Monday, March 31, 2008

One Heart and Mind

April 1, 2008

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. Acts 4:32


"Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:7-8


Lord, put me where you want me to be. Send your Spirit to bring me peace and guide me to where you want me to be. Give me the outlook and mindset to do your will. Make me a channel of your faith, hope and charity. Amen.


"So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." We do not know when the Spirit will come to us nor where the Spirit will take us. Sometimes it comes to us in the very mundane and usual places. One friend was touched by the Spirit while driving down the highway listening to Christian radio. How many more of our friends have been touched during a Cursillo weekend like the one just concluded at Mount Zion?

This year during Holy Week, Beth and I had the opportunity to visit our daughter Sarah who is studying Italian in Florence this year. During the stay, we took the train to Assisi and visited the town made famous by its son Francis. As we descended the hill, marveling at the local citizens of every age who strolled the winding streets (if you can call those narrow paths streets) doing their daily chores and then marched back home while pulling shopping carts. We stopped to enjoy the churches, castles, and views from the famous hillside. After lunch, we visited the Basilica of San Chiara (St. Clare) and then went on to the bottom of the hill and the Basilica de San Francesco.

Underneath the lower-half of this Basilica is the crypt for its patron. There, he is buried amidst his four closest friends – Ruffino, Leone, Alphonso, and Maseo – in a perpetual group reunion. Now I can see why Fr. Bill Quigley said when he visited this site, he removed his shoes – this is holy ground, we're standing on holy ground. We emerged from the Basilica at 3 p.m. on Good Friday as the sky darkened, the winds swept through town and the rains began.

The peaceful spirit of St. Francis descended upon me that afternoon and has remained with me through travels and travails ever since. We do not know when the Spirit will come to us nor where the Spirit will take us. Perhaps the last person we would expect to see at the foot of the cross would be the skeptical Pharisee Nicodemus. Yet, there he was with Joseph of Aramithea, moving the body of Christ into the tomb -- moved by the Spirit since his nighttime lessons with the Lord that we read in today's Good News.


How can you witness to the Gospel message?

Is Jesus asking you to go someplace or do something that you would not have imagined before you became his friend?

Maybe He is asking you to write to your local newspaper or political leaders about issues of importance. Maybe He is asking you to participate in Liturgy in a special way? Maybe He is asking you to volunteer. Maybe he is asking you to share your property like the early Christians.

Be open to the winds that the Holy Spirit will sweep over you and be open to where they may lead you.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

To Do God’s Will is My Delight

March 31, 2008

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

By Beth DeCristofaro

Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us!” (Isaiah 7:13-14)

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!” (Psalm 40:8-9)

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

“…(For) nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:37-38


Today, Lord Jesus, I long to do your will. I long to delight in your ways. I long to see your signs within my modern world which is far from your world yet also is your world. Nothing is impossible with you, Lord God. May my feet walk towards you today. May my mouth bless you with each word. May my mind rest easy that in the hustle, bustle and pressure of my world, all things are possible in you. May I act according to your word, Lord.


Often I run busily from task to task – there is always more to do. That includes my time with God. As many of us, I have a lot of responsibilities, people who depend on me, places to go and heights to scale. Again, like most of us, much of this activity is positive and pointed toward good, attempting to accomplish God’s word. Sometimes I feel as if I struggle to fit in time for prayer, reading or meditation.

This day we remember the Annunciation. Consider: we think we are busy? We do not have to make food and bring water from a well – most likely several times a day in order to survive to the next day. In order to make food it had to be grown. In order to dress – in the one outfit she owned, Mary had to weave and sew. We could go on, but in reality Mary was no less busy than we are. The Christmas pageant staged by our parish when our children were young had Mary sweeping her floor when Gabriel arrived. Mary, special daughter of God that she is, was attentive and receptive enough to hear the incredible request which God made of her in spite of living to survive. Mary was open to hearing, open to agreeing.

This can only mean that she made God such a priority in her life that she walked in full awareness of her God. Just as we make our children and significant others priorities so that we know when they are in need of us, Mary knew that God was entering her life in a special way on that Annunciation morn. Mary did not fit in time with God. God permeated her being through her Jewish identity as well as through the grace of her immaculate incarnation. She was blessed; she walked willingly, naturally, in grace.

In my busy days do I lose the awareness of God so that I miss angels? Dorothy Day spoke of her mission with the homeless as “entertaining angels.” Do I miss God or heavenly messages by looking at surface appearance of those around me or racing too quickly onto the next important destination? Are my opinions, beliefs, fears, knowledge coming between me and God? Do I put God as much of a priority in my life as my first cup of coffee or the gravity holding my feet to the floor? Gravity is invisible until I make myself aware of its wonder. Prayer has been described as “talking with God”. Listening and coming to awareness of God are components of prayer with which I have difficulty. Perhaps I can use Mary as a model – practice her “yes” after the stillness in my heart has led me to hear God.


