Thursday, October 30, 2008

Partners in Grace

October 31, 2008

Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. Philippians 1:6-7

Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” Luke 14:3-5


For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:8-11


The test is OVER. Now it is time for the Master to turn to the Socratic Method. After the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in trick questions about taxes and the law, Jesus now confronts them with His test.

Historical sources explain that the Pharisees were politically inactive (unlike the Sadducees). The Pharisees studied, taught, and worshiped in their own way. Although popular and respected, they had no political power. Rather, they only had the power of persuasion. So how odd is it that they seem at a loss for words when Jesus confronts them? Rather than use their persuasive talents, it appears as if Jesus has the last word. This scene completes the table turning because Jesus was able to “think” himself out of the trap of the tax question.

The second oddity in this story is the juxtaposition of the images of “son and ox.” The notes to the NAB explain that some translators think the phrase should have been “ass and ox.” But what if the current text is exactly what was intended?

When Jesus came into the world, his parents laid him in a manger that was surrounded by livestock. He appeared no higher up in the social order than the ox, lamb and other farm animals we typically imagine in a Nativity scene.

No one came to the rescue of Jesus when he was tried, convicted, condemned and executed for trumped up charges by the church and state. It is more realistic in a Gospel story to image the Pharisees would sooner save an ox on Good Friday than have Jesus’ life spared. At death, he also appeared to be no higher in the social order than the animals being led to the slaughter for Passover.

“Save your son or ox” is the challenge to all Jerusalem and all Virginia.


Sometimes we are asked to save someone we do not like. Maybe we are not called upon to run into a burning building or catch a bullet for another. However, sometimes we are challenged to pray for healing and saving of people we do not like as much as others. As St. Paul captures the beauty of Jesus rising above such human emotions in that beautiful passage in Romans 5:5-8:

Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Today, pray for someone from whom you are estranged or for some organization or situation that has caused you pain. Offer up your pain for their healing.

Twelve step programs go further and call on people to make “a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” Are you ready to call on someone that you have harmed and make amends?

If we truly believe in what we read today and hold them in our hearts like partners in grace, then we will be able to pray for our enemies and persecutors. Or will we remain like the Pharisees, unable to answer the question?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ambassador in Chains

October 30, 2008

Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must. Ephesians 6:18-20

At that time some Pharisees came to him and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.’” Luke 13:31-32


Brother Jesus, give me the habit of prayer every day so I can lift up my eyes and raise my voice for you. Help me to open my ears and my heart to you and your Word. Holy Spirit, open my mouth to proclaim the bold mystery of the Good News and give me the courage to break through the chains and obstacles and speak as I must. Amen.


Despite the imagery of the Roman soldier in today’s reading, the underlying message today reinforces the fact that we must “arm” ourselves not with weapons but with prayer. In Tuesday’s readings, we witnessed Jesus pulling an “all-nighter” as He prayed for the wisdom to choose the apostles. Today, once again we get the reminder to “pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.”

The image of the soldier, armed for battle with prayer, gives way to the image of the ambassador for Christ. However, this ambassador has no diplomatic immunity. Rather, this ambassador is in chains. Rather than boldly proclaiming the “mystery of the gospel,” the ambassador is chained by evil and temptation in the world. As St. Paul puts it, our struggle is with the “principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

If you found yourself appointed today an ambassador for Christ, would you have the qualifications and credentials to represent Christ in the world? How will you get that portfolio?

Prayer will unchain us from the battles we face. Prayer will give us the credentials – the portfolio so to speak – to present to the leader of the world in which we are sent.


The Holy Spirit does work in this world and answers prayers. This week the Spirit placed his hands on the appeal of Troy Davis in Georgia this week. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay of execution for Georgia inmate Troy Davis. The Court’s order is available here and a story from the news media is here.

The order gives Davis’ attorneys 15 days to file a brief, and allows the State of Georgia 10 days to respond.

Please keep the family of Savannah Police Officer Mark A. MacPhail as well as Troy Davis, his family and legal team in your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lord, Will Only a Few People Be Saved?

October 29, 2008

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling ... not only when being watched, as currying favor, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not men, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)

As Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem, someone asked, “‘Lord, will only a few people be saved?’ He answered them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.’" (Luke 13:23-24)


Lord, I thank You for the tools you have given me to enter through the narrow gate, and pledge to use them to the best of my ability during this life to spread the Good News.


America, August 13, 2007

In some ways, Jesus would have made a terrific politician. Not only was he a personable, great leader who sincerely cared for his people, but he also was so skillful about not addressing some questions head-on.

