Sunday, September 28, 2014

Holy, Holy, Holy!

From Ignatius House

For Monday, September 29, 2014

Feast of Angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

Dear Friends,

Today, a feast day.  Honorees?  Most likely all of us can repeat the names of these three emissaries who carried God's words to different individuals on earth.

Before addressing the three Archangels, let me give you a context for some personal prayer on Monday morning.  In a recently published book, Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Avelino have addressed the issue of feasts.  Certainly the two writers put forward a way of thinking about "church stuff" that I have not encountered before.  The new publication is titled FEASTS.  The authors endeavor to invite the reader to see the significance of feast days .. which has been lost from most of the Catholic world in my humble estimation!

We are a church, the Roman Catholic Church, whose strongest characteristic may well be that we are a celebratory church.  More so that other denominations for sure!  I invite you to think back when you were younger.  We celebrated feast days with more significance than we do now.  Our parishes made something of the feast days of the Church than today.  We have become enraptured by the secular world.  We don't have time or interest in feast days that have meant so much to our ancestors.

Cardinal Wuerl and Mr. Avelino point out our Church has been weakened by our letting go the various feasts we celebrated with much excitement and perhaps fanfare only 50 years ago.  Weakened?  Yes, weakened!  How?  Well, it was the feast day that stirred up our faith on an ordinary day.  Celebrating feasts with some attention elevated our hearts and minds to a closer relationship with saints and with Jesus, God the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Mother of God.

It was not unusual in each month to have several major "feast days" when special Masses drew believers to join in the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy.  It was there that there was conveyed to people a certain joy and peace.  We were learning something about how blessed we were in celebrating certain feast days.   Usually when there were more feast days that we have today, there was always a special liturgical celebration at the parish church.  We came to see through the glass of the Eucharistic Liturgy God's special gift to us in the feast we were celebrating.  The celebration of special feasts related to Mary, to Jesus and to the saints brought us out of our day-to-day ways and world.  

Today, as we are making ready to start a year of the family in preparation for the special, world-wide Congress of the Family to he held in Philadelphia next September, parents might well take the time to speak to the members of the family about some of the saints we celebrate each month.  It is a marvelous way of letting our young people become aware of some of the saints never encountered before.  Don't have a copy of any "Lives of the Saints"?  All you have to do is go to Google and search for the Saint of the Day.  You will easily find yourself with several options.

Could you tell your children about the three archangels listed above?  Would you dare to bring up the feast day around the water fountain in the office?

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Milt

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's Fair?

From Ignatius House

Weekend Reflection

Dear Friends,

Trusting you will have a wonderful weekend.  Here in DC we already have a sunny Saturday morning.  Hope your weather adds to your weekend.

Good morning!  In the readings today there is a focus on fairness.  Is God fair to us?  Likewise, we might also ask, Am I fair with God?  As I thought about the subject, I recall the first reading from Thursday's liturgy.  It was a continuation of the readings from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes.  It is a portion of chapter 11:9-12 to12:12:8.  In it, King Solomon, the wise king, is speaking to a young man about growing old.  Naturally I found myself reading and rereading what was written.  I thought these words surely might address what many of us who are growing older each day think about being old:  it is not for sissies!  In a way I can imagine the people of Solomon’s times, and the King himself, saying that growing old is not fair.  However, the King’s message is far from what one would expect.

Since everyone here today is on the journey where we mark our birthdays more seriously with each new decade; and after we cross the sixties bridge, and blow out so many candles atop a birthday cake, we realize that we are not celebrating how many years since we entered this world but rather we are reminding ourselves that the final curtain of our lives may not be that far ahead of us.  But that is so contrary to what King Solomon was telling the young of his time.  His message is simple and short:  enjoy being young.  Even to people of my seventy-some year, he is saying enjoy being young.  You are only getting older if you believe that or do things to make that happen.  Solomon’s message also is simple in this way:  pursue the things you desire.

This section of the Book of Ecclesiastes is really three messages about growing young, and younger.  Let me share them with you.  The thoughts are not mine:  they come from the Prophet as well as a 28 year old young minister from Georgia.  They are both right on in their thoughts …  why? … because they are right on with my thinking!!!

