Tuesday, August 31, 2010

God’s Co-Workers

September 1, 2010

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God's co-workers; you are God's field, God's building. 1 Corinthians 3:7-9

After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. Luke 4:38-39

A Future Not Our Own: The Romero Prayer
By Ken Utener

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

We all have a job to do. However, we should not get so wrapped up in doing our job that we lose sight of whose work we are really carrying out.

St. Paul knew that he was just the “one who plants and the one who waters.” He realized that it was God who was the source of growth.

Peter’s mother-in-law also had a job to do. Even before Peter was called to follow Jesus, she was cured of her illness and served the Lord. Her work was a beginning, a step along the way which led to something much greater.

There are twelve men (including the two spiritual advisors) who have begun to prepare for the fall Cursillo under the guiding hand of “master gardener” and Rector Mike Green. The rest of our community may not be there to deliver the Cursillo experience to the candidates who will assemble October 8-11 at the San Damiano Retreat Center. However, we can participate in the work they do, we can help water the seeds of this weekend through our prayer and support of the team in formation.

Please visit the team page. Offer your Palanca for the team in formation and talk to God now about candidates you would like to sponsor on the weekend. http://arlingtoncursillo.org/CursillosSubweb/m121/m121.aspx

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hear the Spirit Who Is From God

August 31, 2010

Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)

…they were astonished at (Jesus’) teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. (Luke 4: 32-35)

In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist. (Thomas Merton)

“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” In the notes on this passage from the NAB, it is pointed out that Luke uses these chapters to show Jesus as prophet, teacher, exorcist and healer. Yet earlier in this same chapter, Jesus was expelled from the towns where he grew up. Here in Capernaum, not only does a demon recognize what the townspeople could not, Luke points to the belief that God –Jesus prominent in the struggle - would wrest the world from the control of evil. The language of the demon is antagonistic but Jesus prevails. Here, these townspeople are awed and inspired by his words and his actions.

Jesus speaks and acts not with earthly wisdom. But it is the effort to hold on to earthly wisdom which motivates those who oppose him. And Jesus allows them the freedom to reject him. He offers that freedom to us today as well. He frees the sick man from the demons who controlled him. He offers us freedom from the earthly attitudes and knowledge (not wisdom) which we cling to. He continues to speak with authority and free us each and every day.

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. God’s action in our lives continues today. Take 23 minutes and listen to a revealing piece on children and religion from the program “Interfaith Voices.” Interviewing a Muslim, a Jew and an Evangelical Christian who are all 10-12 years old, the producer hears similarities in their relationship with and their reliance on God. The segment is titled “My God.” It is the second part of the show. The link is: http://www.interfaithradio.org/

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spirit and Power

August 30, 2010

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, Upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, Not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, Until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. Isaiah 42:1-4

What do you think the vision of God was for the people sitting in the pews that day in Nazareth? From some historical accounts, they might have been waiting for a God who was going to free them from the Roman occupation just like God freed their ancestors from slavery in Egypt.

This young man, a carpenter’s son picks up the Book of Isaiah and proceeds not just to proclaim that sacred scripture but he offers commentary on it. The crowd knew very well this scripture from their oral traditions. They know that the prophet Isaiah explains that “Until [the Lord] establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.” His teaching apparently has arrived.

“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” They now anticipate freedom, liberty, and victory. That is what Jesus said. No?

But wait, Jesus left out an important passage from Isaiah 61:2 that contains the promise of “a day of vindication by our God.” If the people can not expect vengeance, then what can they expect?

It appears that this scene may be where the concept that God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable has its origin. No sooner are the people amazed at what Jesus has to say than does he start to turn the tables on them. In Luke4:22, “…all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” By Luke 4:28-29, (seven sentences later), “they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.”

This Jesus was not preaching what they wanted to hear. In the course of these seven sentences, Jesus sets in motion the fulfillment of the scriptures. However, he sets in motion not the fulfillment of any human agenda for vengeance, but rather God’s agenda which calls for the Servant of the Lord to be sacrificed.

What is your vision of God when you are sitting in the pews this week in Fairfax? Have you transferred onto God your image of what you want him to do? One scholar has commented that God created us in his image and we have returned the favor.

Are you more ready than the people in Nazareth to accept the sacrifice and resurrection story that begins to unfold today? Or are you awaiting a God who will solve all your problems like Dr. Phil? Are you awaiting a God who will lead you into battle like Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great?

Are you ready to hear his message and see it to fulfillment?

With Humility

August 29, 2010

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

[C]onduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are and you will find favor with God. Sirach 3:17-18

“[W]hen you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:13-14

Humility is an elusive virtue at best. The humble person does not know self as humble. We meet person after person in our lives that possessed of wonderful gifts lack confidence in themselves. The pretense of having it all together is what characterizes false humility. Humility is a true self awareness. Recognition of all our gifts as come from God makes genuine humility possible. The humble person knows the truth of self. What you see is what you get. To blow one’s own horn misses the reality of humility. Humility does not need to defend itself. Humility allows a person to be trusted. Humility is the reflection of the truly human in a person. The humble person acknowledges God as the source of the good in one’s life.

We study the environments around us to see what we can do. We know by honest reflection on ourselves what we can best do. Study of the people we work with allows us to see where we best fit in. Self-awareness allows us to offer ourselves for the job that needs doing. The Consciousness Examen helps us to grow in appreciation of what we do best and where the Lord most needs us to work. We learn by praying over our day with the Examen where the Lord was most at work in our lives. Gradually we turn over our lives to the work of God in us. Each morning we make our offering of the day and offer ourselves to the Lord with a clean slate to be used by the Lord for the work of the Kingdom. The greatest possible good, for the greatest number of people in the shortest possible time is a rule of thumb on how to select our work. At the end of the day we give to the Lord credit for the good he has been able to do through us. Humility allows us to tell the Lord he has used us well when we see the good he has accomplished through our efforts.

Actions speak humility louder than words. Doing the best one can does not need explanation. We do not have to defend ourselves when we are trying our best to do the job at hand as well as we can. God sees our intentions more than our performances. We do not have to put on airs when we are doing the job that needs doing. Humility makes us freer to work at our own pace without worrying about what otters might think. Our best needs no defense because humility gives us the pleasure of freedom to work as best we can. We are free to let those who can do the job better have their chance. We do not have to defend our chance to do a job because humility speaks for itself in the way it makes others free about us to do their best also. We see the work we do as a share in God’s work and that makes us free to allow God to work through others when he does not need our contribution. Humility makes us a bigger part of the Bigger Picture of God’s plan for us. Humility gives us our awareness of the job we are meant to do for the Lord. We are able to rejoice in how well the Lord uses us when we give him the credit for the good we do. Humility is God’s truth in us, active in God’s work through us.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chosen to Be His Own

August 28, 2010
Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’” Matthew 25:19-21

Psalm 33:11-15

But the plan of the LORD stands forever, wise designs through all generations.
Happy the nation whose God is the LORD, the people chosen as his very own.
From heaven the LORD looks down and observes the whole human race,
Surveying from the royal throne all who dwell on earth.
The one who fashioned the hearts of them all knows all their works.

