Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday, 8th Week, Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Read carefully or listen attentively to the words in Sirach's writings.  While written to the people in Israel, especially around Jerusalem, about 190 BC, the message or the sentiments fit our contemporary scenes.

These words from Ben Sirach are somewhat strange for his general themes.  Here we can hear words of prayer beseeching God to protect his people.  The prayer is a communal petition to provide strength over the nations who have attacked the Jewish people.

There are moments in our lives when we may share the same sentiments that the Jewish people held in their hearts, emotions that brought them to pray especially for God care.  They are especially mindful of the attacks other nations and tribes have brought about. 

This prayer easily could be the voice of our Church calling out to God in times when it is so evident that the Evil Spirit has worked so much havoc in our times.  It is a prayer that each of us could offer for the Church and those who seek to strengthen the Church to be the instrument in the global community that the Holy Spirit seeks to bring about for the Father and the Son.

This prayer stands as a witness that believers can look upon their situations and easily turn to their creator God with confidence.

Let this prayer be a source of support and confidence for all of us in this 21st century.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday, 8th Week, Ordinary Time

In the gospel for today's liturgy, we encounter again a reminder of the challenge that exists for so many of our brother and sister Christians:  the sense the we have to accumulate in order to be who we think we should be.

An Irish Jesuit tells the following story to illustrate what true love, the willingness to give to others, to desire to share what has been given to us.

A rich man was concerned about his future salvation, would he ‘go to heaven’ or not. In order to motivate him, he asked God to be given a preview of heaven and hell. God agreed. God said that they would first pay a visit to hell. When they got there the man was greatly surprised. He was brought into a sumptuous dining room of a large Chinese restaurant all decorated in red and gold. In the centre was a large round table and on it were the most exotic and delicious dishes one could imagine. Around the table were seated the diners. They were the most miserable-looking group one could imagine, all sitting there motionless and in silence just looking at the beautiful food in front of them. The reason for their glumness was that they had been given chopsticks which were three feet long! There was no way they could get any of the food into their mouths. And they were going to sit there like that for eternity. That was hell!

God then brought the man to heaven. Again he was amazed. Because they were in an identical Chinese banqueting room, with the same kind of table and the same wonderful food. But everybody was in the highest spirits. The sound of laughter rang out everywhere. They were really enjoying themselves and the meal. Was this because they had the normal length of chopsticks? No! They also had three-foot chopsticks but here everyone was reaching out food to people on the opposite side of the table. And that was heaven.

Perhaps this will help us to reflect upon our own journey to the promised land.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday -- 2013

When gathered together in the place we often designate as the "upper room," the disciples heard much from Jesus, especially during what was to be their final meal together.  The gospel reading today is a part of the "final discourse" or farewell remarks to the dedicated followers.   This is the Evangelist John's account of the Last Supper.  It is different from the recollections of the other gospel writers' history of this most significant dinner among the apostles.  So let us move on to consider what John perceives as so important in what Jesus says.  For certain, Jesus instructs his colleagues that what and who he is and what his message and mission are meant to be are not learned or understood in just a few departing thoughts.  His who I am and what his message is require some time for prayerful consideration.

What Jesus gives to Peter and his band of friends is the key to understanding the future for them and ultimately for the Church that Jesus founded.  For them and for us today grasping all that Jesus is goes beyond the graces of our Baptisms and Confirmations.  To believe that we "get the message" from just a few chapters of a catechism is simply to fool ourselves.  Trinity Sunday with all its mystery and complexity should remind us that never in this lifetime will we fully comprehend the mystery of who God is, who his Son is and who the gift of the Holy Spirit is.

It is the Holy Spirit, our Advocate from God, who will interpret for us what God is saying through Jesus.  It is the same Advocate who seeks to open for us the message Jesus brings to us from the Father.

This sacred threesome, as we consider them with our finite, human minds, is what has been called a "faithful guiding presence."  At times we say that we are going to seek God's presence in our lives.  The reality is this:  God is always present in our lives.  Regardless of any situation we might interpret as needing God's presence, we should not forget that our God, this Trinity we celebrate today, has never been apart from us.  God is simply and powerfully ever present to us.  It is our challenge to be of such a mindset that we never fail to realize that God is always with us.

