Friday, September 30, 2011

Become the Cornerstone

October 2, 2011

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Isaiah 5:3-4

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

"Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." Matthew 21:42-43


Our piety is what we have to show forth in our lives for the goodness of the Lord to us. Consolations make our service of the Lord easy. In love with the gifts of the Lord we can do good work and we have a lot to show to our world. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. When we are in consolation we do good work. When we are in desolation, the going gets tough and our love for the Lord as Lord shows itself. What we do in consolation reveals how much we love the gifts of the Lord. The harvesting is easy. When we are in desolation, the going shows our love for the Lord as Lord. It is much too easy to kill the messages of the Lord. Laziness, selfishness, comfortableness, pride, anger lust can reduce our good intentions to idle dreams. Prayer, fasting and good works can tune us in to what the Lord is asking of us in the harvesting of his gifts to us. The graces of the Lord come to us in the work we have a chance to do for the Lord. How the work we do builds up the kingdom of God is the test. What we have to show for our lives shows itself in our good works. Our good works do not happen by accident. They are the results of the decisions we make in our study of the possibilities of service to the Lord.


Spiritual reading is not the only one way to study the harvesting of God’s graces in our lives. We look at what others do and see what is possible to do with what we have to work with before us. The cross of Christ is carried in all the difficulties of our lives. We can learn how to rejoice in our suffering by our love of Christ and his cross. The Cross of Christ is the most magnificent expression of God’s love in human form. Even as we take the place of Christ on the crosses of our lives, we learn that the difficulties we have to put up with in doing the work of the Lord temper our effectiveness and give us a rich and plentiful harvest when we do our best no matter how heavy the cross is. Success is not the measure of our harvest. How much love we bring to our work and how lovingly we give ourselves to each other is the measure of our harvest.


We make hay while the sun is shining. Consolations can be stored in our spiritual journal and referred to when the Lord seems distant. When we do not think we have a good harvest and give to the Lord the extra in our efforts and in how hard we work for him, the world is changed by our carrying our crosses in his name. We fill up what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ’s Church in this day and age when the Church is suffering defections and mockery. The work we do at harvesting the graces of the Lord brings new harvesters to the vineyard. We give the best of ourselves to Christ when we do the best we can at our jobs. Christ lives in us even as we die with him in our suffering. We become the harvest of the Lord.

Enduring Joy

October 1, 2011

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

Fear not, my children; call out to God!
He who brought this upon you will remember you.
As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,
turn now ten times the more to seek him;
For he who has brought disaster upon you
will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy."
Baruch 4:27-29

At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
Luke 10:21-22


I greet you, Saint Thérèse Of the Child Jesus, Lily of purity, Ornament and glory Of Christianity! I salute you, great saint, Seraph of Divine Love. I rejoice at the favors Our Blessed Lord Jesus Has liberally bestowed on you. In humility and confidence I entreat you to help me, For I know that God Has given you Charity and pity As well as power. Oh then, behold my distress, My anxiety, my fears. Oh, tell him now my wants. One sigh from you Will crown my success, Will fill me with joy. Remember your promise To do good on earth. Obtain for me from God The graces of our Divine Lord. Amen.


Today we remember the short, holy and inspiring life of The Little Flower, St. Thérèse of Liseaux. She entered into religious life at age 15 and was dead of tuberculosis by age 24. Yet during this brief lifetime, she certainly left her mark on those around her and on the church. She lived in relative obscurity yet her writings caused the masses to (re)discover her shortly after Thérèse died.

At fifteen she was admitted to the Carmelite Convent at Lisieux, where two of her sisters were already admitted. How many of us even knew what we really wanted to do with our lives at twice that age?

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus preferred the anonymity of the cloister. She never went on missions; never founded a religious order, never performed great works. In our world today, so much time and energy is spent on public recognition and accolades. Even if we are not movie stars or athletes, we are conditioned by Madison Avenue to seek out awards, promotions, pay increases, bigger houses and faster cars.

