Friday, November 25, 2011

Extended Absence

Dear Readers and Prayers

Due to an overly busy calendar in my life
for the next week
I know there will not be the opportunity 
to prepare blog postings.

I regret the absence of some thoughts for you.

It is my intention to resume the postings
on the First Sunday of Advent,
December 4, 2011.

I am currently preparing for a funeral later
this morning and a wedding rehearsal
out of town this afternoon
the wedding tomorrow afternoon
and leaving on Sunday morning
at 4 AM to fly to another country
to be present at the wedding of a relative
and then to return only to take off for
Massachusetts to pick up my new dog

Welcome to the new liturgy by the way!!

Until Advent begins ....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day 2011

How simple is the expression "Thank You!"  Needless to say, Thanksgiving Day in the United States ushers in a season packed with occasions and signals that remind us of the almost countless blessings we have received and continue to  receive.

For me in this early hour of the morning, I sit before a tabernacle and the vary presence of Jesus Christ.  In a few hours I will stand at an altar and join in the words of consecration during a Thanksgiving Day Liturgy.  How gifted am I!  Could there ever be enough times that I could utter those two words?  I think not!

The gospel today is the account of Jesus meeting ten lepers.  He was moved by consequences of the illness that had made their lives so very different and obviously difficult.  "Have pity on us!"  Four words and a lifetime was changed.

Yet the human tragedy continued:  not the terrible disease but the apparent failure of giving thanks in 90% of those who were cured.  Is there something in the 9 to 1 ration of this story that might have a relationship to us today in our world and time?  If we were to take the time to recall the many gifts God has bestowed upon us, would we remember more than 10% of all the graces and gifts God has bestowed upon us?

A Dominican friar, a recognized mystic, after considering how blessed we are each, day, each hour, each minute for a lifetime suggested this insight for our prayer:  "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was "Thank You!" that would be sufficient.

Today many people in our world are suffering great financial distress.  Fortunes have been lost, homes are no longer "owned."  Food lines and outreach kitchens are serving greatly increased numbers.  Am I grateful simply for the chapel in which I pray and prepare these thoughts?  Do I have to worry about not having breakfast later this morning?  Will I share in a Thanksgiving Meal?

Let us give thanks today in a special way for more than we can imagine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, SJ

Today we celebrate another martyr's life for the Church, for the people of God.  In Mexico, Jesuit Father Miguel Pro, was executed on this day in 1927 because of his faith and this refusal to live by the Mexican government's legislation that strictly limited public worship.  Anti-Catholicism was rampant in government offices and activities.  The public celebration of Mass by a priest was cause for severe punishment, even execution.  He was known for the different disguises he would wear so that he could minister to the physical and spiritual needs of those who were poor even the rich and in some cases members of the government party and other political parties in Mexico.  In the spirit of Ignatius Loyola, Pro was truly a man of genuine evangelization.  His life in Mexico was indeed a proclamation of the Gospel. His deep spirituality was complemented by an extraordinary sense of humor which brought so many to him.  One of his recognized comments made clear his simplicity and his determination:  Pointing to his crucifix, he said: "Here is my weapon.  With this I do not fear anyone."  

In November, 1927, there was a failed assassination attempt against the President of Mexico.  Because a car used in the crime had once been owned by Pro's brother, it was used to tromp an accusation against Pro and his brother.  On this day in 1927, the priest was taken from his jail cell to the site of execution.  After kneeling in prayer, he stood before the military men who would fire their rifles against this holy man.  As rifles were raised, Pro shouted out "Viva Cristo Rey" (Long live Christ the King).

Such a threat to the national government, Padre Pro's execution was photographed and published throughout Mexico.  Why?  The President wished to intimidate priests and others who were had not fears in practicing their faith.  The consequences of this government order were the opposite.

Our Church has many men and women who have willingly acted to proclaim their faith in the most dangerous situations.  Their commitment to Jesus Christ, the Church and the people of their ministry enabled them to face their deaths with much peace of mind and heart.

Today, throughout the world, there are still forces that are threatened by the lives and faith of men and women who struggle of justice and peace.  There is scarcely a year that passes when the Holy See does not publish a list of men and women recognized by the Church as men and women who gave their lives because they believed and were not afraid to proclaim their faith.

