Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Hour Came April 1

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

by Peace and Justice Commission, Diocese of Arlington

Rev. Gerry Creedon, chairman

Anne Murphy, consultor

“The Master has need of it.” Luke 19:34

And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. Isaiah 50:4


Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. Philippians 2:7-8


The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors'; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves. Luke 22:25-27

Piety

O God of perfect love, we thank you for the saving cross of your son Jesus, who dies that we might live. Give us courage this Holy Week to die to sin, sacrificing self-self-reliance, self-reliance, self-doubt, self-importance, self-hatred. Help us to love like Jesus, to pour ourselves out generously like a libation to show such example that others may know and love you. Humble our stony hearts; let everything we say and do profess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to your glory and praise. Amen.

Piguet, Leo. 100 Prayers for Celebrating Liturgical Seasons. (Allen, Texas: Thomas More )

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/040107.shtml

Today is the beginning of Holy Week, the most solemn week of the liturgical year. During the next several days, we will once again share the story of our salvation by remembering Jesus' last days on earth. Every year we begin our week with the Passion narratives. We walk with Jesus as he shares his last meal with his friends, knowing what the morrow will bring. In the Lucan account, after Jesus reveals that one of them will betray him, the disciples begin to argue among themselves as to whom is the greatest among them. Jesus reminds them all that the greatest among them is the one who serves. Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for him in his time of trial, but Peter glibly reassures his Lord that he is prepared to even die with him. In the Garden of Olives, a very human Jesus asks the Father to take away all the suffering that he knows will come, his passion and crucifixion, and ignominious death on the cross. But Jesus is obedient to the will of the Father because of his great love for him.

Today his passion and death hold many lessons for us. Perhaps a very important lesson is in the comparison of the ways Jesus and Peter handled their fears. While Peter brags of all he would suffer with Jesus, he betrays any knowledge of Jesus to avoid the physical pain. Jesus, on the other hand, while wanting to be released from his agony, places all his faith and love in the Father who gives him the strength to endure what was to follow. We humans have no difficulty identifying with Peter. As the saying goes, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Yet we should all know that without God's grace in our lives we are powerless. It is only when we place ourselves in God's hands that we are given the grace to follow the example of Jesus. Saint Paul tells us that we must have an attitude of Christ, and in the passage above he describes what that attitude is. And like Jesus, when we accept obedience until death, we will rise with him to enjoy eternal life with him.

Question: Do you think that Christ's example is too difficult to follow and so give up? Or do you pray for the grace to be the best disciple you can be?

Action

Spend a quiet hour where you can enjoy the beauty of nature and pray.

Celebrate the Triduum with your parish community.

Fasting:

Pledge to continue with at least one Lenten resolution after Easter.

Fast from food for one day between sunrise and sunset.

Fast from electronic media not used for work, such as computer games, i-pods and other MP3’s, radio, television and “I-M”ing (Internet or Text Messaging). Spend this time with God in prayer and scripture.

Fast from your car except when needed for work.

Almsgiving:

Give money or a meal to a homeless person you meet.

Try fasting from your car when not needed for work.

Make a meal for SOME, (So Others Might Eat) www.some.org.

Learn your ecological footprint at www.rprogress.org and commit to doing at least one thing that will reduce your ecological footprint.

Do not be afraid of reaching out to make someone’s day by performing a random act of kindness. Smile, greet strangers, hold the door open for the next person, call an estranged person, reach out to someone who is alone. Invite him or her to share in a meal with you. Comfort the sick and depressed. Visit someone in the hospital.

Save all your pocket change and put it in the CRS rice bowl collection. If your parish does not have one, contact Terry Angelotti, Arlington Diocese Coordinator for CRS at 703.841.3939, or e-mail www.crs.org to see how you can get your change to them.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What Are We Going To Do?

March 31, 2007

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ezekiel 37:26-27

“What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” John 11: 47-48

Piety

God, you have known us since before we were born. You know how we will respond to your call. Help us hear your words and answer you in faith, in hope and in active love. Use each member of our movement to give strength to the others – both our experienced members and our newest Cursillistas who will emerge on Sunday from the latest Men’s Weekend. Give us your gifts to pursue in joy a life of piety, study and action. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/033107.shtml

Humans once again try to outwit God…and lose.

If they would have just left Jesus alone, all will believe in Him. So instead, they crucify him on the most publicized wrongful death penalty case in history. And what is the result…the exact result they feared had they done nothing.

Without the crucifixion, there can be no Resurrection. The Resurrection is Jesus. The Resurrection is overcoming sin and death. The Resurrection is what leads people to believe. Had the Jews left Jesus alone, they might have been able to control and contain the spread of belief in the Christ. Instead, the plot that will unfold for us over the coming days of Holy Week will backfire, launching a new faith, a new baptism, new life.

The reading from the Hebrew Bible foretells the timeless “everlasting” relationship that God will have with His people. No plot by a small gang of men can destroy this heavenly covenant.

So, what are we going to do? Try to continue to foil God’s plans…or stop swimming against the tide of life and do what Jesus commands.

Action

In John 11, Jesus delivers four commands in this chapter.

