Monday, October 31, 2011

All Saints Day!  A day for true celebration.  What could bring more happiness that rejoicing because we can celebrate a day of hoped for victory.  Yes, we mark a special day when we pause our daily business and other pursuits to think about the community of saints ... our loved ones and friends who have the zip code 432836!  Today is the day for all those who have accomplished the work God entrusted to them and have returned to be with him.  It should a cause for joy to imagine how their lives must be in the promised land.

We recall that they completed this earthly live "marked with the sign of faith."  With this thought we should be instigated to consider what it is that makes a saint.  We might even be bold enough to look around to see what examples, what suggestions can be found in the lives of of those still with us about what sanctity actually means.

It is our common experience to hear questions put before those among us who reach extraordinary years, like 90, 100, 105 etc.  "What advice would you give us for living a long life?"  Today we should be thinking about those among who seem to have achieved what we would call a holiness of life.  "How does a person become a saint?"

As simple as the question is so too is the answer:  a saintly person possesses and is possessed by a genuine love of Jesus Christ.  He is the goal, he is the mentor in their lives.  you, my companion on the journey of faith, are saints in formation because I know you would not be reading these words were you not interested in following Jesus Christ.  His footsteps are your road map to the Father God.  Daily we are challenged to incorporate Jesus' life in whatever we do, whatever we say.  We strive, like all the saints, to make each day of our lives a successful effort to be the saint God wants us to be.

So, we celebrate ourselves today as well -- that self that is seeking to fulfill our commitment to love the Lord our God with all that we are and to love the "neighbor" among us as we should love ourselves.  Today is a reminder that sanctity begins with an honest loving of who I am:  the person that God has sent with his graces and gifts into this world of ours to encourage and support others we know and love as well as those who see us but whom we may not personally know.

Yes, today is a day of genuine celebration of saintliness that exists among those who are with the Lord as well as those of us who continue to live the will of God in our world.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monday --  St Alphonsus Rodriguez

The man the Church and the Society of Jesus honor and remember today was an extraordinary individual.  Following in his father's footsteps, Alphonsus became a cloth merchant in Segovia, Spain.  Shortly after his father's death, he married.  His first two children died very early.  A third lived a little longer.  His wife died within a few years of their marriage.  Alphonsus did not know what to do.  Eventually he entered the Society of Jesus.  Because of his advanced age (at that time) the Jesuit Provincial determined it would be best for him to serve the Jesuit community.  The astute Provincial realize Alphonsus was too weak to perform the usual duties of the Jesuit Brother.  It was the man's holiness that captured the Provincial's mind and heart.  For this reason he had accepted him into the Society.  He was a Jesuit brother for more than 40 years when he died.  Those forty years were dedicated to the front door at the Jesuit college in Majorca, Spain.  In this position he served the Jesuit community as well as the students at the college.  He was not impressed with academic degrees and awards.  For Alphonsus the  real work was deepening his insights into who he was in relation to God.  Within a few years there were numerous people coming to him for spiritual advice and direction.  He was responsible for the young Father Peter Claver's decision to request a missionary assignment from the Father Provincial.

There are not many Jesuit Brothers in the United States today.  I dare saying this:  in the many that I have come to know or worked with, these are men with two great characteristics:  genuine men of prayer and men most obedient to their superiors.  I treasure the friendships I have with some of the Brothers.  It is easy to see the place of prayer in their lives.

Let Alphonsus Rodriguez be a model for you.  He did what he was assigned to do and did it so well.  He came to know so much about himself that prayer became his treasury.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In the first reading for today's liturgy we are presented a unique and powerful vision from St. Paul.  It is Romans 8:31-39.  This is one part of all of St. Paul's writings that would be could to write out or type out and keep folded (and read on occasion or in moments of need) in wallet or purse.

