Saturday, November 29, 2014


By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.  Isaiah 64:7 

[I]n him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 5-7

“Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”  Mark 13:35-37

Our piety challenges us to be awake to the coming of the Lord. The significance of the one coming demands more attention and preparation than we would normally give to just anyone arriving. Our piety calls us to watch for the coming of the Lord. The four weeks of celebration of the coming are just about right to teach us the importance of the coming of Christ. Great expectations bring more preparation. Piety allows us to be prepared because it keeps the Lord of our hearts close.

How we prepare ourselves for the coming of a loved one is a factor of how much we care about the one who is coming. It is God that calls us to be prepared for the coming of his Son. Our world that once celebrated the coming of Christ is seriously off key in it celebration. Gifts are not what Christmas is all about if we reflect on the reality of the coming of Christ. God gives us his Son. Our gifts are slivers of ourselves at best. The challenge of love is to give our lives for the sake of each other. Christmas has lost much of its meaning in the false glitz that distracts us from the cave of the stable where Christ came into the world. We need a powerful reminder that the season of Christmas is not about how much money we are going to spend to get something for those we love. The birth of Christ into the poverty of his parents must mean much more than how much money we are going to spend on improving wardrobes. We need to study how to reinstall the thought that God loves us so much that he wants to be one of us. We study how to make Christmas a remembrance of how we should be like Christ in all the ways we serve one another.

We have four weeks to prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of Christ into our world. In Christ we are enriched with spiritual gifts so that we can be ready for his coming. Preparation takes work. Taking time to pray about celebrating his coming, planning to make Christmas more about his coming than meals and gifts is a good beginning. Prayer, fasting and good works can bring Christmas back to a true celebration of the coming of Christ. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who love his Son. We are the clay and God is the potter that makes us a reflection of the beauty of his Son. How much effort we put into making his coming special in our hearts and our families is what Advent is all about for those who love God. Our preparation for the coming of Christ needs to make us irreproachable in our celebration of his coming.

Stand (Before)

Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.  Revelation 22:1-2

“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 21:36

“Behold, I am coming soon.”  Revelation 22:7A

The end of a Liturgical Year.  However, you would not guess it was an ending based upon the context of the readings.  Rather than ending with victory and triumph, the year “ends” promising more.  Another chapter begins tomorrow when the sun comes up.  Are you ready for the Son to come up?

How poetic that our first selection uses the image of a river.  Rivers start someplace and empty someplace else.  However, there is no stopping them.  You cannot send the Army Corps of Engineers to stop a river.  They can build a bridge over it.  They can build a road around it.  They can try to affect its path, but stop it?  Never going to happen.

God’s grace is like the life-giving water flowing down the middle of Revelation River accessible to people on both banks by the fruit of the trees it nourishes and heals.   

Where do you stand?

One NFL player was not share his stand with the world.  And 600,000 people saw it.  New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson’s long, heartfelt reaction to a grand jury decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of a teenager has quickly gone viral.  You can read Watson’s full post here:

When we stand before the Lord, we will account for our faith and what we say and do because of it.  Let us be aware that our hearts do not become drowsy from too much television, Internet, work, play, and other diversions.  We may never all be a CNN hero, but we all can take steps to improve our community one person at a time.  In doing so, we will be nourished by God’s grace as we nourish others so we can nourish still more.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

According to Their Deeds

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and the scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. (Revelation 20:12-13)

Here God lives among his people. (Revelation 21:3b)

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Luke 21:33)

May he support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done! Then in his mercy may he give us safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last! –Blessed John Henry Newman

I recently found myself back in a familiar place. It’s not one I visit as often as I once did, but I still end up there from time to time when things are confusing or uncertain. It’s the place where I’m blunt to the point of rudeness or cruelty, sometimes to people I know who have no more control over the situation than I do. It’s not a happy place for me or them.

Put me in the same situation these days around people who don’t know me so well, and I come off as an earth mother sort, defusing the tension with “pithy” sayings such as “Oh, well, no one’s life or salvation is in danger” or “If that’s the worst thing that happens to any of us today, it’ll be a good day.”