1) “Let us go to him.” The faith that Jesus teaches is a faith that reaches out to others. Our faith is one in which we reach out to people in need and meet them in their time of doubt. Despite the fact that the Jews were trying to arrest and stone Jesus, he tells the disciples to get out of the safety of their comfort zone and go to the side of people who need help – Mary and Martha who are in mourning and Lazarus who has died.

What is interesting further is that rather than running away as the disciples do during the Triduum, they decided to go with Jesus to Bethany. They go with Jesus fully expecting that they think they, too, will die with him. Quite a contrast from the way the disciples scattered and denied Jesus when he was eventually arrested a few days later.

2) “Take away the stone.” Many things get in the way of us acting out our beliefs. Jesus is asking us here to reject everything that gets in the way of a solid productive relationship. Jesus wants us to take away the stones that block our path from following Jesus.

3) “Lazarus, come out.” All of us need to imitate the disciples who left the comfort of their homes and jobs to take up a new life with Jesus. Lazarus does the same, leaving his tomb to take up a new life in Jesus. Jesus also is calling us to come out to join him.

4) “Untie him and let him go.” We are tied to many people, places and objects in life. Our jobs. Our homes. Our cars. Our hobbies. Our families. Many times, these past times get in the way of a full spiritual life. We get tied up to the stereo. We get tied up in our private little worlds. Jesus calls for us to cut those ties so we can be let go to pursue his greater good.

Upon hearing these commands, the question for you and I is the same as the one the Jews asked. It is NOT that too popular phrase: “WWJD?” We know what Jesus will do. Instead, what are we going to do? Will you listen to these commands and follow them or reject them and the person who gave the commands to us?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Believe the Works

March 30, 2007

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.

Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!
Jeremiah 20:11

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
John 10:37-38


Piety

In our Orange Alert-induced stress, we turn to you, Oh Lord, with the audacity of our hopes and dreams. Despite the turmoil that surrounds our lives – disasters from the Sudan to Zimbabwe, from hurricane-scarred New Orleans to the South Indian Ocean still drying out and rebuilding, to the silent tsunami of hunger and malnutrition that kill tens of thousands of children every day – we know that you will be there with the gift of your presence when we turn to you, Lord.

In our distress, we know we can call upon you and you will be there. At the right hand of the Father, we know you will hear our voice. As our cries reach your ears, come back to be with us in our hour of need so that we will have the strength to be with you when you face – alone – the most intensely passionate, personal hours of your love-life for us your sisters and brothers on earth. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/033007.shtml

The NAB notes teach us that deception, sorrow and terror have brought the prophet Jeremiah close to the point of despair; nevertheless he has expressed his utmost confidence in the triumph of God's will to help those who need it the most from those who have power in this world.

We still hear these echoes today, “Terror on every side.” And these may bring us to the same point of despair. Last weekend, the Washington Post included an opinion article by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski about how the War on Terror has affected society. He writes that, “The culture of fear is like a genie that has been let out of its bottle. It acquires a life of its own -- and can become demoralizing.”

Where then do we turn for hope? In what do we believe? Where do we turn if we know the truth and the truth shall get you stoned or jailed or interrogated by authorities?

We can turn to the same source that provided solace for Jeremiah and the Psalmist. The Lord is with us like a mighty champion and advocate on our behalf. Sing to the Lord and praise the Lord for the Lord will rescue the poor from the wicked.

We can believe in the works and signs Jesus performed…the miracles like raising Lazarus from the dead or saving the life of the woman who would be stoned because she was accused of committing adultery. These signs help us to see beyond the humanity of Jesus, beyond the incarnation to the divinity.

Action

Look to the divinity of God today in the works that you perform..works you perform for others like the food or shelter you share with those who are home-less, job-less and hope-less.

As we mark the fifth and final Friday of Lent before the Triduum, make an extra special sacrifice in your fasting and almsgiving heading into Holy Week. As we look to strengthen our relationship with God, let us remember the advice of Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister…that in order to find God, we need to find and accept responsibility for each other as well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seek to Serve

Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered. Psalm 105:4-5


Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him. John 8:54-55

Piety

Let us pray: God, you set the example of sacrifice, sending your Son to serve us and to save us. Help us now and always to seek to serve you and your holy children. Look down on your servants with favor as you looked upon Your handmaid Mary. Make us out to be your servants seeking nothing but your glory. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032907.shtml

Yesterday, in John’s Gospel, we heard that famous line, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32. Today, Jesus continues to teach the Truth to the Jews…and rather than setting them free, they remain trapped in their earthly world and convictions. Jesus challenges their world view and they can not accept what he tells them.

Jesus knows the truth and the truth gets him stoned.

Today, that crowd continues in its path of doubt challenging Jesus directly with the taunt, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” But rather than raising their voices in praise, the Jews raise their hands with hatred and continue to turn to violence to attack that which challenges their ideas and ideals.

Tonight, 16 men will gather at the St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, DC for the next Men’s Cursillo. Jesus will be in their midst challenging their worldly thoughts and actions with His heavenly commands. They will have three days to contemplate who they make themselves out to be. They can contemplate their ideal, the role of the lay person in the Church and what Jesus asks of them. While they are at that task, consider the question for yourself: Are you involved in your mission as a Catholic, as a Christian and as a Cursillista for your own glory or for the greater glory of God?