Paul reminds us of love that cannot fail - the love of God for each of you and me and for every human being born into this world, born on this planet earth.  Consider for just a moment or two before you proceed reading these opening words of these verses:  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Paul knew of the dangers that existed and would continue to exist for those who would profess their Christian faith, their adherance to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church he established among and through the apostles.  He realized that martyrdom would become a part of the lives of those who stand firm in following the Son of God.  Likewise he understood that the life and in particular the sufferings and death of Jesus, humankind is given further assurances that God loves the humanity he has created.  Do you want to know how much God loves you and me and all humanity?  There is an answer not it in words but rather in a visual aid we can have before us wherever we might be:  a crucifix.  It is a reminder that God's love for us, regardless of our messy lives with its sins and failures, that the graces of the cross will forever be present.

The world today is suffering not just in conflicts and battles, unending injustice, and class dislikes.  At the same time, so it seems, there is a loss in humanity of the love of God ... not God's love for us but our fidelity and loyalty to the God who forever loves us.

Paul is keenly aware of suffering.  He cites words from King David's Psalm 44:  "For your sake we are being massacred all day long, treated as sheep to be slaughtered."  Suffering is nothing new for the faithful Christian.  For centuries, since the days of St. Paul and his apostle colleagues, have been told that suffering is a hallmark of the Jesus communities.  Without any doubt it is suffering that perfects the Christian man and woman.

So, in our contemporaneous struggles, especially in the frustration with national governments, in the struggle to end injustices, in the battles to regain financial stability, in efforts to restore employment to so many millions who have lost jobs, it is words like these in today's readings that should remind us that God is there for those in need, for those suffering not matter who we are or where we are.  Let this particular part of Paul's Letter to the Romans become a source of comfort and an encouragement in need.


Due to a scheduled commitment that will require my presence beginning this evening and continuing until Sunday, I will not be able to prepare a reflection for Friday and Saturday of this week.  May I suggest you use the link in the first sentence to the audio readings for those two days.  Please remember me in your prayers as I fulfill my obligations to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in conducting the orientation program for its new investees.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the readings Mass there is a simple message that Jesus is teaching for all ages.  What he is teaching is not for his "crowd" only but for all.  He is speaking of steadfastness, of fidelity, of loyalty as the guarantors of eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

How are his words to be interpreted?  Let me offer an answer that comes from a reverse thinking.  Ask someone if he/she is a Catholic.  To answer in the affirmative, the person will probably say something like Yes.  Of course.  Do you think that you would be offered the same reply if your asked this question as a follow up:  "Do you live the life we, as Catholics, as called to live?"  This is where the answers become interesting.  Most all of the answers might begin with "Well, you see ..." and so forth.

What Jesus is teaching is that a guaranteed place at the heavenly banquet comes when an individual lives the life that Jesus has put before us.  We might ask ourselves this question:  Am I truly loyal and faithful to all of the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church?  In his words to the people Jesus did not say I am giving you 10 Commandments.  Chose the seven you want to follow.  Hardly his style.  He was giving his all for the Father.  What he calls us to do is give our all to following in his footsteps; to accept his teachings as the norms for our lives.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TUESDAY, October 25, 2011

Luke's gospel for Tuesday is an account of Jesus' very clear message to those listening to him ... most Jewish folks including among them some of the religious leaders.  And the message:  get up and out of your complacency.  I have been giving you an invitation to follow me.  If you would do that, you will be in the Kingdom.  Why is he saying this to them?  Jesus recognized that many of the Jewish people and their religious leaders had made a choice:  they were convinced that they were among those who would eventually dine at the Lord's table in the heavenly kingdom.  It is surprising that Jesus did speak out more often about the complacency of those who just presumed they were Jewish and would certainly be included in the Kingdom.

Jesus' message was also clear:  those who do not make the effort to accept his teachings and follow his way will not dine in the Kingdom of God.  Those who accept the invitation and all that it means will be those who stand with the Lord in his Kingdom.  The places of those who live complacently will be given rather to the poor in spirit.  The Jewish people looked down on these people.  Jesus is say:  Take note, my friends.  These people have responded to the Lord's invitation.  They have earned it through their sufferings and fidelity.

Is this phenomenon alive in our culture, our world today?  This might indeed be the question for those who have rewritten the Commandments and the guidelines of our faith.  Surely many are willing to speak out in objection to teachings that do not satisfy their desires.  Can they answer the question:  Do you have any concern that God will NOT accept you into his Kingdom?