And what does this man's life and feast today stir up in your heart?  Does it make you consider the times when you may have been called upon to stick up for your Church, your faith but you backed away because of possible embarrassment or ridicule?  We do live in a culture that daily challenges the Ten Commandments and the life of the gospel that Jesus Christ preached ... and for which he also died!

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we might include among the many reasons we hold gratitude as so important in our lives the fact that there are many who have died and others who have suffered and continue to suffer for the sake of their faith and the ministry of evangelization to the people of God. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today's gospel instigates some biblical history awareness as well as a call for understanding why we continue to build churches.  During the month of November we have had days when the Church calls us to remember three specific churches in Rome:  St. John Lateran, St. Peter's Basilica, and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls (of ancient Rome).  In OT times the temple in Jerusalem was important to the Jewish people and their faith.  The first temple, built to end the traveling tent of exile days.  The first of three great temples was built by King David's son, King Solomon between 960-950 BC.  This temple would replace the tent and lend greater importance to the contents in the symbolic house of Yahweh:  the tablets of the 10 Commandments,  a scroll with the inscribed words of the first five books of the Old Testament also known as the Jewish Bible, Aaron's staff and a container of manna from the desert days.  All to remind the people of their painful days of Exodus.

In587 BC during the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem, Solomon's great work was destroyed.  Then, to commemorate another time of exile, 538-515 BC, King Zerubbabel built the second great Jerusalem Temple.  In the year 20 BC, King Herod built the third and last Jerusalem Temple.  This was the temple where Jesus prayed and taught.  It is the temple mentioned in the gospels and other NT letters.  This 3rd temple was destroyed by the Roman armies in the year 70 AD.  To this day there has not be the construction of the 4th Temple.

Some may wonder why another sacred space has not been built.  The teachings of Jesus and the writings of St. Paul especially have influenced this decision ... and undoubtedly the cost of such construction in modern times.  It is also the reason the Church celebrates the construction of the newer basilicas in Rome:  we are, all of us temples of the Holy Spirit.  God created us this way.  It was his unique gift to us to assist us to withstand the challenges that would confront each person in the course of life.  Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.  

So from the ancient and the modern worlds and history, we recognize that there is a need in human being to have a "locus" (Latin for "place") for our worship as a community of believers.  There is a unique challenge for us with regard to these places we call sacred space.  Buildings are buildings.  They give witness to God's presence among and within our communities.  We must not overlook the more important reality:  each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Shouldn't this be a determining factor about how we live our lives?  This is the reason for all of this reflection on temples, basilicas and churches.  They exist to bring our communities together in worship and personal prayer.  But the most significant temple is each person's body -- the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  We should remember there are never schedule ceremonies in that temple.  The Holy Spirit is always present for listening!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Today our Church celebrates an event that was presumed to have happened ... The Presentation of Mary in the temple. There are no written accounts in the bible about this day in Mary's life. There are several other writings that offer an account of such an event. There is no unanimity in these texts. The rescan the Church puts this event before us is simple built upon an assumption. Bring good Jewish parents, Joachim and Ann presumably brought their daughter to the temple for a blessing and some learning. For us this feast day is a reminder that Mary course in life was very much like any good Jewish child's upbringing would follow customary practices.

The gospel reading for this Monday of the last week of the liturgical year speaks about the offering of the poor widow to the temple coffers. Her gift far exceeds many others present who gave from what they did not need. Reflecting on the message of this selection, I recall a sentence: "why does a $20 bill for an offering in a church collection seem so large when only the day before it seemed to be so small at the mall?"

Friday, November 18, 2011

How often do we hear or read about the "temple," the sacred temple in Jerusalem?  I suspect most of us just take those references to that temple as another church type building from Old Testament times.  But for the Jewish people and its traditions, the Temple in Jerusalem is the "Holy of Holies."  There is no other place more significant to them for their worship and prayer.  For them the people of Yahweh could not gather in any other place that was as sacred.

If you recall the events in the life of Jesus, many days of his life saw him in the temple from the day that his mother took him there for what we call the Presentation.  The time that Jesus was "lost," was solved when his parents found him teaching the elders in the temple.  Likewise, recall the time when Satan took Jesus to the top of the temple to tempt him.  There are other events in his life that occurred there.  