How are you getting to know God? Are you spending time with God in prayer? Are you spending time with God by studying His Sacred Word? Are you spending time getting to know God by serving his children in active love?


Action

Seek to serve the Psalmist tells us.

How can you serve the men on this weekend’s Cursillo?

Pray. Write and perform palanca. Pray. Send food and water for them to eat and drink. Pray. Seranade the group at Mananita Sunday morning. Pray. Join them for closing Sunday afternoon. Pray. Welcome these new cursillistas into your Group Reunion and Parish Ultreya.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

“If God were your Father, you would love me” March 28

Your Daily Tripod for Wednesday, March 28

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

By Melanie Rigney

“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
Daniel 3:16-18

“Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’? Jesus answered them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.’” (John 8:31-36)


Piety

Jesus, free me from my comfortable slavery of sin. Thank you for my freedom. Let me walk in truth with you today and always.

Study

http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/032807.shtml

http://www.meredithgould.com/PlowsharesPublishing/

As we prepare for Holy Week and our Jewish brothers and sisters prepare for Passover, which begins April 2, today’s gospel reminds us of the common roots of our faiths. “We have one Father, God,” Jesus is told by “those Jesus who believed in him.” Jesus responds, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

One God, one Father. “A better knowledge of the Jewish people’s faith and religious life as professed and lived even now can help our better understanding of certain aspects of Christian liturgy,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church states. “The relationship between Jewish liturgy and Christian liturgy, but also their differences in content, are particularly evident in the great feasts of the liturgical year, such as Passover.”

Author Meredith Gould, an adult convert to Catholicism from Judaism, suggests that we offer a Catholic Passover seder on the Wednesday evening before Holy Week, or the Wednesday evening before Holy Thursday. Her book Come to the Table: A Catholic Passover Seder for Holy Week, offers an explanation of the commonalities in our faiths and suggests prayers and a menu that could be used for such a seder.

“In the stillness of prayer, we prepare our hearts to receive the miracle of death defied and God’s promise fulfilled through the resurrection of Christ Jesus,” Gould writes. “For Passover, we prepare home and table to remember our ancestors’ liberation from Egyptian bondage. We also prepare our hearts to be released from the bondage of ignorance, confusion, and any misunderstanding that keeps us from full reconciliation with the Jewish community.”

Action

Consider learning more about the roots of our Catholic traditions by observing a Catholic Passover seder tonight or next Wednesday night. Or, ask a friend if you may attend a Jewish Passover seder. Resolve to extend a hand of love and friendship to a non-Christian believer today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lift Up the Son of Man March 27


The LORD said to Moses, “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover.”
Numbers 21:8


So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” John 8:28-29







Piety

Lord, you always sought to comfort the afflicted – the poor in spirit, the broken-hearted, the blind, the lame and the lowly. However, in your next breath you challenged those who were blessed with more in life. You challenged them with your words. You challenged them with your teachings and you challenged them with your deeds. Help us all to live together in solidarity always doing your will and what is pleasing to you. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032707.shtml

We have a little quiz today: Just answer each question “True” or “False:”

Question 1: I always do what is pleasing to God.

Question 2: I always do what is pleasing to my boss.

Question 3: I always do what is pleasing to my parents.

Question 4: I always do what is pleasing to my spouse.

Question 5: I always do what is pleasing to my children.

Question 6: I always do what is pleasing to myself.

You don’t have to show your answers to anyone. Think about your answers for a second. Are you more like the complaining Israelites in the Hebrew Bible Book of Numbers – complaining about being led to freedom? Or are you more like Jesus, always doing what is pleasing to God?

If you are like me and the Israelites, then you too might need to get over with your kvetching. Once we get over our self-indulgent feelings, pre-occupations and complaints, the challenge is how to get back into God’s good graces. First Moses and then Jesus points the way – through the cross.

When Moses mounts a serpent on a pole to heal the Israelites from their snakebites, the resulting image looks like the serpent is mounted on a cross. Through this rudimentary cross, the people are saved from their affliction just as we are saved when Christ is raised up on the cross to redeem us from our sins and afflictions. That tradition of connecting the snake on a pole to healing carries on today in logos like the American Medical Association and the Star of Life (pictured to the right) which we find on ambulances.

Jesus points to his pending execution – “Where I am going you can not come” and “When you lift up the Son of Man” on a cross. Because through that cross, he will redeem us for our sins…sins which would otherwise kill us like the snake in the Garden of Eden.

Action

What is pleasing to God? When confronted by any situation today, ask yourself how would you react if your only concern was to do what is pleasing to God?

As you go about your daily work, errands and chores today, remember these words of wisdom from Mother Teresa: “To show great love for God, we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.”

