Thursday, June 30, 2011

You Are a People Sacred to the Lord

July 1, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

By Melanie Rigney

Moses said to the people: “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own.” (Deuteronomy 7:6)

He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion. (Psalms 103:4)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” (Matthew 11:25)


Father, may everything I do begin with Your Inspiration, continue with Your Help, and reach perfection under Your Guidance. With Your loving care guide me in my daily actions. Help me to persevere with love and sincerity. Teach me to judge wisely the things of earth and to love the things of Heaven. Keep me in Your presence and never let me be separated from You. Make Your Love the foundation of my life. Teach me to long for Heaven. May its promise and hope guide my way on earth until I reach eternal life with You. (From


I was among the presenters at a Christian writers’ conference last week. It’s always a little tough to see some writers leave the sessions overwhelmed and discouraged. They arrive on top of the world, sure they’ve written the Great American Novel or memoir… and find out from their peers and instructors that there’s still writing and rewriting to be done and that few publishers are interested in working with even a good unknown writer.

Maybe it’s the same in your profession. I heard recently about attorneys with new degrees working for a third of what they would have earned five years ago in positions they could have handled in their undergraduate days. Teachers and civil servants are being laid off due to severe budget cuts. Or maybe your kids ran into problems and aren’t living the lives you’d hoped.

It’s easy to get discouraged and think we’re losers. It’s hard to believe that we all are indeed sacred to and loved by God.

Let me tell you a story I shared with the writers. In her book “Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope,” Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, tells the story of how, as a member of a Benedictine monastery, she earned an undergraduate degree in English and began teaching school. Then the prioress told Joan to apply to get a master’s in creative writing at Iowa State. Joan, who loved to write fiction, did so. She was accepted in January, to begin coursework in June. But two weeks before classes were to begin, the prioress called again. It had been decided it would be better for Joan to be third cook at a summer camp. She would not be going to Iowa State.

Now, where’s God’s love in that? Where’s His kindness and compassion?

As you may know, Chittister’s gone on to write more than three dozen nonfiction books, including a phrase-by-phrase explanation of the Creed… a 40-day devotional… and a book on aging with grace. Here’s a truncated version of what she wrote about leaving fiction behind:

After the writing career I had hoped to pursue had been made impossible, but still desperate to write, to work with words, to find an outlet for the ideas that plagued me from morning to night, I began to find fiction in reality rather than reality in fiction. I ceased to make up stories and began to understand the stories of people I saw every day. I began to write about inequality. I began to write about racism. I began to write about social justice issues. I began to understand that I wasn’t called to write fiction; I was called to speak the pain of reality.

You see, God doesn’t always show His love in the ways we or the world can easily understand. But when we have faith and soldier on and accept His will, we often find the love that was there all along.


How is God showing His love to you today? Write down ten examples. Keep them in a safe place so you can revisit the list when the going gets tough.

Walk in the Presence of the Lord

June 30, 2011

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Some time after these events, God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, "Abraham!" "Ready!" he replied. Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you." Genesis 22:1-2

Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" --he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." He rose and went home. Matthew 9:5-7


I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.


Today, we are halfway through the calendar year. Remember back to January when everything started with fresh resolutions and a fresh outlook. How are you doing in regards to those grand plans?

In some parts of the world, this year has seen people throw off the mantle of oppression and prevail for freedom in the "Arab Spring." Yet elsewhere, dictators remain in power and people remain hungry for independence.

In the United States, we may not be tested as much with harsh political systems. Our tests are of a different kind. How will we personally respond to the Lord's call to change the direction in which we look for happiness? How will we act differently when commanded to love God and love our neighbor?

Our tests may not be as harsh as the test Abraham faced on the mountaintop. Our challenge may not by physical paralysis like the man on the mat. We may be tested with challenges to our physical health, our families, our careers, and our emotions. How will we respond?


Today's Psalmist gives us a great action -- "Walk in the presence of the Lord."

When I was growing up, I had this image that the God portrayed in the Hebrew Bible was this harsh war-like God who banished Adam and Eve, killed the Egyptian army and extracted retribution time after time on His people.

Yet, God has not changed. We have changed. We need to continue to change.

Throughout time, God just wants to be with us and walk with us like the paralytic man who was cured and walked home. As he walked home, that man must have had the Lord in his mind, on his lips and in his heart after being cured of his physical ailments and his sins.

