Thursday, July 31, 2008
Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church
Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the house of the LORD and speak to the people of all the cities of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD; whatever I command you, tell them, and omit nothing. Perhaps they will listen and turn back, each from his evil way, so that I may repent of the evil I have planned to inflict upon them for their evil deeds. Jeremiah 26:2-3
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:57-58
Father, give us the confidence to preach your word through our thoughts, words and deeds. Jesus, give us the courage to tell everything and omit nothing. Holy Spirit, give us the conviction to omit nothing from the important message of Jesus. Amen.
Perhaps we will listen.
The Lord does not show much confidence in His people. From Jeremiah right through Jesus, when they stood up and testified about the Lord, the people turned their backs and refused to listen.
However, the Lord persists in his instructions. Tell them. Omit nothing. Let them/us choose for themselves/ourselves.
Today, we sometimes tread gingerly on the message of the Good News. Arthur Simon tells this anecdote in the Preface to his book, How Much is Enough? Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture: A Christian from Germany visited the United States shortly after World War II. “I noticed your churches have cushions,” he commented, suggesting churches of affluence. Then he added, “I notice your preaching has cushions, too.”
Simon noted that the visitor had gotten a sampling of “feel-good sermons that treaded lightly (if at all) on the expectations God has for us regarding love and justice toward the poor, and in this case especially toward marginalized African-Americans.”
Jesus instructed his disciples to preach without cushions. His approach reflected the maxim, “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Yet, as we go from our air-conditioned homes, to our air-conditioned, power-steered, and power-braking cars, to paved parking lots and air conditioned churches, it is hard to imagine the plight of the prophets who faced death when they told truth to power. How many of the church leaders backed down rather than face the fate of John the Baptist for speaking truth to power?
So we do the same? Instead of following a consistent ethic of life, do we pick and choose from the doctrinal menu what we find palatable – choosing what is easy (not queasy) on the stomach and compromising (not promising) on the mind?
As we mark the 40th anniversary of Humane Vitae, are we all ready to embrace this encyclical and its push to be open to new life through love? Or do we see it as a way to interrupt our free love?
Are we ready to side with the Pope who has opposed all recent wars on moral grounds?
Are we ready to stand with the bishops against the use of the death penalty for criminals when alternatives such as life imprisonment without parole exist?
Perhaps we will listen. Perhaps we will turn our back. Otherwise, we just might get what we deserve.
On this “First Friday,” spend a few minutes with the Lord in recognition of the devotion of St. Alphonsus Ligouri to visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He suggested the following:
Pause for a while each day, at least a half or quarter of an hour, before Jesus Christ in the Sacrament in some church. If you do this, you will see the great benefit you will derive from it. Know that the time you spend in devotion before this most divine Sacrament will be the time in your life most fruitful to you; it will be of comfort when you die and in eternity.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
July 31, 2008
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Can I not do to you, house of
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad, they throw away. Matthew 13:47-48
Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as You deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, except to know that I am doing Your Will. Pray for us St. Ignatius, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
Oblation by St. Ignatius
Take, O Lord, into Thy hands my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I am, and have. Thou hast given me, and I surrender them to Thee, to be so disposed in accordance with Thy holy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, with these I am rich enough and desire nothing more. Amen.
~~From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Indulgence of 300 days (Leo XIII, 1883)
Thirty-one days and thirty memorials to our saints in July. Our month-long encounter with the lives of the saints ends today with the celebration of the impact made by St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. There may be months where the Proper of the Saints celebrates more lives than we do during the days of July (I have not gone through the annual calendar day-by-day or month-by month). However, I can not imagine a month where we celebrate more of the greatest saints and doctors of the church that we have this month. Boniface and Benedict. Mary Magdalene. Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Thomas and James. Now Ignatius.
Some of us are touched every day by the hand of the Jesuits. They were our pastors, teachers, mentors, confessors and spiritual directors. Every Sunday, one of his heirs shares his Gospel reflections as we read the inspired reflections of Fr. Joe McCloskey.