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We Come to Do Your Will March 26

Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! (Is 7:10)

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. (Ps 40:8a)

By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10:10)

Piety

Almighty God, we bless and we praise you. We thank you for the gift of Mary who became our mother in her humanity, God’s mother in her acceptance of your will. We thank you for your continued presence with us as we seek to say “yes” to your will as well. We ask you for strength, courage, wisdom and peace as we seek to acknowledge and be your sign in the world. Amen

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032607.shtml

In Medieval paintings, Mary was often depicted as sitting embroidering or sewing, interrupted by the announcing angel. In a Christmas pageant for fifth graders, however, Mary is sweeping the floor when the Angel emerges. While chosen for its stage appeal, perhaps this is actually more real: would a poor woman in the ancient Middle East have much time to sit? Mary would most likely spend her days very active and busy for the survival of her family. Yet, as a devout woman she might also contemplate her faith, something today we call walking meditation.

And she was ready. To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart! (Ps 40:9) We don’t know if she ever heard these words, but she knew them in her soul and opened herself to the action of God – a sign unexpected and as high as the sky. Her action puts into motion the certainty of death and the promise of resurrection

“It is fitting therefore that the holy Fathers see Mary as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, ‘being obedient, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race’.” Lumen Gentium Chaptire VIII 56 II Vatican Council

The world changed with her “yes” although, certainly, the world did not yet know. Citizens of Nazareth continued to pull water out of the well, stoke the family fires and herd their sheep. Fully conscious and free, Mary gives humanity to God, allows God into the world in a new way and forges a special bond between God and the lowliest people of creation. Gerard Manly Hopkins tried to describe such a mystery, such a sign, in his work “The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe” excerpted below.

This air, which, by life’s law,

My lung must draw and draw

Now but to breathe its praise,

Minds me in many ways

Of her who not only

Gave God’s infinity

Dwindled to infancy

Welcome in womb and breast,

Birth, milk, and all the rest

But mothers each new grace

That does now reach our race—

Mary Immaculate,

Merely a woman, yet

Whose presence, power is

Great as no goddess’s

Was deem├Ęd, dream├Ęd; who

This one work has to do—

Let all God’s glory through,

God’s glory which would go

Through her and from her flow

Off, and no way but so.

Action

What mystery, sign, miraculous do we miss? As you begin the fifth week of Lent, focus on a new way to love God, a new way to be open to God, a new request or desire which will bring you closer to God. Keep this request in the back of your mind all day – a walking meditation. Talk with God and listen throughout the day. Will you be ready when the miraculous appears? Will you be ready to “let all God’s glory through”?

Of interest: The International Center Mary of Nazareth laid its first stone of renovation in Nazareth on March 25. http://www.mariedenazareth.com/

Saturday, March 24, 2007

See, I am Doing Something New!

By the Peace and Justice Commission, Diocese of Arlington

Rev. Gerry Creedon, Chair

Anne Murphy, Consultor

(Additional Resources at http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/offices/peacejustice/)

March 25, 2007

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Isaiah 43:18-19

More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ (Jesus). (Philippians 3: 8-12.)

So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
John 8:9-11

Piety

Blessed are you, God of the Universe, for you grant us every good thing. Through your grace we pray that we might heed the crosses of others, giving food for the hungry, sharing our resources with the poor, offering support and compassion for the grieving, refusing to give in to the powerful grip of hatred and prejudice. Refresh us with hope and transform us with your love that we might bear crosses and lighten those of others in your name. Amen.

Piguet, Leo. 100 Prayers for Celebrating Liturgical Seasons. (Allen, Texas: Thomas More Press, 2002.)

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032507a.shtml

The prophet Isaiah, by recounting the mighty deeds of the Lord during the Exodus, reminds us of all the things that God has done for us and is still doing for us, even when nothing seems to be going right. Certainly the woman depicted in John's Gospel who was caught in adultery benefits from God's tender mercy and love. While her fellow humans want to see her stoned for her offenses, Jesus does not condemn her but offers her the opportunity for a fresh start. Jesus always offers us a fresh start when we go to him.

But what about the people who bring the woman to Jesus? Are they seeking justice or are they are looking out for their own interests? While no one really knows what Jesus writes in the sand, it is enough for them to turn away one by one. How many of them think about what happened and begin to make life changes, maybe giving someone who has wronged them another chance or offering sinners help in repentance rather than condemning them?

Paul is the excellent model of someone who has made drastic life changes. Reared as a Roman citizen and schooled as a good Jew, he is making a name for himself persecuting the followers of Jesus. However, after his conversion experience, he realizes that everything he has accumulated has counted for nothing; the only thing that really matters in his life is Jesus.

Question: What could you give up for your faith in Jesus? Would your life be better or worse? When have you acted like Jesus and refused to condemn others and cast the first stone? When have I placed the needs of others first? Is it difficult? What do I gain when I put myself last?

Action

Fasting:

· Give up something in your life that takes you away from God, such as hatred, racism, and judging others.

· Refrain from gossip as you probably do not know the whole story. Leave it up to God to judge. Your job is to love each other as much as possible.

· Listen to all sides of an argument with an open mind and maybe you could learn from someone with whom you disagree.

· Consider getting involved with the Virginia Catholic Conference (www.vacatholic.org) which represents the mutual public-policy interests of the Diocese of Richmond and the Diocese of Arlington. The Conference engages in advocacy on respect-life, social-justice, and education issues through contacts with state and federal lawmakers and with grassroots advocates throughout the Commonwealth.