If we are not careful in reading and interpreting today’s Gospel, we might mistakenly conclude that the Lord wants us to pile up material possessions for him. However, let’s consider this story in light of our three tripod legs of piety, study and action.

Piety will give us a love of God and an acceptance that the Lord is our most important friend in life. When we believe in God and his son our Lord Jesus Christ, we are included in the Kingdom. Those who are excluded are those who refused to believe in Jesus. God chooses as his own those who have the piety to know the difference. So even if we are descended from the prophets and patriarchs (as were the people of Israel), that does not give us a birthright into heaven. Such a right only comes to us from practical wisdom (gained through study) and action to help others as if they were God.

From our study, the servant, who knows God, invests his talent for God’s purpose. These servants are good and faithful people who will then benefit from living in God’s presence. The servant who does not invest his talent is guilty of inactivity or lack of action. He not only neglected God but failed to gain the practical wisdom to know what to do in that situation.

As we learn in today’s psalm, “…the Lord’s eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious help.” Thus God gives more – understanding and wisdom – to those who accept the paschal mystery. The corollary is that from the one who does not accept the Lord in love and express that in action, God will take away any such gifts of the Holy Spirit such as wisdom or understanding.

God chooses the foolish to shame the wise.

God chooses the weak to shame the strong.

God chooses the lowly so that no one might boast of themselves before God.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a classic summary of salvation history. Moses the slave became the great leader bringing his people out of the desert to the Promised Land. David the boy-soldier became the great warrior-turned-king who killed the giant enemy and led a great nation. From the womb of young Mary, a lowly pregnant teen from Bethlehem came forth the king of kings.

Who are the foolish in today’s society? Let us look to them for wisdom.

Who are the weakest ones in today’s world? Let us help them and share their strength.

Who are the lowliest in the society? Let us advocate on their behalf and show that we have the gift of practical wisdom and will act upon it.

I Will Destroy the Wisdom of the Wise

August 27, 2010

Memorial of Saint Monica

By Melanie Rigney

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside. (1 Corinthians 1:18-19)

The Lord brings to nought the plans of nations; he foils the designs of peoples. But the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of his heart, through all generations. (Psalms 33:10-11)

(When the foolish virgins returned from buying oil, they found the bridegroom and the wise virgins had entered the feast and locked the door. They said,) “’Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:11-13)

Lord, sometimes I am foolish beyond belief. Please let me never take You for granted. May I never run out of the oil that feeds faith and keeps it burning bright.

The foolish virgins were stunned. They were sure the oil in their lamps would last until the beginning of the feast. But the feast’s start was delayed because the bridegroom was late… and by the time they realized the error, bought more, and returned, the door was locked.

We might wonder about those stingy “wise” virgins. Shouldn’t they have shared what they had? Why did they tell the other women to leave? Hadn’t it occurred to anyone that the feast would begin as soon as the bridegroom arrived?

The challenge is that no matter how altruistic, how giving we may be of our time, talent, and treasure, if we don’t hold on to enough oil to keep our own faith lamps glowing, we risk losing it all. If we deplete our spiritual resources, it becomes easier and easier to think it is okay to run on fumes. Maybe we didn’t take the time we needed in prayer. Maybe we were too busy helping our friends and families to spend serious time with the Scripture. Everything seems to keep humming somehow, and we figure stealing away a little more time and energy from our relationship with Christ won’t hurt.

Except that it does.

We’re not smart enough or holy enough to put on spiritual lives on autopilot. No one, not Peter, not Paul, not Saint Monica, not anyone can mail it in and expect to find an open door, for as Christ told his followers, we know neither the day nor the hour. He wants us to travel light, certainly. But not empty.

Take a look inside your lamp. How low is your oil? Take the time to replenish it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blessed is That Servant

August 26, 2010

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:4-7

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.” Matthew 24:45-47

Prayer to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, you allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the Cross to become a living flame within you, and so became the light of His love to all.
Obtain from the Heart of Jesus (here make your request).
Teach me to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess my whole being so completely that my life, too, may radiate His light and love to others. Amen.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for me.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for me.


As we join the Missionaries of Charity in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa (now beatified and holding the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta), the readings today give us firm reminders of the witness that her testimony was to the world.

St. Paul’s testimony to the Corinthians was made up of his oral preaching and instruction, his letters, and the life he led as an apostle. The same is true for Mother Teresa. Her “preaching” included public speeches, like the address to the United Nations and to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, as well as the countless memorable talks she gave to individuals. In addition, we now also have access to her letters published last year where we can get a sense of her profound piety as well as the “dark night” her soul experienced.

Ultimately, we have the life she led as the prime example in which what she said matched what she did for the “least of these.” She approached everyone she met from lepers to cancer patients to the poor and destitute as if they were filled with the grace of God and were not lacking in any spiritual gift.

Plan to head down to your local post office on September 5 – the official first day of issue—to buy a supply of the new commemorative stamp bearing the image of Mother Teresa. If you plan to send out Christmas cards this year, now is a good time to stock up on these stamps and use them with your annual greetings to friends and relatives far and wide.
Stop by the post office after attending the special afternoon Mass at the Basillica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in her honor if you can.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Present Ourselves as a Model

August 25, 2010

Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

“…[N]ight and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you…Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:8b, 9b

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.” Matthew 23:27-28

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen.
(A favorite prayer of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)

In these days of the Little League World Series, the height of the Major League pennant races and the start of NFL pre-season games, forgive me if I see today’s readings as a match between the good and wholesome Nazareth Disciples against the Gehenna Pharisees, that brood of vipers from [New York, Sodom, Dallas, or fill in name of some other despised city].

We see a picture of two options for the behavior of leaders. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians sets forth another example of the Christ-center servant leader, willing to work and show a good example to those who would follow (imitate) him. In opposition to these leaders, Matthew relates Jesus’ critique of the scribes and Pharisees whose means do not measure up to their message.

The temptation to be like the Pharisees is ever-present. Even Paul admits that. He implies that the leaders of the church have a right to take food for free. However, they resist the lure of easy living knowing that their followers would learn a better lesson from acting like the servant-leaders which Jesus modeled for them.

Another week brings another round of political primaries to dominate our news cycle. Another week brings another round of stories of millionaire athletes fighting with their coaches and colleagues over playing sports. Another week brings another round of Hollywood celebrities and “fashionistas” fighting for the attention of the paparazzi that they pretend to despise.

Too often we learn that leaders from Wall Street to Capitol Hill or from Madison Avenue to Wilshire Boulevard, turn out to be cut from the cloth of “Do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do.” That is why we must look elsewhere for the ideal to model. And there is not better, more complete ideal of love-in-action than Jesus and the saints and soon-to-be saints.