The doorway to the Kingdom is always open to those who willingly accept the invitation that Jesus continues to issue to his followers even in our times.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend Scriptural Reflection

Surely there have been those times when you have heard or said what was Jesus’ response to a Pharisees’ question:
Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?
Jesus answered 'You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind....
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
(Matthew 22:36-39
Today we t take a few moments to consider how we answer that question if it were our responsibility to answer it.  Have these words of Jesus ever truly impacted your life?  Can you answer: “Yes, these words have changed my life.”
I should honestly answer if and how this particular teaching of Jesus has changed any part of my life?  Surely many feel a burden of laws is placed upon their shoulders when they seriously consider “I believe in the Catholic Church.”  For these individuals it may seem scarcely different form the weighty laws put upon the life style of Jewish believers.  It was the burden that led the Pharisee to ask the question.  Perhaps it may be  the same reason that leads modern day Catholics to question the consequences of the Church’s teaching today.  Obviously the root concern in their questions is personal salvation:  what do I have to do to avoid those “pains of hell”?
For some the reciting of certain prayers and/or attend an “obligation bound” Sunday liturgy may seem to satisfy God’s expectations and Church teachings.  Jesus, however, is teaching this:  by making a strong, challenging change by linking loving God and loving neighbor.  His answer is clear:  religious observances don’t quite fulfill the expectations don’t quite fulfill the expectations.  I read and interesting observation recently:  a person does not seek to find God through others.  Rather one finds and loves God in others.  And who are these others?  Jesus again is clear: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the prisoners.  Jesus says he is one with all these who have a genuine need of love.  For him it is a love that manifests itself in compassion.  While on a visit to South Korea, Pope John Paul II made a quiet visit to a small island off shore to a large building that housed some 800+ lepers.  Yes, lepers.  He took the time not only to visit the building but to personally speak, touch and even kiss the disfigured men and women.  Today how do we treat the “outcast” in our society:  the poor, the homeless, the drug addict, the victims of AIDS, especially children born with the disease?  How do we treat those who are of a different sexual orientation, those  who have different political ideologies?
How can we effectively incorporate this “love of neighbor” into our lives?  Begin with trying to genuinely love the person you call “me”!  Yes, unless we can truly and honestly learn who I am and as well the person God wants me to be, loving “my neighbor” will be a genuine challenge.  When I accept myself  totally as I am, with all the dents in my armor, not hiding them, it is then that I can reach out to my neighbor, regardless of his or her condition.  And here it is that I begin to know what it means to love Go because God is the heart, the center of love.  There in love of the true me and others can I experience God -- there  I have found the true meaning of “God is love.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

For Saturday

Pope Benedict is, according to Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, one-time editor of the Jesuit magazine, America, is will be releasing a truly "radical document" concerning the economic realities in our world.  One respondent to Fr. Reese's article noted that the Pontiff is actually reflecting and echoing the thoughts that can be found in the encyclical Rerum Novarum.

Rather than a reflection on scripture, it might be interesting to read Fr. Reese's article.  Father Reese notes "Pope Benedict’s encyclical calls for a radical rethinking of economics so that it is guided not simply by profits but by 'an ethics which is people-centered.'”  Further in his article Reese notes the following: Benedict, like Paul VI, decries the “The scandal of glaring inequalities” and sees a role for government in the redistribution of wealth.  Have some Democratic Senators been talking with the Pope?

So, these words above may have your curiosity stirred.  I suspect once you have read the article you may find the desire to pray.  If not, where have you been?

A Venetian Archimedes!!!