Today, our experiences with sainthood are being fast tracked. Pope John Paul II. Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Despite Vatican protocols, some of the natural waiting periods from the past have been circumvented. Not for the Little Flower who never lost her bloom. It was 28 years after her death -- more than her entire lifetime -- when the public demand was so great that Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus was canonized.


In addition to her spirituality, the certainty of St. Thérèse in knowing to devote her life to the will of God and doing so willingly and constantly are tremendous examples for our modern times.

When we come off a weekend, like the Babe Chicks of the 133rd Cursillo, it is easy to have that certainty. However, as the allure of the real world and the passage of time dim the memory of the mountaintop experience, more than ever we need the support that St. Thérèse got from her communities -- her family, he village, and her Carmelite community.

Make a point of renewing your commitment to the support of Group Reunion and Ultreya to strengthen you on your journey -- and so you may strengthen others.

PS: Please pardon my error from Thursday September 28 when I inadvertently listed Raphael the Archangel twice. He did not have some takeover of the work of Gabriel the true messenger! May Gabriel watch over Your Daily Tripod more closely so that whatever we announce is factually accurate! Gabriel, can make it up to you and my gentle readers who reminded me of the oversight?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Deliver Us, Pardon Us

September 30, 2011

Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

By Melanie Rigney

(The exiles prayed:) “Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame… We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God, nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us.” (Baruch 1:15, 18)

Help us, God our savior, on account of the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake. (Psalms 79:9)

(Jesus told his disciples:) “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)


Lord help me, Jesus, I’ve wasted it so/Help me, Jesus, I know what I am/Now that I know that I needed you so/help me, Jesus, my soul’s in your hand. (Chorus of “Why Me, Lord?” written by Kris Kristofferson)


Wow, some cheerful stuff today, eh? The first reading from Baruch and today’s psalm detail the Israelites’ despondency after the Babylonian army’s destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Both readings also reflect at least some acceptance of responsibility. The psalmist asks for pardon; in the opening passage of the Book of Baruch, the exiles acknowledge their disobedience to the Lord.

The Gospel reading is full of warnings as well, warnings that can be boiled down to a single sentence: Ignore the Good News at your own peril.

The readings are all about or at least imply fire and brimstone, hell and damnation. What kind of images of suffering come to mind? Cities burning? People screaming in agony from beheadings and stabbings? How about some less dramatic images of our reactions when we know we’ve disappointed God. Maybe we avert our eyes when we encounter someone we’ve treated in a less than Christlike manner. Or maybe we toss and turn in bed, unable to sleep because our conscience is bothering us. Or maybe we overindulge in food, alcohol or drugs to avoid coming to terms with un-Christian thoughts or behavior? Like the Israelites, we ignore the voice of God at times, and there are plenty of ways, visible and not so visible, in which knowledge of our sins manifests itself.

How can we avoid the Lord’s wrath? Just flip those closing lines from today’s Gospel:

Listen to Jesus and His messengers.

Accept Jesus and His messengers.

Accept Jesus and you accept God.

And live.


Examine your conscience with your confessor or in private conversation with God. Where are you ignoring the Good News and thereby rejecting the Lord? Ask for pardon and deliverance. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel—and how much easier the right path becomes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greater Things Than This

September 29, 2011

Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, archangels

As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man. When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." John 1:47-50


Dear Saint Raphael, Angel of travelers, be with me and guide me on this journey. Protect me from sickness and danger and guard those I leave behind. Let your wings
enfold me while I am away and return me safely home. Amen.


The three archangels named in the Catholic Bible have each developed a popular affinity based upon the roles they had in the story of our faith.

Michael led the army of God during the uprising of angels that led to the expulsion of Lucifer/Satan from heaven. Thus, Michael has become the "de facto" saint of law enforcement officers, members of the military, and all who have careers devoted to public safety because of his role in protecting us from evil.

