will guide you, not toward new knowledge, but toward the truth already revealed by Jesus.


Seek God where you are. Whenever you do this for the least of these, you do this for God.

Thanks to Pat Seiler for sharing this idea for apostalic action.

You can work to resolve the homelessness of your sisters and brothers in Fairfax County by getting active and making your voice heard at one of the community meetings that will provide information that was given at the recent housing summit and give you an opportunity to talk about your concerns and ideas. Dates are May 30, June 7, June 12, and June 14, 6-9:30pm.

The Community Summit to End Homelessness is offering four sessions to share some of the information from the Summit and to provide opportunities for community dialogues on ending homelessness. Bring your creative ideas to help shape our plan and your commitment to ending homelessness in Fairfax County.

A light supper will be provided at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting beginning promptly at 6:30.

Please RSVP by phone for the venue you have selected so we can plan accordingly.

Community leaders as well as experts in the field will attend each session to provide information and engage in dialogue with participants.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Bethlehem Baptist Church
2800 Sherwood Hall Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306
RSVP to 703-704-6700

Wednesday, June 7, 2006
St. John Neumann Catholic Church
11900 Lawyers RoadReston, VA 20191
RSVP to 703-787-4962

Monday, June 12, 2006
First Christian Church of Falls Church
6165 Leesburg PikeFalls Church, VA 22044
RSVP to 703-533-5701

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Pender United Methodist Church
12401 Alderwoods DriveFairfax, VA 22033
RSVP to 703-324-5285

On June 15 the Fairfax County Alliance for Human Services will have a living wage panel at 7:30pm at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Pkwy., rooms 4&5.

Those without homes and without enough money to live on in this county are probably groping for God more than those of us with plenty. Seek out how you can lift them up.

Chains Pulled Loose May 23


Jesus, help us to break free of the forces that chain us to our current existence.

Greed – in ourselves as we storing up our excess of material wealth and others gains while those around us have so little

Envy – in ourselves as we covet what others have and what advertisers tell us we should desire instead of desiring what Jesus offers

Laziness – in ourselves even though we know we must walk in the light of the Trinity, we are content to bask in the light of the Trinitron. Help us to practice the spiritual exercises that will redeem our lives.

Pride – in ourselves as we believe in our own ability and vanity rather than fully relying on God

Lust – in ourselves as we seek the pleasures of the world rather than the spiritual treasures God promises us

Excess – in ourselves as we consume more: more food, more oil, more money than we really need while others fight for enough to live on and billions subsist on less than $2 per day

Anger – in ourselves directed to others not toward our own frailties rather than accepting love, we accept road rage, airport rage, and more rather than sharing love and praying for those who persecute us as Jesus commanded us

Help us to turn the tables on all the forces that are advanced by the ruler of the world. Help us to conquer these and turn them back while aspiring to your heavenly virtues of faith, hope and charity. Amen.


About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. (Acts 16:25-26)

And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16: 8-11)

Jesus rocks a few foundations today. So buckle your seat belt. First we find Paul and Silas in prison. Like Daniel in the New Testament. Like Martin Luther King in Birmingham, Alabama. Like Sister Helen Prejean visiting convicted killers in Louisiana’s Angola Prison. Yes, even like Phil Berrigan and the Catonsville Nine or the Plowshares Actions.

Many Christians have come to know the inside of a prison. Some could leave voluntarily because they were just visiting in jail or prison ministry. Others gave up their freedom voluntarily in protest of war, racism, or other injustice.

God turned the table on the prisoners and set them free. God freed Paul, Silas and the other prisoners of the chains that bound them. Then, they freed the prison guard and led him to believe.

Then, in the Gospel reading from John, God turns the tables on the ruler of the world (Satan) and condemns him to prison. Jesus foretells that the Holy Spirit will convict the world because they do not believe in him.

Once again, we see the tension between “things of the world” and “things of God.” What chains bind you? Will an earthquake be strong enough to break those bindings and free you to love and serve those in need?

One person who finds himself in prison today is Percy Walton ( He is sentenced to die for killing three people.

Walton suffers from schizophrenia and has his illness has gone untreated for over a decade. Over the past several years, prison personnel, including a psychiatrist, have described him as being floridly psychotic and appearing severely mentally retarded. Mr. Walton is the second severely mentally ill, African American man from Danville, Virginia to be sentenced to death. The first – Calvin Swann – was granted clemency in May 1999 by then Governor James S. Gilmore. Mr. Swann was also schizophrenic and both were tried before the same judge, examined by the same experts, and defended by the same lawyer.

Five of the most recent grants of clemency to death row inmates nationally have been based on the inmate’s extreme mental illness. These include Arthur P. Baird II (Indiana 2005); Herbert Welcome (Louisiana 2003, mentally ill and mentally retarded); Alexander Williams (Georgia 2002); Calvin Swann (Virginia 1999); and Bobbie Shaw (Missouri 1993). These commutations reflect a greater understanding of the ravages of severe schizophrenia, its biological cause, and the need for compassion and treatment rather than condemnation for sufferers.

Since Mr. Walton was first sentenced to death the US Supreme Court has ruled in Atkins v Virginia the execution of the mentally retarded to be prohibited as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Since that 2002 ruling approximately 50 death row inmates who suffer from mental retardation have been removed from death rows across the United States and had their sentences remanded to life in prison without parole. Although the Commonwealth’s mental health expert sent to observe Percy Walton before his last execution date of May 28, 2003 reported that he “appears to be severely mentally retarded,” and measured Walton’s IQ at 66, the Attorney General’s office has fought to execute Mr. Walton. As indicated above Percy Walton now functions on the level of a severely mentally retarded individual.

Pending intervention by the US Supreme Court or Gov. Timothy Kaine, VA will proceed with the execution as scheduled on June 8, 2006. Please contact Governor Kaine now and stress that, in addition to Catholic social teaching, there is legal precedent for him NOT to kill Mr. Walton. Alternatives to the death penalty do exist.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Warning Label for Christianity May 22

God, despite all your talk of easy forgiveness and grace in abundance, you set very high ideals for us. Help us to turn away from the fast easy happiness and promises of those behaviors, attitudes and things which pull us away from you.