A personal reflection today.  Reading Father Richard Rohr's Leaning Forward I found myself trapped for a short time by the following thought.  For most human being life has to parts, two halves, to phases.  Called what you may.  There come different moments in our lives when there is what Fr. Rohr calls a "crossover" moment.  These are moments which some recognize but which many do not perceive until after the fact.  These are the times when insights, events, joys or painful tragedies or simple messy human failures occur.    So often we focus on the event rather than what is the event trying to teach us.  Almost immediately our focus is drawn to the past.  Rarely do we look at the very moment, the present.  We might even look to the future.  However, we tend to forget, or perhaps fear, looking at the hear and now.  The "crossover" moments are not restricted to monks and cloistered religious sisters, to priests, bishops or even popes.  Everyone is offered more than a few "crossover moments in the span of a lifetime.   Fr. Rohr makes an interesting observation:  every opportunity to make a crossover is not taken; some keep their "crossover" moments entirely to themselves.  Whatever the reason for a "crossover" moment, we do know that it has occurred when I can say, at least to myself, today I am different than I have been for many years in my life.  I know it didn't happen when I put my feet on the floor this morning and wiggled my toes.  But for one reason or another I know I have become different to some degree from the person I was ten years ago twenty years ago, etc..

My father was a very practical man ... a cabinet make and draftsman because of his high school training.  When working with him in "the shop" (our name for his cabinet making plant), if there was a need to move a heavy cabinet or piece of machinery, he always reverted to Archimedes.  Yes, that Richmond, VA man knew about this character from one of his high school classes.  Why Archimedes?  Because figure of mythology be that all he needed was a place to stand and a lever to move the world just a little.  Get a crow bar or a sturdy piece of wood and we could save our backs when lifting or moving whatever was much more than our own weight!

In our lives this character can have a place when we find ourselves trying to accomplish something even within ourselves.  To know what to use as a lever and to know where to stand is one of those "crossover" moments because in know who I am and what it is the God wants of me, I can move my world even if just a very small distance from where it has been to where it should be.  Our lever and our place to stand in the spiritual world is our soul.  It is a part of our spiritual DNA.  It comes with the package that God made when he placed each of us in his world.  As Father Rohr thinks, we have to be careful not to fence it in by our ways of thinking and doing.   The soul needs to be given free range in its growth.  We cannot hinder its growth.  We should not stymie its development.  We should always be willing to listen to the words of the Holy Spirit bringing us closer to that awareness of God's plan and how I can make those "crossover" moments that make my life a true "leaning forward."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today our Church honors the life of an Italian priest, St Paul of the Cross.  A unique way of being known, by the Cross of Jesus crucified, this man was born in 1694 and later, in 1775, died having traversed his native land preaching and teaching Jesus Christ and his passion.  His mission during his lifetime was, in the words of St. Paul the Apostle, "... but we preach Jesus crucified.

Another saint, Vincent Strambi, was the first to compose a biography of Paul of the Cross.  He witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in Paul's life as one lifted up by the Spirit to "help people find God in their hearts."  Paul believed that the easiest way to "find God" in one's heart is through prayer and reflection on the Passion of Jesus Christ.  It is the Passion that is the "most overwhelming sign of God's love for us."  It was his through his prayers and countless sacrifices, especially the penances he imposed on himself, that Paul was to establish the religious congregation we know as the Passionists.  Interesting is the official titles of the congregation that eventually had two divisions, one for priests and the other for religious sisters, was titled the "Discalced Clerks of the Holy Cross and Passion of Our Lord."  Interesting because this St. Paul went about his preaching missions never wearing shoes, regardless of the weather.

He earned the appellation of "Paul of the Cross" because he always carried a large wooden crucifix of the crucified Jesus.  Even today Passionist priests carry a large crucifix tucked into the cincture (belt) of their habits.

For us today the passion of Jesus does not seem to be a facet of the Lord's life in the prayers of some Catholics.  We tend to be a people of the Resurrection and the daily missionary life of Jesus.  But it was Paul's ardent dedication to the passion as well as his outstanding devotion to the mother of Jesus, Mary, that brought about many, many conversions.  It was his lifestyle, which in today's world would be considered either extraordinarily severe or perhaps cynically as crazy that in fact gave much support and encouragement to the people in their efforts to make reparation for their sins.

St Paul of the Cross, pray for us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The North American Martyrs

Today our Church honors the memory and the evangelization of a small group of noble Jesuit missionaries who willingly accepted, and in most cases having asked for, assignments to the new continent, North America.  Were the accounts of these martyrdoms be truly portrayed on TV today there would be a violence warning to viewers.  To read the lives of these heroic men would demand a strong stomach.  These men, Jesuit priests, brothers, and a layman (a former Jesuit who was asked to leave because of illnesses) were stronger than most would imagine.  Yet martyrdom was and never will be an easy "immediate entry" into the Kingdom of God.

