Sunday, December 11, 2016

Coming to Dwell Among You

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD. Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. Zechariah 2:14-15

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Luke 1:26-29

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 spirit, your spirit 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.

The Bible can seem like it is something that happened long ago and far away.  Our first reading today is a prime example. The prophecies of Zechariah can be dated to the late sixth century B.C.  That puts these stories two thousand, six hundred years old.  

The Gospel according to Luke is the first part of a two-volume work that continues the biblical history of God’s dealings with humanity found in the Old Testament.  These are fresh by comparison – only two thousand years old.  In volume two, the Acts of the Apostles, Luke continues the story and connects the historical ministry of Jesus and the ministry of the apostles.  This helps Luke assure the fidelity of the Church’s teaching to the teaching of Jesus. 

How are these connected to us?  These stories can seem quite remote from our time and place until we realize these stories also are manifest in people who walked on the North American continent.  Today’s feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe is one such event that brings the reality of the miracles of scripture to our doorstep.

Juan Diego statue in Old Basilica
Juan Diego, a 57-year old Mexican man was making his way to Mass on an early December morning in 1531. He was a simple farmer and laborer with no formal education. Born under Aztec rule, he converted to Catholicism, and each step he takes this morning is unknowingly a step into the fullness of time.

The morning quiet is broken by a strange music that he will later describe as the beautiful sound of birds. Investigating the sound, Juan Diego comes face to face with a vision of the Virgin Mary.  Although when he tells others of the encounter – including his bishop – no one believes him until he brings the gift of the unlikely December roses that Our Lady of Guadalupe provides.

You can walk in the Tepeyac Hills where Juan asked his bishop to build a cathedral. You can visit the Old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and its newer sister church across the piazza where Pope St. John Paul celebrated Mass and blessed it in 1990. 

Old Basilica (2003)

New Basilica (2003)
Just as Mary and Joseph had to overcome their fears, so too did the poor Juan Diego in order to build the Kingdom on his little Mexican hillside.

Juan Diego is the inspiration for many who are called to minister in the world and build the Kingdom.  At the center of the Houston (Texas), Catholic Worker community is Casa Juan Diego, named for this Mexican role model. 

At Casa Juan Diego, the biggest works of mercy remain hospitality and care for the sick and injured. Some nights over 100 people are given “room in the inn” in the various houses of Casa Juan Diego.

The community members serve battered women and the sick and injured who have no place to go. They are welcomed with their bruises and sometimes their broken jaws and arms or broken heads and stab wounds, but above all are welcomed with their bruised and broken hearts which heal ever so slowly.

In 1980, Mark Zwick and his wife Louise founded Casa Juan Diego, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality where thousands of refugees escaping to Houston during the civil wars in Central America found safe harbor.  In later years, Casa Juan Diego expanded to include ten buildings and become a beacon for immigrants fleeing violence and poverty everywhere. Its name became famous along the foot-beaten corridors that lead to the Texas-Mexico border.

Last month, after a battle with Parkinson’s disease, Mark passed away on November 18.  This year will be the community’s first Christmas without Mark’s presence although his disease resulted in a diminished presence in the community for the last few years. 

Dorothy Day’s and Mark Zwick’s pilgrimage continues in Houston inspired by the Sermon on the Mount and the methods of the Catholic saints like Juan Diego.  Even though Houston is a city filled with many significant charities and the Texas Medical Center, the work of this band of volunteers has made a difference in the lives of people for the past 36 years. 

Tonight, six inches of rain is predicted to fall on the heads of the homeless in Houston.  Tonight, Casa Juan Diego will open its doors once again just like Juan Diego opened the door of his heart and his arms.  Dozens of people will be turned away from Catholic Charities, Herman Hospital, St. Luke’s and elsewhere.  Thanks to police and social workers and volunteers and others, they will find rest at Casa Juan Diego. 

They remain desperately in need of blankets and jackets, especially for men. You can help by ordering some and sending them (in the care of Louise Zwick) to CJD, 4818 Rose, Houston, Texas 77007.  To learn more, visit  

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