Saturday, May 31, 2008

Act on Them

June 1, 2008

Ninth Sunday Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

Moses told the people, “Take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. Deuteronomy 11:18

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” Matthew 7:26-27


“Direct, O Lord, I beseech you all my actions by your divine inspirations. Carry them out by your gracious assistance so that every prayer and work of mine might always begin from you and by you be happily ended.”


What do I do with the words of the Lord? I listen to them and try to live them. In my old age so many words go into one ear and out the other without much delay. I need to personalize the words of the Lord by living them. It is easy to hear the Lord saying if you love me you will keep my commandments. Our years teach us that piety is our love for God.

And how I live out his word is my piety. Giving my life for others makes every little thing special. The commandments are the big things that are special. How we put the little things into our lives is how we personalize his word on our heart. In the Religious Life, the least wish and the will of the superior makes something important to do. We learn by love to prefer the way of doing of another. Love opens our minds and our hearts to what is best. Reading the lives of the Saints is helpful.

Some hagiography is good reading. Studying the lives of the saints gives insight on how to put Christ into our day and age as we see how the saints did it for their time. There are some saints for every age. Our piety calls us to be an update of Christ in jour day and age. How we apply what Christ said and did is how we go from talking about Christ to being a Christ for one another.


Action does speak louder than words. St. Francis is reputed to have said, “Speak always and occasionally use words.” St. Ignatius actually applies that to prayer. If a formed Religious asked for more prayer time, he would give them another job. The Contemplative in Action grace is the realization that the Lord will work 100% in what we do if we but ask. St. Ignatius invites us to pray thus.

“Direct, O Lord, I beseech you all my actions by your divine inspirations. Carry them out by your gracious assistance so that every prayer and work of mine might always begin from you and by you be happily ended.”

Thus all we do, we do for Christ. We can actually say to one another.

The Christ of my heart recognizes the Christ of your heart. We live our lives for Christ. And he will recognize us for what we have done in his name. He is the foundation on which we build the temple of our lives. We will be able to stand up against any storm because we stand in the name of Christ to be his work.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Favor on His Lowly Servant

May 31, 2008
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals. Zephaniah 3:17-18
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." Luke 1:45
Isaiah 12
On this day, I will say, “I give you thanks, O LORD; though you have been angry with me for my sinfulness, your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.”
God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,
and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel! Amen.

Zephaniah is one of the final books of the Hebrew Bible (only three others follow it to the end) that we have before the birth of Christ ushers in the Good News. The notes to the NAB tell us that during the time when this book was written and passed down, there had been a period of religious degradation, when the old idolatries reappeared and men worshiped sun, moon, and stars. Rites completely alien to the pure monotheism taught by Moses flourished in Jerusalem. To the corrupt city Zephaniah announced the impending judgment, the day of the Lord.
In today’s first reading, we learn that despite Judah's infidelities, the Lord in his mercy will spare a holy remnant, which will finally enjoy peace. The prophecy closes with a hymn of joy sung by the remnant restored to Zion. Another hymn of joy greets us in Luke Gospel about the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Despite thousands of years waiting, the Lord picks this unlikely time to finally reappear on Earth. Mary greets the news and her sister in song.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.From this day all generations will call me blessed:the Almighty has done great things for me,and holy is his Name.”

Today’s Gospel introduces the blessed nature of Mary, a characteristic that Jesus emphasizes later in Luke Gospel. First, we hear the virtue established by Elizabeth.

“Blessed are you who believedthat what was spoken to you by the Lordwould be fulfilled.”

A lesson in this for me is that Mary, upon hearing the words of the angel acted upon them. Mary acted upon them first through her acceptance of the wishes of God and then by following through to visit Elizabeth. She thus heard the word of God, believed it and accepted it.

Following that, Jesus’ intimate bond with Mary and her saintly character is based on much more than just the parental-birth relationship. It extends from the humility and obedience that Mary portrays to us in her life and actions. Jesus affirms this extended relationship and her blessed character when he proclaims: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." Luke 8:21

That means we can truly experience the Sonship of Jesus by acting as Mary did – by listening for the word of God and acting upon it. Through our piety and study we can be tuned in to what God may have to say to us. But our relationship with Jesus as a brother can not end there. It must be carried through to the third leg of the tripod.
How can we look with favor on his lowly servants?
The canticle of Mary prefigures the central themes of the entire Gospel of Luke – a proclamation to the poor and lowly that God is here to improve their life. It also carries forth a message to the rich and powerful that they must be marked by love in action toward their sisters and brothers who are poor. Rich or poor, it is up to us to take responsibility for those around us who are poor – poor in spirit, poor in material wealth, and more. When in Luke 6 we hear the Sermon on the Plain, we hear the very prescription of what Jesus wants us to hear and act upon.
In today’s newspaper, we can read about people who put their personal freedom on the line to speak out and speak up on behalf of prisoners held for many years in the U.S. military prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Guantánamo has become the most visible symbol of U.S. human rights abuses in the name of the "war on terror."
No longer are the voices crying out for fair treatment of these detainees being sounded by hooded protestors outside of the Supreme Court, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and Hollywood celebrities on the red carpet during Oscar night in March. Other prominent voices include Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, and Madeleine Albright. Yes, five former secretaries of state who served presidents from both parties. It is one of the few questions on which Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain all agree.
Please let your Congressional delegation and the President know your feelings about closing Guantanamo Bay. Consider signing this petition.

Peculiarly His Own

May 30, 2008

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the LORD loved you and because of his fidelity to the oath he had sworn to your fathers, that he brought you out with his strong hand from the place of slavery, and ransomed you from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:7-8

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. 1 John 4:10-11

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Matthew 11:28-30


Sacred Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.


What do you do for the ones you love?

You take care of them physically with a house, warm clothes, and good food.

You support them socially and spiritually.

You help them gather a network or community of friends and supporters around them.

You provide for their education and growth.

You provide money so they can have nice things in life.

You support them when they are upset or depressed.

You help them to become what they want to become in life.

If we can decide to do all this and more for those we love, how much further will the Lord go for those whom He has chosen as “peculiarly his own?”

Today, we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus – in this week when hearts have had such a significant role to play for one special member of our community. We have everything we have in life not because we are Christians or Catholics. Instead, we have what we have because God has loved us.

