Saturday, May 31, 2014

Celebration of the Ascension of Jesus Christ

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

My work continues in Millsboro with my brother.  Please pray that he regains the strength in his body.  His muscles are so weak after so many days in bed.  We are making progress but it will take some time for him to stand for more than a few seconds.  I am back in Lanham for two days before returning to being his nurse during these days of his life and mine.


Today as we consider the Ascension of the Lord, we are given a unique moment between the day of Resurrection and Pentecost to reflect on the activities of the Apostles and other disciples. Let me suggest thinking about the time between the Ascension and Pentecost.  Contemplate with me, if you will, about what was going on in that upper room that was located "one Sabbath's day walk."  The Jewish law was that walking more than 1000-2000 yards was restricted.  However, the rabbis proposed having food to eat at the far distance and calling that spot a 'domicile.' So the frequently mentioned "upper room" must have been very close to the temple in Jerusalem.  A group of some 20 people gathered in the upper room after the Ascension event.  They were directed by the Christ to gather there in prayer.  

Try to imagine that you were able to see into that room as they prayed and shared their thoughts.  For us today, perhaps we might imagine how Peter must have felt.  Suddenly he nightly aware of his new responsibilities as he alone is now the leader of the Apostles and disciples and the growing Church.  This is Peter, the sinner.  The one who had denied he was a friend of Jesus.  This was Peter who failed to recognize Jesus on occasion.  The Peter who spoke back to Jesus who was speaking about the two faces on a coin.  Imagine how he must have felt now as all of his friends looked to him as the new leader but who also had experienced Peter's failures!

Have you ever taken on a new position in your place of employment?  If that has happened to you, how did you feel when someone may have half-heartedly teased you about the different weaknesses you had shown before your promotion!

Also in that room were the brothers, James and John.  Remember their stupidity or genuine human weakness?  "We want to sit on your right and left in your new kingdom."  And how many times have we express desires for one thing or another that we really should not have asked for.  The two brothers must have thought about that moment now that the Apostles were on their own in the new Church.

Of course Mary, his mother was there that day.  What must she have thought?  Surely she was aware the He had a very unique and singular vocation.  But how easy is it for a mother to lose her son?

About each of us?  Walk back to that upper room.  Know the others don't see you.  But listen as they talked and prayed about their future and the hope that the promised Holy Spirit would be for them.  What runs through your heart and mind as you try to imagine what it would be like to have seen Jesus taken up to heaven and you are left to be on your own?  How do you feel you have succeeded or failed in the mission God has given to you?

Again, please let us pray for each other during these days before the Holy Spirit's Pentecost is commemorated in our Church and hopefully in our lives.  What is it that the Holy Spirit is asking of you now.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Oops! What An Error!

No one said a word after my parish Mass.  Surely the absence from the day to day life in parish while playing nurse Milt for my brother really threw me a curve ball:  Pentecost is TWO  Sundays ahead of us!   Wow!  What an error!   So, humiliated, I confess my stupidity.  However, how wonderful to do some advance press for the Holy Spirit!  That gospel for today was the curve ball put up before me. As well as the first reading!  Too many early references to the Holy Spirit in today's set of readings!  I hope my carelessness has become a means of stirring up some interesting the presence of the Holy Spirit in you lives!

Never so embarrassed!

Fr. Milt

Just 8 Day Before ...

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

It is a genuine few moments of thanks that I have returned to my "home" here in Lanham for 24 hours.   I return to be with my St. Matthias Family that I truly miss now that I am helping my brother in his illness in Delaware.  Let me assure any of you who are or have been a nurse or caretaker for the sick and needy, never have I appreciated your vocation as much as I do now that I have been working these past several weeks with my brother in his difficult days of recuperation.  Thankfully his illness and incapacitation have reduced his excessive weight by almost 100 pounds!  We are praying and trying now through physical therapy to enable him to stand on his feet once again.  It is so encouraging to find him sitting bedside with his legs dangling to the floor as he does special exercises -- all of this around 6:30 AM each morning.  He is determined to be walking very soon.   I continue to rely upon your prayers for his improvement and the ability to do what we take for granted:  putting feet on the floor and advancing them forward without even thinking about what a gift walking can be!  Now to the Sunday reflection.