Start the day with prayer that God will help you be aware of God’s presence and blessings all day. From time to time, study your surroundings and what you are doing; find God in that moment. Pray in thanksgiving; ask God to continue helping your awareness. Take an unexpected action based on God-with-you. Slip cash or a sandwich into the hands of a panhandler on the corner. Visit the website of a political party or cause with which you do not agree and seek, with open mind and heart to find God in an opponent. Answer with mercy when put upon by another. Send thanks to the Women’s 126th Cursillo who are tired yet full of grace today. Welcome a babe chick. Look for a prospective cursillista among your colleagues at work. Say “yes” to God all day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

So I Send You

March 30, 2008

Second Sunday of the Resurrection or Divine Mercy Sunday

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need. Acts 2:43-45

Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." John 20: 21-23


Jesus, we want to stay locked in our own lives and let you in for one hour every Sunday but you will not allow that. You will seek us and find us wherever we are…on vacation, at work, walking on city streets, running through crowded airports or ankle deep in water on our basement. When we open that door to you, you give us the Peace that you gave to your disciples. In their time of fear, you gave them comfort. In our times of stress, relieve us as well. Amen.


Jesus appears to the disciples who were locked in the upper room out of fear of what might happen to them. He shares breakfast with them. We recognize those we love in a special way when we share a meal with them. They knew that he was really alive because of the meal. How excited they must have been. Suddenly he was there and even more suddenly he was gone. He came as if through the wall. He is gone as if through the wall. He is solid body because his wounds can be touched. He consumes a breakfast.

The peace he gives them by his presence in their lives after they thought he was gone forever brings them happiness and safety. He talks to them about forgiveness. They had to be able to forgive themselves for not being with him in his terrible suffering. He does not say anything about their absence when he needed them. He is glad to see them and more concerned about them than they about him. They were locked in precisely because of their fear that the same thing would happen to them that happened to Jesus.


It is a big jump from fear of suffering to joy that they would be found worthy to suffer in his name. They knew themselves forgiven and they knew by his words that they would be able to forgive. “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” How automatic we assume forgiveness for the asking. To be reconciled to Christ is what forgiveness is all about. We see our sins forgiven without making the connection to Christ forgiving. The very words of the priest in the Sacrament are the words of Christ being lived out. It always sounds like the voice of the priest. It is our faith that teaches us it is the voice of Christ in the sound of the priest’s voice. The penance the priest gives is a way to make up to Christ what we have failed in. It is always part of love to pay back a gift with our love. How we our forgiving of ourselves and others speaks volumes about our love of Christ.

Piety is the quality of our love of another. It includes loving the good and the bad. When we love the person rather than what they are doing, we love just like Christ loved us. Christian community shares everything among its members. The rich take care of the poor. Love is the way we share our lives when we are willing to make up for another their faults and deficiencies. The waters of Baptism and the words of forgiveness accomplish the same removal of sin. Our appreciation of the love of Christ is imitated in the way we share what we have with one another. The call of the resurrection on our hearts is to find its fulfillment in the oneness we all have in Christ. The Resurrection has its start in all the ways we see the good in each other and share our lives in the richness of that hope. We are a Resurrection people with Christ as the love of our hearts and the hope we have for each other in our love. We are meant to be one in Christ.

Impossible Not to Speak

March 29, 2008

Saturday in the Octave of Easter

Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

(But) later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:14-15


Jesus, we hear you calling and we want to say, “Not yet.” “Leave a message.” “Call someone else.” Won’t they do just as well as I can? Like St. Augustine, we want to keep living our comfortable lives. O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet.

Yet, Jesus my friend, you will not direct your pleas to anyone else but me. If I close my eyes, I can’t see you. But you know that I can never close my ears, and I certainly can not stop my heart from beating. Your loving words fall on my ears and seep into my heart. Help me in all humility to say “Yes” to your will, not mine. Not the government will. Not the Wall Street Way. Not Broadway or Hollywood. Not later, but now. Put me where you want me and surround me with your angels of mercy and assistance. Amen.


When Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a tax imposed to fund the Mexican-American War, fellow author Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have visited him in jail and asked, “What are you doing in there?” Thoreau, true to his convictions, replied, “What are you doing out there?”

Going to jail to oppose government rules is not something to be taken lightly. Opposing government rules for behavior in favor of “a higher order” is not a tradition which began with Thoreau and his essay on Civil Disobedience. The behavior is rooted in today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles. When told not to speak of Jesus, Peter and John told their jailers and judges that they could NOT NOT (double negative) speak.

Our modern society takes obedience rather lightly. People make vows all the time and then back out. Just consider the divorce rate. People who track statistics tell us that about 41 percent of all people who have ever been married have subsequently been divorced. ("Divorce Rate: It's Not as High as You Think," by Dan Hurley, The New York Times, April 19, 2005). Politicians of all parties promise one thing to get elected and never deliver on those commitments. Even our church continues to feel the effects of leaders who broke their vows and abused children who were in their care and others who did not act swiftly enough at that time to intervene.

Jesus is asking us to make a vow to him...a vow to proclaim the Good News to everyone, everywhere -- to those people whom He loves. Peter and John provide us with a model based on their conversion as witnesses to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They refuse to not obey Jesus. They refuse to obey governmental decrees which run against their religious convictions even if it means jail, torture or death. Like the watchman in Ezekiel, they know that they must carry forth the message of the Lord or face the consequences of silence.

