Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent, 2008

This weekend, we enter a new liturgical year. In our readings this weekend, the Church reminds us of Jesus' injunction on us to be ready. We are called to be alert, to be working until the return of Jesus. Advent is more than the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas or a shopping season. It is a season of watchful waiting, of longing, of penance, prayer, and preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. Some will point out that Advent pays attention to three comings of Christ - Christ in History (born as a child, who lived, died and rose again), Christ in Mystery (in the Sacraments), and Christ in Majesty. These first weeks of Advent, we especially focus on this - to be watchful for His return. If He comes today, would we be ready? Would we have lived our lives in such a way that we would be recognize Him immediately, and that He would recognize us?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

20 Tips For Making A Good Confession

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession at his blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say. These are especially useful as we are about to begin Advent during which we prepare our hearts and minds.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feast of Christ the King

Christ is the King of Heaven and Earth. When He returns, He will judge us but the standards of His Kingdom, not of ours. In the parable that we have been given this weekend, this judgement is placed in terms of our service to the least. Note that those condemned were not necessarily 'evil' according to the parable. Their response suggests that they served Jesus Christ when they recognized Him, but did not serve when they did not. Those that are commended served without seeing Christ. This is true character - they did the right thing without any hope of reward other than knowing it was the right thing to do.

At times, we may not be sure of our vocation, but we ought to be sure of the right thing - the works of mercy. We serve the Body of Christ hidden in those around us, nourished by the Body of Christ, the Eucharist.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend, we hear the Parable of the Talents. The servants are called before the Master who is to leave for a time. He entrusts to them his wealth, to one five talents, to another two talents, and to the third one talent. He does not tell them what to do with it - it must have been simply assumed that they were to put it to use. The first two doubled the amount, but the third in fear buried it. The servants are asked what they did with the talent they were given. The one who only made two was not critiqued for not making five - he did the best he could! The poor fool who buried it was condemned for not even trying. He knew the Master's wish, and went directly against it because of fear. One can get the sense that had he tried and lost it all, he would have not been as harshly treated. The talent is taken away, the man is condemned, and the talent is given to the one who had earned five.

This parable reminds us that what we have is God's gift to us, entrusted to us to be shared with others. We must use the gifts, we cannot bury them or hide them in fear. By using them, we may find them increased, and by not using them, we will lose them. We will be held responsible for doing our best with what we have been given.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dedication of The Basilica of Saint John Lateran

This Sunday, we celebrate the dedication of the Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran. It is the Pope's cathedral as Bishop of Rome. That this dedication is celebrated even on Sundays reminds us of the universality of the Church.

In our Gospel for this weekend, we hear of Jesus cleansing the Temple, which is early in Jesus' ministry recorded in John's Gospel. He tells them to destroy the temple and He will raise it up again. They hear it as the Temple - the center of the religious activity of the Jewish people. That temple was in the process of restoration of 46 years, and they cried foul. John redacts it for us: He was speaking of His Body. Temples are the places of encounter with God. Jesus is that place of encounter with God the Father, in the person of God the Son. Destroy that Temple, and it will be raised.

In the Second Reading form 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that we are the Temple of God, too. We are the Body of Christ. We can hear echoes from Paul's conversion from being a persecutor of the Church to hearing Christ asking why he [Paul] is persecuting Him. We are built to the building of God. Some of us are called to build, too, on that same foundation of Jesus Christ. We build, so that we can be for others a place where they can encounter God because we strive to live with Christ.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts of the Election

I am writing the following as an individual, and is not an endorsement or rejection of any party or politician.

I am truly disappointed with many in the main stream media. So many are suggesting that those who voted against President-elect Obama are either racist or uninformed. He could not (or would not because it was not politically expedient) say when life began and was afforded rights. He refused to vote for a law that would have required medical care to those born alive in the process of abortion - the difference is that the woman wanted an abortion, not a baby. He supports of abortion on demand and the Freedom of Choice Act enshrining it as a right. He promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. He supports federal funding for fetal stem cell research. Because I am an informed Catholic, he removed himself from my support and vote for him as a candidate. It was not the color of his skin that I considered - it was the content of his character. I imagine that there was a fraction of those who did not vote for him primarily because of his ancestry, the same as I would be safe to assume some voted for him simply because of it - both are equally wrong! Dr. Martin Luther King said it best - when it is what is within that matters, not what is only skin deep.

This election was disappointing on the part of the pro-life cause. Measures aimed at limiting abortions, defining the start of human life (and rights) failed, while measures to allow embryonic research and assisted suicide passed. We by-and-large elected a pro-abortion slate into federal offices. The pro-abortion battle will not and cannot win based on logic and civil discourse, so now the politicians will force it upon us.

I 'predict' that under the new administration, access to abortion will be enshrined as a 'right', the limitations of abortion (conscience clauses, limiting federal funding, waiting periods, parental notifications, and partial birth abortion bans; so many gained only in these last years) will be removed. Abortionists and abortion mills will be allowed to relax safety and reporting regulations. Overall, we will see a declining number of reported abortions; it will be seen as a drop in abortions though they will be woefully underreported. The drop will be credited to some expensive and ultimately ineffective program, just as the 'rise' of abortion rates these last 8 years were blamed on the pro-life policies being failures, but not because of the mandatory reporting laws!

We must not be deceived - even if something is legal, it is not automatically moral. Abortion, and support of abortion, is always wrong. Life does begin at conception - it is a scientific fact in addition to being affirmed by the long teaching of the Catholic Church. The pro-life movement will have an uphill battle again, because we grew complacent.

These next years, we have a task to remind our politicians in all parties of the dignity of human life. We need not resign to the fact that abortion is here to stay, anymore than those before us gave up the cause of civil rights, the recognition of women's rights to vote, and the end of slavery. May God bless us with strength to defend the defenseless, and that He would bless our politicians and fellow citizens with the truth that life begins at conception, and that every life is precious in God's eyes.

That being written, we pray for President-Elect Obama. May he see the dignity of life from conception to natural death, and unite the nation for the good of all, not just the born (and wanted).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prayer for Election Day

Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia links to a great prayer for this election day from the Concord Pastor. Hopefully, you will go to vote. Hopefully, this prayer will inspire you to vote, and to vote for life, and challenge our leaders to work for the poor and needy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Feast of All Souls

The feast of All Souls gives us the opportunity to stop and remember those who have died who have not yet been entered into their heavenly rest, but in the fullness of time will - those in purgatory. Purgatory is a state of purification where the soul of those who have died without coming to the full love of Christ are purged from their earthly attachments. Prayers will not help those who, in their sins, rejected God and chose an eternity separated from Him (in Hell), and the prayers are not needed for those who, because of their faith and fullness of Love, have already been admitted to heaven as Saints. But the souls in purgatory are the ones for whom we can, and must, pray. It is a penitent prayer, a prayer of repentance on behalf of those who are there. Even the color specified for use at Mass (violet or black, if available) is one of prayer and penance. While there is a sense of joy, it is assumed, because they know that they are bound for heaven, there is the pain of letting go of their disordered attachments. We pray for them, that they may enter that purification and that we can help express the love of God with our prayers.

For us who are alive, we need to remember that Purgatory is not a goal - only heaven ought to be. We can be come to holiness here in this life, to become living saints. We pray for the grace of conversion in our lives, that we may find freedom from all that is not of God. May we be the saints that God not only has created us to be, but given us the grace to be!