The Book of Revelation provides us with some fantastic, mind-stretching images. But today’s first reading isn’t difficult to envision at all. In praying over it, I could well imagine what’s written on those scrolls from the times I fail to muster up self-control and equanimity. Pain. Sadness. Hurt. And I resolved anew that going forward, with the Lord’s help there will be fewer and fewer of those entries.

What is written on the scrolls from your Thanksgiving Day? Did you love or injure? Help or hinder? What will be written today and tomorrow?

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”  Revelation 19:9a

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?  Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  Luke 17:15-19

(This is a portion of the proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 which set the precedent for America's first national day of Thanksgiving.)
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God…No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who [dwells] in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

In the fall of 1975, a group of fresh women and men at Belmont Abbey College took a class in “Civil Religion” taught by the late Rev. Jerome Dollard, OSB.  While the course met half of our theology requirement, it also served as an introduction to the world of ideas.  As such it was a full immersion baptism.  Thomas Merton.  Dorothy Day.  Peter Maurin.  Abraham Lincoln.  Gandhi.  Chairman Mao.  Malcolm X.  Reinhold Neibuhr. 

Thoughts of that class washed back on the shores of my memory last summer, on a visit to Mount Vernon.  The plantation home of George and Martha Washington is one of the secular sanctuaries to American idealism and leadership.  On your next visit there, in the Visitor Center, you will come across this stained glass window in the visitor’s center before you venture into the grounds and buildings of the preserved site.  Whether considering today a holiday or a holy day, we certainly revere our secular saints in a manner that rivals our reverence for the sanctified whose images grace the walls and windows of our houses of worship. 

The action of the tenth leper reminds us that we must carry our reverence into the world.  His simple and solitary act of giving thanks for being cleansed helps us to remember the reason for this day.  Notes about this reading teach us that this thanksgiving incident is narrated only in Luke’s gospel.  The Parable of the Cleansed Samaritan provides an instance of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries.  This passage about the ten lepers is etched in my memory from the Good News that was proclaimed at the Closing Mass of the Men’s 103rd Cursillo in October 2001. Moreover, it is the faith in Jesus manifested by the thanks offered by this foreigner that has brought him salvation.

(This is a portion of the 2014 proclamation on our national day of Thanksgiving issued by the President.)

“The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal.  It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others.  Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation.  This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.”

As you join together for fellowship with family, friends and neighbors, give thanks (like this Samaritan) for all you have received this year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich yours, and share your bounty with others.  Also, give thanks for those who go to the aid of others (like the other famous Samaritan in scripture). 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Trust in the Wisdom of the Lord

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Jesus said to the crowd:  “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.  Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.  (Luke 21:12-15)

O Lord, may I ever be firmly rooted in you, not relying on my own strength, but trusting in your wisdom and guidance.

Several years ago the Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs (Nov. 24) fell on a Wednesday, which is my day to write the Daily Tripod.  I hadn’t been writing these meditations for very long and I had never heard of St. Andrew Dung-Lac.  So I went to work researching his life and death and, in short order, realized I knew nothing about the history of Vietnam before the 1950’s, either.  I had no idea that Vietnam originally comprised three separate kingdoms or that there had been a great deal of Catholic missionary work going on there for centuries.  It made for fascinating reading.

Reading about the life, torture and execution of this one priest, St. Andrew Dung-Lac, and about the estimated 130,000+ Christians in Vietnam who between 1625 and 1886 gave their lives for their faith set me to thinking seriously about how deep my own faith goes and whether or not I would have the courage or be willing to give up my life for Jesus.  I worried about this off and on for a couple of years.

It took me a lot of praying to come to the realization that I was all wrong in my thinking.  Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel reading that we don’t have to worry about what we will say or do in the face of persecution (or any of a whole host of other adversities we may face in life).  Just keep our focus on Jesus.  Keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to his voice and his presence, and he will take care of the rest.  We don’t have to dredge up a whole lot of courage on our own for facing our enemies.  If we are rooted in Christ, he will supply the strength we need to do the right thing and the words to say to those who question us.  And that holds true for a lot more that we encounter in life than just religious persecution.