Let's also take some inspiration from the youth in our parish (St. Mary of Sorrows, Fairfax, VA) who are completing a week-long service project in Ohio. Like other young people in other churches, they have elected to start their summer vacation not at the beach or the swimming pool, not at the amusement park or the playground, but by making a journey into a far away land to serve the poor and walk with the Lord. Let us pray that they all return home safely.

As you approach a long holiday weekend, make some time to spend alone with the Lord so you can figure out how to respond to the ways that he will test you over the second half of this year.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There is Hope for Us

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

By Colleen O'Sullivan

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

(Jesus) said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” (Matthew 16:15-18a)


Our hope rests in you, O Lord, who can transform our lives.


As Christians, we share a common goal. Ultimately, we want to get to heaven. We hope to be with the Lord forever in the company of all the angels and saints. Yet, some days that seems like an almost unattainable goal. I do such stupid things. I want to be faithful, but so often I stumble and fall. I love the Lord, but sometimes I turn my back on him and go my own sinful way. I can be petty and self-centered. I can be blind to the poverty and suffering of my brothers and sisters just a few blocks away. When I gaze into the mirror, heaven looks to be a long journey away.

But then we have a day like this one, when we remember the lives and deaths of two of the giants of the Church, Saints Peter and Paul. For me, it’s a day of hope, when we are reminded that we don’t have to be perfect. God can take our very flawed lives and, through the working of the Spirit, make something useful out of us.

Take Paul, for instance. He was the student of one of the greatest rabbis, Gamaliel. His keen intellect and the education he received are reflected in his writings. He labored tirelessly in his efforts to spread the gospel. But, as the young man Saul, he had applied that very same zeal to unceasingly persecuting Christians! When I reflect on Paul’s life, I know that there’s hope. If we are open to the working of the Spirit in our lives, we can be turned 180 degrees from a life of sin to a life pleasing to God.

Or look at Peter. Personally, I can more easily relate to him than to Paul. Peter was no Harvard graduate. He was just an ordinary person. Not always the quickest learner, after being in the company of Jesus for three years, he is the one disciple who sees that Jesus is the Christ, but just a few verses later, shows that he doesn’t understand a thing about Jesus’ Messiahship. He refuses to hear that the Messiah will suffer. Jesus rebukes him sharply, tells him that he’s letting Satan and the world influence his thinking. Peter is the one who wants to walk on water but can’t keep his eyes on the Lord and so begins to sink. He wants to be faithful but fearfully denies knowing Jesus three times. What sorrow and shame he then feels at having let his friend down in his hour of suffering. Peter is well aware of his failings and inadequacies. In spite of or maybe because of all this, Jesus loves him dearly and calls him the Rock upon whom he will build his Church. Yes, there is hope for all of us if Jesus can take this bumbling disciple and turn him into one of the greatest evangelizers and leaders of the early church.

When you are praying today, offer to the Lord those parts of your life that need transformation. If Peter and Paul could become saints, there is hope that God will make something better of each of us if we are open to the movement of God’s Spirit within us.

He Led Them To Safety

June 28, 2011

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

By Beth DeCristofaro

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.” When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. (Genesis 19:15-16)

They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. (Matthew 8:25-26)


God, you gave me free will. May I be open to the Spirit enlivening my deepest desires toward what is good, towards You. May the Spirit always surround and keep me afloat. (adapted from


How often I resist the nudging of the Spirit. For example, when it’s been one of those days at work and a call comes with a “can you do this for me? It has to be done today…” request. My initial reaction is often irritation. “If we were only staffed at the correct level”… or “Why does your hurry have to effect me?” I think. Or when at home the dishwasher has not been started…again. And there is no clean silverware or dishes for breakfast…

So I get pretty irritated at Lot. There is he, being visited by angels no less and he hesitates to follow their lead. Angels! Hmm, would I be as quick and glad to jump as I imagine that I would? After all, God has been very evident in my life leading me to a wonderful vocation and good colleagues. And God has given me a healthy, caring family and many blessings including that luxurious dishwasher. Somehow I think I might stand there arguing at angels too: “Are you sure?” “Wait, I can’t go that far, let me just go here instead, is that alright?” In today’s readings I see God whose infinite mercy puts up with and delivers Lot even if I might have lost patience and stalked out.

