Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
We learn from our earliest years on this earth in most instances of life there is a simple sentence that sums up so much of human experience and achieving goals. The sentence: "It’s just a matter of who you know!"
We become so caught up in the storms and challenges of life that we often fail to look beyond the friend, the boss, the Pastor, the counselor, and, perhaps, the government representative from Mayor to President. Who can best help me achieve the desire that I have, the need the is so important, or the goal that would make my life so different?
Today’s feast honor the three angels named in sacred scripture is a reminder, at least to me and my giving little more attention to angels than their place on Christmas cards or suspended mid-air over a Bethlehem manger, that I may have been letting special aides go unused in my life. A good hour on the Internet last night chasing down these invisible yet present creations was truly rewarding and a good refresher course. I did read one attempt at understanding angels that was interesting. One writer holds the position that "the spirit world is more real than the material and visible world." He wrote that our experience of that world might be likened to our experience of electricity: most of us do not understand what electricity it but we know its there.
Angels, we learn from several places in scripture, are God’s messengers. In the Bible there are some 300 references to angels. Artists render them more in the feminine whereas scripture writers name them in the masculine.
Angels we learn from the Book of Job were worshiping God as he was creating the world. We know that one of the evil angels, Lucifer, was in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were there.
So, if we stop to think about it, perhaps the spirits we might indulge in when we feel the need for support and care would best be the angels God has created for us. Remember the following words?
When we hold something sacred and close to our heart, we do not want it belittled or tarnished by everyday use or by using it in offensiveness. If we truly hold what our Savior did for us as something valued and divine, then we should do everything in our power to honor that gift. We should not be afraid to change our ways or to even ask others around us to change theirs. If we undeniably believe in our Jesus and His life, then every moment of our lives should be a testimony to that, especially in the words we use and the way in which we react to the words around us.
This junior in college challenges all to consider whether or not we afford due respect to the name of Jesus in our own lives. Hers is a call for respect for a name that has championed a love and care. "Jesus" is a name that has touched the lives of men and women through the centuries. "Jesus" is a name for which crusading men went to battle. When truly understood for all the mystery it contains, it is a name to which humankind not only bends a knee but willingly bows in adoration because this name is the name given to the Son of God, the savior of humankind.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Imagine for a moment what Jesus would say to most of us when we travel whether on "mission" or "vacation" were he to scan our baggage at the airport or train station or what we carry in the trunks of our autos.
Photo: Amanda Dennis
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Some people made a fortune.
I wish I’d bought a new house back when prices were really low.
My neighbor did.
I wish I’d gotten recognition for that work I did last year.
My partner got most the credit.
I wish I’d gotten two of those choice seats at the concert.
I paid just as much, but somebody else got the best seats.
Those wishes are all signs of envy.
One of the Seven Deadly Sins.
If I harbor ill-will toward those others who received more than I,
Who were no more worthy but just luckier than I,
If I’d like to see them get their just deserts,
Then that’s envy for sure.
If I don’t harbor ill will toward those others,
But just really wish I’d been the lucky one,
Then I probably don’t have to call it envy.
What a relief!
I’ve avoided that deadly sin.
But if I dwell on that wish, let it really occupy my time and thoughts,
Then I’m just dodging one deadly sin to fall into another.
Then I’m suffering from greed.
I should be thankful I have money to invest.
Thankful I have a place to live.
Thankful I have a job.
Thankful I have the health and time and companionship for a concert.
If I can’t be happy and thankful for what I have
Because I’m too busy longing for more, something’s wrong.
Whether it’s envy or greed it’s wrong.
In today’s super-materialistic world,
Envy and greed may be two of our greatest dangers.
Envy directly violates the 10th Commandment –
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.
Greed directly violates the 1st Commandment –
Thou shalt not have strange God’s before me.
With greed, material things edge out God as the center of our attention and focus.
Jesus was once asked "What is the greatest commandment?"
And he answered with not just one, but two.
Love God with all your mind, heart and strength –
And love your neighbor as yourself.
Envy and greed also violate those two greatest commandments.
It’s important to realize that God’s Commandments aren’t for God’s benefit,
They’re for ours.
And they’re not only for getting us through those pearly gates.
They’re for giving us a happier, more satisfying life right here and now.
It’s very accurate to say we suffer from envy or we suffer from greed.
They prevent us from experiencing the joy we should feel.
They bring us unhappiness and dissatisfaction right now.
Of course, they’re also obstacles to our eternal happiness.
To our enjoyment of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In our Gospel today, Jesus gives an example of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
It’s free from that envy and greed.
The last are first and the first are last.
All are treated equally.
This story of the vineyard is one of those clear Good News gospel passages.
It’s good news for every one of us.
Even if we think we’ve done our share.