The key is to make Jesus the center of your life.  As we come to the end of this liturgical year, what are the things that distract you, that cause you to lose your focus?  Where else have you put down roots other than in the Life-giving Vine?  As we look ahead to Advent, there is no better time to give up the things that come between us and God.

Take a few minutes today and pray for all the Christians around the world who are being persecuted and martyred for their faith.

Be God’s Temple

By Beth DeCristofaro

I, John, looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” (Revelation 14:14-15)

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”  (Luke 21:5-6)

My God, I adore You, and I love You with all my heart. I thank you for having created me, made me a Christian, and preserved me this night. I offer You the actions of this day. Grant that all of them may be in accordance with Your holy Will and for Your greater glory. Protect me from sin and from all evil. Let Your grace be always with me and with all my dear ones. Amen.
        (Today’s Prayer with the Pope, November, )

When, Lord, When?  Jesus’ disciples asked this of him, the crowds asked him, we ask in prayer in times of tribulation.  Often we find ourselves waiting for something we want or circumstances to change thus ignoring the here and now.  Luke’s Gospel imparts the importance of following Jesus in the day to day.  Judgment times will come.  The fall of Jerusalem will come.  The end times will come.  Jesus’ Resurrection removes the when and transforms it into an invitation of grace to unite with the Divine freely and committedly. 

The temple took decades to build.  We each have been gifted a life with which to build our temple to the Lord and the “when” is now, each day, each minute to accept God’s grace abundantly offered.

Life is so precious, how do we rejoice in it?  Charlie is a lively, sweet little boy born with many frailties and imperfections.  His smile is infectious.  His faith filled family delights in his (and his big sister’s) growing up and has persevered with his disabilities, forging a strong community of many people who love and support them.  Charlie is facing another health crisis and needs support for surgery.  Please consider helping out by checking out their fundraising campaign and by keeping Charlie and his family in prayer.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Put in More

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.  He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest.”  Luke 21:1-3

Lord, help us to take down the walls that keep us apart, especially the walls of disrespect and inequality.  You made all people in Your likeness, giving them the gifts of compassion, creativity, and the desire to love and serve You.  Give each of us the wisdom to see beyond our flaws and differences, to all the good that unites us.  Help us know in our hearts that we really are brothers and sisters to one another.  Let us work together as the people of God, to do your will.  Let us show respect in all our thoughts and actions, so that we can be “instruments of Your peace.”  Amen. (from

Jesus and John relate stories that show how attuned they are to what is happening around them in the present moment.  Probably no one would notice the poor widow as she approaches the temple.  She has no power.  She has no wealth. She has no influence over the events of the day.  There is no PRO QUO to be gained by any QUID.  So…why bother with her?  Let her live in the proverbial shadows.  Jesus brings her into the light.  

Think back to the Sunday reading from Matthew 25.  There is more to be gained by serving “the least” than by serving the most powerful, most wealthy, or most influential.  Jesus knows this and he flags her small act of great generosity for all to notice – in the present moment in the many years or present moments to come.  

As the notes in the New American Bible explain, “The widow is another example of the poor ones in this gospel whose detachment from material possessions and dependence on God leads to their blessedness.  Her simple offering provides a striking contrast to the pride and pretentiousness of the scribes denounced in the preceding section [of Luke’s Gospel].”

As we enter the high season for consumption, reflecting on the “least” this week before we are confronted and possibly consumed by the double-headed hydra of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a proper pause to make.

We have all heard the comparisons about billions of people in the world who live on less than $2 per day.  When compared to these “least,” we all seem incredibly wealthy.  In a week, we spend more on cups of coffee, filling our gas tanks with fuel, or picking up our dry cleaning than what might be almost a month or a year’s wages in certain parts of the world.  And that is BEFORE Black Friday.  

There are entire websites and journalists who are employed to help us find the best “deals.”  There are people camping out in front of Best Buy and Walmart stores just to save a few bucks.  These are items that they could get today for less than the cost of the tent, sleeping bag and supplies (not to mention how envious the homeless person might be of that tent).

What would Jesus say if he were to watch the commercials broadcast during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade later this week?  Or review the flyers that are stuffed inside the Sunday newspaper this week and next?

How much would you be giving to charity if you were giving the same percentage of your wealth as the poor widow? 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

For the Least

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—oracle of the Lord GOD.  The lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, and the sick I will heal; but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.  I will shepherd them in judgment.  Ezekiel 34:15-16

When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.  1 Corinthians 15:28

Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’  And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:37-40

Piety is our response to the Lord who rules from the Tree of Life.  The Cross of Christ is his throne.  His call is on our hearts from what he does on the cross in giving his life for ours.  Our piety challenges us to be the good news of God’s love for us in Christ.  We die with Christ to rise with him.  We are his presence in completing with all we do the good news of salvation.

How special is Christ to those who love him.  Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.  We see him as the love of our life.  We watch how he does things in the gospels and want to do the same.  Christ opens the scriptures up by his willingness to be our life.  He feeds us with his life and we are blood brothers and sisters by the Eucharist of his body and blood that we share.  The world was created through him and for him. He is the King of our universe.  The most significant person of life pales in his presence.  He gives us all of his life.  When we let him die for us we are born again in his person.  We have been baptized into being his life for our world.  We give all of ourselves back to him.

Because he has died for us, he lives again by the victory of his Resurrection in all of us.  Whatever we do for the least one of our brothers and sisters, he considers done for himself.  The Victory of the Cross and his Resurrection live in all of us because he is the ultimate meaning of the love we have for one another.  Christ rules our hearts.  The victory of the cross lives in us as the Resurrection grace.  His love is the love of our hearts, which we have for each other.  He rules the world in the victory of the Resurrection.  He is part and parcel of all the good we do. Christ is the king of life and the ruler of heaven.  His dominion is forever.

All Are Alive

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them.  When they stood on their feet, great fear fell on those who saw them.  Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, “Come up here.”  So they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on.  Revelation 11:11-12

Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.  They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.  That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”  Luke 20:34-38

Joyful Gospel Acclamation
Bless the lips of those proclaiming God’s Good News – proclaiming God’s Good News today
Bless the ears that by our listening we may hear – we may hear the words they say.
Bless the minds with understanding, so we hear the message clear
Bless the eyes that in our looking we may see – may see the Lord!

These last days and weeks of the liturgical year have many readings which help us to commemorate the mysterious, joyful, sorrowful and glorious events which unfolded throughout the year and daily.  While Revelation opens new doors, behind these doors echo the voices of the whole year.

Fear.  A young girl in Palestine finds herself with child.  He fiancé contemplates leaving her. 

A breath of life. Nativity. In the Upper Room, receive the Holy Spirit.
Up to Heaven in a Cloud.  Ascension.

Voice of God. Baptism.  Transfiguration.

Enemies looked on.  Temptation in the desert. Pharisees in the temple.

All Are Alive. The resurrection stories that pave the way for the Resurrection and move forward.


On Twitter today, Scott Simon of National Public Radio share the message above.  How true.  November 22 is never just a date.  Last year, the news media was overly focused on the events in Dallas as they had occurred 50 years ago.  
However, the 51st anniversary has less significance for cultural news coverage even though the events remain a critical example for the continuity of our way of life through tragedy.

Those who were alive on November 22, 1963 remember where they were when they heard about the shots that rang out in Dealey Plaza.  Today’s column by Colbert King reminds us of the continuity and the interruption that happened that day.

Daily we also are reminded of what happened on the hillside in Jerusalem 2014 years ago. Three nails.  A sword.  A crown of thorns. A cross from which hangs the lifeless body of an itinerant preacher from Nazareth who riled up the powers that be.   As his body died that day, he interrupted the pattern of the sins of our past and ushered in redemption for all who came before and all who would follow afterward.