Help us to accept you love and share it as you command so we can strengthen our bonds with you and our friendship with Jesus. Give to us the obedience of your friend Abraham so we will follow you wherever you lead us. Amen.


With today’s reading from John 16, it is hard to envision the recruitment posters for this new church. In less than one chapter, we can come up with a laundry list of reasons to avoid this new church. David Letterman’s Top Ten List might put it this way:

“Reasons to Become a Christian.”

They hated me without cause.
They will also persecute you.
They will expel you from the synagogues.
Everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.
Grief will fill your hearts.
They do not believe in me.
You will no longer see me.
The ruler of this world has been condemned.
You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices.
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

Stop already! What happened to all the talk about love and service?

Salvation does not spring forth from the world. Salvation belongs to God. What comes from the world tempts us toward sin. Those who resist sin will not find the path easy going. Works of this world make easy and empty promises that will not last.

Have a Coke and a Smile.
You Deserve a Break Today.
Put a Tiger in Your Tank.
Delta is Ready When You Are.
We’re Number 1.

Political leaders talk about security. Corporate giants try to prove their greatness. Those with ambition want to lead, not serve. If we just buy the right product, eat the right food, take the right drug, watch the right programs, or listen to the right music, everything will be alright. While those in the advertising and PR worlds try to always give a positive “spin,” Jesus tells it like it is. Jesus never promised us a rose garden. Jesus just promises eternal happiness in the next life with him. This life, though, may not be so easy.


Christianity is not a spectator sport. How will you make someone’s life better this week?

Habitat for Humanity will be building affordable housing units at Route 29 and Waples Mill Road and converting apartments in Arlington into affordable condominium units. Can you assist those projects with a little sweat equity when the work gets off the ground?

Who out there is working to make YOUR life easier?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Accept Love and Share Love May 21


Let us pray. God, you made us all and you love us all. You love us when we are arguing, when we are selfish, when we push others aside, when we pass on the right side of that slow car on the Beltway, when we are greedy and when we are lazy. Your very love pushes us to change…to grow.

To get us to change, you not only give us your love, you give us your Son and the Holy Spirit to be with us on our journey. You love us even when we don’t pay attention to their message and when we wander away from your commandments.

Lord, you ask us to love you back and that’s hard because we can’t see you. You are not here to touch. We can’t play catch with you. We can’t play “dress-up” with you. We go to the gym or on a jog with you. So, like the good friend that you are, you give us the world and each other so that we can love you back through them. Thank you for making us your friends. Amen.


God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightlyis acceptable to him. Acts 10 (34-35)

In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the worldso that we might have life through him. 1 John 4:9

You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:14

Today is not a day with scriptures that are filled with pithy little sayings from the Hebrew Bible and the Good News. Today, we are confronted with the challenges of Christ in triplicate.

Love is for all. Especially the poor but it is not withheld from the rich. All are held to the ideals of Jesus: To love and to avoid sin because it would harm our friendship with Jesus.

Love is shared. It testifies to the nature of God in our lives. First, God shares love with us in our creation and the blessings of our life. Then, God freely gives to us Jesus in friendship to dwell with us and forgive our sins. Finally, God sends the Holy Spirit of truth to guide us with a basketful of gifts. For all this grace and more, we are asked to share love – back to God and back to God’s creations. Only in the sharing can we attain life.

Love is not abstract. Jesus invites us every day to a banquet served in His honor so he can be with us as a friend and we can be with him as a friend. But this is not just a cup of coffee at Starbucks friendship. At the end of our Liturgy, we hear that we are to go in peace to love and serve the world. There are many tangible ways to do that as we move forward in piety, in learning more about our friends Jesus and in active love to help others.


Jesus’ commandment is that His disciples love one another, even to the point of laying down their lives, if necessary. What gifts — your skills and talents, your time and resources — will best demonstrate your love for God’s people this week?

What do you need to lay down that gets in the way of you love of God and your service to God’s people this week?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Out of the World May 20


Dear Jesus, if anyone knows the how the world can hate things from God, it is you. Maybe society and your adversaries do not come out and crucify you every day. However, little by little, they pound the nails in, hammering home hatred.

How do you cry out with each roadside bomb or insurgent attack in Baghdad, Kabul or anywhere that takes innocent life? How must each baby born into poverty, lacking adequate health care in the riches nations in history, remind you of your days wandering from the manger in Bethlehem to the desert in Egypt? How does your sadness increase as the environment is polluted and destroyed because we do not respect and care for the gifts of the Father with proper stewardship?

When we are in union with you, we feel the pain of the nail cutting through your flesh. Strengthen the voice of your faithful and the resolve of our actions. Increase the measure of our obedience in faith to you and to your commandment to love our enemies. Amen.


If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world , the world hates you. John 15:19

Jesus warns us that people are sometimes hostile in the way they react to God’s message as delivered by Jesus. The prevailing cultural imperatives try to shape us in ways that are counter to the message of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ message is “out of the world.” That doesn’t mean that it comes from Outer Space like My Favorite Martian or Mork, Alf or Gigantor, Captain Kirk or Luke Skywalker. Rather it means that where Christ leads us differs from where popular culture would lead us. Christ was put in the world to take us out of the world and make us realize that we are children of God, here to build His Kingdom, not our own.

In an interview appearing in NCR Online, John Allen writes about a recent dialogue he had with David Schindler, academic dean at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C. (see "The Word from Rome," Vol. 5, No. 37,

“The tendency is to get involved with the world as it is, accepting most things, but drawing the line at abortion or something like that,” Schindler said. “We think of the structures of liberal culture as given, and then we try to give them a religious intentionality.”

That, he said, is not enough.