Almsgiving:

· Use any money you save when you fast to benefit others by contributing to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. (www.nccbuscc.org/cchd)

· Advocate for peace, or support a moratorium on the death penalty.

· Find ways to support the mothers who decide to place their child for adoption, such as Catholic Charities of the Arlington Diocese (www.ccda.net/children'sservices.html).

· Donate to or volunteer with Offender Aid and Restoration (www.oaronline.org).

· Volunteer at prison ministries or with at-risk youth.

· Save all your pocket change and put it in the CRS rice bowl collection. If your parish does not have one, go to www.crs.org to see how you can help.

Searcher of Mind and Heart March 24

Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause! Jeremiah 12:20

Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them,
“Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” John 7:50-51

Piety

God, you know everything that is going on in our hearts and minds. Break through our petty human concerns and help us to come back to you like Nicodemus – curious about You, the pregnant possibility of being born again in the Spirit and everlasting life. Help us to come to you -- not under cover of darkness but when the light shines brightly. No matter what the crowds do or say, give us the strength to be seen with you and your friends. Help us to come to your defense and not stand idly on the sidelines while your enemies mock you and gamble for your garments. Give us the prudence and fortitude of Nicodemus to turn to you no matter what is happening around us. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032407.shtml

For me, Nicodemus is one of the most amazing characters in the New Testament. It is interesting to note that he only appears in the Gospel of John…but in that book he makes three appearances.

His relationship with Jesus probably goes through many stages but we witness three of those thanks to John. Today’s reading focuses on the second encounter.

No matter if we have good or evil in our heart and minds, the Lord seeks us out and lets us make the final call. That’s why Nicodemus’ turn toward Christ counters Judas’ turn away from Christ so dramatically.

Judas acts despite the gift of being with Jesus every day. Nicodemus hears about Jesus and seeks him out in faith stating “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.” (John 3:2)

Jesus coaches Nicodemus not to be amazed at what he is saying even though the Pharisee is puzzled about being born from above through water and the Holy Spirit. Despite Nicodemus high position in the temple, he clearly is one of the first converts to Jesus teachings beyond the disciples and the wine steward in Cana. Imagine the risk he took just to sneak away under cover of night to talk with Jesus. Imagine the two men, huddled together in a small, candle-lit room, in a Group Reunion, talking about their faith journeys into the late hours of the night.

Just as Nicodemus searches out Jesus and probes the Lord’s mind and heart, Jesus was a magnet drawing Nicodemus to him. That encounter bolsters Nicodemus to become an advocate for Jesus as the other Pharisees turn against Jesus – taking up the role of Moses as advocate among people whose hearts were turning against the Lord.

In today’s Gospel, Nicodemus tries to put the breaks on those who are plotting against Jesus. “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” John 7:50-51

Immediately, Nicodemus also is accused of being a Galilean like Christ.

Although he starts out questioning, Nicodemus winds up doing what goes against the popular actions of people. He moves from expressing his faith in Jesus privately in the night to acting publicly. Even though he challenges the Pharisees to get to know Jesus, they reject the idea and continue plotting.

After this scene, imagine the pain Nicodemus feels as we go through the final days of Lent and move into the Passion of our Lord. Through this pain and witness, Nicodemus is there, and remains there after all others have deserted Jesus and fled.

Action

1) Nicodemus rejected the superficial piety of the Pharisees which Jesus often mocked –wearing robes with long tassels and taking places of honor in the Temple. His faith moved from an interior expression to a more public expression.

Let Nicodemus be an inspiration for our continued action -- taking our love from the safety of the sanctuary to the mean streets of the cities which provide so little protection and shelter to the homeless. Let it spread to those who are affected by violence and hatred, those who are forgotten and oppressed and those who are victims of policies and practices which silently benefit us.

Nicodemus knew that if he did not act, he would be inextricably linked to the actions of the Pharisees. His was a voice, like John the Baptist, crying out for people to hear.

2) Remember that today, March 24 is the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He too spoke out against the prevailing powers of his day in El Salvador and in favor of the rights of peasant farmers who were being repressed and slaughtered by the army.

Read his last sermon here: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj8005&article=800512

3) We can honor the memory of Archbishop Romero by acting in solidarity with the poor farmers he spoke out to protect. How often do we pick up a cup of coffee at a local shop and pay $3 or $4 or more for a few ounces of brew while the framers who grow that crop get paid very little from the coffee marketers? Today, there is a whole range of ways that you can purchase coffee (and other products) that are based on “fair trade” principles so farmers get a decent price for their coffee. For more background, see this link: http://www.larrysbeans.com/coffee/fair_trade.htm

Buy a pound or two of fair trade coffee this weekend after all Masses at St. Mary of Sorrows.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Recompense of Holiness March 23

Their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward. Wisdom 2:21-22

So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
John 7:28-29

Piety

May today there be peace within you.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let His presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us. Amen.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032307.shtml

How clever we think we are when we trust ourselves and not God…when we put our faith in knowledge not piety and love?