You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he (the wicked man) shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself. Ezekiel 33:7-9

This is a message passed down in history through Christianity. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his autobiography “became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” That spirit lives on in the civil rights movement struggle for freedom – supported by the churches throughout the South and the nation; in the Polish trade union Solidarity in their struggle against communism – supported by Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla (who became Pope John Paul II); in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa – also supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the churches of the world; and in the work of the Plowshares activists around the world who oppose nuclear weapons and those in favor of supporting life in all its beauty. Today, we have the Catholic Worker movement as one example of Christians living and acting according to the Consistent Ethic of Life envisioned when the late Cardinal Bernardin coined the term “seamless garment” of life.

When Jesus commissioned the apostles to proclaim the Gospel to all creatures, after all the disciples had witnessed, their personal convictions and beliefs required them to fulfill that instruction. There was no option for the comfortable. There were no thirty pieces of silver. There was no college deferment. There was no alternative community service, no Peace Corps, no Teach for America, no Jesuit Volunteer Corps. There was no Door Number Two. There was only the Cross.


God put His only son on the line for us. Jesus put his life on the line to save us. Is there anything for which you would put your freedom on the line? What is it?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Come, Have Breakfast

March 28, 2008

Friday in the Octave of Easter

If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.' Acts 4:9-11

So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. John 21:7


Oh my resurrected Jesus, help me to recognize you when you come into my life. Whether you call on me from a distant seashore or right in the room where I am sitting, help me to understand your real presence in my life. Direct me, as you did your disciples, about where you want us to be in life. And always open my mind to accept your invitation to come. Amen.


What a different Peter we encounter today! Yet, always we encounter the same forgiving and welcoming Jesus.

Sunday, Simon Peter entered the tomb, saw the burial clothes but he did not yet understand what had happened. Then, in yesterday's Gospel, Jesus entered the locked room where the disciples were gathered, hiding in fear that the Romans or Jews might come for them next. They saw this friend whom they deserted in his hour of need. While Jesus was being crucified, was dying and was buried by others in the community, even a Pharisee, they denied him and scattered to their hiding places. Yet, here He was standing amidst them, wishing them peace, showing off his wounds, and opening their minds.

It was quite an experience. After Jesus left, the disciples were still trying to comprehend what happened in the last week. Their world as they knew it was changed forever. If I were in that room, my head would be spinning as well. The disciples needed a break. So, they retreated into their comfort zone…fishing (right where Jesus had found many of them three years earlier). What made them think Jesus would not find them again?

Without Jesus, their efforts were futile. But then in the distance, a man on shore told them to throw their nets over the other side of the boat. These professional fishermen would clearly have tried that sometime during their excursion. Yet, they did as instructed and found more than their nets could hold. One last sign, one last miracle in the Gospel of John. That's what it took for the disciples to take the final leap of conversion.

When they finally arrived on the beach, Jesus already had some fish and bread on the grill. Yet, he needed their contribution to this banquet. So Peter brought over some of the fresh catch and added it to what Jesus had on the fire.


So are you ready to jump overboard for Jesus? Dive right in with Peter? Add some of your fish to the fire that the Lord has burning on the beaches of your life?

This weekend, the 126th Women's Cursillo is taking place at Village of Mt Zion. You can support the weekend in many ways.

Send your Palanca. There are some last minute additions to the list of candidates; please check here for details.

Pray for the weekend. The palanca clock for the 126th Women's Cursillo is ticking at
 Although all slots are taken, you can add your prayers to any hour to support the weekend.

Participate in Closing & MaƱanita, Saturday & Sunday, March 29 & 30. For directions, Click here. Because Village of Mt Zion is "far away", some Cursillistas will travel to Woodstock on Saturday and sleep over for maƱanita (7 am Sunday) and stay for closing. A special Cursillo rate of $60/night is available at the Comfort Inn. You must call (540) 459-7600 and mention "Cursillo" to get this rate.

The Closing will begin at 3:30 pm Sunday. Mass will follow, and then the reception. Please bring substantial food to share for the reception. Arrive a little early, and help set up.
We need community assistance to clean and straighten the retreat center, too. Hang around just a few minutes more so we can all leave within a reasonable time.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Times of Refreshment

March 27, 2008

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. Acts 3:15-16

You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:48


The guarantee of one’s prayer is not in saying a lot of words.

The guarantee of one’s petition is very easy to know:

How do I treat the poor?

– because that is where God is.

The degree to which you approach them or the scorn to with which you approach them, that is how you approach your God. What you do to them, you do to God. The way you look at them is the way you look at God.

-- Archbishop Oscar Romero


The sorrow of the betrayal one week ago has given way to the refreshing Resurrection.

The Church is bathed in the glory of white, the spring flowers, the lightness of being. But now is not the time to merely contemplate the beauty of the Church and the goodness of our God.

Jesus did all of this suffering for a reason. Once he redeemed us from our sins, he asked us to go out into the world to profess his holy name. By faith he asks us to love. Because of faith, he empowers us to love.

Witnesses are no good for anyone if they do not testify to what they have seen. A lawyer does not bring a witness to a trial to sit there and show them off to the jury saying “Look at all the witnesses that I have brought before you today!” Rather the witness must fulfill a purpose and speak out. They must stand and deliver.

In our world, there are many witnesses who “don’t want to get involved.” They speed past the scene of an accident or crash so they are not delayed along the way to some important appointment. However, like the Samaritan along the road, we are asked to stop to help the broken and battered whom we encounter along our path in life.