What can the reading from 2 Maccabees offer for our reflection today?  Well, first we need to recall words from St. Paul who stressed in his preaching and teaching that we are God's temple.  We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, it is truly important for us to take time to reflect on the reality that has not changed and will never change:  Each one of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  St. Paul said "For we are the temple of the living God."  Also he wrote "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?"  And again, "For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple."  Lastly, "... you are God's temple and God's Spirit dwells in you."

Perhaps there is no better way to determine ways for us to become holier ... reflecting upon the reality of the sacredness of who and what we are!   Naturally just a we have to take our cars in to a Jiffy Lube or some other company, our "temple" may at times need a checkup, a time to replace a filter, to change the oil in our lives and so one.  You get the message, I am sure.  The most important check up we can make is to daily pray for the graces to be made aware of any needs we have to make changes within our temple.  Maybe there is a time when we need to let Jesus come into our temple and turn the tables on us just as he did in his lifetime when he discovered the awe and sacredness of the temple was being compromised.

To accomplish a good check up of our spiritual engine that operates our temple, we should consider just why God would want us to be known as his temples?  First and foremost, I believe, he needs us as his temples that are in good shape to be the conduit for his graces and activities in the lives of others.  We have to believe that God loves us because he made us.  That is the sign of our vocation to be his apostles in our times.  Being fully aware of our status as temples of the Holy Spirit is, when you seriously consider its meaning, is how we bring about a true evangelizing process in our lives.  It is how we continue to strengthen the growth of God's kingdom among us.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

St Elizabeth of Hungary

Elizabeth married early in her teen years because of an arranged marriage.  Faithful to her husband and their three children, Elizabeth was a woman also dedicated to the poor and needy.  Her daily activities in their palace was an embarrassment to her in-laws.  When her husband went to fight the Crusades, she was left with many responsibilities.  During this time she did much to care not only for the poor but for the sick as well.  She ordered several hospitals to be built.  There she was often, dressing the wounds  and sores of seriously ill patients all the while continuing to provide food and clothing for the poor.

News was received of her husband's death.   At that time she and her children were driven from the palace ... social justice did not fit well with many officials of the kingdom.  Thus it was that she became what we might call a "street person" or a "bag lady."  She had become what she had given so much of her wealth and time to:  a victim of cold and hunger.  However, when her husband's wartime colleagues returned, Elizabeth was given much better care.

Elizabeth was a Third Order Franciscan and a woman of prayer.  Many converts were brought to the faith by her example.  At the age of 24 Elizabeth died.  She is truly an example of a true believer who gave so much to the "least among us."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Artwork:  University of Scranton Public Relations Office

Today, while we read of the sacrifices of early martyrs in the 2nd Book of Maccabbes, I would like to offer you the reflection of a 3rd year law student, Daniel Ramirez, at Creighton University.  Creighton is the Jesuit university in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Society of Jesus in the USA and other Latino countries celebrate the martyrdoms of several proclaimed saints as well as the lives of six Jesuits and two associates, a mother and daughter, who were martyred in El Salvador.  These recent martyrdoms impacted Daniel.  I wish to share his reflection that he prepared for the Daily Reflections mission of Creighton University and its Jesuit Community.  Clicking on the word LINK should bring you to Daniel's reflection.   What is important to me is that martyrdom is not an old world, primitive experience only.  It happens every year throughout the world when men and women offer their lives in support of their faith and its call to the followers of Jesus Christ to practice faith and justice.  During this month when we remember the Holy Souls, let us not forget the men and women who have been called to offer their lives in sacrifice for their faith even though these martyrs may not yet have been raised to the community of Church-recognize honors.   Thank you, Daniel, for your insights and willingness to share your thoughts and emotions on this day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Very Early Martyr: Eleazar
In today’s first reading we visit one of the Old Testament books that rarely is mentioned ... the Second Book of Maccabees.  In this part of the book that is considered an historical account, we are introduced to a man of loyal dedication to his faith.  His name is Eleazar.  He is one of the earliest examples of martyrdom for the faith.  The book focuses on events in the 180-160 BC.  
Eleazar was a man in his late years.  100 years was not that far ahead for him.  He had a great reputation as a distinguished teacher of the Law.  It was not old age that took his life.  It was, rather, his loyalty to his faith, his dedication to what he believed to be his responsibility: living the life as called for by the Jewish Law.  To most today the cause of his death, the Jewish custom, seems unusual and, perhaps, somewhat silly.  He was forced to eat a piece of meat, from a pig.  Some may know that some Jewish people, the stricter segments of the Jewish faith, refuse to eat pork.  Despite various schemes of deception suggested to Eleazar by close friends, this man of honor refused and willingly went to the torture that would bring about his death.
A sentence recorded as the words of this noble man certainly can be applied to our own times.  “Pretense does not befit our time of life,” were words to his friends trying to persuade him to change his determined course of action.  For Eleazar to eat a “trumpted up” piece of supposed meat was not possible.  “I should only bring defilement and disgrace on my old age.” he said.
What this early martyr taught is simple.  It is a quality that is considered as lacking in our culture today:  there are some goals, some values in our lifetime that are more important than life itself.  Loyalty to Jesus Christ and the life of the gospel that he taught us are realities that make the current struggle or perhaps fascination with “transparency” take on special meaning for men and women who profess to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
This visit to refresh our minds about Eleazar, the early martyr, might likewise provide an opportunity to understand the meaning of the word “martyr.”  It is derived from the Greek language.  It means “witness.”  Surely the martyrs we have learned about through our faith and elsewhere provide a marvelous school of learning about character, strength and determination.  While most of us today will not be called to the altar of martyrs, we are invited through our baptism and confirmation as well as the Eucharist we receive in the liturgy to give witness to our faith through the actions of our lives.  We are, each one of us and each day, called upon to profess our faith because our society today is so lacking in the profession of genuine values.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jericho Sighting