When the Pharisees tried to trip him up on whether the census tax was lawful, he told them to repay to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s. When the Sadducees asked who at the resurrection would be the rightful husband of the woman who married seven brothers in succession, he said God is the God of the living, not the dead. Both answers are wonderfully clever responses, but do not exactly answer what was asked.

Then in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is asked if only a few people will be saved. He talks about doors being locked against those who thought they knew the master of the house and about “wailing and grinding of teeth” and of people being cast out. The reading ends with the familiar “some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” But he never really answers the question, and maybe that’s because the answer is more complex than we’d like to think.

In an article last year on this reading, America offered a thoughtful challenge to us all:

Will only a few persons be saved? The answer to that question remains hidden with God. The two great attributes of God in the Bible are justice and mercy. (The reading) reminds us that entry into God’s kingdom is not automatic. Rather, it requires faith in God, firmness of purpose and sharpness of focus and appropriate actions and constant vigilance. While the invitation to God’s banquet is extended to all, we all have to act upon it. How many will be saved in the end is a decision that rests with God.

Perhaps by not directly answering the question, Christ unlike politicians of the twenty-first century has given us all the answer we need. Let’s resolve to concern ourselves less with whether we’ll get into the Kingdom and more with the work that is to be done while we’re here.


Just for today, focus your prayer time on thanksgiving and praise. Ask for guidance in what God desires of you, and take even a seemingly small step toward doing what He desires. Let your prayers for supplication wait a day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

He Called His Disciples to Himself

October 28, 2008

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Ephesians 2:19-20

In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles. Luke 6:12-13


Listen, O my son, to the precepts of the master, and incline the ear of your heart: willingly receive and faithfully fulfill the admonition of your loving father; that you may return by the labor of obedience to him from whom you had departed through the sloth of disobedience.

First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection. In his goodness, he has already counted us as his sons and daughters, and therefore we should never grieve him by our evil actions. With his good gifts which are in us, we must obey him at all times that he may never become the angry father who disinherits his sons and daughters, nor the dread lord, enraged by our sins, who punishes us forever as worthless servants for refusing to follow him to glory.

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 his voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 94:8). And again: You that have ears to hear, listen 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 33:12). Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35).

(The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue: 1-3)


Before Jesus undertook any important task, Luke portrayed him in prayer. Jesus prayed at his Baptism. Jesus prayed at the installation of the apostles (today’s Gospel reading). Jesus prayed at the Transfiguration. Jesus prayed at the Last Supper. Jesus prayed at Gethsemane. Jesus prayed on the cross. Jesus prayed in the upper room. Jesus prayed at the “last breakfast.”

Luke was not unique in portraying Jesus in this respect. The other evangelists also do the same in other important incidents such as the resurrection of Lazarus.

Prayer was integral to Jesus’ life and also should be in ours. Before we face the big tasks of life – illness, milestones like marriage and graduation, when we seek that new job or when we face a major obstacle. But prayer is not reserved for the “big” extraordinary days alone. We also practice prayer so it becomes part of our daily routine…in our little, routine, ordinary days as well. Ever wonder why they call it ordinary time?

In today’s Gospel we read that Jesus spent the night in prayer – the whole night. He did not go up on the mountain to recite a quick “Our Father,” three “Hail Marys” or a “Glory Be.” Jesus prayed throughout the entire night before he names his Apostles.

Would you likely have as much trouble as I would to try to stay awake all night in prayer? When we have a vigil or 40-hours devotion, we ask people to stay awake for one-hour shifts. Are we not like the disciples who could not stay awake in Gethsemane with Jesus?

Pulling an “all-nighter” is not unheard of for other reasons. When did you pull an all-nighter?” Was there a major test in Modern European History? Or were you getting ready to face your comprehensive exams, nursing boards, LSAT, GRE or another exam? Were you travelling by car and had to arrive somewhere the next day and so drove through the night? Was your evening flight cancelled and you had to wait for the morning departure the next day? Maybe you had a sick child, relative or friend and you stayed awake with her or him all night. Or perhaps your test was more voluntary, like entering last weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon or other athletic endeavor.

When facing these kinds of endurance tests, how do we hold it together and not come unglued? Today, St. Paul tells us (and the Ephesians) that through Jesus, “the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord.” He goes on to say that in Jesus, we, also, “are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” So if Jesus is the glue that holds this Church and world up and holds this world together, prayer is our way of helping build the building in a proverbial heavenly habitat for humanity.


The example Jesus asks us to imitate is His example…an example in which prayer was integral to life. Prayer was life. Jesus does not call us to follow him for a few minutes each day. He calls us to him every minute of every day.