Schindler went on to tell Allen that, “There aren't two ends to the human being as if there are two orders of existence. Politics has to be subordinated to the single ultimate end of human life.”

This reminds me of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernadin’s famous speech on the “seamless garment” consistent ethic of life delivered in 1983. In it he said: “Precisely because life is sacred, the taking of even one human life is a momentous event. Indeed, the sense that every human life has transcendent value has led a whole stream of the Christian tradition to argue that life may never be taken.”

Berndin said: "In an age when we can do almost anything, how do we decide what we ought to do? The even more demanding question is: In a time when we can do anything technologically, how do we decide morally what we never should do? Asking these questions along the spectrum of life from womb to tomb creates the need for a consistent ethic of life. For the spectrum of life cuts across the issues of genetics, abortion, capital punishment, modem warfare and the care of the terminally ill. These are all distinct problems, enormously complicated, and deserving individual treatment. No single answer and no simple responses will solve them."


Cardinal Bernardin went on to connect the right to life to the quality of life. He challenged us to act accordingly:

"If one contends, as we do, that the right of every fetus to be born should be protected by civil law and supported by civil consensus, then our moral, political and economic responsibilities do not stop at the moment of birth. Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker. Such a quality of life posture translates into specific political and economic positions on tax policy, employment generation, welfare policy, nutrition and feeding programs, and health care. Consistency means we cannot have it both ways. We cannot urge a compassionate society and vigorous public policy to protect the rights of the unborn and then argue that compassion and significant public programs on behalf of the needy undermine the moral fiber of the society or are beyond the proper scope of governmental responsibility." (Emphasis added).

If we belong to Christ, we can expect to have trouble getting the world – and even sisters and brothers in the Church – to follow these thoughts. But the challenge remains as worthy today of our energy, our resources and our commitment as a Cursillo community and as a Church as it did when first discussed in 1983.

Was your plan of Christian action carried out last week? What is your plan for next week?

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Have Called You Friends May 19

Choose. Dwell. Remain. Make a Friend.
Ask. Receive. Bear fruit. Be a Friend.
Serve. Love. At any cost. Bring a Friend to Christ.
Praise God for Love. Thank God for Friendship. Love each other for God. Amen.


“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:16-17)

Earlier in this speech at the Last Supper, Jesus stressed the intimacy of our connection to Him with the analogy of the vine and branches. Today, Jesus zeroes in on how to achieve that intimacy. Love.

Be careful. Be very careful. This is not some kind of Hallmark greeting card sentimental love that makes you feel good inside. This is not the love of popular songs with Jesus singing some Beatles Top 40s hit like “Love Me Do.” Jesus was not envisioning celebrity love like it is portrayed and abused in People magazine or Entertainment Tonight. To live out God's love meant care for others at any cost. When one truly loved God, he or she was raised to the status of God's friend.

It doesn’t matter who is dating Paris Hilton. It doesn’t matter who was invited to the state dinner with the Prime Minister of Australia. Serve one another. Love one another. Become God’s friend. Return His love and share that love with others.


How can you repay God’s love with your actions list week? Maybe by encouraging each other and our political leaders to recognize that God’s love extends beyond our boarders. Write to your senator today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

He Makes No Distinction May 18

Jesus, make no distinction between us and them. Remind us that there are no races, colors, creeds or national origins in your Kingdom. Everyone is counted among the children of God.

Just as you don’t cast any of us aside, let us be like you. As you dwell in us, let us welcome all to live in harmony. Look with favor on all your children. Not just American children. Not just Mexican children. But also Iranian children, Turkish children, Kurdistan children, Greek children, Italian children, Irish children, Polish children, Germans children, British children, Chinese children, Bolivian children, Panamanian children, and all.

Help us to share all that we have with those who do not share a stake in those riches – riches that we have been blessed to have, hold and share with our fellow passengers on the Ark.

Help us to make a joy-filled room in our hearts where God can dwell all the days of his life and where our love for all God’s children springs forth. Amen.


"He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts." Acts 15:9

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” John 15:11

We have a very personal God. He dwells in us and wants us to share in His joy. When we read the personal nature of John’s Gospel, it speaks directly to us. However, we have to be careful that we don’t think that it speaks ONLY to us. As today’s psalm stresses, we must evangelize all the nations.

Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved; he governs the peoples with equity.

Our nation continues to debate the heated issues around immigration. Maybe now is a time to remember that the Good News is for all nations, not just one. As Paul and Barnabas remind us today in the first reading, God makes no distinction between peoples and he treats them all with equity and justice. The founding story of our faith includes a refugee family flight into Egypt to protect the life of their son. Good thing the National Guard didn’t block them at the check point and send them back toward Herod’s army.

As we reflect on Paul’s message about the universal church -- one, holy, catholic with a small c and apostolic -- consider how this should direct us in the immigration debate. Please consider contacting your Senators Today Regarding S. 2611, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. Consider this summary of background information from the Virginia Catholic Conference:

This week, the U.S. Senate will be considering S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA) of 2006. The legislation represents a positive step forward in enacting a comprehensive immigration reform bill before the end of the year. Over the next two weeks, the Senate will consider amendments to the legislation, both amendments which would improve the bill and those which would cause more harm to immigrants and refugees. It is important that the Catholic network weigh in on this important issue at such a critical juncture. CIRA contains many positive provisions, including a legalization program which includes a path to citizenship for up to 10 million persons; family unity provisions; and a temporary worker program. However, it also contains overly punitive enforcement provisions. Moreover, it contains provisions which could preclude some of the undocumented population from qualifying for the legalization program. It is important that our elected officials receive the appropriate messages regarding this legislation and both the legalization provisions and the enforcements provisions.

[1] Emphasis added.

Bear More Fruit May 17


God, source of all Life, prune me so I can bear more fruit for you.

Jesus, Son of the Living God, prune me so I can grow in faith, hope and love as I carry out your commandments.