picture from

Another familiar biblical event for us today:  Jesus acknowledging the call of a man, a blind man, who desires to be healed of his blindness.  Jesus responds as we would expect of him.  Surely this was an event in the early day of the first century.  We might consider what the message is for us today.
Today we live in a world and time when wars, abuse of so many kinds, economic depression and so forth.  One must wonder what it is that brings about so much evil in our own times.  What is the blindness that prevents seeing the reality that would bring about an end to such evils in our societies.
In today’s gospel there is an answer to some of our questioning.  We encounter a blind man begging most likely because he cannot find any employment.  He was not, however, a man who would simply live in his blindness, feeling sorry for himself.  Albeit degrading, he was not ashamed to beg for his sustenance.  He must have heard about the young preacher, Jesus, who was traveling about announcing something new.  His message so often was about healing.  It is not surprising that this man would call out to Jesus when he was told he was passing by.
Those seeking something for themselves, those who could see, those who could make their way along with Jesus, try to silence the voice calling for healing.  Seemingly they did not want a societal misfit to distract Jesus from their own wants.  Today we might see in the various evils of our times the voices and pressures that seek to keep us from overcoming evils in our lives.
We ourselves might reflect upon our actions, our personal points of reference:  does Jesus have a healing part in our heart?  Do we have the faith that the blind misfit had when he was determined not to allow the rebukes of the crowd put down his call for needed healing?  Do we have the kind of faith that Jesus recognized in the blind man?  Do we have the same kind of faith in our sometimes dire circumstances to call out to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me”?  Would Jesus reply to each of us with the same words:  “... your faith has saved you”? 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Dare to Be Riskier

Today's gospel story is not a scenario unknown to us either in hearing it or living it out!  Most of us could repeat from memory the story of the three men entrusted with their boss' financial holdings.  Two of these men did not fear taking the risk to prudently invest his monies, his treasure.  The third employee was more concerned about himself than about increasing his employer's holdings.

This gospel story is about truly understanding the heart of stewardship: taking a risk with the gifts God has entrusted to us.  It is no different than the risk God took in entrusting many gifts, many talents to each of us.  It was the risk that God took in asking his Son to give his life to redeem the world, that is each one of us!  The employees who took what was entrusted to them and determined to make more for their boss.  The third employee demonstrated that in his heart he did not trust his boss.  This last employee was more concerned about what losses he would encounter if he did not protect his boss' money entrusted to him.

This gospel story has a purpose for us today, particularly when 99% of us know we have to be most prudent with what funds we possess.  What we cannot do, however, is to allow that prudence concerning our monies strap our taking a risk with the talents and time that God has entrusted to us.  Risk   in using our talents should not be a victim of financial crisis.  Just the opposite might be true:  the more we give of our talents when our personal treasury is diminished, the more we are gifted by the God who took a great risk with us!  During times when personal finances may not allow you to be as generous as you may have been in days past, when there was greater abundance, are you even more generous in offering time and talents that God has entrusted to you?