Included in those gifts are our burdens, illnesses, weaknesses, and sins. God not only loves us in spite of these, God loves us because of these. He invites us to turn in the burdens we carry from the world and trade those in on the burdens Jesus offers to us.

Whenever society demands more of us, God demands less. He offers to lift the burdens we feel. In return, all God asks is for obedience to his word not to millions of pages of laws, tax codes, traffic regulations, etc. All God asks for is humility…a humility that will help us take on the countenance of little children, to be the last among others.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (478): Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us: "The Son of God. . . loved me and gave himself for me." He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, "is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without exception. "

Rather than marking this special day with reflections on the material or physical realities, it also is important to remember that Jesus heart was not only a human heart, but His heart also was a meta-physical heart that transcended earthly being. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "The worship, although paid to the Heart of Jesus, extends further than the Heart of flesh, being directed to the love of which this Heart is the living and expressive symbol."

Jesus heart is not only a symbol of the unity of His followers, it also is depicted as wounded.

Since the Heart of Jesus appears to us as the sensible sign of His love, the visible wound in the Heart will naturally recall the invisible wound of this love. This symbolism also explains that the devotion, although giving the Heart an essential place, is but little concerned with the anatomy of the heart or with physiology.[1]


Jesus’ real and physical Heart is a natural symbol of His infinite charity. The heart is a vital organ which beats within all of us and is the cornerstone of our existence. Jesus’ love was rejected and unrequited. However, we all know that “the stone which the builder’s rejected has become the cornerstone.” Thus the Sacred Heart is the cornerstone of this solemn day.

Prayer devotions to the Sacred Heart today. Make this a regular part of your spiritual and prayer life and you will benefit from the Twelve Promises Jesus made to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chosen and Precious

May 29, 2008

Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5

Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:51-52


"Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."

Once we have an encounter with Jesus, we are aliens and sojourners no more. That encounter, as brief or as long as it may be, helps us to realize and fulfill our destiny. Just as Jesus responds to our call as he did to Bartimaeus, we must then respond to his call, as Bartimaeus did as well.

We could not do much better in all of our searches for the right words to pray than those words chosen by the blind beggar. "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."

"Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."

"Jesus, son of David." This is a statement of faith, a statement of praise, a statement of adoration.

"Have pity on me." This part of the proclamation is where we come to God and ask Him for help meeting our needs and the needs of others.

"A Sinner." In Bartimaeus’ case, he stresses the confessional aspect of his life but in the initial prayer, makes no mention of either his blindness or what he will do if cured. His actual supplications only become apparent when Jesus engages with him in a deeper encounter and conversation.

However, that deeper conversation and encounter might never have occurred without the opening prayer…Bartimaeus coming to Jesus and calling out in prayer. Even though he can read our minds, Jesus prefers it if we come to him and ask for help out of our sense of faith, hope and love.

Bartimaeus’ thank you is his action. St. Mark tells us, “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” His thank you to Jesus is expressed by living out his life as a follower.


Prayers can and do get answered. Not just for Bartimaeus and others who lived 2,000 years ago. They get answered here and now. If you don’t think so, ask Tom and Rae Copeland. Tom is now recovering in Fairfax Hospital from his heart transplant surgery. We have been praying with the Copeland family for this miracle for many years and to see it happen in our midst strengthens the foundation of our individual faith and that of our collective community. We continue to pray for his recovery.

But let us not forget thousands more who remain on the waiting lists for organs throughout the country and the world. Visit the Living Bank today and sign up to be an organ or tissue donor or sign your driver’s license.

For what do you want to pray today?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You Have Been Born Anew

May 28, 2008

Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love, love one another intensely from a pure heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God … (1 Peter 21-22)

Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many. (Mark 10:43-45)


Lord, thank You for the gift of imperishable life through Your word. Thank You for being with me as I grow in service to You and my brothers and sisters in Christ.


Today's Readings

Catholic Education Resource Center

We’ve been “born anew,” Peter tells us in today’s first reading. In the Gospel reading, Jesus explains our role in that new life as one of service, not of pride and luxury.

But what exactly does “born anew” mean to us as Catholics? Surely, most of us at one time or another have been asked if we’ve been born again or if we’ve accepted Christ as our personal lord and savior. In broad terms, the fundamentalists who ask these questions are talking about a specific conversion experience in which one accepts Christ as Lord and asks for forgiveness. Some contend that this new birth comes only through accepting the Gospel, not through being baptized, and add that their new birth is based on faith alone, not works.

How, then, do we answer this question beyond saying that we are born again in baptism? Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley provides the groundwork for thoughtful dialogue on the subject in an article that originally appeared in The Catholic Faith and is available at the Catholic Education Resource Center:

The Catholic … then, should do more than simply point to his baptism; he should discuss his living faith, trust and love of Christ; his desire to grow in sanctity and conformity to Christ; and his total dependence on Christ for salvation. These are integral to the new life of the Holy Spirit that baptism bestows.

Brumley also notes that the Church’s teachings do not oppose a conversion experience for adult baptism; it’s simply that our teachings just require it:

What is required for baptism to be fruitful (for an adult) is repentance from sin and faith in Christ … The man who is baptized may not “feel” any different after baptism than before. But once he is baptized, he has received the Holy Spirit in a special way. He has been regenerated and made a child of God through the divine sonship of Jesus Christ in which he shares. He has been buried with Christ and raised to new life with Him. He has objectively and publicly identified himself with Jesus' death and resurrection. If the newly baptized man meditates on these things, he may or may not “feel” them, in the sense of some subjective religious experience. Nevertheless, he will believe them to be true by faith. And he will have the benefits of baptism into Christ nonetheless.

Developing a fuller knowledge of and appreciation for our Church’s beliefs can open up intelligent interfaith dialogue. For if we are unable to articulate the Church’s position on an issue on which faiths differ, how can we expect non-Catholics to fully understand why we believe as we do?


Use your study time this week to research the background of the Church’s position on a misunderstood issue—being “born again,” for example, or perhaps the concept of purgatory. Sit down for coffee or dinner with a non-Catholic to discuss—not debate—what you each believe and why.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Be Holy

May 27, 2008

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, "Be holy because I (am) holy." 1 Peter 1:14-16

Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and (the) last will be first." Mark 10:29-31


Father, help me today to set aside time to be holy. Through my humility and obedience to a life of piety, study and action, help make me truly worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.


From where does holiness spring?

Without the other two legs of the tripod (study and action) we can not hope to achieve the holiness that Peter calls us to pursue in his letter today.