Imitate Jesus by praying more often today. Pray at a time and place that is different for you. Don’t skip your regular quiet time with the Lord. Add to it another prayer at another time. If you usually pray before leaving home, then also pray when you get in the car or hop onto Metro (and when you get off the train or bus).

During college and in later visits back to Belmont Abbey, the monks often extend “holy hospitality” after evening mass and invite guests into the refectory to join them for dinner. Guests encounter the monks standing in silence at the dinner table before the meal and then bowing in thanks at the end of the meal when they stood to leave. Meals were eaten in relative silence as a brother reads from a selected text.

If you usually pray before meals, pray during the meal and again at the end of the meal. Make additional time throughout your day to open your life to the Lord even if it means that you have to turn off the television at night for a while.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stand Up and Glorify God

October 27, 2008

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth De Cristofaro

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us. (Ephesians 5:8)

When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God….The Lord said to (the leader of the synagogue) in reply, “Hypocrites! … This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?” (Luke 13:12-13, 15-16)


Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, We praise you and give you glory: We bless you for calling us to be your holy people. Remain in our hearts, and guide us in our love and service. Help us to let our light shine before others. And lead them to the way of faith. Holy Trinity of love, we praise you now and for ever. Amen!



Finding a good, quiet half-hour to reflect, I sat down to read and meditate on today’s readings only to have the phone ring. At 8:30 in the morning, generally that means family needs so I jumped up to answer and heard a quiet, calm voice say, “Good Morning is this Mr. DeCristofaro?” As my irritation rose into my throat and cheeks, I paused and said, “Actually, no it isn’t” and the response came back “Oh, sorry, is this Mrs. DeCristofaro?” Well, this sales person had already lost me! I choked back abrupt words in order to tell a sweet-voiced nun that no, I am not interested in a Catholic magazine subscription…at 8:30 in the morning…during my reflection moments…

Settling back down was difficult so I read the Gospel again. And received a swift wallop between my ears. Who was in bondage here? The suffering woman stood up straight and glorified God at Jesus’ healing touch but my irritation at a real life interruption was filling me, leaving no room for Jesus’ peace or movement of the Spirit. At that moment, I reluctantly recognized that I was in the shoes of the leader in the synagogue who was himself in bondage to law – rules and regulations considered more important than a daughter of Abraham. He was more concerned with external compliance rather than compassion. What caused me to be so irritated? I had been caught up in my self-absorbed piety which was goal-driven rather than God-driven.

As Catholic Christians, are we not called to accept, joyfully, the healing and justice of God? And to spread God’s healing and justice in order to build the Kingdom? I can’t do that when I fill myself with my own agenda, my own territory, rules, laws, displeasures, fears, judgments, compulsions, occupations. Or as St. Paul says: immorality, idolatry, wicked arguments, impurity, greed, lack of forgiveness. The leader of the synagogue must not have listened when Jesus said (as in yesterday’s Gospel) that the greatest commandments are love: Love God and love neighbor. Am I listening?

So, a little wiser and much chastened, I forgave myself and stood up to praise God.


Welcome to our new babe-chick brothers, beginning their Fourth Day standing up straight and glorifying God. Let’s keep them in prayer and join them. Sit silent with God – not with our own agenda but with God - and ask for insight into what is binding us. With what are we so bent over that we cannot see God? Ask for healing. Ask for justice. Accept God’s mercy. And stand up, glorify God, and bring God to the world.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Model for All the Believers

October 26, 2008

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

[Y]ou became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40


Let us pray: Through sharing the Cursillo experience, help us to become imitators of Christ, sharing in mission, suffering and his joy for the sake of a love that we can obtain through the promise and exercise of piety, study and action. Amen.


Loving God with everything I have! That is the challenge that never goes away. We are made for the Lord. How practical is my piety? It seems to me years ago that I gave up ice cream. Now I include candy, cake and cookies in my list of things I do not eat. I ask myself, “What is it that I would not give up for the sake of the Lord?” I hear the word addiction and I realize how easy it is to be addicted to things. Lent is an interesting time of the year because we hear the voice in our heart asking us, “What will we give up for the sake of the Lord?” Oblation and sacrifice the Lord is not asking. It is written in the head of the book that we do the work of the Lord. If you love me, keep the commandments.

Obedience is better than sacrifice. How to be attentive to the voice of the Lord is what we learn by the disciplines of our lives. The commandment of our Gospel says it neatly. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with your entire mind.” The question is not “What am I willing to give up for the sake of the Lord?” The question is better asked, “Is there anything I would not be willing to do for the Lord?” The invitation is to follow the Lord. “Take up your cross and come follow me” is how we become disciples of the Lord. Piety is a life that speaks the presence of the Lord.