Thursday would have been the 100th birthday for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Albania). Once the news media get over the latest spat of primaries, hyper paid, hyper egotistical athletes, drugged out celebrities, and corporate-welfare-seeking Wall Street fat cats, they will probably get around to naming Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity who carry on her legacy as the person of the week or some such moniker.* “God doesn’t ask us to do great things. He asks us to do small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa did not do her work for the attention of the editors at Time magazine or the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She did it for all the right reasons noted by Jesus and St. Paul. “I see the face of Jesus in the poor, and I do it for Him.”

So go out and buy a cake…or a cupcake and put a candle on it Thursday night. Light the candle and say a little prayer for the sainthood cause of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Then, go out into the world and feed someone who is hungry, give some money to someone who is poor or take care fo someone who is ill. Because that is what Sister Teresa would be doing if she were still with us on her 100th birthday.

“A beautiful death,” she said, “is for people who lived like animals to die like angels—loved and wanted.”

(c) Photo by Michael Collophy from www.motherteresacause.info/novena

Monday, August 23, 2010

Come and See

August 24, 2010

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle

By Beth DeCristofaro

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom. Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you. (Psalm 145: 10,12)

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1: 45-46)

O Lord, I seek to be your friend. I am joyful and humbled that you have already chosen to be my friend. Help me be free of racism, intolerance, and impatience with those who are different or who do not live up to my expectations. Help me refrain from snap judgments and condemnation of what I do not fully understand. Help me instead to open myself to your presence and your mercy and recognize your friendship with those who are different from me. You alone are King over the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Not exactly the kind of thought we might expect from a future apostle! But, truth be told, certainly something you might hear from the guy who lives down the street…or from your own lips. Just this morning while talking with my family about a person who did something rather demeaning to a friend, I heard myself saying “Well, I sure hope he gets what’s coming to him!” Oops, as if I know the entire situation and the truth of it, “Come and see,” Philip says. Hold your judgment and your small mindedness, he declares. Come and see what God has in store. God alone knows the fullness of truth.

Today the question in the U.S. seems to be “Can anything good come from a Muslim community center and mosque?” It is as if what we hold as a primary truth in our identity as loyal Americans and Christians – that fanatic men who claimed to be good Muslims deliberately and cruelly destroyed and killed thousands of lives – is more important than the faith in action of this group of Americans who want to worship God and bring recreation to the neighborhood. This mosque is not being built on the twin towers’ footprint.

Bartholomew and Nathaniel are thought to be one and the same person. Even though Nathaniel had just dismissed and ridiculed him, Jesus called Nathaniel an Israelite without duplicity. Are we without duplicity? Can we “come and see” where God is within those who are different? Can we withhold our preconceived, self-centeredness and give space for the actions of God in our lives, our country, our world? Remember, just on Friday, the reading from Ezekiel showed God restoring life to dry, brittle bones. God can bring good even from Nazareth, from another religion, from death, from those who are mean, thoughtless, faithless, or even someone of another political/ethnic persuasion.

Jesus was born in that dumpy town of Nazareth. Wonder if he was born on the wrong side of the tracks?

God gave me life. The fact that I am an American citizen is a wonderful, serendipitous gift. My life as a God-beloved being trumps my citizenship as it should for all my fellow Americans. How can I extend welcome to other God-created beings instead of putting up the walls of identity as a citizen which is a human created state?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Be Considered Worthy

August 23, 2010

Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

“…[W]e ourselves boast of you in the churches of God regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure. This is evidence of the just judgment of God, so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God for which you are suffering.” 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it. Matthew 23:20-22

Psalm 96:1-5

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; announce his salvation day after day.
Tell God's glory among the nations; among all peoples, God's marvelous deeds.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised, to be feared above all gods.
For the gods of the nations all do nothing, but the LORD made the heavens.

Congruency means two items fit together smoothly. Night follows day. Today, we have two studies of the lack of congruency – where there is friction between the items detailed in the first reading and again in the Gospel.

To better understand both passages, it helps to remember the words we were left with in the Sunday Gospel this week. “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:30)

In the first reading, persecutions and afflictions are held up as evidence of the just judgment of God. Usually, political leaders bestow prizes on those whom they favor. They grant them land, money, titles, and stripes on their sleeves. However, our table-turning Lord does just the opposite. To show how worthy we are, Jesus asks us to emulate Jesus. He will gladly make room for us on the cross but he only asks us to pick it up and carry it daily, not to hang next to him.

The Good News today poses an even more difficult lesson. Jesus has previously told us that we should not swear at all. So how can the Lord measure out degrees of oath-making or oath-taking which are acceptable?

But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Matthew 5:34-36

Today’s admonition, however, does not reverse this statement from earlier in Matthew’s Gospel. It in fact is just further evidence of Jesus mocking the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees whose actions do not follow congruently from their words. As the notes in the New American Bible reiterate, since Jesus forbids all oaths to his disciples, this statement does not set up an inconsistent standard for Christian conduct, but ridicules the Pharisees on their own terms.

The Cursillo tripod helps us to focus our lives on a congruent symbol. Our lives of piety, study and action must build off each of the other legs and strengthen the other phases in our lives. Just like the Mass provides for us the divine strengthening food each week (or each day), Cursillo provides additional human tools for our spiritual lives that will help us be stronger for the journey. We need both the divine and human reinforcement because we do not know what “persecutions and afflictions” we might face as evidence of God’s love and His judgment that we are worthy of heaven.

In addition to the tripod ideal of a balanced life of piety, study and action, Jesus knows that we can not stay on the narrow path or enter through the narrow gate without help. That is why Jesus provides his followers with the divine intervention from the Holy Spirit after he is gone. For Cursillistas, the Holy Spirit also is aided by the human intervention of our Group Reunion, our parish Ultreya and our diocesan Ultreya.

As we wind our way through the last weeks of “official” summer (as opposed to meteorological summer which lasts until late September), what are you doing to continue to be nourished and to nourish others? Is your group meeting this time of year or have you taken a break due to vacations? What else will sustain you until your group begins meeting again?

How can you support others? Did you know that a new men’s team has begun formation in order to bring Cursillo to more candidates this fall? That team can use your help in recruiting candidates for the October weekend as well as through your Palanca supporting its formation. Check out the team page here for updates.

We have to be careful not to sing the same song that everyone else might be singing. We don’t always need a new song. We just have to remember the words to the songs we have. And sing them loudly.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Strengthen Your Drooping Hands

August 22, 2010

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

“I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory. I will set a sign among them…” Isaiah 66:18-19a

At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed. Hebrews 12:11-13

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’” Luke 13:24-25

Some people carry their crosses with great style and dignity. Others drag their crosses and are forever complaining about what others are not doing. Drooping hands and weak knees need straight paths. Christ is the way, the truth and the life. His invitation to discipleship is to take of our crosses and to follow him. When Christ was asked if only a few people would be saved he challenged us in his answer to strive to enter through the narrow gate. Piety keeps us struggling ahead on the narrow path and gets us through the narrow gate. There is no short cut if we want to follow Christ. There is no bypass of the cross if we want to share his life. He calls us to do more than go up to Jerusalem with him. Piety is dangerous because it leads us closer and closer to his cross until we are not just in the shadow of the cross. It leads us to the day that we are willing to take Christ off his cross and to take his place with our crosses. A genuine piety is not for the faint hearted. The paradox of piety is that the last will be first and the first will be last.