Are you a witness? What are you going to do about it?

Our Hearts Burning Within Us

March 26, 2008

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

By Melanie Rigney

“Then Peter took (the crippled man) by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.” (Acts 3:7-8)

Christ had dinner with the disciples who encountered him on the road to Emmaus, then vanished when they recognized him. “Then they said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:32)


The road to Emmaus never ends. Jesus, thank you for those flashes of light that guide my continual conversion in your love.


Today's Readings

Interview with Pope Benedict

Some of us had life-changing experiences during our Cursillo Weekend as the two disciples did on the road to Emmaus. We found peace with an issue that had been troubling us; we found Christ for the first time in the faces of fellow believers; we found courage and strength in the talks given by team members. Or maybe the Weekend didn’t exactly rock your world, but it was a good experience, and becoming engaged in a group reunion or parish or diocesan Ultreyas feed your soul, and that’s why you’ve stayed engaged enough with Cursillo that you’re reading these words.

Inevitably, though, after the Weekend, something else happens. It might be your moment closest to Christ some week or something you’re reading for study. It might be serving on team or being a sponsor. The “something else” brings you even closer to Christ than you were in the rosy afterglow of the Weekend closing or whatever other moment at which you told yourself, “Wow! I get it now!”

Christ’s continual revealing of the way he works in our lives is the ongoing conversion that Pope Benedict XVI speaks of. We are always changing and, hopefully, always deepening our relationship with Jesus.

The pope put it this way in an interview:

I think this is very important: to recognize that we need an ongoing conversion, that we are simply not there yet. St. Augustine, at the moment of his conversion, thought he had reached the heights of life with God, of the beauty of the sun that is his Word. He then had to understand that the journey after conversion is still a journey of conversion, that it remains a journey where the broad perspectives, joys and lights of the Lord are not absent; but nor are dark valleys absent through which we must wend our way with trust, relying on the goodness of the Lord.

…It is also important of course not to isolate oneself, not to believe one is capable of going ahead alone. …True friends challenge us and help us to be faithful on our journey. It seems to me that this attitude of patience and humility can help us to be kind to others, to understand the weaknesses of others and also help them to forgive as we forgive.

If you haven’t had an Emmaus moment recently, maybe you’re not paying attention. Let us all resolve to be open to the gift of ongoing conversion that keeps our hearts and souls burning.


If you haven’t done so already, send off some palanca and offer up some prayers for the women of the 126th Arlington Women’s Cursillo Weekend that begins tomorrow or for the 116th Men’s Weekend next month. Or, send your sponsor a note of continuing thanks and let him or her know about the latest twists and turns in your ongoing conversion.

Stop Holding Onto Me

March 25, 2008

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

“Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.” Acts 2:36-37

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. John 20:17-18


Jesus, your words are living words. Help us to reflect on the meaning personally to get to know you. Give us the tools we need to bring that word into the world in faith and love. Amen.


Now it is time for us to stop standing outside the empty tomb. Just as Mary accepted the challenge from Jesus, we have to stop holding onto Jesus for ourselves.

After communion, our liturgy does not end with our “Amen.” In reverence, we head back to our seat to pray. However, just as Jesus sent Mary back out into the world, we too are asked to carry Jesus out into the world. Stop holding onto Jesus. Consume him into your very being. Let his blood course through your body. Let his body nourish you. Because it is time to go out into the world and profess his name in words and deeds.


What are we to do? Accept the gifts the Lord has prepared for us and pass those gifts on to the world. It is time to leave the empty tomb and recognize Jesus in the world.

Wait for Me in Galilee

March 24, 2008

Monday in the Octave of Easter

By Beth DeCristofaro

God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses. Exalted at the right hand of God, he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear... (Acts 2: 32-33)

You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. Alleluia. (Psalm 16:11)

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, … And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. … Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28: 8, 9, 10)


Alleluia, Lord Jesus. Son of righteousness, Son of Glory, Son of God, You are risen. I rejoice in you through the effusion of beams of glory, in the eternal uncreated heavens, in the rising of the s(u)n, in the hovering of the hawk, in the rolling away of the stone, in the eyes of my beloved, in the tears of my neighbor, in the work of my hands, in the hope in my heart. Alleluia, Lord Jesus. (with thanks to John Donne)


Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is Risen! We pray and rejoice knowing that He surmounted death in his suffering, death and resurrection. He is Risen. He frees us. How difficult it is to accept and act in that freedom; we still hold tight to the in the wrappings of earthly limitation, loss, isolation, pain, sins, mistakes, affronts, failures, illness and disability. We cling to what we know even if it is uncomfortable.

Jesus told his followers, “Wait for me in Galilee.” He appeared to them in the flesh in his home region. Today, Galilee, his home, is in each of us. We wait for Him as he manifests himself within our inner being. The Cursillo tools (piety, study and action) aid us in waiting for Him, in being aware of his presence and being open to the promptings of the Spirit.

The mystic Meister Eckhart said “there is a place in the soul that neither space nor time nor flesh can touch” which is the divine within us. It is here Christ resides. Christ came to his followers in Galilee in a locked room and on a mountain top. There are no boundaries for Christ. He is waiting within our Galilee to show us the path of life.