Approaching Thanksgiving Day, we naturally  reflect upon the many "gifts" that God has given to each of us.  Are we perceptive enough  to realize that not hiding the gifts God has given us, gifts that assist others, will ultimately result in God's increasing gifts to us in even greater abundance?  Are we wise enough to realize that the riskier we are in giving others a share in our own time and talents, the more will God give us to risk?  Think about this:  what greater tribute could there be for a person than to be defined as a generous person!

The dare, the challenge, to each of us during these economically challenging days is not to bury our time and talents.  This is a time when we should be investing our God-given talents and time in our various communities:  the local parish or congregation, the local civic organizations that help others in so many different ways, the many non-profit organization who profit so much from volunteers' offering their time and talents.  Do this you and you will multiply God's gifts to you "ad maiorem Dei gloriam" as St. Ignatius Loyola taught his Jesuit subjects and those who prayed through the Spiritual Exercises:  all you do, you do "for the greater glory of God."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Man Of Conviction: Josaphat

Today the Roman Church honors again an extraordinary saint of the 17th century. A read of his, can provide the opportunity to know the man and the extraordinary sacrifices he made to seek unification with the See of Peter. Check out this website link

Friday, November 11, 2011

Martin of Tours
316-397 AD

The Church honors one of its earliest saints and perhaps the first man to be proclaimed a saint without the sacrificing of his own life.  Martin was a man who was born of pagan parents.  Ultimately, he became a follower of Jesus' gospel life.  Martin has always been a popular saint in the eyes of Catholics around the world.  Why?  He was a man who wanted to be a monk after a short stint in a local army.  After leaving the world of the military, Martin turned to the world of faith, the world of religion.  At the age of 18 Martin was baptized.  Legend records that when 23 Martin was leaving the army but would not take the stipend awarded military personnel, insisting that the funds be given to those who would carry on the battles.

Tradition has it that Martin did become a monk ... but a travelling monk.  When the man we know as Saint Hilary of Potiers was brought back to his episcopal see in France, Martin came to France where he established what some call the first monastery in France.  The people of Tours "demanded" that he be consecrated the Bishop of Tours which eventually happened.

Throughout his life Martin was recognized as a defender of the faith as well as a defender of so many different people even heretics.  The picture above relates to a story of Martin's care of the needy.  When travelling, he encountered an elderly man who have few clothes.  Martin removed his own cloak, used his sword to divide the cloak and gave the poor man half of the garment for his own clothing.  Again legend has it that later, during the night, Martin saw Jesus in a dream.  He came to Martin dressed like the poor man, dressed in the half of the cloak Martin had offered the needy man.  Supposedly he heard Jesus say "Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his garment."

Martin was also recognized as a man who stressed the importance of acting upon one's conscience.   Throughout his life his adherence to acts of conscience were challenged because they involved risk.  For Martin most matters of conscience were calls to action.  For him to "not decide is to decide."  He never turned his back from making a decision because it was difficult.  Avoiding difficult situations was far from prudential behavior. 

Today, I do not hear much about Martin of Tours.  However, just reading a few accounts of his life has put before me a model for contemporary living:  a man of principle, a man of determined will, a conscientious man, a man of prayer, a man of the gospels.  Martin surely was a man committed to what we today call evangelizing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Potomac River at Point of Rocks, Maryland

In today’s gospel there is a response from Jesus to the Pharisees.  These men wanted to know from Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come.  Their question, “when,” is not unknown among some people of our own time and culture.  Earlier this year there were those who were certain that the world would end in May, 2011 and suddenly we would be confronted with the Kingdom of God.
Jesus’ reply can easily surprise even some among us.  “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’  For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”
Scripture scholar Fr. Robert J. Karris, OFM notes the following in his commentary on the gospel of St. Luke:  “These narrow-minded Christians are not able to see God’s kingdom present and with their comprehension in such events as Jesus’ cure of the unclean lepers and the grateful faith of a Samaritan (17:11-19), events that foreshadow the church’s mission to the Gentiles” [The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p 709].
This part of Luke’s instruction is for the disciples who might grow weary in difficult times.  They [and we] should remember that just as Jesus had to suffer, so too will those faithful disciples have to encounter suffering in their lives while they await the day when they are called to the Kingdom of God.

For humankind today we should listen to Jesus' message as used by St. Luke.  The Kingdom of God is here among us.  It is among us in the suffering of the poor and needy, the abused, the hurt, those struggling to know the Lord God, those who are in places where there is war, torture and revolution.  We do not have to await the Kingdom of God ... it is among us.  Do we have eyes and ears, hearts and minds that are open to seeing, to hearing and to knowing?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Basilica of St John Lateran

One of the four major basilicas in Rome, a church visited by millions, a unique place for Church historians, the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome (the Holy Father) is the focus of our liturgy today.  We can ask why we have an architectural masterpiece placed on the calendar of annual liturgies.  It is referred to as John Lateran because the edifice is dedicated to the two greatest Johns of the founding years of the Roman Catholic Church:  John the Baptist and John the Evangelist.  This massive storehouse of Catholic Church history is situated on the Lateran Hill, one of Rome's famous "hills."  

For all of its historical importance, we are not worshiping stone, wood and marble.  This basilica has two important purposes:  it is both a reminder of the past and, like every other church building throughout the world, a reminder that everyone who enters anyone of these sacred spaces is uniquely "built" by God, our Creator.

St.  Paul understood this.  He reminds the Church in Corinth as well as all of us:  "Do you not know that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, that the Spirit of God dwells in you? ... for the temple of God, which you are, is holy."

Can there be any doubt that life, your life, your very person is indeed sacred.  You are "sacred space."  This day can be a reminder to each of us to reflect upon what St. Paul is teaching us.  In our society today where we experience some treating their bodies and the bodies of others without any respect.  Did you ever stop to think this:  any time you are attending a meeting, that each person in the room with you has this unique characteristic?  Surely this reality is a part of what Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI sees in the call to a new evangelizing: renewing in the hearts and minds of all that each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Origin and Destiny
(Photo from Daily Theme)

From today's first reading of of the daily liturgy your read or hear a word we may not consider all that often.  Yet, it is a key that can open a genuine treasury.  The word?  Imperishable!

Surely many might wish to be imperishable but humankind does not consider an individual life as never-ending.  But that "word": what does it say to us today?

As we draw towards the end of this current liturgical year, the readings are reminders that our earthly existence is but one stage in a person's full (imperishable) life.  In these final days we are instigated to consider our origin and purpose:  whence our beginning and ultimately where are we going?

Hopefully our reflections will bring us to realize how blessed each of us is.  We are created by God as a unique individual.  It is our gift we receive from the Holy Spirit as well as our Church and the teachings from our parents to realize how unique each of us is.  Our dignity as a human person springs from the reality that we are God's creations.  Each of us, regardless of race or creed, was created by God.  Likewise each of us was created to return to God.  That is our ultimate purpose -- through the life we live we earn an eternal gift of the continuation of the imperishable character given us by the divine Creator.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
November 6, 2011

My first viewing of a picture of the 10 virgins that are part of a local wedding that Jesus uses to give us some thought about the end of the year ... the Church year, that is.  During the final week of December we begin to hear comments about "resolutions" for the new year.  Well, this particular reading from Matthew's gospel serves us well as a reminder:  don't get left out!  don't let the doors close before you get into the celebration.

We are approaching the closing of the current Church year on Saturday morning, December 1, 2011.  Beginning with the Vigil on December 1st we begin with the Mass for the First Sunday of Advent for the year 2012.

In the gospel story the 10 virgins represent all of us ... they are a symbol of all the people in the Church.  Jesus is using the metaphor of the wedding to teach his disciples and others that there will be a time when our lives come to an end.  Like the virgins in the story, we are called upon to be ready for the day that Jesus comes to us, when God calls us from this world, from the mission he entrusted to us when he sent us into this world.  Jesus does not waver in any way when he makes answer to those who did not get into the wedding feast because they had gone to fetch some oil for their lamps.  Clearly the ladies should have filled their candles with the fuel long before the bridegroom arrived.  Obviously they were distracted by somethings we don't know about.  Nonetheless, they were not prepared.

So, the story could be used to help us take some time to think about our own lives:  do we have oil to burn our candles when God calls us to answer the basic question:  how have you lived your life?  Another way, How have you lived your life of faith?  Have we taken the time to make sure that our candles are filled with oil?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saint Charles Borromeo

A look at the life of the saint honored in our Church today brings attention to the many men who are appointed or elected (popes) to leadership roles.  At a time when economies throughout the world are in perilous conditions, all who have leadership roles, again especially in the Church or churches, fall under the microscope of scrutiny (testing) and transparency.  This happens particularly when so many people are without employment or are working in below skill-level jobs.  A wide chasm between the folks without and those with demands a careful look at one's life for those in leadership roles, again especially those in our Church or other churches.