And then there are fears such as those experienced by the disciples in the boat. We are surrounded by fear today – war, torture, unemployment, tension between political allies, foreclosures. And many of us are beset by internal fears. There is a truth to Lot’s words that holds even today: But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die. (Genesis 19:19) God’s grace calms the winds and the sea of our struggles. Finding myself in an earthquake rumbling of irritation, awash in threatening waves of frustration, fear, illness, or failure, Jesus invites me to call upon him to face down those disturbances with His Spirit holding me up.


Take a few moments to listen to someone who is hurting, troubled, fearful, frustrated. Don’t try to fix them, just listen. Keep her/him in prayer and commend her/him to the enlivening safety of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life Because of Me

June 26, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Be careful not to forget the LORD, your God...who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers, that he might afflict you and test you, but also make you prosperous in the end. Deuteronomy 8:11a, 15-16

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." John 6:57-58


A voracious appetite for the Lord is a good thing. We can never get too much of a good thing. Our piety which is our relationship with the Lord must be fed. How hungry am I for Christ is a valid question of spirituality? Growing children seem always hungry and never seem to get enough to eat. They are the envy of older people who show too much eating in all the wrong places. The reverse takes place in the Spiritual life. We grow in our hunger for Eucharist as we mature in the spiritual life. There is a growing desire for Eucharist in the Eucharist feeding of our lives. We can never get too much of a good thing is truer of Eucharist. We are a Eucharistic people who should have an insatiable hunger for Christ as we grow closer to him in our spiritual life. We discover for ourselves by celebrating Eucharist that we are a Eucharistic people.


We study what Jesus meant to say by telling us that by eating and drinking of his Body and Blood that we would live forever. Eucharist is our claim on everlasting life. Many of his disciples find this a hard saying and leave him because they do not see how Christ could give them his flesh and blood. Christ is the life of the world. He is the life’s blood of our Spiritual life and he nourishes us when we eat of his Body and drink of his blood. By our Eucharistic feed we continue to grow in the life of Christ within us. We need to be able to say that we live no longer, but Christ lives in us. Christ makes this true with our sharing of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not just simply the food of our Journey. We are a Eucharistic people and partaking at the table of the Lord allows us to grow. We need Eucharist if we want to grow in our Spiritual life. Christ came to us by our baptism. He grows in us by every Eucharist we share. He brings us into his life even as we bring him more and more into our lives.


Eucharist gives me in its sharing a reason to love those with whom I share Eucharist. One with the Lord brings oneness with all those sharing Eucharist. Eucharist brings a unity that is on the deepest level of life. We become part of each other. Family and blood relationship gives a reason to share. There is no greater relationship with God than sharing Eucharist together. We have God’s life within us. I have never felt burdened by two or three Masses on a given day because Eucharist touches the deepest level of life. Jesus is giving himself to us. We have more and more of Christ’s life within us as we allow our hearts to be claimed. Jesus does not force himself on us. God is everywhere in life. But Eucharist is the special presence of the Love of God that claims a heartfelt response.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is Anything Too Marvelous For The Lord

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 25, 2011

But the LORD said to Abraham: "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?' Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son." Genesis 18:13-14

Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him. Matthew 8:14-15


"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


Lessons from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament today give us cause to pause and reflect not only upon the power of the Lord to do great and marvelous things. But also, in the light of this loving power, what is OUR ATTITUDE?

As an old woman, Sarah was filled more with doubt about the possibility of having a son than was the your Nazorean virgin proclaiming the greatness of the Lord, the powerful Roman centurion or the ill mother-in-law of St. Peter.


If we really and truly believe that the Lord can do great things, especially for his lowly servants, then our belief must color our world and our attitude. Can you set aside your skepticism for an hour, a day or a week and assume the positive attitude embodied in the believers who knew Jesus first and best? Such an attitude must then be reflected in our actions just like the service provided by Peter's mother-in-law.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Lord Called Me From Birth

June 24, 2011

Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

By Melanie Rigney

Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. (Isaiah 49:1-2)

I praise you, for I am wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)

“… (A) s John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’” (Acts 13:25)

(All who heard about Zechariah’s speech being restored after he wrote that the son would be named John said,) “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. (Luke 1:66, 80)


Lord, I can hardly believe You trust me to prepare the way for Your Word in my life today. I am so unworthy. Please hold my hand and light the path.


