Monday, May 31, 2010

Grow in Grace

June 1, 2010

Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter:17-18)

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech …So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 13, 17)


Let us be present to the now. It’s all we have and it’s where God will always speak to us. The now holds everything, rejects nothing and therefore can receive God too.

Help us be present to the place we are the most afraid of, because it always feels empty, it always feels like it’s not enough.

Help us find some space within that we don’t try to fill with ideas or opinions.

Help us find space so you loving God, can show yourself in that place where we are hungry and empty. Keep us out of the way, so there is always room enough for you.

Good God, we believe that you are here and your presence gives us hope. We thank you for each day of our lives. We thank you for so many further chances to understand, to forgive again, to trust again and to love. We thank you that we live now, that our problems are soul sized. We ask that you teach us and lead us and that you put the thoughts into our mind that you want us to think, the feelings into our hearts that you want us to feel.

Reconstruct us O Lord. Put us together because we don’t know how to do it ourselves. We trust that you are hearing this prayer, and that you care for the answer more than we do. We pray therefore not alone, but with the whole body of Christ in Jesus name, Amen.

(By Richard Rohr, OFM)


Mark’s Gospel shows us a series of encounters in which Jesus is increasingly challenged by the temple leaders. He is more and more threatened as he moves toward Jerusalem and the Cross. But he cannot be “ensnared”. Peter encourages his followers to … grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ as they await the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 12). In fact, in reply to the Jews, Jesus does not truly respond to their small, spiteful questions but rather reveals Himself as He truly is: God and Man.

It is in growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus that shows us, also, how to maneuver through the often rocky waters of our daily lives which are also threatening in many ways. God’s grace overcomes sin, threat, separation and evil. Grace brings us back to that life which God gives. In Peter’s day, the coming day of the Lord was thought to be immanent. Today, 2,000 years later, the day of the Lord is immanent within our hearts. The day of the Lord is coming now in our hearts and enacted through our Christian response to the world. Jesus’ response to every challenge was love – love of God who sent him, love of those the Father gave to him, love of life given by God.


Pope Benedict spoke on fraternity, justice and peace in a recent address to Benin’s new ambassador to the Vatican.

“Fraternity, justice and labor are key elements to building a peaceful society… A concrete expression of the equal dignity of all the citizens, fraternity is a fundamental principle and a basic virtue for the development of a truly flourishing society, as it allows for the appreciation of all human and spiritual potential," Pope Benedict said. … Fraternity must also lead to the pursuit of justice whose absence is always the cause of social tensions and gives place to numerous harmful consequences. … The political, economic and social actors of a nation constitute its 'vigilant conscience,' which guarantees transparency in its structures and the ethics that animates the life of the whole society," the Holy Father stated. "They must be just.” (

What action are you taking to respond to the challenges that face fraternity, justice and peace here at home and in the world?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In Your Midst

May 31, 2010

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you. Zephaniah 3:17

“And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:43-45

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

He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.”


In honor of Memorial Day, Your Daily Tripod has given our writers and editors the day off. Instead, we bring you this video message which illustrates the theme of today’s feast.

But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. Colossians 1:26-27

The alternative first reading for Mass today provides much fruit to consider in our action:

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Memorial Day was one of two special holidays always marked in my father’s calendar. As a naval veteran, he did not look at today merely as the figurative beginning of summer. Today was a day to remember his comrades and all those who have gone before us to preserve our freedom.

As we remember those fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have fought around the world to preserver our freedom, let us also remember our Christian brothers and sisters who picked up the cross of Christ in the battle against evil to secure freedom and dignity and equality for people here and elsewhere. They placed the mission of Christ first. They did not accept defeat. They did not quit until death.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Louis Allen
Addie Mae Collins
Viola Gregg Liuzzo
Mack Charles Parker
Emmett Till
Medgar Evans
Denise McNair
Cynthia Wesley
Rachel Corrie
Oscar Romero
Jean Donovan
Dorothy Kazel
Maura Clarke
Ita Ford
Ignacio Ellacuria
Ignacio Martin-Baro
Segundo Montes
Arnando Lopez
Joaquin Lopez y Lopez
Juan Ramon Moreno
Julia Elba Ramos
Cecilia Ramos
Tom Fox


His Delight Day by Day

May 30, 2010

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

“When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep; When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth; When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day…” Proverbs 8:27-30

“…[H]ope 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.” Romans 5:5

“…[T]he Spirit of truth…will guide you to all truth.” John 16:13


God is the purest of mystery. How three can be one and one can be three is an impossible concept to grapple with. What God is, is a fantastic secret. What we know about God we have from Christ. Christ is the most perfect human expression of the mystery of God. In the humanness of Christ we have the fullness of the human expression of the mystery of God. Christ tells his disciples that he has loved them with the same love that the Father has for him. He challenges us to know the Father through knowing himself. Christ tells us that he has held nothing back from us. All that the Father has revealed to him, he has passed on to his disciples. He kept no secrets from us. He lived in a time when there would be no distraction from what he was saying. He was the only show in town. Each of the miracles he did were the testimony of the Father about the truth of the mission of Christ. Christ gives us the perfect love on the cross when he dies for us without humanly seeing who he was ding for. In dying for our release from the guilt of our sinfulness, he gives us the forgiveness of the Father on the silver platter of the Sacraments.


We know God as Trinity because of his revealing self as Trinity. The Father sent the Son. Together with the Son, the Father sends the Spirit. Pentecost reveals the Spirit that the Father and Christ sent so we could appreciate the mystery of divine life. We know God as love. God loved us so much that God wanted to be one of us. The Son is the love of the Father made flesh in the mystery of Nativity. We study all that Christ reveals about his relationship to the Father. The Gospels allow us to feast on all that is revealed about Christ. We know God as love in Christ’s relationship to the Father. Christ is the word of that love made flesh. If we love Christ we will keep the commandments because the commandments reveal the nitty-gritty of love.


The action of God is in how God reveals himself to us in sending his Son. Our action needs to be the way we are willing to be one with the Son. It is not enough to be like Christ. Our spiritual journey takes us to becoming one with Christ so that we like Paul can say it is Christ we are.(Gal. 2, 19-21.) Baptism gives us Christ’s life to live in his name. The Sacraments flow from the heart pierced on t he Cross. We can only save our lives by giving them away. We can only hold unto the Christ that indwells within us by sharing him with each other. The Spirit gives us all that belongs to Christ, declaring us Children of God. It is true to say that the real life we possess within us is Christ’s life. We have to die to ourselves so that we can live in Christ.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Build Yourselves Up

May 29, 2010

Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh. Jude 20-23

"Was John's baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me." They discussed this among themselves and said, "If we say, 'Of heavenly origin,' he will say, '(Then) why did you not believe him?' But shall we say, 'Of human origin'?"--they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet. Mark 11:30-32


To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen. Jude 24-25


The warnings issued by Jude and Jesus in today’s readings are admonitions which point to reasons that living close to the Cursillo tripod of piety, study and action will strengthen us in our journey and help us to live closer to God.