While recovering from an injury, Ignatius of Loyola began reflecting on the Lives of the Saints. He asked himself, “Why should I not do what blessed Francis or blessed Dominic did?” The secular or earthly ideas which had been preoccupying his mind were now replaced with such ideas. He slowly began to realize the fulfillment that was possible when your mind is filled with the lasting spiritual delights of such discipline. In the end, all that mattered to Ignatius was “seeing the love of God as insatiable.”
In a meditation on the life of St. Ignatius, Ron Knox writes:
We live in times when great importance is attached to planning, and Christian people are apt to catch the infection from their surroundings. We must revise, we must reorganize, we must have a plan or we are lost! But I don’t think
But the refining fire never has enough and the hand of the potter never has enough clay. When he makes something imperfect, he starts over and works on a new creation “of whatever sort he pleased.”
Does our fire burn bright enough? Do our hands work hard enough at the potter’s wheel?
What fires do today’s readings ignite and consume in you?
Are you choosing the best course like that of Ignatius? What will the angels do at the end times when they pick up the fish that is your life? Into which bucket will they toss you? Will you end up in the good bucket or in the bucket which gets thrown away?
Ignatius tells us that the purpose of Spiritual Exercises is “To overcome oneself, and to order one’s life without reaching a decision through some disordered affection.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises begins with the following foundation:
Principle and Foundation
The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises
Human beings are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by means of this to save their souls.
The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings to help them in working toward the end for which they are created.
From this it follows that I should use these things to the extent that they help me toward my end, and rid myself of them to the extent that they hinder me.
To do this, I must make myself indifferent to all created things, in regard to everything which is left to my freedom of will and is not forbidden. Consequently, on my own part I ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all other matters.
I ought to desire and elect only the thing which is more conducive to the end for which I am created.
According to various sources, an anonymous Southern minister put this foundation another way when describing his study and prayer life and how these affect his action.
I reads myself full.
I thinks myself clear.
I prays myself hot.
Then, I lets myself go.
Are you ready to “lets yourself go” in your life of Piety, Study and Action?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Melanie Rigney
Thus the Lord answered me: If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand; if you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece. (Jeremiah 15:19)
But I shall sing of your strength, extol your love at dawn, for you are my fortress, my refuge in time of trouble. (Psalms 59:17)
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44)
Lord, let me sing of your strength and love as the psalmist did. Use me as your mouthpiece to share the Good News.
There’s a saying among writers: Show, don’t tell. That means, for example, instead of writing, “He was angry,” it’s more compelling to show someone who is angry. An example might be, “He clenched and unclenched his fists as his face reddened.”
God’s all about showing, too. In today’s Old Testament reading, the Lord tells Jeremiah that he will be “a solid wall of brass” against his enemies. The psalmist doesn’t just say, “I’m there for you, Lord”; he promises to “sing of your strength and revel at dawn in your mercy.” And in the Gospel reading, Jesus uses similes to show the burning desire we have to enter the Kingdom of heaven once we find it.
Showing is the action part of our Fourth Day. It’s doing more than talking about our friend Jesus in the safety of our faith community. It’s about showing we are Christians by our love, as the song goes.
I saw a lot of Christian love in action during a recent trip:
• A young woman listened with interest as a World War II veteran struggled to talk about his time in combat. She held his hand as the tears welled up in his eyes.
• A middle-aged man came to his wife’s assistance without complaint, making numerous phone calls to gather the information she needed for an unplanned speech.
• A woman prominent in her field whose cancer recently returned and metastasized was open and vulnerable in sharing her fears with an audience of both friends and strangers. “People say God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle,” she said matter of factly. “I disagree. I can’t handle this right now.” She drew a standing ovation when she called on people to be ready for detours on what they believe should be a straight line to success and glory.