Could Jesus have come without John’s voice in the wilderness?

God being God, He could have sent His Son without someone to foretell the coming, notwithstanding the prophecies in the Old Testament. But He chose to send John first.

And sometimes, He chooses to send us first. And how will we respond?

Most of the people in the world don’t believe in the risen Christ. Many people in our own country or neighborhood or workplace don’t. That doesn’t make them bad people. It does present us with the opportunity of being John the Baptist to them, and that doesn’t mean baptizing them in water or becoming a street-corner evangelist.

It means being open about our faith when a coworker asks why we have ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday.

It means asking a neighbor or friend to accompany us when we package or deliver food or medicine or other supplies for the homeless, the ill, and those in need in other ways.

It means telling an acquaintance in distress that we’ll pray for him or her… and then doing it and following up in a few days or weeks to see what’s going on.

In sum, it means letting others see what a faith life lived openly and confidently looks like. We may not be there when they fully embrace Christ. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we use the voice with which God gave us, in whatever form that gift comes.


What will you do today to prepare the Way?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Promises, Promises. Who Can We Trust?

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 22, 2011

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-17)


Lord, we are so easily led astray. Help us to put our faith in you and yours alone. Grant us the wisdom to distinguish the wolves from the sheep in our everyday lives.


When I was in my 20’s, I lived in a small town in southern Delaware. One day a very handsome young man moved into the area. He had gorgeous blue eyes, was very articulate and knew the Scriptures inside and out. Things were looking promising, until one of my friends’ mothers called me early one morning. She said she was embarrassed to be calling but came right out with her question – had I given this person any money? What? No, I’ve never given him any money. What makes you ask? She said he had just tried to convince her husband to co-sign a $10,000 personal loan. That gave me pause for thought! A few afternoons later, a knock came on my front door. It was the pastor of the largest church in the town. He said, Am I ever glad to see you! I was afraid you had married that young man. Marry him? I said. I’ve only gone out with him a couple of times. Well, he got married over the weekend and I was afraid you were the bride. It turned out that he was some sort of con artist, marrying women, living off them and running through their savings, then leaving and moving on to his next victim. Did I ever feel like an idiot! But that’s the thing about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some of their costumes are awfully good!

Jesus knew that. In today’s Gospel reading, he warns the disciples to be on the lookout for false prophets. They’ll look good, and their messages will be appealing, but beware of what lies beneath their outward appearances. They will distort Jesus’ teachings and try to lead his followers astray.

This hasn’t changed much since the first century. There are still people twisting Jesus’ words and leading their followers in the wrong direction. Channel surfing one Sunday, I came upon a “prosperity gospel” preacher, preaching to his congregation that God wants them to be rich. I don’t know what Bible he reads, but where does that leave all the poor, sick and outcast that Jesus liked to befriend and hang out with and asked us to compassionately care for? A person’s financial status is hardly an accurate barometer of the solidity of their faith.

Or there was the rapture preacher who recently told all of us that life as we know it would come to an end on May 21 at 6:00 pm. Get ready! We’re in the last days. He must not be familiar with the parables where we are told that no one knows the day or the hour when Christ will return.

So how do we protect ourselves from these predators disguised as friends? Jesus says we can know them by their fruits. No matter how fancy the costume, a wolf can masquerade as a sheep for only so long and then, eventually, he or she will instinctively do something wolf-like. But discerning the good from the bad is sometimes difficult, because the fruits are not always immediately apparent.

In Cursillo, we say we are called to make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ. When we set out to do that, what fruits do others see in our lives that make us credible witnesses to the Gospel?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Road to Life is Constricted and Narrow

June 21 2011

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support them if they stayed together; their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. … So Abram said to Lot: “Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land at your disposal? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go to the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:2, 5-6, 8-9)

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7: 13-14)


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
All I have and call my own you have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.

(St. Ignatius of Loyola)


Squabbling families, neighbors, and peoples make for good stories unless you are living in a squabble yourself. The tensions between Lot and Abram are pretty contemporary for brothers who lived approximately 4,000 years ago. My own family has tried pretty hard over the last 15 years or so to try not to let minor differences and hurt feelings escalate into separation, anger or taking sides because we did live that for awhile and we saw it in aunts, uncles and other family members who in some cases suffered a lot of pain and isolation. You have to work at harmony whether in a family, a neighborhood or a parish. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.