In the direct prophecy revealed in the Book of Wisdom, we can overhear the wicked people plotting to kill the Messiah. But their plans are foiled because they did not know the inner thoughts of God, or the power of holiness that protected the Son of God.

In the Gospel from John, the plot against Jesus thickens, The authorities are planning to arrest Jesus so he travels in secret and challenges them to their face. But, once again, human knowledge is shown in all its shortcomings. In a clever play on words, Jesus is not ready to “go up” because his time is not yet here. (“You go up to the feast. I am not going up 4 to this feast, because my time has not yet been fulfilled." John 7:8). Thus it is not time for Jesus to go up on the cross in the Crucifixion, go up on the Resurrection on the third day or go up in the final Ascension.

Too often, we put misguided trust in our seemingly clever ways like we are some kind of spiritual Boy Scout who can find our way in the dark night of the soul with only a book of wet matches and a compass stuck in the wrong direction. Yet we will come to realize that we do not know God’s ways.

Action

Can you recognize your weaknesses? Can you put a name on it? Pride? Envy? Sloth? Can you neutralize their effects with a recompense of holiness?

What do you think it would be like to truly match wits with Jesus when he is at his best in the temple, not when he is humbly accepting punishment for our sins during the Passion?

Are you willing to let everyone see your weakness so you can be saved? Are you willing to accept the cross of suffering in order to become a true follower, a true brother or sister of Christ?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How Will You Believe My Words March 22

Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’” Exodus 32:13

But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life. John 5:37-40

Piety

God in heaven, how will we believe your words if we don’t take time to listen? Deliver us from everything which gets in the way of our hearing your message. Deliver us from mistaking our will for Your will. Deliver us from judging others. Deliver us from holding a grudge. Deliver us from forgetting to be friendly. Deliver us from cutting off that driver who tries to get in front of us. Deliver us from not treating our co-workers and employees with the respect they deserve as children of God. Deliver us from remaining silent in the face of injustice. Deliver us from the Internet and advertising. Deliver us from the new and deliver to us the used.

Test us so that our faith and fortitude may increase in our community in action. Help us to overcome evil with good toward each person. Help us to turn to You for everything we need like Samuel crying out “Here I am Lord.”

All your creations are good. Help us to not misuse them. Help us not to love the world for its own sake – materialism, lust for power, unjust domination over other people, greed. Your actual grace assures us that this awesome challenge will not frighten us away again. Help us to be filled with the joy in knowing You are our beloved Abba. Amen.

Study

Advocate. Intercessor. Witness.

Moses’ work did not end when he brought the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. He continued to teach and testify to the Jews about the Lord after they made it to the Holy Land. He was there on the mountain during the Transfiguration of Christ. And he remains with us today, ready to be our advocate or our accuser…the choice is up to us.

Will you let Moses continue to fight to set you free from whatever enslaves you today? Maybe the sound and the fury of the media drowned out the message of the Church today. Moses is there as prophet to try to get us to listen to the Word of God. Maybe we can’t hear the message of the prophets because we are too wrapped up in ourselves to hear the Word of God. Moses is there to cut through the clutter of messages that get in the way of our hearing God’s voice.

God knows that there are many temptations and distractions in the world. That is why he sends so many people to try to catch our attention. But throughout this Lenten season, the one word that occurs over and over is “listen.”

Listen.

Action

Sometimes, we are too busy trying to solve problems that we don’t take time to just listen.

According to the University of Colorado Conflict Research Consortium, active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Often when people talk to each other, they don’t listen attentively. They are often distracted, half listening, half thinking about something else. When people are engaged in a conflict, they are often busy formulating a response to what is being said. They assume that they have heard what their opponent is saying many times before, so rather than paying attention, they focus on how they can respond to win the argument.[i]

Throughout scripture, God and the prophets and then Jesus and the disciples have all asked us to “Listen.” It was so important, that God sent different people to get our attention in different ways. Practice listening today.

  1. Look at the person, and suspend other things you are doing.
  2. Listen not merely to the words, but the feeling content.
  3. Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.
  4. Restate what the person said.
  5. Ask clarification questions once in a while.
  6. Be aware of your own feelings and strong opinions.
  7. Don’t try to solve the problems…sometimes, people just want to be heard.



[i] http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/activel.htm

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Do Not Be Amazed at This March 21

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
March 21, 2007

By Diane Bayne

Can a mother be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget, I will never forget you." Isaiah 49:15

Jesus answered and said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also." John 5:19

Piety

In the face of so many scriptures like the one above from Isaiah 49, why is it so hard for many of us to believe in God's extravagant love for us? Meditating on the following piece from John Kirvan's God Hunger: Discovering the Mystic in All of Us might shed some light on this matter:

"I have been taught to prove my worthiness,
so it is not easy to come before you
with empty hands.
But your love is not earned.
Help me then
to empty my cluttered heart,
and out of its newfound emptiness
Let me reach out
to where your generosity awaits."


Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/032107.shtml

Our difficulty in believing totally in God's love can spring from many sources. Henri Nouwen asserts that "The world is filled with voices that shout 'You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless, you are despicable, you are nobody--unless and until you demonstrate the opposite" (Life of the Beloved). Or does our reluctance to believe in God's love and our hesitancy to approach Him spring from a need for control--a need to call all the shots ourselves? Such a stance is the complete opposite of Jesus' position of complete and total submission to the Father as expressed in John 5: 19, above. The Son cannot and will not do anything in opposition to the will of the Father. His focus on the Father-- and His surrender of His own will--is complete. Such is not always true for us. It seems that for most of us a lengthy process of trial and error is necessary before we learn the folly of trying to "go it alone."

Consider your own life experience and ask yourself: what attitudes may have played a part in blocking my growth in a love relationship with God?

Action

Kirvan's prayer, above, asks for help in emptying a "cluttered heart" so that "out of its newfound emptiness" a person can reach out to where God's generosity awaits.

What interior clutter do I still need to remove from my heart so nothing stands between me and God's generosity? What concrete action can I take today to begin to remove this clutter?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Be Made Fresh March 20

Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Ezekiel 47:9

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. John 5:8-9

Piety

Life-giving God, restore us with the gifts of Your water, your earth, your fire and your your wind. Help us to be good stewards of Your creations, never mistaking the artificial for these real gifts that sustain and refresh us. Help us to know that these gifts alone are not enough to sustain us without the Words that come from the Lord Himself. Amen.

Study

Life-giving water. Life-giving words.

Remember a time when you were thirsty? Perhaps it was a hot day and you were doing a lot of strenuous work. Or perhaps you were exercising hard and perspiring and needed to replace some of the fluids that you were losing.

A drink of cool water at those times relieves the dehydration that you were feeling when you body was low on water. It replenished you and helped you carry on with your task. We are “made fresh” after we get a drink of water or some water to splash on our face and body.

Today, water, life-giving water appears in both readings from the daily scriptures. Ezekiel described how the waters flow from the temple and make the arid desert spring to life. John describes how the man crippled from birth sought the effects of the waters at Bethesda.

In the third sign recounted in John’s Gospel today, water again figures prominently in the story as a symbol of God’s gifts to us…but a symbol which is incomplete without the word of Jesus.

Notes in the New American Bible explain the symbolism of Ezekiel. “The wonderful and superabundant stream flowing from the temple, restoring to fertility traditionally arid ground, is symbolic of the return of the conditions of primeval paradise; cf Genesis 2:10-14. Water signifies great blessings, just as dryness signifies a curse; cf Ezekiel 26:5, 14.”[i]

However, water alone has its limitations. The water of the pool fails to bring life to the man crippled from birth; it is only the words of Jesus that restore him to health.

Action

Look around your house or office. Are there some plants which have been neglected over the past few months of winter? Take a minute to bring in a container of water and add this to the soil packed in the flower pot. See how much of a difference one cup of water makes to the plant.

Recall how that one drink of water in the morning made you refreshed.

If you feel that good after one cup of water, take a minute before you begin the day and read the daily scriptures. Recall a time when one exposure to the Word of God in the morning made you refreshed.

Keep one phrase with you all day long (like “Be Made Fresh”). Repeat this phrase throughout the day to recall this scripture passage and be re-energized for the tasks ahead of you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

The promises of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness, (Ps 89:2)

the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, … it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift (Rom 4:13, 16)

(Joseph) was a righteous man … he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him (Mtt 1: 19, 24)

Piety

God, Almighty Creator and vulnerable Babe in one, we look to your beloved servant Joseph. His humble surrender and unfaltering dedication stands as a light on a hill for us who are sometimes lost, selfish and unsure. As we enjoy his protection on earth may we have the help of his prayers in heaven. May his “yes” to you, God, be our “yes” as well.

Study

http://www.usccb.org/nab/031907.shtml

A sense of the longevity and dimension of our spiritual inheritance comes through the readings today: through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. And what a beautiful figure carries this power and truth: St. Joseph. Today is his feast, the patron of the Church Universal.

Today carpenters, engineers, families, and workers call St. Joseph their patron. Joseph is associated with hospitality. (He apparently will help you sell your house as well.) He is intercessory for a happy death and our interior souls. Also, he is patron of several countries: Belgium, Canada, China.

Through Joseph and Mary, as in the psalm, a generation “proclaimed the faithfulness of the Lord”.

Joseph studied, prayed and was observant in his faith. Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. (Luke 2:41) He obeyed the law of Moses: since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly (Mtt 1:19). But when God asked him to act outside the law, he took the leap of faith that many of his spiritual forefathers and mothers had done before him and which Paul addresses: It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham … but through the righteousness that comes from faith. For this reason, it depends on faith... (Rom 4:13).

He listened for the will of God and acted, perhaps without understanding and in the face of contemporary pressures. His humility is a potent statement of trust in God. A modern song speaks to his leap of faith and humbleness. “How could it be?...Father, let this baby be son of my love ….Father, show me how I fit into this plan of Yours. How can a simple man be father to the Son of God?” (Joseph’s Song)

Joseph loved tenderly and wholly as a father is asked to do – as we are asked to do. Can we not imagine that some of Jesus’ deep tenderness came from the model of his earthly father with whom he lived each day of his young life?

