Sunday, August 31, 2014

Out on the Margins

From the Hermitage


Dear Friends,

All of today's readings should bring us to consider the role of a prophet:  a spokesperson for God.  Primarily the prophets have always been charged by God to correct erroneous ways.  We have to recognize that a prophet is a man or woman of more than words.  In a world where transparency is almost as necessary as breathing, a prophet speaks as much with his or her lifestyle as with the spoken word.

To be honest with ourselves today we must recognize that the life of a genuine prophet will rarely be one that is always comfortable.  Consider the words of Jeremiah.  Here was a man who was given the gift of preaching well.  Yet, as he said, "You have duped me, Lord."  Look at the life of Jesus.  He was also a prophet for his Father, wasn't he?  In the gospel today we see he did not let his friendship with Peter prevent him from putting Peter in his place.  When Peter heard Jesus speak of his ultimate fate on earth, Peter reprimands Jesus only to be told "You are an obstacle to me."

Our Church also lives a prophet's life and she cannot conform to the present age, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, "Do not conform yourself to this age."  Sometimes our Church's teachings seem to be so out of step with society and her expectations are impossible.  This is when the lifestyle we are called to live is uncomfortable.

Evangelization is a prophetic movement taking its place in our Church today in a refined and updated manner.  For us, especially our families, evangelization is the call to recreate in our homes the "domestic church -- the place where each one in the family is actively encouraged to holiness.

Today we are indeed called to be missionaries, not necessarily to foreign lands.  We are called to stir up in our families the desire to be holy, to be prophets.  At the end of the liturgies, we are challenged to be missionaries:  "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives."  If this evangelization business seems confusing today, we should do what Jesus did when he may have been perplexed about what was ahead for him.  He went off to a quiet place to talk with his Father.  That is what we should do when we are confused or feeling that the Church's teachings are out of step with our contemporary world:  go off alone and pray for the gift of wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis has pointed out many times already that prophecy is a characteristic the Church should have.  It is where the Church should be today.  Likewise he always says not to forget that the Church will always be with us as we seek to live the prophet life.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pre-Labor Day Thoughts

From the Hermitage



Dear Friends,

Here we are already at the so called "end of summer" as many of us hit the roads again.  Here in Washington the AAA has predicted that some 840,000+ folks will be driving away from the city.  Of course that statistic easily leads to cynical thoughts about nothing political happening in DC.

However, today as we recall Jesus' relative, John, the great evangelizer.  We know much about his life.  Much more than we know about many of his contemporaries.  However, my thoughts today are about all the work that was required of this great first apostle of Evangelization.  Think, if you will, about how much work was involved in all the traveling from place to place.  Then there was the preparation of what to say to each of the different crowds that he encouraged.  Just those two topics should stir up some admiration for the laborer that the evangelizer was.

As the days of this last of the summer's long weekends unfold, perhaps it might be to our spiritual advantage to spend just a few moments in prayer to the great baptizer.  Sitting in traffic on one of the major highways might be eased with some discussion or prayer about John.  We might consider how costly his faithfulness to his mission was.

Perhaps we might use his death and its pain as a reminder to pray for the Christians in Syria and other places that are undergoing the same death as did John.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is God Faithful?

From the Hermitage


Dear Friends,

After yesterday's rather heavy reflection about a painful reality in our days, let's take a few moments today to consider the question posed in the title of today's posting.  Indeed we need to ask ourselves on occasion if we really believe God is faithful.

Again, as a priest, there are so many times that individuals ask the same question:  "Why doesn't God answer my prayers?" or "Why does God allow such terror and cruelty to exist for the people he has created in his goodness?"  But the reality is that we focus on the negative so often.  Pope Benedict had a great insight:  we allow our world and all of its evil to weigh heavy upon us.  We allow ourselves to focus on those negative reality that surround us.  The retired pope noted that the "deepest poverty is not the lack of food, shelter or clothing."  He sees the deepest poverty in our lives to be "the inability of joy."  So often we fail to live in the reality that God has been good to us throughout our lives in so many ways.

Take so time today to list for yourself the times that God has been faithful to you in your life or in the life of your family.  Look at some of the synonyms for the word faithful:  Can you not find many reasons or Godly events to remind you of God's faithfulness?   loyalconstanttrue,devotedtrue-blueunswervingstaunch,steadfastdedicatedcommittedtrusty,trustworthydependablereliable.

    Oremus pro invicem!

     Fr. Milt


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Where Do You Stand?

From the Hermitage


Dear Friends,

Yesterday I received an email from a friend who received a frightening email from a Franciscan friar who works in the troubled lands of the Near East.  In the email were pictures of what I would estimate to be about 1000 or more individuals who have been decapitated recently by the men in the now infamous ISIS group that is determined to wipe out the Christian community in several countries of the Near East.  What I saw was sickening:  young men, old men whose heads were removed from their bodies.  Others were forced to kneel with their eyes blindfolded, prepare to be assassinated by young and old ISIS men with rifles pointed at the back of the heads of these prisoners.

To be honest my gut reaction was far from what I wish I could have thought.  What I thought was no different than what I had just viewed.  Can you imagine the heads of men displayed on fence spikes?

We need to pray, perhaps more intensely than before.  We have a part of the world and the people in it who have returned to barbarian days.  Governments seemingly cannot control or eliminate such inhumanity.

As I thought about St. Monica this morning and how much she prayed for her young son to return to the faith I could only think of the mothers of those men, the wives of those men, the children of those men.  How painful their lives must be now.  Torture and assassination because they are Christians!  Can we just let it happen?  Never before has the modern Christian world had such cruelty put upon the lives of believers.

We need to pray!

Oremus pro invicm!

Fr. Milt

-------------------------
We have the opportunity in our parish of receiving 250 copies of a new book published by Pope Francis for distribution in our parish.  You can help us "win" the books by entering the following
Catholic Bishops Conference.  Can you help us gain a chance at winning this very worthwhile resource?  Just visit the site printed at the end of this notice.  The opportunity closes on August 30th.    Pope Francis Bible Readings Book


Friday, August 22, 2014

Those Dry Bones!

From the Hermitage

How many times have we heard or read this story from Ezekiel?  What more does it mean than just God   to a prophet about a field filled with the skeletons of a vast army?  Are there any such bones in my life?  What bones, you might ask? 

God wants us at all times to be filled with real life, the life of the Spirit.  That is the challenge of these words from the prophet.  We are called to see more clearly just what goals we have set for ourselves?

Doesn't it happen that we let ourselves be caught on life's treadmill without too much daily concern for our own purpose in this life. Just what is that our God wants of me in my lifetime?  Do I realize what it is?  Do I try each day to incorporate that goal in all I do?  Could you stop at this very moment and write in 25 words or fewer what goal you are seeking to achieve in this life, especially your spiritual life?  Is there real life in your bones?

Oremus pro invicem!

Pastor Milt