Piety is worth studying in the saints. They are the ones who have made Christ real in their time and age. Saints live the lessons of Christ as an updating of Christ. The Saints are the ones who are first in their following of Christ. They love Christ with their entire mind and their hearts. They are transparencies of Christ. They are known by Christ because he can see himself in them. They know each other in Christ because their hearts go out in a special way to saints. Whether we are recognizing in a saint something of our idealized self or something of what we would like to be in our following of Christ makes no difference. How close we can come to Christ is in the fullness of offering all of our selves to him. The saint truly loves Christ with all their mind, heart and soul. Nothing is held back when we love each other in Christ.

The narrow way gives all of us away in the name of Christ. I cannot love you because of Christ. I have to love you to love Christ. I cannot give you Christ as another. I have to give you Christ as myself. Christ embraces us with the heart that is pierced on the cross. The water that flows from his heart is the Sacramental waters of Baptism which gives us all of Christ as a prisoner of our hearts. I have to let Christ out of my heart by love. Wherever there is love, God is there. When we share our lives with another in love it is Christ we give to each other. When we recline at the table in the kingdom of God, our Eucharist makes us one with Christ. He nourishes the life that began in our baptism with the love of our hearts that keeps us on the straight and the narrow path. Our love is his love when we share our hearts with one another. It is the discipline of the Lord that keeps us on the straight and the narrow path of righteousness. We come to the Father through Christ.

But One Master

August 21, 2010

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

“…but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court. And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD. Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple, while the man stood beside me. The voice said to me: Son of man, this is where my throne shall be, this is where I will set the soles of my feet; here I will dwell among the Israelites forever.” Ezekiel 43:5-7b

Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:10-12

Help us to realize that we have but one Master and that it is you Lord, not our self, our boss, our IPhone or our Facebook account. Help me to observe all that Jesus taught in order to set Him at the center of my universe. Amen.

Many of the stories in the Bible function both as literal stories about the people of ancient Israel and as metaphorical stories about how we must approach life today. In Ezekiel, the story of the vision in the temple had meaning both about the hoped for restoration of Israel just as the dry bones of yesterday’s first reading did.

However, Ezekiel and Matthew also convey the need for our personal relationship with God on the individual. Today, the facet of that relationship which is stressed is humility. Yesterday’s Gospel stressed that we must engage our total person (heart, soul, mind) in this relationship. Today, as the Spirit breathes life into our humanity, we are reminded that this relationship is with all people – so we should not overemphasize our importance over anyone else.

God connects Himself to the community and to the individual. However, Jesus reminds us that God remains the sole master. While we must have a relationship that personally engages us with the Lord, we also must remain humble in our hearts, soul and mind.

Ego. It’s a pretty easy trap to fall into. In this connected world where everything is about consuming – products, information, affinity – it is pretty easy to think that we are at the center of the universe. We have to be just as careful about not overloading on information as well as not overloading on our own self-importance or self-image.

In the August 20, 2010 Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes about overloading: “A lot of people seem here but not here. They're pecking away on a piece of plastic; they've withdrawn from the immediate reality around them and set up temporary camp in a reality that exists in their heads. It involves their own music, their own conversation, whether written or oral.”

She goes on to quote Seneca, the Roman philosopher and politician and prolific writer. She just as easily could have quoted from Jesus or Matthew. I imagine that Jesus might have made a similar observation today.

The Crackberry and I-phone obsessed have taken their e-seat on the chair of Steven Jobs or Bill Gates. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they check e-mail and voice mail and Twitter and Facebook but they do not practice being truly present and connected to the people in society around them. They trip over the homeless man, the blind woman and the unemployed person looking for a job. They lay up a guilt trip on those around them but they will not lift a finger to help others. The only finger that they lift is to type another note on their little plastic, glass and metal anchor. All their work is performed to be seen online as they widen their network of Facebook friends and lengthen their Twitter followers.

Noonan also refers to William Powers and his book "Hamlet's BlackBerry" about how to build a good and balanced life in the digital age. He provides practical solutions to the conflicting impulses of our implied need to be connected to our family, friends, high school, colleagues, and fellow fans of whatever sports teams we fancy and our need for quiet time and space apart to allow us to be truly present to the here and now. One piece of timely advice: “Concentrate on your higher, more serious purpose. Enrich your own experience. Don't be a slave to technology.”

Noonan concludes her WSJ column that this is good advice for all of us. “Focus on central things, quiet the mind, unplug a little, or a lot. And watch out for those crowds, both the ones that cause BlackBerry jams and the ones that unsettle, that attempt to stampede you into going along, or following. Step back, or aside. Think what you think, not what they think. Everyone is trying to push. Don't be pushed.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dry Bones, Hear the Word of the Lord!

August 20, 2010

Memorial of Saint Bernard, abbot and doctor of the Church

By Melanie Rigney

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? "Lord GOD," I answered, "you alone know that." Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD. I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:1-10)

For he satisfied the thirsty, filled the hungry with good things. (Psalms 107:9)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Lord, my bones are so dry. Please send Your spirit to help me come to life.

We’re nearing the end of summer, the end of vacation and playtime for some. School starts again, and for the first time since early May, everyone’s going to be back in the office and intent on the corporate or governmental mission.

And whereas spring can be a magical time for us spiritually, fall can present a challenge. The days are getting shorter; it’s not light at six in the morning anymore, and sunset comes before eight. And, liturgically, we’ve got three more months of ordinary time before Advent.

For some, fall can be a sobering time of drought after an exciting, jam-packed summer. If your bones are dry, you’re not alone. The question is, how will you rejuvenate them?

Consider taking a page from your childhood this fall, and go back to school. Going back to school could mean hearing a lecture at your parish. Or maybe it will be attending a School of Leaders presentation or a diocesan or parish Ultreya for the first time in eons. Or maybe it will be volunteering at the upcoming Men’s Weekend. Or maybe it will be reading something that will challenge or deepen your faith.

Challenge yourself. Try something new. And remember, as you struggle to open yourself to spiritual nourishment, you may be surprised at the way the Lord is working through you to feed others. In a letter in September 1979, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta wrote a friend: “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” It was just two months later that she was in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize for the good she and her order had done for the poor of Calcutta.