Point 1:  Always pursue the desires of your heart.  However, make sure you really know them well.  In this metropolitan area where so many people live under great stress, you might hear this said:  My family is the most important part of my life.  Yet, actions speak louder than words.  How many times does Dad make it home for dinner?  How often does Dad take time to do homework with his student children or does he assign that task to Mom?  I recall a time when I was shopping at a local Safeway —so you know it was not around Lanham— and I saw a woman whose face was so familiar.  She had the same inquiring glance too.  We were trying to remember who each other was.  So, not shy for words, I said hello and the light bulb went on in the woman’s memory.  “Oh, Father Jordan.  So good to see you.  You know I love the parish.  Your sermons are what I need to hear.  The folks are great there, too.”  I replied, “Thank you.  It is good to see you.  But as I recall, I have not seen you in church lately.  Have you been ill?”  She paused for a moment then said, “You know, Father, I have started going to another church.”  She must have thought that I was dumber than I looked after hearing her two stories.  So often we say one thing and yet do not live it out in our lives.  What Solomon is saying to the youth is also to the point:  Decision you make in your youth days have long term results.  Of course we know the immediate result when someone finds time for drugs, alcohol, immorality, etc, etc.  Not so often in our youth but in our later days God will judge us justly according to the desires that truly directed our hearts.

The second theme in Solomon’s words is this:  Guard what your hearts desire.  When we were brought into this world, God instilled in our hearts a mission for us.  At the same time he let us live with a genuine freedom.  Deep within the hearts of all of us there is a strong desire that will continue to chase us, calmly and quietly until we die.  It is a basic need or desire to be close to the Creator who used our parents to bring us into the world.  So, part of our journey of life is that we need to find Jesus and what God wants of us.  Even as young people and as well us older folks who are seeking to be as young as we can, all of us are called to align our lives with the life of Jesus Christ.  The question we might ask is this:  “Do I love Jesus?”  Answer that question in your heart right now.  Not aloud but in the quiet of your heart, your being: do you love Jesus?  Here is the answer:  Yes, if your life is aligned with Jesus.  No, if you say you do but fail in ways that break that alignment with Jesus.  If the wheels of your car are out of alignment, you don’t continue driving it without getting it repaired, do you?  You have the message!

The third point of Solomon’s message to the young and the young at heart is this.  Do all you can to put evil away from your heart.  Life is like a coin, just like Jesus said to Peter when they were talking about paying taxes:  On one side was the seal of the government; on the other there should be a reminder of what we owe God.  Solomon is strong:  put aside evil from your heart.

The summary of the story is this:  why do we grow old?  Because we do allow sin in our hearts and live.  We let evil weigh down on us.  Yet, even from folks who reach the 100th birthday, when asked how they made it that far, very few will mention that being align with Jesus was the way and the life lived.

Folks, time flies.  When life goes so fast, we seem to be easily led into the trap of thinking that God is not fair to us.  When we feel that way it would really be good to read the verses from Solomon that I have put out there for you today.

Many thoughts but I hope you find some amusement and some insights not thought about ever or often.

Again, have a good weekend.  Today, Saturday, I join a large portion of my high school graduating class at the Washington National's Stadium to continue the celebration of our 55th grad anniversary from Gonzaga High School.  Gathered at The Dubliner last evening before splitting up for dinners around the Capitol Hill area.  As I looked at the crowd, more cains were evident than at the 50th gathering.  However, if my math is correct (rarely), I believe there are 62% of our glass still here on earth.  79 out of 126.  Seems that there is more fairness in our favor than we might first think!  It is hard to believe that just 20 years ago those numbers would have been very different.

Fr. Milt

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jesus in Prayer

From Ignatius House

Dear Friends,

Good morning!  Let the sunshine coming from the East bring you new peace and joy this day.  In today's gospel, Luke 9:18-22, we come upon a scene somewhat peculiar to Evangelist Luke.  This gospel recorder always took time to point out Jesus in prayer**.  Here in these verses we see Jesus praying in solitude while he was with his disciples.  This is the Spiritual Director at work!  He was about to share with his colleagues who he truly was as well as the very difficult future he was about to endure.

A question:  how often do parishioners witness a priest or deacon "in solitude with God"?  Be still!  A command but simultaneously an invitation.  What critical issues confront clergymen (and women in other religious bodies) there is usually time for prayer.  The personal experience of many in such moments, however, the mind, heart and soul are in a roil.  Being still, being at peace is difficult:  distractions abound.

Jesus prayed often.  Without doubt he was and is for us the model of the frequent pray-er, the genuine spiritual director who is always at hand for us.  We are called clergy people and laity to holiness and the primary journey to holiness is on the highway of prayer.  It is in praying to Jesus that we come to know him personally, intimately.  As well, it is in our prayer that we come to know ourselves better.