By building up the piety practiced in our daily lives, we will keep ourselves “in the love of God.” Frankly, we are always in the love of God. Our piety allows us to remember it. It is not God who forgets but we who replace God with other things in our lives.

We also “build ourselves up in the most holy faith through study of God by reading sacred scripture, the writings of holy women and men, and other relevant sources. However, for some people, reading is not something that they are able to do. For them, “study” might involve listening to people witness about their journey, hearing the message preached at Sunday or daily Mass, listening to tapes or even watching EWTN or movies about related study topics.

Finally, Jude points out in a letter which pre-dated the origin of the Cursillo movement by 1,800 to 1,900 years, that piety and study alone will not suffice. We also must act by saving some who waver (save others by snatching them out of the fire) or praying for others who stray through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.


Building ourselves up is not an activity confined to Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter. The fasting, penance and almsgiving or these holy seasons are vital. However, there are people who need our assistance every day. Think of the popularity of the Thanksgiving food drives. While these certainly help people eat over the holidays, the poor need nourishment every day of the year.

As we press through the days of ordinary time, think about one of your special practices, volunteer efforts, or acts of charity from Lent which could extend into ordinary time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

May 28, 2010

Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

The end of all things is at hand. Therefore be serious and sober-minded so that you will be able to pray. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:7-8)

He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy. (Psalms 96:13)

(After the apostles marveled that the fig tree Jesus cursed had withered, Jesus said,) “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.” (John 21:17-19)

Lord, open my ears to Your answer to my prayers. Open my mind to believing that with You, anything is possible.

Do you ever wonder if you, like that ill-fated fig tree, are going to be cursed into oblivion by Christ? After all, the tree had done nothing wrong. It just didn’t happen to be the time of year for figs.

I recently struggled with temptation. I’d prayed about it and felt sad but reconciled, only to have the situation arise again the next day. I felt a little like that fig tree, cursed for nothing I’d done. Why was God letting this happen? I reached out for help via e-mail to a couple of the best prayer warriors I know. One wrote back almost immediately, in part: “Deliver her from temptation and replace it with faith and joy. Remind her that it's no sin to be tempted. Even Jesus was.”

That prayer made me think a couple of things. First, I felt relief and gratitude for the reminder that being tempted in and of itself wouldn’t put me out of God’s grace. Second, I felt convicted. My prayer hadn’t been that my struggle be, as today’s Gospel reading says, “lifted up and thrown into the sea.” No, it had included a lot of wishful thinking and wishwashiness.

It’s an important lesson Jesus shares today, to believe we will receive what we ask for in prayer—forgiveness, strength, peace, confidence, willpower. It doesn’t matter whether we deserve an answer. As today’s first reading notes, love covers a multitude of sins.

In your prayers today, focus on asking for help—and believing you will receive it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Be Built Into a Spiritual House

May 27, 2010

Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

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

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

Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.

Master, I want to see!

What do you desire the most? Sometimes, we desire most what we have the least. The blind man seeks sight. The hungry man seeks food. The thirsty woman seeks water. The poor child seeks money.

However, sometimes we desire most what we already have enough of. The rich man wants more money. The farmer with grain in his barns wants to fill the barns to the rafters with more grain.

St. Peter tells us that we should “long for spiritual milk,” rather than for the earthly goods. He goes on to write, “Keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.”

Consider the mission statement of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries in light of today’s Gospel: Mark’s gospel gives us an archetypal portrait of the journey from “blindness” to faith. We believe that Christians should stand for compassion and equity and against all forms of oppression and violence in these difficult times. To do this we must face our personal and political blindness to the realities of human suffering, as well as to God’s horizons of justice. We are a group of believers committed to revisioning the relationship between the Word and our world, in order to help animate and build capacity for communities of discipleship and justice.

How are you turning from spiritual blindness to be compassionate about human suffering? What worldly desires are you waging war against?

One of the issues tearing Christians apart these days is immigration. Last night I read a letter from the pastor of a local church (St. Leo the Great in Fairfax). Fr. Whitestone posted it on his Facebook page and the parish website. As we consider the challenge of compassion, he offers much food for thought about Catholic Social Teaching, immigration, enforcement of laws, engaging in civic discourse and more. Fr. Whitestone concludes: It is important for us to continue studying, listening, and learning in a spirit of openness and mutual respect.

You can read the letter here on the St. Leo’s website:

If you can not access the Facebook or the website at St. Leo’s, here is the From the Pastor’s Desk letter that he has posted.

Dear Friends,

The issue of immigration is one that calls forth strong opinions and even stronger emotions. Because of this, it is very easy to refuse to listen to the thoughts of others and to impugn their patriotism, their compassion, and even their faith when they hold a position at odds with our own. There is always the possibility as fallen human beings that we let our politics inform our faith, rather than letting our faith inform our politics. It is most important that as we consider various laws, policies, and situations, we recognize that men and women of good faith can and do come to different prudential judgments concerning them.

My purpose is not to resolve the conflicts which are evident over this issue. It would be irresponsible for me to presume to tell you what the one and only true Catholic position is regarding particular laws not only because I don’t know it but because such a thing does not exist. However, the Church does teach definitive principles which are to be applied to this issue.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his own country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various judicial conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2241)

While the Catechism provides some framework for us to begin considering this issue, the text provokes perhaps even more questions. Prosperous nation are “obliged” to welcome the foreigner, but only “to the extent they are able”. Human persons have a right to the means necessary to support themselves and their families, yet for the common good, political authorities “may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various judicial conditions.” Every nation has the right to protect its defined borders and to defend the “material and spiritual heritage” of its people, but it must do so in ways that acknowledge and protect the human dignity and rights of all persons who are in fact created in the image and likeness of God.

Last week, Bishop John Walter, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration and Archbishop Munoz of the Bishops Conference of Mexico wrote a joint letter urging the leaders of Mexico and the United States “to focus upon the issue of immigration and how it impacts the most vulnerable: the migrant worker and their families. While we respect the obligation of both countries to ensure the integrity of their borders and the security of their peoples, we believe they can achieve these goals without sacrificing the basic human dignity and rights of the migrant. This requires both countries to examine critically their immigration policies, both in the areas of legal immigration and enforcement, and their adverse impact on human beings….The United States and Mexico have an opportunity to work together to prevent illegal immigration in a humane manner, not in a way which places total emphasis on enforcement measures.”

It is important for us to continue studying, listening, and learning in a spirit of openness and mutual respect.

In Christ,

Father Whitestone

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Lord Remains Forever

May 26, 2010

Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a (pure) heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for: "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever." 1 Peter 1:22-25a

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

An old Southern preacher’s technique for prayer goes like this:

I reads myself full,
I thinks myself clear,
I prays myself hot and
I lets myself go.