Abraham made a pretty generous offer to his brother: you take the land which you want, I’ll go the other way. And Lot, being no one’s fool: Lot looked about and saw how well watered the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar, like the LORD’s own garden, or like Egypt. … Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain and set out eastward. (Genesis 13:10-11) I can imagine Abram’s cousins and sons saying to him, “Dad! What? Are you crazy? He’s got the best grazing land. You can’t do that to us…”

But God had something else in mind. God told Abram to look as far as his eye could see because God was choosing him: I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted. Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth, for to you I will give it.” (Genesis 13: 16) God’s plan for Abram was unforeseen, unexpected…truly unimaginable. Abram chose God.

I take away from this that the narrow and constricted path to life, which asks me to put God first and my neighbor before myself, which requires me to share life with others and not choose all for me, will lead to a life which I can’t envision except for the promises of life, joy and love of which Jesus speaks. I believe that God will remember my name even if my own descendants number only in the 100’s after several generations or even if the generations end in a few brief years. When squabbles erupt, may this belief remind me of God’s Will and rather than my own.


It seems too obvious to have to be stated, but loving God above all and my neighbor as myself (which Jesus tells his disciples in today’s Gospel, v. 12) cannot include torture. On Saturday there will be a vigil “We Remember: TASSC Vigil to End Torture” at Lafayette Park. Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) was founded by and for torture survivors including Sister Dianna Ortiz, an Ursuline nun. Consider joining the vigil along with some of us from an Engaging Spirituality group. Information can be found at

Monday, June 20, 2011

So Will You Be Judged

June 20, 2011

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Abram went as the LORD directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Genesis 12:4

"Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?" Matthew 7:1-3


Father, in your spirit of mercy, take away all the judgments that divide us. Jesus, instill in us your spirit of obedience. Holy Spirit, command our hearts and our lives in a way that is worthy of the love, gifts and mercy showered on us by the Father.


Jesus probably knows how futile it is to ask us to stop judging others. Instead, he warns us about the attitude we should have when we look at the actions of others. don't stop reading the first verse of this chapter. Make sure you let that second verse resonate.

"As you judge, so will you be judged."

Then how should we judge? What attitude or disposition must we adopt to not face harsh judgment ourselves?

Perhaps we should connect another phrase from another talk delivered by the Lord. "Be merciful as you Father is merciful." Don't judge others by the standard of Judge Judy. Instead, make sure you act out of a spirit of mercy not arrogance as God the Father is merciful. He showers us with great gifts instead of what we truly deserve.

Those whom we remember best from the Bible are those who were either very good at being merciful and obedient to God (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Abraham and on and on) or those who were very imperfect at mercy and obedience (Cain, Judas, etc.). Our other lesson today is the lesson of obedience from Genesis. When he was told to uproot his family, his belongings and leave the place that was closest to his heart and life, Abraham did not question what he was being commanded nor where he was being asked to go. He just went as the Lord directed him.


How hard we find mercy and obedience. Maybe today you can build a bridge back to someone you have lost touch with over the years. You might be surprised to find out how much you might still have in common after all these years.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saved Through Him

June 19, 2011

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, S.J.

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. Then he said, "If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own." Exodus 34:8-9

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. 2 Corinthians 13:11-12

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17


We give glory to God as Trinity. Our piety is the glory we give to God. Three distinct persons who are one God come to us in the indwelling of the Trinity. The Father speaks the Word for all eternity. The Word is the pure love of the Son for the Father. The Son is the pure love of the Father for the Son. Perfect giving and perfect receiving is the Love that meets as the Holy Spirit. Piety is our perfect giving back of all that we have received. The perfect piety is the way we love one another even as Christ has loved us. God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son so that we might not perish but might have eternal life. Christ is our salvation. Piety is the expression of all that Christ is in all that we are. Perfect love always generates a response. The perfect love of God for us in the Word made flesh is expressed in how we live our lives in the name of Christ.