Holy Spirit, Advocate of all, stay with me on this growth-journey because I can not bear fruit unless I remain in the Lord and the Lord remains in me. Amen.


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does [bear fruit] he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” John 15:1-2

Imagine that you are a new, apprentice gardener. As with all neophytes, the training and pruning of grapevines confuses you. You need a teacher to show you how to prune properly.

You have found a mentor in an elderly, Middle Eastern man who used to live in a vineyard in Egypt. You ask him to teach you a simple system for your new grapevine.
“Before pruning grapes,” he tells you, “you must learn the growth and fruiting characteristics of the grapevine.” He tells you some basic rules that sound amazing like John 15.

Gardening: Grapevines produce fruit clusters on the previous season's growth (Two-year and older wood is not fruitful but new growth is fruitful).

Gospel: He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

Gardening: Before pruning, an average grapevine may have 200 to 300 buds which are capable of producing fruit. However, if it grows too much it will die.

Gospel: Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.

Gardening: If the vine is left unpruned, the number of grape clusters would be excessive. The vine would be unable to ripen the large crop or sustain adequate vegetative growth.

Gospel: Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

Gardening: The purpose of pruning is to obtain maximum yields of high quality grapes and to allow adequate vegetative growth for the following season.

Gospel: By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

“In this part of the world, the most desirable time to prune grapevines is in late winter or early spring,” he explains. “This is the same time of year as Lent when Christians prepare for the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. It’s amazing, you know, a properly pruned grapevine has a remarkable resemblance to the cross.”

Our faith in the vine and the vine grower provides for us a faith system that spurs us on to growth.

Lately, I have been reading two key books on the Rule of St. Benedict. The first is a reflection on the daily readings from the Rule by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, and the other a reflection by some Buddhist monks called Dharma’s Rule. In it we learn that the root meaning of the Latin and Greek words translated as “rule” is trellis.

St. Benedict was not promulgating rules for living; he was establishing a framework upon which life can grow. While a branch of a plant climbing a trellis cannot go in any direction it wants, you cannot know in advance which way it will go. The plant is finding its own path within a structure. The space in which it moves is open, though not without boundaries.

The similarity of the vine/vine-grower/pruning image in John has strikingly close parallels with this rule set down six centuries later and the Cursillo method stressing piety, study and action.


What habits or practices do you have that the “vine-grower” would come to prune? Television watching? Sports? Hobbies? Work? If we take too much time for the busy-ness of the world, there won’t be enough time left for God.

Is there anything in your yard that you need to prune? Go outside and do it. Study the proper techniques for pruning if you don’t know what you are doing. While doing it, mediate on how the Vine-grower might be pruning you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jesus will come back to us May 16


Come back to me, Jesus. Though I am pulled to turn away from you, I know that you await my return as I await yours. Through the intercession of St. Brendan the Navigator, show us the way back to you. In a spirit of hospitality, as you prepare a place for me to dwell in your Father’s house, let me prepare a place for you to dwell in my house and in my heart.

Holy Spirit, now that Jesus has ascended to the Father’s house, speak to us for Him. Guide us in the way of the Father so we can avoid the temptations of your Adversary in this world.Despite the simplicity of your message, we have such a hard time following it because you challenge us to turn our backs on all that tempts us.

Help us, like Paul and Barnabas, open the door of faith to others by loving you and doing as you commanded. Give us the strength that you and the Desert Fathers found to in the desert journey. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. Amen.


'I am going away and I will come back to you.' John 14:28

John's Gospel and the entire Good News all comes back to two words. “Love.” “Do.” First, in the context of today’s readings and the rest of chapter 14, Jesus will come back to us and dwell within us if we love Him and fulfill His commandments. The statement also might be interpreted as promising the return of Jesus in the Second Coming. Jesus explains that He will no longer speak to us in a human, face-to-face sense. However, through the Father and the Holy Spirit, He will still seek us out in a close encounter, close moment.

If we just Love and Do, Jesus offers us a lasting peace that will calm our fears and not let our hearts be troubled.

We also see today’s Gospel numerous references that Jesus is in opposition to “this world.”

“Shalom.” The typical meaning of this is “peace.” However, Jesus presents a messianic blessing that promises more. He promises salvation.

“Not as this world gives do I give.” This world gives to us in a “quid pro quo” left hand washes the right hand kind of way. Jesus gives in a “pro bono” manner not seeking payment for his gifts to us except throughout our obedience in faith and carrying out of His commandments to love our enemies.

Jesus warns us that “the ruler of the world is coming,” referring to His adversary. Although this adversary has no power over Jesus, he can and does try to tempt us with the trappings of that world…trappings which are opposed to the trappings of eternal life that Jesus promises.

It all comes back to two words. “Love.” “Do.” Love only God. Do only as God commands. Love not the temporal things of this world. Do not do as the Adversary tempts you but as the Advocate, the Holy Spirit inspires you.


What has God done with you lately? What have you done with God? How can you cultivate the shalom of Jesus in today's world?

Jesus tells us that “the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.” The world must know that George and Greg and Joe and Rich, Mary and Mimi and Kat and Carol and Rae and Kathy and all of us love the Father and that we do as the Father commanded us.

Let us cultivate the shalom of Jesus’ promise in today’s reading. When we sow that shalom in our hearts, it will grow and yield much more peace, peace that will feed and satisfy the world.

(If the e-mail doesn't come through every day, reflections are posted at

Monday, May 15, 2006

Dwell Within Us May 15

Jesus, thank you for inviting us to share in your journey. Now please help us on our journey. We have so much affluence, that sometimes we blind ourselves to the simplicity of your message.

Rabbi, help us to turn away from the things of humanity, gold and silver, and the works of people rejecting the false idols of celebrity, wealth, and other temptations.

Teacher, reminds us to simply love and love simply. These acts are the only true ways to prepare a place for you to dwell in our lives. When we do, come along with us wherever we go. Amen.