I’m sure all three of these people are regular pray-ers and churchgoers. But it was their actions large and small, their showing rather than telling if you will, that sang the Lord’s song for all to see. They understand that entering the Kingdom is about more than believing it’s there; it’s about helping others to believe it through their actions.
How will the Lord use you as his mouthpiece? Come up with three ways that you can show, not tell, others about the Kingdom today.
Monday, July 28, 2008
July 29, 2008
We recognize, O LORD, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers; that we have sinned against you. For your name's sake spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your glory; remember your covenant with us, and break it not. Jeremiah 14:20-21
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord.” John 11:25-27
Lord, in my journey, please give me the courage you have given to
The prophet asks the Lord to “remember your covenant with us.” Then, in the life of St. Martha, whom we remember today, we have a concrete reminder that the covenant is a two way street. Maybe in the Hebrew Bible, the people looked upon the Lord to provide them with food, safety, and protection. But in the Good News of the New Testament, we have to hold up our end of the covenant.
The life of St. Martha shows us two parts of our responsibility. In the alternate reading for today from Luke’s Gospel, Martha asks the Lord to have her sister help her “do the serving” as she has received Jesus in her home as a guest. However, rather than getting support for her position, Jesus instead tells her that Mary, her sister, has made the better choice. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) We not only must encounter each other in service, but we can not be sidetracked from encountering the Lord.
This echoes what we learn in Matthew 12. When Jesus is preaching and is told that his mother and brothers are outside waiting to talk with him, Jesus teaches the crowd that the way to our kinship with the Lord is via listening to him and doing the will of the Father as Jesus teaches it. And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:49-50
Today’s other reading stresses what Martha teaches us about faith. When Jesus confronts her face to face and asks if she believes what he has been teaching, without hesitation, Martha answers, “Yes Lord.” Martha may have been distracted by the responsibility of hospitality and serving her guests in the story related by St. Luke. However, when we encounter her for the second time, in John’s Gospel, we see a changed woman, who is trying to show us the way to change by her living example.
The National Cursillo Encounter begins later this week at the Catholic University of America. All Cursillistas are invited to Attend “Open Events” at the 2008 NATIONAL ENCOUNTER even if you are not registered to participate in the entire conference. If you are unable to attend the 2008 National Encounter but want to participate where possible, below are two events that are open to all Cursillistas, regardless of registration status. Those two events are:
Opening Session of the 18th National Encounter, Thursday, July 31, at 7:30 pm, Basilica of the National Shrine, Upper Church: imagine, Cursillistas illuminating the National Shrine by ourselves; imagine, joining hands and hearts with 650 Cursillistas across the US as lights for Christ; imagine, the Keynote Address, Christ is Our Light” by Bishop Gonzalez, prayer, song, Adoration, Benediction, Reconciliation…and lots of grace; imagine, missing this historic event by not attending! Don’t stay home this night, be blessed and a blessing!
Mass – Friday, August 1, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm,
Can you attend?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
July 28 2008
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Beth DeCristofaro
For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen. (Jeremiah 11:13)
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’” (Matthew 13:31-32)
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your holy presence.
Enfold me in your love.
Let my heart become one with yours. (Sacred Space)
What a remarkable image! God says: For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so had I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me (Jeremiah 11:13) God wants to be as close to us as our intimate clothing. God doesn’t shy away from our bodies. Jesus made full use of his body as a man – even giving it away in sacrifice. As Father Joe McKloskey wrote in his Daily Tripod reflection yesterday, “God's love is so all embracing that there is never less than all of God's love in any moment of our life that we are living. What am I willing to offer for all of God's love? The catch in the offer is all of "self.” Ignoring or resisting this all embracing love causes the relationship to rot – on our earthly side not on God’s side.
