Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blog Suspension

Due to a medical issue, this blog will be temporarily suspended. On Wednesday I learned I have shingles. As soon as possible, I will resume the postings. I guess this means I have truly passed onto the Senior World! Please no notes or calls if you have my phone number. Just a prayer for a quick recovery. Fr. Milt Jordan.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Twenty-fifth Week
Ordinary Time

Today's gospel resonates with my very being:  Change.  Movement.  Spiritual journey. Throughout my life, since the summer of 1959 when I started my spiritual journey in a professional, you might say, way.  "He sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick."

In a career that has brought me to many different cities, states, even countries, I have encountered so many military families and made fast friends with them.  I believe it is that we share a kindred spirit.  Joan Blandin Howard, a member of the Christian Spirituality Program at Jesuit Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, recently wrote these words about change, movement and spiritual journey that resulted from Jesus directions to the disciples.

This is not about the 'what' and 'where' of the sending. 
It is not about success or failure.  
It is about the journey itself....
It is about being sent --again and again.
It is about freedom from success or failure,
people places and fears....
It is about inner movement, inner change, as well as physical relocation.
It is about the relationship 
between me and Jesus, me and others.
It is about trusting who I am
in the heart of God
and that what I have been given
is enough for the journey.

Many who read these lines may not have had the moving-changing challenges Mrs. Howard shares.  Yet, I also feel confident that you are reading these words, you have experienced or faced the experiences of inner movement, inner change.

Surely there were days, weeks and perhaps months when the spiritual journey demanded much inner travel.  The challenge then is the realize and actually believe and trust in God.  He is never apart from me even though I might have felt absence.

Perhaps this was the extraordinary gift God entrusted to his disciples whose inner spirit must have been confronted by moments of mission-doubt, loneliness and frustration.  Like the apostles on these journeys, when we do trust in God's presence and support, we encounter unusual moments, surprises and almost always a rich treasure of friends who stamp God's approval on our missions!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Twenty-fifth Week
Ordinary Time

Please note the final verse of this reading today, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the words of God and act on it."  It is obvious that Jesus is speaking about the love He has and that the Father has for each of us.  Likewise it is Jesus telling those people around him as well as all generations afterwards that in the eyes of God, we, all of us, are His brothers.  We are his mother.  Somewhat strange words no doubt.  But what we are witnessing is the degree or the depth of His love for each one of us.  This message of love is the mission which the Father entrusted to His Son:  convey the love we share for my people.

Jesus has also said, "Love one another as I have loved you."  This is the challenge, the call, the mission entrusted to each of us in our lives.  We are called to elevate the level of our love for others to the same degree that should exist in our families.  How often have I asked myself this question:  Do I have the same love that I have for my brothers and sister as I have for the people who have come into my life, to the people that at times are a major annoyance in my life, to the man or woman who stands on the small traffic island at a traffic light with a sign begging for my money?  To think that I love this person as I love my siblings forces me to ask God a question:  "Are you being realistic in ask this kind of love from me for the indigent man or woman begging for my help?"  This surely is a challenge at times for me from the teachings of Jesus.

To answer that question I know this:  I have to remember that God love me and everyone else with such intensity that he was willing to die for them as well as for me.  This is a thought to make clearer and stronger Jesus' message:  loving, more loving and most loving.  God is calling us to be most loving not simple to some, not even to most but to all!

Remember the moment of extraordinary love:  Jesus says to Mary, "Mother, behold thy son."  And to John, standing by her, He says "Son, behold thy Mother."  This is the bond that Jesus is asking of us.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Twenty-fifth Week
Ordinary Time

For there is nothing hidden that will become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known
and come to light.
Luke 8:17

A deeply spiritual and profound thinker classmate during my early seminary days recently made this observation:  "... when we sin, well, we are saying 'there is no God.'"  The sinner wants to think that God will not be aware of the sinful action and that God will simply let the action slide.

Bartoni, The Prodigal Son

Fr.Gawronski, SJ called to mind an Oriental story.  We modern Americans would probably tell the story this way: "Once upon a time there was a restaurant owner who told his hiree to take a chicken to some place where no one would have the ability to see what he was ordered to do.  Take the chicken and kill it.  After being absent for a day or two, the hiree returns with the chicken ... nowhere near dead.  Of course the boss was surprised and asked why the chicken was still alive.  The hiree told the boss that "everywhere I went the chicken could see."

