Monday, June 30, 2014


By Beth DeCristofaro

Hear this word, O children of Israel, that the LORD pronounces over you, over the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt: You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.  (Amos 3:1-2)

He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”  Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.  The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”  (Matthew 8:26-27)

Oh, God, Giver of all Life, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Acceptance is a virtue I struggle to practice especially when I am afraid, angry, overwhelmed and, often, when I am not in control.  I remember when my father was very ill I was frustrated at the “lack of answers” the doctors gave us.  When my mother-in-law developed dementia I was impatient (in my exalted opinion) with less-than-satisfactory response by my in-laws.  The disorganization of the work world can irritate me into an ineffective and judgmental irritation.  Looking back, I can see God’s presence in each of these difficult times even if at the moment I can still struggle to do so. 

And I can find myself impatient with God that answers are not given in the manner and time in which I want them. I have trouble realizing that God loves me and God loves the world so much that God will always be present and work good out of any crisis, horror or misfortune that I and the world might experience.  The Northern Kingdom of Judah did not abide in God’s unique relationship with them and Amos warned them of the consequences.

In his work Interior Freedom, Fr. Jacques Philippe says that we do not need to be caged by our own weakness but by accepting that God loves us so immensely, we are freed up to be more than we are, to be holy.   “Even if we fall everyday, if we get up again and say ‘Lord thank you because I am sure you can make me a saint’ we give immense pleasure to God and sooner or later will receive from him what we hope for.”  He goes on to explain that our acquiescence to the reality that God’s work will be accomplished even in suffering shortens the exile, brightens the darkness, smoothes out the whitecaps we encounter.

Look back on some of the most difficult moments of your life.  What got you though those moments?  If you didn’t get through “well” why not?  In what ways was God present, smoothing the waves – friends? Prayer? Blind trust? Advisors?  Perseverance?  Give thanks to God for bringing you back from the exile of fear, pain, sadness, dependency or whatever it was.   Sit with God recognizing God’s strength for you and accept it once again.

Nowhere to Rest His Head

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Thus says the LORD: For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals.  They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way.  Amos 2:6-7a

A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, 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.”  Matthew 8:19-20

Today’s Psalm and corresponding readings call to mind a song that was popular when I was growing up.  The refrain included the line: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus wants us to be known not by what we say but by what we do.  “Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?”  Psalm 50:16bc-17

The scribe calls Jesus, “Teacher.”  When Jesus replies to the scribe, he reveals the true identity -- that he is the Son of Man.  However, the would-be follower is not willing to give up the comfort of his home and bed, so only commits to following Jesus in word, not deed.

Contrast that to the insight in the Sunday Gospel from St. Peter yesterday which revealed a different truth:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 
These readings point out what should be first and foremost – be a true follower.  Burying the dead was a commitment of the utmost importance.  However, Jesus even challenges that by asking people not to delay for a moment the decision to be “follow me.” 

Make a list of all that you have to do today.  Check your “To Do” list against the tripod of piety, study and action.  Where do they fall on the list among your priorities?  What action/love will you express?

This blog started in order to keep the team for the Men’s 106th Cursillo together while their “formation” was on hiatus.  In essence, we are all in team formation and all in hiatus until the lay director calls upon us to be on an active team. 

Who is there to support you as you experience dry spells and dark nights?  Your team, your group and your parish family are primary supporters. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Follow Me

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles 2014
Mass during the Day

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell.  He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly.”  The chains fell from his wrists.  The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”  He did so.  Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”  Acts 12:7-8

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.  2 Timothy 4:7-8

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Matthew 16:18-19

Piety is how we say who the Lord is.  We have given 3,000 answers to this question.  Peter, in our Gospel, spells it out for us loud and clear.  Piety is our statement with our lives that Jesus is the Son of the Living God even as he is one of us.  We say with our lives that Jesus is our real self.  We would claim with Paul that Jesus lives within us.  We would pour out our lives as living libations thus announcing Jesus to our world as our Savior and our brother.  He is the real connection in whom we are meant to be. We are created to the image and likeness of God in Jesus.  When we find ourselves in Jesus we find our real selves.  He leads us out of the prison of our selfishness to the freedom of selflessness.   He teaches us how to be free to be ourselves in him who is our Way, our Truth; and our Life.