However, Jesus’ promise is that nurturing, seeking relationship to him, and thus to God will reap beyond our bodies’ potential and in fact beyond our imagination. Faith, humanly small, grows and gives life to more than the self through the workings of God and the quickening of the Spirit. In the wonderful surprise of God’s love, faith gives life to the unexpected. In Jesus’ parable, small birds of the sky which represent peoples other than the Jews were welcomed into the branches of the mustard tree. Our faith touches other human beings, or can produce great works of awesome humility and grow even human saints.
Let my heart become one with yours, Jesus, as my heart is too small to house the birds of the sky you send my way. In what ways is my heart too small? Recent polls show that volunteering is down for the second year in a row in the
Friday, July 25, 2008
July 27, 2008
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours? 1 Kings 3:8-9
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Matthew 13:44-46
My portion is the LORD; I promise to keep your words. I entreat you with all my heart: have mercy on me in accord with your promise. I have examined my ways and turned my steps to your decrees. Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commands I trust. Psalm 119:57-59, 66
All or nothing is a real choice in life that few are aware of, but all are offered. All is God. God is all there in any moment of our life. God is the pure lover. God never offers less than all his love. God's love is so all embracive that there is never less than all of God's love in any moment of our life that we are living. What am I willing to offer for all of God's love? The catch in the offer is all of self. God would give us the fullness of his love in his Son. The question is always; "What part of me am I holding back?"
Spirituality is the putting on the mind and heart of Jesus. God reveals to us in Jesus the fullness of His love. Our response to God's love is in our closeness to Jesus. Our love for Jesus is the way we live out the Commandments God has given us. Our love shows itself in the way we put others before ourselves. Jesus loved in the same way he was loved by the Father. He gives us all of Himself. We are gifted people because out study of his life reveals to us what God expects of us. Jesus has loved us just as the Father has loved Him. We are to love one another even as Jesus has loved us.
Our reading the Scriptures gives us an understanding heart to judge right from wrong. Solomon asked for wisdom to be able to judge his people well. God gives us in our awareness of his Son the bottom line of wisdom. In the humanness of Christ we have the fullest statement of the mystery of God. What we know about Christ gives us insight into the plan of God for us. We have been baptized into his life and what we learn from the Scriptures teaches us how to live his life. We have been created in the image and the likeness of God and discovering ourselves in Christ is to have the wisdom of realizing the fullness of God's plan for us. Christ is our pearl of great price. To ask as Solomon did for wisdom is to ask for deeper awareness of who Christ should be in our lives.
St. Paul challenges us to be conformed to the image of Christ. God gave us this destiny and in Christ we are called. Our connection to Christ justifies us. In our closeness to the "Tree of Glory" we also will be glorified. Christ is our firstborn brother and in him we are brothers and sisters. We have the best of all reasons to give away our lives to one another and to treat each other as the greatest of all treasures.
What we do for the least one we do for Christ. He is the be-all of every true treasure and the end all of our existence when we try to love as he did. Then the treasure is no longer buried in a field. It is out there in front of us for all to see in the old and the new of the goodness of a life lived in Christ.
July 26, 2008
Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place, in the land which I gave your fathers long ago and forever. Jeremiah 7:5-7
While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. Matthew 13:25-26
Parents of Mary, pray for all parents that they may provide the loving home and faithful teaching that you provided your daughter. Amen (From www.catholic.org)
How do we keep weeds from spouting in our lives?
The prophet Jeremiah provides a strong suggestion – perhaps a concise version of the commandments.
Deal justly with your neighbor.
No longer oppress the immigrant, stranger, widow or orphan.
Do not shed innocent blood in this place.
Do not follow strange gods.
Jeremiah brings the Ten Commandments down to four and foreshadows Jesus and the Two Great Commandments. Not following this advice allows the weeds of sin to sprout in our lives.
The Master in Matthew's parable does not allow his servants to pull the weeds out. He allows the weeds to grow along with the good plants that bear fruit. Why would he not take that action? Matthews tells us that pulling the weeds now might damage the good plants as well.