So, how do I answer the question put forward by Jesus:  "Who do you say that I am?"

**Lucan citations for Jesus in prayer:  a) 3:21  his baptism, b) 6:12  before selecting his apostles, c)  9:29  at the Transfiguration, d) 22:42  in the Garden at Gethsemane, and e) 23:24  during time on the cross.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Semper Fi.

From Ignatius House
Thu Sep 25, '14

All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going.
(Ecclesiastes 1:7)

Dear Friends,

A grammar school teacher once asked my class, "Where does all of the water flowing down the Potomac River go?"  That question, like many inquiries that particular teacher put before us, stayed with me for some time.  Once when my Dad took me and another brother with him into Virginia on business.  As we headed home, there it was beneath us as we crossed Memorial Bridge.  The teacher's question came to mind.  Then I asked a few question about the river, somewhat like the automobile commercial that plays on TV these days.  "Dad, where does all this water go?"  He replied, "To the Chesapeake Bay?"  "But where does that water go?" I asked.  His reply:  "To the Atlantic Ocean."  Thinking I might have led him to a trap, I asked "But where does the water in the ocean go?"  He paused for a few moments and said, "You'd better ask your mother!"  Not satisfied, I asked "Does it fall off the earth somewhere?"  Laughing, he replied again, "You'd better ask you teacher!"

Running rivers are but one of those remarkable feats of the creative God.  Somewhere behind the rain-filled clouds in the Washington area this morning, I know there is a ball of fire that has already risen above the eastern horizon.  Surely you know the answers to these questions.  However, do you ever stop to consider what is the "constant" factor in all of these feats of nature?   What is there that makes that sun rise each day or those rivers to continue from the tiny rivulets usually somewhere at a higher elevation.

Another question:  Is God the power He wants to be in the very center of my life, my universe?  What is there in these events of nature that draws us closer to our Creator God?  God is the "constant" in our lives if we but let Him enter.  Like the USMC (Marine Corp) motto, "Semper Fi,"  Always faithful, God is there for us if we want Him ... if we want Him!

Did you ever trace a river back to its beginning?  No river is as wide there as it is when it reaches the oceans or the seas.  Where does all of that water end up or does it ever continue on somewhere, somehow?  And God in my life began seventy plus years ago, just a little information at first but look where it has brought me today ... just as has happened in your life as well!

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Communicate Jesus

From Ignatius House
9371 Annapolis Road
Lanham, MD  20706

"...and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God"
(Luke 9:1)

Dear Friends,

Together, we, follower in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, are called by our Baptism and Confirmation to give witness of the love of Jesus Christ to our brothers and sisters wherever we may be.

Yes, we may be sinners -- some more serious than others.  Nonetheless, part of our vocation demands that we ourselves first have a serious personal relationship with Jesus.  As children of the Creator God, we share a fraternity with Jesus.  It is this awareness of who Jesus is that should make our lives different.

Unless we are genuinely aware of this relationship and endeavor to strengthen it each day of our lives, how will those who see us, who watch us, who judge our faith relationship with the Trinity, how will we be seen and understood to be men and women like those who followed Jesus when he lived on this earth. (Whew! What a long sentence!  Take a short break!)

To maintain a strong relationship with Jesus we must be followers who allow his power, his words and actions have a real impact on our lives.  Do his words truly make a difference in our lives?  Pope Francis now on numerous occasions taught that our lives are very weak when we try to live without him.  As he wrote in Evangelii Gaudium,  "Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse...."  As difficult as it may seem at times, our vocation, in whatever work it may take form, is to be very active in the effort to continue to grow in faith -- our personal relationship with God.  Yes, regardless of our past failures, we are, as St. Luke notes, "sent by him to proclaim the Kingdom of God" with our lives in our times. 

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Moving to Wisdom

From the Hermitage**

A recent sunrise at the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

Several verses from the First Reading (Book of Proverbs)

A careful read and a few moments of serious, reflective listening are more significant than a simple hearing of these same words.  "To each his (or her) own" in selecting what might be the best avenue of direction leading to a personal conversation with Jesus.

In the Mode of Pope Francis

Verse 13: He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, will himself also call and not be heard.

A Challenge to Contemporary Society

Verse 2:  All the ways of a man (or woman) may be right in his (her) own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves hearts.

For the Holier than Thou

Verse 3:  Haughty eyes and a proud heart ---  the tillage of the wicked is sin.

So often we may read a line or two from the Book of Proverbs but pass on quickly to something else.
Today the Spirit moved me to read and reread this first reading rather than move on to the gospel writing.