Our study begins an answer to the three questions of the spiritual journey.  What I was doing for Christ is Piety. Piety is the history of our companionship with Christ.  Study itself is the now of our relationship to Christ.  How am I seeing him in the people, places and actions of what I am now doing?  The Last of the questions is the doing.  What more will I do for Christ is what Action is all about.  Love is proved by deeds.

There needs to be a lot of Peter and Paul in all of us.  We need to push the limits we put on ourselves in what we can do for Christ.  Our greatest actions will be our offerings back to God of our liberty.  We offer our lives to Christ by our Spirituality.  What makes us a companion to Christ is our living in his love.  He has loved us as the Father has loved him.  We are challenged to live his love for us for each other.  The “no greater love” is the giving our lives for each other.  The greatest joy of spirituality is found in the offering of our lives to make up what wants to the sufferings of Christ’s Body, the Church.  Spirituality is the best of all our actions of life because it gives the Christ meaning of our lives. 

With Great Anxiety

Rise up, shrill in the night, at the beginning of every watch; Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your little ones Who faint from hunger at the corner of every street.  Lamentations 2:18-19

“Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”  And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he said to them.  He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Luke 2:48b-51

Father, you prepared a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit in the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  From that heart, her interior spirituality grew into an exterior life as she conceived, gave birth and raised her son. Graciously grant that through her intercession we may imitate her role model and also be a worthy temple of your piety, study and action.  Amen.

From the notes to the New American Bible:[i]
This chapter [from the Book of Lamentations] continues to move between the voice of the poet and that of personified Zion.  The persona of the poet, first portrayed in Lamentations chapter one as a detached observer recounting both the desolation as well as the sins of the city, becomes in this chapter an advocate for Zion in her appeal to the Lord and never once mentions her sins.

The poet urges Zion to appeal to the Lord once more on behalf of her dying children. The image of Zion’s children effectively condenses the metaphorical sense of all residents of the city (young and old alike) into the more poignant picture of actual children at the point of death. It was precisely this image, no doubt well known to survivors of besieged cities, that led to the emotional breakdown of both Zion and the poet. The hope is that the Lord will be similarly affected by such a poignant image and respond with mercy.

We know that the plea for the Lord to respond with mercy is realized and today’s feast day for the Immaculate Heart of Mary marks that realization.  Blessed with that clean heart, Mary willingly becomes the human vessel from which the Divine Lord emerges into the world and takes on his cloak of humanity. 

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a devotional name used to refer to the interior life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for God the Father, her maternal love for her son Jesus, and her compassionate love for all persons.[ii]  According to historical records, in the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior's Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.[iii] 

In devotion to the Heart of Mary, study and imitation hold as important a place as love. Love is more the result than the object of the devotion, the object being rather to love God and Jesus better by uniting one's self to Mary for this purpose and by imitating her virtues.

How will you imitate and reflect the disposition of Mary in your world despite the anxiety you might feel?  Can you keep that anxiety in your heart and not express it to the world?   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A People Sacred to the Lord

By Melanie Rigney

Moses said to the people: “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own. It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the Lord loved you and because of his fidelity to the oath he had sworn your fathers…” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him. (Psalms 103:17)

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

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.(Matthew 11:28-30)

Lord, help me to stay strong, confident in Your great Love, as the forces of the world buffet me.

We know how the earthly life of St. John the Baptist ended: beheaded after speaking against Herod’s marriage to Herod’s brother’s ex-wife.

We know how the earthly lives of two of the most prominent early followers ended: St. Peter, crucified, head down; St. Paul, beheaded. The First Martyrs of the Church of Rome met similar or even grislier fates.

We know how the earthly life of St. Thomas More, patron of the Diocese of Arlington, ended: on the scaffold, beheaded for high treason because he refused to take the oath of supremacy of the British Crown in matters of the church.

In the sixteenth centuries, Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher were executed because they refused to compromise their beliefs despite their former friendship with Henry VIII, the king who ordered their deaths.

In the twenty-first century First World, we generally have the luxury of worshipping if and as we choose. But then, so did John the Baptist in the early days of his ministry. So did the early followers of Christ. So did Thomas More and John Fisher before their powerful friend decided he wanted to take a different wife, and set up a new church to accommodate that.  Perhaps they were all a bit complacent at some point in their faith lives. But when the moment of truth arrived, they were fearless. Will we be the same?