Gabriel is the messenger because he announced the good news to young Mary of Nazareth that her faith had allowed her to be chosen above all others throughout time as the mother of the Son of God. He appeared two other times in Sacred Scripture. Once was to the prophet Daniel to explain the prophet’s visions relating to the Messiah. The final time Raphael appeared to Zachary in the temple to announce the coming of Zachary’s son, John the Baptist, and to strike Zachary mute for his disbelief. Based on these roles, he is the patron saint to radio and television workers, postal workers, and more.

Raphael is the companion to travelers. He travelled with (and guarded) Tobiah, and cured a man’s blindness; hence his connection with travelers, young people, blindness, healing and healers.

Unlike the legions of other angels and saints on the cloud of witnesses who protect and guard us and intervene to carry our prayers to the ear of God -- like Facebook friends in heaven amplifying our message to be heard -- these three are actually named in the Bible narrative. In fact, some of these angels also are referenced in Jewish and Muslim religions. St. Thomas Aquinas noted, "Angels transcend every religion, every philosophy, every creed. In fact angels have no religion as we know it...their existence precedes every religious system that has ever existed on earth."

Unlike saints, who are humans who were born, died and have an earthly history or biography, angels have no known human ancestry. Certainly they have "appeared" before witnesses and have a reference in salvation history and culture but they are above humans and below God in the hierarchy of creation.


They are not glorified human beings -- even though in the case of the three we celebrate today -- we have given to them human qualities. However, perhaps it is because we (humans) can take on the roles of angels to others protecting them and caring for them that they become real in our lives. Guiding. Revealing. Protecting. Worshipping. Praising. Strengthening. Encouraging. Answering prayers.

To whom have YOU been angel-like? Who has been angel-like to you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Free for the Journey

September 28, 2011

Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke 9:57-62)


Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. (Luke 17:33)


When I first heard today’s Gospel reading as a child, I remember finding it both sad and shocking - sad that Jesus didn’t have a place to call home and shocking that he would tell someone they couldn’t bury their parent or first say good bye to family before tagging along on the way to Jerusalem. Children take things very literally. And although Jesus isn’t speaking in a literal sense, maybe it’s good to retain some of the shock value of his words.

Jesus has begun his journey to Jerusalem, the long trek toward his passion, death and resurrection. He hopes his first disciples will walk with him. He longs to attract new followers along the way. He invites you and me to be part of the throng.

The one condition is that we be free for the journey. No problem, we tell Jesus. We’ll follow You wherever You go, but then, just like the people in the Scripture passage, we find we aren’t free to travel after all. There are lots of other things more important to us that we need to take care of first. It’s shocking when we hear Jesus say that what we’ve spent a lifetime amassing (and being told by family, friends and society that we should be amassing) – material possessions, homes, entanglements of the past, family ties that bind us to this world – all has to be left by the roadside. It’s not that we can’t have a place to call home or family and friends. We just can’t be so invested in them that they prevent us from making the trek all the way with the Lord or from focusing on the final destination, eternal happiness with God.


When we look at ourselves closely, we may be surprised at the things that prevent us from following Jesus. What do you need to set aside to be free to walk with the Lord, to give the journey your undivided attention?

Recently I read Richard Rohr’s book “A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” which goes well with our Gospel reading for today. The author says we spend the first half of our lives building up our identities and building a structure (relationships and material goods) to support that identity. In the second half of life (not defined by any particular chronological age), we shed the preoccupation with self and are, thus, freer for a deeper relationship with God and more outpouring of ourselves for others. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking read, you might try this book.

Let Us Seek The Lord

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul

September 27, 2011

By Beth DeCristofaro

Thus says the LORD of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, the inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, "Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD; and, "I too will go to seek the LORD." "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." (Zechariah 8:20-21)

…they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. (Luke 9:53-56)


Lord, fill my heart with the same generous charity for which St. Vincent de Paul was known. May I always seek you. May those around me see you in my choices, words and actions.