Jesus’ followers secreted themselves in fear until He brought the courage of the Holy Spirit upon them. Rejoicing that the Spirit has come, pray that the courage of the Holy Spirit is prompting you to leave the locked room and with the disciples to go forth with the Word of God on your lips. Is there a spiritual reading you have put off? Is there a charity or cause you have thought to support? Leave the tomb with the disciples and wait for Him in Galilee.

Archbishop Thomas Collins from St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto, Canada, has been leading lectio divino. There are clips posted on YouTube.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Resurrection: A Foothold in Heaven?

March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday
The Resurrection of the Lord

The Mass of Easter Day

By Rev. Joseph McCloskey, S.J.


This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad. (Psalm 118:24)


Resurrection is God’s personal response to who we are. The heart of Jesus pierced on Calvary blankets us with the blood of salvation. The warmth of Christ’s love touches the loose ends of our lives. Christ has died for us and we want to be with him forever. Resurrection is much more than a destiny; it is the fulfillment of love. Christ’s love of the Father, even to death on the cross, promises a stake in heaven when we own Christ’s death. The Cross and Resurrection of Christ are our salvation and our foothold in heaven.

Resurrection ought to be an integral part of us. Resurrection implies many simple statements of our faith. God is in our world! He loved us so much that he sent his only Son to redeem us! God let His only Son die ignominiously on a cross! Resurrection should not be something we are vaguely waiting for after we die. The destiny to be with God forever is part of who we are now in God’s love. Christianity is living the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our love of God needs the resurrection as an energizer. Christianity without the resurrection is a mockery of God’s love. God wants us with him. Wanting to be with God is the force of the Resurrection touching our lives now. People without hope have the resurrection as a missing link in their lives. A continual growth of resurrection’s meaning in our lives gives us a firmer foothold on heaven. Christ’s death calls us to our own resurrections. The difference resurrection makes in our lives defines the final meaning of life. Knowing what awaits us in the resurrection surpasses our powers of imagination. The “infinite ocean of mercy” of the Sacred Heart resolves doubts about personal resurrection. On the day we die all question marks will be removed by Christ’s loving heart. The mystery will be over, and we will know how worthwhile it was to respond to that love.

The Resurrection involves us personally with Christ. He claims our hearts when we look up at his cross. Seeing Mary and the young John standing close by, we can feel a part of that scene. Christ says to his Mother: “...Behold your Son!” (John 19:26) Christ is really speaking to us when he says to John: “Behold your mother!” Christ dying on the cross tells each of us his mother Mary is to be our mother and we are to belong to her in a special way. Our hearts expand on the journey to Calvary with even a glimpse of what happened. The resurrection brings victory to the death on the hill of Calvary. Our Eucharistic acclamation of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” proclaims our hearts.


The resurrection had its beginning on the hill of Calvary. Going from the Christ on the cross to the Christ of the resurrection encompasses our lifetime. We envision this Christ of the resurrection at the end of our lives as someone we are going to meet, see and touch. If the resurrection is going to motivate our lives, then our hope of the resurrection should be expressed every day of our lives. The significance of saying "yes" to living the resurrection does not automatically change our lives. Our “yes” now changes our lives. Now always touches eternity.

Just As He Said

March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday Evening: The Resurrection of the Lord

At the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Romans 6:6-8

Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:5-6


Here I am Lord. Standing before your empty tomb, I believe. I come to fulfill your requests – to do your will in the now of our world. Amen.


The Easter vigil is the most beautiful celebration in the liturgical year. By contemplating all that has come before us in darkness and light, we come to celebrate in the “Here” and the “Now.”

Today’s (tonight’s) readings take us from the “Here I am, Lord” response of Abraham when the Lord calls on him to the “He is not here” response of the angels at the temple to the woman who visit that first Easter morning.

Tonight, people who have been studying our faith take the final step into the tomb. They are allowing their old beliefs to die.

If we allow ourselves to die with Jesus on Good Friday, then we shall also live with him on Easter. Here. Now. He is risen. Just as Jonah said. Just as Isaiah told us it would happen. Just as he said it himself.


What part of your sinful self do you want to let pass on from this world here and now so that you will be free to contemplate the Resurrection and reach out from the empty tomb?

What Is Truth?

March 21, 2008

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him – so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals – So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; For those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it. Isaiah 52:13-15

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. John 19:38-39


Let us pray: On this Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord, we pray to God to make us truth-seekers, believers among unbelievers. When everyone else is abandoning Jesus, let us stand up with Joseph and Nicodemus to the bitter end, an end that will become a sweet beginning. Amen.


In reality, who was really condemned today?

Two truth seekers reached different conclusions on Good Friday. The disciples closest to Jesus during his recent ministry had scattered and abandoned, denied or betrayed him. They were not there to witness the Passion of the Lord, the culmination of the incarnation of God.

On Christmas morning, we woke up to the gift that was freely offered to us. Today, that life is “finished.” The work that Jesus set out to do – “I must be about my Father’s work” – from the time he was a boy, is finished. Now, after the last of all the signs and miracles and wonders are done, Jesus wants to know what we will do with what he has taught.

What will we take of the truth of cruel and unusual punishment of God’s Friday? Will we be like Pilate or will we be like Nicodemus?