There are no secrets from God no matter how cleverly a sinner might try to hide his/her sinfulness.  It is an old sentence but one that will always be true:  "God knows everything."  

So, when sin has become a part of one's life, we must come before our "boss," our God, to a moment of reconciliation.  This same God, offended by sin, does not exact punishment immediately.  What he offers the sinner is the opportunity to pour out the human weaknesses.  He extends his open arms of forgiveness.  He embraces the goodness in the sinner that was given at the moment of conception through his loving mercy.  His penance for the sinner is simply the request to "live in the Truth."  He only asks the sinner to live life in his sight.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Twenty-fifth Sunday
Ordinary Time

In the gospel for Sunday's readings, we encounter Jesus working seriously with his closest associates, The Twelve.  He is quite matter-of-fact with the about issues the will encounter after his death and Resurrection.  He is seeking to have them come to grips with the reality of his own future:  he would soon be facing his own death.  He knew this would not be easy to understand or accept.  It would be so foreign to what a good Jew would expect a Messiah to be:  kingly, wealthy, powerful.  What Jesus is putting before them is just the opposite.

Imagine this, if you will.  The company where a person has worked for a goodly number of years suddenly is shut down.  What is she to do?  Many years spent coming each day to an office and faithfully completing all assigned duties.  Seeking recognition was never a part of her work pattern.  She did her work as best she could to make the office she worked in room smoothly and peacefully.  What is she to do now?  

A close friend of our unemployed office worker learns of a new company about to hire.  The friend informs one of the owners about her lady friend's predicament.  Long story short:  the lady is hired as an office manager.  Why?  Her friend described her as a person who shunned any of the trappings of power in her former job.  After several interviews and strong recommendations from her former employer, the new company's VP, realized this lady matched the expectations of the new company's leadership.  Exerting power was not this lady's style.  She worked to serve not to use her authority over others.  This is what Jesus was teaching the Apostles when he put a child in front of them and asked them to consider the simplicity of the child as the way of life for his closest followers after he had returned to his Father.

What Jesus was teaching The Twelve is what we are called to know and in corporate in our lives whether as parent, teacher, or boss.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Twenty-fourth Week
Ordinary Time

Feast Day Honoring
St. Matthew


Front Piece
Above Entrance
Cathedral of St. Matthew
Washington, DC

Early this morning I had the opportunity and gift of the Holy Spirit to read a reflection written by a Jesuit Scholastic (seminarian) currently teaching sophomore high school students about the New Testament.  This young man, obvious more than just a product of good studies, demonstrates how much insight can come from studies, yes, but from prayer as well.  Has been teaching his students a particular insight:  "... the Apostles emerge as a "Why have I not perceived these chosen ones as the lynch pins of our early years of faith building and church formation?" 

As Mr. Kieras, SJ points out the Apostles are more than men personally selected by Jesus.  They are "divinely-appointed interpreters of the events."  It is this group of men that we must attribute the formation of the "kernel" of the New Testament.  The Evangelists and the preachers carried the reality of the message to so many places.  It is the lives of these men and the traditions they brought forward that enable us to have a more than historical picture of the man, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

We have come to realize, as did this young Jesuit, that the truest treasure we have for understanding who Jesus was and the message he brought from the Father for all humankind can be found in the words and actions of The Twelve.  They were his closest friends.  They saw and experienced Jesus' work with sinners and saints.  These were those selected to hear from Jesus better than any others the meaning of his life on this earth among men.  Other messages can be found but none carry the authenticity of an apostolic experience with Jesus.

Thank you Mr. Kieras, SJ, wherever it is that you are bringing the message of the apostles to young men.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Twenty-fourth Week
Ordinary Time

Today's gospel account records for us a reminder about how we are called to live our lives.  Our way of  action should be built upon very real and very well defined principals.  We cannot be a people who find it important to preach one thing and then act differently.  

In the very real experience of Jesus' life, we see how people condemn John the Baptist for his austere life in the desert and his peculiar diet.  He was considered mad by a large number of people.   Then Jesus came among the same people.  His lifestyle has been described by some as convivial.  They said he was a glutton and a drunkard because he liked to be with people for meals.  He was also a man who associated with tax collectors, especially Matthew, and many other folks who were considered sinners.   It seems that the people wanted to have things both ways.