My I-Phone has a feature that allows me to display time zones and weather forecasts from around the world. It’s fun and I often check on Cairo where my daughter lived; Montana, New York City and San Diego where I have family; Florence, Italy because it is my favorite city in the world; Tegucigalpa, Honduras not because anyone lived there but because the tiny village in Honduras where my other daughter lived for a year isn’t recognized by this smart technology. We hear that the world is now a global neighborhood. On my street in Fairfax we have residents from China, Korea, El Salvador, Bolivia, Egypt and yes, even those from New Jersey (exit 117 off the Parkway).

But my view and those of most of us continues to be pretty parochial. I must admit that I am most comfortable with those who are like me. I - We have to get to know “others” before we come to accept and welcome them in any intimate kind of way. And we have to make an effort to accept people when traditions, habits, ways of being, life styles or religions are very different from ours. We have to work at welcoming rather than being threatened by difference.

But not God. God passionately knows, loves and welcomes all of His global creatures. Zechariah speaks of the inhabitants of many cities coming to know God. Zechariah is talking about “others” not the Jews who knew they were the Chosen. Zechariah is talking about the ones left outside the Covenant. Zechariah is talking about those whom the Chosen people suspected as sinners. Zechariah’s words are of a God whose love that is bigger and more inclusive than they comprehended or that the disciples understood. The disciples wished to punish the Samaritan village who rejected Jesus. But Jesus’ love is greater. \


Take opportunities to visit the “other.” The Washington, D.C., region has so many opportunities to attend street festivals, theatre, exhibits, concerts that allow us to step out of our comfortable box. Or attend Mass at a parish with a majority of attendees who are from another race or speak another language. Check out the website resources on cultural diversity, interreligious dialogue, human dignity and other topics…then get up from the computer and check out the reality of what you’ve just read. Seek the Lord in all that you learn and experience.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

With Faithfulness and Justice

September 26, 2011

Monday of the Twenty-Sixth Day in Ordinary Time

I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice. Zechariah 8:7-8

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest." Luke 9:47-48


The first step of humility, then, is that we keep "the fear of God always before our eyes (Ps. 36:2)" and never forget it. We must constantly remember everything God has commanded; keeping in mind that all who despise God will burn in hell for their sinful ways, and all who fear God have everlasting life awaiting them. While we guard ourselves at every moment from sin and vices of thought or tongue, of hand or foot, of self-will or bodily desire, let us recall that we are always seen by God in the heavens and that our actions everywhere are in God's sight and are reported by angels at every hour.
(Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 7, "Humility.")


Society likes to focus on people's weaknesses and flaws. Television magnifies these "un-realities." The Weakest Link. The Bigger Loser. Popular culture like to emphasize what people oppose. Anti-gun. Anti-war. Anti-abortion. Christianity does just the opposite. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the weak. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. Christianity and Christ reward the weak and vulnerable. Christians promote what they are FOR. Pro-life. Pro-peace. Pro-love. Pro-justice.

Jesus does not side with kings and principalities. He sides with the smallest children -- who also are among societies most humble and vulnerable. Jesus got his start as a small child and never lets us forget that fact. He may have come to save us from ourselves, but as Mary and Joseph gazed upon the helpless infant in the manger, do you ever think that they could envision the back of this baby made weak by the weight of the sins of the world? Our sins.


As football season gets under way and baseball winds down, we will often hear talk about the Redskins v the Cowboys or the Yankees v the Phillies or Red Sox. Players will hold hands and pray that the last-minute field goal will split the uprights. However, God is not concerned with such trivial matters. We are to imitate the Lord in his covenant and today the prophet Zechariah holds up that mirror to show us that the qualities of most concern to the Lord are faithfulness and justice.

We cannot do this if we are concerned about our own glory -- or the glory of the Burgundy and Gold. As St. Paul reminded us in the second reading on Sunday, "Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others."