Every Cursillo Weekend has the same set order of talks…and the first talk delivered by a laywoman or man on a weekend is the Ideal talk. This helps launch the weekend with the participants and team members reflecting upon our Ideal by pondering the question, “Where do we put our time, talent and treasure?” The answer, of course, reveals our ideal.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, are still thinking in human terms by seeking power and influence. They did not clear their mind and let themselves go. They still were clinging to their old (selfish) ways of thinking. They reveal this desire for such earthly “ideals” through the request to sit at the right and left hand sides of Jesus in heaven. However, Jesus long ago rejected symbols of earthly power when he was tempted in the desert. He rejects this once again in today’s reading and gives it final rejection when taunted on the cross to have the angels of heaven swoop down to save him.

These human “ideals” are those which spring from perishable seed which Peter rejects in the first reading. Instead, he tells his audience to put their trust in the living and abiding word of God. Through Jesus, the embodiment of this living and loving God, we are urged to put our faith and hope in only God.

Beloved, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21

When we make Jesus our Ideal, then we have a corresponding duty to love each other (what Peter calls “sincere mutual love”). Jesus embraces such an Ideal and asks us to do the same. Greatness in the Kingdom of heaven, he teaches, does not derive from where you sit but from whom you serve. [W]hoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Embracing this Gospel of Love and Life brings us to a new birth, the birth Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus and the rebirth in the Spirit which we celebrated last Sunday in the Solemnity of Pentecost. New birth means we have to reject old ways and "lets myself go."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Be Holy

May 25, 2010

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

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

But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first. (Mark 10:31)


The more we call on God the more we can feel God's presence. Day by day we are drawn closer to the loving heart of God. Lord, may I never take the gift of freedom for granted. You gave me the great blessing of freedom of spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and Your joy. (From )


On Sunday we celebrated the liberation of Pentecost when, as Fr. Joe McCloskey put it in his tripod reflection: “With Pentecost the Apostles burst forth from the closed doors of their fears that what happened to Christ might happen to them.” We sang and rejoiced that with Christ, we too are graced with the courage to face life.

But then we come to the readings today which show us, clearly, just what kind of courage we will need if we seek to follow Christ. Don’t just follow like sheep (even as Jesus told us that he is our shepherd) but use the gifts of the spirit to follow in holiness. The footnote in the NAB says that this call to holiness is “by reason of (our) redemption through the blood of Christ” and is “call to the knowledge and love of God” which results in mutual love – not love and life for self alone.

The chapter from Mark is a series of Jesus’ rigorous teachings, beginning with his answer to trick questions from the Pharisees. Regarding the law allowing divorce he admonishes them: Because of the hardness of your hearts (Moses) wrote you this commandment. He astonishes his followers, for whom the belief that wealth in life was a sign of God’s favor, by telling them: It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Later he warns the disciples, who are arguing about their place on his right and left: The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, signifying the trials they would face in his name. He turns the social order and the understanding of their place as chosen people by explaining: But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.

What happened to the bursting forth, the songs and joy of Pentecost? As the prayer above says: “The more we call on God, the more we can feel God's presence.” We need to put ourselves into God’s presence in piety, study and action in order to be invigorated and directed by God’s will over our own former ignorance.


On May 21, Pope Benedict addressed the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The theme of the meeting was "Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community." The Pope made clear that the mission of the church is not to form politicians but politics gives Christians the opportunity to practice charity through “a strong commitment to the citizenry, for the construction of a good life in nations, as also for an effective presence in the headquarters and programs of the international community." He said membership in associations and ecclesial movements could be a good context for learning these values.

Are you taking full advantage of Cursillo for formation and evangelization?

Benedict welcomed the assembled who “together with the pastors, a majority of lay faithful work from the whole world and from the most different situations and experiences, offers a significant image of the organic community that is the Church, whose common priesthood, proper of the baptized faithful, and the ordained priesthood, sink their roots in the one priesthood of Christ, according to essentially different modalities, but ordered one to the other…

.. The Church concentrates particularly on educating the Disciples of Christ, so that, increasingly, they will be witnesses of his presence, everywhere. It is up to the laity to show concretely in personal and family life, in social, cultural and political life, that the faith enables one to read reality in a new and profound way and to transform it; that Christian hope extends the limited horizon of man and points him to the true loftiness of his being, to God; that charity in truth is the most effective force to change the world; that the Gospel is guarantee of liberty and message of liberation; that the fundamental principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, such as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity, are very timely and of value for the promotion of new ways of development at the service of every man and of all men.”

(For a full reading of the text:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A New Birth to a Living Hope

May 24, 2010

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of (your) faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Mark 10:17


A Payer to Continue Ordinary Time
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. 1 Peter 1:3-5


We now return to our regular programming…ordinary time. Now that the mysteries of Lent, the Triduum, Easter and Pentecost have been celebrated in the liturgical cycle, we return with Jesus to our travels through life.

The first letter from Peter addressing the Christian communities in Asia reminds us immediately that every ordinary day we celebrate the extraordinary love of the Lord. Even though each day may bring us “suffering through various trials,” those little tests will help to strengthen our faith. As we set out this morning on our journey through our (extra) ordinary days, Jesus joins us. Like the man Jesus encounters, we seek the answers to what we need to do in life.

Our pursuit of possessions and the way we cling to the objects we collect in life can become the impossible obstacle along the way in our journey. Ah, but what is extraordinary is that the love of God will help us to overcome these obstacles. “For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Mark 10:27


All things are possible for God. As Catholics, we are called to confront global poverty in the same way the man who met Jesus was challenged to give his possession to the poor and follow Christ.

Ordinary life for people who live in poverty exceeds the challenges faced in life by people reading this. If you are reading this, you have more than many people in the world have. You own or have access to a computer and internet connection. You have an e-mail account. Yet, billions of people live on less than $2 per day.

Because of this extreme poverty, CRS asks all faithful and practical Catholics to urge your Senators to sign on to the bipartisan Kerry-Lugar letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee leadership. According to CRS, the letter supports a strong international affairs budget in order to preserve funding for poverty-focused programs that uphold the life and dignity of our brothers and sisters living in poverty throughout the world. According to information on the CRS web site:

Why is the International Affairs Budget Level Important Now? The overall U.S. government budget environment has made it increasingly difficult to sustain essential funding for poverty-focused international assistance. As a result, the Senate Budget Committee recently recommended a $4 billion cut from President Obama’s total request for international affairs. We want to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject this proposed reduction in order to preserve funding for essential poverty-focused international humanitarian and development assistance programs.

The international affairs budget determines overall funding levels for initiatives essential to confronting global poverty. If funding for the international affairs budget is drastically reduced in the proposed manner, we will fail in our moral responsibility to assist people in need around the world. While budget constraints are serious and must be dealt with, through foreign assistance reform and other measures, our nation should not balance its budget on the backs of people living in poverty around the world.

How do Key Parts of the International Affairs Budget Confront Global Poverty? The international affairs budget encompasses lifesaving programs such as: provision of food and clean water; treatment of people affected by HIV and other deadly diseases; promotion of agriculture and microfinance to help people support themselves and their families, and delivery of education and health services to poor people. At this point in the congressional budget process, a strong international affairs budget level is critical to ensure that adequate resources are available to assist poor and vulnerable people around the globe.