Pilate has the “criminal” brought before him in daylight. He interrogates Jesus just as Nicodemus did in the middle of the night. Yet despite finding no cause in the law to condemn Jesus to death, he hands over the Lord to the wishes of the crowd.

It is easy to lead a crowd to do whatever mob violence they already are predisposed to commit. Pilate allows the crowd to determine “What is truth?” Rather than pay attention to the words and works that Jesus offered in the temple, Pilate allows others to determine “What is truth?”

It is much harder to act when the truth leads you in a different direction than the crowd. Nicodemus knew that this Nazaorean was different. He sought out Jesus. He defended Jesus in the temple when the plot to kill him was picking up steam. And in the end, when all of Jesus’ friends had scattered, Nicodemus was there with Joseph to “Behold the Body.”

That first visit held the key to the mystery of Jesus…the mystery that Nicodemus realized was the truth but that Pilate and the rest of the Jews did not.

Jesus answered the charges he faced before Pilate. Although he was done teaching now, recall the words recounted in John 3:16:

Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:11-15

Although Jesus faced the verdict inflicted by human judgment today, his truth, his verdict was summarized by John in the most famous of all Gospel passages:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:16-18

This is the verdict. This is the life Jesus led. Today, that life is finished. Yet another, born of the Spirit, is about to begin. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe. John 19:35-37


Fast today in order to show that you believe in the name of the only Son of God that you might have eternal life. See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.

Do You Realize What I Have Done For You?

March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday

This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the LORD. For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first--born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt-I, the LORD! Exodus 12:11-12

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. John 13:14-15


Psalm 116:12-19

How can I repay the LORD for all the good done for me?

I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.

Too costly in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful.

LORD, I am your servant, your servant, the child of your maidservant; you have loosed my bonds.

I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

In the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah!


Like the original covenant between God and Abraham, today humanity gets another gift from our God who can not stop loving. Like this covenant with Abraham, the Lord offers himself through his blood and his body unconditionally. He asks us to share his humility, obedience, and love. Yet, whether or not we deliver on our end, he will not rescind his love. This again is not a contract, not a bargain.

Jesus does not seek to have the disciples wash his feet in return. He offers his servant leadership as a model so that we may follow. Not only do we benefit from God’s unconditional love whether we return that love or not, but also we realize that our God will never ask anything of us that the Lord did not already experience.

Jesus offers himself as the New Passover, the New Lamb – changing the original perspective of a vain God striking down the male children of Egypt. Instead, Jesus offers a new vision of a loving and forgiving God no matter how we turn our back on him. He offers himself as the Lamb of God at Seder knowing full well that Judas will betray him, Peter will deny him and the rest of the disciples will scatter like Ash Wednesday dust in the wind.


Jesus asks us to follow his lead. Tomorrow he will remind us that his kingship is not of this world. Rather than seeking groveling subjects, the Lord wants us to pay our “vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.” Let us commit to serving the Lord by serving the children of God. Just as the Jewish families were to share the Passover meal with another family, so we are to share God’s love for us as a “perpetual institution.”

Just as Jesus’ feet were anointed by Mary, today, Jesus bends down in love and caresses our weary feet. Whose feet will you wash today in Thanksgiving?

Surely It Is Not I, Rabbi?

March 19, 2008

Wednesday of Holy Week

By Melanie Rigney

“I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)

“For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons, because the zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.” (Psalms 69:8-10)

“(Jesus said as he reclined with the Twelve at the table), ‘The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.’ Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He answered, ‘You have said so.’” (Matthew 26:24-25)


Lord, let me answer honestly to you for my sins, and help me to conquer the temptations that beset me.


Hugh McNichol Essay

You can’t fool God, but we seem to forget that.

Some call today Spy Wednesday, for it is in today’s gospel that we learn of Judas’s deal with the high priests and his feigned surprise when Jesus talks of the coming betrayal by one of the Apostles.

“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” he asks, all the while knowing the truth.

Judas’s motivations for the betrayal and his ultimate redemption or lack of it have been the topics of theological works, popular fiction, and barroom debates for millennia. But it’s more relevant—and less comfortable—to consider the “Spy Wednesday” we each face every day in our struggle to be Christlike.

Catholic writer Hugh McNichol reflects on the struggle in a beautiful essay at

To live the life that Jesus intended for us is a perpetual struggle on a daily basis with good and evil. Sometimes when we are questioned about our transgressions, we sometimes answer back. "It's not me Lord." But the tranquility of Jesus' realization of His mission provides us with hope in the days to come. Rather than provide a discourse to the Twelve, Jesus calmly recalls the Old Testament references to Him and even shares a piece of food with Judas, simultaneously dipping a morsel into the bowl. …Often, we dip morsels and share food with those we love; we feign intimacy and even deceive one another. Jesus is not blind to the events that are revealing themselves as a result of Judas' clandestine negotiations. Judas has turned on Jesus' friendship and love. We too in our lives are sometimes turned against Jesus' love through sinful and unloving activities. There is a real message here in Jesus' tranquil resignation to the events that are coming. Faith in the love and power of the Father.

Let us have the bravery as we head into the Triduum to come clean with the Father on our “sinful and unloving activities” and to ask for His help in making changes in our lives.


Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week through a parish reconciliation service, weekly confession, or a special meeting with a priest. Dig deep for the sins that are weighing down your soul and come clean.

You Will Follow Later

March 18, 2008

Tuesday of Holy Week


Let us pray: As we walk with Jesus this Holy Week, let us ask God to help us change our ways. Father, help us to slow down, so that we can listen with clarity to the voice of the Lord. We turn to you, in weakness and fear and trembling so you will send the Holy Spirit to grant us a faith based not on human wisdom but on your holy power. Like the bread and wine Christ will lift up during the Passover meal, we are in your hands. Do with us what you think good and right. Amen.


Christ tells Peter that he can’t go with him now. So in one sense, Christ is speaking metaphorically about passing through death to forgive our sins. However, literally, we also know that Peter will be crucified (executed) later. So literally, Jesus’ statement also predicts that Peter will follow Jesus in death by execution after he and the disciples experience all the stages of grief and sadness that they pass through these events. During the Holy Week and Easter Season, we will walk with Jesus and the disciples, sharing each of these stages just like Peter does.

· Denial when he learns of his pending betrayal.

· Anger and violence when he cuts off the ear of Malchus in the garden.

· Bargaining when people recognize him but he denies Christ.

· Depression when he goes into hiding just as we might isolate ourselves.

· Acceptance when he enters the tomb and when he sees Jesus on the beach.


Reach out to someone who is imprisoned. Join Bishop Loverde and other Catholics in opposing the death penalty.

As millions of Christians around the world prepare to mark Holy Week and the state-sponsored death penalty imposed on Jesus of Nazareth, governments are grappling with the death penalty. Recently, New Jersey abolished death in favor of life in prison. The UN passed a charter opposing the death penalty. Yet here in Virginia, we have one of the most used death penalties in the nation and the developed nations of the world.

You can help stop that! You can be a “light to the nations” by lighting up the phones and computers in Richmond and joining our Pope, Bishop and church leaders by urging your governor and state representatives to vote against the death penalty.

Friday, March 14, 2008

God Gives Breath and Spirit

March 17, 2008

St. Patrick

By Beth DeCristofaro

Here is my servant whom I uphold, … Upon whom I have put my Spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, Not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, Until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching…I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness
(Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7)

Let her keep this (oil) for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:7)


Lord Jesus, forgive me for my complicity in your Passion. My focus on this world blinds me to the promise of the next. My interest in myself causes me to lose sight of the needs of others, my brothers and sisters. Mea culpa, Lord. I love you, Lord. This week I will seek to see in your steps toward the cross the poor, the sick, the people caught in war and conflict. I will walk with you for my own and for their benefit, Lord. Grant us peace.


The servant of God called (me) for the victory of justice, grasped (me) by the hand. (Isaiah 42:6) Yet I repay him by humiliating him, torturing him and killing him on a cross. No I, personally, was not in Jerusalem. I was not yet a gleam in the eye of my Irish and Rumanian great-great grandmothers. But today I humiliate with gossip or partisan jokes and racist language. I torture by ignoring those in need or calling on the poor to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. I kill by withholding health care or in living a lifestyle which devours most of the world’s resources. I hurt the body of Christ by inflaming rifts between Catholics or between those who do not believe as I do and thus, I say, they are wrong.

St. Patrick came face to face with God during a childhood spoiled by kidnap and slavery. Instead of revenge, he chose to be a light of God to the nation who imprisoned him. He opened the eyes of the blind. Perhaps this week, as I walk with Jesus along the path to the cross, I can leave behind torturing, hurting, divisive habits. Perhaps I can strip myself as Jesus was stripped and take on his mantle – the gentle mantle of love and justice.


As we walk with Jesus through this Holy Week, sorrowing in the torture and death of the Son of God, keep in prayer all those who are caught in areas of conflict within the world. They are on their own walks to the place of the skull. Pray that leaders will seek peace and care for their people rather than seek destructive power. Pray that the presence of God will be life giving for people who live in fear and who have no control over their situation.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Behold My Hour is At Hand

March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

By Rev. Joseph McCloskey, SJ

The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:9-11

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear. Isaiah 50:4

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 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 death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-7

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:45-46


Let us pray: Lord, in this holiest of holy seasons, please protect us from abandoning you in your hour of need. Despite our actions, we beg you to always remember the covenant gift that you promised to us…the gift fulfilled by your only Son, Jesus, our friend and teacher, who gave up his life for saints and sinners alike. How easy it would be for your Son to suffer for saints to live. Yet he freely gave up his life even for those of us who do not obey and follow you in the spirit of his humility. Open our ears that we may hear and be glad. Give to us this day more than what we truly deserve and help us to respond to you in vocal praise like the “good thief.” Amen.


We look at the events in the life of Jesus from the standpoint of people who know the outcome. For us, the resurrection looms over all the events of the hidden life, public life and even more of the passion of Christ. The excitement that shines on Christ as he enters Jerusalem belongs to the joy we should have in Christ’s Resurrection. We look at a Christ who has captured the imagination of his people. They are caught up in the frenzy of making him king. He has done so many things remarkably well and they are looking for a King Messiah who will save them from the power of Rome. The frenzy at his arrival shakes up the powers that be and they do not know how to deal with him. The comment in one of the other gospels about how even the stones would shout out proclaims the rightness of the reception he is receiving. Right things are often done for the wrong reasons. On this day the Suffering servant Messiah is the last thing anyone would have in mind. Christ accepts the adulation of the people. But crowds are fickle and the shouts of this day will all too soon be to crucify him. This day is a paradox. Christ did not work the crowds as politicians do today. He simply accepts the praise.