What are you willing to do to show your faithfulness? Consider setting aside time to participate in the Fortnight for Freedom. Check out the Web site for more information. In the Diocese of Arlington, Bishop Loverde will be at St. Joseph Parish in Herndon to open a related special event. Can you spare three hours to stand up for your religious beliefs?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Only the One

[Nebuchadnezzar] deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths.  None were left among the people of the land except the poor.  2 Kings 24:12-14

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  Matthew 7:21

Considering the Good News today, I thought it might be a good idea to build our tripod on a “Prayer Rock.”  Prayer rocks are fun to make, can involve the whole family or group reunion and can help pass the time on a rainy day. It makes a great Vacation Bible School or Camp activity and helps kids remember to say their daily prayers.  They also come in handy as Palanca.  I still have the rock that a Women’s Team gave to our Men’s Team during formation several years ago.  What a great way to build a team!

  1. Search for Rocks. You need a large enough rock to fit the palm of your hand. Make sure it does not have sharp edges and not too dirty. Don't try to search for colorful rocks as you are going to paint over it anyway. Get enough so that each child or Cursillo candidate has her or his own rock.
  1. Wash away the dirt on the rocks. Thoroughly wash away any debris and grit present on the rock, especially if children under the age of 8 are participating in the activity.
  1. Paint and decorate your rock. Use bright pastel colors and paints to decorate your rock. You can also add stickers, to your rock. Recommended styles are patterns, a single bright paint, polka dots etc. Let the child or Cursillista use her/his own creativity.
  1. Write a reminder. Paint a reminder to pray with a fine paint brush. It can be a simple reminder like "Remember to pray today" to a more complex one such as a small poem. Help the child write the message if he/she cannot do so him/herself.
  1. Use the rock. The rock serves to remind young children to pray every night and after waking up. 
    • Place the rock on the bed so that the child will see it when he is going to bed.
    • The child is then supposed to say his prayers and keep the rock on the floor so that he will step on it when he wakes up, again to remind the child to say his prayers.
    • Place the rock on the bed again after saying the morning prayers.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.  And to the victor went the spoils.  You cannot say that the people in Jerusalem were not warned about the coming defeat. Just a few chapters earlier in 2 Kings 20 they heard the warning but did not change:  The time is coming when all that is in your house, everything that your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried off to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD.  2 Kings 20:17

The parallel histories of this battle and its aftermath also are recounted in Daniel and Jeremiah.  In telling and retelling the story, we learn that the historical events happened to Jerusalem and Judah because the LORD was so angry that he cast them out of his sight.  They were warned and continued to behave as they wanted.  And we are warned multiple times as the Hebrew Bible tells us this sad story so many ways.

None were left except the poor.   Not the strongest soldiers.  Not the most faithful rabbis.  Not the richest merchants.  Not the officers and warriors. 
Not the most creative artisans or silversmiths or goldsmiths. The house set on solid rock will be known by the actions of its inhabitants. 

The trick is not to trick the Lord because your vanity and deceit will be detected. 

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.”  (Matthew 7:24-25)

What rock are you building your foundation upon? 

Back in the sixties and seventies, the Prudential Insurance Company slogan was, “Own a Piece of the Rock.”  Prudential's logo, The Rock of Gibraltar, is one of the most recognized corporate symbols in the world. Its use dates back to the 1890s.  The related slogans "Own a Piece of the Rock" and "Strength of Gibraltar" are also still quite widely associated with Prudential. Are you building on the Pru or are you taking out insurance in the church that St. Peter set upon the rock?

Fidelity.  A nice strong noun about being faithful.  To what or to whom?  Will our lives reflect the sound and images of the Bible or of a financial services company that wants us to be more like Hamlet (“To thine own self and Wall Street be true.”) than to Jesus?

Vanguard.  Another nice strong noun about taking the position of greatest importance or at the head of the army.  That is exactly the place Jesus told us to take, right?  Oh.  No?  The LAST shall be FIRST?  How can that be?  How can we be innovative and creative in applying the lessons of the Sacred Scripture to our lives and loves?

While we are considering the unfortunate ways that the financial industry has usurped names and concepts from scripture almost like the serpents in the garden, shall we also note that the winds “buffeted” the house.  Who knew that St. Matthew would be recounting to us the name of the most famous investor of our day, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the Oracle of Omaha?