God is present to us as teacher.  Isn't this the role that Jesus considered such an important part of his life on this earth?  Teaching us the Father's will for us has been and continues to be the role of Jesus bringing us the work of God among us.  If we follow Jesus through prayer and study, we are guided by God presence among us as a unique teacher.

While this feast should remind us is that the Trinity, through the Holy Spirit, is a guiding listener.  As Jesus told the disciples:  "He [the Holy Spirit] will speak whatever he hears and will declare to you the things that are to come."  Just as Jesus is the voice of the revelation of the Father, it is the Holy Spirit who signals to us how we are to follow Jesus in our lives.

Also we come to know, through this mystery of the Trinity, that God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit as a guiding advocate.  Remember what Jesus said: "When the Advocate come, he will testify on my behalf."  It is the Holy Spirit who proclaims to others on our behalf that we belong to Jesus.  It is the Holy Spirit who claims you and me as belonging to Christ Jesus.  The Holy Spirit enables us to give clarity to others who we are when we say that we are followers of Jesus Christ.

Trinity Sunday is but once a year.  Yet do we not celebrate the Trinity every day of the year?  We do every time we proclaim we are praying or doing works "In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  It is this Holy Spirit we celebrate today that guides us each day as we walk our journey of faith, our experience of knowing and loving God.   

So let us not forget each day that this Holy Trinity is a "guiding presence, a guiding teacher, a guiding listener and a guiding advocate" for us.  The Trinity if our Faithful Guide.  How much stronger our faith can be if we maintain this theme in our daily lives especially each time we invoke the Trinity in our prayer.  (NB this theme is the work of GraceWorks, a homiletic service.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday, Seventh Week, Ordinary Time

A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain a friend, first test him,
and be not too ready to trust him.
For one sort is a friend when it suits him,
but he will not be with you in time of distress.
Another is a friend who becomes an enemy,
and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you.
Keep away from your enemies;
be on your guard with your friends.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price,
no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy,
such as he who fears God finds;
For he who fears God behaves accordingly,
and his friend will be like himself.
Sirach 6:5-17

Surely today's first reading contains true wisdom.  Ben Sirach has done the world a great favor but, if many were asked what Ben has done for humanity, few would recall or even say they knew about his advice for each child of God.

What is friendship?  Interesting question is today's world.  Perhaps something most human beings take for granted.  What is it that allows some women and men to form significant friendships?  On one person's spiritual journey, why should it matter how many friends he/she has?

Ben Sirach was gifted with the graces of the Holy Spirit, seemingly an abundance of wisdom. Why?  He seemed to know how to describe what true friendship is.  Likewise he seems to have known other kind of friendships as well:  those friendships that were not founded on true wisdom.

Today's reading is one that might well be copied and read often.  A colleague  in a previous assignment told me how much wisdom she gathered from the Bible which she wrote out by hand over a two year period.  These words in the first reading today might well be a writing exercise of us today especially in light of the "abundance" of social communications that take up so much of many peoples' lives.

The challenge I put before you today is for you to take some time during the summer holidays which we traditional "kick off" on this Memorial Day weekend.

Are you a parent, a grandparent, an uncle or aunt or already a true friend to a young woman or man who will be receiving a diploma during the next few weeks?  Are you looking for a unique gift for that grad?  Consider writing out these words of wise man Ben and frame them.  Could there be a more meaningful gift?  Once the money gift is spent, it is forgotten.  But these words on friendship, framed and presented, can become a beacon that transforms a young life; a protection for someone stepping out into the world on his/her own; a constant reminder to the grad of your genuine care.  You have given the gift that save countless hours of confusion, loss and pain by giving the keys to one of God's greatest gifts to each of us:  the ability to find a true friend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday, 7th Week of Ordinary Time

(Especially the first reading)

Today consider Ben Sirach's words and insights aboutd the treasure house of wisdom and her many giftds tous.  Verses 11-19, I believe, can open up for each person directions to a happy and peace-filled life.  Here are a few insights that I suggest you ponder.

Those who love her (wisdom) love life;
Those who seek her out win the Lord's favor.
Sirach 4:12

Come Holy Spirit, open you gift of wisdom for me!

"If they remain faithful, they will possess me;
their descendants too will inherit me."
Sirach 4:16

Come, Holy Spirit my ability to live out my resolutions.

"I will walk with them in disguise, and at first I will
test them with trails."
Sirach 4:17

Come, Holy Spirit, impart your gift of understanding, 
that I might know when, where and how you seek to lead me
 and give to me your gift of fortitude 
that I may be strong in facing the trials that I confront each day.