What does the International Affairs Budget have to do with my Faith? Our Catholic faith calls on us to uphold the life and dignity of the human person by alleviating human suffering and promoting justice and solidarity worldwide. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his recent encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate, “[…] more economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard.”

By insisting that our government assist our brothers and sisters around the world who need a hand up to lift themselves out of poverty, we are acting on our faith. We are giving a new birth to a living hope.

For more information contact:
Stephen Hilbert, Foreign Aid Policy Advisor, Office of International Justice and Peace, USCCB,, 202-541-3149 or Tina Rodousakis, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy, CRS,, (410) 951-7462

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Disciples Rejoiced

May 23, 2010

The Solemnity of Pentecost

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Acts 2:1-4

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

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


Pentecost is the day when the Word of God became personal to the Church. Pentecost for us today is the sending forth with the blessings of God. The Apostles were shut up in their room behind locked doors when the Spirit came upon them with the Mission of Christ. They went forth into their world with the joy and the excitement of the Risen Christ. Pentecost implores the blessing of God through the Spirit on all of us that we may be equal to the task of sharing Christ with our world. Pentecost gives us the openness to change and to growth. With Pentecost the Apostles burst forth from the closed doors of their fears that what happened to Christ might happen to them. Pentecost made them ready for what was coming. Our Pentecostal Mass is the swinging open of the doors of hearts where indwelling takes place. Our piety is how we let Christ out of hearts upon our world.


Years ago I was the designated driver to bring my niece and her first child home from the hospital. I heard my niece say. “Are they not going to tell me what to do next?” She realized that there would be no one but the child and her needs to tell her what comes next. In all our lives there comes that day when we have to trust in the Spirit. It is fitting that we celebrate the feast of Pentecost because the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude and the Fear of the Lord, - all are the tools of Pentecost that we will put to work in the days that are coming. The big decisions of our life will be made out of the light of these gifts of the Spirit that have been nourished by our parents and deepened by our teachers and our friends over the last years of our lives.


Pentecost is the celebration of our coming of age in the responsibility of making good decisions. We are challenged to use our gifts well to make a better world.
The Spirit is the embodiment of the Father’s Love for the Son in the total giving of self that is the Father giving all of himself to the Son. The Son is the Eternal Word Spoken forever by the Father in The Word that is the total receiving of the gift of the Father. Spirit is the meeting of total giving and total receiving. Pentecost is the word of God’s love for us that you have received. We are the embodiment of the Word that is to be spoken by the goodness of our lives. It is hard to imagine all the wonderful things that Pentecost gives us the chance to do with God’s action in us.

My prayer on this feast of Pentecost is that we will recognize the wonderful gifts you have to share. I pray that we will have wonderful opportunities to share our gifts in the future. Pentecost will always have the special meaning of our being sent forth to share Christ. The Spirit is also the source of the energy of a fullness of life that we will bring to our worlds of tomorrows. I pray that we may have the gentle breeze of the winds of the Spirit at our backs protecting us and easing the harshness of the journey. May the abiding presence of our friends and their love always ease the journey! May we pleasure in what our life gives us in the gift of spiritual friendships! We will never be alone because we go in the Spirit of God’s love in each other. Be God’s love for one another!

What Concern is it of Yours?

May 21, 2010

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

“…[I]t is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear these chains.” He remained for two full years in his lodgings. He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 28:20b, 30-31

Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” John 21:22


Dear Lord,

Let your spirit give me power to overcome all hesitation, to take away all fear, and to remove all shyness. May your Spirit help me respond gratefully to you, speak freely about you to everyone I meet, and act courageously to let your kingdom come. You, Lord, not only gave me a baptism in water but also a baptism in the Holy Spirit. Let that baptism in your Spirit become visible in my life. Let it allow me to experience your presence not only through the darkness of faith but also through new sensitivities that allow me to see, hear, taste, touch and even smell a reality that reaches beyond what my natural senses perceive. Let your Spirit bring reconciliation, joy, peace, gentleness, and generosity in the hearts of those with whom I live and for whom I work. But most of all, O Lord, let your Spirit fill me with love so that all I think, say, or do, will be done out of love for you who lived, died and rose from the dead for my sake. Amen.

(Saturday, June 2 from A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee by Henri J. M. Nouwen, page 98)


Peter and Paul once again seem to be learning how to fulfill their ministry through acting out very different lessons for discipleship and community delivered directly by the Lord or indirectly through society.

Paul finds himself chained and imprisoned, not because he violated some Roman law but because he challenged the self-righteousness of Israel. Yet, despite that, he engaged in respectful dialogue with all people who turned to him while in prison for more than two years. Paul seems to realize that not only did he have something to teach others, he also had something to learned from everyone that he encountered.

Furthermore, he refused to put down the cross. Some of us may hesitate to pick up our cross. Yet Paul lived his cross daily in prison and never shied away from engaging in respectful dialogue with all who turned to him. Despite the chains and locks and bars, Paul’s commitment to carry his cross liberated him from seeing the constraints of his life and instead embraced the infinite possibilities no matter where he was led.

Peter has come a long way. However, he still has much to learn when we encounter him in this final scene in the Gospel of St. John. Peter has now grown beyond his betrayal and is growing into his role and the shepherd, as the keeper of the keys. But he still is looking outwardly and measuring his spirituality against others and not against himself.

“What about him?” inquired Peter while pointing to John. Jesus rebukes him one more time. What concern is it of yours? Don’t worry about what he does. You just need to worry about following me.


Friday night, Marie Dennis, executive director of Pax Christi USA spoke to a gathering of about 80-100 Just Faith program graduates assembled at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington. Her message embodies the spirituality of St. Paul and how he approached the issues of his day.

Speaking about the need for civil discourse in the public square, Ms. Dennis reflect on the gifts of the spirit which were given on that first Pentecost to enable discipleship on the part of Jesus’ friends -- the same ones who had been huddled behind locked doors where inspired by these gifts and had been retreating to the comfort zone of their old lives as fishermen. She challenged those in the room to ask why the gifts of the Holy Spirit were so necessary then and now.

Marie explained that we must be ready to ask of ourselves hard questions rather than think we know what the answers are. But our work does not stop there. In addition to asking hard questions, we are called and must try to live in a different way because of what we see in the world. The basis for this world view must be recognizing the equal dignity of every person in the eyes of God and act accordingly.

“If what we have or where we live or how we spend our time keeps us from seeing the reality, then we have to challenge ourselves to rethink what we have, or where we live or how we spend our time,” she said. This leads to three challenges in our lives:

1) The issues that we are about to engage in dialogue in public and in our own lives are crucial. We can not NOT engage in the conversation. We can not run from the conversations. The concerns are simply too important.
2) We can’t be silent. We have to choose sides. The sides that we choose, what we know in principal is what the Gospel has taught us.
3) We have to love our enemies.

She acknowledged that it is very easy to stand in self-righteous places. However, like we see in Paul’s approach today, no matter where we are in the present moment, we always have something to learn from each other.

What has put your engagement in prison? How can you free yourself to accept the gifts of the Spirit to proclaim the Gospel? How can you get out from behind the locked door and move away from your comfort zone?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do You Love Me?