I selected the picture above because the buck that was in our school yard one morning has the look of an animal trying to decided how he should interpret what he sees ... me, shooting pictures not animals!

The way we live our lives speaks volumes to those who know us and have the opportunity to evaluate how we live our faith.  Do we condemn others because they might participate in activities we don't like or approve of?  Yet, at the same time might those same people stand apart from us, evaluating our own lifestyle they see that is not in conformity with the gospel we preach.

The primary option that we have is simple:  do we bring the teachings of Jesus into our lives and make them the modus operandi that drives our actions throughout the day?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Twenty-fourth Week
Ordinary Time

After Luke's version of a "Sermon on the Mount," he presents to us a moving scene that surely touches the hearts of all who have sympathy and compassion as a part of their makeup.  The story is a miracle moment for the community of Jesus followers.  It is a moment that is both deeply stirring as well as stunningly powerful.

The story:  a widow is confronted by a second loss in the death of her only son.  Apparently the death was much too early in the son's life.  Jesus comes upon the scene.  Being the man who knows in his heart that his own mother would shortly experience a similar moment, his heart must have been moved with great pity for this widow woman.  She is experiencing what Mary would face in her lifetime:  Joseph deceased and then her only son tortured and crucified at an early age.  Jesus' compassion and pity were so strong that he raised the dead young man from his bed of death to a new life.  Only if a parent has buried a child, can the impact of Jesus' action have its fullest impact.

What do we see besides Jesus' humanity at this most tender moment?  We can gather from these few moments in Jesus life that God is reaching out to a  woman in great need and pain through the actions of his only Son.  It well may be the beginning of the communities realization that Jesus is not only very intimate with God the Father but that he is one and the same God with the Father.

Today as we confront challenges to our life and take the time to call upon Jesus to come to our aid,  we are acknowledging the healing power that the earthly Jesus shared with his heavenly Father.  We call upon Jesus to be our strength, to be our help.

From the pool of life, if we look carefully, we will find that Jesus' compassion and help rise up for us to confront the world around us.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Twenty-fourth Week
Ordinary Time

The life of a Christian is marked by the challenge of faith.  I presume there is scarcely a day in a Christian's life that does not test one's faith.  Consider the experience of faith that the centurion exhibits in the account of St. Luke.  Seriously, place yourself in the experiences of that man.  Imagine yourself and your tax accountant.  Surely, if you have such assistance, you know this  person is very valuable to you  and your life.  This man or woman, your trust, will do all that is  possible and legal to save your every penny from a tax burden.  Mow put yourself on a March 31st.  You learn that the accountant confidant is injured seriously in a car accident.  What can you do?  No doubt you would probably say, "Good God what am I going to do now and what is the accountant going to do?"  At this moment could you easily put yourself before God and place everything of your life in his hands ... without seriously worrying about the future and your relationship with the IRS?

The exercise of one's faith is indeed an act that requires much strength.  Who is there among us who can give up an illusion of control?  Every act of faith is indeed a leap into the humanly unknown.

Perhaps during the moments that test our faith, we might remember St. Ignatius' prayer:

Take, Lord, and receive my liberty
my memory, my understanding
and my ENTIRE will,
All that I have and call my own
You have given to me.
Everything is yours.
Give me only your love, your grace,
possessing these is enough
for me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Twenty-fourth Sunday
Ordinary Time

Let us begin by rereading the words of the first verse of Sunday's first reading:  "The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear ... (Isaiah 50:5).  

Throughout the bible, especially in the  writings of the New Testament, there are several accounts of miraculous healings.  Blind men regain their sight; a deaf man hears and speaks again; possessed individuals have demons driven out of their lives; a hemorrhaging woman regains her health; dead adults and children are returned to life; countless hungry people are fed.  Each of these special moments has a special significance for the individual and the community as well as for Yahweh (OT) and Jesus Christ (NT).  Furthermore, all of these "healings' have a special meaning, a healing remedy for all of us today.

When we loo at a crucifix, whether it portrays a beaten and battered young man or a regal, risen Christ, Son of God, what we see is the reason or cause of God's being himself.  All of these events remind us and tell the whole of human kind that God is being God.  God is being who God is: God is love.  