God could eliminate all temptation in the world and then we would not have the lure of greed, sex, drugs and money and the rest of the sins we face. Why would He not do that? Perhaps because it would eliminate the possibility that some people would change and turn away from their sinful ways in order to follow God.
Many prayer requests and palanca requests are needed by the Cursillo community. If you did not get Lay Director Mimi Fitzgerald's recent request, palanca is needed for the following:
First, the members of the Secretariat are spending some quiet time at Mt. Tabor from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon-July 25-26 - "Listening and being led in Prayer, Community and Service - Together."
The August Women's Team will have Talk Day this Saturday, July 26 at St. John Neumann's.
The October Men's Team will start formation on Sunday, July 27th.
And the National Encounter will start at Catholic University on Thursday, July 31.
There is much to pray about and offer sacrifice for. Please keep all of these endeavors in your thoughts. Somehow it makes even our mundane, routine activities a little more alive when we keep others in mind!!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
July 25, 2008
Feast of St. James, Apostle
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
"…Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20: 26-28
O Glorious Saint James, because of your fervor and generosity Jesus chose you to witness his glory on the Mount and his agony in the Garden. Obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending struggles of this life. Help us to follow Christ constantly and generously, to be victors over all our difficulties, and to receive the crown of glory in heaven. Amen.
In a foreshadowing of the servant leader who washes the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus uses the pride of St. James' mother to reinforce the importance of the virtue of humility. Selflessness is the hallmark of our action. We often undertake some action because of a feeling of reciprocity. We sometimes act because we "owe" something to someone or we want to instill in them an obligation to owe something to us. However, ours is the faith of debt forgiveness. Rather than piling up lists of debtors from which to collect, we should be erasing our list of debtors. Rather than storing up food in our pantries, we should be filling up the pantries at churches and charities.
The ultimate sacrifice is that which the Son of Man has given for us…giving up his very human life in order to ransom those of us held hostage by sin, slaves to our selfishness.
Here is the latest from the National Coalition to abolish the death penalty (a position consistent with Church teachings and the call of bishops around the country).
This coming Monday, July 28, in the Joint Hearing Room of the Legislative Services Building in Annapolis, the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment will hold its first hearing from 3 to 7pm. A strong turnout is vital to help show the Commission and others that Maryland citizens are interested, watching and engaged in the process. Even if you can only attend part of the hearing, we encourage you to come.
If you don't live in Maryland, please think about who you know in Maryland and ask them to go, and to think about who they know....
Anyone who lives in Maryland and is concerned about the death penalty should be certain to sign up with Maryland Citizens Against State Executions in order to be kept up to date as this exciting process moves forward.
Anyone who can attend Monday's hearing or who wants to receive specific notification of future opportunities should also send an e-mail to email@example.com or call Justin at 301-779-5230.
If you know others you can gather to car pool to the hearing, please do so, and let us know. Also, if you know others who would attend or who are part of another group that might gather and send a car load, please spread the word by forwarding this message, and follow it up with a phone call.
July 24, 2008
Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew 13:11-12
"Oh, that you may truly bless me and extend my boundaries! Help me and make me free of misfortune, without pain!" 1 Chronicles 4:10 (aka The Prayer of Jabez)
To anyone who has, more will be given.
No. Jesus is not talking about your 401(K) or that beachfront property you have been wanting. Jesus is talking about your biblical understanding quotient. As we open our eyes and ears to what Jesus is telling us in our study, then we will learn even more. As we pray, our prayers will be answered. As we show charity to our neighbors and enemies, others will show charity toward us. We will continue to grow in faith. If we do not, then whatever Jesus has offered to us will be taken back.
As the notes to the NAB tell us, "God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away." So Christianity is a two-way street. Or as the old sign in the Worship Center at St. Mary of Sorrows said, "Christianity is not a spectator sport." God will work with you provided that you work with God.
In his book on the Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson encourages us to "Attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God steps in!"
Break out of your comfort zone. Put God at the center of your work and receive the blessings that God will bestow upon you. More will be given to you.