Looking for a good book? Check out a Catholic best seller. (http://www.cbpa.org/images/CB-0910.pdf)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Feast is Ready

August 19, 2010

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:26-28

“[W]hen the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, 'My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?' But he was reduced to silence…Many are invited, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:11-14

A Prayer To Change Your Heart
Most Precious Lord Jesus…
Gentle And Wonderful God…
Truly Awesome And Ever-present Holy Spirit…
In my grief, be with me and change my heart.
In my anger, be with me and change my heart.
In my pain, be with me and change my heart.
In my doubt, be with me and change my heart.
In my wrongful passions, be with me and change my heart.
I despise all my dark emotions so change me into your likeness.
Change me into your likeness so I my walk in your joy.
Change me into your likeness so I may walk in your peace.
Change me into your likeness so I may walk in your serenity.
Change me into your likeness so I may walk in your certainty.
Change me into your likeness so I may walk in your righteousness and holiness.
All these things I humbly pray in the name of my most Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, my Mighty God, and my Ever-present Holy Spirit upon whom I can rely. Amen.

God is ready for us. But are we ready for God?

God issues an open invitation for us to come to his feast. However, this is not a “come as you are party.” The Lord demands a change in our behavior in order for us to be granted admission.

Throughout this past week, readings from Ezekiel and Matthew have stressed the kind of humbled, love-centered actions that the Lord expects of us. As we studied just yesterday, we are urged to engage in the corporal works of mercy – “strengthen the weak,” “heal the sick,” “bind up the injured,” “bring back the strayed,” and “seek the lost.”

Jesus requires that we act with justice and mercy. No matter how we are behaving currently, we are all invited to the feast of forgiveness. However, unless we undergo a true change of heart – a change which requires that justice and mercy are reflected in our actions – then we might find ourselves among the invited that are not chosen to remain at the party in the true presence of the Lord. Like Adam, if we don’t conform to expected norms of behavior, we might find ourselves on the outside looking in.

This is all a part of the new covenant that Jesus brings. Yet it also is a covenant as old as the Bible. Some of the most important lessons in sacred scripture are delivered with repeated emphasis. Today, we encounter one of those lessons. The promise “I will be your God” appears repeatedly throughout the Hebrew Bible in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Despite, not because of our actions, God continues to want to get personally close to us and to offer us a holy dwelling in his land. To get this benefit, God asks for us to change. Obedience to God’s laws (expectations) will bring us into a closer walk with the Lord. When we don’t come around, God takes the unprecedented, loving step of sending His son to model this desired behavior of obedience and justice and mercy.

The feast is ready. Are you ready to change into your wedding garment?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Will Claim My Sheep

August 18, 2010

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Thus says the Lord GOD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths. For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. Ezekiel 34:10-11

What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? (Or) am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last. Matthew 20:14b-16

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.

Today’s readings cause us to stop and reflect upon the contrast between the landowner who took extra care to pay his workers generously with the shepherds who failed to properly care for their sheep in the reading from Ezekiel.

No one was ever arrested or faced a union grievance if they paid their workers too much. Usually we hear horror stories of forced labor, unfair labor practices, or poor working conditions. When an employer goes beyond the economic contract, we hear about this extraordinary level of generosity.

Today’s readings include symbolic lessons for us about how to treat each other. We are urged to “strengthen the weak,” “heal the sick,” “bind up the injured,” “bring back the strayed,” and “seek the lost.” Beyond that, they also predict the coming of the Lord, the Good Shepherd, who will come to dwell with us and take care of those whom we neglect.

Taking care of our brothers and sisters takes many forms. Sometimes, it takes the form of advocacy.

Earlier this year, CRS was asking us to support its efforts to get funding through Congress to help with rebuilding Haiti. Our advocacy to relieve the suffering in Haiti and around the world has made an impact.

Congress has passed the FY 2010 Supplemental Appropriations bill. This bill provides critical support for people suffering from emergencies around the world including urgently needed funding to help Haiti recover from January’s devastating earthquake, assist refugees, and support humanitarian efforts. A recent e-mail announcement from CRS explained it this way.

What was the Church’s position? As stated in letters to House and Senate appropriators, CRS and USCCB requested funding for longer-term reconstruction in Haiti and for other global emergency needs, including the International Disaster Assistance, Food Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the Economic Support Fund in Sudan.

What was the outcome of the bill? Although not all of the funding that CRS and USCCB requested was included, the final bill included:
• $2.8 billion for Haiti to provide urgent shelter, health, livelihoods, food aid, and water and sanitation needs to the most vulnerable populations as well as long-term reconstruction.
• A portion of the $1.597 billion we requested for global emergency needs:
o $165 million for migration and refugee assistance which will provide urgent humanitarian assistance and resettlement opportunities for refugees and victims of conflict around the globe; and
o $460 million for International Disaster Assistance to provide safe drinking water, basic health services, shelter, household commodities, seeds, tools, and livelihoods assistance to millions of people.

Why is this issue important to my Catholic faith? As Catholics, we believe that each person is created in the image of God. Aid to poor people – the lost sheep – here and overseas protects human life and dignity by promoting human development and reducing crushing poverty, deadly diseases and malnutrition. This is a significant act of solidarity that has helped provide additional funding to meet the needs of our sisters and brothers everywhere who are suffering.

What else can I do to support our brothers and sisters in need? Join Catholics Confront Global Poverty at www.crs.org.

Monday, August 16, 2010

For God All Things Are Possible

August 17, 2010

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Thus says the Lord GOD: Because you are haughty of heart, you say, “A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!”— And yet you are a man, and not a god, however you may think yourself like a god. (Ezekiel 28:2)

(The disciples asked) … “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Somehow we humans keep doing ourselves in. The prophecy from Ezekiel foretells the downfall of a foreign king who was so powerful as to think himself immune from the rules of men. The disciples have just been told that it will be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. I can sure understand the desire to be above the rules or the chance to make my own rules. But why would anyone want to get a camel through the eye of a needle? The reality is that people do this everyday – make life choices which are self-centered, thoughtless, greedy, even down right mean. And we do it because we feel that we need to be in control or we have the answers or for many other human-centered reasons.

Just as God created us out of an abounding love, God offers us the gift of salvation out of that same love. We can’t save ourselves. We really don’t control much at all. There is an awful lot of meanness in the world. Rather than despairing, however, we can rejoice in the freedom God also gives to us that allows us to accept the gifts of God. And give over to God the control, the meanness, the greed we desire. Then we can act more as if we are God’s saved, loved ones – and love one another - rather than act like we are rulers of our universe.

Amazing how we keep trying to stuff camels through needles’ eyes.

What camel do we keep trying to stuff? What rules are we rewriting for our own benefit? Can we let them go and instead, give thanks and put ourselves at the disposal to the God who was and who is?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sell What You Have

August 16, 2010

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

As for you, son of man, truly, on the day I take away from them their bulwark, their glorious joy, the delight of their eyes, the desire of their soul, and the pride of their hearts, their sons and daughters, that day the fugitive will come to you, that you may hear it for yourself; that day your mouth shall be opened and you shall be dumb no longer. Thus you shall be a sign to them, and they shall know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 24:25-27

Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:21-22

God, help us not to forget that your love brought us into this world. Brother Jesus, keep us from devoting all of our attention to material possessions. Holy Spirit, help us clear the way to see God more clearly without the obstacle of these possessions. Freed from this burden, help us to follow the way of the Lord more closely and love our neighbor more readily. Amen.