May 21, 2010

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

By Melanie Rigney

(Festus said in referring Paul’s case to King Agrippa,) “His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive.” (Acts 25:18-19)

As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. (Psalms 103:12)

Peter was distressed that (Jesus) had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:17-19)

Lord, talk is cheap. Please help me to deepen my relationship with You so that when You ask me to follow, I will do so without hesitation.

It isn’t easy being a follower of Christ in today’s world.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom ( recently asked that thirteen nations be named “countries of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating violations to freedom of belief. Another twelve countries were placed on the USCIRF’s watch list, one step below designation as a country of particular concern.

Among the USCIRF’s observations:

• As many as 12,000 Nigerians have been killed in sectarian violence since 1999, 500 of them in clashes earlier this year
• 4,300 Christians fled the Iraq city of Mosul after 10 Christians were targeted and killed in the days leading up to the March 2010 national elections
• Forty Catholic bishops are imprisoned or missing in China
• North Korea’s policies have resulted in a total lack of Catholic clergy in that country

And yet, Christians in those countries and the others cited by the USCIRF go on living their faith every day as best they can. That’s because as difficult as that can be, there’s really no alternative once we truly, with all our heart and soul, say “Yes” when Jesus asks if we love Him. We are led places we never expected to go.

Sometimes, those places are to martyrdom. Sometimes, they’re to a ministry in the arts that we never desired. Sometimes, they’re to a vocation, ordained or otherwise, that takes us out of our element. One sure thing is that if we say “Yes” and agree to follow Him, God will take us out of what we perceive is our comfort zone—and into a place of joy and love and serenity beyond our power to understand.

Consider writing a letter to the president, secretary of state, or one of your congressional representatives in support of the USCIRF’s recommendations. Or, contribute to Catholic Relief Services ( efforts in one of the countries cited by the USCIRF.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Those Who Will Believe

May 20, 2010

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23


Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them. John 17:24-26


The last words of Jesus before his arrest, trial and execution make up the Gospel reading today.

As Jesus was God’s gift to us, Jesus offers us back to God as His gift to the Father. In teh spirit of teh true servant-leader which Jesus is, none of these prayer-words are about Jesus. Despite knowing what is going to transpire in the next 24 hours, all Jesus can think of are his friends – his immediate friends as well as people he does not even yet know “who will believe” in Him in the future.

Jesus prays that “the love with which you [The Father] loved me may be in them and I in them.” The “them” of this prayer certainly encompasses the holy lives of those who will throughout the years become our saints like St. Paul. It includes St. Francis. St. Benedict. St. Dominic. St. Theresa of Avila. St. Ignatius of Loyola. But it also includes Helen in Staten Island, NY. It includes Lovell in San Francisco. It includes Kathryn who is getting discharged from rehab today. It includes Rector Dave who is recovering from surgery. It includes Frances, a retired Sister of the Most Blessed Trinity who in retirement now works in a nursing home in the Alabama. It includes Placid, the abbot of a monastery in North Carolina. The prayer is for Regina, a missionary in Honduras and Sarah, a graduate student in Washington, DC. It includes you and me. In his final hour, Jesus prays to his Father for all of us.

Every day, Catholics around the world pray the Hail Mary. That prayer includes the petition, “Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” That line is focused on asking Mary to intercede with and for us every day right up to the end of our days. As Jesus prepares for his execution, it would have been perfectly understandable if he prayed to the Father to be with him at the hour of his death. Instead, he prays not for himself but for us.

As we reflect on these final words, we also can match them up with the first words John tells us Jesus spoke in his public ministry. The soon-to-be disciples were following Jesus around and when Jesus noted that they were on his trail, the men posed a question: “Where are you staying?” Jesus replied, “Come and see.”

Now, in this last prayer, Jesus prays to stay with us. He wishes that “where I am they also may be with me.” Then he concludes by asking Our Father to grant that the love with which the Father so loved his only son now be showered upon us. “The love with which you loved me may (stay) in them and I in them.”


As we reflect on Jesus’ last words to us, today I also read this amazing column. Thanks to my friend Cindy for bringing it to my attention.

(Before you click on the link, please get out your tissues. Even if you do not know Bobby Thalhimer or his late wife Lisa, you will be moved by their story.)

Do we not reflect on what those around us do to make our lives better every hour of every day? Instead of waiting until we are faced with writing our last letter, giving our last lecture, or saying our last good-bye, thank those who make your life richer every day.

My angel is my wife, just returned from her trip to Honduras. After nearly 31 years, she will still have me and hold me, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish until death us do part. Thank you, Beth!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So I Send Them

May 19, 2010

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated. Acts 20:31-32

I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. John 17:15-18


Jesus, speak to us in this world so that we may share your joy completely. You gave us your word, and still the world hated you and your followers because they did not belong to the world any more than you, Brother Jesus, belonged to the world. We can not run and hide from the world and the evil in it. However, send your spirit to protect us from the evil that is all around us. Amen.


Today’s Gospel continues the final words of Jesus to the disciples at Passover before the beginning of the Passion. As the notes in the New American Bible point out, this is the "climax of the last discourse." As such, it also is call the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus addressed directly to the Father on behalf of the disciples much in the same way that the presider leads the Eucharistic Prayer during daily Mass.

The NAB notes point out that the prayer is one of petition for immediate and future disciples. Many phrases call to mind the Lord’s Prayer. Although technically still in the world, Jesus looks on his earthly ministry as a thing of the past. Whereas Jesus has up to this time stated that the disciples could follow him, now he wishes them to be with him in union with the Father.

Like Paul’s prayer in the first reading, these are the words that come from the heart right before the minister and people part ways. Both Jesus and Paul commission their companions to go into the world to carry on the ministry. However, Jesus also prays for the protection of the disciples from the evil in the world.

As this prayer concludes, the setting turns to the garden where Jesus goes to pray and meet his betrayer. When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. (John 18:1-2)


The landmark 1983 pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace, made a “definitive and decisive” moral judgment to say “no” to nuclear war. In 1993 in The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, Catholic bishops argued: “The eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is more than a moral ideal; it should be a policy goal.”

The horribly destructive capacity of nuclear arms makes them disproportionate and indiscriminate weapons that endanger human life and dignity like no other armaments. Their use as a weapon of war is rejected in Church teaching based on just war norms.

Although teh bishops admit that they cannot anticipate every step on the path humanity must walk, the USCCB points with moral clarity to a destination that moves beyond deterrence to a world free of the nuclear threat.

U.S. President Obama and President Medvedev of Russia signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on April 8, 2010. The New START Treaty: reduces deployed strategic warheads to 1,550, 30 percent below the existing ceiling; limits both nations to no more than 700 delivery vehicles; and includes new verification requirements.

The Treaty was submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification on May 13. Many groups are urging renewed advocacy with U.S. Senators the week of May 17-21. USCCB supports strong, bipartisan action to ratify the New START Treaty.

You can read more about the issue here with this USCCB Action Alert.