Now to a practical matter.

With priests no longer living in what had been the "rectory," sharing living space with office space, the residence which has been my home for about three years after many years of being a convent for teaching and student religious women, will become the residence for priests working at the parish or assisting at the parish.  It will be only a residence.  No longer will there be offices in the residence for meetings or appointments.  The residence will be mainly a home for the priests, free of office work.

Likewise, it seems appropriate to change the name of the residence at this time.  Henceforth, the priests' residence will be name Ignatius House.  No surprise some have said:  a former Jesuit living in the residence, serving as the Administrator of the Parish, prefers Ignatius House!

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mary Magdalene

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

Today's gospel from St. Luke puts before us, again, a New Testament saint of the earliest days of the time of Jesus.  It is St. Mary Magdalene.

There have been some controversies about who this woman was.  In our Roman Catholic tradition, Pope St. Gregory declared that Mary, from the town of Magdala, a seaside town, was indeed the woman from whom seven devils had been driven, she was also the women at the well whose sins were forgiven and, of course, the woman who first ran to the tomb of Jesus.  In the eastern branches of the Catholic Church, there are three different feast days for three different women as described above,

Regardless of the difference of opinion between the two different stories about one Mary or three different Marys, what is helpful to us today and every day is what Mary Magdalene's life and character signify for us.  To cite a professor of law, Dr. Pat Borges, at Creighton University:  In any event, I find the story of Mary Magdalene uplifting.  No matter how humble our origins, no matter how scandalous our pasts, it is never to late to let Jesus into our hearts and be saved.

I draw your attention to this saint today because in a writing for the Knights of Columbus in early summer, my theme focused on Mary Magdalene.  To my surprise there were several very strong affirmations by my Brother Knights that this woman was their saint of choice.  And these men were quite clear in their reasoning.  It is the thinking of Dr. Borges above that these men replied.  Willing to acknowledge their humble origin as well as their status as sinners in their past, these men expressed how important St. Mary Magdalene had been in their lives, in their effort to allow Jesus into their hearts.

Does this Mary, Mary of Magdala, have any place in your heart?  She is surely a model for those seeking comfort on their journey of faith.  This Mary surely is a gift we can give to those who are seeking to finding a new relationship with Jesus Christ. 

St Mary Magdalene, pray for all of us who have sinned.  Seek for us the graces that strengthen us to let Jesus into our hearts.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Most Influential Voice

From the Hermitage

“A friend is more to be longed for than the light; I speak of a genuine one. And wonder not: for it were better for us that the sun should be extinguished, than that we should be deprived of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be without friends” 

Dear Friends,

Are ears are always filled with a variety of sounds.  Perhaps the loudest sound that penetrates the ears is the sounds of silence.  Yes, not sound but soundS!  Perhaps there are times when the sounds of shame become a din.  It is the din of shame that invades the heart and mind seeking to find some hope-for moments of peace.  Perhaps it is the sounds of shame that silence so difficult for contemporaries of the modern world.  So strong, or loud, is this din that NOT heard is the voice of the  God. How many moons have passed overhead as regret and shame have prevented hearing the soothing whispers of the Triune God.  It is often the message of so many saints that the words of Jesus are like a medicine that removes the ear wax of shame that deafens.

The saint we honor today, John Chrysostom, was a renowned preacher.  His words were an invitation to his listeners who were in need of healing.  For him, all of us should realize a genuine dependence upon God, the God whose love cost him his greatest possession -- his only Son.  The saint sought to lead his hearers to God by removing all the clutter that amassed around them.  So often the trinkets of a culture prevent the most influential Voice from being heard.

In the gospel today we read these words of Jesus:  "...for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."  When all that the ears can hear are pain and sin, God's words are lost.  His suffering and death cannot break through to heal the soul.  What is needed?  Discipline!  In our contemporary world so often fills our ears with a wax that blocks our hearing God's loving words.  Do we consider his words the most influential or has our society done so much to interfere with our hearing God?

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wasted Words!

From the Hermitage

Today's Gospel

Dear Friends,

Jesus could not be clearer:  gossip is the act of judging other!  It is that simple.  How easy it is to point this fault out in the lives of others!  Just think for one minute:  how many acts of judgement have you made already today?  "Look at the way she is dressed!"  "Why does he always have to act so silly?"  "Don't these kids have parents to teach them how to be have  ...  especially in church or at the grocery store?"