So often, when healing someone, Jesus asks or commands the recipient of God's special favors to an action that will eventually bring that person to a"return."  "Just what is "a return"?  In short:  it is a return to wholeness, to being the full person that God intended from the eternity that person has been in the mind of God.

When Jesus spoke to the deaf man, he said "Be Open!"   In that moment Jesus was inviting that man to return to the fullness of his humanity.  God's wish, God's command was restoring to order the human being he had created.

So, Isaiah calls us to remember that God has healed everyone of us in one way or another.  God, through his Son, has healed our sin-infected souls with the grace of forgiveness, the grace of healing which enables us to be who and what God planned for us.

So what should we take from these words of Isaiah?  The answer lies in the answer to a simple question:  have I allowed that inner voice to open my inner ears when God speaks to me?  In the course of a single hour how many times, how many different ways does God use to capture my attention.  Imagine the people, events or thoughts in my mind God gives me as signs of what he wants me to hear, to do to be the creature he sent into this world of his.  An unexpected telephone call, a suddenly cancelled trip, the surprise visit of a friend, the arrival of an unexpected bill:  is God speaking to me in these events?

So, turn to Isaiah:  "The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear..."

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Exultation of the Holy Cross

Today's feast brings us back to the 4th century.  It was then that the practice of adoring the cross became a practice among Christians.  The feast is meant to remind us of the love that God has for each one of us and, as well, that His love was expressed in the sacrifice of his own life by Jesus.

Historical facts:  on the 14th of September, 326, during the reign of the Emperor Constantine, Helena, his mother, discovered the true cross while on a Jerusalem pilgrimage.  Historical notes indicate that the Cross was brought from within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre outside for the people to venerate the sacred object.  Mother and son had the church built to house the Cross.  In 627 the city of Jerusalem was conquered by the Persians.  A portion of the Cross was removed from the church by the victors.  Fourteen years later, Emperor Heraclius set out to recapture the missing portion of the cross.  After achieving his victory, the Emperor demanded the missing portion of the cross as part of the peace treaty.  The Cross was brought to Constantinople and then returned to Jerusalem, to Mt. Calvary, with much triumph.  The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Zachary, brought a halt to the procession about to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Heraclius was stunned by Zachary's action.  Why was he refused entrance?  All the trappings of triumphalism were so contrary to the condition in which Jesus was when he carried the Cross and on which he was crucified.  Immediately Heraclius removed all the misfitting trappings and entered the gateway that led to the site of the Crucifixion.  He carried the portion of the cross wearing the clothing of a poor man, a tunic and barefooted.  Many miracles took place on that day according to written accounts.

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.

Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.

So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Twenty-third Week
Ordinary Time

Should you now be able to download the readings -- seems to be blocked this AM -- the gospel for today is Luke 6:12-19.

When Jesus goes to pray, many times he has with him two groups of people: first, those who came to hear Jesus, who were committed to his teachings.  There were also those who have been designated as apostles.  These were those selected to continue the mission that Jesus had marked as his own effort to make known the will of the Father.  It was this group, The Twelve, who became the founders with Jesus of the new community.  Theirs was a special mission:  to them was given the original message to be preserved and spread among the nations.  The apostles were the beginnings of what we know today as the "teaching magisterium" of our Church.  In their hands rests the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of what Jesus taught, of what we find in the gospels that have been handed on to us.

The title, apostle, stretches from the founding days to us today.  Every baptised Christian is given the mission by God and Jesus with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to assure that others have the opportunity to come to know the message Jesus taught his first apostles.  Because of the sacrament of baptism, we have more than a duty to be hearers of the Word of God.  We are entrusted with the Word to be "doers of the Word."  We are charged with being teachers of the Word as well.

Today we are reminded again of our responsibility to know the message that Jesus taught and that has been subsequently taught to us by the teaching magisterium of our Church.  We are called to be active apostles in today's world where the message of Jesus is so clearly lacking in the Christian communities. We are true apostles when our lives are models of what Jesus called his first disciples to be.  It is what we say, how we act and the many relationships we build in our lives that are the means we make our lives truly apostolic.