Action

In what way does my mouth proclaim the faithfulness of the Lord? Can I summon up the unquestioning tenderness and steadfast courage of Joseph to love and do the will of God, and welcome each person God puts into my life? Call on Joseph today for his strong, persevering protection and inspiration.

Go to http://www.patrickmulhern.com/ and listen to a clip from Patrick Mulhern’s “Joseph’s Song” (His Gift album) for a taste of a beautiful reflection on St. Joseph.

DeColores

Beth DeCristofaro

Friday, March 16, 2007

Come to Life Again March 18

Fourth Sunday of Lent

By Arlington Diocese Justice and Peace Commission
Rev. Gerry Creedon, Chair
Anne Murphy, Consultor


The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. "Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Then he said, "A man had two sons…” (Luke 15: 1-11.)


Piety

(This day, let us pray with the entire church the alternative opening prayer to today's liturgy.)

Let us pray that by growing in love this Lenten season we may bring the peace of Christ to the world. God, our Father, your word, Jesus Christ, spoke peace to a sinful world and brought mankind the gift of reconciliation by the suffering and death he endured. Teach us, the people who bear his name, to follow the example he gave us: may our faith, hope and charity turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life. Amen.


Study
http://www.usccb.org/nab/031807a.shtml

Today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent has been traditionally called Laetare Sunday. The word laetare means rejoice and we are reminded that Lent is half over. The readings invite us to rejoice because they speak of God's care, his unconditional love and mercy. In the Old Testament reading from the Book of Joshua, the Israelites celebrate their freedom from slavery by eating of the harvest of the land that God has given to them. On that day the manna ceases because it is no longer necessary to provide nourishment; God's people could eat from the produce of the soil. Saint Paul also speaks of the immense love that God has for us. He sends his only Son, Jesus into the world. Jesus, who does not know sin, takes on our sin in order to reconcile us to the Father.

Luke recounts the familiar story known as the Prodigal Son in his gospel. There is a father who has two sons and one day the younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance so he can do with it whatever he wants. With this request, the younger son not only takes one-third of the property for his own selfish use, he also rejects life with the father. However, the father lets him go. The son travels to foreign lands where he squanders all that he has on a life of debauchery. His poverty forces him to work as a swineherd, not a respectable position for any Jew. Coming to his senses, he decides to return to his home and throw himself at the mercy of the father. He does not expect much, maybe the position of a servant. However he finds his father looking out for his return with outstretched arms. We, like the prodigal son, often take all the gifts that God has given us as our due, to use and discard as we please, often squandering our gifts for selfish endeavors. But no matter how we sin, Jesus tells us that our loving and merciful Father is always awaiting our return with outstretched arms. While the story of the younger son ends with his return, we can only hope that he applies what he has learned from his sojourn to benefit others.

Question: Have you ever rejected the life that God has given you to go your own way? How do you take God's gifts and squander them on selfish endeavors? How do you seek reconciliation? When have you not used your talents? How do you react when someone doesn't do the right thing? How can I change my heart to listen to what God is saying to me?


Action
Fasting:
Many of the items we buy are the result of exploitation of others. Our clothes are made by people who do not earn enough to buy food, middle men make huge profits while the farmers do not get their share. Look into the goods you purchase everyday and abstain from those companies who do not trade fairly or who do not pay their workers a living wage.
· Start identifying yourself with other people rather than judging them by race, ethnicity, class or gender. Seek to find what you have in common as opposed to looking at all that separates you from them.
· Try offering the same forgiveness to others that you receive from God.
· Find ways to use your time, talent and treasure to relieve poverty.
· Make a concerted effort to only buy Fair Trade items.
· Where you can’t, try not to buy things new. Instead, save money and resources by purchasing items at flea markets, or through online networks like Craigslist (www.craigslist.org) or Freecycle (www.freecycle.org). To make this effort even better, donate what you would have spent on a new item to a charity.
· Learn more about global debt through Catholic Relief Services or Jubilee USA (www.jubileeusa.org). Consider donating or volunteering with organizations trying to free the poorest of the poor from the chains of debt.

Almsgiving:
Today many people in the world are living in poverty while a small percentage of the rich control half the world's resources.
· Write to your national and state legislators to encourage them to raise the minimum wage.
· Give some of your time to work with the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (www.vceh.org), or give your time, talent and/or treasure to Habitat for Humanity, (www.HFHNV.org), or find another way to promote affordable housing in your area.
· Sponsor a hunger banquet in your parish or community as a means to advocate for the poor. Anne Tunney, Outreach Coordinator at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, has graciously accepted being included as a point of contact for the Hunger Banquet, Simple Suppers, Soup and Scripture etc. She can be reached at 703-221-4312 or by e-mail annet@stfrncis.org
· Explore the website, www.povertyusa.org.
· Serve food at a homeless shelter. To find one that is near to your home or work place, go to www.google.com and search for homeless shelters in your area.
· Save all your pocket change and put it in the CRS rice bowl collection. If your parish does not have one, contact Terry Angelotti, Arlington Diocese Coordinator for CRS at 703.841.3939 or e-mail www.crs.org to see how you can get your change to them.