Showing posts with label Catholic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholic. Show all posts

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas letter

Christmastime is Here. But I always get That Christmas Feeling reminding me that Christmas is so much more than a Sleigh Ride Over the River and Through the Woods. It involves more than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. We Deck the Halls with The Holly and the Ivy, Mistletoe and Holly, Pine Cones and Holly Berries, but we prepare our hearts for more. Do You Hear What I Hear? Ding Dong! Merrily On High, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, but they were more than Silver Bells, Silver and Gold Jingle Bells. No, the Carol of the Bells declares much more. As we celebrate Christmas, we are taken back to The First Noel, when, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear on that Silent Night. Away in a Manger, in a Little Town of Bethlehem, In royal David’s City, the world first celebrated the Birthday of a King. Oh Holy Night, When A Child Is Born, willingly saying “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.” A Savior is Born! Mary’s Boy Child! Sweet Little Jesus Boy! But What Child is This, that While Shepherds Watched, Angels, From the Realms of Glory come to earth to witness this event. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, declaring In excelsis Gloria. Still, Still, Still. It was A Baby Like You and me, only the Son of God, Eternal Savior. Christ is Born in Bethlehem, who is the Greatest Gift of All. The Shepherds Went Their Hasty Way, they declared to Mary, Dear Mother of Jesus, “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The Friendly Beasts, the Little Drummer Boy, and, eventually following the Star of the East, Three Kings of Orient Are all that are present to see this sight. One has to ask of the rest of the world, Do they Know It’s Christmas? Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, O Come Little Children, let us like Good King Wenceslas come Rejoice, The Lord is King. Rejoice, Rejoice All Believers, not just Angels and Shepherds! Joy to the World, Christ is born. Rejoice and be Glad, Rejoice and be Merry. Christmas day is The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year, but it is so much more than a day – it is The Holiday Season that lasts the full The 12 Days of Christmas and all year through. So, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and ask you to remember that when we sing The Christmas Song, we Sing of God, the Greatest Good. Sing We Noel this Christmas. So Go, Tell It on the Mountain, Up On the Rooftop and everywhere else. Sing the Carol, Raise Your Voices! Come On, Ring Those Bells, ring them until the Jingle Bell Rock. Ring Merrily! Bells will be ringing, and yes, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, too, With Bells On. So God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and women. Sleep Well, Little Children. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. And Let There Be Peace On Earth, peace made possible by Jesus. This is What Christmas Means To Me. (Hidden among these rambling thoughts are the titles of at least 80 Christmas carols and tunes. Have a Merry Christmas.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas is a season

Merry Christmas! I hope that this season is one of peace and joy for all. Christmas is a season - it only begins on December 25. The Twelve days of Christmas, of carol fame, begins - not ends - on Christmas day. Indeed, the twelve days ends on the feast of the Epiphany, we we remember three events in which Christ is revealed to the world (the arrival of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the first miracle at the wedding at Cana). Different cultures have different endings of the season culturally, for example marks is through February 2 (the feast of the Presentation), while others end with the official end of the liturgical season on the Baptism of the Lord, this year January 9. There is something profoundly human (and humane) about this. We prepare for Christmas with another season, Advent, to prepare our hearts to celebrate His birth, but also for His glorious return in the Second Coming. In the Church, we need that time to prepare. While not as intense as Lent, it is a season in the Catholic and Orthodox churches marked by prayer and penance (and even fasting by some). But after such preparations, we also need to to celebrate, and do so for more than one day! Why all this preparation and celebration? Because Christmas is so much more than celebrate a birthday, thought true it is that in part. The Church recalls that Christ was born, but also that He will come again, and when better than when we celebrate His first birth. For a deeper understanding of the meaning of His birth, we need look no further that to some of the carols that we sing during this season. Hark the Herald Angels Sing tells us "God and sinners reconciled”. Silent Night proclaims “the dawn of redeeming grace.” The First Noel reminds us that with His [Christ’s] blood mankind hath bought.” Indeed every Christmas hymn (the religious ones, anyway) tell us the story of the Birth and the reason behind it. Clearly, this is no mere child, but is a Divine Being with a heavenly purpose. Being the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (the persons of the the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit in the one Being of God), Jesus took flesh (the Incarnation) in the womb of Mary, and He was born in a humble stable. While some might quibble about the date, the fact is that He was born, and we celebrate that fact. God became Man, became one of us, so that He would lead us to Himself. He was born that He might offer His life to the Father to redeem us. This is the core of the Christian faith, which begins with Christ’s Incarnation and Birth. He came to die on the Cross to bring the Father’s grace and loving presence to us. With that noble purpose, we need much more than one day. So sing long and well those glorious songs of Christmas and share the joy of our salvation with all.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