So, it is through prayer, through knowing the Sacred Scriptures that we can live an apostolic life that touches others, that brings others into the abundance that God has promised to those who know him and live as he has called us to live.  Like the woman who had health issues and felt that she only had to touch Jesus' garment to be freed from the illness that impeded her life, we, too, have been taught to reach out and touch Jesus in our lives so that whatever "illness" inhibits our apostolic lives will be removed from our lives.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Twenty-Third Sunday
Ordinary Time

The picture.  What you can see from a house along the Chesapeake Bay.  It serves the thoughts that lie ahead.  Let the trees represent your ears.  Let the water coming into a little cove represent the Word of God that has been given to you.  In essence the question is this :  "Do you allow the Word of God come to you in any of the many ways that same Word comes to you throughout the course of each day of your life?"

The healing of the man who was deaf is performed by Jesus in a ritualistic way.  Jesus touches the ears of the deaf man and he puts spittle the man's toungue as well.  It very much represent the Sacrament of Baptism.  We know that sacrament when we believe that the person being baptized has his/her ears opened to hear the Word of God and his/her tongue loosened to speak the Word of God to others.  Yes, a part of the Sacrament of Baptism a willingness to open one's ears to hearing, to listening, to the words of Jesus Christ among others.  Likewise another expectation of the Sacrament is that the baptized person be willing to share the faith with others.

It is in this hearing and speaking that we can examine ourselves to look at whether we are good listeners and could speakers.  If asked about the level of their hearing and speaking abilities, there is no doubt in my mind that many would respond that they think they have heard enough with what they learned in school from study of the 99 questions in the Catechism.  These same folks would be the first to tell you they don't need to hear anything beyond that.  One could as if these same folks would use the same way of living with regard to the way they learn the value of the Sacred Scriptures.  What they heard years ago suffices today.  Yet, listen to the same folks who will tell you that everying they learned years ago is all they need to make their way to heaven.  These are the same folks who are the first to ascend the mighty chair of pontification, telling others how they should lead their livess.

Some others may be frightened at the very thought or suggestion that they have the ability to speak to others about their faith.  These folks in their fears do not realize what power Baptism has given them.  They do not realize the strength they have to help others who at heart are seeking to know more about Jesus than they know at any given time.

Our Baptism truly entrusts to us the need for our carrying the Word of God to others.  We can ask this question:  would the Church be in the challenging waters of today's world had most Catholics not pulled back from the mission to be preachers as well as hearers of the Word of God?    You know, Baptism is not a sacrament that established a private religion for each of us.  Baptism anoints all of us with the mission to carry to others the Word of God.

Our world today and the many in it are calling out to God for answers, for words of understanding.  God cannot be everywhere.  God must use the minds, hearts and skills of those who take the Sacrament of Baptism as a personal obligation to teach as well as to continue learning from the Sacred Scriptures.

So, all of us can question ourselves in regard to the way we listen and the way in which we speak about the words of Jesus Christ.   

Friday, September 7, 2012

22nd Week
Ordinary Time

St Luke's account of a particular moment in Jesus' life follows the thoughts that emerged at the end of yesterday's posting.  Allusion to Cardinal Martini's message from the grave, as it has been called in the Italian press, and the role of the prophet, become more pronounced in today's gospel.  Jesus has been challenged by the right wing of Jewish religion which is disturbed by the lifestyle of Jesus and his disciples.  Jesus' response is a presentation of a vision of religion which is new and changing.  Again for me it brings to mind the life in our Church since the days of Vatican II and the social revolution that challenged the world since the 1960s.  Jesus is speaking to those who are upset by the way he and the disciples do not adhere to the strict religious practices.  Jesus speaks of religious practice in a new way that confronts the Jewish style that is wrapped up in so many little "commandments" that dictate so much of the Jewish lifestyle.  Even the example of the new wine in old wine skins is a teaching that the old religion and its practices cannot be grafted on to the new way he proposes to the people.