“Whoever loves me will keep my word,and my Father will love him,and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” John 14:23

The answer! Verse 23 today answers two mysteries in the Gospel of John. Certainly it immediately answers the questions about why Jesus revealed himself to the disciples. However, it also answers the question posed by Andrew and John back in chapter 1:

The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” John 1:38-39

As Fr. Paul explained to the Reunion of Leaders earlier this year, another translation of the question from Chapter 1 is “Where do you dwell?” While the disciples were asking the question about physical needs, what they hear at first is, “Come and you will see.”

Now, after encountering Jesus in public ministry, they learn that Jesus dwells and wants to dwell with whoever loves Jesus and keeps his commandments. Jesus and God want to be our “companero” on the journey.

Just as we travel in community, Jesus wants to be a part of that community.

Just as Jesus invited the disciples to “come” to him in chapter one, now he explains that, like a friend, he will come to us when we love him and do as he asks.


Review last week’s testimony by Anastasia K. Brown, director of refugee services for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Service. She explained that “this nation can meet its national security protection goals without jeopardizing the tradition of welcoming refugees, asylum-seekers, and other vulnerable populations to its shores.” After reviewing her message, contact your members of Congress and urge their support for just laws that support Catholic Social teaching on this issue.

(If the e-mail doesn't come through every day, reflections are posted at

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I am the Vine May 14

St. Vincent de Paul, Presente!
St. Vincent Strambi, Presente!
St. Vincent Pallotti, Presente!
St. Vincent Saragossa, Presente!
St. Vincent Diem, Presente!
St. Vincent Ferrer, Presente!
St. Vincentia Maria Lopez Y Vicuna, Presente!
St. Vincent Kadlubek, Presente!
St. Vincent Kaun, Presente!
St. Vincent the Deacon, Presente!
St. Vincent Yen, Presente!
St. Vincent Mikolainus, Presente!
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Presente!


“He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 9:28-29)

“I am the vine, you are the branches.Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Vince Mikolainus, teacher, friend, sponsor, team member and strong presence in our Cursillo movement, joined the communion of saints Saturday, May 13, 2006.

This first time I saw Vince was when I was on my weekend. There he stood…across the driveway at Missionhurst in his rainbow colored shirt and funny hat at Mananita. His long grey-white beard and longish hair gave him the appearance that he was counter-culture.

When I got to talking to Vince at closing that afternoon at Holy Spirit Church in Fairfax, I found out that he was indeed counter cultural. Counter to the culture but committed to the commandments and Christ.

Vince amazed and inspired those who encountered him on their journey with his multi-lingual capabilities and deep knowledge of scripture in English, Greek and Hebrew and in his strong spirituality and prayer life. He was truly a branch that bore much fruit. In recent months, his health slowed him down as he was pruned. But throughout his journey, Jesus remained in him until the very end. He was certainly a disciples who could move about freely in Jerusalem or Jersey City, Long Island or Langley.

When she called Beth and I with the news, Mary Clark said that one of Vince's last requests of her was to bring him his spiritual reading – Vince was committed to piety, study and action right until his body gave out. Vince knew that he could do nothing if he wasn’t on the Vine. He gave Mary the gift of accompaniment -- being with him right to the very threshold of this life.

We miss you already. Vince, you sang this so many times. Your life exemplified our Mananita song:

On the day that you were born, all the flowers came into bloom
And at the Baptismal font, all the saints brought forth their song.

I am sure the saints are singing again now that you have joined our Cloud of Witnesses. Please remember the part about drilling the hole to pull us through!

Vince Mikolainus! Presente!


Take part in a procession to Mary.

Bring some flowers to your Mother.

Please watch for details on funeral arrangements for Vince. Join us if you can. Pray for Vince and all who encountered him in life. May they continue to bear much fruit.

In His Name May 13

Jesus, what you ask of us takes courage and faith. Draw us near to you so we can hear your Word and act upon it. Relieve our jealousy and cure us from our violent path.

Help us to accept the word that we hear and to carry that message to those who don’t believe so we can spread your word. Make believers out of us and those who hear your words. Amen.


Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14:11-14)

Faith requires work. Work flows from faith. One can not exist without the other if we are to attain the Christian Ideal.

With both as the foundation for a Christian life, if you ask anything of Jesus in his name, he will do it. There is no maybe about this statement. No political qualifiers. No dodging and hedging the question like in a media interview. No acknowledging the issue and then bridging to what Jesus really wants to say rather than what you are asking.

Ask. Jesus responds.

Is this free? Absolutely not!

We must ask “in His name.” First have faith. Then do the works required by that faith. Only after those conditions are met will Jesus will provide the reward.

And sometimes, that reward is not a pretty sight as we see with Paul and Barnabas preaching among the Jews. The crowd turns on Paul and stirs up a persecution. He shakes the dust off and moves on to a town that, hopefully, will be more receptive.


Where are you to spread the Good News today? Will you preach with your actions or with words?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Way, the Truth and the Light May 12

Jesus, we are so much like Thomas. Despite our pursuit of piety, study and action, we still say, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”

Please calm our troubled hearts and strengthen our faith in God. Prepare a place for us with God there while we prepare your Kingdom on Earth.

Send the Holy Spirit to accompany us our journey until we attain the dwelling place in your Father’s house that you have prepared. Amen.


“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The origin of these meditations was to support the Men’s Team during extended formation when they went from a planned weekend in March to a weekend in September. However, although this project has expanded to more Cursillistas and others, today gives us the scripture passage that Rector Mark Jones chose as the theme for the weekend.

The parallel of this passage to Cursillo is striking. With Jesus as “the way, the truth and the light,” how do we get closer to the Christian ideal? Through the spiritual exercises of Cursillo:

  • Piety that shows us the way
  • Study that teaches us the truth and
  • Action that brings light to the world.

How can you pass on the gift of Cursillo? Consider applying to be on a team for an upcoming weekend. The application is on the web site Sponsor a candidate. Prepare palanca. Even before the Men’s weekend in the fall, there will be a women’s weekend in June.