Paul invites people to be imitators of him. How are we not imitators to the good people of our lives? Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. How do we invite people to be like us? St. Francis tells his people to preach always and occasionally use words. How do we preach by our lives? We need to study the lives of the Saints. They are updates of Christ in their own times. They translate Christ into their day and age by what they do for others. They are living expressions of the second commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. They love their neighbor as if he or she was Christ.


Actions speak louder than words. Moses told his people in the name of the Lord: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword. The Lord hears all of us because he is compassionate.” No one can deserve our love. Love is a free gift. We deserve justice and it will be meted out to us even as we give to each other. The ways we are good to each other and how forgiving we are determines what sort of justice we can have from God. He will give to us as we give. God will not force his love on us. We open our hearts to his love by our goodness with each other.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bear Fruit

October 25, 2008

Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head. Ephesians 4:15

[The gardener] said to him in reply, “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.” Luke 13:8-9


Let us pray: God, help the men of Cursillo to grow in every way into the sonship of Jesus. Use the team, candidates and spiritual directors as different parts of your body to build a community founded on love so that they may bear fruit. Amen.


As you read today’s scriptures, think of the Men on the 117th Cursillo. They are being served an opportunity for confirmation and conversion in faith. Today’s readings fertilize the call for growth and conversion that they will hear in the talks today – among these are talks on the sacraments, talks on the obstacles, and talks on grace.

Remember back to your weekend, as each talk, discussion, poster and activity built upon each other to ultimately bear fruit in your life. Repent mean to change. Repent means to convert. Repent means to turn back toward the Lord.

St. Paul warns us of the false teachers. He asks that “we may no longer be infants,
tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery,
from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.” Remember just last Sunday, the Gospel related the famous story about the Pharisees asking Jesus about paying the tax to Caesar – they were resorting to human trickery and deceitful scheming to trap Jesus into saying something against the Roman occupation government and army.

Jesus today reminds us to repent. That has several connotations. First is contrition. We have to regret what we did before when we were not bearing fruit. Repentance means that the action about which we are sorry is in the past…we are no longer doing that but instead doing something else. The second implication is change. We are sorry and we change.


Let us not confine our works of love. The spirit of the weekend calls on us as Christians (who share the Cursillo experience and way of life) to live like the gardener. Let us water our plants, fertilize the ground, and prune out of our life the obstacles.

Today, spend some time outdoors watching as the plants get ready for winter by dropping their many colored leaves and becoming dormant. Remember that after every autumn, eventually, there will come a spring, a resurrection of life. It is because of that resurrection that we shall go rejoicing to the House of the Lord.

PS: Pick up some figs or other fruits today and taste the sweetness that symbolizes a life of friendship with the Lord.

PPS: Remember Mañanita Sunday morning at Missionhurst and closing at Our Lady Queen of Peace in the afternoon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Worthy of the Call

October 24, 2008

Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Luke 12:57


Let us pray: God, we pray for unity in the world which will help each of us live up to the ideals to 1) respect life at all stages and reject a culture of death; 2) find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in our personal life and in the world; 3) address all the threats to human life and dignity that we face; 4) protect the environment left in our stewardship; 5) protect human rights and 6) preserve healthy families. Jesus, help us to be worthy to your call and unite us through the power of loving prayer, study and action to spread peace to each other and to the world. Amen.


Yesterday, Jesus warned about divisiveness. Today, he asks, pleas, even urges us to settle our differences. He gives us the image of two people heading off to court. But rather than putting our fate into the hands of the “law of the land,” instead, Jesus wants us to open our hearts to each other and surrender instead to the “law of love.” This calls us to a leadership marked by obedience, humility and service.

Rather than saying we are right all the time, Jesus asks us to work with patience and love for unity and peace.

Today, the men of the 117th Cursillo are hearing and reflecting on many topics. But above all, they will experience the gift of prayer. Offer your prayers that the law of love will work in their lives and in the world.


Next week, after exhausting every possible appeal throughout the legal system, Troy Davis has a date with death set by the state of Georgia. Despite mounting claims that he might be innocent of the crime which sends him to the death chamber, the courts have refused to grant him a new trial. Now, a new warrant has been issued for his execution on October 27.

The Catholic bishops have been steadfast in their opposition to the death penalty. Pope Benedict XVI and religious leaders worldwide of supported the cause of Mr. Davis. You can read more about it in this article from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Please write the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles and ask them to reconsider their decision and grant clemency. There is a form letter here but it is better if you can do that and then also write and use the postal mail or fax.