Why do we become involved in this "sport" so easily and frequently?  Including myself, how difficult would it be for us to attempt a refrain from gossip/judging others?  Try it for just one day or even one hour.  We feel the need to do?  Why?  So often getting involved in this sport is a way of feeling better about ourselves: "Thanks be to God I am not like so and so who ....."  Pope Francis spoke about gossipers and rash judges as hypocrites!  Further he said their is no innocent gossip!  Think about that.

When I was a youngster, I recall so well the many times my grandmother Jordan, a very strong and active Methodist woman and wife, would not hesitate to stop my grandfather if he was doing a gossiping job on someone.  "Okay, Ned," she would say, "time to stop your talking that way about ...."  That surely is a practice unknown and much less practiced in our culture today.  I remember a neighbor, my piano teacher, who overheard an unkind remark about another neighbor, turned to me and said, "Now, Milton, what you heard said just now is not the way Catholics are to behave toward each other."  I am afraid my teacher would be appalled by today's conversations.

It is through personal, private prayer with Jesus that we overcome such a daily practice of wasting so many words!  In our prayers we should let the love God has for us be our concern!  Let God love us and I am sure we will not have time to be gossipers or judges of others!

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Crosses We Carry

From the Hermitage

"If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

Dear Friends,

Today's Responsorial Psalm brought to mind other words used by Jesus:  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Our greatest gift, that which surpasses all the successes that we may have enjoyed or are seeking to achieve, is the gift of our salvation.  From a cross on a hill the very Son of God gave up his life and all the crosses he had to carry during his lifetime on this earth for you and for me.  At that "It is finished" moment, all of our sins, especially those hidden sins that weigh so heavily up so many of us, the totality of our sins were forgiven.  A question:  do we take that forgiveness seriously?  Many times, as a confessor, I have heard these words: "Father, I have a difficult time living with an awareness and belief that my sins are forgiven.  How do I know that Jesus has forgiven me?

Let me suggest that we call to mind the one disciple of Jesus that we know very well.  His name is Peter.  He was the chief of the disciples.  Yet, recall just a few of the times he failed Jesus.  More than once he found it hard to believe what Jesus was saying or doing.  Peter tried to talk Jesus out of the journey to Jerusalem and the cross.  Peter fell asleep while Jesus was suffering in the garden.  Late on Holy Thursday evening, Jesus did not stay with Jesus during his trial and he even denied knowing Jesus.  And Jesus hid behind closed doors while his friend was pouring out the last few ounces of his blood rather than being there with him, his mother and other disciples.  Yes, Peter is an example of the extent of God's mercy, his forgiveness.  There is nothing that God will not forgive as long as we take up our crosses and follow him.  Likewise, we should not forget the man who became one of the greatest preachers in the history of our Church, Paul!  Yes, Paul!  We know how much evil he perpetrated against the Christians.  Yet, like Peter, he knew that Jesus had forgiven him.  Jesus forgave them as he forgives us today.  Jesus is the source of salvation for us.  But here is the question, the big question:  ARE WE READY TO ACCEPT FORGIVENESS?  Are our hearts hardened?  Do we find it difficult to take up the crosses that come to us in our lives and follow Jesus?  Some say that following Jesus is so very dangerous especially in our times.

Consider the cost of being faithful today.  Martyrdom used to be a reality in ancient days.  No longer.  How many are robbed, beaten, raped, executed, murdered, decapitated--all because they refuse to abandon their allegiance to Jesus Christ.  And such crosses are not just in foreign lands.  How many people are ridiculed, especially young college students who stand up for their Christian faith?  Especially the men and women in the business world who struggle to be honest and ethical.  Especially those parents who struggle to teach their children that being a follower of Jesus will never, never be a perpetual piece of cake.

In the last thirty years or more "take up your cross and follow me, if you wish to be my disciple" has become so very real, so very widespread.  However, we know from many examples in the New Testament where Jesus was very clear:  those who live as the Father wishes will one day be with him in his heavenly kingdom.  But be sure of this:  our crosses will never be heavier than the crosses that Jesus carried throughout his life on this earth.  Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Something Old, Something New

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

Something old, something new.  In today's gospel Jesus is speaking about the challenges change make for human beings.  The Son of God came to this earth to teach us what the Father wished we would learn.  He uses two examples, very brief parables, in today's gospel reading.  To explain his mission, Jesus talks about sewing a piece of new material to a much older piece of material.  When washed, of course, the new material will pull away from the much older material, causing a tear, and thereby ruining the older material.  Jesus offers another example to help his hearers understand his mission.  In his days wine was saved in what we would call pouches that were made of animal skin.  Over time the skin softened.  If new wine was poured into the pouch with older wine, the strength of the new wine would tear the wineskin.  New wine was to be poured into new wineskins.