The ignorance Peter references is based upon our lack of knowledge of God. One danger in that is that if we do not know God, then we may end up committing immoral acts. Even if we act properly and morally, it would not be for the correct reasons.

Holiness results from our knowledge of God (study) and our love of God (action). Without the other two legs of the tripod, our actions may be for the good of the people, yet they would not enhance our holiness. Without our study, we would not have any spiritual basis for those actions.

The two virtues which will allow us to pursue holiness best are referenced in Mark’s Gospel – humility and obedience. Humility will result in us putting the needs of others before our own. Obedience will result in following the commandments that we learn from our study. If our lives are marked by those virtues, then we can truly set our “hopes completely on the grace to be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”


Take time to be holy today. Our daily life will continue to rush passed. Alarm clocks. Commuting. Work. Phone calls. E-Mails. Appointments. How ironic that the computer program that runs many of our lives is called “Outlook.” What we need to be holy is “In Looking.” Outlook only sees the picture it wants you to see in the window. In Looking will allow you to see the bigger picture.

Being Holy takes time. Are there appointments on your calendar to be holy? Do you carve out time to be with God? To be with your community and family? To be of service to others? If we do not make this a specific choice, then we may lose the chance to pursue holiness.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jesus Looks and Loves

May 26, 2008

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, priest

By Beth DeCristofaro

…now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10: 21-22)


Give me cheer, give me strength to say to you “Yes”, Brother Jesus. I would rather follow you than sit on my riches in the cave of my heart. Help me spend my treasures for those whom you love.


Jesus, looking at him, loved him…

Did Jesus know, before he answered, that the man was going to say “no” to the loving offer?

Jesus certainly loved him for his enthusiasm, his desire to attain eternal reward, and his fidelity to the laws of Moses. Jesus even loved the man in his sadness as he, turning away, realized his own moral cowardice. Jesus saw clearly to the hearts, minds and souls of those who confronted him; Jesus, “looking at him, loved him.”

How often do we turn away, full of sadness because we choose not to say “yes”? A relative of mine who is alone and whose health is not good lives in a nearby town. He could use more loving company. I know he is loved by Jesus. In fact, sometimes I wonder if it is Jesus alone who loves him because he is a cantankerous know-it-all. It is difficult to be with him in so many ways that I make up reasons for not visiting. Jesus, in today’s gospel, looks at me with love and reminds me “Daughter, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” Can I give up my riches, my time, pride and comfort and convenience or will I continue to turn away like the rich man?


Today is the feast of St. Philip Neri, Patron of Rome who said, “Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you.” What do you need to give up in order to say, “Yes” to following Jesus? Ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to do it. Ask Philip Neri who gave up his life to serve the poor and instruct people in the faith for help to pass through the eye of your personal needle.

“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.” -Saint Philip Neri. Sell your riches and follow Jesus in good cheer, assured of God’s welcome.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eucharist: Commitment and Challenge

May 25, 2008

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

By Rev. Joseph McCloskey, S.J.

Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:2-3

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” John 6:51


We pray to the Lord:

Lord of giving, you have opened our hearts by the totalness of the gift you have made of yourself. Allow us to begin the gesture of a return for all that you have done for us. Allow us to be great givers and total responders for all we have received through your Word. Allow the mystery of how you are in our lives to make of us true Eucharist to all that need the gift we have to offer. Allow us to never count the cost of giving, in the hope we have of giving your gift. Let us be willing to take the challenge involved in giving. Make us worthy to be called Christians in the totalness of our giving.

Lord of commitment, you have called forth from our hearts an equal need to make the love we would offer last forever. Help us to take away time limits in what we give. Allow us to eternalize the gift of any moment of our lives. You are always faithful to your promise; call forth from our hearts a fidelity that will know no end. Allow us to be Christ-like in the fullness of the following of you so that we will never know a limit of time or place for the Eucharist we would make of our lives. Permit the exchange of our hearts so we may know the unity of the entire human race in Christ's heart, now ours.

Giver of the gratitude that is Eucharist allows us to be Eucharist. Makes it possible for us to be truly grateful in all we do and say. Make us resound with a joy capable of claiming the gratitude of our friends for you. Gift us with the life of your Son so that our gratitude may reach you, giver of all we are. Let us be grateful servants in the truth of the Eucharist our lives can be for each other. Let us make of our lives a hymn of thanksgiving. Let our Eucharist be for all commitment and challenge.

Help us to answer the question of whether we would be willing to be who Christ would have been if he were lucky enough to be us by the Eucharist we would make of our lives for one another.


Christ given, self received

We are a Eucharist people. Our Church lives are built around the Eucharist. Eucharist today is the Sacrament most frequented. It is familiar without being fully understood because it is a mystery of our faith. God will always come to us when we receive Eucharist. Accepting Communion is accepting Christ. Communion brings us a deeper oneness with Christ. Eucharist brings with it both commitment and challenge. It is the perfect paradox of giving and receiving. Christ gives self and challenging our gratitude asks us to make a gift of ourselves. Christ freely gives himself and waits on our gift of self to complete Eucharist.

Want to be a Christ

Every Eucharist I receive opens the question of whether I really want to be a Christ. Christ becomes one with me. But he does not force himself on me. I have to welcome him into my life and my spirituality is the work of my becoming one with him. The question spirituality puts on every heart is quite simple. “Am I really willing to be who Christ would have been if he was lucky enough to be me?” Eucharist makes Christ the deepest reality of my life. My freely embracing the mind and the heart of Christ makes me over more fully into whom I am meant to be in Christ. Christ has to become my heartfelt response to life.

Christ’s heart = my heart

Eucharist is as open as the Sacred Heart. We can accept the gift of love. But when we try to put reasons on why another loves us, we take love out of mystery and mystery out of love. The heart has reasons the mind will never comprehend. In life, the mystery of the why of love is out of reach. Justice has a reason. Love does not have a reason. Love belongs to God and wherever there is love, God is there. Love is a response to life the mind grapples with without full comprehension. We often take love for granted even though love is nourished by affirmation.

Eucharist verifies freedom

The aura of mystery and faith surrounding Eucharist prevents total understanding. Eucharist to be gift needs freedom that gives its meaning to gift. Perfect gift calls for a return of love. In Eucharist the gift is Christ. The giving of Christ in Eucharist is intimately connected to the pain and love of the cross. His dying for us motivates the commitment and challenge of Eucharist. Eucharist and the love of Christ are one and the same mystery. That is why Eucharist and the Sacred Heart devotion belong together in our consideration.