In short, Jesus' new way present this to the people:  rituals and regulations vs. religion as an interior life, an interior spirit.  Of course this is not easy.  New wine does not have the smooth taste of a well seasoned wine, does it?  Yet, this is what Jesus is teaching.  This is why Christianity is difficult for some:  it's a new way, it's a new day that he is bringing to the people.  Perhaps this is why a man like Cardinal Martini wrote as he did.  He is very much the prophet for us today.  And, as in Old Testament days, there were not many prophets but those who were challenged the status quo.  The prophet is a unique individual who seems to have a unique relationship to God.  To the prophet the Spirit speaks in ways that call us to bring us to prayer and the willingness to open our hearts, minds and ears to the voice of God for us today.  Confronting the prophets of our times is not easy.  Yet it is necessary for us to hear the voice of those we might fear or consider to be somewhat "crazy."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

22nd Week 
Ordinary Time

Today's gospel presents one of the several versions of the first call of Jesus' disciples.  St. Luke offers a scene that is different from his evangelist colleagues.  Even geography seems to be a challenge to the memories of these writers:  for Luke the scene takes place on the shores of Lake Gennesaret; for the others related that the scene takes place at the Sea of Galilee.  Does it really matter?  Seemingly not.  What is important is that this an account of the beginning of what will eventually become the organization that was called The Twelve in the days before "Peter, on this rock I will build my Church."

What we might consider is this:  the symbolism in Jesus' actions.  Here at the seaside Jesus is actually starting the foundation of his Church.  In gospel teachings the boat is a symbol of the Church.  You may know the phrase, "the barque of Peter."  Jesus uses this moment to send Simon, a follower not yet called "Cephas" or "Peter", and his fishing buddies back out into the water to begin fishing again.  This time it will be different.  Where there had been no fish, there would now be abundance.  Some see Simon's response to Jesus as one of personal frustration:  we are fishermen, who is this man to tell us that we will now make a significant catch?  Jesus must have had a definite magnetism for this tired fishermen to push out from the shore and then to re-drop their nets.  Perhaps we might take this scene and Jesus' teaching as what is similar to experiences in our Church in the modern age.  The Church's teachings that put believers at odds with the various doctrines result in words similar to Simon's:  what does a body of celibates know about the various realities that impact the lives of husbands and wives?

At the same time, our Church, our contemporary "barque of Peter," sails in waters that are buffeted by the waves created by contemporary men and women who speak out from positions that are contrary to the teachings that have lasted for many centuries.  These voices of opposition are considered the calls of modern prophets, summoning the Church to think in different ways not different, perhaps, that the challenges put before us by Church's leadership as a result of the most recent Church Council, Vatican II.
Just a few days ago, God called home to himself a unique man of the Church, Cardinal Carlo Martini, SJ.  This Jesuit biblical scholar, when appointed to be the Archbishop of Milan, began an interesting and new mission for himself and the Church.  Cardinal Martini died several days ago.  His teachings did not end with his death.  He continued to challenge the Church's leadership from the grave.  He had prepared material for publication after his death.  It is truly a body of thinking that can be easily pushed aside as the work of an old, sickly man.  Or "last will and testament" to the Church might be a cause for serious thinking, considerations in very rough seas.  The man who weekly filled the Milan Cathedral every Friday during his tenure in Milan, called the Church leaders to examine again its positions, its teachings on genuine "hot button" issues such as homosexuality, divorce.  In short, it seems to me, that our Church is being called by a deeply spiritual man, a gifted scripture scholar, to examine issues that deeply impact the lives of so many men and women ... those standing on the shore facing today's Church.  This quiet man entered the last conclave with the support of a number of Cardinals.  However, he knew that there were health issues that would prevent his full attention to the work as Roman Pontiff.  He informed those present for the Conclave that he would not accept any effort that would lead to his election as Pope to succeed Pope John Paul II. (These "facts" about his actions at the Concalve are assumed to be true as they were shared post-election by the Cardinal himself.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Twenty-Third Week
Ordinary Time
1 Cor 2: 10b-16
Luke 4:31-37
Path to Holiness

In today's first reading Paul's words are an effort to teach what it is that enables a believer to be a truly spiritual person.  To begin we must understand or accept the fact that a personal spirituality grows in a properly motivated person's life through the desire to live a good life and to be open to the graces offered by and through the Holy Spirit.  Note Paul's insight:  "... the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God."  Because of this gift of knowing the depths of God, the Holy Spirit can fully reveal what it is that  God wants for each person who seeking to know the will of God.

It seems reasonable to believe that some folks, seeking to know the depths of their own being, have to first know the love of God showered upon humankind.  Indeed, a truly spiritual believer is free from the world's efforts to distract that he/she does understand the gifts of the Spirit.