And may the Holy Spirit come to the aid 
of the people of Oklahoma
in their days of trial
and pain.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy 25th Anniversary

My Pastor

Fr. Jeff Defayette

the first Associate Pastor
assigned to work with me 
while I was a Pastor

the 25th Anniversary 
of his priestly ordination

Tuesday, May 21, 2013.


Our best wishes 
to you and your Mom, Jane,
for whom 
this is so special a day
in each of your lives.

Continue to bring yourself
to the God
who extended the invitation to you
to share in the priesthood gift
of Jesus Christ.

Ad Multos Annos

[The Daily Reflection is separately posted below.]

Tuesday, 7th Week of Ordinary Time

"Wait on God with patience, cling to him, forsake him not.
Thus will you be wise in all your ways."
Sirach 2:4

Trust God and God will help you;
trust in him, and he will direct your way; ...
Sirach 2:6

... and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.
Sirach 2:11

Read these verses without speed reading ... and with more than simply glancing.  Buried in these words and thoughts of Ben Sirach is a genuine invitation to most Americans today ... the invitation to get off the American roller coaster and opt for a bench before a flower garden.

We know that we are not a patient people.  Personally, I blame the computer for my own inability to pause and let God speak to me in ways that challenge my patience.  Are you a patient person?  The wonder machines of today's technology have infected most lives and prevent patience from become and remaining a principle operative in life.

As summer begins, let the days and weeks ahead be marked by an effort to make patience a part of life. Why?  Simply because ... because ... because in is one of the keys to genuine wisdom.  Remember wisdom?  A gift of the Holy Spirit.

Ben Sirach was a man of peaceful wisdom.  Although life will always be an experience with its trials, nevertheless, we should not distance ourselves from God.  Life in the God-lane --- very different from the fast lane the millenials and ourselves will always require perseverance, loyalty and patience.

Our sage, Ben, says three times "Fear the Lord."  He is not asking us to be afraid.  Far from that, he invites us, he encourages us to surrender ourselves to God with genuine fealty.  Do that, he would say, and you will never experience an absence of God's presence in your life.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Monday, 7th Week of Ordinary Time

Today we return to Ordinary Time.  Perhaps our last day in Ordinary time may seem to have been months, months ago..  That may give us some inkling how swiftly time flashes by when we are busy or have been occupied in our work ... and hopefully in our prayer.

"To grow in Christ is to grow in wisdom" is a remark that most would accept.  This particularly true on the day after Pentecost Sunday.  What lies between today and the beginning of the next major Church season of Advent is the green fields of Ordinary Time.

These months are a time for us to decide how much wisdom we recognize as needy in each of our lives.  The summer will pass swiftly.  Begin now to look at what might be good for us to embark upon during these days ahead.  How will I seek to strengthen the wisdom God has already given?

Now is the time to consider some spiritual reading for the summer.  Perhaps we might even embark upon a time to engage in some serious daily readings of the writings in the Bible.  If we seriously take time to grow in Christ, our friend, our Lord, as we did during the Lenten season, we will naturally grow in wisdom.  To do this demands that we plan our strategy through prayer.  Again the more we engage Jesus in prayer, the stronger does our ability to grow in wisdom happen.

All wisdom comes from the LORD
and with him it remains forever, and is before all time
The sand of the seashore, the drops of rain,
the days of eternity: who can number these?
Heaven’s height, earth’s breadth,
the depths of the abyss: who can explore these?
Before all things else wisdom was created;
and prudent understanding, from eternity.
The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom
and her ways are everlasting.
To whom has wisdom’s root been revealed?
Who knows her subtleties?
To whom has the discipline of wisdom been revealed?
And who has understood the multiplicity of her ways ?
There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring,
seated upon his throne:
There is but one, Most High 
all-powerful creator-king and truly awe-inspiring one,
seated upon his throne and he is the God of dominion.
It is the LORD; he created her through the Holy Spirit,
has seen her and taken note of her.
He has poured her forth upon all his works,
upon every living thing according to his bounty;
he has lavished her upon his friends.

Pentecost Sunday 2013

Today's Readings

Today, is a special day in my life.  On my ordination day, June 3rd, in 1972, I celebrated my first Mass.  In that year it was the feast of Pentecost.  Consequently Pentecost has had a significance for me throughout the 41 years I have celebrated Mass on this feast day.