Eucharist is the self-gift of Christ. The Eucharist of Christ's love is the giving up of his body and the shedding of his blood for the forgiveness of sins. When we have given up our bodies, shed our blood, washed clean the hurts and tended the suffering of our brothers and sisters around us, we will be a Christ-like Eucharist. The mystery of Eucharist is found in us by our willingness to be vulnerable, to be open, to share our lives and our love. Then we will be able to say with Christ: "This is my body which will be given for you...this is my blood which will be shed for you..."(Luke 22: 19,20).


Eucharist is a way of giving thanks. The most wonderful possible thanks is a total gift of self. Am I willing to be Eucharist for another? Can we truly be Eucharist for a vague someone? Can we ever say "thank you" enough to someone so as to be Eucharist? We need to be able to say "thank you" to the people who come into our lives, for their coming, for the gift they bring by being there. Eucharist, in our Church, is a sign of belonging. When we say thanks by a Eucharistic Celebration, we say “thanks” in Christ. Union with Christ makes our thanks his even as it makes us who we are in Christ. Such a ‘thank you’ gives life to the Church. Our life in Christ makes Christ our love to the Father. Christ becomes our perfect thanks to the Father.

Forever gratitude

Eucharist is the perfect thanks for a gift given without being asked. There is no way we would know how to give thanks for a gift we did not even recognize as given. How will we give thanks to the Lord for all he has given to us? The Psalmist says he will invoke the name of the Lord and be forgiven. Our thanks for forgiveness is heard in Eucharist as the richness of the Christ love we possess as children of God. Our Christ life in Eucharist becomes the cry of thanks ringing down through the ages as the life of the Mystical Body of Christ in us. Sharing Christ's life in Eucharist makes us a part of all the prayers of gratitude. The one same Eucharist belongs to all the ages before us and after us to the end of time. Christ's prayer rings through the ages to the end of time. Because we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ, we belong to all ages. Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In Christ we are all one.

Living Eucharist

Most of us have never really been challenged to say what Eucharist means. We need to be able to give Eucharist meaning in our lives by saying "thank you" for a gift that is our life. Then, we will really be able to live Eucharist and be Eucharist for each other. Eucharist is the most human mystery of our faith because it literally brings together, in a moment of time, a human response to God. Eucharist goes beyond receiving the bread and wine. Eucharist has a special meaning in each of us. We must be simple as children and as open to Eucharist as a child can be. The following is an example.

Touch of the Divine

A five-year-old child pestered his parents so persistently to receive Eucharist that he was taken to the parish priest. The priest questioned the lad to see if he really understood what the Eucharist was about. When asked what Eucharist meant, the young child took the priest by surprise when he answered: "Eucharist is that moment which happens to someone when he is caught up into God!" What the child was saying, whether he was aware of it or not, was that in the moment of receiving Eucharist, one comes to the realization of what heaven is all about. Heaven is not just someplace to be some day. In Eucharist the reality of heaven is anticipated today, in the here and now. Eucharist touches the beatitude of heaven in this moment. There should be an ecstasy in our Eucharist that is the reality of being caught up into God! Eucharist is our foothold in heaven.

Our life as Eucharist

Christ giving the Eucharist and being one with us needs to meet with our giving Eucharist and being one with him. If Christ is to be recognized in the breaking of the bread, then the Christ of our hearts will burst forth when we can be recognized by the giving of our lives. Eucharist is our life as gift. We have to choose to give the gift of our love and our life. Gift can not be forced out of us. The gift is received as the divine indwelling joining the receiver of the gift with the giver in our very selves. Love goes toward union, and there can be no union greater than the gift of Eucharist, our own and Christ's.

My body – Christ’s body

At the Last Supper Christ shared the last moments of his life with all the anxieties of a father who would have the last chance to talk to his children. He put his heart and his soul into trying to make sense out of the time he had spent with his apostles. The Last Supper discourse is a last will and testament. It reads with the urgency of one taking advantage of a final moment to say something. Eucharist sums up all Christ was trying to say with his life, making possible the giving of life, and claiming the deepest responses of life. The willingness to give became one with the actual giving on the cross. The legacy of Eucharist was willed to us at the Last Supper. We are reminded of this during our liturgical worship at the consecration of the bread and wine. Eucharist is commitment. When a priest holds up the piece of bread and says the words, "This is my body," Christ comes alive again. I am Christ. At that moment, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me! There are times that I am so overwhelmed by this statement it blows my mind. I have to allow the Christ who is the deepest meaning of my life to say, "This is my body". The purgative way, as found in the history of spirituality, is the dying to all the things I am, in order that Christ might truly live in all of me. I have got to be able to shove aside, strip myself of, and shuck all the accretions that our times, our history, our culture and sinfulness put in the way of Christ as the deepest meaning of human life.

Letting Christ out

Reaching the core reactor, the source of all energy, the door of the heart can be flung open and Christ can be let out on the world. Letting Christ out, I come alive with his love in this world. I am able to reach the moment of Eucharist; I am able to say: "This is my body," and mean: "Now I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."(Galatians 2:20)

Mystical Body

Priesthood can be misunderstood. We can lose sight of the fundamental fact that there is only one priest in the history of the Church - Jesus Christ. We are all capable of a share in his ministry. A priest may have a greater share in his power to institute the Eucharist, but together we are a priestly people. When a priest celebrates Eucharist in the name of the people, he is challenging all to celebrate their priesthood. The priest challenges the people to literally offer their bodies, so that the priest may really say in Christ: "This is my body!" Thus the Mystical Body of Christ comes alive.

Commitment to Community

This sets up the moment of Eucharist; the totality of our commitment to live the Christian life. The Christian, by definition, is another Christ. The priest is no longer standing alone before his community saying, "This is my body.” The entire community celebrates with him. He is fully priest when somehow or other he is evoking from everyone who is sharing Eucharist with him, that same response: "This is my body." The strength of our commitment to community and the way we offer our time and energy to each other makes Eucharist come alive as a radical statement of who we are in Christ.


In those who hold back in their offering of themselves, who do not want to give that total gift, their gift is incomplete. We do not invite just anyone to come to Eucharist, but rather invite those people who make a commitment in our Church to each other, to live their lives for each other, to share who they are and what they are for the sake of each other.