Monday, July 21, 2008
July 23, 2008
Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Melanie Rigney
"Ah, Lord God," I said, "I know not how to speak; I am too young. But the Lord answered me, Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:6-8)
God, you have taught me from my youth; to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds. (Psalms 71:17)
"Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear." (Matthew 13:7-9)
Lord, quiet my soul when I think I am too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too judgmental, too flighty, too ill, too anything to speak of You. Thank You for Your patience in showing me again and again that You are beside me wherever You send me.
Jeremiah was less than thirty years old when he protested to God that he wasn't ready to be a prophet.
Joan of Arc was just thirteen and a half when she first heard the Lord's voice—and listened to what He was saying.
Maria Goretti wasn't quite twelve when she fought off a rapist...and prayed for his soul during twenty hours of painful suffering.
For nearly fifty years, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta toiled among the poor and dying...and didn't feel God's presence.
For virtually all of his eighty-one years on this planet, St. Pio of Pietrelcina was ill—gastroenteritis, insomnia, migraines, asthma, kidney stones, ulcers, arthritis, and, of course, the visible stigmata for which he was known.
"I'm scared to get up and speak in front of people," we might say, begging off when we're asked to be on a Cursillo Weekend team.
"I'd like to help at the food pantry, but I'd have to drive to get there," we might say because we're uncomfortable around people who look different than we do.
"Sorry, but I make it a policy not to serve on committees," we might say when we're dodging a request to join a parish ministry...and the person asking works our nerve.
"Whoever has ears ought to hear," Jesus says in today's gospel reading. But for the ears to hear, for the seed to be sowed, someone has to trust enough in the Father to speak. Resolve to remember the Lord's words to Jeremiah: To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Don't say a knee-jerk no for the rest of the week when you are presented with opportunities, large or small, to speak the Good News. Find a way to say yes, either immediately or in the next few months, to each request that presents itself.
July 22, 2008
Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene
Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our guilt? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins. Micah 7:18-19
But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. John 20:11
Father, help us to see you in the world and in the people who are around us. We praise you and thank you, Lord of sea and sky, for pinning our sins on the back of your Son and pitching them into the depths of the ocean. Freed from their burden, help us take on the yoke you offer. Amen.
July continues our quest through the lives of the saints. So far this month, the liturgical calendar has allowed us to reacquaint ourselves with St. Bonaventure, St. Benedict, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, and St. Thomas. Today, we stop by and see Mary Magdalene as she waits outside the tomb weeping.
Imagine being the first person to see Jesus after the resurrection! How would you respond? Probably not unlike Mary. When she first sees the stone rolled away, she assumed the Roman guards stole the mortal body of Jesus and she runs to tell the disciples. She did not go in to inspect the tomb. She ran to tell others. After Peter and John saw that Jesus was not there, they left. But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. For her faith, hope and charity, Mary is rewarded with the first encounter with the risen Christ!
Rabbouni! Her Epiphany on Easter provides the impetus for her evangelization. I have seen the Lord! After the experience, she continues to tell others about her encounter.
Jesus does not want us to remain outside weeping. He wants us to enter into his father’s house. He has made a room for us there. But we have to recognize Jesus coming to us through those around us like Mary recognizes that the gardener is not the gardener but instead is the Lord. We also have to recognize the natural gifts of the earth which have been bestowed upon us. Jesus will even come to us first. He called Mary by name in order for her to see past the speck of dust that clouded her eye. When he calls, she recognizes him and comes to that realization.
Jesus will call you by name. Will he find you remain outside in mourning or willing to come inside?
What we are physically or emotionally tied to makes us fail to see or hear the message that Jesus has for us. Mary had to get past her attachment to the human, physical persona of Jesus in order for her to experience Easter. What is it that has us tied up or tied down? These material or emotional attachments anchor us to society and hold us back from experiencing our faith at a higher level. They are like the weeds growing among the plants that grow from the seeds Jesus sowed. We need to figure out ways to separate us from these distractions.