6th Sunday of Easter

When we awoke to a bright sunrise this morning, was there any awareness that we are fast approaching the celebration of Pentecost?  Surely if we were only one week away from another special day, we might think or say to others: "only one more week and we celebrate special day."  Do we think or say today:  Just 8 days before we celebrate  the day when Jesus, risen from the dead said:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you
another Advocate to be with you always.
John 14:16

For Jesus it was not sufficient that he would come upon our earth and live with the community of believers in Jerusalem and other smaller towns and cities.  He had the strong desire to empower us with an Advocate of power, a Counselor or, as we might say, a prized stand-in for himself and our Creator Father.  This Holy Spirit is "Another Advocate."  Take note:  we should not forget Jesus' promise that the gift of the Holy Spirit is additional assistance, counsel and strength for us.  Jesus was well aware of the challenges, the temptations, the world would throw before us, the work of the Evil Power.   Jesus did not want anyone of us to be left abandoned, without a real power to overcome whatever would separate us from himself and the Father.  He did not want anyone of us to walk through life as one abandoned, as an orphan.

This is the gift we celebrate next Sunday.  Today I bring this forward so that we might say to ourselves: "Just 8 days more and we commemorate the gift of power, the treasure of the Holy Spirit."
And so ... during this week ahead including today during at least one of the times you might visit with  the Wonderful World of Wisdom (www!!!), google Prayer to the Holy Spirit and recite the prayer Catholics have recited to the Holy Spirit for centuries:

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
And kindle in them the fire of your love;
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
and You will renew the face of the earth.

Likewise you might share in the gift  promised to the people of Belgium by their famous Cardinal Mercier which is a secret of sanctity and happiness.  Take 5 minutes each day, quiet your probably very busy imagination, close your eyes to everything visible (don't do this while driving or cooking!!!) and your ears to all eternal sounds and withdraw  into the sanctuary of your baptized soul which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Once there, speak to the Holy Spirit:

Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore you.
Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me.
Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it.
I promise to submit to everything that
you ask of me and to accept all that you allow
to happen to me.  Just show me what is your will

Oremus pro Invicem!

Fr. Milt

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Gift of Peace

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

First, I ask again for you prayers for my brother who returned to the hospital last Friday.  Today he will undergo a colonoscopy to determine the cause of some internal bleeding.  Of course Jack is concerned that the procedure could lead to serious issues, like cancer.  However, he continues to remain silent, quietly allowing the medical profession to care for him and for his family and friends to continue their prayers for God's intervention into his life at this time.

Now to the reflection for today:  in the gospel today we hear Jesus speaking of his promise to guarantee peace to each of us.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid ...."

How frequently we encounter these words of Jesus!  I feel the need to ask myself at this time of great turmoil in my heart because my brother is going through seemingly unending health issues:  when will God's peace be restored to my brother and to those of us who help him physically as well as through the spiritual world of intercessory prayer on his behalf?  What is this peace that we are seeking?

It is an internal awareness that God is the person in control.  It is accepting the reality that God is using this seemingly non-ending journey through suffering and pain to bring us to understand what His peace means for us.

I do believe God give each of us an invitation to find in the sufferings and other such trials in our lives the opportunity to engage in very personal and quiet prayer with Jesus Christ.  It is in these moments with Jesus, our brother, who suffered so much for me, that we need the graces of the Holy Spirit to have hearts and minds that are open to the voice of God that we encounter.

Let the pains and frustrations we encounter each day become the key that opens our hearts to learn my clearly what God's mission in this life is for each of us.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Monday, May 12, 2014

Trusting God's Presence

From the Millsboro Hermitage

From the newspapers, the TV and radio, and on many of the worlds blogs and social media, we are reminded of how low humanity can sink.  Human beings stealing young women and placing them in horrific penal situations where their bodies and minds are raped.  This occurring in the modern world.  This when our various societies have hope to advance to a level when human life was not considered as something cheap, something than can be taken from families.

Surely the families of the more than 300 young women who have been stolen and hidden from the world in a state of abuse and fear must have thought the words of Jacob in the Old Testament.   Recall that his son Joseph, the youngest of 12 sons, had been captured and dropped in a deep hole in the earth because his brothers did not like him; brothers who were envious because he had been favored more than themselves.  "All these things are against me" (Gen 42:36).   

And in our lives are there not moments when we find ourselves overwhelmed by events or people in our lives?  Do we not utter the very words of Jacob or others that are very similar?  These are days when our hope and even our faith are challenged.  Why does this or that happen to me?  

At this time you should recall words from the prophet Isaiah: 41:10. "Do not fear: I am with you;do not be anxious: I am your God.I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

Use these words as a reminder that at times we might feel like Jacob.  However, we should also incorporate the words of Isaiah to assist us in strengthening our faith, our hope.  Be strong enough to incorporate the virtue of trust.  Seek to learn why God has allowed such moments to enter your life.

Perhaps the words of a very successful entrepreneur, Napoleon Hill, may also be helpful:
"O Divine Providence, I ask not for more riches but more wisdom with which to make wiser use of the riches you gave me at birth, ..."  Shouldn't ours be the vocation to recognize the riches God has given each of us despite the losses we might encounter and offer our gratitude?  

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Vocation Sunday/Mother's Day

From the Millsboro Hermitage
From Lanham Hermitage

Happy Mother's Day Moms

Dear Friends,

The first part of this reflection was created in Millboro yesterday morning.  The second half will be created at the end of this complete reflection from the usual Hermitage in Lanham.  

Greetings from Lower Delaware.  There is salt in the air.  Cloudy skies.  Cool breeze.  Hershey, my canine companion, is at my feet.  My brother is in the next room snoring!  He is rebuilding his strength and seems to be determined to be walking in two weeks' time.  This will be marvelous especially since it will give him the freedom from the public commode that stands by his bedside.  Keep praying, please!

Today's celebration in the Church seems to be focused on the reality of vocations.  As soon as someone says "vocations," most usually think of priesthood, diaconate or religious life   We tend to overlook the full inclusion of the word like the lifetime collector of our rubbish, those who working in fields producing our vegetables,  the men and women whom we call first responders, etc. etc. etc.  So often we forget that motherhood, like fatherhood, is truly a unique vocation

Stop for moment to call to mind how you would define the word "vocation."  Deep within us God has embedded, as we computer and video aficionados might say; something in our DNA that bring us to a specific way of living our lives.

We priests celebrate our vocation primarily in the life of the sacrament but especially in the Eucharist which brings us to the altar of sacrifice.  As well we are somewhat defined by our bringing sacraments to the sick, consoling the bereaved, baptizing, witnessing marriages, etc.  Today, however, we celebrate a unique and wonderful vocation that works at a different kind of altar that we priests and deacons do.

The vocation I write about today, now in Lanham, is the one every one's mother should to follow as well and strongly as she could.  Mother's day could be a marvelous time to look at the many ways a mother lives her vocation.  Such an exercise my require a full day's composition.  Her's, as mother is truly a singular vocation of distinction.  

Imagine what an artist might do if she were asked to paint a picture that could be titled "Motherhood."  How can anyone honestly put before the world all the pains, the joys, the losses, the frustrations, the caring, the hugging, the guidance and the frustrations mothers give to their marriage partner, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Theirs is truly a 24/7/365 vocation especially when she has brought children into the world.

Today, try to imagine what kind of Motherhood painting you would create or, if you cannot paint, one  you might ask an artist to do for you as a gift for your mother.

Let us raise our voices in thanksgiving to God for our mothers, those with us and those who have left this world for a heavenly reward.  Amen!  Amen!  Amen!

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt  ... who thanks God for all the love and care given to me by my mother, Margaret!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

I regret that I was unable to provide some thoughts for you over the last few days.  However, my life has begun to change for at least a month or so.  I am leaving the Hermitage for the next month or more to be available for my brother who is ending some 40 days of hospitalization later this afternoon.  Later this morning, after packing up what will be necessary, I will drive to his home in Millsboro, Delaware.  Jack will be discharged later this afternoon.

My brother is a sick man.  He is suffering from chronic congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart, two kidney that are minimally working and he is a diabetic.  Likewise he suffers from COPD but has never smoked a cigarette in his lifetime.  Seconday smoke was the culprit!  The most challenging factor is that he has neuropathy in his feet and legs:  thus standing, walking etc. are almost impossible at the present time.   So, it is remarkable that he is able to do almost anything.  However, the five doctors attending him believe it is possible for him to have a reasonable lifestyle with family and friends apart from the hospital.

It is because of Jack's inability to be mobile that I am moving in with him to be present through the day when no one would be at the house other than the dog he loves, a pet that is both deaf and blind.

As I start out on this ministry, I have many questions about myself.  I know this will not be easy.  Some of you may have chosen to walk this journey with a loved one or close friend.  Thus far I have come to have a genuine appreciation for the vocation of doctors but especially of nursing.

All throughout Lent, when I would visit him during his four hospitalizations and to times in a rehabilitation center, I have watched a man who was well over a healthy weight in the hospital or rehab center struggling just to stand up for more than one minute.  

What is most distressful for me is the inability to heal division between himself and two of our siblings.  This for me is truly painful.