Chairman Gale Buckner
State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909
Telephone: (404) 657-9350
Fax: 404-651-6670 and (404)651-8502

Thurbert E. Baker
Office of the Attorney General
40 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, Ga 30334
Phone:(404) 656-3300
Fax:(404) 657-8733

Spencer Lawton, Chatham County District Attorney
Chief Assistant District Attorney David Locke
133 Montgomery Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Phone: (912) 652-7308
Fax: (912) 652-7328 or (912) 447-5396

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Set the Earth on Fire

October 23, 2008

Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

May [God] grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3: 16-19

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


Let us pray that the Lord works through the 117th Men’s Cursillo to set the participants on fire with the love of God. Strengthen the team through the workings of the Holy Spirit so that each participant will see how Christ dwells in their heart – so that they, too, will make room for Christ in each of their hearts. Now to the Lord who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, may the 117th Cursillo be dedicated to the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Can we not ask for a more perfect measure of Sacred Scripture this week as the 117th Men’s Cursillo unfolds at Missionhurst? Starting tonight, we pray that the love of the Lord will set the hearts of all the candidates on fire in a quest toward a life filled with Piety, Study and Action.

Although Jesus talks of division, what does that mean? We heard of the division in the series of Gospels on the vineyard. Some of us will accept our job in the vineyard and some of us will not. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will use this weekend to bring the candidates together as one in friendship with Jesus through the common ideals they pursue as laypersons in the church.

We know that division is spurred by the temptation toward sin. By overcoming the obstacles to a life lived in God’s grace and grandeur, the Lord will follow through on his promise to help each of the candidates experience a conversion to live as leaders showing the way through Christian community in action.

Just as we know what causes division, we also know what brings unity. Earlier this week, St. Paul’s letter to Ephesians remind us, “You were at that time without Christ,
alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the Blood of Christ.” So just as Christ’s presence can accentuate our difference, accepting his friendship can speed our unity.


Pray for the Lord to work through this weekend to build a strong and unified community in action among the men at Missionhurst for the Cursillo.

Light a candle today and help that flame remind you that the Holy Spirit is not only still at work in your heart from when you experienced his love, but also that the spark of that light will ignite a fire in each of the candidates.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Also Must Be Prepared

October 22, 2008

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

… I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things … (Ephesians 3:7-9)

With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." (Luke 11: 39-40)


Lord, You are Master. Help me to be ready to receive You at all times and in all forms. Help me to prepare for Your coming.


Is there anything more aggravating than dinner guests who arrive late, meaning less than crispy fried chicken, soggy green beans, and growling stomachs?

Sure there is: guests who arrive early, meaning wine that isn’t thoroughly chilled, carpet that isn’t vacuumed, and flowers that don’t get properly arranged.

Or is your pet peeve friends who don’t call or e-mail you—or those who call or e-mail far too often? Or is it people who drive too fast and take unnecessary risks—or those who go 55 in the fast lane on the Beltway and refuse to move over? Just fill in the blank. We all have them.

But you have to wonder. How many times are we so busy complaining, aloud or to ourselves, about something that isn’t quite right that we fail to see God in the moment?

In today’s Gospel, Christ talks of the need to be prepared at all times for His return, because it will come “at an hour you do not expect.” He praises the steward who distributes the food allowance at the proper time, even if the master’s return is delayed. Conversely, the steward abuses the servants will himself be punished severely, Christ says. The servant unaware of what the master wanted will be beaten only lightly. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more,” He says in conclusion.

Perhaps the “much” in this passage refers to more than tangible wealth and possessions. Surely, our greatest possession is the knowledge of what the Master desires: that we love God with all our hearts and souls and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. Do gifts get any better than that? Let us show our thanks for it by emulating St. Paul and preaching “the inscrutable riches of Christ, and (bringing) to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things.”


Resolve to spend this afternoon living in the moment, unconcerned about guests, family members, trains, carpools, e-mails, phone calls, or other aspects of your life that don’t arrive and depart on your timetable. Welcome these interactions for what they are rather than dwelling on what they aren’t. Journal about the ways you saw Christ’s presence in them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Await the Master’s Return

October 21, 2008

Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

You…were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13

Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. Luke 12:35-37


Father in heaven, the darkness of night comes earlier and earlier this month. The cold of the winter months approaches. Help us to keep our lamps lit and the fire warm so that when you knock, we are ready. We know that when we ask, seek, or knock, you are there for us. Give us the fortitude to be ready and vigilant with the welcoming you expect from your servants when you knock on our door through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.