Today, the new material, the new wineskin we might call our journey into the New Evangelization.  Yes, here we are dealing with something new and something old.  This journey requires of us to learn something new using some of the older learned materials to bring us forward in understanding of how the Church hopes to help us strengthen our personal faith as well as recall to the Church our sisters and brothers who have allowed themselves to leave our Church or who have themselves become less fervent in the practice of our faith.

While addressing the matter of trust, my thoughts yesterday gave some attention to those who have not been like the fisherman, Peter.  There are among us today perhaps too many who set themselves up as the judges of what is right or what is wrong.  In many of these instances, the contemporary cultures around the world have been like the new wine poured into the old wineskins of our faith.  The result is that there is loss ... loss of the wine that is the some in our faith communities.  Some of the mores of the contemporary scene are like the new cloth used to patch the old cloth, causing a tear in the material.

Today what may seem to be something new in our Church, especially in the implementation of the New Evangelization is, in my opinion,  not so much something so new that it tears away out the very cloth of our faith but that which tries to assist us renew and fortify our faith.  It is a thought worthy of some prayer and consideration.  In essence what may seem new might well be just an effort at learning once again what it was that Jesus taught during his lifetime among humankind.  Recall words from the liturgy:  "At the Savior's command and formed by divine teaching we dare to say. ... Our Father ...."  The New Evangelization is indeed an effort to use the teachings of our Church and the words of Jesus to know our faith.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Thursday, September 4, 2014

We Tried All Night!

From the Hermitage

Dear Friends,

Good morning.  Trust in God is what the gospel is about.  No doubt most Christians will say, "Yes, I trust in God."  Examine your heart for a few moments.  Is there something you want, something you feel you need so much that it is on your mind many minutes each day?  So, the question:  do you honestly believe that God will grant your request?  Do you pray to God asking over and over again for what you want?  Do you call in the second team, the saints and angels, to ask God on your behalf for what you want?  I suspect that this is how most of us express our trust in God.

What do we learn from St. Peter, the fisherman, in today's gospel?  He so much wanted to bring in a large catch of fish.  Of course he would want a large catch of fish?  We learned in the New Testament writings that Peter was often one seeking the "more."  He was a businessman.  He had to make money for himself and his fishing crew.  When he heard the voice from the shoreline telling him to go back out into deeper waters and in a specific area, he responds like most of us might respond if Jesus came to us in our prayers for what we want and gave us directions such as pray for your needs.  "Don't you see we have been fishing all night and have caught nothing."  Jesus probably repeated his directions for Peter.  Yet Peter did not give up.  If your were writing a story about this event, you could easily put Peter's words like what you have read in the gospel.  "Okay! Okay!  Because you are encouraging us to go out again, even though we are exhausted, we will set out from the shore.  Peter did not fail to trust.  And you know the rest of the story!  So do you have the same degree of trust and tenacity?

Have a good day!

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

From the Hermitage

Pope's Wednesday Audience

Dear Friends,

Let me share with you a synopsis of Pope Francis' weekly Wednesday audience address prepared by the Vatican for English speakers.

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catecheses, we have often noted that we do not become a Christian on our own, but by being born and nurtured in the faith in the midst of the People of God, that is the Church. She is a true mother who gives us life in Christ and, in the communion of the Holy Spirit, brings us into a common life with our brothers and sisters. The model of motherhood for the Church is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in the fullness of time conceived through the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the Son of God. Her motherhood continues through the Church, who brings forth sons and daughters through baptism, whom she nourishes through the Word of God. In fact, Jesus gave the Gospel to the Church to bring forth new life by generously proclaiming his word and winning other sons and daughters for God our Father. As a mother, the Church nurtures us throughout life by illuminating our path with the light of the Gospel and by sustaining us with the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. With this nourishment, we are able to choose the good and be vigilant against evil and deceit, and overcome the difficult moments of life with courage and hope. This is the Church: a mother who has at heart the good of her children. And since we are the Church, we are called to live this same spiritual, maternal attitude towards our brothers and sisters, by welcoming, forgiving and inspiring trust and hope.

I have drawn attention to the final sentence.  Perhaps for some this is a sentence that may easily have slipped from our frequent thoughts.  In our troubled world and at times troubled Church we can forget the role that God has planned for our Church in relation to each of us who follows Jesus Christ.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt