Friday, August 31, 2007

Grow Rich

September 1, 2007

Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

“…we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands.” 1 Thessalonians 4:10-11

“…[F]or to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside.” Matthew 25:29-30


Let us pray: God, source of our hope and giver of our gifts, help us to live in humility so that your gifts may grow in us as we cultivate the life that you want us to lead. Guide us to use the talents that you have bestowed upon us to help make your Kingdom come in this world with Advent expectations. Amen.


After all the recent swings in the stock market, let’s turn to the Bible’s answer to The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need (apologies to Andrew Tobias). Today, we learn the secret to getting rich!

The Lord comes to rule with justice. But He has now ascended back into union with His Father. So, in His absence, until He comes again, who will rule with justice for him?

What is justice? Our reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians provides a guide with its rule book for life that ends with our group reunion in the Kingdom with Jesus.

However, for that to occur, Jesus issues another in a series of wake-up calls passed on through Matthews’ Gospel reading today. All week long, it seems like an impatient Savior has been scolding his disciples. Now this reading today…can this really be the kind of Savior who inspires us to become a “good and faithful servant?”

Jesus is boiling with emotion. He gives us these examples so that we will not be “without hope” like those in Thessalonica. We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

What message shines through the dark clouds of many people cramming to get through the narrow gate, blind fools and hypocrites, virgins without enough oil and servants burying their talents?

Indeed, Jesus gives us these images in his warning because he wants us to get up off our duffs. “Do something!” “Love somebody!” This is the path to living a life rich in God’s love, For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.”


What Labor of Love will you do on Labor Day Weekend to grow rich?

Jesus does not want superficial friends. He doesn’t want friends who hide in the background. Can you be a follower who commits to the precepts of faith, hope and charity? Can you be a follower who emulates the virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude? Can you be a follower who loves as Jesus requires?

How will you multiply your talents on this final holiday weekend before the end of summer? Will you do something to take care of yourself? Will you do something to reach out to others? Will you do something to promote stewardship of the earth?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Those Who Were Ready

August 31, 2007

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

For God did not call us to impurity but to holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:7

While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Matthew 25:10


Let us pray: Lord, please don’t lock us out. You have called us to piety, study and action. Through these pursuits, we seek to come to you and dwell in your house forever. If we can’t live there with you, then we at least want to visit. If we can’t visit, then let us look in through the windows and see your face. If the curtains are closed, let us touch your door because we know if we knock in prayer, then the door will be answered. Make us worthy to enter by strengthening our faith in You, our hope for God’s Kingdom and our love for our sisters and brothers. Amen.


How much “oil” is in your “lamp?”

What are you going off to buy?

The notes to this chapter in the N.A.B. suggest that our actions or good deeds are signified by the reference to oil in the lamps. Those who have lived a life filled with action/deeds consistent with what the Lord asks of us are the ones who will be ready when “the bridegroom” comes. This follows from earlier in Matthew when the Lord said, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them” will be saved.

It does not matter what your New Year’s Resolution was or whether you stuck with it. Our lives must be filled with right actions and right relationships now and in the future. Don’t wait until January 1, no matter what we have done in the past, today is not too late to make your plan to start September 1.


How and where you spend you money matters. Do you remember the Ideal talk from your weekend? How did the speaker get you to assess how you use your time, your talents and your treasures?

Have you begun to buy “fair trade” products? Buying certified products makes good social, economic and ecological sense. It cuts out intermediary buyers and guarantees small farmers and families a fair price that exceeds their production costs. It also helps protect the environment.

You can’t abandon everything but what if you tried to shift the purchase of 5 percent of the products you purchase next month to fair trade products. You could shift where you get your coffee, tea or chocolate. To begin to research what fair trade products are available, visit this site:

Take small steps to start. Learn what you can. Visit the “Sustainability School” section of the fair trade coffee website organized by Larry’s Beans:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who is the Faithful and Prudent Servant

August 30, 2007

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

“Fill us with your love, oh Lord, and we will sing for joy.” Psalm 90:14

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. Matthew 24:45-47


Jesus, my own Jesus — I am only Thine — I am so stupid — I do not know what to say but do with me whatever You wish — as You wish — as long as you wish. Blessed Teresa


Optimism and worry mark St. Paul’s message to the Thessalonians just as it marks our journey in the Cursillo method. What is the source of St. Paul’s reassurance? Although we don’t see it in today’s First Reading, we learn about the source in the preceding verse:

But just now Timothy has returned to us from you, bringing us the good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us and long to see us as we long to see you. (1 Thessalonians 3:6)

Think back to the reassuring joy of your own personal weekend. The support you got from your community. The loving example of the team. The warmth and reassurance that you felt as the weekend wound to a finale on Sunday with Mass and a community celebration.

Have you ever attended a Reunion/School of Leaders function? Maybe not. Usually there are only about a dozen hardy souls who attend these.

Are you faithful to your group reunion? Even in the summer months?

This movement is about more than just growing new Cursillistas. It is about growing mature Christians to live a life filled with piety, study and action. St. Paul was reassured because he witnessed the piety and action of the church in a small Greek village. Would he be so reassured if he visited Fairfax? Fredericksburg? Woodstock? Your house?

As we approach the fall, perhaps now is a time you can assess how to grow in your faith. Your opportunities are not limited to Cursillo functions. These are there to support and strengthen you as you move beyond the Cursillo community into other phases of your life. But your active involvement is needed to keep this movement alive and growing.

Matthew continues to warn us of the trap hypocrisy puts in our path. Just like St. Paul, he tells us that the active love of the faithful servant will be rewarded.

The choice to become a faithful and prudent servant is obvious. Are we up to the task?


Today, a fellow Cursillista asked me if I had heard about a Time magazine story on Mother Teresa that was subject of a news report Wednesday on NBC. Once found, the article is based upon a new book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), detailing her spiritual journey – its ups and mostly its downs – through private correspondence. Despite possible sainthood, the stories about this book (to be published next month) reinforce the mere humanity of this “faithful and prudent servant.”

Although a first quick check of the World Wide Web did not uncover the actual magazine story, on a visit to the doctor after work, the kindly sad eyes of this missionary were looking up at me from the table in the waiting room. The article introduces us to another aspect of Blessed Teresa’s life: the doubts and loneliness she felt when she could no longer perceive God active in her life…a period that lasted decades.

The article speculates that “Teresa's inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn't there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work.”

Despite her “dark nights,” if St. Paul’s disciple Timothy had visited Calcutta and witnessed the work of the Missionaries of Charity and heard how Mother Teresa abandoned all vestiges of pride, perhaps he would have reported the same thing he spoke of after the visit to Thessalonika.

But just now Timothy has returned to us from you, bringing us the good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us and long to see us as we long to see you.

What report would Timothy file after his visit to see you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You Have Searched Me and You Know Me, Lord

August 29, 2007

Memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

By Melanie Rigney

“You have searched me and you know me, Lord. Where can I go from your spirit? From your presence where can I flee? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.” (Psalms 139:1, 7-8)

“…We treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Lord, you are with me always, in the public and private places, in the light of my goodness and in the depths of my darkness. Hold my hand. Show me the way.


When U.S. Catholic Magazine readers were asked to name their favorite Bible verse or story, today’s psalm finished in a tie for fifth. To see the full list, click on the link above; no surprise, perhaps, that the story of the prodigal son finished first.

What is it about Psalm 139 that speaks to us? It may be the double-edged sword of knowing that God is everpresent—and knowing that God is everpresent. He’s there when we need His help, when we cry out prayers of supplication for assistance and relief. A friend is writing a book in which she refers to the time she made a list she called “Ten Impossible Prayers” and stuck it in her Bible. A year later, forgotten, it fell out of her Bible. Seven had been answered precisely as she had asked. He was there, she realized; he heard and saw.

But that means God is also present when we envy our neighbor’s possessions, when we are tempted to cheat on our taxes, when we lie to acquaintances. He is there too; he hears and sees.

In today’s first reading, Paul reminds the Thessalonians, “W treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his Kingdom and glory.” While God does not insist that we walk in a manner worthy of Him, we are the poorer when we do not do so. He is there; he hears and sees.

Live today as if God was watching and hearing your every move—because He is. Be mindful all day of obeying the two greatest commandments: Love God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself, from that grump who sells you coffee every morning to your gossipy coworker to your spouse, roommate or significant other.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cleanse First the Inside

August 28, 2007

Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please human beings, but rather God, who judges our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean. Matthew 23:25-26


(From the Confessions by St. Augustine.)

Late did I love you, Beauty ever ancient and ever new, late did I love you! You were within me and I was outside. I sought you there, and in my ugliness rushed about among the beautiful things you had made. You were within me but I was not with you. Your creatures kept me far from you, though if they were not in you, they would not exist at all. You called and shouted and broke through my deafness. You shone radiantly and dispelled my darkness. You spread your fragrance and I drew breath and kept sighing for you. I tasted and remain hungry and thirty. You touched me and I have been set aflame in your peace.


How do we enter through the narrow gate? How do we earn the full reward?

We can not do so if we live our lives inconsistently and at odds with what God calls upon us to do.

St. Augustine lived a wild life as a young man. Although raised as a Catholic, Augustine left the Church much to the despair of his mother – St. Monica. As a youth Augustine lived a wild lifestyle and developed a relationship with a young woman who would be his mistress and would bear him a son. During this period, Augustine was said to utter his famous prayer, “Lord, grant me chastity and continence, just not yet.”

He converted to Catholicism at age 32 and composed what is considered the first autobiography in western literature – The Confessions. In it he expresses how God must be infused in our very being, in our senses, in our mind and in our hearts, in order for us to be set aflame in God’s peace.

We enter through the narrow gate by living our lives consistently focused upon what is truly important. God does not want us to put off a relationship with him until it is a time of our convenience. Rather, we earn the full reward by making sure our internal and external expressions of our love of God are congruent with our actions toward our brothers and sisters.


For today’s action, I share with you a letter from my good friend and Catholic Worker Art Laffin. Art, whose brother Paul was murdered while working at a shelter in Connecticut, is led by his faith to be a staunch advocate for peace and opponent of the death penalty. Here is Art’s recent letter and suggestion for action:


Abolish the Death Penalty!

Vigil at Supreme Court on Wednesday, August 29, from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Dear Friends,

As a murder victim family member who opposes the death penalty, I'm writing to invite you to join me and other death penalty abolitionists in helping to save the life of Kenneth Foster, who is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Thursday, August 30, at 6:00 p.m.

I also ask you to oppose two other scheduled executions in Texas this week: Daroyce Mosley--August 29, and John Amador--August 29.

Kenneth Foster is innocent of the murder of Michael LaHood. The state of Texas has admitted that Foster did not commit the murder. LaHood was killed by Maurecio Brown, who has already been executed. The murder of LaHood occurred when Brown left the car that Foster was driving and got into an altercation with LaHood. Foster had no prior knowledge that Brown would carry out this killing. But under the state's “Law of Parties” Foster was convicted and sentenced to die. We can not let this happen.

All over Texas people are organizing and demanding that Foster's life be spared and that he be pardoned. Foster is now on a hunger-strike to protest his execution. According to Democracy Now, Foster and another prisoner, John Amador, are refusing all food since Wednesday, August 23. Both men said they will commit to a protest of passive non-participation in their executions. In a statement released on August 22 the men said: “We will not walk to our executions and we will not eat last meals. We will not give this process a humane face.”

What can we do here in the D.C. area? I would like to invite you to a vigil at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, August 29 from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. to call on the Supreme Court Justices to grant a stay of execution for Kenneth Foster as well as for John Amador. If you cannot come to this vigil, please sign the linked petition to Gov. Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons.

In peace and hope,

Art Laffin

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sing Praise with Timbrel and Harp

August 27, 2007

Memorial of Saint Monica

By Beth DeCristofaro

…praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory (Psalm 149:3-4)

In every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they, themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols… (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9)


Dear God, give me the endurance of St. Monica who prayed unceasingly for her son, Augustine. Give me the love to expect to find you within the lives of those who get on my nerves. Give me the faith that my life and theirs are in your hands. Give me the hope that we, together, will dance before you and will strive do your will.


There is dancing and jubilation in the first two readings today as opposed to the Gospel. Paul and the psalmist both proclaim the deep joy in being with God through your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3). And for those who do God’s will…the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory. (Ps 149:4) Jesus, however, knows that the scribes and Pharisees have piled rules and regulations in front of the Kingdom’s gate, narrowing it even further for everyone. They take the delight out of God’s glory. He rejects their vision of God saying: “Woe to you, blind guides” (Matthew 23:13, 16).

Faith, love, and hope: Thessalonians has one of the earliest mentions in Christian literature of the three theological virtues[i] Paul doesn’t list rules. Paul does, however, commend the Thessalonians for their work and worship: For they (believers in the region) themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). People come to believe in God through the faith, hope and love exhibited by the Thessalonians.

St. Monica is an example of love. She was a loving, devoted wife to a sometimes violent man and caring for his ill-tempered mother[ii]. Her faith led all three of her children to enter religious life and her husband to convert. And, as we most know her, her hope never wavered that God would get through to her rebellious son, Augustine. She did not put rules in God’s way. Rather, St. Monica paved the way for God in the world through faith, hope and love.


Where is your faith, love or hope hidebound with rules? Break out your spiritual timbrals and harps and dance a song of praise and thanks to God with an action in God’s name. Be open to the surprise of the moment when God breaks through and you can dance.

Consider donating to or assisting abuse victims for whom Monica is patron saint: or

Enter Through the Narrow Gate

August 26, 2007

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joseph McCloskey, S.J.

I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them. Isaiah 66:18-19

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. Luke 13:24


Let us pray: Lord, help us to find the narrow gate so that we may be among the people you gather to see your glory. Count us among the many who attempt to enter. Give us the strength of heart to rise about the petty rivalries and material pursuits in this lifetime so that we may secure a place with you forever in the next. Amen.


“He saved others and himself he did not save.” These words could apply to any one of us if we were to die at an unready moment in our lives. My notion of salvation is an ocean of God’s mercy that we are diving into. The first ripple is our own salvation. The next ripple would be the family. Then friends and finally strangers who come our way because of the work we do for the poor. Our outer ripples would not be true ripples if the inner ones were missing. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” Our souls are saved by what we do for the poor.

Our piety is what makes it possible for the Lord to recognize himself in us. To be locked out because we are unrecognized by the Lord because of what we have left undone for the poor and the needy, is all too possible. My vision of the first moment of judgment at the end of our lives is the Lord looking at us as the Composite of all the needy people who have ever asked our help. Even at the last moment of life I imagine the Lord looking at us with the needs of the human race all around him and giving us the chance to embrace him in all the needs that surround our lives. Life is a practice for that last moment. Piety is the strength of our love reaching out to the one who needs us. Life itself is a practice for being ready for that last moment.


We enter through the narrow gate in what we do for the poor. We make straight the path for ourselves in what we do for the lowest and the last. The discipline of the Lord is seen in how much of ourselves we share with the needy. Some of the lowest, the last and the least will be first in the kingdom of God. They will bring us into heaven by the help we have given them. Those of us who have had much will be some of the last. We do not want to be left locked out of heaven because the Lord does not see us as those that took care of him in the needy of the world. We need to study the needs of our world to know what our actions must be if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. We come from the richest nation of the world and we do not want to be spiritually bankrupt when we reach for the kingdom of heaven at the end days.

A Full Reward

August 25, 2007

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

May the LORD reward what you have done! May you receive a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. Ruth 2:12

The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12


Let us pray: Lord, help us to walk in the path of humility no matter what we face. Help us to turn the other cheek no matter the insult or the personal indignation. Forgive us when we do not meet and greet people with your love no matter how they test us, no matter what the slight. Send us your Holy Spirit to give us refuge under his wing from the rudeness of the world and our own weakness. We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.


Our first reading today comes from the Book of Ruth – this seventh book in the Old Testament and the first one named for a woman.

Ruth’s story helps us to continue to connect the narrative of the ancient Jewish people of Adam, Noah and Moses to the heirs of David and ultimately Jesus Christ. Ruth’s legacy is a story marked by unselfish service and faith in God. Here is a woman who left her father and mother and siblings and the people she knew and stayed with her mother in law, in service in a foreign land, even after the death of her husband. We see Ruth today going into the fields to pick up grain which was left behind by the harvesters…reminding us of the central importance of service to the “anawim,” the widows, orphans and strangers.

Her linkage to the Jewish people is cemented in her second marriage – this one to Boaz of Bethlehem. As the NAB notes on the Introduction of this book explain, “Ruth's piety (Ruth 2:11), her spirit of self-sacrifice, and her moral integrity were favored by God with the gift of faith and an illustrious marriage whereby she became the ancestress of David and of Christ.”

Such piety is reflected in the daily practice of everyone in the Book of Ruth right down to the manner in which people greeting each other on the street saying, “The Lord be with you.” Such a greeting has been passed on to the Christian liturgy.

Ruth epitomizes the person who made themselves a servant as outlined in Matthew’s Gospel reading today. So, too, does Boaz, provide for us an example of a person who fulfills the responsibility to society, to family and to the widows, orphans and strangers.

Rather than shun the foreigner, Boaz -- another mirror of humility -- makes sure that his servants do not harm her and that they leave behind enough for her to find in their fields. He does not shun the stranger. Rather than sending her away to glean at other fields, he welcomes her to follow his own servants, even to the point of providing not just food but a home and a life for her.


How do we greet and treat people?

What do you leave behind for others to glean from your bountiful harvest? If Ruth were walking in your fields, would she find enough food for sustenance?

How do you help those who are difficult to serve?

What is your view about serving the stranger in our nation?

Come and See

August 24, 2007

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come here. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." Revelation 21:9

But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." John 1:46


Let us pray. Lord, sustain within us the faith which made Saint Bartholomew ever loyal to Christ. Let your Church be the sign of salvation for all the nations of the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



What happens when we accept God’s invitation? Yesterday, the warning was issued for people who rejected the invitation and for those who accepted it but were unprepared to fulfill God’s mission for us.

Today, we see how the faithful servant is rewarded. Despite Nathanael’s initial skepticism (“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”), he comes to almost immediately believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus promises him he will see great things…great things like Jacob’s ladder in the Hebrew Bible or meeting the “wife of the Lamb” in Revelation.

Have you overcome your skepticism and sin? Have you responded to God’s open invitation to you to “come and see?”

The promises made to Nathanael (St. Bartholomew) reveal that faith matters. God rewards us for our devotion to Him and our expression of that devotion shown by praising him and serving our neighbors.

Nathanael’s life also shows us that God continues to invite us into His presence, just like in the story of the wedding feast yesterday. Not only do we see the invitation to Nathanael in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, Nathanael is there in the last chapter.

So now we know that Nathanael did see greater things. He is there on the seemingly unsuccessful fishing trip when Jesus meets most of the disciples on the shores of Lake Tiberius. Jesus instructs them where to catch the fish. Nathanael witnesses the success of those who respond to the invitation even though past experience may indicate that this will not lead to success. After the nets were filled, Jesus invites Nathanael and the other disciples to share a meal and a blessing with Him.


How are you making your faith matter today?

Will you cast your nets where Jesus tells you to fish?

Where will you cast them today?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Few Are Chosen

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. Psalm 40

Many are invited, but few are chosen. Matthew 22:14

August 23, 2007

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time


Let us pray: Lord God, you never cease inviting us into your presence. You know we are here and you want to join us. Open our ears so that, in faith, we may hear and act upon your holy invitation. Amen.


The fatted calf makes another appearance in today’s Gospel – once again killed for a feast. This is not the feast celebrating the return of the Prodigal. No this is a feast with no prodigal son or daughter…and no loyal sibling who stayed behind in service and obedience.

Instead, Jesus tells a parable which serves as a warning to the first century church and instructs the Church of today. God repeatedly invites people – all people – to goodness…to the wedding and its subsequent feast. Instead, people turn away. So, God, in His goodness invites us a second time. But we continue to ignore His holy invitation. Instead, we head off to work, to our offices, factories and farms. If the message from the prophets gets too loud or bothersome, we kill the messenger who brought the invitation.

If we the alleged believes don’t respond to the invitation, then God will reach out beyond the typical church leaders. God will invite anyone in the streets to come to the feast until people respond. Even among the people who follow, some may not be worthy – witnessed by the person who did not prepare or present himself properly and was punished.

Our invitation from God is extended to all people. However, this holy invitation is not without standards nor is it to be taken for granted or treated with disrespect. We simply cannot expect to come into God's presence unless we surrender our hearts or remain there on our own selfish terms.

So today we also confront Psalm 40 – surrendering our will to the will of God. The selfishness of the Prodigal Son demanding his inheritance is gone. No longer do we turn to idolatry. Or stray after falsehood. Instead, we have our “ears open to obedience.” Grace may be free but it ain’t cheap.

That is why we must be known by the fruits of our faith. “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)


Please review this letter from Virginia Nesmith of the National Farm Workers ministry. Can you help with lodging for a farm worker next month?

Dear DC Area Friends,

I am looking for help with lodging and food for approximately 100 farm workers who will be coming to Washington, DC September 16 – 21, to lobby for passage of the AgJOBS bill. Despite the failure of the comprehensive immigration reform bill, co-sponsors of AgJOBS believe it has a chance of passage on its own and intend to push for it. Farm workers and agribusiness industry reps, Democrats and Republicans, spent hundreds of hours crafting this compromise bill which gives farm workers who have been working in agriculture – and stay in ag for several years, a chance to earn legal status. It also provides several reforms to the H2-A guest worker program in agriculture. Because so many farm workers are already immigrant workers, and the majority undocumented, the passage of AgJOBS is critical to ensuring a stable food supply and to helping end the exploitation of farm workers.

This past June fifty workers came to DC for the day. We know that having workers tell their personal stories face to face to legislators makes a significant difference. Thus, we have a more ambitious plan - to have twice the number of workers there for a week. (Arriving Sunday evening, Sept. 16, departing Thursday evening or Friday morning.) Because there are already significant costs to bring the workers there from various locations around the country and hotel costs are so prohibitive in DC, we were hoping to find a couple churches who would have space for cots and sleeping bags, and folks to help with meals. Accessibility to public transportation to the Hill would obviously be helpful also.

I know that in areas where we have done this kind of thing before, congregations are always blessed by the interaction with people who are so integral to our lives but whom we seldom see. I can’t remember anytime in very recent years asking for this kind of help in the DC area so I don’t have a pool to draw from. But we have this amazing advance notice of over a month!

Please let me know if your church or those you know, could help with this. If you can help there with contacting anyone or with overall assistance to get this done, let me know that also. Many thanks.

Si se Puede!


Virginia Nesmith

National Farm Worker Ministry


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

“Are you envious because I am generous?”

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Melanie Rigney

Jesus told his disciples of a landowner who paid vineyard laborers the same wage for the day whether they started at dawn or hours later. When those who started early complained, the landowner said: “…Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:13-15)

“Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, ‘Come; you reign over us!’ But the buckthorn replied to the trees, ‘If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith, come and take refuge in my shadow…’” (Judges 9:14-15)


Lord, let me remember Your generosity extends to all who take refuge in your shadow, even to those I consider unworthy of Your love. Help me to put your charitable example to work in my life.


God can be so annoying sometimes.

Cursillistas aren’t the sort who show up for a day’s work at 5 p.m. No, we’re the kind who arrive at 9 or maybe even earlier (especially when Mananita is involved). We sing, pray, study, and carry out our ministries with gusto and passion.

It’s hard to understand that when the day is done, our pay will be the same as someone who accepts Christ in the closing hours of his or her life. How can that be? We work so hard! It’s not fair.

The challenge, as Thomas Richstatter, OFM, writes in a Catholic Update essay is thinking of God as an accountant, tallying up our credits and debits, rather than as a parent:

“Parents love their children independently of the child' s labor or earnings. Parents love a newborn infant who has not accomplished anything. As the child grows, parents love children who make C's and D's in school, and parents love children who make A's and B's. I have seen parents at the Special Olympics as proud of their children accomplishing a task as parents cheering for their star sons and daughters at the high school basketball championship games.”

God desires that we all get His beautiful day’s pay. If we come to the vineyard early, we receive the joy of meaningful work and grace throughout our lives. If we squander or reject His love early and do not dedicate our work to Him, our burden is so much heavier and unwieldy. But there is always the promise of the same reward if we are there at the end of the day. Let’s concern ourselves about keeping our own end of the bargain, and stop measuring the time others arrive.


Sing “De Colores” out loud today (if you don’t have the words handy or committed to memory, you’ll find them at Colores.htm). Give special emphasis to this verse:

Let the cowards deride us and taunt us but it is the truth

That they really desire the pleasure of being in grace in colors with us

Remember that that is the gift we receive for our labors, the gift of being in grace on earth. When you encounter a “coward” today, do more than accept the derision and taunts. Be a friend to that person. Buy him a coffee or soda. Laugh at her inane but harmless joke. Show the pleasure of being in grace in colors with us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Be Calm

August 21, 2007

Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope

“My Lord,” Gideon said to him, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers told us when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' For now the LORD has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian.” Judges 6:11

Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. (Matthew 19:29-30)


Let us pray: God, when bad things happen, help us to refrain from demanding an answer from you to the question “Why me?” Sometimes, it is hard for us to understand your wondrous deeds and your words. It is harder still for us, in human terms, to pursue the mission you lay out in your life. Help us to avoid being tied to physical possessions. Instead, help us to anchor our life in one person, your son Jesus. Amen.


Living in the suburbs my entire life – suburbs which today are rapidly filling up with McMansions – makes reading today’s Gospel troubling. Hearing priests and deacons throughout my life attempt to preach about this to wealthy parishioners can almost at times sound funny and apologetic when compared to the simplicity of this reading from Matthew.

Spend some time in a nursing home that is caring for elderly patients…women and men who are losing their minds to Alzheimer’s or dementia yet still maintain the control of their physical bodies causes one to pause. You can see people who have given up everything.

Maybe these people led rich and powerful lives. But without their minds, they have lost touch with everything they used to hold dear. They live in less than one bedroom with just a few changes of clothes. No books. No cars. No computers. No stereos or MP3 players. No Playstation or Nintendo WII. They have given up all. Or had it taken away.

Last weekend in one such home, there was a woman walking around looking for Jesus, looking for church. She was entering the rooms of other patients asking, “Where is the church? I need to find the church?” She may have been stripped of all of her possessions, yet she remembered deep in her consciousness and was still being drawn to worship. She no longer has the capacity to sense or even lament that she has lost everything. But she still wants to worship. How many others spent the day at the horse races, NASCAR, MLB, or the pre-season NFL football game and never darkened the church threshold?

Jesus is teaching us that riches are an obstacle to entering the kingdom that cannot be overcome by human power. If we had lost everything, our daily life might be filled with anxiety. Instead, Jesus wants us to be with him and him alone. Only then will we experience peace.

This woman, walking the halls of a nursing home, may have already passed through the narrow gate to experience peace. She, without knowing it, is evidence to all of us that wealth and material goods are no longer considered a sign of God's favor. Just following Jesus. Just meeting him face-to-face like Gideon.

Recently, a small book created a publishing buss around The Prayer of Jabez.

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”
1 Chronicles 4:10

I always was amazed that Jabez prayed to God to “enlarge my territory” as second of his four requests. The New Testament Jesus changes everything. Jesus rejects wealth and prosperity with his parable and lessons in Matthew 19 and 20. As the NAB notes explain, “Since wealth, power, and merit generate false security, Jesus rejects them utterly as a claim to enter the kingdom. Achievement of salvation is beyond human capability and depends solely on the goodness of God who offers it as a gift.”

Therefore, all of us who respond to the call of Jesus, at whatever time (first or last), will be the same in respect to inheriting the benefits of the kingdom, which is the gift of God. Whether we are babes in swaddling clothes, adults with families or the elderly who have given up family, wealth and possessions, may we know that the Lord is at our side.


What possessions can you jettison? The White Elephant Sale is fast approaching.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Come, Follow Me

August 20, 2007

Memorial of Saint Bernard, abbot and doctor of the Church

By Beth DeCristofaro

Yet he had regard for their affliction when he heard their cry. (Ps 106: 44)

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. (Matthew 19:21)


Consumed with grief, Lord God, I cry out to you. The sins of the world weigh me down. My own sins tear at my conscience and my body. The terror of disasters grips my heart with foreboding. Help me in my lack of trust, God, that you will always hold, protect and guide me. Help me rest in the assurance that with you, I will survive horrors and that, indeed, I can even pass through the eye of a needle and find perfection within you.


What a stark contrast in the unsuccessful means to an end. In the Gospel a rich young man asks for the key to the Kingdom and finds himself unable to make the sacrifice necessary. Hundreds of years before his time, his fathers and mothers, who were poor – homeless, in fact – found themselves unable to stay loyal to their saving God time after time. Yet (God) had regard for their affliction when he heard their cry. The young man had everything that he could have wanted in his life while the Israelites had almost nothing; none of them enter to the Kingdom by themselves. Only through God could they find the treasure that they sought.

Disasters such as the mine collapses in Utah and China, the floods in Minnesota and Wisconsin and the devastating earthquake in Peru cause us to ask “why”. Perhaps they can also be occasions to ask “why not me” and “what good can I help come of it?” How can I find solidarity with those who have had the poverty that their world is now untrustworthy and changed forever thrust upon them?

“What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20) asked the rich young man. What do we lack? Do possessions possess us? Does our need for complete earthly security bind us? Are we able to see poverty as the place God fills within us? What can I give up to open space for God?


You can help Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to respond to the deadly earthquake in Peru. CRS field teams are poised to deliver emergency medical care and shelter.

CRS staff in Peru are rushing to assist survivors of the country’s worst earthquake in more than 30 years. More than 450 people are reported dead, and over 1,500 others injured.

Last week’s powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake toppled homes, churches and buildings from the temblor’s epicenter in the Department of Ica to the capitol city Lima, over 100 miles away. Powerful aftershocks, registering as high as 6.0 are expected to continue, putting people already affected by extreme winter weather at even greater risk.

Initial reports from Ica say bodies remain buried in the rubble, and hospitals are struggling to provide care. Thousands of victims, now homeless, are seeking shelter.

The Pan American Highway, the only thoroughfare on the coast of Peru, is severely damaged, making what is normally a 2.5-hour journey into one of more than 8 hours. And the destruction of phone lines and cellular towers has further hampered relief efforts.

CRS field staff are identifying critical needs and coordinating the delivery of life-saving supplies. Based on past CRS disaster relief efforts, medical equipment, food, shelter, blankets and other essential materials will be critical over the next several days.

The government of Peru has declared a state of emergency, and countries such as Mexico and Panama have pledged aid.

How to Help:

Donate online:

Donate via phone: 1-877-HELP-CRS

Mail a check:

Catholic Relief Services

P.O. Box 17090

Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090

Memo section of check: Peru Earthquake Fund

Friday, August 17, 2007

Set the Earth on Fire

By Rev. Joseph McCloskey, S.J.