We can all pursue these false paths to alleged riches.  However, the daily endeavor of piety, study and action will keep us from straying too far – and keep us on the right path.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Taking Inventory

By Colleen O’Sullivan

The king went up to the temple of the Lord with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:  priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great.  He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant that had been found in the temple of the Lord, read out to them.  Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the Lord that they would follow him and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees with their whole hearts and souls, thus reviving the terms of the covenant which were written in this book.  And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.  (2 Kings 23:2-3)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.”  (Matthew 7:15)

I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (Jeremiah 31:33)

Life always seems so busy – doing my own job, plus learning the ropes for a new position I will assume in the fall; long distance care for my elderly father, singing in a choir, Cursillo, writing Daily Tripods…  The first half of 2014 has just flown by without much opportunity to come up for air.  But it’s good for each of us to stop once in a while and assess where we are, what we’re doing and whether or not we’re walking a faith-filled path.

King Josiah probably didn’t realize that’s what he was going to be doing the day the scribe Shaphan brought news to him of a major discovery in the temple.  It seems the high priest Hilkiah had stumbled upon the book of the law.  We don’t know whether it was the Book of Deuteronomy or the first five books of the Old Testament in their entirety, but we do know that the contents shook the king to the core of his being.  Josiah realized that the people had not been keeping up their part of God’s covenant with them.  They had not been living according to God’s law.  No wonder things weren’t going so well.  The king immediately tore his clothing as a sign of remorse and repentance and then called the people of Judah to renew their intent to live faithfully as God’s people.

It doesn’t hurt to take inventory once in a while.  We can do this in any number of ways.  We could look at our baptismal vows and ask ourselves how well we’re keeping each of them.  We could read through some of the parables and ask ourselves if we’re living as Jesus asked us to:  Are we sowing the seeds of God’s word with abandon?  Are we putting to work the gifts God has entrusted to us or hoarding them for ourselves?   Are we vigilantly living as though each day could be our final one?  We could also reread some of the accounts of Jesus’ healings.  Are we looking out for the needs of the marginalized and disenfranchised segments of our society?  Do we take care of the sick and the poor?

As Jesus reminds us, the Evil Spirit loves to come to us attractively disguised in order to get between us and our God.  Maybe the Evil One hopes we will throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the frenetic, 24/7 society in which we live, with no time to reflect on what we’re doing or for whom we’re doing it. 

Make some time this week to prayerfully reflect on how you spend your time.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Be a Grateful Witness

By Beth DeCristofaro

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. … He will be called John. …  All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit   (Luke 1: 57, 60, 66)

Dear God Our Heavenly Father, 
May my life be witness and an offering of thanks for the great gifts you have given to your people.  You give Your people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of our sins.  Because of the tender mercy of our God, daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
        (reimagined from Zachariah’s Canticle, Luke 1:76-79)

Recently babies have been born to friends or the children of friends and such news always fills me with an irrational joy for the babe and parents.  Babies smell just as wonderful as warm, fresh baked bread and they fill me with hope, a sense of potential and an opportunity to form new communities.  I love learning more about myself and creation as I see the world anew in the eyes of a child.  Welcome to the world, Poppy and Jacob!

Elizabeth and John sensed God’s presence in their newborn.  Going against the tradition of naming the baby after family, they called him by a name which means “Yahweh Is Gracious” or “The Lord Graciously Gave”.   Did they, does any parent (aunt, uncle or committed friend) realize how gracious, indeed, is God as we feed a baby, correct a wayward tween, guide an idealistic teenager?  Elizabeth and Zachariah gave over trust to God.  God tasked their baby boy with being the herald of the Messiah.  What does God have in store for any baby today whether born in Fairfax, Rome, Syria, India, Thailand, or Argentina?

Do we appreciate the graciousness of God in the little things of life?  What can I do to share the graciousness of God with the vulnerable?  There are children in our communities that are homeless, neglected, abused, refugees or separated from family because of immigration issues.  What can I do to help one child who might be tasked by God to be a herald of the Word?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

See Clearly

“You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:5

Day by day
Day by day
Oh, Dear Lord
Three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day.