POW! POW! Today we get a one-two punch from Ezekiel and Matthew about possessions. It is hard not to recognize the message once again is that we are not to revel in possession of this world. If we do, these possessions will be taken from us in order that we might better follow the commands of the Lord.

Give away the possessions that weigh us down as we try to walk with the Lord. Trade these in for treasures in heaven.

The young man in the Gospel went away sad because he had many possessions that he did not want to give away. As long as he would devote his attention to these items, then he would not be able to practice the mercy of God.

What is the delight of your eyes?

What desires burn in your soul?

What fills your heart with pride?

Start this week to weed out your possessions. Give away items you no longer wear or use. Try the one-year test. If you have not used it or worn it in a year, then give it to someone who needs it more than you do.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Place Prepared by God

August 15, 2010

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God. Revelation 12:5-6

For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, 10 when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 1 Corinthians 15:22-25

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:46-49

Gone, but not gone. She is with us until the end of time in her closeness to the indwelling of her son whose mother she is. His mother and our mother too since the life of Christ within us always has the mother close by. Because Mary is part of the life of the Church, she is part of our lives also. Those that honor Mary, honor her son. Because we claim a relationship to Christ we have the right to call Mary our Mother. She is the Mother of our Christ life within. Wither we would go with Jesus as our companion of life, Mary cannot be far away. The Assumption celebrates the fact that Mary after her death did not know decay of her body. She is welcomed into heaven as the mother of Jesus and because Jesus is one person with two natures, she is rightly called the mother of God. The “Hail Mary” says it better than any words we can put on all of this. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”

I look at all the ways Mary is important in my life. 60 years ago on this feast day I entered the Jesuits. Thirteen years later on this day I gave my first sermon in Spanish. Mary has blessed me in my life with her special days. Her friends are mine. My mother because of her devotion to Mary in spite of the advice of her doctors gave birth to me as her first child. When I was a young Jesuit she told me how because of Mary she was willing to risk her health that I be born. Mary carried Christ as we should carry Christ in our spiritual lives. She was attentive to her son as we should be attentive. She was present to her son in all the important events of his life. The mysteries of the rosary are the ways so many of God’s people have developed a spiritual life. By saying the rosary and entering into the big events of the life of her son Spiritual journeys are nourished. I realize that people, who really know me, know my mother. The same can be said by Jesus. He was a true son of his mother. What we do as children of our parents Christ did as the child of Mary. Mary watches over us for her son. We need to realize Mary as our mother, too. Jesus will love us in a special way in our loving his mother.

A mother’s love can make our world a better world. We need to sharpen our devotion to Mary. She will bring us close to her son. A wonderful action in our lives can be saying the rosary out in the open where others can see what we are doing. Too many of us seem to be ashamed of the role of Mary in the Church. We need to brag on Mary that others will realize she is still active in our world by seeing how important she is in our lives. She is gone, but not gone.

A New Heart and a New Spirit

August 14, 2010

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, priest and martyr

Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD. Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord GOD. Return and live! Ezekiel 18:30-32

"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit. Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit. I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you. Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power. Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart. Psalm 51:12-19

Remember in school when the teacher or the librarian or the principal knew someone did something wrong but did not know exactly who did the deed? If you are like me, you hated the outcome…the whole class would get punished. Maybe we had to skip recess or were the last class dismissed to go home. But because no one would “tattle” on the offender, everyone got the same punishment.

In the Hebrew Bible, God had a reputation of doing out punishment across generations. But Ezekiel preached that such a system was changing. However, there were conditions placed upon the actions of the members of the community in order to benefit from such mercy. Instead of listing a series of “thou shalt not” statements, the prophet Ezekiel listed virtuous actions which were expected of us.

If a man is virtuous--if he does what is right and just, if he does not eat on the mountains, nor raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel; if he does not defile his neighbor's wife, nor have relations with a woman in her menstrual period; if he oppresses no one, gives back the pledge received for a debt, commits no robbery; if he gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked; if he does not lend at interest nor exact usury; if he holds off from evildoing, judges fairly between a man and his opponent; if he lives by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances, that man is virtuous--he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 18:5-9

Each one of us are accountable for our own actions. Not only that, but future generations are not accountable for our actions. Children are blameless and Jesus welcomes them into his company.

We have to want to change. As the Psalmist writes, we have to ask the Lord to “create in me a clean heart.” If we want to begin to live in the kingdom of heaven, then we have to be as innocent as the children who were coming to sit with the Lord.

What change do you want to see in your life? We may not be asked to sacrifice our lives in a Nazi prison camp like St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe. However, we are asked to sacrifice money and treasure or offer up our talents for the sake of others. What are you planning to sacrifice today before the altar of the Lord?

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Am Confident and Unafraid

August 13, 2010

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Thus says the LORD: I will deal with you according to what you have done, you who despised your oath, breaking a covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you. Then you shall remember your conduct and be ashamed when I take your sisters, those older and younger than you, and give them to you as daughters, even though I am not bound by my covenant with you. For I will re-establish my covenant with you, that you may know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 16:59-63)

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2-3)

(When the disciples responded to Jesus’s statement that anyone who divorces, unless the marriage was unlawful, and remarries commits adultery by saying that it was better not to marry, Jesus said:) “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” (Matthew 19:11-12)

Lord, please help me to accept the words and guidance You so graciously give me.

Some hard readings today.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus puts such limits on divorce that the disciples respond that it’s better not to get married at all.

In the first reading, God chastises Israel for its conduct and breaking of its covenant with Him. He says he’ll deal with Israel “according to what you have done.” Not a pretty thought.

And yet, in both cases, there’s guidance—and hope.

Jesus acknowledges that yes, some people should remain celibate, but only those guided by God in that way. And in the first reading, God promises to re-establish His covenant, and to give to Israel “as daughters” its neighbors despite the breaking of the earlier promise.

But how do we know? Are we called to a celibate vocation? And can God truly forgive us when we break those promises we’ve made to Him, especially the two greatest, to love Him and to love others as ourselves? How do we get out of the way of our own frailties and fears, and follow His lead?

Perhaps the answer lies in Isaiah’s words we contemplate today:

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.

For when we drink from the fountain of salvation, the listening and discernment become easier. We listen with joy and confidence, not with fear and trepidation.

God doesn’t always give us the answer we want, on our relationships with others or with Him. But with His grace, He provides all the support we need to live those answers, no matter how often we’ve ignored them in the past.