August 19, 2007

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. Hebrews 12:4

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! Luke 12:49


God, as we live out our lives, help us to keep our eyes fixed on the present moment as we run the race you have put before us, by opposing sin and sinners. Strengthen our advocacy for those in need, so we can set the earth on fire with your love, even if we must carry our own cross as you did. Amen.


The Lord comes to our aid in unexpected ways. He will be just as happy as we are when we arrive to where we are going and find our coming is prepared for. Piety is all the ways we look for the Lord each day. Our faith is the richness of our experience of the God of our Present Moments. To be open to the unexpected and to be ready for what is coming is good planning at its best. Piety, Study and Action bring it all together.

There is enough of the student in all of us that we see the end of summer as a new beginning. Each day is precisely that when we buy into the Sacrament of the Present Moment. That all of our lives is a preparation for the day we are living would seem empty words if the Lord were not in our lives. It is the reality of our moment closest to Christ that it is always the moment we are in. How to come alive to what we are doing is what the moment closest to Christ does for us. We learn by looking over our day how the Lord was with us even in moments insignificant. The Hidden Life of Christ grace means that it is not what we are doing that is significant, but rather how we are giving ourselves away to others in the moment we are in. Each time we break the Christ code on the discovery of Christ with us right now, we enrich our spirituality with all the moments that come alive because they resemble what we have discovered in such a moment earlier that is like the moment we are in. In taking the deeper look at Christ that prayer makes possible, we uncover the meaning of subsequent moment in our lives. The moment closest to Christ that we share in our group reunions becomes the one we most noticed for what it was.

Cursillo Spirituality is built around our relationship to Christ. Our world is filled with people who have a terrible loneliness and a voracious need of making their lives worthwhile. What each year of our walk with Christ gives us is a greater awareness of how Christ is in our lives. The paradox of this walk is the realization that we can only hold unto Christ by giving him away. It is sharing Christ that allows us to grow in Christ. There are many forms of intimacy that build good friendships. But it is sharing Spiritual Intimacy that allows us to find Christ in special ways. Group reunion gives us the freedom to be open to Christ in each other. It deepens friendships. What leads our friends to Christ is the spiritual intimacy group nourishes. Friendship is a precious gift. The greatest of all friendships is possible when we share Christ with each other because such a friendship is unto eternal life.


Make the new beginning of this year into a bringing Christ into all the encounters with others each day. Eduardo Bonin claimed about 20 group reunions each day because it was the expressed purpose of his spiritual life to share Christ with each person he met each day. Open your hearts to each person you meet this day. Wherever there is love, God is there.

Make that more than a truism in your life by the wonderful ways God gives us the chance to share his Son. The charism of Cursillo is the ease it brings to our sharing of Christ. Share Christ with all your friends and bring those who would appreciate it to Cursillo.

We Will Serve

August 18, 2007
Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods.”
Joshua 24:15-16

“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14-15


Let us pray: Lord, help us to choose rightly whom we will serve. No matter what others may do, give us the fortitude to swim against the stream to love and serve you.

Protect us from hypocrites. Support us with prominent leaders – leaders like Joshua and Matthew – who will accomplish much good through their influence, especially when zealous in religion.

Let us turn to the solid tangible feel of nature to witness the covenant of our community. God, you alone can give grace and bless our work in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord. Amen.


The theme of service continues today with a special perspective by Joshua.

He teaches that serving the Lord is not easy. So Joshua gives his followers a chance to choose to worship other gods which might not make demands upon their people. He knows that some people may not be able to live up to this standard. As the notes from the NAB indicate, “fidelity to God's service is not easy, and therefore those who take such solemn obligations on themselves must be ever vigilant against human weakness.” Weakness takes its shape in sins and the obstacles we erect that block a loving relationship with the Lord.

Instead of weakness, Joshua uses the strength symbols of a stone and a tree to mark the love of God and the covenant. These are rich symbols in Biblical history. The stone represents the cornerstone of the covenant Joshua advanced between the people and the Lord. It carries with it the implication that both parties will steadfastly adhere to the promises made in the new covenant. The tree represents the living things which God has granted to His people.

Jesus, too, uses the symbol of the stone and the tress to mark his love for us. He uses the parable about seed falling on rocky soil which can not grow. Jesus commands the people to roll away the stone confining Lazarus in his death chamber and blocking Lazarus from being in the presence of Jesus. He also commands Peter to build the Church on the rock of love. Throughout the New Testament, trees play prominent roles in many parables until in the end, we see Jesus himself nailed to a tree.

Rocks can be good when we build on solid footing. They also can be bad when they get in the way of productive growth. Satan even tried to use a rock against Jesus by tempting him (Luke 4/Matthew 4) to turn a rock into bread while Jesus was in the desert.

The Kingdom of heaven belongs to those who will serve the Lord in faith. People with such solid footing are both the small, innocent children of St. Matthew’s reading or the people who pledged their fidelity to the Lord in the Book of Joshua. Conversely, those who worship false idols fall out of favor with the Lord because they have blocked the love of the Lord or failed the test of love.


Make a choice…serve the Lord.

We live in a region filled with monuments. There are the classics to Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. There are more recent monuments like the Eternal Flame at the grave of President Kennedy, the Vietnam Veterans “Wall,” the memorial to FDR. There also are monuments to peace including the statue of Ghandi near DuPont Circle. Churches like St. Anthony of Padua in Falls Church have erected Peace Poles and planted prayer gardens around them. Our cemeteries are also filled with memorials to our loved ones.