The gospel for the Mass honoring these loyal followers of St. Ignatius of Loyola is Matthew 16:21, 24-28.  It is the first time that Jesus puts before his close followers the prediction of his passion and death.  Imagine how these colleagues felt when the man they were expecting to be the Messiah gives them a heads up on the imminent future.  Their hearts and minds must have been swirling in disbelief and fear.

Jesus told his group that, if they were to follow him, they should know that suffering is very much a part of life for anyone who wished to associate with him and his mission ... then and even today.  We do not hear of martyrdom in our Church today but each year the Holy See publishes a list of the men and women who were martyred for their faith.  Sadly, however, the list of these mordern faithful followers of Jesus Christ is not made up of just one or two names!

The sacrifice of their lives was for these North American martyrs the ultimate promise of fidelity to Jesus Christ.  It is put before us today as a reminder that even in our advanced world, a days of so many modern technological accomplishments, that what is more important to us is our living our the desire we have to follow Jesus Christ.

While working my reflective way through Pope Benedict's "Motu Proprio" Porta Fidei in which the Holy Father announced that he would be leading the Church in a Holy Year beginning October 11, 2012 and continuing through the feats of Christ the King, November 24, 2013, it is clear that our faith is challenged today in so many ways.  In a sense many have abandoned the "Barque of Peter" because of the sacrifices that are demanded in a world that offers so many contradictions to the Commandments and the teachings of the Church.  There is no doubt that Catholics today, as well as all Christians, are faced with the challenges of so many different calls to sacrifice.  Our world today is a haven for evil in so many places and hearts.  It is evil not just in the experiences of terrorism and wars.  The challenges to each persons moral and ethical stances evolves from what has become a universal weakening of the practice of faith.  In our lifetime the Christian faith, built upon the Commandments as well as the teachings of Jesus Christ, has been undergoing a genuine martyrdom.  Surely the Holy Spirit is at work in the heart and mind of the current Roman Pontiff in his desire to lead all bishops, priests, religious and laity to a renewed life of faith.  Obviously much more information will be shared with all of us in the months ahead so that we can prepare ourselves to cross the threshold of the "Porta Fidei", the 'door of faith.'

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - Luke, Evangelist

Why this picture?  Did you know that some historians believe that Luke besides being a physician was also an artist?  Perhaps this artistic skill, if indeed true, my also reflect with his seemingly personal approach to others.  No other gospel writer writes so well about the birth of Jesus; his account of the Prodigal Son allows him to share something of his heart with us; his stopping along the way to Calvary to speak to the women of Jerusalem and others.  He presents a compassionate Jesus throughout his gospels.  He does not overlook women in his writing.  His history is consummate accuracy according to scholars.  In addition to this characteristics of his personality, Luke knew he was on a mission both in his gospel as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, attributed to him.  In his writings he is seeking to proclaim to the world that Jesus is the Word of God.  Luke was also, it seems, from the letters of St. Paul, one of the apostles who was close to the Damascus man.  In Paul's letter to the Colossians (4:11), the reader can detect reasons for the position that Luke himself was not a Jewish man.  A man from Greece, the town of Antioch,  he would not have been circumcised as were many of those associated with Paul and thus not a Jew but, rather, a Gentile.   Therefore, (surprise, surprise!!) Luke most likely was the only non-Jewish writer in the New Testament.

From the gospel, we hear again Jesus' reminder that there is a large harvest awaiting the apostles who would go forth among the peoples.  At the same time, in Luke's words we read of Jesus' warnings to his disciples that those who go forth to preach the Word, to evangelize the communities:  trouble most like awaits the preachers ... like sheep among wolves.  Now, isn't this the same message that Jesus might preach if he were in many parts of the world today?  Luke learned from his trips with Paul, that the field was filled with those seeking answers to questions.  Is it any different today?