The Office of International Justice and Peace urges Catholics to contact your Senators during the week of May 17-21 and urge them to give bipartisan support to the New START Treaty because it makes our nation and world safer by reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way. Visit or to contact your Senators or go through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Monday, May 17, 2010

God Pours Abundant Rain

May 18 2010

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

By Beth DeCristofaro

(Paul wrote)…the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:23-24)

(Jesus said) “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. …I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.” (John 17:6, 9-11)


You claimed a land as your own, O God; your people settled there. There you poured abundant rains, God, graciously given to the poor in their need. Blessed be the Lord, Day by day, God, our salvation, who carries us. Our God is a God who saves; escape from death is in the LORD God's hands. (Psalm 68: 10-11, 20-12)


These readings take me back to Mothers Day when I attended Mass in the little church in Macueliza, Honduras. This dusty little town is incredibly poor and has had no running water for two weeks due to the drought yet the church is immaculate and packed to the rafters with the faithful who sing, clap, sway and dance. It is so hot that we all pour sweat while children and parents are in their clean, pressed Sunday best. The electricity goes out during the homily so fans and sound system fail. I can see Jesus looking at these people when he says: I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.

Each mother in the community had little nosegays of paper flowers pinned to her dress, including me. A shy teen and a gregarious older woman both decorated me, blessing me in soft Spanish which I could not understand but which brought tears to my eyes as I held onto my own daughters. We were welcomed from their poverty rather than their wealth.

…the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me… I did not see despair in these faces but pride in family and faith in their Savior. In reality? I do not know if the families behind the concrete or mud-daub walls are intact or dysfunctional. I do not know if appearance is more important than food or education. I do not know if they believe that there is a better future. But I do know that they come to worship and to sing and to hope. …the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me.

I was blessed to worship with them. And I saw Jesus in that place.


What do you do with your gift of faith? Do you share it, especially with those most unlike you? Do you share from your wealth or poverty? Do you question your faith? …the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Pray Psalm 68.

Consider what our bountiful country takes from the rest of the world. There you poured abundant rains, God, graciously given to the poor in their need.

But Take Courage

May 17, 2010

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

“Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” John 16:32-33


Only God creates but we are called to protect and enhance that creation.
Only God gives us life but we are called to cherish life.
Only God makes us grow but we are called to nourish that growth.
Only God gives faith but we are called to be signs of God to each other.
Only God gives love but we are called to care for each other.
Only God gives hope but we are called to give each other reason to hope.
Only God gives power but we are called to get things going.
Only God can bring PEACE but we are called to build bridges.
Only God can bring happiness but we are invited to be joyful.
Only God is the way but we are called to show the way to others.
Only God is light but we must make that light shine in the world.
Only God makes miracles happen but we must offer our loaves and fishes.
Only God can do the impossible but it is up to us to what is possible.
Only God is love but we are called to love and care for each other.
May we hear again the message of Jesus; ‘to love God and to love our neighbor.


Even though they are strengthened by the words spoken by Jesus, the disciples will continue to be tested in faith. And Zechariah’s prophesy will ring true in just a matter of hours: Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be dispersed, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7b)

The cross that Jesus will carry the next day is the intersection of the heavenly and the earthly realms. That intersection only brings conflict. Jesus brings these two realities together in his life and in his death and in his resurrection.

Jesus has conquered the world of sin. However, to see to that final victory will require him to die to this world leaving the continuation of His work in our hands. If we are to continue building the Kingdom of God on Earth, then we must take courage in His fight and take up that quest on our own.

These words seem to light up awareness in the minds of the disciples. No longer do they seek answers from Jesus. They now know what Zechariah prophesized – that “The Lord is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9c) The tests are not over but they are more prepared to face the road ahead.


According to the web site for Earth Share ( “It was a sad and tragic end to Earth Month: In what’s probably the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the rupture of the Deepwater Horizon rig now threatens hundreds of species of fish, birds, and wildlife and the livelihood of thousands of people who depend on a healthy coastal environment.”

Numerous organizations are seeking citizens help to clean up beaches or to support clean up efforts. The Environmental Justice Program (EJP) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) began in the fall of 1993 and is located within the Department of Social Development and World Peace (SDWP).

EJP seeks to educate and motivate Catholics to a deeper reverence and respect for God’s creation, and to engage parishes and dioceses in activities aimed at dealing with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor. EJP acts as a resource for Catholic dioceses and state Catholic conferences, and through them Catholic parishes.

Its distinctively Catholic foundation lies in Pope John Paul II’s 1990 World Day of Peace message and the U.S. Catholic bishops’ statement, Renewing the Earth, issued in 1991.

EJP has close ties to the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) and relies on the partnership to provide resources and support for many of its ongoing initiatives. The National Religious Partnership for the Environment is an association of independent faith groups across a broad spectrum: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches U.S.A., the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Evangelical Environmental Network.

Each partner — in common biblical faith but drawing upon its distinctive traditions — is undertaking scholarship, leadership training, congregational and agency initiative, and public policy education in service to environmental sustainability and justice. Together, they seek to offer resources of religious life and moral vision to a universal effort to protect humankind's common home and well-being on Earth.

Support the efforts to clean up the environment by getting more familiar with the policy statements of the USCCB Environmental Justice Program.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

With Great Joy

May 16, 2010

Feast of the Ascension

By Rev. Joe Mc Closkey, SJ

When they had gathered together they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He answered them, "It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:6-8

Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him. Hebrews 9:27-28

Then he led them (out) as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God. Luke 24:50-53


The Feast of the Ascension is the greatest goodbye feast in the Church. Jesus is leaving his apostles behind. He is saying goodbye. He has passed on to them the baton of his mission from the Father. He takes their love of him with him. He will be in heaven the best part of the apostles and of us who have come to believe because of the disciples. We become his presence here on earth by our willingness to see him as the best part of ourselves. We are created in his image and likeness and we live in him because we have been given his life in our rebirth by Baptism. Christ ascends into heaven with his great love of us to become the drawing power of our future total reunion with him. Christ went to prepare a place for us with him in heaven. He had to go so that he would be able to live in all of us by our baptism. Our baptism is the umbilical cord of our life in Christ.

Every time we say goodbye to a friend we are living out our own vision of the Ascension. How holy an event this can be! Every goodbye in our lives can relate to the Ascension. We are watching each other go and at the same time wanting to hold on to each other. Life has many goodbyes. Few goodbyes are as great as a funeral. You have shared your lives in ways that make you an ongoing part of each other. You have learned from them. There is much you carry away that will dim as a memory that loses importance as years go by. Life goes on. Christ by his Ascension puts a period on his physical human life here on earth. We become the visible presence of his humanness in how Christ-like we are.


Friends leave as special friends that have had an important part in the lives of each other. But the going of the Ascension is a taste of the Resurrection. Whether we realize it or not, Christ takes us with him. He shares with us the destiny of the Resurrection even as he leaves us to be his presence in special ways here on earth. Eucharist says thank-you in the incredible reality of the God-man who has given his life for us every time we celebrated Mass. We say thank-you to Christ by Eucharist, the greatest thank-you possible to us. We are grateful to God for all the ways we have had togetherness with each Christ. There is a gift given in love that is the forever of Eucharist. Christ died once and forever that our love would never be wasted.