Even if we think we’ve worked harder than others.
How can we really be sure we’ve done enough?
So it’s reassuring to see how extravagantly generous the Master is.
If we actually have done a lot, then maybe we have a nice cushion.
Some of us began early and have worked steadily.
Some of us began early, slacked off, and got back on track.
Some of us have come late.
Some other folks haven’t even started yet.
But should we care who comes when?
Our own reward is not diminished in the least by the reward of others.
Let’s rejoice if they come at all.
Like the finding of the lost sheep,
Like the return of the prodigal son,
Let’s rejoice that all can be united with the fold,
Even to the very end.
An old Jesuit once told me that some theologians believe that
At the instant of death, Jesus meets us and gives us one last chance to follow him.
I’ve always hoped that’s true.
If we came early, we have the added joy of the satisfaction of our labors.
Let’s rejoice at our own good fortune.
And let’s be always ready to rejoice
At the good fortune of those who maybe didn’t work as hard.
Or who maybe didn’t work as long.
When the Master lines us up to receive our rewards,
We may see that we’re in the group that doesn’t quite measure up.
The group that really needs the Master’s great generosity.
Actually, we can be pretty sure that will be the case.
None of us can really earn our way into heaven.
All of us have to rely on God’s generosity.
For every one of us, the reward is all gift.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The following article was published in The Catholic Spirit, a newspaper of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Jewish leader says Pope Pius XII has been demonized falsely
By Carol Glatz - Catholic News Service
Monday, 15 September 2008
Pope Pius XII has been demonized and his legacy of helping Jews during World War II has been poisoned by inaccurate and incomplete historical accounts, said the Jewish founder and president of Pave the Way Foundation.
Pope Pius XII, who led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, is seen in an undated formal portrait - CNS photo "We have to change history" and tell the world the truth about this wartime pope "who saved so many lives," Gary Krupp, foundation president, told Catholic News Service, He spoke at the start of a Sept. 15-17 symposium that studied the papacy of Pope Pius and unveiled new evidence of the pope's hidden acts and orders aimed at saving Jews from the Nazis. The symposium, sponsored by the U.S.-based foundation, featured Catholic and Jewish speakers and video footage of interviews with people who were saved from the Holocaust through the church's intervention. "The scholars, the historians have failed, they've simply failed over the last 45 years" to retrieve and present firsthand accounts from eyewitnesses, Holocaust survivors, diplomats and archival material, Krupp said. Some authors also have based their accounts not on facts, but opinions and "nonsense" which "are poisoning the memory of this man," Krupp said. He told CNS Sept. 15 he grew up hating Pope Pius, thinking the pontiff did nothing to stop the slaughter of 6 million Jews. But years later, he was shocked to discover through his own amateur research that the pope had been far more active in directing a clandestine network of safe houses for people escaping Nazi persecution through the church's religious orders, communities, convents and seminaries in Europe. Krupp said of the 60-70 guests he invited to attend the symposium, all of them had been suspicious of or negative toward Pope Pius' actions during the war. Audience members included rabbis or their representatives from Europe and Israel. He said experience showed that if a European leader was outspoken against Nazi persecution, it did nothing to reverse the injustices. On the contrary, it resulted in accelerated or widened persecution of the Jews and those speaking out on their behalf, he said. Therefore, keeping the pope and the church's good works hidden was crucial, he said. Krupp said the time has come for the world "to forgive Pius XII for not talking the talk but truly commend him for walking the walk."
The stability Paul encourages is formed by a single-minded devotion to God. Where this relationship with God is lacking, disruption usually results. More often than not, the absence of God in a person’s life results in emptiness or deception.
Here is a thought: how often do we hear that marriages or families are falling apart, that our nation is on a track most dislike and that so many men and women are overwhelmed by the realities confronting them? Here’s the question: could these experiences be the result of the absence of God in our lives, our homes, our society? I believe St. Paul would nod in the affirmative.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
With a few words Paul teaches that those whoare baptized are baptized into one Body regardless whether we "are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons." Ll of us, regardless of our talents , our successes, our failures, all make up the Body of Christ in our world.
Through a study of human anatomy, we can learn how the body is composed of many varied and different parts, all working together for the good of the body. Being a part of the Body of Christ by our baptism, we can consider how blessed we are. God has created each of us with close, personal intention. Sometimes, however, as it seemed to be among the Corinthians, God’s distribution of goodness can become a source of frustration, jealousy or even spite. In any social unit — a family, an office, a classroom, a parish, a sports team –in any group– we encounter different levels of God’s creating graces. Unable to accept or live with other’s skills or lack of particular skills, we can easily bring disruption to our heats, even to a group’s purpose and successes.