This week, we have a Holy Day of Obligation - All Saints Day. We attend Mass to glorify God for what He did through the Saints, and we gather to honor those who have responded as disciples of the Lord. The saint we honor are both the canonized and uncanonized. In reality, we cannot celebrate and honor all the saints with an individual day, so we set this one date for all of them. There is something good in this, after all, we, too are invited to be saints, and remembering all the saints remind us that there is only one common factor in the lives of the saints - their love of God and desire to serve Him. This is done by the poor and rich, young and old, powerful or lowly, male or female. Sanctity transcends cultures, political leanings, and languages. Leon Bloy once wrote, "The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint." How true, because God has made us for Himself, as St. Augustine writes, and anything less than union with Him is to fail to be ourselves!
On Wednesday, we commemorate All Souls' Day, remembering all who have died. It would be most appropriate to visit a cemetery if possible, to offer a prayer for our dearly departed, and to pray for them. We do not have certainty of their current state - heaven united with God, condemnation because of their rejection of Him, or in the state of purification (Purgatory) where they are purged from the attachments to sin, having been forgive of them already. Because of this, this day offers us the reminder to pray for them.
But these days are also a gentle reminder to us to remember and prepare for our own death. As an epitaph on a grave stone puts it, "Remember me as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I, As I am now, so you must be, Prepare for death and follow me." Put more succinctly: Remember death - Momento mori.
All s


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Evangelization

Many Christians, and in particular many Catholics, have a reputation of avoiding “evangelization” – the process of sharing the faith with others. Perhaps it has several reasons. It might be related to fear: we are afraid of rejection, being thought a fool, or failing. We might feel unprepared: what if the person asks a question we do not know how to answer, or perhaps worse, where do we go from the initial positive response.  Perhaps the largest is a certain amount of spiritual apathy. We are too accustomed to relativism – that truth is adaptable and subjective to the person, that the person decides what is true “for them” – think of the term “self-identify”, for example. This view of the truth rejects that there is any “always and everywhere” truth, one that is objective and not dependent on a person’s ability to grasp it. If all things are relative or subjective, which ironically is presented as an objectively-held truth, then the other persons’ beliefs or un-beliefs are as valid as our own.
But there is something profoundly different about Christianity. We believe that God loved humanity so much that the Father sent His Son to redeem us, and this Son, Jesus Christ, tells us Himself that He is the only way to the Father. Even in the Parables of the Lost that we heard proclaimed last weekend, it is God who ‘finds’ us – not us finding God or creating our own way to Him. In the end, what we have in Christianity is not a set of principals and procedures, rules and regulations – it is about being ‘found’ by the Lord, and being in relationship with Him.

If that is all true, then we know that we cannot be apathetic about evangelization. We come to understand that in Christ alone are we saved from sin and given the promise of eternity with God. We are asked by Jesus Christ to go to all nations, sharing the Good News of what He has done for us. We are not selling information but providing a relationship by introducing them to a Person. We invite them to deepen that relationship through the Sacraments and Church. We do so because we love the Lord (and perfect love drives out fear). We must ask ourselves, what kind of friend, either of the Lord or the other person, would we ultimately be if we did not wish to help them find each other?

Friday, September 2, 2016

News!