We are called this Sunday to relive the paradox of what Christ did for us this day. Living out this day in our own lives asks the question of us how seriously we mean our praise of anyone. How many times have we shouted our praise on the day the crowds were going in favor of someone? How quickly have we joined the opposition after praising another? The passion of Christ makes any sufferings in our lives special when we accept our pains for the sake of our love for another. I need to direct my praise of Christ’s suffering to my gratitude for what Christ has done for me in dying for my sins.

A few years ago I was watching the Washington marathon on a Palm Sunday and rooting for each runner as they went past. A little bit of a life I gave to each person who realized I was cheering them on. Being an old runner, I know from personal experience how much it means to hear your name called. Christ is like those runners. He appreciated those who were calling his name. He goes on appreciating us from heaven as we encourage the Christ in all our friends. We are encouraging Christ on his journey into Jerusalem every time we encourage the good a friend is doing.

Palm Sunday can be every day of our lives in the encouragement we give one another.

A Gift Guaranteed

March 15, 2008

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. And I will make his royal throne firm forever. 2 Samuel 7:12-13

For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us… Romans 4:16

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. Matthew 1:24


God, grant us your gift of obedience. As you offered this to holy men and women down through the ages, we want to live a live committed to your covenant and holding up our end of the bargain…even though you do not require it. Help us to do as you have commanded through the angels, the prophets, the Scripture, the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


On this day before we honor the Passion of the Lord, the liturgical calendar provides us with a reminder of how far we have come since the year began during Advent. Celebrating the role of Joseph allows us to consider the covenant offered by God in one more aspect.

The covenant is not a contract. Sure there were elements of quid pro quo..I will do this and you will do that. But God’s part of the covenant went beyond the contractual, mutually beneficial aspects. He promised to uphold his end of the covenant no matter what we do. Whether we follow his request to be humble and obedient – or not – God will deliver on his half.

Part of that delivery is also in the number of saintly examples God provides to us as role models. People like St. Joseph who, though not required under religious law or civil law, did what God asked, not what the laws of the day asked of them.

The covenant given to Abraham and handed down to the House of David is a gift, not a contract. It is not a sale flyer that Best Buy will stuff into the plastic pack of tomorrow’s Washington Post. It is a promise and a gift. God will hold up his end of the covenant for everyone. It is not reserved only to those who are descendants of Abraham who do what God requests. The gift is for all. In return, God asks for our love. Can we offer to God anything less than our piety, study, and action as a means to honor his covenant, learn his covenant, and live his covenant?


The following is from a USCCB Action Alert.

The House and Senate are due to complete work on the Farm bill (H.R. 2419) by March 15, 2008. There are significant differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, particularly on the levels of spending. Both bills, however, will require increased spending over the five-year estimate provided by the Congressional Budget Office of $286 billion. An impasse in negotiations between the House and Senate has developed around where to get an additional $10 billion and which priorities to spend it on. Meanwhile, President Bush has threatened to veto the bill because of too much spending and too little reform.

There may be another short-term extension passed this week to allow time for pending negotiations, but unless agreement is reached, a long-term extension of current law could be a likely outcome. This would abandon long sought improvements to essential nutrition programs, the Food Stamp Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a “safe box” for Food for Peace developmental food aid and other essential improvements. Clearly, an extension would not include much-needed reforms to farm subsidy programs which the Senate and House bills currently lack but could be sought in the Conference Committee process.


Please contact your Senators and Representatives (U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121), especially Senate Conferees (Senators Harkin, D-IA; Leahy, D-VT; Conrad, D-VT; Baucus, D-MT; Lincoln, D-AR; Stabenow, D-MI; Chambliss, R-GA; Lugar, R-IN; Cochran, R-MS; Roberts, R-KS; and Grassley, R-IA) and members of the Senate Finance Committee ( House Conferees have yet to be announced, so target House Agriculture Committee members (, and members of the House Committee on Ways and Means ( Urge them to do two essential things:

1) Preserve and adequately fund essential and overdue improvements to domestic nutrition programs, international food aid, conservation and rural development.

2) Take effective action to target agricultural subsidies to those who need them most and not those who need them least.

Specifically, urge members of Congress to actively support the following specific priorities:

  • Domestic Hunger: Provide strongest possible nutrition improvements and investments in the Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP);
  • Global Hunger: Allow needed flexibility in addressing hunger abroad by supporting the Senate-passed version of Title III that sets aside without a waiver $600 million of PL 480 Title II resources for those suffering from chronic hunger, and ensuring that a $25 million pilot program is authorized for the purchase of food locally, with mandatory funding;
  • Farmer Fairness: Act to effectively target farm payments to those who need them the most and to those who are actively engaged in farming by setting a genuine payment cap at $250,000 per farming operation, as proposed in the Dorgan-Grassley payment limitation amendment which passed the Senate, but failed to get the needed 60 votes.