Unlike other anniversaries, the dates for Good Friday and Easter on our calendars change from year to year.  Although the Nativity if fixed on December 25, the most holy days on our calendar shift.  Maybe that is good so that we can remember these events every day.  Maybe that is good so we do not forget the meaning of the daily celebration of the Mass.  All are alive thanks to that itinerant preacher who walked among us and left behind his Holy Spirit and our eternal mission.  All are commissioned to carry out his ministry and pay his act of love forward. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Take the Scroll

Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

By Melanie Rigney

I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me. Then the voice spoke to me and said: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. He said to me, “Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.” I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then someone said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” (Revelation 10:8-11)

How sweet to my taste is your promise! (Psalms 119:103a)

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:45-46)

Lord, grant me the faith to be obedient to you, in suffering and in joy.

Today, I finish up a Marian consecration exercise, courtesy of Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC’s 33 Days to Morning Glory. The readings have been short, couple of pages most days, with wisdom from Sts. Louis de Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, and John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. While you can start the “retreat” any time you like, Father Gaitley recommends beginning so that you conclude on one of seventeen Marian feast days. I went with this one because a friend gave me the book in late September. Coincidentally, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the days I knew the least about.

Mary and I have become closer in the past two or three years, and I’ve grown to greatly admire her “yes” to God; her Magnificat; her presence on her son’s walk to Calvary; and all that pondering in her heart of all that was going on. But I’d never really considered her as a child. That facet of her life doesn’t appear in the New Testament. Legend and tradition tell us she was born to the aged, childless Joachim and Anne, and that she was taken to the temple when she was three or so, perhaps remaining to study until she was twelve. There are reports that both her parents died while she was there.

Today’s first reading from Revelation tells us of a small scroll that tastes sweet in the narrator’s mouth, then sour in his stomach, sweet because it told of God’s people’s victories, sour because it also told of the people’s sufferings. In some ways, Mary’s life was a series of sweet and sour: her intelligence and opportunity to learn at the temple at the same time she might have been mourning her parents’ deaths. Her yes to being the Mother of God while sitting with Joseph’s initial concerns. Hearing Simeon’s words that her son was the Christ but that both would suffer greatly. Her message to the servants at Cana of obedience, and then demonstrating that same obedience by being present as Jesus carried his cross.

How to take in the profundity of Mary? How to consecrate ourselves to her, and through her, to the Lord? I find wisdom in a passage from Maximilian Kolbe in 33 Days:

I don’t know anything, either in theory and still less in practice, about how one can serve the Immaculata … She alone must instruct each one of us at every moment, (and) lead us…

Spend some time with Mary today talking about a slice of her life that resonates with you as we prepare for Advent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Saw the City and Wept

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals, for you were slain and with your Blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.  You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”  Revelation 5:9-10

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.  For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.”  Luke 19:41-43

Be Not Afraid – Bob Dufford, St. Louis Jesuits
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.

The short and fast but long and slow journey which began in the temple of Nazareth starts to draw to a close in the temple of Jerusalem.  At the quiet beginning, Jesus picked up a scroll and began to read from it and all were amazed.  That Nazareth manifesto shocked some people – not for what was said but for what was left unsaid.  Those waiting for vengeance were sorely disappointed.

Today, in the penultimate week of the liturgical year, our readings from Revelation remind us of that innocent lamb reading from the prophet Isaiah.  This warning delivered in Luke 19 recalls the actual way that the good-for-nothing crowds turned on Jesus after his powerful preaching in chapter 4.  For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. 

Those days are already here.  In the beginning of the Gospel from Luke, Jesus escapes from those who wish to do harm to him. 

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  Luke 4:28-30

As his journey moves into Jerusalem, a similar escape will not be so easy. The cup will not pass from his holy hands this time.  In little more than a month, we will celebrate the birth of a baby – the innocent lamb who will be led to the slaughter on the cross by a crowd of disbelievers.  

Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: “You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see.” (Matthew 13:14)

Knowledge is fleeting.  Jesus reminds us how little we know.  However, it is not too late to open our minds to understanding, open our eyes to what the Lord would have us see.

If we stay where we are happy and contented, we will not stretch our minds and eyes and hearts to the world.  It is only when we venture across the barren desert, go where we do not know the path, or attempt to speak in foreign places that we can begin to understand everything from Isaiah to Revelation.