When at Oceanside beaches, enjoy wading out into the shallow waters and hugging the shores. The tides pull you in all directions…but especially outward toward the deeper waters. Micah tells us that Jesus pitches all of our sins out there in the depths of the ocean where we cannot reach them and they cannot reach back and harm (distract) us further.
Pitch your sins out into the ocean so you are not encumbered for the tasks ahead.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
July 20, 2008
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.
For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. Wisdom 12:16
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will. Romans 8:26-27
"If you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, 'First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Matthew 13:29-30
Lord, you are kind and forgiving, most loving to all who call on you. LORD, hear my prayer; listen to my cry for help. Psalm 85:5-6
The love of the Cross of Jesus is the counterintuitive of Christianity.
It grows out of a personal love of Christ. We love him so much that we do not want to be any different than the Christ of the Gospel. To be just like the Christ of the Cross is to realize that the Cross of Christ is the revelation of the so great love of God. Christ loves us so much he is willing to take upon himself the penalty for our sins. Our closeness to Christ in our willingness to suffer for the sake of others is to share Christ's love for us in our being Christ's love for others. Love is the giving of our life for the sake of others. We do it by sharing our time and our energy. All the ways we make another's needs the purpose of our actions is to live in a wondrous way the piety of Christ.
How we put up with the evil of life that surrounds us is part of the Story of God's love in us. Even as we reject what is wrong about life around us, we learn how to live with what we cannot do anything about.
The good we do in our lives coexists with what is wrong about life. God allows us to be tempted even as Christ was tempted by power, honor and glory. The Last Judgment will be the harvesting time when the good we have done will be separated from the evil we cannot do anything about.
It is the Spirit interceding for us according to God's will that shows us that we did not fail in our weakness. God reads our hearts and rewards us for the good we are trying to do. The mustard seed of what we do can make us seem to be failing to our world. Yet the Hidden Life Grace is the reality of the ordinary of our life becoming the extraordinary because of what God can accomplish in the purity of our hearts intention to do what is right even though it be misunderstood by our world. The Spirit speaks for us in the groans of our heart. God listening to God rewards us according to the intentions of our heart.
Study takes place in our lives by the examen of the consciousness of Christ in our daily actions.
Each of our actions is leavened by the yeast of Christ's love within our hearts. Our attempts to put on the mind and the heart of Christ make us who we are in God's love. Every action that we undertake in our lives has the good seed of the Son of man when we are doing our bit to make our world a better world in the love of Christ. The measure of the worth of what we do will be seen when we shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father. The weeds of our lives will be burnt up in the love Christ has for us in the good we have tried to do in his name. Our Spirituality is the putting on the mind and the heart of Christ so that what we do can be called the work of Christ in our lives. We need to love him so much that his word sounds out in the good works of our lives.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
July 21 2008
Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Beth DeCristofaro
O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam…You have been told, O man, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:3-4, 8)
An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
(Matthew 12: 39, 40)
LORD God, help me to do as you ask in all I think and do today. Lend me your hand that I might do right. Let me see and love goodness. Offer me the chance to walk humbly with you, Almighty God.
The media is full of stories such as a woman committing murdered or a man caught in poverty, disease and addiction. Often we hear the broken hearted parents cry: "What have I done?" "What went wrong?" There is most often a very complicated back-story with good intentions and blame enough to share. How wrenching, then, to hear God's sorrow: O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? (Micah 6:3). God sorrows that the Chosen People in Micah's day and that I, today, turn away. It is rather mind blowing because, of course, there is no blame on the part of God. The psalmist knew that God keeps the covenant. God just wants ME! My duty is manifested by my praise and my obedience: He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God (Psalm 50:23)
St. Therese of Liseux puts it another way: "Jesus does not ask great deeds from us, but only surrender and gratitude." A child who has hurt her mom or dad will try to make it up – bring flowers or hugs or maybe even make put her toys away, unasked. The parent says "I love you, just do what you are supposed to do the next time, please." As adult children we can hear the same loving, parental words from God through our prayer. Jesus is the sign of God's love – more tender, more potent, more life giving than any hug. Paraphrasing St. Therese, Jesus comes to a heaven infinitely dear to him, "the heaven of our souls."