I know that it has been a while since I have blogged except for the various articles that have appeared in newspapers and prayers.
Part is that my focus has been elsewhere.
Recently, though, a few have asked about recording my homilies. After doing some research into process and equipment, and after praying about it, I have decided to create a podcast. You can find it at http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:251744182/sounds.rss, or soon on iTunes (View From the Ambo).
The reason is not in pride, but rather in humility. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to proclaim the Good News, and I try to do so. I know that the first few may be rough until I get the settings right, as well as the knowledge of the software to help make things sound better.
Input is appreciated!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

God's Mercy and Justice

Pope Francis has given us a great gift in declaring this year (December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016) an Extraordinary Year of Mercy. Like Jubilee years of the Old Testament, it is meant to be a time of righting wrongs, or returning things to their proper order, and to rejoice in the good things that God has done. Pope Francis is giving us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of God as merciful, and encouraging all to “be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

But what is mercy? Mercy is a willingness to respond to the needs of another, even when the other does not ‘earn’ or ‘deserve’ a response. It is a response to the chaos of the other person’s life and help to bring order. It is seeking to put things right.

Too often, mercy is seen as opposed to justice, that it is understood a being permissive. In encountering sin, we might be tempted to act in such a way that might confirm the sin instead of comforting the sinner. That is not true mercy, however. Mercy is the treat the other person with dignity, to call them out of a destructive behavior, and to remind them of the great and loving God we have. God does not wish us to remain in sin, but rather that we come to Him for forgiveness. Justice is giving a person what they deserve, but mercy is always greater than justice. In showing mercy, God displays His power. While we are yet sinners, He loves us, pardons us, and calls us back. This is mercy! While there is still breath in us, He is always ready to pour His mercy on us. When we are left with no more time to return to Him, His justice comes. 

In the end, even Hell itself is an act of mercy, and not blind justice. God loves us enough to let us have our will. If we live apart from His will for our lives, why would we want to live for eternity with Him? Yes, by our actions, we can reject God, in which case He shows His love in allowing us to reject Him. But we can also be presumptuous, assuming His mercy and that He would accept us, unrepentant sin and all. No, we are to call on His mercy, knowing Him to be just. Then, and only then, can we live in His mercy and extend that mercy to others.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pre-Advent reflection

After we have gathered around tables for our thanksgiving feasts, we (hopefully) will gather in our Churches this weekend to thank the Lord for His blessings. As we do so, we will enter the season of Advent, signify the end of one Church year and a beginning of the new. Typically, we might be tempted to think that the purpose of the Advent season is to prepare to celebrate its end – the celebration of the incarnation and birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas as a moment in history. But that is only one small portion of the season of Advent. The main purpose, at least in the Catholic Church, is a call to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ in glory and majesty. The season of Advent is to help us focus our hearts and minds for that great and terrible day of His return. But this message is not the mad ranting of a doom-and-gloom prophet. Rather, it is a sobering call to committing one’s life toward that end, and living in faith instead of in fear or indifference. Yes, we need to remember the end - in Greek telos - and to make all decisions in light of it. Telos also signifies purpose or goal, and we are truly focused on all these meanings. Just as St. Paul invited his readers to continue to run well the race, they are to focus on the goal, not just running aimlessly but with purpose and conviction. We grow weary and too easily forget both the purpose of our life and our end goal that we need to be roused from our slumber. We can too easily get caught up in the things of the world that many of us need to be reminded that this is not our final home. We are invited to ask ourselves if we are ready. If we are not, there is no better time than now, here, today, to respond. So, as we enter the Advent season, perhaps we need to put away our telephones and turn off our TVs. Perhaps, instead, we pull out our telos-phone – praying to the Lord to hear our purpose. Maybe we need to turn on our telos-vision – to see the end goal, and to commit to letting that end direct our choices here and now. When we do, we will take our steps with faith and purpose. Perhaps, to help us too, it will help us become truly thankful of the Lord’s blessings to us, and hopeful for His continued blessings. So, Happy Thanksgiving and blessed Advent.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Supplication