Where will you stretch today?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Work of a Lifetime

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O’Sullivan
While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately.  So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.  He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’… (W)hen he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading.  The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’  He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!  You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’  Then the second came and reported, ‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’  And to this servant too he said, ‘You, take charge of five cities.’  Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’  He said to him, ’With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant.  You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank?  Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’”  (Luke 19:11-13, 15-23)

O Lord, guide me throughout my days as I seek to shed what is not of you and to be conformed to the image of your Son.

Sometimes where a story is placed in the Gospels tells us almost as much as the content of the story itself.  Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem for the final time.  In the verses immediately preceding today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encounters the tax collector Zacchaeus.  He tells him to come down out of the tree.  Jesus says he needs to spend the night at his house. Zacchaeus’ encounter with the Lord is life-changing.   He is so transformed that he promises to give half of all he owns to the poor and to pay back 400 percent of any money he’s extorted from taxpayers along the way!

It’s for Zacchaeus’ benefit and ours, as well, that Jesus then goes on to tell the combined stories of the king who doesn’t return quickly from his journey and the parable of the 10 gold coins.  It’s wonderful that the tax collector so desires to follow Jesus and to extricate himself from the things of the world, but saying he’s going to and doing so are two different things.  Giving up the ways of this world to follow the Way of the Lord is the work of a lifetime.

We live awaiting the return of our King.  Just as the servants in the story are entrusted with gold coins and asked to do something with them while their master is gone, so God commissions each of us to grow spiritually, to be in relationship with God in prayer, to shed whatever ties us to the world and keeps us from wholeheartedly embracing the life of discipleship, to become more Christ-like in our dealings with others, and to sow the seeds of the Gospel wherever we go.

However, some of us are like the servant who hides his gold coin.  Where Zacchaeus begins is where we stop - with all kinds of good intentions.  Somehow we never get around to daily prayer and we remain fairly attached to the things and values of this world.

As Jesus tells the story, the “level” of spiritual growth we attain doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as the seeking and striving to grow in our faith and our dealings with all God’s people.  The King in the parable rewards any gain or growth. 

Looking back over your Fourth Day as a Cursillista, how have you grown spiritually?  How has Cursillo aided you in your spiritual journey?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Open Your Door to God

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

“‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.  I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.  “‘Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3:20-22)

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

O Lord, I humbly implore that what your Son commanded me to do in memory of him may bring me growth in charity.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (from today’s Liturgy, Prayer after Communion)

As we prepare to end the Liturgical Year, and the calendar year, and as Revelation talks of the end times it is as yet hard to visualize real ending.  After all, as the Liturgical Year ends Advent initiates a new one.  2015 will follow 2014.  Revelation speaks in symbols of the end of an age with a new age, the age of the Christ dawning.  In science cosmologists talk about what is outside the boundaries of our known universe.  A cartoon once circulating on the internet proclaimed:  “The End!” of the internet until you clicked away from it.

While Revelation speaks through imagery and allegory and calendars are human constructs, all of us do experience endings.  Loved ones die, plans go awry, dreams are obstructed, health is compromised, freedom is constrained, mountains bleed mud on unsuspecting villages, even our very persons face devastation through rape, trafficking, execution.  Human suffering is both chilling and evil but it is not the end.  God’s love and presence with and for us supersedes it and is immutable.  Our desire (knocking on the door) and transforming ourselves by the grace of God’s forgiveness through doing good in God’s name in order to help overcome evil and build the kingdom will show us in each ending where the new beginning is.  Christ invites us all to His Messianic feast.  May we look for opportunities to share that hope each day.

Zacchaeus, my ancestor in faith, was short in stature although probably very tall in riches and power in Jericho.  Where are my “short–comings?”  Do I take for granted my riches?  I can use my deficiencies as starting points to display God’s glory to the world with good works.  If I devote too much time to my career,  I take time for persons unemployed.  If I am overly concerned with my financial portfolio, I can help those in poverty by lobbying for just government policy.  If I spend too much time on clothes and appearance, volunteer with or advocate for the rights of abused children.  When I find myself too comfortable in my comfort zone, I can climb up out of it with someone in whom I never expected to find the face of Jesus.