Rectora Mimi Fitzgerald and her team for the 122nd Women’s weekend could use your support June 22-25.

The weekend will be the first in one of our new homes – The Village of Mt. Zion, a Catholic Retreat Center located at Fort Valley, VA, about two hours West of Arlington. It is a wonderful Retreat Center in a very beautiful setting in the Shenandoah Valley.

Mt. Zion provides a serene and grace filled atmosphere. It encompasses some 600 acres of forests, pastures, fields and ponds. There are many areas to walk, to meditate, to enjoy God’s presence in nature and ourselves. There is a website where you can get at least a feel for the location. The site is Plan to support the weekend and get refreshed in the mountains for closing.

Walk and Serve with Jesus May 11

Where do you need me to go for you today, Jesus?

Is there a modern day Pisidia where you need me to take your word? Is there a desert I need to cross? Show me the way.

Come with me and dwell in my heart. Sustain me where you send me. Give me the humility to serve as you do. Amen.


“With uplifted arm he led them out,and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.” Acts 13:17-18

“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” John 13:16-17

There are two things to think about today.
Thing 1: Your left foot.
Thing 2: Your right foot.

First, imagine walking with Paul as one of his companions. The speech Paul gives to the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia showed how God accompanied the Jews throughout history and sustained them in the desert, gave them wise judges and kings when needed and sought men like David, “a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” So, too, did God accompany Paul and his companions. (There again is that concept of “acompanatuers.” We don’t do this stuff alone. We are constantly reminded that we exist community with Jesus and other believers and servers -- even if no one else is with us at the time).

Imagine accompanying the Jews on their Exodus. After 450 year in Egypt and in the desert, your feet would be pretty tired. The Jews and you NEEDED God to sustain them, to put up with them. God’s arm uplifted them to keep going so the promise could be fulfilled in their descendant Jesus.

Paul reminded his listeners of John the Baptist who said, “I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.”

Read to the end of Chapter 13 – and you’ll find that the Jews rejected Paul and Barnabas. So they “shook the dust from their feet” as Jesus told them and continued on with their mission.

Picking up in the Gospel, we hear Jesus’ speech after washing his disciples’ tired feet. Even though John said he was not worthy to unfasten the sandals of His feet, here we see Jesus humbling himself in service by washing the feet of his disciples, an act that no slave would be asked to do in Jewish society of that era.

After that act, Jesus gives a promise that God, through the Holy Spirit, will continue to accompany us on this journey and sustain us with the food He provides if we have the humility to serve as Jesus serves. “Jesus Saves.” Well Jesus does indeed do that but before Jesus saves, “Jesus Serves.” Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to inspire us so we may walk the earth for him and serve.

Get started today. Step 1: Just put Thing 1 in front of Thing 2. Say “Jesus.” Step 2: Put Thing 2 in front of Thing 1. Say “Serves.” Step 3. Keep repeating steps 1, 2, and 3.

Go wherever this exercise takes you.


This weekend and in the weeks and month ahead, many of our friends and family members or their children, will graduate. They will walk down the aisle and close out one chapter of their life as they begin to open another. Support a graduate in their life as they choose a path to follow. Make sure they know, as John Germaine reminds us each Sunday, that God is at their side during their times of doubt and stress so they can be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Jesus Cried Out May 10

Jesus, we would like everyone to know that we are great Christians and followers of you and your commandments. But, in truth we confess to you that there is much we don’t understand and even more of your teachings that we ignore.

When I don’t hear you or when I ignore you, please get my attention. Jesus, cry out to me today so that I may cry your Good News of love to the world. Amen.


“Jesus cried out.” John 12:44

Today’s readings have a very important passage. Attend Mass and see if the Gospel is really read as you can imagine Jesus reading it – crying out.

Before you read this important passage, set the stage for today’s reading. Jesus has completed all the signs in John’s Gospel. These signs are written by John so you may believe, Ken. You, too, Peg. And everyone else. That belief in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God leads to life eternal. If we believe, Jesus promises us that we will “see even greater things than this.” The word “sign” is used only one more time – at the very end in John 20:30-31.

To recap the seven signs:

1) Jesus changed water into wine
2) Jesus healed the Roman officials son who was in Capernaum while Jesus was in Galilee across the sea
3) Jesus healed the paralyzed man at Bethesda
4) Jesus fed 5,000 people from two loaves of barley bread and five fish
5) Jesus walked on the sea
6) Jesus healed the man born blind
7) Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. John 20:31

Sorry for the digression but all these signs come BEFORE the discourse in today’s reading. Then, what comes next is the scene where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and then gives us the Eucharist at the Last Supper before his passion, death and resurrection.

The humanity of Jesus comes through in this phrase. “Jesus cried out.” He’s telling us that “You’ve see all these signs (and more) and still don’t believe!” Today’s Gospel is Jesus’ last public sermon using words to the crowd. All the rest of John’s Gospel consists of private conversations with the disciples and then the Passion narrative where Jesus’ actions bring about salvation for us all. After Easter, John recounts Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and then finally to the disciples while they fish.

“Jesus cried out.” This is his last shot. He fills this with passion. If this doesn’t work, Jesus knows what lies ahead – crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, salvation and eternal Life. That cross has his name on it and soon will have his body, too. This isn’t Jesus standing academically in a Presbyterian Church reading politely out of scripture. This is Jesus as a Baptist minister preaching to save your soul.

I hope that if I saw all these signs Jesus wouldn’t have to cry out to get me to listen. But He still does. Jesus cried out.


“Set apart for me Randy and Jim and all the Cursillistas for the work to which I have called them.”

Where is the Church crying out today? Where are we crying out? About what?

About torture?

About Darfur?

About the war in Iraq?

About health care for the uninsured?

What is the work Jesus is calling you to do today? It’s not too late! Cry out!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Eternal Life May 9


Jesus, for those times when we followed the adversary, send us your support.
Jesus, for those times we did not welcome you into our house, send us your hospitality.
Jesus, for those times when shared good times, send us more.
Jesus, for those times we did not welcome your Father and your Faith, send us your love and charity. Amen.