Among the challenges put before us each day is to separate movements of the Spirit from the distractions of the world so that we can discern the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit.  Paul teaches that it is not necessarily the quantity of accumulated knowledge that opens the person to God and a genuine spirituality.  It is, rather, the ability to discern when and how the Holy Spirit is offering us a moment of spiritual purpose in our lives.  The challenge, then, is to be able to recognize the Holy Spirit moments.  Ours must be an effort of "hear" the Holy Spirit speaking to us in whatever manner a "grace" is presented to the human heart.  As the depths of a person's awareness of him/herself deepens, there comes the gift or talent of understanding that special presence in the moment when grace is offered to us.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day
St. Gregory the Great
September 3, 2012

In the USA attention is drawn to two major events: historically, the Labor Movement in the country; currently, the beginning of the second political nominating convention.  These being of some interest to many, let me turn our focus to a man many may know by name more than for any other reason.

Pope St. Gregory the Great was an extraordinary man, civil servant of rank who became monk, priest and ultimately Roman Pontiff.  To present his life in a few paragraphs is impossible.  I spent a good part of Sunday evening reading the Catholic Encyclopedia's information about the man's life.  For me it was truly the first time that I had delved into many aspects of the saint's life.

It is remarkable that Pope St. Gregory was an accomplished man of extraordinary talents that he used to carry out the works of whatever office he held be it civil or religious.  In the encyclopedia article about the saint the authors not that Gregory was "not a man of profound learning, not a philosopher ... hardly a theologian."  It was during his administration that "the varied populations of Italy looked to the pope for guidance, and Rome as the papal capital continued to be the centre of the Christian world."  As a theologian, Gregory was not one who initiated new movements or methods.  Rather the ability as an administrator enabled him to put together summaries of the writings of the earlier "Fathers" of the Church.

Perhaps this posting offers little for prayer.  However, it is my hope that you have some inking of the man who did have a significant role in our Church.  Click on the information link about to read about how one man labored excessively for the state and the Church in his career.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Seeing and Observing

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 2, 2012

Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 6-8
James 1:17-18
Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23

The three readings present a pathway to God that , unfortunately, is more frequently overlooked or misunderstood in our world today.  For centuries these particular readings have lain hidden from an understanding that offers a great treasure.  Imagine the almost countless sermons, reflections and homilies that have seemingly missed sentiments that could make the life of a faithful Christian so much stronger and rewarding.  Hidden in these three readings is the effort of the authors to teach what Moses and Jesus consider what faith truly is.  Faith is a powerhouse of energy that enables true believers to give expression by actions to what it is that we profess as our belief.  One unnamed writer has put this idea forward in a simple, to the point, sentence: "Faith is a verb." This writer for Grace Works publications has discovered what he considers to be a reality that is at "the very core of the Bible."

A prayerful reading of any part of the Bible as well as taking the time to make certain that any doubtful words are looked up in a good dictionary will teach "action over thinking."  Those who have preached and taught over the last several centuries thar hinking, discussing and pondering about God will make all of us models of genuine Christianity.  Popes, Bishops and priests, in our roles as teachers of the faith have more often than not focused on thinking as the "open Sesame" to understand our faith.   Faith become an object to be studied.  For most Christians -- we Catholics are Christians --faith is the file drawer of the many tenets of our belief.

The Bible is more than a collection of theologies for Christian Studies.  What we have overlooked so often is truly a treasury that is simple, far from complex.  In the readings for this Sunday the inspiration of the Holy Spirit must not be mistaken or overlooked.

In the Book of Deuteronomy -- a closing presentation from the great leader of the Jewish nomads -- the writer recalls words from Moses:  Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe ...."  Most readers or hearers interpret the verb "observe" to mean "to see, to ponder, to watch."  Yet, how few are there who first consider the word to signify another action, "to observe."  In paying taxes, for example, you and I "observe" a federal regulation.  Or, you might say that you observe our birthday.  Moses was preaching this to the Jews with him something more important than simply knowing the "commandments of the Lord."  Moses was, rather, teaching this message: "... keep the commandments I have entrusted to you....  Live these commandments of God."

St Mark was well-aware of the root of Moses' commands "to observe" meaning "to live" the commandments given from God.  In Jesus' words, "From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts ...."  Nothing from outside can defile."  Jesus, to be sure, was quite clear:  taking into our hearts the words of God, and simply observing them through rituals of faith to the letter pales in comparison to living out the faith we profess.