Today, in 2013, let me ask myself as well as yourselves, if this feast day has significance and what would it be.  My thoughts a filled with wonder.   I wonder what might happen if on this feast day the Holy Spirit were to come down upon all of us with all of God’s power?  Have you ever given this notion time for wonder-thinking?

Recall this:  the Jewish people had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Shavuot.  It is the feast that commemorates and “celebrates the revelation of the Five Books of the Torah (or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible) by God to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.” (Wikipedia)

While in Jerusalem, the disciples gathered alone, in private, still in fear of Jewish soldiers being ordered to jail them for interrogation, like Jesus endured.    It while they were sequestered from the crowd, the Holy Spirit came to bring about an incredible reality.  We live in the consequences of that moment even today.  For those devout followers of Jesus this became for them a day of transformation.  No longer were they simply a band of Jesus-followers.  In this event these believers became the Church of Jesus Christ, the risen Son of the Father.

For you and me it is an event or moment that is ratified by our Confirmation, when we fully embrace the Catholic Church.  It is the day when we move into a new way of life and being ... if we allow the Spirit to enter our lives.  It is the day when the Church came to life for the apostles and humanity.  Today celebrate this moment by a genuine conversation with God.  Let the readings for today give you material to strengthen your conversation with the Holy Spirit.

Recall the gifts you may have received during the days of the just concluded Novena to the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 10, 2013


The link just above will afford us both a reflection
and novena prayers for the
Novena to the Holy Spirit.

I encourage you to join with me in
embarking on and continuing to the end
this novena to the Holy Spirit.

May your intention during this novena
be brought to fulfilment in your life 
in the near future.  Regular postings 
on Prayer on the Hill
will resume on Pentecost Sunday.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Come Holy Spirit ... 10 Days

Only ten days remain before we celebrate Pentecost.  Tomorrow begins the novena of prayer to help us, I pray, in our appreciation of Jesus' gift to us.  In the gospel today Jesus is playing with the disciples. "A little while and I am gone ... a little while later I will return before I go to the Father so that your hearts will experience true happiness."  These might be the words that help us have a better appreciation of Jesus' love for us, his friends.

In some churches and in most Trappist monasteries there is a lighted candle signifying Jesus is present in the Eucharist, housed in a tabernacle.  But in some cases the is a burning candle near the usually opened Bible.  Why?  This book contains the very words of Jesus as well as inspired writings of poets and prophets.  Jesus is  present to us in his words and through the Holy Spirit is present to us in the words of the other bible writers.

Consider this: does reading the bible have any meaning for you, especially if you are alone?  But consider this: if you watch a particular TV program regularly in conjunction with several friends or just one other person, don't you experience a closer relationship with those friends or that other person?  You know that you are watching the same show and that you have something in common.  You have a topic for regular conversation. You have your thoughts about the same program which you can share with one another.

So,too, with a daily reading of the bible.  Think of this:  many people read this and other blogs each day and are led to the Holy Spirit for greater clarity of what Jesus taught.  Even more rewarding are  conversations that might result if you have others who do the same readings.

Daily reading of the bible tied in with some shared reflections can become a cause for deeper personal experiences of joy.  How wonderful is the reality that my reading Sacred Scripture brings me closer to others seeking the same goal:  Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pentecost Prep

As we draw closer to the feast of Pentecost, we have another gospel to remind us that Jesus wanted the disciples to understand as best as they could that the will of the Father would always offer challenges to the thinking mind.  Likewise Jesus, again as a true friend will not leave them or humanity without the means of knowing God's will.  An advocate, a teacher, will be the Father's and his gift for all to know the Father's will for us.

We will celebrate the day of Jesus' Ascension on Sunday rather than tomorrow here in the Archdiocese of Washington (DC).  We, all the Church, will arrive at the Pentecost celebration on the 19th of May.

We can use these days, regardless of when the feast of the Ascension is celebrated, to continue to reflect on the reality of our own faith challenges.  As we know, since the Holy Spirit was given to all of us, our world continues to offer us challenges to the vast wisdom Jesus and our Church has given to us as the treasure house of our faith.