As we get to the height of action in our national election cycle, today’s scripture makes use of the dichotomy between those who are “in the world” and those who are “in Christ.”

In Christ…on Christ’s mind. In Christ…our names are on his lips and he is calling us. In Christ…in his sacred heart. In Christ. Without Christ we are alienated. With Him, we are loved. With Him we have hope.

We are distanced from Christ when we are paying more attention to the world than to Him who made us his beloved. What closes the distance? There is nothing that we can do alone to close the distance. Only by Jesus shedding His blood for us do we close the distance between our lives and His love. He closes the distance by coming to us…as St. Luke shows in the Gospel. Jesus is like the master who comes to the servant.

What do we do to respond to his invitation? One answer lies in the Prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict which begins: “Listen, O my child, to the precepts of the master, and incline the ear of your heart: willingly receive and faithfully fulfill the admonition of your loving father; that you may return by the labor of obedience to him from whom you had departed through the sloth of disobedience.”

The Rule encourages us to “turn” away from our pre-occupations and “return” to the master by the “labor of obedience” like a new Prodigal Son or Daughter. Jesus may close the distance running toward us like the father in the famous story, but are we ready to receive him with the labor of obedience? Are we vigilant? Are we ready with holy hospitality to wait on the master willingly and faithfully and freely?


Troy Davis is getting closer and closer to a date with death…a final punishment which may not fit the crime he is convicted of committing. However, some say that the guilt of Mr. Davis may have been orchestrated by tainted testimony from one of the witnesses against him…a witness who may be the actual killer. Many others have already recanted their statements made at trial.

With such doubts about the state’s case, people around the world are rallying to support him. They are encouraging Georgia not to meet out the harshest punishment until another trial can be conducted. This week, on Thursday, there will be a rally in Georgia. With appeals exhausted, carrying out the ultimate punishment now can only be stopped by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles or by Governor Sonny Perdue. Commuting Davis's sentence to life would affirm the principle that doubt is not acceptable in the application of a system that irreversibly takes human life.

Please write to the Governor of Georgia and/or the State Board this week and ask them to commute the sentence to life in prison. There is a form on-line here that you can use.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lord Is God, Whose People We Are

October 20 2008

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends…whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations. (Psalm 100:3, 5)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

But God said to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God. (Luke 12:20-21)


You created me, God, in love. Save me from cravings which keep me from you. Fill my warehouses with your love and help me enrich the world by sharing that love. May the Spirit guide me so that your presence in the world is known through my loving choices and actions. When my life is demanded of me, may I arrive rejoicing into your kindness.


Sure feels as if this Gospel were written for today’s news! With global financial insecurity, and personal worry about my depleting pension, what’s next? Personally, I can’t conceive of a global depression so don’t spend time worrying about that. But it crosses my mind that hopefully I’ll be healthy at 80-years old so that working full-time will be a possibility! Through all these readings we see a theme of humans worried for centuries about security, personal identity, material goods and even survival (a far cry from my worries). And God has been there through thick and thin.

Paul reminds us that we are created, lovingly, by a God who wants us to love not collect. Jesus refuses to get involved in a family dispute. He is not interested in proving who is right or wrong, nor accepting greed nor in choosing sides – sides which have separated brothers one from another. Jesus is interested only in the rich man’s unity with God. The very next verses of this story enforce this: For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? (Luke 12: 22-25). Ravens! Not even beautiful cardinals or powerful hawks but scavenger ravens!

The Pope spoke of the mystery of the Church (October 15) at the general audience held in St. Peter's Square. "If before, temples were considered places of the presence of God, now it is known and seen that God does not dwell in buildings made of stone, but that the place of the presence of God is in the world of the living community of the believers.

"This is the greatness of the Church and the greatness of our call," the Pontiff concluded. "We are the temple of God in the world, the place where God truly dwells, and we are, at the same time, community, family of God, who is love. As family and house of God we should carry out in the world the charity of God and thus be, with the strength that comes from faith, the place and sign of his presence." ( )


How much more am I than a raven? Perhaps in this time of economic peril it is a good opportunity to review what “treasures” I hoard. What can I give up in order that I may fill myself with what matters to God? Property? Alcohol? Chocolate? Belongings? Toys? Time spent watching TV, playing games or surfing the net? Impatience? Having things my way? Hurt feelings? Self-importance? Vanity? With what are my warehouses filled?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What Belongs to God

October 19, 2008

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun men may know that there is none besides me. I am the LORD, there is no other.
Isaiah 45:5-6

“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Matthew 22:21


Lord Jesus, help us to be with you – on your side – as the hypocrites circle around you with their traps and snares. Aid us in our quest to know God and all that is granted to us. Make us willing and happy servants eager to render – give back – to God everything that God has already provided to us in love. Amen.


How am I holding out on God? The question is a simple one. The injunction is to do everything we do for the love of the Lord. What do I do for what I get out of it? I need to keep my selfishness under control. How can I render to God all that belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar? What belongs to Caesar? Caesar equates out as all the rights of my brothers and sisters. I am selfish if I do what I do out of self love. What I am getting out of my work for myself is where selfishness is born. What I do for the sake of others is how I live with the Lord. Selflessness is how I give myself away to my brothers and sisters. What am I doing in my life that has Caesar written all over it? Piety is how I have turned my life over to God. How I write God all over my life! The Contemplative in Action grace is letting the Lord work in every part of my life. The seeing of all I do as prayer is easy to say. It is harder to accomplish. We pray in our lives in order that our work may become prayer. The pure Contemplative works so that he or she might be free to pray. The gradual transformation of life into prayer is a work of love. I would love my God so much that I give him everything that I am about. It is easier done as we get older and see life as a gift that we are gradually giving back to God.

The Lord has called us by name. Just as the Lord knows every star of the sky by name, he knows us as much more than a grain of sand. We are his children by virtue of Christ living in us. All our surrenders are to Christ being our life. God sees his son in us not just because of our Baptism. Every Eucharist we are part of gives us the chance to live in Christ. We have his life in us even as he takes us into his life. Our eating of his body and drinking of his blood gives us his life and a claim on heaven. Eucharist makes us children of God even as we become his Mystical Body by our togetherness in his Church.


We need to give thanks to God for each other. It is important we remember each other in our prayers. That is how we give each other back to God. Even as Eucharist is a remembrance of what Christ has done for us, we need to remember what others have done for us. Thus we are loved by God and can live in the power of the Holy Spirit with great conviction. God has put his people into our lives and through his people he opens the door to eternal life for us. We keep the doors open for each other in how we serve one another.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Like Lambs Among Wolves

October 18, 2008

Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

[T]he Lord stood by me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:17

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Luke 10:2-3


St. Luke, you revealed Jesus to us through his words and his actions.

Help us to build our lives the same what Jesus did:

With a concern for those who are marginalized;

With the piety exemplified by Mary Elizabeth, Zechariah, Anna and Simeon;

With willingness to accompany Jesus on his journey and then undertake our own;

With the attitude of generosity to share all that we have; and

With an approach to leadership as the embodiment of the servant.



Jesus would never put into our hands more than we can handle. Nor, as the friend that he is, he would never ask us to do something he has not already done. Sometimes we sense that shared mission in his words. Other times, we get confirmation of that reality in his actions. In reading today’s scriptures, two thoughts related to this occur to me.

First, the reading from Timothy is the epitome of “churchiness.” Standing with each other and supporting each other is really what this effort is all about. Jesus asks us to stand by each other. He knows why that is important because Jesus benefitted from those supporters around him and he knew rejection as he suffered alone.

Jesus surrounded himself with disciples who stood by him and gave him strength. In the end, the closest disciples and friends deserted him. A Jesus hung on the cross, supported physically only by the nails in his hands and feet, at the foot of the cross stood his mother and a small group of friends supporting him spiritually until it was over. They stayed at his side until the end. Jesus knew the importance of this support and instructed us to work with each other. This support is important for another reason: there are too few workers in the vineyard. So let’s help each other.

Furthermore, Jesus was sent as the lamb from heaven into the pack of wolves of the world. The wolves doubted him, tested him, arrested him, tortured him, deserted him and killed him. God could have kept Jesus in heaven at his side – a lamb among lambs. But Jesus accepted his missionary calling to “go on your way” into our world. He wouldn’t send the disciples out into the world to “go on your way,” without intimately knowing from personal experience what they would face. Isn’t standing in his presence top serve what we do when we offer Palanca to each other?


Thursday night begins the Men’s 117th Cursillo at Missionhurst. Take a few moments this weekend to prepare you Palanca for the candidates listed here. Palanca may be sent to any team member at the address on the page or the rector, dropped off at Missionhurst, or sent to Jack Finnerty (before October 23).

Mañanita: will be at Missionhurst, Sunday, October 27, at 7:00 a.m. Quietly gather at 6:45 AM at the gates of Missionhurst. Please be mindful of the neighbors at that hour. Angel Phil Kiko will meet us and escort us to the Mañanita area.