What is God asking you to do right now that you don’t want to do? Have a talk with Him about it. Pray for discernment, and the ability to be obedient.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From His Heart

August 12, 2010

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them; as captives they shall go into exile. The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness, going through a hole that he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone. Ezekiel 12:11-12

Then Peter approaching asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Psalm 78:56-62

But they tested, rebelled against God Most High, his decrees they did not observe.
They turned back, deceitful like their ancestors; they proved false like a bow with no tension.
They enraged him with their high places; with their idols they goaded him.
God heard and grew angry; he rejected Israel completely.
He forsook the shrine at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt with humans.
He gave up his might into captivity, his glorious ark into the hands of the foe.
God abandoned his people to the sword; he was enraged against his heritage.

Limitless forgiveness. That is the point of Jesus’ answer to St. Peter in today’s Good News.

Peter wants to know how often he must forgive someone who sins against him. He posits the answer at seven times. (Seven is the Biblical number of perfection.) Jesus answers using the expression “seven times seventy.” What the Lord means by this is that forgiveness is to be given beyond perfection -- without limit. Jesus goes on to describe that concept with the story of the unmerciful servant. The parable ends with the lesson that our Father in heaven will give those who do not forgive the same treatment as that given to the unmerciful servant. "So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart." Matthew 18:35

Limitless forgiveness is perfection in the eyes of Jesus. Limitless forgiveness will be a difficult lesson for us to learn and to practice.

Society helps us learn how to practice holding a grudge. Society tells us not to forgive. Yet forgiveness is the path to peace. Those nations who put forgiveness and reconciliation into practice are able to grow beyond the sins of the past. Poland. South Africa. Many of the nations which have been our enemies in past wars now enjoy free and fair trade with us. Germany. Japan. Viet Nam.

Who are you called to forgive? Perhaps someone has caused you harm, maybe even violently. Perhaps someone has abused you mentally and taken advantage of your presence. Perhaps someone has stolen something of great value emotionally or materially from you. Can you find it in your heart to emulate limitless forgiveness?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In the Midst of Them

August 11, 2010

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19-20

Psalm 113
Hallelujah! Praise, you servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD both now and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the LORD be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD; above the heavens God's glory.
Who is like the LORD, our God enthroned on high, looking down on heaven and earth?
The LORD raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap,
Seats them with princes, the princes of the people, gives the childless wife a home, the joyful mother of children. Hallelujah!

What is the relationship between our actions on earth and our place in the kingdom of God?

If we heed the message of Ezekiel, then we learn today that the God of the Hebrew Bible will dole out punishment right here on earth for our actions (or rather misdeeds and inaction). The instructions Ezekiel laid out call for the innocent inhabitants of Jerusalem to be spared while those who are idolatrous are punished. The angels of the Lord can tell them apart because the prophet places a cross on their foreheads in the form of the letter “tau,” formed with the cross.

Then in our Gospel, Jesus comes along and with the sign of the cross unites all of His followers with the literal sign of the crucifixion as well as with the symbolic sign that we use as a symbol and gesture of our piety to begin our formal prayers. Although in the Hebrew Bible, the Lord set forth a prescription for those who would be saved, in the Gospel, those who would be saved are marked not only with the sign of the cross but also with the prayers of the community who ask the Lord to save them.

Our salvation not only comes from above, but it also comes from the faith, hope and love expressed by our neighbors...an expression that brings the Lord into our midst.

For what are you praying with your community? As we pray in community, the Lord will grant those wishes because through our prayers, the Lord is present in our community.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Cheerful Givers

August 10, 2010

Memorial of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

By Beth DeCristofaro

Brothers and sisters: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)

Prayer to St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

O Generous patron of the Church’s poor, St. Lawrence, pray to the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that all the poor of the Church in need in every corner of the world may feel the effect of the love of their brothers and sisters who seek to help them.

Deliver the Church from the greed and envy of the powerful and protect her rights and property so that she may serve the needy in freedom, giving them good things for soul and body.

May we come some day with all those whom we helped on earth to the bright mansions of heaven where we will enjoy the riches of God’s house and the company of the Savior who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

It’s true. Unless a seed cracks open and dies in nurturing soil and water, it will not give life. These readings feel especially poignant today, the memorial of the early Christian Lawrence, martyred in 258, because of the murder of ten medical aide workers in Afghanistan late last week.

Lawrence was known for his work with the poor. When Roman leaders demanded that he turn over to them the of riches of the church, Lawrence gathered a crowd of downtrodden, sick, outcast and presented them as the treasures of the church. The medical personnel were in Afghanistan because of their Christian belief and commitment to serving the poor – in this caring for eyes, teeth and general health. They were not overtly spreading Christianity in the sense of proselytizing as the Taliban claimed but their kindness and their conviction in the dignity of all persons was surely proclaimed.

Lawrence and these doctors, technicians and interpreters were martyred in ways which most of us will never be called to experience. We are called, however, as Christians, to die to greediness, attraction to small gods and narrow-minded views of who God wants us to love. … God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you … Paul reminds us that abundant and cheerful giving is rooted in God’s own abundant generosity and that as we can never outdo that divine generosity, we will always have more to give as we give more.

What can I do today to help the poor – whether poor in material or spiritual ways? Do I have extra clothes or change to hand over to someone else? Can I take the time to listen without judgment to a colleague or family member? Can I give to someone who mistreats me or those I love? Can I tap into God’s abundance rather than being unconvinced of my own?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

For Me and For You

August 9, 2010

Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Above the firmament over their heads something like a throne could be seen, looking like sapphire. Upon it was seated, up above, one who had the appearance of a man. Upward from what resembled his waist I saw what gleamed like electrum; downward from what resembled his waist I saw what looked like fire; he was surrounded with splendor. Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day was the splendor that surrounded him. Such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. Ezekiel 1:25-28c

When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.” Matthew 17:25b-27

Praise the LORD from the heavens; give praise in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels; give praise, all you hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon; give praise, all shining stars.
Praise him, highest heavens, you waters above the heavens.
Let them all praise the LORD'S name; for the LORD commanded and they were created,
Assigned them duties forever, gave them tasks that will never change.
Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deep waters;
You lightning and hail, snow and clouds, storm winds that fulfill his command;
You mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars;
You animals wild and tame, you creatures that crawl and fly;
You kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all who govern on earth;
Young men and women too, old and young alike.
Let them all praise the LORD'S name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven. Psalm 148:1-13

There is a lot going on in today’s readings about heaven and earth being filled with the glory of God.

First, Ezekiel has a vision of God taking on human form. This is a radical departure from the popular concept of the Lord handed down since Moses. In this tradition, not only could the name of God not be uttered, no mere human could even look upon the the face of God. “I will make all my beauty pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce my name, 'LORD'; I who show favors to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives." (Exodus 33:19-20)

Second, after becoming man, Jesus predicts his execution as he begins to prepare his disciples for a future without his physical presence. However, because they are filled with the joy of life with Jesus, they can not fathom life without Jesus, and especially not life without him if he is handed over to the authorities and killed.