“…The disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:26

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

One Bread.
One Body.
One Lord.
One Father.
One Shepherd.
One Flock.
One people Jew and Gentile.
One Life.

We are one, holy catholic and apostolic church.

When do you think outsiders would have first called you Christian?

When you heard the voice of Jesus and followed Him?
When Jesus put you in the palm of His hand?
When Jesus told you his divine nature?

Today, Palm 87 tells us that, “My home is within you.” This harkens back to the beginning of John’s Gospel when the disciples, seeking out an encounter with Jesus find him welcoming them to walk with Him. How would you respond to such an invitation?

Funny how the Jews accused Christ of keeping them in suspense…in reality it is us who keep Christ in suspense. After we stumble, he is there waiting for us to forgive our sins.


To achieve unity, Jesus invited them to join Him. “Come and you will see where I dwell.” Will you be ready to follow? Will you give Jesus a place to stay?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Who am I to Hinder God's Work May 8

Jesus, we encounter your life-giving work every time we open our eyes, our ears, our heart and our hands. Help us to advance your work without hindrance. Amen.


“[W]ho was I to be able to hinder God?” Acts 11:17

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
John 10:10

God’s work is life-giving creation drawing us in to closer relationship with God through Jesus, the prime example. Jesus went so far in deepening this relationship as to give His life both in the sense that His whole holy life was devoted to bringing people closer to God and, in addition, He was killed for that work.

Mary was the same…but different. Different in that Mary did not physically die. However, she gave up her former self and her former plans in order to accept Jesus and then nurture Him until the Messiah began his public ministry and service. Even then Mary did not abandon Jesus like the Apostles. Her love was there beyond the end as long as she still had breath and life. She was with Jesus at manager and at the foot of the cross and was in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit was sent. Today, she continues to intercede on our behalf.

Who are we to get in the way of God’s work? Piety, study and action work together to show us the way to support that work.


What are you willing to take up or give up in order to allow God’s work into your life? The Good Shepherd is walking up ahead and calling our names. He wants us little lambs to follow. Ready…set…go!

The Good Shelphed Rescues Us May 7

Jesus, you have so many adversaries out there demanding our allegiance. They never stop tempting us to work for them…to work for whatever pay they have. Sometimes it is gold that tempts us with lottery tickets and Las Vegas. Sometimes it is the power of politics or economics. And sometimes these adversaries appeal to our ego through fancy clothes, cars or drugs to make us thinner, younger, and stronger. How can we turn them all back?

We will fail often but in faith, God, you will not fail us. We shall never stop asking you for help and praising you in thanksgiving when you send us your help.

Jesus, you have taught us well that we can’t do this on our own. We need a rock to stand on…a rock that will turn away this tide of adversaries. We need your real presence in our lives at all times. Please send forth your spirit this Resurrection Season to give us faith. Strengthen our faith in you to inspire our world and our work through you Christ, our Eucharist. Then, Jesus, help us to do the work that our faith requires – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with you. Amen.


“The stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Acts 4:11

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Two of the most famous descriptions of Jesus are given to us in the readings for Mass today. Who has not wanted to build her house on the rock of Jesus, the rock of ages? Who has not stumbled over His commandments? Who doesn’t need to be rescued by the good shepherd?

Jesus gives us the answer today -- The one who “works for pay.”

Good works emanate from faith…like the healing and saving of the crippled man in the reading from Acts. That good deed (read “action” Cursillista) was borne from faith in Jesus the Nazorean. Faith comes first but faith requires us to love our neighbor.

If there is no faith, then someone or something else is our master and commander. We can do good work for pay, not for passion. So when the wolf comes around, when times get tough, there is no one to protect us. Ah, but in faith, Jesus the Good Shepherd will put us on his big shoulders and carry us back to unity with the rest of the flock.

If we do good works for pay, then our house is built on shifting sand, not on rocks. If we do good works in faith, then our house is built around the cornerstone, the stone the builders rejected.

When our job is done, the Master Builder will not reject us. The Shepherd will take us back to His flock. Yesterday, the Lord invited me to attend to the funeral of Rev. George Parrish of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Silver Spring. Jesus brought George’s wife Edith into my life many years ago through my various jobs and I now work with her every day. George Parrish was a good and faithful servant. Edith and George built their house on the Rock of Faith. When George’s body gave out, his faith did not and people came from all over to pray him home. You could see Jesus in every face, young and old, yesterday in Pilgrim Baptist Church. Jesus was there in the face of his wife Edith – the comforter being comforted and comforting others right back. Jesus was there in the tears of his son Ken. Jesus was there in the melodious voice of his son Eric, singing his father’s favorite songs. Jesus was there in the inspiring the poem written by his son Gregory. Jesus was there in the preaching and the crying, in the singing and the praising, in the loving and the dying, in the living and praying.

You could just see the ushers -- looking like angels in white dresses with white gloves and white hats -- opening wide the doors of the church to allow the Good Shepherd in. With tears of sadness in His eyes for the Parrish family, Jesus reached down and picked up the frail body and strong spirit of George. He put George on his shoulders and carried him home…good and faithful servant.


What adversary do you need to turn away? Can you help the Good Shepherd by carrying someone on your shoulders today? How can you be a good and faithful servant today?

Maybe the answer lies in the next person you encounter today.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Do you want to leave? May 6


Jesus, help us build up your Holy Church and carry her with us every day in peace. Allow us to bring You to everyone we encounter today, including the strangers, the ill and the poor whom we meet for the first time. Come to us without delay so You can give us the gift of everlasting life to share in love. Amen.


“Do you also want to leave?” John 6:67

As we approach the halfway mark in the Easter season, we get a special challenge from Jesus. He has told us what we need to do and now he invites us to leave if the Good News message is too shocking. But how can we leave if whomever is united with Christ by partaking in the Eucharist remains in Jesus and Jesus remains in him.