Charles Borromeo came from a family of wealth and station both in the civil and Church life.  A read of Charles' life reveals how much the Church was involved being a political entity at the time.  A read of his life clearly shows how challenging the entanglement of Church and State can be for a cleric.  Today, thankfully, the intensity of the relationship of Charles' times --the late 15th and early 16th centuries-- is far from the royal life that trapped some great Church leaders.  Those were different days to be sure!

Eventually Charles, growing in wisdom and grace, began to see his role as the Archbishop of Milan as more than a political contest between powers.  He turned much of his time and attention to personal acts of sacrifice and mortification.  The poor, the reformation of the clergy (beginning with himself) the beginning of CCD became the concerns of his later years of life and service.  Again, the link behind the word "life" in the above paragraph attests to the man's metanoia.

In particular this feast day should be a time when Catholics pray for all the men, from Pope to seminarians, who hold any office or role of leadership.  As a priest, I know that I and my brother priests possess a leadership role.  It is a part of the life.  Therefore, we must always have the strength to live not as princes or kings but rather as men who see our life as a model of service and simplicity.  That is the life that all priests, from Pope Benedict to the newest ordained priest, are called to life.  It is a life of abundance of service and simplicity.

The changed Archbishop of Milan!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 3, 2011

The Lost Sheep
Part of door into St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Photo -Steve J. Danko

In today's readings we are reminded of our relationship to God.  From the first reading (Romans) and the gospel (Luke) we hear once again how important we are to God.  We belong to him.  Jesus' example of the jubilation the shepherd has when just one of his sheep goes AWOL.  There is not punishment for the errant beast when it is found.  Rather it is picked up and carried on the should.  Can you imagine the bounce that must have been obvious in the shepherd's walk as he bring the one that walked aw back to the flock?  Clearly the shepherd realized the value of just one member of his flock -- he throws a party because the lost one was back in the community of sheep.

Think of this for a few moments today:  when anyone might sin seriously an walk away from God, imagine the joy in God's heart when the sinner returns -- God gave his Son to the cross just to redeem even one sinner.

Let us pray today first for those who have, through sin, left Jesus' flock that they might confess their sinfulness and rejoin Jesus and the flock.  Secondly pray for a strengthened awareness of how important you are to God.  Look at the reason God loves you.  Do you have a love for yourself that is in any way even slightly comparable?  Honestly loving yourself is the shortcut to loving God as he deserves from each of us. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Souls Day

The All Souls Day and indeed the entire month of November (save the 1st) is dedicated to the deceased who have yet to be accepted into the kingdom of God.  Read Maccabees 12:38-46  Take note to verses 42 and 43.  There you are reading words from a writing composed around 125 BC.  What is clear is the similarity to the Catholic practice of remembering deceased relatives and friends.  Prayers were offered for the victim warriors who may have have a atoned for a particular sin described in the suggested reading.  The November 2nd date was established in the year 998 AD by Abbot St Odilo in the abbey of Cluny.  Wikepedia offers a rather interesting account: another short read and means to understand the feast day.

The Church teaches that we have a duty to pray for the dead.  The principal reason, again as the Church teaches, is to assist the dead who have not atoned sufficiently for the sins of life.  Our prayers and sacrifices offered for these souls "speeds up" their departure date to heaven.

A visit to a church today where an Our Father, the Creed and the reception of Holy Communion as well as praying one Our Father and one Hail Mary for the intention of the Pope and participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation seven day before or after the feast day are a practice that grants the deceased person entrance into heaven and the Beatific Vision. 

This practice has diminished over the years.  Why?  Because it is another way of manifesting love for a deceased family member or friend.  Not a bad deal for the person in Purgatory:  your extra effort on this day will in effect release his/her soul from Purgatory and guarantee entrance into the Kingdom of God.

Indeed we have a unique grace that we can offer someone who may have need of that particular grace.  I know this:  when I die, I pray now that on All Souls Day at least one friend will perform this practice  and open the gates of heaven for me.