Such humility -- like that of a child -- betrays our selfish ego and impulses. We can complete our joy by being "of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing" with Christ. This humility will not drive us to be successful, or efficient, or effective. The Lord only asks us to be authentic in this mission of faith and justice. The internal love of our God and for our God propels us to do good for others and not fight over who gets to sit next to him in Heaven. We are propelled one step at a time. What will be your first step this week?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Same Attitude

September 25, 2011

Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Ezekiel 18:27-28

Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

"When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him." Matthew 21:32


The encouragement in Christ flows out of the realization that Christ is the perfection of the mystery of God in human life. The ways that we are like Christ are the makeup of our piety. Our solace in love, our participation in the Spirit, comes from our efforts to put on the mind and the heart of Jesus. There is no shortcut to closeness to Christ that bypasses the cross of Christ. The difficulties in our lives are the makeup of the cross that Christ asks us to carry in his name. The effort to do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory requires prayer, fasting and good works that we might be sensitive to what Christ is asking. Discernment flows out of our closeness to Christ that comes from prayer. The more I look at Christ in his life, the more I act like him. Familiarity with Christ gives us the nourishment for our piety. Our study of Christ increases our sensitivity to the Christ way of life. We become real "Christs" when we treat each other as better than ourselves.


Christ was obedient to the plan of his father even unto his death on the Cross. When he fell the third time and still got up to complete his climb to the hill of his dying, he challenges us to give until the last drop of our blood, too. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life for each of us if we want to discover what the plan of the Father is for us. Our study of how he died gives us the motivation to proclaim him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. We study what God is asking of us because of our state of life that we might know how to be Christ- like to all in our life.


The story of the man with two sons who heard the first say “yes” and then not go out to do his work and the second son who said “no” and then went out and did what was asked, puts the question to us of how obedient we are to the plan of God for us. We learn early on that it is all too easy to say “yes” and then do nothing of what we said “yes” to. The question we have to keep asking ourselves is: “Where would Christ be going if he were us? The “yeses” of our lives have their quality in the “no” that make the “yeses” possible. It is never too late to believe in Christ and to follow his example. It is our closeness to Christ in our lives that makes what we are doing special in the eyes of God. We are so much more than mere extensions of Christ. Our good deeds are the work of Christ in our world today.

Pay Attention

September 24, 2011

Saturday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

"But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst." Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Zechariah 2:9, 14

"Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men." But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. Luke 9:44-45


Listen carefully to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to one from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for Jesus, the Christ. (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.)


Everyone and every organization is vying for our attention. Messages bombard us daily, hourly, minute-by-minute (including Your Daily Tripod).

Some are absolutely essential to our health and safety. Speed Limit signs. Stop signs. Traffic lights. Health warnings on food, tobacco, alcohol, nuts and more. The Five Man Electric Band reminded us, "Do this! Don't do that! Can't you read the sign?"

Some messages are solely commercial but try to get us to think that they are absolutely essential. Fly this airline over that airline. Shop at that store rather than this store. Buy these shoes rather than those shoes. They want us -- or our vanity -- to think that these are absolutely essential. After all, don't you really need another denim jacket by Levi's or three suits from Jos. A. Bank?

Yet Jesus flags his message to us with a special prefix to get our attention. He could have said, "Pay attention" every time he opened his mouth to preach and teach. The Pslamist warned us long ago to pay attention and be open to the Word. "If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Yet today, Jesus issued a new message -- telling the disciples in advance what was going to happen to Him and to them. They did not understand from their vantage point. We, thanks to the passage and fullness of time, have the gift of hindsight and the Gospels.


How can we cut out some of the message clutter in our lives so that we can focus on what is truly important? In today's society, it would be near impossible to go cold turkey on advertising. It is so pervasive that ads even hang in rest rooms and waiting rooms. Yet perhaps we could limit our exposure to some by turning off the television or radio for 20 minutes when it would have been blaring.