Congruence is making sure what we say reflects what we do…and what we do reflects what we say.  The first reading from the Hebrew Bible warns us of what happened to the children of Israel when their actions did not follow the commandments and statues prescribed by the Lord.  War came and they were taken hostage because they did not give up their “evil ways.”  The implication is that had the people been more obedient, then the war may not have occurred. Maybe. 

Many of the places mentioned in the first reading are remote – today they have other names.  However, the battle in today’s scripture reading takes place in the same area which is the present day Syria and Iraq – the source of an on-going current battle with religious and political overtones.  From 500 years before Christ to 2,000 years after, that area of the world has been in a state of almost constant geo-religious-political conflict.  The theory that their behavior might have brought about the war is hard to prove or disprove.  Had they changed, then war may have happened for another reason.

The deeper meaning here, though, as Matthew’s account of Christ’s sermon makes clear, hypocrisy is not reserved solely for the others.  It takes action by two parties to resolve conflicts and to get along.  While many times, the biblical moniker “hypocrite” had been reserved for the scribes and the Pharisees, the notes to the New American Bible explain that it also applies to the Christian disciple who is concerned with the faults of another and ignores his own more serious offenses.

We need a set of practices which puts us in a proper relationship with God and with our neighbors.  Our conduct toward others may very well correspond to God’s conduct toward us.  Thus, we have to guard against passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance that ignores awareness of our own foibles.  If not, that may just be how the Lord judges us if God were not perfectly merciful.

We cannot just make a point to be politically expedient.  The judgment we make must be consistent with getting the relationships right.  Take Pope Francis.  Last week, he ventured into parts of Italy controlled by the mafia and said that, because of their actions, they have excommunicated themselves from the church.  

Although organized criminals may be an extreme example, what behavior of ours may be expedient but incongruous?  How can we harmonize what we belief with what we do?  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Live Forever

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

[T]he LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 8:2

Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.  1 Corinthians 10:17

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."  John 6:51

Piety is made up from our relationship to Christ.  Piety is more than putting on the Mind and the Heart of Christ.  It is also to have his Body and Blood as part of us.  We never think twice about the reality of how the food we consume becomes a part of our body and blood.  We know we become what we eat.  It is harder to appreciate that when we go to communion, we are becoming the body and the blood of Christ.  Most of us sell ourselves short of the destiny God has waiting for all of us in the ways we are nourished by the water and the blood that flows from the side of Christ pierced on the cross for us.  We are called Christians and so we are in our gift of self to others.  Christian means Christ-like and that perhaps is enough for most Christians.  But it should also mean real “Christs” and that is what we are becoming by our frequently communicating our gift of self in the name of Christ.

The finest wine I ever drunk in my life came from a bottle more than a hundred years old.  It might well have been the best wine of the 18th century.  I was with young people that drank it down without appreciating the once in a lifetime opportunity they were having.  I tried to teach them how to appreciate it.  In celebrating Eucharist, I sometimes wonders if it is even possible to truly appreciate what the gift of communion is worth.  Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  There is only one Eucharist.  Our celebration is a moment that does not exist in time. Christ died once and forever for us.  We celebrate his dying every time we are at Eucharist.  Since we are there at a moment that exists in all of time, we are there with all the people we love with whom we have ever celebrated Eucharist.  He makes us one in our togetherness with him.   We are one with him and with all we are with.  There is one Lord and one Eucharist and we are all one with him and everyone else by Eucharist.

We make Eucharist out of our lives by the ways we share our time and energy.  How often we offer all of ourselves to the person we are with makes the Eucharist of Christ live on in who we are.  Christ gave all of himself to us by emptying himself out of his “God-ness” to be one of us in his humanness.  How I empty myself out of the extras of life surely is Eucharist.  But it is more real when I share the essentials of my life with those in need. We live in a world that is materialistic in how it tries to hold unto to what is has and to get more.  Eucharist is the opposite.  The challenge of Action is in the giving of self away with the best of us offered each moment of our service of others.  Action is the ultimate of prayer, as words become the reality of who we are, in what we do for another.  As we give ourselves away in prayer, our lives become the reality of the promise of eternal life. 

Seek First

Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the LORD, the people would not listen to their warnings.  2 Chronicles 24:19

But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Matthew 6:33

Aloysius, you have drawn me to you, gentle teacher, loving guide. I am filled with gratitude to you...I love you. Just to see you, to sit with your image, is to see all the innocence, the trust, and the fire of prayer of the children of the kingdom.