There may be one monument missing. Where is the monument devoted to your beloved savior, Jesus of Nazareth? Not one erected by some Church or some cemetary.

A few years ago, I was on a men’s team when a women’s Cursillo team offered palanca for us. Among their weekly offerings, they wrote a prayer on the side of a rock and presented it to us. To this day, that rock, sits in my living room, a visible sign of the love of that weekend and the support the candidates and team got from these special women.

Pick something to be a symbol of your fidelity to God. Try to use something from nature (in itself it is a gift from God). Maybe you have a rock around your home or office that can be placed somewhere prominent. Or you could find one. If not a rock, is there a tree or bush that can be a living monument? It will serve as a reminder of your steadfast devotion and help bring you back, in love, from the near occasions of sin.

Paint something on the side of the rock or the pot where the plant is rooted. Let it be your symbol – your personal cornerstone covenant – for how you will build the Church of God on earth. Put it someplace prominent – like under a prominent tree in your yard or in a potted plant in your house so others will see it and know that “As for you and your household, you will serve the Lord.”

You also might consider doing the exercise listed at the bottom of this web site:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Serve Completely and Sincerely

August 17, 2007

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant. “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Joshua 24:13-14

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator “made them male and female” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Matthew 19:4-6


Let us pray: God in heaven, you are the all powerful friend to the nations and people of this world. Grant that we may stay in the favor of your sight despite the near occasions to sin. Amen.


Despite our sin and brokenness, look how generous God is. Joshua details the kinds of gifts the Lord heaped upon his people. “I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”

What gifts do you have in abundance? House, yard, furnishings, cars, retirement accounts, investments? What have you inherited through no hard work on your own? This is how our Lord showers such gifts upon us in modern days.

Why then must we fear such a generous and loving God? My sense is that we should fear falling out of favor with such a God. The Lord delivers everything for our favor. Lest this benefactor move away, we must do all we can to stay in His good Grace. Therefore, we fear making human missteps along the way which separate us from a God who wants to draw closer to us.

God remains generous despite our hard-hearted ways. Matthew points to one example – divorce – where public law/earthly law became distorted from natural law. Rather than taking the easy way out of different situations, Jesus gives a tough prescription for life and then advises, “Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

The secret is to serve him sincerely and completely.


Have you updated the value of your portfolio or retirement accounts in Quicken of Microsoft Money this week? Have you anxiously downloaded the latest prices for your stock or mutual fund investments?

Is the rising value of such accounts actually like an inheritance? We do not really “do” anything. We park our money with one institution and then watch as it grows. But everything that goes up, may eventually come down. Everything is a circle.

Have you updated your investments in the Kingdom of God? Can you afford to park anywhere and not do anything to grow closer to God. A stool built only on the legs of Piety and Study will fall over without the support of Action.

As you cough at the shrinking value of investments in your personal accounts, maybe now is when you should consider giving more to charity. Like the widow who gave out of her last mite, can you give out of the substance? Can you give to charity 5 percent of your savings or investments?

If you can, then what organization do you select for your generosity? God is indiscriminate with loving and forgiving others. If people seek our love and forgiveness, then we must love and forgive. It’s that simple.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Living God In Your Midst

August 16, 2007

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know I am with you. Joshua 3:7

At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.” Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. Matthew 18:26-27


Lord, give us the resolve to live up to those promises we make to others in the same way you lived up to the promise You made to lead Israel out of slavery and into the land of milk and honey. Help us to recognize what gets in the way of proper relationships we need with you and with each other. Come into our midst and remove these obstacles. Help us to get our priorities in line and to treat each other as you would treat us and as we would want them to treat us. Amen.


Crossing the Jordan -- a symbolic act at the end of a journey and the fulfillment of a promise at the beginning of a new journey. Finally. Crossing the Jordan meant the nation of Israel would pass into the Promised Land. Relationships it had with each other and with the Lord that were long ago ruptured would be mended as the promise is fulfilled.

Like the Israelites, Jesus also crosses the Jordan River in today’s reading after teaching a classic biblical lesson about forgiveness. He wants us to learn that we have to repair relationships that we have ruptured or relationships where we have allowed other priorities beyond love get in the way.

God led the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom in the Promised Land. Now that the people enjoy freedom, Jesus points out their responsibilities to forgive their neighbor in the same way God provides for His children.

Not only does crossing the Jordan fulfill God’s promise of mercy. God also literally forgives our trespasses as we forgive others. This is not a one-way relationship. Once God’s promises are fulfilled, the Lord reveals our responsibilities to our neighbors. Now, the duty falls upon us to fulfill those promises to our neighbors.

Nothing can stand in the way of our relationship with a God who wants to be in our midst. God finds us in slavery and promises to free us from what entraps us. God delivers on his promise and then expects us to do the same for others.


Unilateral forgiveness. It does not matter what the offense. We are asked to turn the other cheek. Unconditionally. Not after the offending party has forgiven us. The Lord acts and He expects us to take the initiative.

What obstacles do you want to remove from some of your relationships? Do money, possessions, selfishness or other things get in the way?

God promises to show you the way to overcome these obstacles.

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,' when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye. Luke 6:41-42

Take inventory of your wooden beams. Remove one and use it to build a bridge to someone from whom you have been remote or distant.