I invite you during these days to examine how you have used the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit into your faith life.  Remember this when you make this examination: my faith is the relationship between me and my God.  My religion is Roman Catholicism.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wonder of Faith

What St. Luke offers in the first reading is truly a cause for us to wonder, to marvel at what might seem impossible or just a made up story by the Evangelist.  It is, however, an event in the lives of St. Pau and Silas that should help us consider the role of works in our daily experiences:  the works of service to others.

how often do we hear from other the impact upon their lives when they sacrifice time in their daily schedule to give their time in whatever way possible to those who might be "imprisoned" by circumstances in their lives.  How many times have others come to us with the troubles?  How many times has their need become for a heartfelt need to reach out with the charity?  How often have these moments of "interference" become moments of profound awareness of the presence of the Advocate, Holy Spirit?  Take a moment to recall a time when  someone's need takes your attention and makes it lead you to helping that individual?

So often  someone who does "impose" upon another's time, is the voice of the Holy Spirit.  It is the call to deeper faith awareness in your.  Why is it that someone who does give of his/her free time to answer another's needs almost always say "I feel so good after helping in that time of another's need."?  Why?  Well, this man's heart the answer is simple:  the Holy Spirit has led a person to another experience of God's reward to someone who has helped another.  It is the realization that Jesus' command has been fulfilled: "Love one another as I have loved you."

When your daily routine is challenged by another's need, stop for a moment and realize what is happening:  the Holy Spirit is knocking at your door!  Like St.Paul who opted not to escape immediately, will you make room in your life to help someone just as Paul chose to attend to the prison guard who was considering taking his own life.  His decision led to a remarkable moment.  The prison guard realized he was dealing with more than one reality:  Paul's charitable concern reflected the power of God in Paul's life.  Every time you step out of your programmed existence to help someone else, you are accepting an invitation to the goodness and joy of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

And Who Are You?

Today's Readings

Today's readings speak to us again of God's love for us and the need we have to love one another.  We live in an era when criticism of others can be found in great abundance.  So often we cite the difficulties between the several political factions that exist.  Likewise we can easily cite the criticisms of individual politicians.  There is a radio station in DC broadcasting so much negativity from early in the morning even until the evening hours.  There is a cable TV station that is no different.

As I read the words of the two readings, I find the summons to understanding, patience and trust so opposite to what we experience.  The first reading surely reminds us that God sent his son to save all humanity not just special people.  Our challenge is to do our part to accept all of the people who live on the face of the earth because they are children of God.

As our world becomes more and more proficient in technology, the more and more we lose proficiency in dealing with our brothers and sisters, don't we?

Let us examine our lives today.  Do I harbor a dislike or even hatred toward others because they do not conform to my ways of thinking and acting?  Do I fail to show others decent, human respect even though I might not agree with them?

Let us pray today for the grace of acceptance ... acceptance of all God's children.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Worker, Joseph

While it is a feast day that calls to mind the foster father of Jesus, your friend and mine, the husband of Mary, what also caught my attention somehow or other related to the vine and the branches gospel, is the reality that it is May 1st.  Already 4 months of this year have passed.  Wow!

I began to question my spiritual journey thus far in the year.  How strong am I in my being attached to God, to Jesus?  This has brought me to consider how closely Jesus and Joseph must have been to each other.  For thirty years Jesus knew one man as an earthly father.  Day after day, especially in the place where Joseph plied his trade as a carpenter with Jesus learning from him.  Imagine all of the various items that Jesus must have made during those years.  Consider what price a table would bring if it had survived all these years with the awareness that it was Jesus made.

Again the vine and branches story calls each of us to look at the relationship we can have with God if we but give some time each day to be with him, just as Jesus was with Joseph.  

Keep it short, I hear often when speaking about homilies or sermons.  Myself the son of an excellent cabinet maker, I learned from my father and my grandfather to be careful in using God's gifts ... namely the good wood that would be used for exquisite cabinetry.  Good wood is expensive ... more so today than fifty years ago when I worked each summer in the shop.  But no cabinet was as good as the labor that made the item "shine."  

So, too, in our relationship with God.  Get to the point.  Use the best of who you are and the skills that God gave you to be what he wants you to be.  Every day use the very best to make your life as one of God's chosen ones:  prayer, reading sacred scripture, participating in the Eucharist.  These are the tools and the wood that you and I can use to create what God has been willing to give to us.  Be a St. Joseph.  Let your work bring praise to the Creator God.