It brings to mind the beautiful words of the song:
What wondrous love is this!
oh, my soul! oh, my soul!
What wondrous love is this! oh my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse
for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
What "signs" do I seek that are hindering me from recognizing the wondrous love God has offered me in Jesus and quickened through the Spirit? Am I looking for earthly proof of God's love? If I am expecting forgiveness or acceptance, as sacrifice, I can offer them to another. If it is advancement or respect from others, to whom can I give recognition, advancement or respect? Do I feel that repentance is due to me? What if I made amends?
Walk humbly into the presence of God all day today. Give thanks for the little miracles – and even the little hindrances – of our safe lives. Be kind and look for goodness. There is something greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon within your soul.
July 20, 2008
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; And you gave your sons good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins. Wisdom 12:18-119
He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'" Matthew 13: 31-32
Teach me, LORD, your way that I may walk in your truth, single-hearted and revering your name. I will praise you with all my heart, glorify your name forever, Lord my God. Your love for me is great; you have rescued me from the depths of Sheol. O God, the arrogant have risen against me; a ruthless band has sought my life; to you they pay no heed. But you, Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, most loving and true. Turn to me, have pity on me; give your strength to your servant; save this child of your handmaid. Give me a sign of your favor: make my enemies see, to their confusion, that you, LORD, help and comfort me. Amen.
Over the past few weeks, we have read about all kinds of warnings and threats that the Lord made in the Hebrew Bible to those who turned their backs on the Lord. Amos. Kings. Isaiah. Micah. Wisdom. The books change but human behavior does not. People do as they wish and ignore the commandments of the Lord often at the peril of their neighbors and enemies. The Lord continues to send warnings through the prophets that darkness and famine will come upon the land. The more He called, the farther away they went.
Enter Jesus. As he takes center stage in the New Testament, the Pharisees carry on the great tradition of self-indulgence, greed and sin. When Jesus appears to threaten their power and status, they are no longer content just ignoring the warning as their ancestors did. Instead, the Pharisees turn up the heat and begin to plot against Jesus.
This is happening against a backdrop in which Jesus turns up the heat on the messaqge (Love your enemies. Be perfect as my Father is perfect. I desire mercy, not sacrifice.) But beyond that, he has a mission that goes beyond all the prophets. He is there not only to deliver the prophetic vision of the Kingdom, but also to bring forth the Father's love and mercy and lenience as the reading from Wisdom reminds us. And he will do that by taking on his back not only the Roman cross but also all of our sins throughout history. These will be forgiven in His persona and in his life. Jesus is sent to pay the price for us, for all of our sins. We are not asked to pay that price. He takes on all of our debts and wipes the slate clean.
Just as Jesus replaces our sins, he also replaces our responsibilities and asks us to follow him in the path of grace and forgiveness, humility and obedience. Not only does Jesus bring forgiveness, but he also sets a place for us in his father's house. Just as the mustard seed grows into a great bush that provides housing to the birds, Jesus' love grows into a great Kingdom that provides a place for us to dwell.
All he asks is, "Follow me." As Jesus exits, are you ready for your close-up? The stage is empty for your appearance. It's time to leave the protective shelter of the mustard bush and stretch your wings to help make this a greater world.
Add a little mustard to your food today. Take the tangy sweetness that it adds to the flavor.
Remember how bland the food would taste without that additional spice.
Think of how Jesus has added some spice to your life. Rather than be complacent, he asks to do some hard things. Turn in our pride for humility. Turn in our self-reliance for Jesus reliance.