Closing: There will be NO MASS at Closing. Closing will be at Our Lady, Queen of Peace, 2700 South 19th St, Arlington, Virginia, 22204, 703-979-5580 (directions below). Please be seated by 3:45; closing will begin at 4:00 PM. The clausura will be in the Fr. Ray Hall, immediately behind the Church, at the conclusion of the Closing Ceremony. Food and beverage donations may be dropped off in the Hall before the closing. Please bring substantial food, rather than snack foods, to share for the reception. At the end of the reception, community assistance to clean and straighten the hall would be appreciated.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

He Chose Us

October 16, 2008

Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

[H]e chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. Ephesians 1:4-6

[T]his generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter. Luke 11:50-52

Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI

O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us who gather today, in a world of incredible violence and pain. We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who suffer from injuries and illness. God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth. Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront terrible events in our society. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.

Adapted from Pope Benedict’s prayer offered at Ground Zero, New York City, April 20, 2008.


At first glance, these readings make me a little dizzy. Usually I have no trouble connecting the dots from the First Reading to the Good News. But today, we encounter two extremes – opposite messages – between the two readings.

The reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is a greeting that reminds us of everything that is good. Paul opens his letter offering grace and peace. On the other hand, in the Gospel, St. Luke recounts Jesus warning the Pharisees once again – “Woe to you, scholars of the law!” Ouch.

St. Paul tells us that we have been “chosen by God” to be “holy and without blemish.” Yet, Jesus tells us that “this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world.” I would say that is a pretty big blemish.

Reading on, St. Paul reminds us that we were chosen for adoption – “adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will.” Imagine God walking through the halls of an adoption agency looking over all children who are in need of loving care. He does not pick a single one. He picks every one to be a member of his family. You. Me. The driver who cut you off in traffic today. The cop who gave you a ticket for (speeding or whatever). Yes, Cubs fans, even Steve Bartman. Yes, Orioles fans, even Jeffrey Maier. Every One.

But, in a harsh dose of reality, Jesus lectures that this generation will not be picked up in an adoption agency. Rather we will be picked up in a dragnet and charged with the blood of every prophet slain from Abel to Zechariah! A to Z. From the first murder in the Hebrew Bible to the last one (Zechariah’s murder is recounted in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22.). Imagine an Old Testament God in the jury box.

What makes the difference between being “the beloved” (who Paul addresses) or the criminal or the condemned who Jesus charges with murder? What is “the key of knowledge” that Jesus accuses the scholars of removing?

The answer IMHO: As we follow St. Luke, the key throughout this chapter and throughout this Gospel is the victory of love over law. The psalmist today gives us the answer – suggesting that we need to sing to the Lord a new song. Love, not law, is the new song.

Are we willing to accept the love of God over the “old song” or the laws of the past? If we can become “scholars of loving in action,” then we can ascribe to the lofty image projected by St. Paul to his friends in Ephesus and elsewhere.

Do we sum up our whole being in Christ, and for Christ? If we adopt Christ, then “we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.” Jesus is the key to the difference.


There is a great moving movie which will be shown on PBS television tonight which illuminates the struggle between law and love in real terms: Soldiers of Conscience.

According to the film’s website, here is a description of what is in store if you tune in:
Soldiers of Conscience is a dramatic window on the dilemma of individual U.S. soldiers in the current Iraq War – when their finger is on the trigger and another human being is in their gun-sight. Made with cooperation from the U.S. Army and narrated by Peter Coyote, the film profiles eight American soldiers, including four who decide not to kill, and become conscientious objectors; and four who believe in their duty to kill if necessary. The film reveals all of them wrestling with the morality of killing in war, not as a philosophical problem, but as soldiers experience it - a split-second decision in combat that can never be forgotten or undone.

Soldiers of Conscience is not a film that tells an audience what to think, nor is it about the situation in Iraq today. Instead, it tells a bigger story about human nature and war. The film begins with a little-known fact – after World War II, the Army’s own studies revealed that as many as 75 percent of combat soldiers, given a chance to fire on the enemy, failed to do so. The studies showed that soldiers, despite training, propaganda and social sanction, retained a surprising inhibition when it came to taking human life. The statistics surprised and alarmed America’s generals, who developed training techniques to overcome the reluctance to kill. But if the military found a solution to its problem, the moral contradiction for the individual soldier remained. The mental and emotional burdens carried by soldiers who have killed ripple across America’s families and communities after each of its recent wars. As this film shows, every soldier is inescapably a “soldier of conscience.”

Check you local television listings for the time and channel in your area. (According to their web sites, this is set to air at 9 p.m. tonight on Maryland Public Television and at numerous times on WETA.

In addition, the web site provides a listing of resources for soldiers, service members and veterans.