If you can't turn it off, perhaps you can select something related to your Cursillo method that will stream through your ear buds…maybe an audio book by Fr. Richard Rohr can get loaded on the iPod. Maybe the audio version of the daily readings can fill some of that void Or you can find the readings on iTunes.under "Daily readings from the New American Bible."

However you approach the Word, pay attention. Don't get distracted by the trivial and commercial. Harden not your hearts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Do You Keep Me So Far Away?

September 23, 2011

Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, priest

By Melanie Rigney

Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give you peace, says the Lord of hosts! (Haggai 2:9)

For you, O God, are my strength. Why do you keep me so far away? (Psalms 43:2)

(Jesus) said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:22)


God, give me the courage to let You in.


A few weeks ago, my pastor gave a homily that included something like this: “If you haven’t heard the voice of God, you’re not listening.”

I felt my face go red and my heart rate jump. I was convicted, as in guilty, and convicted, as in the vernacular of my evangelical Protestant friends, by God’s love and His patience and willingness to keep talking until we listen.

A situation had been on my mind for about three months. It was a situation I’d been in before, one with beautiful memories, but not one for the person I am today. All the signs were there that it wasn’t in God’s plan for me: I was mentally sapped. I couldn’t talk with anyone, including Him, about it. I spent time making pro and con lists for exiting the situation, but did nothing to end it. In short, I was hearing but not listening. But something clicked when I heard my pastor’s wise words. Things were resolved within an hour after Mass… not without some sadness, but resolved, and with some relief.

We’ve all been in those places, whether they’re caused by a chemical addiction, a longtime pattern of behavior, or a desire to have a role in someone else’s life that just isn’t possible. We cling to dreams and what-ifs and maybes and if-onlies. But the thing is, God doesn’t deal in those things. He desires us to focus on what is most pleasing to Him and what is best for ourselves and our neighbors now, not what was best yesterday or what might be best tomorrow or the next day or the next year.

As we’re reminded in today’s Gospel, Jesus did the suffering for us. And through that suffering and our baptism, we are redeemed. God is our strength, our safe haven, our place of true peace. We just need to stay close enough to Him that we can listen.


The 133rd Women’s Cursillo Weekend for the Diocese of Arlington began Thursday night at the San Damiano Spirituality Center in White Post. Please offer palanca as you go about your day—and consider joining our community for mananita Sunday morning and the closing in the afternoon. See for details.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Consider Your Ways

September 22, 2011

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Consider your ways!
You have sown much, but have brought in little;
you have eaten, but have not been satisfied;
You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated;
have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed;
And whoever earned wages
earned them for a bag with holes in it.
Haggai 1:5-6

But Herod said, "John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?"
And he kept trying to see him.
Luke 9:9


The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all. Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 5


Sometimes the words of scripture seem to apply MORE to our time than to the historic time in which they were delivered. When you consider how rustic life was in Judah during the years 500 b.c., what diversions could the people possibly have had to distract them from religion? Certainly nothing like the iPhone-video game-HBO dominated world in which we live today. Maybe they played an ancient game like chess or backgammon. Maybe they worked too hard and did not attend church services. Yet in these primitive conditions, the comparison to the even poorer conditions of the House of the Lord makes me pause.

Today, we work hard yet still have people who are unemployed. People who are homeless. People who are hungry. Children who are orphaned in actuality or by absent and distracted parents. Elderly who are lonely and in need of assistance. We store up funds for a retirement that may never come. The questions never end.

The challenges change but the need to focus on piety, study and action remains so that we may stay on the path toward the House of the Lord and not stray from its pavement.


Consider your ways. To what are you obedient: Christian ideals or commercial goals?

As the Women's 133rd Weekend begins at the San Damiano Retreat House, how can you focus especially on Christian ideals that will help to build and rebuild the house of the Lord?