Every celebration of Eucharist brings the humanity of each of us to oneness with the Christ of the Resurrection. Eucharist is the big action of Christianity because it brings together the humanness of Christ in heaven with his humanness in us as his ongoing presence here on earth. Eucharist gives Ascension ongoing reality here on earth as Christ takes us and feeds us in his life in heaven that we may be his life on earth.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Going Back

May 15, 2010

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way (of God) more accurately. And when he wanted to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. After his arrival he gave great assistance to those who had come to believe through grace. Acts 18:26-27

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” John 16:27-28


Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)


As Jesus goes back to the Father, our work is just beginning. Yet, no one can do it alone. Jesus left his disciples and the larger community to continue on. And they needed each other just like we need each other.

The life and ministry of Apollos points to us the importance of community support (group reunion and ultreya) in the life of the Cursillista beyond the Cursillo.® Here we learn that he was a talented preacher and teacher. However, he only knew part of the story. If Jesus was there, he might have taken Apollos aside like he did with Peter and instruct him directly. However, the community members Priscilla and Aquila took on that task. They helped expand his formation (study) so he had a stronger grounding in the whole story of the Church or The Way as early Christians called their movement. Then, he got support and encouragement as the disciples sent letters of introduction to others to welcome him.

Action takes many different forms. Even though these brothers and Priscilla and Aquila were not heading off to Achaia with Apollos, their action helped support him and pave the way for his assistance to others.

Just as Apollos teaching underwent a change with the support of the community, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling the apostles that their spiritual journey also will be changing. No longer will they need to ask the Father through Jesus. Instead, now that they have known and loved Jesus, they can take their prayers directly to the Father.

As Jesus prepares to go back to the Father and leave the world, now it is time for the ministry of the apostles to pick up and support each other where Jesus is leaving off.


Today and many other days in May and June are big days for passages in life. Across the nation, many college students will be graduating today including my nephew Jay from The Catholic University, his friend Glynnis from Loyola Maryland University, the Belmont Abbey College class of 2010 and countless others. They will leave the proverbially ivy-covered walls of colleges and universities and go back into the world to start their careers and families. They will need the support of their community in finding jobs, getting set up in housing and moving ahead, not as the church of tomorrow, but as the young church of today.

Support and encourage the students and graduates you know as well as all young people as they establish their place in the world. Think also of young people you don’t now who need support but do not get it. For example, in the inner city of Camden, NJ, the Sacred Heart School is working to bring hope to many of its students but they just don’t have the funds to do everything needed.

Sacred Heart provides education for children from Kindergarten through 8th grade, regardless of race or creed. The school is under the auspices of the Diocese of Camden in terms of direction, curriculum and evaluation. However, Sacred Heart School does not receive any money from the Diocese of Camden.

You can read more about the state of this parish here (

Every family sending students to Sacred Heart School pays tuition, which amounts to about one fourth of the actual cost of the school’s annual budget. No matter how many children a family has in the school, from first through eighth grade, the cost of tuition is not more than $1000. Kindergarten tuition is $850 per child. Meaning the largest amount a family would pay would be $1,850.

The amount of tuition collected from local families who are living on the margin or below the poverty line is far short of the projected budget for the school year. The remaining amount is raised through a sponsorship program.

The cost of a student sponsorship for the school year is $300 per student. This is paid anyway that best fits your pocket $25 monthly, 6 payments of $50, 3 payments of $100 or the entire $300. You have from September until June to complete the payment.

This school year, Sacred Heart needs 2,700sponsors giving $300 to reach the projected budget of $810,000.00. However, they only had about 1,500 sponsors. If you choose to become a sponsor you will receive a picture of your sponsored student or students, along with a brief bio of each.

Mail your check to:
Sacred Heart Church
1739 Ferry Ave
Camden, NJ 08104

*Please mark sponsorship on the memo portion of your check.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You, Lord, Who Know the Hearts of All

May 14, 2010

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

By Melanie Rigney

So they proposed two (to take Judas’s place), Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles. (Acts 1: 23-26)

He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people. (Psalms 113:7-8)

(Jesus told his disciples,) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Lord, thanks for Your encouragement and love whether I finish the race first, second, or last.

So the disciples get together to decide who’s going to replace Judas, one of the best known of the Twelve. They cast lots between Matthias and Justus, and Matthias wins. We never hear from either of them again in the New Testament. Some think Justus may have been the brother of Judas Barsabbas, who is mentioned later in Acts as going with Silas to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch after their trip to Jerusalem. And, a contemporary said Justus became May have been the brother of Judas Barsabbas, who went with Silas to accompany Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch. A contemporary says Justus became the bishop of Eleutheropolis (a city in what is now Israel), and drank a deadly poison but suffered no harm thanks to God’s grace.

There’s something lovable about these minor Biblical figures, the men and women who wander into the texts and receive a mention, then disappear. Somehow, they can seem more human, more like us, more “average” if you will. If they had big conversion moments, like Paul on the road to Damascus, or big changes in confidence and understanding, like Peter after Pentecost, we don’t know about them.

Some of us today live our faith lives large and loud. We’re given to what some might consider showy, public ministries. Others of us live our faith lives small and quiet. We lend money to a friend in need, never expecting to get it back or telling anyone else. We help a sick relative or work through our own health challenges and shrink from listing our relative or ourselves on prayers of the faithful.

Is there a right way on this journey? Maybe there are millions and billions of right ways. The critical thing is taking the way God guides us, whether it’s in the manner of Matthias and Justus, or Peter and Paul.

Talk about faith journeys with someone who lives his or hers in a way different from the way you live yours.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Your Grief Will Become Joy

May 13, 2010

Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

(Note: Fr. Joe McCloskey’s reflection for Sunday, May 16 will cover the Ascension of the Lord. See this article for a longer discussion on whether today is a Holy Day of Obligation in your diocese.)

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Are you discussing with one another what I said, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me'? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. John 16:19-20

“Peace and happiness are available in every moment.
Peace is every step. We shall walk hand in hand.
There are no political solutions to spiritual problems.
Remember: If the Creator put it there, it is in the right place.
The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.”

An Indian Chief, 1876

Most Catholics of my age or older (I am older than 27) grew up with the 40th day after Easter being celebrated as the Ascension of the Lord. That would be today. However, as attendance in mid-week holy days has dropped, many areas throughout the U.S. have moved the commemoration to the following Sunday. That move still leaves a lot of Catholics confused and wondering what their obligation is on what was formerly known as Ascension Thursday.

Perhaps then it is appropriate for us to reflect upon this passage in John 16 where the disciples were pretty confused by what Jesus was telling them and what the Lord meant. Confusion is not an uncommon state when it comes to the disciples…or us. Many times, we have a hard time understanding the figures of speech that Jesus employs in his teaching and preaching.

We can scratch our heads like St. Peter wondering what is Jesus saying? What does Jesus mean? What does it matter?