Forgiveness- Life-giving

Eucharist has to be the giving up of something essential for the sake of another. There is no greater essential than life. Eucharist is life giving. Christ loves us so much he gives us the very love he has from the Father. It is made possible by the truth of a forgiveness that is just as much a part of Eucharist as the bread that is broken and the wine that is poured. Eucharist is for the sake of forgiveness. The truth of forgiveness is new life. Love is forgiving and life giving at the same time. Eucharist reaches out to the need of another and allows the need of the other to replace our need. We truly have a right to life and we give away our right to life for the sake of another's need.

Freely given

Eucharist is a delicate and sensitive moment. Giving to each other has to be done freely to be gift. We can possess others in such a way that we demand what they give to us. For the gift to be Eucharist it has to be freely given. We have to work at creating the community that would excite people to make such a radical gift and commitment of themselves to each other. We have to want so desperately what the other is offering that our whole being cries out in pain when we cannot have the gift, which is Eucharist. Therefore, a Christian community will never be a boring community. How can we cope with the fact that we could go ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy years as a Catholic, and were never challenged to make the radical commitment: "This is my body."

Atonement brings oneness

We come to the consecration of the wine. "This is my blood which will be shed for the forgiveness of sins." Jesus is offering his life for our sake. His atonement makes us one with each other. His gift adds another dimension to love. We make up for the weakness of our brothers and sisters. In our call to oneness, we must be able to transcend the differences that naturally exist, and see Christ present in each and every member of our community.

Real oneness

How do we deal with differences? The truth of a Christian community is found in the fact that differences do exist. Actually, the mystery of Eucharist is that a Christian community is to be known in the breaking of the bread, and the shedding of the blood. Any community boasting of having members who are all alike is not a Christian community. We do not have a name for it, but if there are not liberals and conservatives, old and young, middle-of-the-roaders, and all the rest, we are not talking about the mystery of how it is possible that such a group could love one another. The radicalness of Christian love is that, somehow or other, differences become unimportant in the light of seeing Christ as the reason to love those brothers and sisters who are apparently different.

Loves inward pull

Somehow the Christian community transcends the inner forces responsible for throwing everything off to the periphery; transcends it by a love that sends everything into the heart of Christ. The statement: See how those Christians love one another," is made from the perspective of this transcendent, centripetal love. The pain of communities, all those things in a community causing people to be rent asunder, the centrifugal force of sin, is set aside. Eucharist is the eternal word of the Sacred Heart, received as a love feeding every heart, nourishing us with Christ's life.

To be Eucharist is to be a giver

Eucharist is the perfect celebration of community. Eucharist belongs to the body of Christ, and while it might be true that a private moment of life could be Eucharist, the dynamic of Eucharist is always going to be the fulfillment that community makes possible. We need each other, and the sight of Eucharist should call us to be givers to each other. To be Eucharist is to be a giver. The only thing we can change in any relationship is what we are giving to the relationship. The truth of a good relationship is the truth of the Eucharist that is given. The more freely we give ourselves, the truer the Eucharist of our lives.


The giving community is a growing community. The community ceasing to give to the real needs of our world is a dying community. Eucharist will reach its fulfillment when our concern touches the whole world. Love calls us beyond the limitations of self-interest. Eucharist belongs to the dream of a world with no boundaries, where there will be no poor and needy. The destiny of Eucharist is that all the riches of our world will meet the needs of God's poor. Eucharist is God's desire to share, and we are worthy of Eucharist when we are willing to share all of our riches with the world. Eucharist is the begging of another to take advantage of our need. What makes it possible is the mystery of Eucharist at work in our hearts, calling us to be the richness of Christ's love to the world.

Human Made Divine

Christ's love is found in Eucharist. We may think of Eucharist as the reality of God's gift to us of his Son. We may think of ourselves as being worthy of this gift, and, therefore, in a sense, being equal to the gift, or we may think of Eucharist as our Lord reaching out and taking us to himself. Then, even as we transcend our human weakness, in that Divine Love, we find in Eucharist such a force of energy and power we are allowed to truly love, to dream the impossible dream, in a world that says that such love is absurd, a scandal, and ridiculous! There has to be in Christian love a radicalness that would make us jealous, would be so exciting that it would make us want to be a part of it.

Born Again

The Church has had to die again and again so as to reflect the meaning of Eucharist. The cross has always been a part of Christianity, and as such gives one of the deepest meanings of Eucharist. Those moments of history when it was not comfortable for people to be special servants of Christ, needed the strengthening power of Eucharist so that members of the Church would be equal to the difficult times, to persecution. Today, when it is difficult to be a priest or religious, even a Christian, it is necessary for us to have a deeper awareness and strength of Eucharist.

Never Alone

Eucharist is the guarantee that God did not leave his people after he had sent his Son, after the Resurrection of his Son. Eucharist is the source of the power of love that is always going to be a challenge in the lives of every one of us. This challenge will, never be fully met, but it will be a means by which we can let Christ make up the difference in our lives, in our love, in the love we give to other people.

Love is Eucharist

Eucharist is the perfect combination of all the pain and suffering of our human race in which Christ is dying again and again. We live in a world where there are millions who have been uprooted, are without a home, or even a space to call their own. There are those who experience hunger every day, and watch others die from that hunger. They demand that we become involved in their lives. We stop being comfortable. Thus our lives are claimed as Eucharist!

Who We Are

All of us have to be lifted out of ourselves so it may be possible for us, in Christ, to discover our real selves. Each of us is called to be a love, and discover a love, that would make Romeo and Juliet seem pikers in the gift they offered to each other. Living the Eucharist of Christ, accepting the challenge to give our lives for the sake of others, and saying each time we come to the celebration, "This is my body," opens each of us to the possibility of that special love.

‘Maxing’ Eucharist

It is not possible for Eucharist to be Eucharist if we wait for someone else to do the work. Each of us is called to be Eucharist to each other in, order for the Eucharist offered on the altar to become truly Christ. All of us are called to give something more than our leftovers - leftovers of time, of resources, of talents. We are called to give our life's blood to each other, to the community, to the Church. We give our all, so that in our celebration, Christ may be alive in us. It is not enough any longer to be talking about the minimal. So many people today ask whether the Church still teaches that you have to go to Mass on Sunday. It is time we wake up to the fact that what the Church is trying to say is that it is not enough just to go to Mass on Sunday. We need more men and women who are willing to go to Mass every day, who are willing to make of their lives a daily Eucharist.