Through the many gifts of the Holy Spirit to us, we can discover, or perhaps for some, rediscover our being a totality in ourselves but at the same time being a part of the Body of Christ. The challenge for us I not to use other’s talents, blessings and so forth to create dividing walls.
Paul is trying to teach that in the Body of Christ, in the Church, we, all of us, receive the universal call to holiness. We are called to consider this: "The dignity of persons is intensified in the theater of faith" (Rev. William M. Joensen, Magnificat). Through act of justice and charity, no matter who or what we are, we all shine in the light of Jesus Christ.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Here’s the story. St. Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the year 326. Her pious son wanted to build a church in the city of Jerusalem. When mother Helen arrived in Jerusalem, she inquired about the site of Christ’s death. Seemingly there was no site or tradition surrounding the site. She was informed that, if she could find the site of Jesus’ burial, the Holy Sepulchre, she would have to dig nearby. It was a Jewish custom to bury whatever instruments were a part of a criminal’s execution.
Following Jesus’ death, the Roman pagans wanted no one to discover the site of the tomb because of their dislike of Christianity. Much stone and garage was piled on the site of the burial, which served as a base for a pagan temple, dedicated to Venus.
Driven by her own personal piety, St. Helen ordered the temple destroyed and the land cleared. In the process the holy sepulchre was discovered. Nearby in the dirt were three crosses and the nails used to crucify Jesus. Also, reportedly, the sign with Jesus’ title, the INRI, was found. But which cross was the cross of Jesus Christ? Happenstance, some would say, resolved the question. Others might say it was God.
There was a pious Bishop leading the Church of Jerusalem at the time, Macarius by name. When Helen was seeking to learn which cross was the true cross, there was a prominent Jerusalem woman who was critically ill and certain to die. The good bishop suggested that the three crosses be brought to the woman’s bedside. He truly believed God would answer their question and that true cross would save the woman. Praying to God to look to them and their faith in him, they held each cross, one at a time, over the woman’s body. According to the legend, the tradition, the woman was "immediately and perfectly cured" when one of the crosses was put near her.
Helen had a church built at the site. Almost tourist-like, she took a part of the cross home to her son in Constantinople and another part of it to Rome where she had built the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. Yes, it is in Rome today.
As you gaze at the Crucifix before you in the sanctuary, recall the first reading, the wandering Jewish people were complaining to God and Moses. God punished them, according to the Book of Numbers, for their complaints. Poisonous snakes began to appear around the people and those bitten died. Moses began to pray for the people. We know the rest of the story. God told him to make an image of the serpent, placing it atop a pole. Those who were bitten and looked at the snake were cured. Then in the gospel today, we hear what Jesus said to Nicodemus, " ... so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."
So, when we look to the crucified image of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that his death on the cross, his being lifted up was God’s gesture of love and goodness toward us. He changes the question of the complainers from "why haven’t you help us?" to "why did you have to do this for me?"
We exult this holy cross today because our humanity, enslaved by original sin and our own sin, is given a new design in Jesus Christ. We exult this cross because in this crucified Jesus and his obedience to the Father’s will, we can "live our humanity in freedom."
[Much of the history here was taken from various Internet sites, Magnificat resources, and Praying with St Paul.]
Friday, September 12, 2008
What makes a good teacher? First, being on fire with a subject matter. Also a memorable teacher strives to help students share wisdom, to catch the same fire. Paul was all of this not because he was Paul the teacher but because he was Paul afire with all that Jesus was. Paul did all that he could to bring all to know and understand his Savior. Throughout his life he became more like Jesus Christ, his Teacher.
Many attribute their being on fire to a teacher. Paul was no different. His fire was Jesus Christ. And this is the challenge Paul, our teacher, puts before us: be Christie. Be Christie and you attract others not to yourself but to the Jesus Christ who energizes you and all you do.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Each of us, I am sure, can remember precisely where we were on this morning seven years ago. And probably we can remember the shock and the fear that took up residence in our being for more than a few hours.
As a priest who served in the New York Fire Department as a Chaplain for one of its internal organization and as an officer in the Department’s Community Relations Bureau, I was working in Philadelphia at the time. When the second tower collapsed, I could not watch the TV any longer. I left the high rise to walk my pain on the street. What a blessing for me because I passed a nursing center where I had visited patients before. There I could talk with those elderly people who could not believe such an attack upon the people of our nation. There was fear there in all their hearts because they were so debilitated themselves. None had ever experience such diabolical events.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
To celebrate a person's birthday is usually a time of recognizing the gift that person has been in our own lives. The card, calls and celebrating reflect the value a person has become in others' lives.