If we have all the facts spelled out in front of us, then coming to some common conclusions based upon knowledge of those facts would be pretty simple. However, we don’t know everything. So we have to rely on faith, not facts.

Jesus tries to give us a picture of the experiences through which we will live. Yet, even though he tries to tell us what to expect, we still have to experience the mourning, the weeping and the grief, before we can experience the joy. You had to be there then. You have to be there now. You have to be there in the future.


With the Nuclear Security Summit just concluded and the New START Treaty just signed, now is the time to promote the “Global Security Priorities” Resolution, H. Res. 278, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Urge your member of Congress, especially those on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to cosponsor H. Res 278.

WHY IS H. RES. 278 IMPORTANT? H. Res. 278 has two goals:

Addresses the threat of international terrorism and protects the security of the United States by reducing the number of and access to nuclear weapons and preventing their proliferation. H. Res. 278 urges the President to continue negotiations to further reduce nuclear arms, to cut the number of nuclear weapons deployed by the U.S. and Russia, to assist other countries in reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, and to expand efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear materials.

Directs a portion of the resulting $13 billion saved annually towards child survival, food security, and universal education. H. Res. 278 requests $5 billion over five years to enhance global child survival through new high-impact and low-cost health and nutrition interventions at the community level, and an additional $1.5 billion annually over five years for existing programs that reduce child hunger and increase child nutrition and educational opportunities. These added resources would enable organizations such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to strengthen food security programs with local partners in poor countries to boost long term food security and life-saving emergency aid.

President Obama has already called for substantial verifiable reductions in the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia, and has committed the U.S. to new leadership in the international campaign to reduce global poverty by doubling international assistance.


The U.S. bishops have long supported nuclear disarmament, the effective securing of nuclear materials from terrorists, and a reduction in the overall number of nuclear armaments. Church teaching supports preventing proliferation of these horrific weapons and ultimately eliminating them. H. Res. 278 embraces these goals and takes important steps in this direction.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and CRS recognize that if we want peace, we must work for justice, and commend the bill’s commitment to “enhance child survival in the world’s most needy countries” and to improve “child nutrition and educational opportunities.” Through funding vital programs that assist poor and vulnerable people worldwide we can strengthen our nation’s commitment to reduce global poverty and the situations of injustice and deprivation that terrorists can exploit. CRS has a long history of providing lifesaving nutritional and educational programs in developing countries around the world.

In a November 2, 2009 letter to Congress, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard noted that Pope Benedict XVI has linked disarmament and development. In his January 1 message for the 2009 World Day of Peace, the Holy Father recommended that “resources saved [by reducing expenditures on arms] could then be earmarked for development projects to assist the poorest and most needy individuals and peoples.” H. Res. 278 does just that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grope for Him

May 12, 2010

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:24-27

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:13-15


Your way, O God, is holy; what god is as great as our God? You alone are the God who did wonders; among the peoples you revealed your might. Psalm 77:14-15


“Groping for God.” St. Luke’s expression in Acts of the Apostles reminds me of the party game that children play – “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”

We are groping for God even though He is right there with us, in us and in front of us at all times. We blind(fold) ourselves by setting our sights on a bigger house, a better job, a fancier car and other creature comforts when the Lord only asks for us to seek him and we shall find him. We spin ourselves dizzy with the choices that the marketplace of the world offers to us – from flat panel televisions and blue-ray players to Ipads and Air Jordans.


God does not want us to be distracted. He wants us to find Him in the blade of grass that Melanie Rigney wrote about amazing Marty Smart last week. God wants us to find him in the blooming azaleas that grace the yard of Bob and Ann Metzger’s house. God wants us to find him in the hands of the skilled surgeon who repaired Tom Copeland’s back (and the one who inserted his new heart a few years ago). God wants us to find him in the faces of the poor that pick up food delivered by Sam Dominick, Pete Garry and others every Monday night within the wealthy suburbs of Fairfax where we still have people who are homeless, hungry and unemployed amidst our affluence. God wants us to find Him in the lessons that Marty and Evelyn Merlo and all religious education teachers impart to the young people in their classes. God wants us to find him in the pages of Fr. Stefan’s new book, Fr. Ephraim’s Sunday homily and Fr. Barkett’s smile, handshake and prayer to St. Michael the Archangel as we leave Mass.

Maybe we can not bear it now because of the heartbreak of scandal that infects the institutional church right now. Yet even the despair of such scandal will not stop God from raising the sun tomorrow morning to light our way on the journey.

God does not just want us to grope for Him. He wants us to find Him! That is why we have the inheritance of Jesus to enrich our prodigal lives. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:15

What will you do with your inheritance from Jesus that you find today?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Teach Me to Listen

May, 11 2010

Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

By Beth DeCristofaro

About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose… (the jailer) and all his family were baptized at once. (Acts 16:25-26,33)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:15-17)


Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers. Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is, “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.” Teach me to listen, my caring God, to those far from me– the whisper of the hopeless, the plea of the forgotten, the cry of the anguished. Teach me to listen, O God my Mother, to myself. Help me to be less afraid to trust the voice inside — in the deepest part of me. Teach me to listen, Holy Spirit, for your voice — in busyness and in boredom, in certainty and doubt, in noise and in silence. Teach me, Lord, to listen. Amen. (John Veltri, S.J.)


“Then some man wrestled with (Jacob) until the break of dawn.” (Genesis)
“There an angel of the LORD appeared to (Moses) in fire flaming out of a bush” (Exodus)
“Then the LORD said (to Elijah), ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.’… After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.” (1 Kings)
“God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud: "I will have no part in the death of this woman named Susana)." (Daniel)
“(John and Jesus) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him” (Matthew)
“…from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind… there appeared to them tongues as of fire” (Acts)
“…a severe earthquake shook the foundations of the jail” (Acts)

It is utterly astounding and wondrous how many ways God attempts to speak to us. God just does not take a hasty “no. God does not accept indifference. God does not abandon us when we are confused. Several weeks ago I went on a retreat in Southern Virginia. We were in the country; Norfolk’s lights on the horizon were not enough to dim the countless stars. It was as if God was declaring to me: “See my grandeur. I share my glory with you and invite you to be inspired by beauty and reminded of your place in my Creation.”

Hearing God can be as easier said than done, like standing still in an earthquake, or noticing a subtle, whispering sound. Watching a baby, wrapped and cuddled in her mother’s arms going home after weeks in a NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) speaks God to me. Experiencing the gratitude of an organ recipient and witnessing his tears as he prays for the donor – who might be living or perhaps whose death gave this patient new life – speaks God to me.

Some voices are loud and clear: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (Martin Luther King). We hear the hope of God from a new babe chick’s witness at Closing on a Cursillo weekend. Sometimes God’s voice is less obvious: The request of a child for more time with a parent or the unwelcome visits from a lonely neighbor.


What speaks God to you? Do you make time to listen to God? To be with others who intentionally listen? Were you able to make School of Leaders last Saturday? Perhaps you can mark your calendar right now for the June 12 SOL to be held at Our Lady Queen of Peace.