We are called Christians because we are like Christ. We are created in the image and likeness of Christ. We arrive at the perfect self when we find ourselves entirely in Christ. There is no shortcut on becoming Christ in our lives. We look at Christ in the Scriptures and find ourselves becoming expression of Christ in the ways we imitate him. The paradox of our spiritual journey is the truth that we do not lose anything of ourselves in following Christ. The truth is that when we find ourselves in Christ we will have become the fullness of what God intended for us to be in life. We study Christ in his words and his actions because we realize that Christ is the fullness of human life. Wisdom knows how to be a real Christ in all that we say and do. Our knowledge is the gradual growth in our awareness of how Christ lived his life as the model of who we are meant to be.


The best actions of our lives are seen in the connections we have in what we say and do in Christ. Spiritual reading allows us to discover ways to think like Christ. We put on the mind and heart of Christ by the ways we imitate the good people of our lives. Saints are the updates of Christ in the given ages they lived. Holy people of our day and age are the good people who by their love of one another give reality to Christ’s words in the modern times. We are trying to be transparencies of Christ in what we do and we accomplish that by how we give our lives for each other. Too many people are waiting for something worthwhile to do that they can give their lives whole heartedly to the accomplishing of a worthwhile project. We learn through good people how to live out the ordinary of life in heroic ways. The beauty of the Trinity is fullness of life. Family is the way trinity has expression in the ordinary of life. We find the glory of the Trinity as God’s life lived out in the humanness of the Holy Family and relived in the love we express in our own families. No one is an island if they know Christ. An uninvolved Christian is a contradiction. Trinity is lived out in community. What we share is how Trinity finds expression in our lives. Action speaks louder than words.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Grace Is Sufficient For You

June 18, 2011

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

[B]ut he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. Matthew 6:33-34


Seek first the Kingdom of God. But where shall we find it?


Will we find the Kingdom in the snarled traffic jam on I-395 yesterday during morning rush hour? That is the price we pay for living in the national capital area. Yet we might find it if we examine how we reacted to the people around us while we were impeded in our path.

Will we find the Kingdom in the plastic pack of the Sunday newspaper filled to the brim with the latest Father's Day sale items? We might find it in what we share with others, not with what we accumulate or over-accumulate for ourselves.

Will we find the Kingdom climbing up the career ladder to a better job, a higher salary, or a more generous benefits package? We might find it in how we treat our co-workers and customers so that they will be satisfied.

Paul tells us today the celebrate our weakness. In that will be our strength. Jesus tells us not to worry about the externals. Not to worry about even the first rung of Maslow's famous hierarchy of need. If the Father knows best about these basic needs, how much more will he understand and provide for the higher needs we have as we seek Him and the Kingdom first before all these others.

In Matthew's Gospel, we encounter his use of the word translated as "righteousness" to be the "saving activity of God." As the notes in the New American Bible explain, "to fulfill all righteousness" then is to submit to the plan of God for the salvation of the human race. For Jesus, this involves Jesus' identification with sinners, not the most powerful. For us, it may be rejecting the trappings of power, wealth and status and serving those around us who have the greatest need.


What thorn have you been given for your side to remind you of your weakness? Rather than pluck it out, use the pain of that gift as a reminder for you to turn to God. Whether that thorn gives you physical pain or emotional pain, use it as the gate through which you will pass on your journey seeking to build the Kingdom where you are. For God's grace is sufficient for us yesterday, today and tomorrow. How shall we help spread that grace to others?

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Things That Show My Weakness

By Melanie Rigney

June 17, 2011

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:29-30)

From all their distress God rescues the just. (Psalms 34:18)

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness how great will the darkness be.” (Matthew 6:19-23)


Lord, You and I both know my weaknesses all too well. Sometimes I turn them into a little altar of their own. Help me to be mindful of them… and to weed them out.


Today’s Readings

The middle part of today’s first reading—in which Paul boasts on all he’s done for the Christian community, including lashings, beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, and the like—reminded me of my father. Dad grew up on a ranch in central South Dakota, and he never tired of telling us about how he and his brothers and sisters had to walk miles to school every day, in the heat or rain or blinding snow. We also heard a lot about just how much more mail per hour he could process as a postal clerk (something that did not endear him to his coworkers) and about his stamina when he worked construction. At some point, we kids would roll our eyes in a “here he goes again” and tune him out.

But unlike Paul, my father never boasted of the things that showed his weaknesses. I was thirtysomething before he told me with tears in his eyes how sorry he was that a snowstorm kept him from attending my college graduation. I had to hear from a cousin after Dad’s death about the post-traumatic stress that kept him from sleeping in a bed for months after he returned from World War II.