The marvel of a birthday for me is this: even before God took on the work of creating the world, the birthday person was chosen by God, chosen to "be holy and blameless before God in love" (Genesis). We realize Adam and Eve did their disobedience thing and consequently standing "blameless" before God is not so easy for all of us ... except for one of two people whose birthday we celebrate today.
Mary, like us, was chosen by God before the creation of the world. Imagine all the emails and cards that would be sent her way by so many different people because of their personal appreciation of Mary's life and relationship with her.
Mary's birthday should be a special day, perhaps even with greater awareness. A St. Andrew of Crete (everyone, I am sure, knows this saint!!!) wrote that we celebrate a mystery that provides a double grace. He believes one of the graces of Mary's birthday gift to us is the exchange of legalism for freedom. With the birth of Mary, the "old is replaced by the new." Her birth raised our world "to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things." A divine dwelling place is prepared for the Creator! Is this not the reason that Mary's birthday should be special?
Saturday, September 6, 2008
The Responsorial Psalm from today’s liturgy may easily be passed over. For a few moments I want to share my own reflection on with this simple sentence. My hope is that the way in which the Holy Spirit touched my mind and heart might be an avenue for each of you to realize that God is present in almost everything we do each day ... if we truly want to have our own God-present experience at least once each day.
A Jesuit priest-friend described how a recently ordained Jesuit priest shared with him what we would call a spiritual moment at an organ recital. The performance was a genuine experience of God’s love touching his heart and soul through the marvelous architecture, art work and the majesty of the music in the local cathedral. During those couple of hours the young priest heard the Lord’s voice. His heart and soul were open and the Lord came to him.
Last Sunday evening, alone but with several hundred people, I sat on the Capitol lawn listening to the National Symphony Orchestra concert. In the majesty of the Capitol building painted in the brilliant and then settling colors of a sun promising its return the next day, I felt God was there for me. "If today you hear his voice ..." There are times when I come into this church very early in the morning or very late at night. Alone in the silence, God speaks to me. I know he is here. "If today you hear his voice ..." When living in Florida, completing my doctoral studies, almost daily I went to a nearby part of the ocean’s shoreline where the dunes were fifteen to twenty feet tall. I planted myself deep within the dunes’ walls where I could see only sand and sea. And God was there for me. "If today you hear his voice ..." Recently several friends gathered to say farewell to a wonderful lady who was about to move from the city to Maine. We were sad but the joy our friend possessed made all of us realize God was there with us. I suspect the waitress would have thought us tipsy had we told her we knew that God was there with us. Several years ago, I invited two elderly gentlemen who did not know each other to join me on my vacation. One of them, who died just three months later, told me how he came to know God was with us during those days. "If today you hear his voice ..." Just a few weeks ago, I was with a Gonzaga classmate and his sister, standing around their 101-year-old mother who was about to die. God was surely there. "If today you hear his voice ..."
I share these moments of my life with you because each evening as my day draws to an end, I try to realize how blessed each of us can be if we live the second part of the responsorial psalm: "... harden not your hearts." Many of our human experiences are rewarding moments of joy and happiness. These human moments are divine signals to us that God can get into our hearts and minds bringing much peace ... if we harden not our hearts!
Our challenge is to train our inner selves to see in the moments of our day that God is present. A mind trained to look for God’s presence in all that happens each day will offer us countless moments, days and years of joy ... because we come to know that we are blessed by God and his presence in our lives. If we can bring such awareness to our hearts and minds each day, St. Paul’s words to the Romans in the second reading today — "Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another ...." — will be fulfilled time and time again and loving one another will never be a challenge. So,
Vatican disciplines ex-spiritual director to Medjugorje visionariesLONDON (CNS) --
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Lectio divina is recommended even to this day by spiritual guides as a fruitful way of making prayer meaningful. Lectio divina is reading over a scripture text (not a lengthy text) at least four times, stopping on words or sentences that flash an insight or the mind or heart of the praying person.
Paul’s words today easily remind me of the challenges that I encounter each day. What Paul write reminds me how challenging it is to be a spiritual person. Our lives are spiritual journeys, daily travels on the way to becoming what God wants each of us to be. Sermons, homilies, spiritual reading, conversations with friends are signposts along the way — but it is God who actually brings us our spiritual growth.
Gregory, in one of his letters, must be reflecting his insights into the reading today. Reading scripture in a lectio divina style and allowing the thoughts and insights to sink into our hearts and minds Gregory likened to a rive that provides waters to the shorelines it passes ... water that always returns to the river.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Since Adam and Eve were placed in charge of their famous, or infamous, garden, work has been a part of human life. Think for a moment on the words about work that are found in the Book of Proverbs (12:13): From the fruit of his words a man has his fill of good things and the work of his hands comes back to reward him. And we can give thought to another verse (11): He who tills his own land has food in plenty, but he who follows idle pursuits is a fool.