We speak about the potential great harvests often.  But there is this question:  are you taking the time to prepare yourself for work in the various "vineyards" that exists.  This means that proclaimed followers of Jesus Christ, whether Bishop, priest or lay man or woman, must take time to learn and refresh earlier learning.  Pope Benedict announced that he is setting aside next year beginning with the 50 anniversary of the Second Vatican Council as a Holy Year.  Now is the time for us to learn anew and to refresh our understanding of the faith as we prepare for the Holy Year, a special time of grace, prayer and learning for all who say "Yes, I am  a Catholic!"

And just who is this saint, Ignatius of Antioch and why does the Church celebrate a day in his honor?  First and foremost, Ignatius is recognized as a man who was born shortly after Jesus was crucified and became a student of St. John, the Apostle.  Some writers believe he was appointed a bishop by St. Peter.  Factually, however, we do know from historical documents that after his final journey from Antioch to Rome, Ignatius became a prisoner during the time of the Roman Emperor Trajan.  He was sentenced to death in the Colosseum.  History learned much from several of his letters written during his final journey to Rome.  From these letter s we know that he was a man, a priest, a bishop who possessed a strong devotion to the crucified Lord Jesus.  In his writings he speaks clearly and with great devotion to the divinity and the resurrection from the dead.  For him the Eucharist was a means for the Christian communities to join with each other in unity of faith and in collaboration with the local bishop.  Ignatius writes about the Church of Rome being founded by Peter and Paul.  His commitment to the faith and to Jesus Christ brought him to his martyrdom between the years 107-110.

Naturally the liturgists present a reading from the gospel of Ignatius' teacher, St. John.  If you read the entire pericope, Jn 12:20-24, you can better understand what Jesus is speaking about when he presents the  story of the grain of wheat has to first die and then fall into the ground for it to become the wheat to make the bread.  In the earlier verses we read about "some Greeks" who wanted to "see" Jesus.  Now the people called "Greeks" at this time were Gentiles who had become Jews.  These people approached the apostle Philip ask to "see" this Jesus person  Philip then approached his colleague, Andrew, about the matter.  Apparently the two apostles then asked Jesus for an opportunity for these "Greeks" to meet Jesus.

It seems that Jesus' answer to the apostles did lack any enthusiasm about such a meeting.  He perceived that the desire to "see" him was simply what most people say when then might be the possibility of meeting a "newsworthy character."  For Jesus "to see" would mean much more than a handshake and the usual "it's a pleasure to meet you." For Jesus to "to see him" is to come to know him and to accept the way of life that he had been teaching in his ministry.  His response to the two apostles indicates that the way of life is costly.  To follow Jesus, to accept his ways, could be like the grain of wheat.  Unless it dies and falls into the earth, it does not produce anything.

So, for us the meaning should be clear:  to be a follower of Jesus Christ means that one must be willing to sacrifice even one's life if that should happen ... for the Kingdom of God.  We might ask ourselves this question:  am I ready and willing to make the sacrifices that God may ask of me if I truly wish to follow his Son and to eventually make my way to the Kingdom of God?  Or could it be that I am might be one of those "Greeks"... a person who really wants to be able to say, "Oh, yes, I have met Jesus," and mean little more that a brief encounter?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Luke continues the instructor, the preacher who seeks not the burden of guilt for the hearts of his followers but an awareness of the need of the individual to deal with both God and the self.  In the gospel for today we encounter his wishes for  his hearers who might be too overwhelmed by sin and hypocrisy to come before God seeking forgiveness.  He believes there are times when sin can be so serious that a person is overwhelmed by guilt, by fear.  He pleads with people who carry the burdens of guilt not to allow the fear of God to separate them from God's forgiveness.  David, in Psalm 32, reminds us that eternity separated from God is much more painful than confessing one's sin.  He writes:  "I turn to you in ... the times of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation."

In verse 5 of the 32nd Psalm,  David wrote "My offense I made known to You and my crime I did not cover."  I said "I shall confess my sins to the Lord," and You forgave my offending crime."  Likewise, David continue like a true mentor:  "Let me teach you, instruct you the way you should go.  Let me counsel you with my own sight."  Verse 8.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vatican II - 49 Years Old!