This week, we hear the great analogy of the grain of wheat. Jesus uses this image to describe what He is about to do by dying, that He will raise up great fruit. His death and resurrection bring life, and though He knows that, he is troubled. Perhaps He was aware of so many who would reject Him, not to mention the mere thought of dying. He asks the Father that the Father be glorified, and the Father responds.
This is the final type of prayer we will address - Supplication. Sometimes called intercessions or petitions, it is asking the Lord for what we need. Ideally, it should be for others, and in the end have the same purpose as Jesus’ prayer - that the Lord may be glorified. When we pray in union with the Lord’s will, it is a selfless prayer, a prayer that submits further to God’s will, and a prayer that says that I will do what I can to assist. Consider the efficacy of praying for a good grade in a class we never attended or for which we never studied. We have to cooperate with the Lord, too. It is put best in the adage - work as if it all depends on you, but pray, knowing that it all depends on God!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Acting in Love

This weekend, we hear perhaps the most well-known and oft-quoted verse of all of Scripture: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” It rightful enjoys its pride of place! It is the verse that captures the Gospel at its core - that God loves us, and sends His Son to save us. It reminds us that God is a God of mercy, and that His mercy is stronger than His justice.
What so many miss, though, is that while God loves the world and does not wish anyone to perish by being separated from Him, there are people who will not come to Jesus Christ, who will not believe in Him. God allows them to reject Him, and gives the desire that they have chosen. People are not condemned because God hates them, or desires them to part from Him, but because they hate God and chose to reject Him through their sins. IN the end, even in condemnation, God is a merciful God, not 'imposing' Himself on the unbeliever and forcing them into a relationship with Him for all eternity, but rather allowing them to have their freedom, even if that means eternal separation from Him. There is no universal salvation - that all are saved. Our human will can limit the activity of God's mercy and grace.
God is rich in mercy, and as we hear in our second reading, we are saved by grace. We have to cooperate with that grace, to allow it to have an effect in our lives. Yes, God desires and loves each of us, but our salvation requires us to accept it. As St. Augustine said, “The God who created us without us will not save us without us.” We must consent to be saved. To receive His mercy, we need to admit our faults, and to stay in His mercy, we must avoid sin. While not necessarily an aspect of prayer, but a necessary condition for it, we need to remember that our actions need to reflect our prayer relationships with the Lord. Do we allow the Lord to love us? Do we submit to the Commandments, the precepts of the Church, to the loving yoke of redemption? Do we seek the light of the Gospel? But that consent requires our action - it is not by faith alone (James 2:24) that we are saved.
I met a woman a long time ago that claimed to prayer 4 rosaries a day - and not just 4 sets of mysteries, but all 3 sets (this lets you know it was a while ago) four times. I was not impressed. I knew, too, that she had just lost her job because some of her young male coworkers complained of her inappropriate language and questions, questions that were so inappropriate that they delved into sexual harassment. Did her prayer have an effect ion her life? The same mouth that spoke God's praise in the rosaries spoke such shameful things. Her actions did not match her prayers. We can pray all we want for the Lord to “lead us not into temptation", but if we keep going to those playgrounds, playmates, or playthings that are sources of temptation, what good does it do? Our prayer must be backed by our actions of love. This aspect of prayer, acting in love, is the difference between a hypocrite and a sinner-becoming-saint. The words and actions of the sinner-becoming-saint are aligned, or in the process of aligning, while the hypocrite simply says the right things, but does not follow it in right action.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Third Sunday of Lent: Thanksgiving