Imagine you are going about your daily routine. It’s Saturday. Maybe you are washing the car or cutting the grass. Maybe Saturday finds you in the grocery store or the shopping mall. Is God parked in your mind and heart and spirit? Much of life distracts us from God and from serving others. How can God remain in you?

The Hasidim tell the story about the preacher who preached over and over again, “Put God in your life. Put God in your life.” But the holy rabbi of the village responded, “Our task is not to put God in our life. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that.” God is with us for the taking. Let's not leave him waiting for us at the bus stop. Slow down and realize God is already with you on your journey. Let God take you for the ride of your life.

Can you make room for God in the mundane and dull moments of everyday life?

Perhaps by taking a small phrase of scripture with us today as a prayer to remember when we encounter others, Jesus will remain in our minds, hearts, body and spirit. Today, Jesus draws near and waits for you to translate his sacred word into action. Let His creation create you as you meet your sisters and brothers throughout the day.

What part of scripture can you take with you today? How can you make a return to God for all the good God has done for you? Or do you just want to leave it behind?

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Fall off your horse May 5


Good morning, Jesus. Sometimes when you look upon us your servants, you see people with divergent ideas about how best to follow you. Other times, you see us saying we are your followers pre-occupied with other duties.

Jesus, please show us Your Way of unity. Help us to turn away from those activities that pre-occupy us and that destroy your Kingdom on earth. Set us on the right path to build your Kingdom. Open our eyes from our spiritual blindness to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic mission of our Church. Make us realize that we are not progressives and traditionalists. We are not liberals and conservatives. We are not the right and the left. We are Christians. There is no either-or message in your commandment to Love.

Give us the trust and courage to help You heal the world of its blindness. Help us to take the actions needed to bring people into one community – one community marked by our obedience in faith and our love for one another. Amen.


“Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” John 6:57

There is a unity expressed in today’s readings – unity of Jesus and the Father, unity of Jesus and those participate in the Eucharist, unity of Saul with the Christians after his conversion. The unity is not just inspired by Jesus but also guided by Him. Further, this unity does not come without risk.

Sometimes Jesus has to resort to dramatic means in order to get our attention. Saul was not part of the community. Jesus came to him but not in a gentle “peace be with you” manner. Jesus knocked Saul off his horse and blinded him physically to go along with the spiritual blindness of Saul’s life as a persecutor of Christians.

Other times, he comes to us more gently but with a tough mission nonetheless. That’s what happened as we see Jesus coming to Ananias and guiding him to visit Saul. Despite his faith, Ananias doesn’t want to go. He fears that he will risk arrest or death because of Saul’s authority. Jesus reassures Ananias that Saul is his instrument and instills in him the confidence and trust to carry out this mission of Christian action and healing.

Through Jesus, Saul and Ananias come together as one. After Saul is healed, he becomes one with the community through baptism.


Fall off your horse today.

What is one of your strongly held views? What if you are wrong? Allow yourself to fall off your horse and take a different viewpoint today. How does that new view affect other things in your life?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Draw us toward you May 4

Father, draw us toward you in our belief. Send us into the desert and give us Living Bread and Living Water to sustain us. Help us to sing your praises and teach your Word to everyone we encounter through you son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


“I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

Today, we have a continuation of the Bread of Life discourse by Jesus in the Gospel and a reading about the living water and baptism from Acts. When we eat this bread and drink the living water, we will have eternal life.

So what are we to do with eternal life? Get up. Head to the desert! Proclaim the Good News. Let us set out on this journey with the Good News as our guide to teach it to all we encounter.


This year SOME will have the Empty Bowls Soup Supper to support it’s meal programs for the hungry and homeless. The event will be held at St. Anthony's Catholic Church (3301 Glen Carlyn Road, Falls Church, Va.) May 19th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

For a donation of $15.00 at the door, you can select a handmade, original bowl to fill with soup. Once the meal is finished, the bowl is yours to keep. It is a powerful reminder that many among us do not have enough to eat on a daily basis.

There will be a program that evening around 7:15.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What time is it in our lives May 3


Jesus, open our minds to the reality of your presence and your desire to live with us in friendship.

Jesus, open our eyes that we might see the Father in you and stop our unending interrogation.

Jesus, open our ears so that we might hear your message and not try your patience.

Jesus, open our hearts with your Love so we can do the works that our faith calls us to accomplish.

Jesus, open our hands so that we might pick up your work on earth.

Jesus, open our mouths so we can ask all this of God, the Father, in your holy name. Amen.


“…whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” John 6:12

Time. Jesus has been with the disciples for three years and after all that they have witnessed, Phillip is still asking Jesus to “Show us the Father?” in order to believe.

Can you hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice? After all this time, Jesus must practically spell out divine revelation in minute detail.

What time is it in our lives? Is it time for us to come to terms with our faith? Or, having come to terms with that faith, is it now time to start acting on the “work” that are required of the faithful? Or is it time to renew our commitment to that work because we have been “burnt out” by some of our earlier efforts.

Piety alone is not the answer for Cursillistas. Whoever is a friend of Jesus will also do the works that he does. And what are those works? Quite simply to act solely out of love in everything we do. That’s not too hard, now. Right? Unless, as St. Paul tells us, unless you believe in vain.


“We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ. This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebration is judged.”
Pope John Paul II
Mane Nobiscum Domine

Speaker: May 4 – 7:30 p.m. Farrell Hall
“How does the Eucharist Call Us to Work for Justice?”
Anthony Tambasco, professor of theology, Georgetown University

In these 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, come hear why we are called to make a response to our brothers and sisters in need every time that we celebrate the Eucharist. (Plus, you’ll have one more chance to buy some Fair Trade coffee. By supporting fair trade products, you assure the dignity and value of farmers in the developing world. At $7 per pound for regular, it costs less than two grande lattes at Starbucks!)

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