Pearl of Great Price

There are things we would do every day if we could, because we like them and enjoy doing them. If we had a chance to buy the Pearl of Great Price, we know we would offer a great deal for it. Eucharist is the pearl of great price, the greatest God deal of them all. Eucharist is an ignored gift, too often taken for granted. The frequency with which it is received hardly speaks its importance to Christians. The reverence with which one receives Eucharist is hardly ever all it could be. We would never treat a stranger the way we treat our Lord. How much are we really willing to give up of our time, and leisure, and sleep for the chance to celebrate or partake of Eucharist? Have we made of the celebration of Eucharist the centerpiece of a life given to Christ? Do we really claim Eucharist as the pearl of great price in our lives?

Giving Self Away

Fasting and acts of sacrifice can make Eucharist possible. This is not restricted to the seasons of Lent and Advent. To go without eating more than we need may be the beginning of Eucharist; to go without sleeping more than is necessary may be the beginning of Eucharist; to go without buying everything we want may be the beginning of Eucharist. We begin to be something of the Christ who emptied himself of all that belonged to him as Son of God so that he could take on himself our sinfulness. Christ's love can only have the fullness of its reality, of what it is intended to be in us, when we are willing to give all we are to the ones we love. We have to be willing to respond positively to the challenge to be Eucharist.

Demanding Love

We grant you the Church today is not exactly what it was thirty years ago. We are proud and glad it is not. Eucharist demands of us more of a gift than ever before. All of us, religious and lay, are together on a journey. The fullness of our commitment challenges us to live, and live up to, Eucharist. If we do, what we face in each other is Christ, and what others will see in us, is Christ.

Never Taken for Granted

We take the celebration of Eucharist for granted. Many young people would rather be elsewhere than at a Eucharistic celebration. Even Religious, whose lives are meant to be manifestations of their deep love for the Lord, devise alternate celebrations to replace the gift Christ would make of himself in the Eucharist; they do not like a tradition, which puts a premium on a male priesthood. Personal passion and anger replaces Christ's passion and death celebrated in the Eucharistic liturgy. Christ would not force his gift on us, and yet we would force a gift to be given, as we would have it given. Somehow, if we are to be faithful to our traditions, we have to claim Eucharist as the mystery of union. Christ really present in our world today demands the presence of Eucharist. Eucharist today needs the union Eucharist is meant to be. The union with the will of the Father proclaimed by Christ's death on the cross, needs our dying to what is not Christ in us so Eucharist may bring the union of minds and hearts. Living the public life of Christ in our own day and age will allow us to know him in each other by the breaking of the bread.

Freshness of Eucharist

Eucharist calls us to be a forgiving people, We forgive by forgetting. We need to find in the richness of Eucharist a reason to be grateful about each other. We need to enjoy, in the excitement of Eucharist, a fresh start for each other and ourselves. The fresh start of Eucharist is far beyond the extraordinary of a life being saved; a once in a lifetime event is made part of the bread of every day living. We have never been perfect in our relationships with each other. Love calls for the perfect gift and when we give less than ourselves, we are not giving Eucharist.

God’s People

Eucharist makes us a God people. Our being alive in Christ is the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Eucharist can make any moment special, and says that it is not what we are doing, but with how much love we are doing it that is important.

Eucharist of the Present Moment

The love with which we live makes our celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice all the more real. The Pharisee had mastered what law was all about. The Christian needs to master what the love of Christ is all about. The beauty of the Mystical Body of Christ is the goodness of Christian lives. Christianity, to be real, needs to claim from our hearts the integration of what we say with what we do. Eucharist is the capturing of the love of God in an action using the staff of life, bread, as the symbol of food, and wine as the symbol of drink, to show us the fullness of God's being involved in our lives. The fullness of our response to life is possible if we would make of every moment of our lives something special in the power of a life lived as Eucharist.


The Perfect Answer

Eucharist makes it possible for us to take the Cross of Christ on our shoulders, to express his heart, and to lay our claim to his Resurrection. The Resurrection is God's statement that Eucharist is life, that dying for the sake of one another is a gift of life that will make us whole and one again. Now there is an answer to the question: "What shall I return to the Lord for all he has given me?" Eucharist is the perfect answer. We need to say to each other: I will give you Eucharist. I will give you Christ. The Christ who is my body, my blood, is now also my life, your life, and we are one. The gift that is given and the gift received make it possible for the Word who is Love, to be made flesh, yours and mine. My 'yes' to your gift and your `yes' to my gift become the heartbeat of the New Creation.

Receiving is Giving

Eucharist is re-creation, a reaching out to all with the pains of our sufferings, and the joys of our happiness which, in the giving, have now become another Eucharist, another Hymn of Thanksgiving. As our bodies and our life's blood give new life to our world, our yes to the challenge of Christ's Eucharist becomes our commitment to his way, his truth, and his life. Our very lives become Christ's Eucharist to the world. The gift given is truly passed on. In the very giving, the meaning of Christ's Eucharist is fulfilled with our yes, which has become his gift to the needs of others. We show our thanks for his gift by giving our gift. The love that we pass on becomes the secret of holding on to his love. The only way to hold on to his love is to share it in Eucharist. Eucharist is Eucharist.

Like a Child

May 24, 2008

Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Mark 10:14-15


The Lamb

By Robert Burns

Songs of Innocence


Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life & bid thee feed,
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, wooly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek & he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child & thou a lamb.
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!


Jesus says. “Come to me.”

Yet there are many obstacles in our way.

What tempts us presents a hurdle.

What lures us toward sin presents another.

How we get in each other’s way even still another.

We must become more like a child – and less like competitive, scheming adults – in order to enter into the Kingdom.

Jesus wants us to leap over all the hurdles we face and more. The Lord does not want us to be an obstacle for others. In fact, instead of making it harder for each other, God wants us to empower each other to follow Jesus. From the lowliest sinner to the least powerful child, it is our job to make sure that the sinner has a path toward righteousness. Jesus wants the innocent to come to him. He also wants the sinner to convert to innocence like a child.

God realizes that we are not able to do this alone. So he sent his Son as an innocent, powerless baby to clear the way. Now, God expects us to clear the way for others.

He promises that if we help our sisters and brothers return, then we too will save our soul at the same time.


How do we to accept the Kingdom of God like a child?

Ever notice how a child accepts her or his birthday presents or Christmas presents? They tear into each gift with reckless abandon. Then, when all the gifts are opened, they fly from one gift to another because they are so happy with everything that they have received. Then, they run around the room with hugs for all the people who gave them a gift.

Ever notice how adults receive a gift? Sometimes they size up the wrapping. Then, they carefully unwrap it…making us think they will save the paper in a scrapbook somewhere. Sometimes they say how much they like it (publicly) but privately adults are not a cheerful “getter.”

Today, we are being encouraged to tear into the kingdom of God with similar passion…not to hold back our love, not to criticize others, not to say one think publicly and feel something else privately. Let us be poised to accept the gifts that come from God and pass those on to those around us.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Testing Him

May 23, 2008

Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. James 5:9-10

“But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Mark 10:6-9


From the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict (8-13):

Let us get up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when they say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom 13:11). Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge: If you hear this voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 94 [95]:8). And again: You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7). And what does he say? Come and listen to me sons; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 33 [34]:12). Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35).


How do we test God’s compassion and mercy today?

Maybe we are not pummeling Him with direct questions any longer. Instead, God’s mercy remains tested by the hardness of our hearts toward each other and toward God.

Today’s readings take on two specific cases – divorce and hardships. Yet anytime we exhibit the hardness in our hearts could be substituted.

For example, Congress has just passed its latest bill to spend $165 billion for war funding while people throughout the world live on $2 per day, lacking clean water, medicine, housing and other basic necessities for life. Does that test God’s compassion and mercy with us?

Tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance and many of them are children. Does that test God’s compassion and mercy with us?

The United States has more than 3,000 prisoners awaiting execution on death row while the option of life imprisonment without the option of parole remains available. Does that test God’s compassion and mercy with us?

While conditions in society overall may be tests, what about our own personal lives? How does the way we live our lives test God’s compassion and mercy?

Do we approach the altar while still feuding with our sisters and brothers?

Do we divorce our spouses and turn our backs on our neighbors as we build better and better lives for ourselves?

Do we complain about our lives and hardships while knowing how easy life is in the most powerful country on earth?


Are you ready to give up your own will and turn over your life to obedience to God? You don’t have to join a monastery to do that. Why not pick one luxury or benefit in your life that you can easily live without?

Maybe you can pass up Starbucks one day a week and add that $4 to your offering at church or make a donation to a local charity?

Maybe you can cancel one or more magazine subscriptions and send the money to a school rather than Time or Newsweek?

Maybe you can skip eating lunch out and pack your lunch from home. The money you save each week or month can be sent to help feed the homeless in your city.

The next time you need a book, visit a library and skill Borders or Barnes and Noble. You can send that to a literacy program helping people learn to read.

What are some other small steps you can take?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Salted with Fire

May 22, 2008

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. James 5:1,4

"Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another. Mark 9:49-50


Lord, help us not to forget those who are crying aloud for justice in this world…especially the poor in places like Burma and China and those who are left to twist in the wind on Death Row. Help us to remember them and their suffering as well as the survivors of their victims who also suffer from untold loss. Yet as Ghandi says, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Give ourselves and our leaders the strength to stand up to the culture of death and choose life. Amen.


Salt is the subject of many phrases in our language. Pour salt on the wound. Salt of the earth. Worth his salt. Take it with a grain of salt. When it rains, it pours (Sorry that was the advertising devil typing that last sentence, Morton.). That is not surprising because salt has been around civilization for thousands of years. Salt was and is the magic preservative. It helps to maintain the original flavor and character of whatever it was added to. It adds a level of flavor to foods that might taste bland.

Fire also has a way of creeping into our metaphors and expressions. Put out the fire. Fired up! Fired. Friendly fire. Trial by fire. Fire in the belly. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Set your hearts on fire. Biblically, fire is the great purifier. If salt could not preserve something, then fire would purify it like the refiner’s fire heating up molten silver.

Continuing with the theme of the transitory character of life on earth, the author of the letter to James points out the impending ruin of the godless, according to the notes to the New American Bible. Christ founded his ministry on a central concerned -- an agenda to bring glad tidings to the poor detailed in Luke 4. The first reading from this letter today denounces the unjust rich, whose victims cry to heaven for judgment on their exploiters. The decay and corrosion of the costly garments and metals, which symbolize wealth, prove them worthless and portend the destruction of their possessors. Such external possessions are not the key to the path to eternal happiness. Set opposing the unjust rich are the righteous poor who are the subject for our service and charity.

Such outreach to others is reinforced in the reading today from the Good News according to Mark. “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41

But the path to heaven does not end with just sharing with others. We must embrace the most power-less among us. The homeless, the stranger, the enemy, the children.

It is easy to hug your own children and grandchildren. It is even easy to love the children of your neighbors and friends. And were there any adults among your crowd who were not admonished by their parents to eat all their dinner (even the peas) and be thankful because the starving children in (fill in the blank poor country) did not have any food?

The study guide to this chapter explains that the purifying and preservative use of salt in food (Lev 2:13) and the refinement effected through fire refer here to comparable effects in the spiritual life of the disciples of Jesus.

However, every cereal offering that you present to the LORD shall be seasoned with salt. Do not let the salt of the covenant of your God be lacking from your cereal offering. On every offering you shall offer salt. "If you present a cereal offering of first fruits to the LORD, you shall offer it in the form of fresh grits of new ears of grain, roasted by fire. Leviticus 2:13-14


Here is a message opposing an upcoming execution in Virginia based upon an Amnesty USA action alert. Visit this web site to send your own message.

To: The Honorable Tim Kaine

Governor of Virginia

I urge you to stop the execution of Percy Levar Walton, who is scheduled to be executed on June 10, 2008 for the 1996 murders of Elizabeth and Jesse Hendrick, and Archie Moore.

I am deeply concerned that judicial rulings have declared Percy Walton competent for execution, despite the fact that he has been diagnosed by at least three mental health experts as suffering from severe schizophrenia and that he had displayed signs of emerging mental illness for over a year before the crimes took place. Prison records show that Mr. Walton’s condition has significantly worsened on death row, going so far as to describe him as “floridly psychotic.” There is also evidence that he has at least borderline mental retardation, and by many accounts, possesses the mental capacity of a young child.