A worthwhile journey for you today would be to visit the Whispers in the Loggia link, listed on the right of this posting.  Especially enjoy the second You Tube entry that Dr Rocco Palmo has included in his reflection for this day.  It is both an historical review but most especially it is an opportunity to spend a few moments in sharing the life of Blessed Pope John XXIII.  You will not be disappointed.

The daily reflection posting follows this entry.

True to One's Self

Romans 2:11   "God shows no partiality."

Teaching his Roman followers, Paul reminds them that simply because they are marked as Christians is no free ticket to do what and as one wills.  God does not bend to privileges extended.  Paul's message is simple:  "Jews will be no better off on the day of judgement than the Gentiles if they have not tried to live their lives as is expected of them.

Perhaps Paul's words may be onerous or annoying.  A friend told me of his reason for leaving the Catholic Church.  His experience might be a good reminder to each of us about how we are perceived by others who watch us.  He was "turned off" by the example of those who profess their holiness because they attend church services on Sundays.  During the work-a-day week experiences these same people are scandalous in the way they treat others in the workplace or in their family settings.  Duplicity was the straw that broke the man's faith.

The question each person might ask of him/herself is also very simple:  "As a follower of Jesus, do I speak or act out of both sides of my mouth and life?  Do I want some to see me a "perfect" while at the same time there is another side of my life that is far from perfect?  Surely we are, all of us, sinners.  But if we try to lead others to believe we are "saints," while we are not, are we not failing in our living the life expected of us by our God?

Clearly the stairway to heaven is never an easy climb!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Gospel In One's Life
"[T]he gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:  for Jew first, and then the Greek."
St. Paul speaks seriously about the gospel and the consequences for human beings without it.  This great preacher and teacher charges both paganism and Judaism with serious failure.  It is in his eyes and heart a failure to provide for people the means to achieve more stature in the community.  Paul was a convert himself to an understanding of this power:  the true Jew would live in moral depravity when he/she did not have the gospel in life.  Not having or knowing the gospel would allow the Jewish person to recognize the power of God.  He/She would not live in an "uprightness in God's presence."  Without the gospel, a person is estranged from God regardless of religious backgroud.  Paul believed such a situation results in divine wrath being shown to both Jew and pagan.  For the Damascus preacher sees this as the realistics human situation when the gospel is absent.  For you and me, Paul is challenging how we live our lives:  is the gospel truly a part of our daily contact with the Creator God?  Is it possible to set aside just ten minutes each day reading through one of the gospels or other books of the bible?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We Begin Again

Monday, October 10, 2011

Of course some wondered when early October would occur. Well, today begins middle October. And so we continue our journey of faith.

There are many ways in which we are called to undstand the love of God. In particular, we are called to deepen our understanding through the world around us. You might reflect on the many "here and now" circumstances that place a challenge before you. You could become a space cadet and think about future times. If you do that, you miss the power that can be found in the present moment and what it offers or asks of you as a follower of Jesus Christ.

For me the lives of the three women who were recently awarded the Nobel Peace prize, are an example of what genuine love for others can produce. Three women who struggled daily and who risked their very lives in order to bring an end to repression toward women in their native lands of Africa and The Middle East. Until equality exists between men and women, they believe, world peace will never happen. I encourage you to check Safurday's WASHINGTON POST or the Internet to come to know their stories.  There are many women in our country who work tirelessly for just.  You might recognize them in the recipients' lives.

These are three women who do not tolerate injustice. They live lives of commitment. And so, as we begin another series of reflections, perhaps one way we can come to a better understanding of God's love for us is to better understand the injustices that exits not only in foreign lands but in our our country, states, communities and families and determine to do what each of us can to make others aware of these tragedies. Within our own neighborhoods there are marginalized men, women and even children in many instances through no fault of their own. Are we comfortable just sitting on our own chairs doing little or nothing about their situations?

Let's begin again with an effort to make sure injustice does not a free reign in our own hearts!  Where will your pathway lead you in the remaining days of 2011?