Start by supporting the candidates in their exploration of the Cursillo method to live and to be supported and reinforced on the path of Christian ideals through palanca, service and an active presence. Remember how much that support meant for you on your weekend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Desire Mercy

September 21, 2011

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)


Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)


Following Jesus is often downright difficult. In today’s Gospel reading, he challenges the Pharisees to reflect on words they would have been very familiar with from Hosea 6:6 – “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” The Pharisees couldn’t get over Jesus associating with Matthew, a lowly, despised tax collector, and eating with sinners and others they considered riffraff. The Pharisees took pride in observing the letter of the religious law. And, when we stop to think about it, isn’t that the easier way? Just know the commandments, the rules and regulations and abide by them. We really don’t have to put anything much of ourselves into doing that. Being law-abiding or legalistic doesn’t involve our hearts.

But it’s our hearts that Jesus is interested in. Jesus wants more from us than perfunctory prayers, routine attendance at Mass, and an outward appearance of uprightness. He says he desires mercy – loving kindness and compassion – toward others, exactly what he offers Matthew when he calls him to follow. Tax collectors collaborated with the Romans, the oppressors of the Jewish people. They made their living not just by collecting the taxes owed, but by cheating and extorting money from their fellow Jews. Yet Jesus had such love in his heart that he could see beyond what Matthew had been to what he could be – a loyal disciple. He reached out to him.

It’s much more difficult to be merciful to one another than to merely follow a set of rules. Paul talks about living as one in the Lord. He says we are to be gentle, patient and loving toward one another or, in other words, merciful. On that score, many of us have a long way to go. Even in church, we place labels on other people and, in a manner of speaking, turn them into outcast tax collectors. Liberal or conservative? Charismatic or not? Democrat or Republican? For or against the anticipated language changes in the Mass? In favor of traditional or contemporary music in church? Etc., etc. Labels can be so divisive.

Better to put all that aside and thank God, who is merciful to us and asks us to extend that same mercy to our brothers and sisters.


As you pray today, reflect on ways in which God has been merciful to you and think about ways you could share that compassionate love with others.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hear God’s Word and Act on It

September 20, 2011

Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegõn, priest and martyr,

Saint Paul Chõng Hasang, martyr and their companions, martyrs

By Beth DeCristofaro

I rejoiced because they said to me, "We will go up to the house of the LORD." (Psalm 122:1)

He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." (Luke 8:21)


All together now!:

Missionaries Missionaries of Christ with His courage determined to conquer

CURSILLISTAS! Cursillistas who don't pay attention to human opinion

Let the cowards Let the cowards deride us and taunt us but it is the truth

That they really desire the pleasure of being in grace in colors with us.


No matter that it is not the point of Jesus’ message, I always have a bit of a tug at my heartstrings when I read his words seeming to “dis” Mary. As a mom, when my daughters assured me that I didn’t understand them, I felt hurt even though they didn’t understand that my “no” or questioning of them was actually because I DID understand and wanted to teach, protect or call them to a larger responsibility.

Just as in Sunday’s Gospel when the vineyard workers didn’t comprehend God’s example of overpoweringly illogical love for each of them, whether the first or the last, Jesus’ words point to acceptance of the Word as opposed to a biological relationship or a membership entitlement. Something in me wonders if Mary smiled to herself, knowing full well what her son meant and knowing full well that her entire life was action on the Word. I often sighed (not so easy to smile in the moment!) knowing that my daughters would at some point realize and make their decisions with greater knowledge. God wants us to choose for ourselves to the best of our own abilities.

In matters of faith, we can go rejoicing because we are invited and all are invited. Today we remember Korean men, women and children who went rejoicing to martyrdom for their faith. We can go rejoicing as the Kingdom is built with our “yeses”. And we can go rejoicing if by our actions we inspire even the latecomers.


Next weekend we have a women’s Cursillo filled with those who have heard God’s Word and are acting on it. How are you supporting them? What are you doing with your ongoing friendship with Christ to continue to hear the Word and Act?