I am not certain that I can keep up Prayer on the Hill at this time.  The first few days of my new journey should make clear to me what "extracurricular" duties I can handle.  I am not alone on this walk.  Thankfully, one of Jack's daughters who lives in Annapolis, together with her wonderful and fun loving husband, are working out a schedule of "relief" for me on two days a week.  Likewise, Jack's fiancĂ© will be available in the evenings and on Sundays.  With this additional coverage, I do plan returning to the Hermitage on Saturdays and Sundays to assist Fr. Jeff with the parish Mass schedule.  Of course, I will not be able to assist during the week as I have done for the three years I have lived at St. Matthias parish.

Would you please remember my brother, his fiancĂ©, his daughters and their families in your prayers as we begin his rehabilitation at home?  Especially I ask you to pray to St. John Paul II with whom I worked for four and a half years for his intercession with God on behalf of my brother and his support team. 

I do not wish to leave you without a source for your prayer.  As I have suggested in the past, please visit the Jesuit prayer ministry at Creighton University.   Creighton Daily Reflection Another Jesuit source on Google would be

Oremus pro invicem!!!

Fr. Milt

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fully Alive!

From the Hermitage

“The glory of God is the person fully alive,” Ireneus of Antioch.

Dear Friends,

Words from a wise person become treasures for those who seek to know themselves and who desire to understand God's will in their lives.  For most folks, having to deal with boring, uninspired, selfish individuals is so far removed from "fully alive."

Have you noticed the recent change in men's dress down clothing?  Bright colors dominate the dsiplays in most department stores.  Why did this come about?  Or how?  It is my opinion that the traditional had become dead weight in the life of men who like excitement, who enjoy brightness in their lives.

When we are men and women who find religion exciting, who spend countless hours helping others, who take time each day to speak with God, who reflect on what the Holy Spirit can do for us, when we have these experiences, most of us a models of a life that is fully alive.

Take some time today to evaluate yourself:  Am I am person my God and my friends would easily describe as "fully alive"?  Is your relationship with God a source of brightness in your life?  Do you allow the Holy Spirit to charge your batteries on a regular basis?

The Knights of Columbus has a Latin sentence of two words that is meant to be a signal to the individual Knight to be like Jesus who certainly was not dull or lacking in challenges to his friends.  Consider what these two words might mean for you whether you are a Knight or not?  Vivat Jesus!  Let Jesus live!  And we might add:  "in our hearts!"

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Thursday, May 1, 2014

With the Knights of Columbus

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

I will be away with the Knights of Columbus for the next several days attending the annual convention of the State of Maryland councils of the Knights.  The reason for this besides my being a Knight of Columbus is that effect July 1st, I will assume the duties as the Maryland State Chaplain.  When you think of the Knights of Columbus, I would ask that at that moment you ask God to bless me and my work with the outstanding men who do much to help their parishes and the goals of the Knights.

The daily reflections should resume on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Oremus pro Invicem

Fr. Milt


From the Hermitage

Pope Francis' Wednesday (April 30, 2014) Audience Instruction

Dear Friends,

Among those who may follow or occasionally visit this blog site are not just the baptized but the confirmed.  How often, among those who have been fully "incorporated" in the Roman Catholic Church, even in a month's time, do we turn any attention to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Yesterday Pope Francis continued his Wednesday catechesis, treaching or recalling the blessings we share because of the Holy Spirit we received on the day of our Confirmation.  The Pope's most recent "classroom session" was focused on the Gift of Understanding.

His words led to a consideration of this special gift as seen in the experience of the two disciples who fled Rome after the Crucifixion of Jesus.  This is one of the Resurrection stories that most of us do recall.  In the discovery experience, these disciples may well mirror the experiences of so many of us.  Jesus comes to us in ways we may not immediately understand.  Recall the words of the two disciples that were recorded by the Evangelists.  They went like this as one asked the other:  "Weren't our hearts on fire as He opened our eyes to see that this is the Lord, this is Jesus Christ?"

The gift of Understanding, born in our baptism and faith, said the Holy Father, enables us to discover in our experiences those moments when God speaks to us.  It is the gift of Understanding that assists us in our confusion, in our sense of being lost, to discover if the Holy Spirit is trying to help us open our minds and hearts to the call of God, to the voice of Jesus, our Savior.

Consider during this day if this particular gift of the Holy Spirit is one that each of us can gainfully employ to strengthen our faith.  Remember this blogger's repeated teaching:  faith is our personal relationship with God the Father, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit.

Our God is a didactic God ... doing all He can each day, each moment of our lives, to instruct us, to guide toward that moment when we accomplish what His will is for each of us.  Understanding, one of those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, may well be described as the lesson plan for helping us come to know, to understand and to use the Gift of Understanding.

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Milt