Execution of “the insane” violates the US Constitution under the 1986 Supreme Court ruling, Ford v. Wainwright, but courts and judges continue to disagree on precisely who qualifies for this protection. The 2006 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Mr. Walton’s case, where a slim 7-6 majority decided he was competent to be executed, perfectly illustrates this confusion. The six dissenting judges argued that Mr. Walton did not understand his execution would end his life and that “there is no dispute that since his sentencing, Mr. Walton has fallen deeper and deeper into mental illness.”

The power of clemency exists to prevent injustices the judiciary cannot remedy due to the lack of clarity in the law. In this case executive clemency is needed to prevent the injustice of putting a seriously mentally ill man to death. In 1999, Virginia Governor James Gilmore commuted the death sentence of Calvin Swann on the grounds of his schizophrenia, from which he had suffered since his late teens.

I commend your wisdom in temporarily halting Mr. Walton’s execution in December 2006. Governor Kaine, noting the shortcomings of the judicial system in this case, I strongly urge you to grant permanent clemency to this seriously mentally ill individual. Commuting Percy Levar Walton’s sentence would be a true testament to your visionary leadership and respect for human life.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.


Anthony De Cristofaro

Fairfax, VA

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If the Lord Wills It

May 21, 2008

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”—you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.” … For one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin. (James 7:14-15, 17)

“There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:39-40)


Lord, help me to reflect Your Love in the moment. I strive to honor You always, not only in the easy places at Mass, in group reunion, and in organized ministry, but with every breath I take and in every interaction with Your people.


Today's Readings

Spiritual Growth Assessment

Even the best of us sometimes know the right thing to do, but don’t do it. We blame the weather for our decision not to help at a food pantry. “I’m just not a people person,” we say in explaining why we turn down a Cursillo call for speakers. We mutter that we don’t have any cash on us when we’re asked to contribute to special collections for the victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other natural disasters.

We tend to focus on serving in our comfort zones rather than taking a holistic approach. For example, I’m pretty good at outreach and giving, but I’m not where I’d like to be at spending time with the Bible beyond the great Daily Tripods that Tony, Beth and Father Joe write. I keep thinking I’ll develop better reading habits “next week” or “when I’m done traveling.”

Maybe for you, study and prayer come easily, but you’re uncomfortable with outreach and evangelization, or in Cursillospeak, bringing friends to Christ.

Holy Spirit Interactive, an apostolate under the authority of the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia, provides a nifty free weekly e-newsletter. A recent edition provided a Spiritual Growth Assessment in the areas of prayer, study, outreach/evangelization, and giving. (Sounds a lot like piety, study, and action, yes?) After you answer the questions, you plot on a circle where you are spiritually today. It’s helpful to see on paper (or PDF, if you prefer) just where the strengths—and growth spots—lie. The site also provides guides for working on the growth areas.

As James notes, we don’t know what our lives will be like tomorrow. Don’t wait to perform deeds, mighty or small, in Christ’s name.


With your group reunion or a prayer buddy, complete the Spiritual Growth Assessment. Pledge to check in each day on how you’re doing. At the end of a week, celebrate the progress you’ve made.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Greater Grace

May 20, 2008

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. James 4:8-10

Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me." Mark 9:35-37


"If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself." Norris Burkes

Mr. Burkes is a civilian hospital chaplain and an Air Force Guard chaplain.


Jesus turns the table on the disciples. In fact, he turns the tables on humanity. To truly follow Jesus, we have to stop following our internal passions and our external relationships in the world.

Not only do we exercise our own emotions, but also we seek approval from those whom we love – parents, teachers, siblings, employers, etc. Yet today, James and Jesus are singing from a different hymnal. They are saying stop trying to curry favor with humanity. Instead, seek favor from God and you will get a greater grace.

However, to obtain that, we must take on a wholly different mindset. Instead of trying to find favor with our own passions or leaders, instead we should try to draw near to God. When we do that, God also will draw closer to us.

In a world where wealth and position indicate economic and political power, Jesus says that is not the source of a “greater grace.” Instead, rather than seeking favor with Caesar or the Roman army or the leaders of the church, Jesus turns to the person in society who has the least power…a child.

Just like God turned to a child to save the world, we too must revere the least powerful among us in order to draw closer to God. It matters not if we sit at God’s right and left sides. Instead, we should seek the lowest chair and the least honor – humility – if we are to pursue the highest honors.


Volunteer to baby sit for the children of a young family to give the parents a respite from their care-giving roles. If you don’t know a young family, volunteer for an hour or two in your church’s Sunday nursery so parents can enjoy a peaceful Mass without fidgeting children. Remind yourself or the powerful role that Jesus tells us that children play in our lives.

Let My Words and Thoughts Find Favor

May 19 2008

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. … For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. (James 3:13,16)

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14-15)

Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23,24)


O God, disasters, frailty and violence in the world pull my spirits down. What can be done? Let my words of prayer find favor with you. I entreat you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer, bring comfort for those who suffer and mourn. ‘the night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on.’ (with thanks to John Henry Cardinal Newman)


It is all too easy to see examples of disorder and foul practice such as what James writes about. The leaders of Myanmar are refusing aid from “outsiders” to their own people, ravaged by disaster. American companies chase soaring profits while their employees experience cuts in health care accessibility and pensions. Perhaps the arguing among the crowd and the disciples is also an example – are the disciples each claiming “I can cast out this demon” or “No, me, me.” Jealousy and ambition mask the healing power of belief. Do our committees, boards of directors and task forces struggle with these strangling forces even if setting out with a noble purpose? Do we let our desire for promotion and possessions get in the way of hearing our friends’ or family’s need for our love?

It is sometimes hard to see “works of a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13). But a note of thanks left by a single mother, struggling to care for an active toddler while her infant lies dangerously brain damaged in hospital is an act of humility informed with wisdom. And a gift of grace. We can see Jesus in the world through such unselfish actions as He walks with each us through human time.

Whether our situation is in Myanmar or more like a desert: dry, unpromising, seemingly empty of grace, Jesus says to us: “This kind can only come out through prayer.” (Mark 9:29) The psalmist knows this: Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14-15) Jesus is there when we can cut through the arguing, the static in our brains, the distractions of our hearts. Practice being with him.


'This kind can come out only through prayer.' Consider offering palanca for the millions suffering throughout the world today. Enter with them in their suffering; through prayer bring them the healing presence of Jesus.