A few years ago, I read about a social scientist's observations of school children on a playground. He realized that the playground had no boundaries, fences, or markings as to the limits, and the students, not knowing what was the playground and what was not, utilized only a small portion of the actually ground. He made and the school took a suggestion, and suddenly, the students at play covered the wide expanses of the playground, utilizing every area. The difference? The construction of a fence. When we think of fences, we too easily think of them as limiting, but in the case of this playground, the fence gave them the freedom to play safely in the entire area. From this, and analogy could be made. Image a playground with no fence. On one side, there is a cliff, with jagged and dangerous edges. On another side is a wasteland filled with dangerous animals and venomous snakes. On the third side is a massive, blazing fire. Are the children truly free? No - they are not, in fact, they are extreme danger. It is only when someone has properly marked out the safe edges of the cliff, constructed a animal and snake proof fence, and a fireproof wall that the children are truly free. Until then, they will most likely be found huddling close to the school!
This weekend, we hear of the cleansing in the temple in the Gospel, and the giving of the Law in the first reading. Both of these, when looked upon as the world would, seem that Jesus is a cruel man and that the Lord is a demanding judge. In reality, it could not be further from the truth. There are boundaries on human behavior, and just like the boundaries of a playground, those who know them are truly free. In ,such the same way, there is a boundary violation in the selling of animals and the crass exchanging of money (with the corruption that so often accompanied exchanges) in the temple area, so Jesus drives them out. He cleanses the sacred temple by getting rid of the profane. In the commandments, God does the same. He sets the boundaries on human behavior not because He is mean, but because He knows how we best function. Rules and boundaries, which is what the Law is all about, are about helping us to function as individuals and society better. It is a gift of love from a God who not only knows us, but desires us with an unquenchable love. With that in mind, it is with profound thanksgiving that we approach these two-fold process of purification and submission to the Law of God. That is the aspect of prayer, therefore, that we are focussing on this week.
Thanksgiving is an act of stating our gratitude for what someone has done for us. With the Lord, we tell Him what He has done, and how we are thankful for it. Unlike adoration, which again is praising the Lord fro who He is, this is focussed on what He does. So often, though, we are not as thankful as we ought, and this aspect of prayer is often unexpressed. When we open our eyes to the Lord’s working in our life, we ought to have that sense of gratitude. Perhaps He is working in the shadows of our lives, those places of darkness of sinful patterns that He is healing, or perhaps he is cleansing a wound that while it hurts, will become a source of profound grace and presence to the Lord. Like the Law or the cleansing of the temple, when we see that the Lord loves us, we can turn to thanksgiving more easily.
Thank God for setting our human boundaries, which, when we follow them, keep us safe and free!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Second Sunday or Lent: Adoration

The Narrative of the transfiguration is read every Second Sunday of Lent. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up Mount Tabor. The landscape is not just a nice description or mere historical fact. Mountains are places of encounter, symbolically due to their closeness with the Heavens, one was expected to encounter GOd. There, Jesus reveals Himself to the apostles,giving them a glimpse of His divinity. They are transfixed by the vision. The evangelists struggle with find the words to describe the encounter with the Lord, probably because the three witnesses struggled. Moses, the one through whom the Lord gave the Law, and Elijah, the Prophet, are speaking with Him - these two began what Jesus was going to accomplish - calling the people back to the Lord our God. The apostles were caught up in praise of the sight, and though they struggled to understand, they knew that it was good. St. Peter proclaims it, along with stating his desire to remain there. This encounter with the Transfigured Lord is one that so moved them that St. Peter writes about it years latter as giving a proof of the Gospel in his second letter (2 Peter 1;16-18): "For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” They had already encountered Him day after day, understanding Him to be human, but when He reveals His divinity, it changes them. They we in true adoration of the Lord - they were praising Him for who He truly is. That is another aspect of our prayer. Like complimenting a friend on some quality, we too need to ‘compliment’ God in who He is. It is adoration and praise. God does not need our praise, but we need to give it, because when we do, we submit ourselves in love to the our loving, all-powerful God who is three Persons in one divine being. We need to remember that just as we are loved sinners (contrition), that we are invited into a loving relationship with the Holy Trinity, and that when we truly adore the Lord, we stand humbly in His presence not by our own merits, but by the grace of God.
Added to this aspect, we have another ‘adoration’. We are so removed from the Transfiguration. We do not have the privilege of walking with Jesus in the flesh, but we know that Jesus is the Son of God because of the witness of the Apostles. Just as we know that Jesus is God, we, too, need to place our trust in the apostles in other areas - especially of the teaching on the Eucharist. We too easily see the bread and wine, but do we see the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ? Are we just as caught up in adoration when we are in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist? When we take time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, especially when He is exposed in the monstrance for our adoration, we are in the presence of the same Lord who was present on Mount Tabor. He invites us to adore Him, to praise Him for what He has done. Indeed, when we adore the Blessed Sacrament, we are drawn in to praise of God, and should declare “Look what Love has done!” by becoming food and drink for us, that we may be saved through Him!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