Aloysius, let me serve, let me love as you loved people on earth. Teach me to leave the dark destructive forces within and without for the Light in the presence of Our Savior, Jesus.

Aloysius, teach me to pray unceasingly, pray with me, stay near me, kneel with me...take my hand. And finally when my life here is over, come to lead me Home.  Amen.

The people would not listen to the warning and kept seeking happiness from other sources. 

From the Introductory notes to the Book of Chronicles, the editors of the New American Bible explain, “Unlike today’s history writing, wherein factual accuracy and impartiality of judgment are the norm, biblical history, with rare exceptions, was less concerned with reporting in precise detail all the facts of a situation than with drawing out the meaning of those facts. Biblical history was thus primarily interpretative, and its purpose was to disclose the action of the living God in human affairs.”

The Chronicler, unlike the historian in other parts of the Hebrew Bible or New Testament, tries to draw out the meaning of the people turning away from the Lord.  If he were a modern novelist-therapist, “sacred history” might be called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” or “It’s Not Nice to Disregard the Lord.”  Favoring other idols might have just been an understandable reaction of a people waiting generations for the promised Messiah.  More a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude. 

Still we must wonder what other kinds of distractions were around in the fifth century B.C. when so much time was spent just assuring you were meeting your “first-level” needs in Maslow’s pyramid: food, clothing, shelter.  Too much hunting?  Too much gathering?  Too much burying the dead in the desert?  Too much storing wheat in silos for a grainy day?  They, after all, did not have car salesmen, the Internet machine, Sirrius XM radio, the College Baseball World Series, the Home Shopping Network nor “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”    
Matthew underlines that when the Good New reiterates that you cannot serve two masters with equal affection and commitment. 

Today, I got another message to track all my “wealth” in smartphone app called “Personal Capital.”  Apps like Personal Capital or Mint or Credit Karma or Future Advisor and more tend to try to get us gather more in our silos rather than spread out our funds for charitable purposes. 

You cannot serve two masters if you are just concerned about your affluenza.  Alternative sites like, iGive, and are more attuned to helping you leverage as much of your treasury for charitable purposes.  This weekend, why not make a recurring gift to your parish or charity that will put some of your giving, not your getting, on autopilot. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Store Up Treasures in Heaven

By Melanie Rigney

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, by which they would be the LORD’s people; and another between the king and the people. Thereupon all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and demolished it. They shattered its altars and images completely, and slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars. (2 Kings 11:18-19)

The Lord swore to David a firm promise from which he will not withdraw: “Your own offspring will set upon your throne.” (Psalms 132:11)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.(Matthew 6:19-21)

Lord, help me to pack lightly for the journey.

We were planning for a fire drill at work. It got canceled because it was raining at the appointed hour, and the powers that be didn’t want us to be inconvenienced. But we all officially unofficially got the reminder of which stairwell to use and where each team was to gather for nose counts before the “all clear.” The reminder also strongly encouraged us to bring our purses and billfolds just so we’d be in practice in case there’s a time in the future that when the alarm goes off, it’s not just a drill. It was an eerie reminder for some of my colleagues, who due to a tragedy had to shelter in place for hours last fall… or who had left with coffee money and couldn’t get back into the building to get their phones or Metro cards until the next day.

Considerate folks, those powers that be. But most of life doesn’t work out quite the same in the here and now. The relationship we treasured so much and worked so hard at is destroyed by the moths who eat away at it. The old photos and love letters fade beyond recognition with time even with our loving care. The sweater or dress that carried so many memories pills or rips despite our best efforts. Our emotional or spiritual well being is threatened by what seems to be an all-consuming blaze, not just an inconvenient half-hour drill, and we wonder why those little treasures we’ve put so much effort into preserving have turned to ashes.

Treasures on earth. They will go away, no matter what we do to attempt to hold them here. People die. They change. They move on. Boxes of clothing fade. Mementos get lost or broken, or don’t hold the same luster. So while we love the goodness we experience here on earth, we recognize the best way to prepare for that final fire drill is to travel lightly, and focus on the place where the Holy Spirit ignites every bit of flame.

Put aside a lost treasure for which you've been mourning, even if you can do this only for five minutes. Tomorrow, try to make it ten minutes.