Why is it we learn more from stories of weakness? Perhaps because while we find stories of valor impressive (until we’ve heard them twenty times), we also find it difficult to relate to them. We know we’re not that good. We know we’re not that strong. But somehow, when we also hear about the struggles of those we admire, it gives us hope that we can overcome our own faults and flaws. It makes their accomplishments all the more inspiring. It gives us the courage to turn that lamp inside… and with God’s help, to clean out the dark corners.


What personal weakness are you turning a blind eye to? Pray for the courage to examine it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What You Need

June 16, 2011

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere (and pure) commitment to Christ. For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7-8


Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.


What is Truth? As Paul tries to preach to the people in Corinth, he fears that they will continue to be swayed by false prophets spouting "truth" that deceives.

If only St. Paul was here in Fairfax or Arlington or Washington, today! Such false prophets would he encounter. Our lives today are filled with false prophets appealing to us at every turn to put aside selfless ways and consider only our own personal wants and needs, not those of our neighbor or our community.

They would like to make us think we need that top shelf brand, luxury car, fancy watch or the latest iPad/tablet/laptop/digital camera/etc. Everything today is about branding and building an affinity with your social and business network. The group (network) sways us to what we like or do not like.

Jesus knows better. Through Him, the Father knows what we need before we ask. He knows we need the love that only He can provide. He knows we need the support of our community. He knows that we need to be continually nourished on our journey with the food we share communally. We may THINK that we need that latest Blu-Ray player. He knows better and offers his sacrifice daily for our sake.


As the distractions of summer begin to invade our lives, remember to make room in your summer plans for receiving (from the Father) and returning his gifts to the community where you live and work and play.

As you plan your summer vacation, make sure you look up the nearest church. Also, consider working in some volunteer activities in your home town as well as where ever you make your "temporary" summer home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

June 15, 2011

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Brothers and sisters, consider this: 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. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:6-11)


Lavishly they give to the poor;

their generosity shall endure forever;

their horn shall be exalted in glory.

(Psalm 112:9)


In today’s first reading, Paul is organizing a special offering for the persecuted and poverty-stricken Christians living in and around Jerusalem, but his words about giving in general are still relevant today. Be generous to those in need. When we give of ourselves and whatever we possess, do so with true desire. Don’t do it merely out of a sense of duty. Give cheerfully.

Give cheerfully? Often we are like the toddler sitting near me at Mass a few weeks ago. Out of the blue came an ear-splitting shriek and then I heard this not-quite two-year old distinctly proclaim, “That’s mine!” We grow up and become more sophisticated in how we phrase it, but still we cling to our time, our possessions, and our money because “they’re mine.” We’re too stressed out with our own frantic schedules to give time to others. We’re too busy to pray for anyone, even ourselves. We hold on tight to our material possessions. We aren’t generous with financial contributions because, after all, it’s our hard-earned money.

What makes it possible to be a generous, cheerful giver is remembering who and whose we are. We are children of the God who tells us, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." (Jer 1:5) “I called you by name and you are mine.” (Is 43:1) “I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name.” (Is 49:15b-16a). We are sons and daughters of the God who loves us so much he sent his only Son to save us from our sins. Jesus loves us so much he gave his life for us on the Cross. He continues to give himself to us in the Eucharist. The things in life that truly matter are all gifts from God. Not one of us got here by accident; God created us, named us and put us here for a purpose. We are always surrounded by the love of God. He never forgets any of us. We stumble, but are picked up, forgiven and sent on our way again. We have the hope of being with God forever. What more could a person ask for? When we are open to the working of the Holy Spirit within us and look at our lives this way, how can we help but be overflowing with gratitude as well as charity and generosity toward others?

The ways in which you can be generous are numerous. Each month my parish collects food and paper goods for our food pantry. This month, in our church bulletin there was a plea for extra help. The needs in our area are so great that the cupboards are rapidly growing bare. You can help feed the hungry by donating food to your parish food pantry or to organizations like Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Arlington (

There are thousands of people in our country whose lives have been upended by this spring’s unprecedented flooding and tornado damage. You can extend a helping hand through contributions to Catholic Charities USA’ s disaster relief activities (