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Will Be Given

September 19, 2011

Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites --
everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so -- prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help in every way,
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings.
Ezra 1:5-6

"No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light." Luke 8:16-17


No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. (John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII)


Evangelization is not an option. Throughout the month, we have studied and contemplated readings that reiterate this message. Early this month, we heard from the prophet Ezekiel who reminded us that if we do not speak out when we see injustice, then we will be held accountable as much as those who actually commit the act.

The Word is our light. We have been given it. However, we have not been given it to keep in our own hearts, minds and souls. We have it in order to pass it on.

Just as the people in Jerusalem contributed to the actual building of the temple, we are asked to build the Kingdom here and now…now in some far off place and time to come. The time is now. The place is here.


The poet John Donne wrote, "Every man's death diminishes me." The State of Georgia is set to execute Troy Davis on Wednesday, September 21. Troy was convicted on the basis of witness testimony – seven of the nine original witnesses have since recanted or changed their testimony. This is his fourth execution date in the 20 years since he has been on death row. We have to save Troy's life. To find out more about Troy's case go to:

Georgia's District Attorney Larry Chisolm has the power to stop this injustice, but has so far failed to intervene. His inaction leaves Troy’s fate to be decided by the Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles, who will hold a clemency hearing on Monday, September 19.

Please call the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole TODAY at 404-656-5651 and tell them to vote for clemency for Troy. The Board will be hearing evidence and will make a decision about Troy's case. The Board office opens at 8:15 a.m. Please make this most important call. Troy's life depends on it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Seek the Lord While He May Be Found

September 18, 2011

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary time A

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a

"'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


Our living for Christ is our piety. Our dying for Christ is the resurrection. By life or by death, we solidify our relationship to Christ when we live out what we do for his sake. The problem of a job for Christ is thus a no- brainer. Our Gospel of the landowner and the laborers he hires at different times getting the same pay becomes part of the beauty of the kingdom of God. It does not matter when he calls us. What matters is our willingness to go out and do our job no matter what it is. God makes the rules that determine the value of the work we do. It is no longer a worry that I have not been doing what I now see as right all the days of my life because an afternoon working for the Lord can be considered a thousand years. As long as what we are doing is done for the sake of the Lord, its value is in how the Lord sees it and not how our world looks at something. What is significant is living our lives in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.


It is a given of the kingdom of God that the Lord is just in all his ways. We follow the injunction of Isaiah in seeking the Lord while he may be found. We call upon the Lord to find the work we should be doing. The Lord has a destiny for each of us. In all our problems the Lord is near. We need but call upon him to find the work he wants from us. Happiness and peace flow out of our obedience to the Lord in all that we are doing. We share the mission of the Lord Jesus together. He asks us to spread the good news that God loves us and has a place waiting for us in heaven. God’s plans for us are so much more than we will ever be able to understand because his ways are above our way and his thoughts above our thoughts. Discernment is how we study the plan of Christ. Christ reveals to us in his humanness the right way to act. He gives us a blueprint of the perfect life in the chances we have to know him through the Sacraments and the gospels. In case we might not be able to understand, he gives us the Church with its traditions and teachings. He calls us to find our place in the great work of salvation that has to be done.


Our vocations in life flow out of the call of God. He has a job for each of us that our talents and dispositions prepare us to do. Family and friends help us enjoy what we do. Some begin the work of their lives early on. Others come into the harvest at the last moment. There is the way we put ourselves out in the work that we do that makes the difference. Peace and joy in what we are about reveal the rightness of the choices we are making in our following of Christ. We all have gifts of the Spirit and yet there is one Spirit. We belong together in the way our togetherness gives us the Mystical Body of Christ. Our obedience to the Law of God gives us the way and the truth of Christ. We measure the value of our lives by the standard of Christ which puts us at one with God. It will not be how long we have lived, but how hard we have lived the values of Christ in what we do with our lives that gives us the understanding of how the last will be first and first will be last. It is never too late to get started at the job of the harvest. God will measure us on how hard we are working when we are finally called to the great reckoning.