Saturday, November 26, 2011

Above All Forever

November 26, 2011

Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

"Then the kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens shall be given to the holy people of the Most High, Whose Kingdom shall be everlasting: all dominions shall serve and obey him." Daniel 7:26-27

Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34-36


Cursillo Leaders' Prayer

Lord, grant that we may understand the necessity for depth in our movement, rather than surface glory. Convince us of the truth that colorful programs do not constitute success.

My God, give us a spirit of self sacrifice so that we may offer everything for your cause: our time, our abilities, our health and even our lives if necessary.

Instill in us courage in our initiatives, good judgment in our choice of the right means, and that determination which in spite of failures assures victory.

Move away from us the tiny rivalries, sensitivities, discourtesies, pride, everything which distracts from You, everything which divides or discourages.

Help us to maintain at a high level a meaningful supernatural and mutual charity among ourselves, so that each one will seek by preference the most humble tasks and will rejoice at the good performed by others so that all our spirits united in a common purpose will have one single sprit, Yours Jesus, and that this spirit may let us see Your attractive goodness marked in all our faces, Your warm accents in all our words, and in our lives something superior to the world, something that proclaims Your Living Presence among us. Amen

St. Paul, Patron of Cursillo - Pray for us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron of the Americas - Pray for us.


Awaiting the sunrise on this last day of the (liturgical) year, the first reading seems like a very depressing way to start the day. Four kingdoms. Four beasts devouring earth. Ouch. But then, rising above all of those earthly powers is the Hope of eternity. Our challenge is how will we react to the anxieties of life and prepare for the day to come when we all have the chance to stand before the Lord?

What anxieties trouble you? Social? Political? Economic? Cultural? Spiritual? Jesus says to set them aside so that these anxieties do not become a distraction on our Fourth Day. No matter how bad life may seem, a) it could be worse if we were not lucky to have been born in this time in this country and b) it will get better.

Beth and I began this year with a well-timed trip to Egypt just before the uprisings began in Cairo that have spread throughout the Middle East. We saw people living in horrible conditions, trapped in poverty that they could not escape. One afternoon, we toured the homes in an especially poor section of the city and met numerous orphans and widows under the care of our Coptic Christian sisters and brothers. Walking from house to house, we stepped over mud, through trash just thrown in the middle of the street, around stray dogs, over dead chickens and more. When our afternoon visits were over, it was time to head back to our hotel. It was about 5 p.m. and we tried to get a taxi. It took almost one hour before we found a cab driver who was willing to take this relatively affluent party out of this poor neighborhood and into a pretty well-heeled suburb. As impatient as I got trying to escape after being there for just a few hours, I had to think about the young people we had just me. They will be there for a lifetime. They cannot just wave their hand and drive away in the back seat of a taxi.

Jesus is warning us to be vigilant. We have to be aware of the beasts of poverty, disease, war and selfishness that have the power to devour our lives. We cannot just close our eyes and turn on the boob tube. We cannot just get in a cab and ride away pretending like these conditions do not exist. Our trip to Imbabah could have taken place in Port-au-Prince. Our trip to Imbabah could have taken place in the Sudan. Our trip to Imbabah could have taken place in West Virginia. Our trip to Imbabah could have taken place in Southeast DC.

No matter how bad our life in deep suburbia might seem, with mortgages and elections and consumerism and Hollywood trampling on our state of mind, we do not live in these poorest sections of the world. How we live and how we respond to the challenge of fellowship with Jesus today will help determine how confident we will be to stand before the Lord in the scene described in today's Good News. Life is about more than the price of a gallon of gas, the fluctuations of the S&P 500 and Billboard Top Hits. We must remain vigilant to opportunities to share in the fellowship of Jesus when situations like this are put before our eyes.


The pull of Black Friday might be cause for pause in our Fourth Day. Instead, it might be time to renew our mission of piety, study and action. If the reminders in the daily readings are not enough, sometimes, the media does help to deliver a complementary message.

Tomorrow's issue of the Parade magazine ( tries to shake us awake, too. Instead of making the weekend after Thanksgiving all about shopping, the editors there have taken the lead from the Allentown (PA) Morning Call and are trying to start a new tradition to make this weekend about Giving Sunday and not about Black Friday.

The needs of the world or the charities featured in this magazine article will not end when we simply turn the page of a new calendar be it liturgical or Julian or Gregorian or Mayan. Yet we can each do our part to ease the way that the forces of the world assault our sisters and brothers around the corner, around the nation and around the world.