Third, we have a discourse about the relationship between civil authorities and the Lord over the temple tax. The notes to the New American Bible for this passage point out that “before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70 every male Jew above nineteen years of age was obliged to make an annual contribution to its upkeep. After the destruction the Romans imposed upon Jews the obligation of paying that tax for the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. There is disagreement about which period the story deals with.”

Thanks to a miraculous intervention, Jesus can sidestep the query about the temple tax so it does not become a distraction on the road to Calvary. This miracle resolves the temple tax question for Peter with the coin found in the mouth of a fish.

Now the fourth topic in today’s readings is that Peter also has to consider the question of whether followers of Jesus are citizens subject to local laws governing foreigners. On this point, Jesus teaches that they are not subject to the same laws that apply to foreigners. The notes to the NAB also are helpful for today’s reader. “Just as subjects are not bound by laws applying to foreigners, neither are Jesus and his disciples, who belong to the kingdom of heaven, bound by the duty of paying the temple tax imposed on those who are not of the kingdom. If the Greek is translated “sons,” the freedom of Jesus, the Son of God, and of his disciples, children (“sons”) of the kingdom is even more clear.”

However, Jesus wants to avoid offending them with such a teaching so the miraculous intervention sidesteps the temple tax question. Instead, we can be left with the facts of Psalm 148, a psalm repeated in the daily cadence of morning prayers in temples, monasteries, churches, homes and hearts. All creatures great and small in the heavens and on the earth are to give praise to God’s holy presence.

You kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all who govern on earth;
Young men and women too, old and young alike.
Let them all praise the LORD'S name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven.
Psalm 148:11-13

The real issue in today’s Gospel is the prediction of Jesus’ death on the cross. A lot of other things are going on that might distract Peter and the rest from this truth.

There are many potential obstacles that could come up in the way toward fulfilling that prophecy. Jesus, however, does not want these to deter his followers from the bigger picture.

For me and for you, our minds, mouths and hearts must be filled with the praise of God. What issues sidetrack us from life in friendship with Jesus? How can we resolve these so we can begin/continue on our journey with Jesus?

Friday, August 06, 2010

An Inexhaustible Treasure in Heaven

August 8, 2010

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Your people awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes. For when you punished our adversaries, in this you glorified us whom you had summoned. Wisdom 18:7-8

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. Hebrews 11:1-2

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. Luke 12:32-34

“Ready or not, here I come!” A game from my childhood had that refrain. We were playing “Hide and go Seek.” The games of childhood give way to the game of life. We quickly learn to be ready for the challenges of life if we are going to be successful. Still, there are all too many things we need to do that we put off to the last minute. A foreseen deadline of life gets good preparation. Trivial things can be put off to the last minute because it does not matter whether we are ready or not. There are deadlines in exams that we have to face when time runs out on us before we have finished. There is a deadline in life we all have. We do not know the day or the hour when the Lord will call for us. Some deadlines require all of life to be prepared for. The death bed meditation is a powerful meditation of the first week of the Spiritual Exercises because it asks us to look at what we are doing with our responsibilities of life to see whether what we would do knowing out life is over is what we have done with our lives. Piety is the being ready to meet our maker with the job of life done as best we can. What would I wish to change when I look back at my behavior with the light of the last judgment? Such a searching look frees us to store up in heaven inexhaustible treasures.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to our generosity with others. Our parable is about the responsibilities of life and how we behave. The invitation is to sell what we have and to give alms. Thus we prepare for ourselves the inexhaustible treasure of God’s gratitude for what we do in the name of Christ. On earth, gratitude is a mixed bag. It can be stolen. Moths can get at our garments. Thieves can take what we value. Children can break our expensive toys of life. Everything and anything can go wrong. There is no sure thing for us short of heaven. Where our treasure is, there our hearts are. Our best study is an examination of conscience where we look with the eyes of faith at what we are about in our lives and where we have our treasures stored.

Heaven is our goal. Our good actions can bring us to a better homeland. Homeland Security is what Faith makes possible for us. Faith is “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” It is our faith in a God who is true to his promises that gives us the wherewithal in our hearts to do what needs to be done to make heaven our true homeland. The architect and maker of our bank in heaven is God. We call upon God by calling his name during our day. If I call the name of God ten times during the day, a good action would be to make it a hundred times. If I drink the chalice of salvation once a week on Sunday, I can make the time to do it during the week. Psalm 86 talks about the return we shall make to the Lord for all the good things he has done for us. The best return we can make to the God of our salvation is to give our lives more fully to his Son. Jesus is “the Way, The Truth and the Light” of our journey home to God. The more Christ we have in our lives, the readier we will be for the hour we do not know when the Son of Man will come to call us home.

Because of Your Little Faith

August 7, 2010

Saturday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. Habakkuk 2:4

Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:18-20

Dear Lord,

…I have to move to a busier place to teach, preach and counsel because it is to that active task that you have called me. But I pray that I will keep you in the center of my thoughts, words and actions. I pray that your presence, which I have sensed so strongly here, will also guide my life…, but most of all I pray that I will keep taking the time to be with you and you alone.

Let the knowledge of your love fill my heart and mind so that I can witness to you freely, openly, and courageously, and bring your peace and your joy to the many [people] who are searching – knowingly and unknowingly – for you. Amen.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, “Saturday, August 11,” from A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee (New York: Image Books Doubleday), page 137.

When a speaker wants to get the audience to remember a key point, he or she will repeat it – sometimes more than twice – to drive home that point. What gets repeated must be important. Today’s lesson about the primacy of faith comes up again and again in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament.

Jesus wants us to ACT with the FAITH of those he encountered. The faith of the Roman centurion. The faith of the woman at the well. The faith of the woman whose daughter was hemorrhaging. Again and again he says that we must act. With just a little bit of faith, we can move mountains and make the seemingly impossible possible.

For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous by faith will live." Romans 1:17

And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for "the one who is righteous by faith will live." Galatians 3:11

But my just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him." We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life. Hebrews 10:38-39

In fact, Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews recounts the many deeds throughout Biblical History which were accomplished through the living faith of those throughout time: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

Actions motivated by faith are set off from action which are motivated or compelled by law. Biblical teachings ask each of us to go beyond the mere requirement of law and to act out of faith and love.

Yet faith alone is not always enough. Faith is completed by the good works we accomplish in life. As we learn in the Letter from St. James:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. James 2:21-26

The just woman and man, because of her and his faith, shall live. What does your faith inspire you to do today?

Visit the sick?
Call a lonely friend?
Send money to a favorite charity?
Volunteer to help feed the poor?
Become a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister?”
Adopt a stray animal from a shelter?
Send Palanca?
Sing for MaƱanita?
Attend the closing?
Sponsor a candidate?
Welcome a new Cursillista to your group reunion?
Live in God’s friendship and service?