First Sunday of Lent: Contrition

This weekend, as we do every first Sunday of Lent, we hear of Jesus’s temptation in the desert and Jesus’s beginning ministry and proclamation. This year, we hear Mark's account, and it is noticeable brief. In his account, we do not hear of the nature of the temptations, but rather that he was ministered to by angels and was accompanied by wild animals. This may be a small and odd description, but it is a motif of tranquility - that Jesus is among wild animals, but there is peace and harmony - it is a return to the Garden of Eden. He is ministered to by angels, demonstrating that just as Elijah was feed by the ravens, Jesus is supported by spiritual entities. Jesus enters the desert after His baptism, but there is strengthened for His beginning ministry.
He begins with a bold proclamation - the time has come - repent and believe in the Gospel. It is the message that marks His whole ministry - the time is now, and it is an invitation to return to the Lord, much as the prophet Joel proclaimed. Jesus' invitation to us remains - we are to repent and believe in the Gospel. Repent… The word is a command, not an option. In Greek, it literally means “Change your mind!” It is the task to take on the mind of Christ, to change our hearts and minds so in conformity with God’s that we live differently. It is a call to conversion, to recognizing that we are weak and fallen human beings in need of a savior. We are sinners, and too often are ‘small-minded’ in that we chose sin over the life of grace. When we turn to the Gospel, that God loves us and desires us, we open ourselves to His will. This means that we are constant need of conversion, and when we are aware of sin, we need contrition. This is the aspect of prayer we ought to start. Contrition is to admit we are sinners, but that we are asking for the mercy and forgiveness of God.
Even as we begin this Lent with Contrition, we might be aware of the need of the Sacrament of Confession. I encourage this great sacrament! When we focus on our sins, we might lose sight of the mercy of God, or we might rationalize our sins away. In the Sacrament, however, we are showered with mercy as we come before the Lord, and and we admit that we have sinned. Let mercy lead us to true contrition!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Catas - An invitation to prayer

In the weeks of Lent, I will be writing a paragraph or two of the core of my Sunday homily. I plan on giving a series on types of prayer that will take me through to Easter.
The sundays of lent will focus on 5 types, and I have arranged them as an anagram to spell out Catas - which is Spanish for "you taste" or "you experience", when we use all five types of prayer, we will experience a great intimacy with the Lord and taste and see that He is good.

Ash Wednesday

Lent is a blessed time in the Church year. The season was first experienced by the Catechumens (those who were to be baptized at the Easter Vigil) as that they entered 40 days of intense spiritual preparation before their sacramental entrance into the Church. The time-frame of forty days was not haphazardly chosen, but because of Jesus’ own 40 days in the desert, the 40 years of the Hebrews being purified in the desert through their wandering, and Elijah’s fast of 40 days on Mount Horeb. It was a means of remembering that they were uniting with the Lord and of being purified for their encounter with Him in the sacraments. Eventually, the preparation of 40 days in the season of Lent was offered to the Church in general as a means of recommitment, association with the catechumens and a preparation of their own hearts to celebrate the joy of the resurrection.

When we truly enter the spirit of the season, we follow the Lord’s command to pray, fast, and give alms and three practical means of Lenten preparation. These are things that go against our fallen nature. We too often remain in broken relationship with our loving Father, and like Adam hid from Him in our shame. Prayer seeks to stand before Him, as venerable and spiritual naked and impoverished as we are. When we fast, we avoid the comforts that the world offers and reminds us of our reliance on the Lord. Our almsgiving is a means of seeking to become generous and to connect with those who have so little, that we can share in their poverty.

This season of Lent is for us who follow Christ to grow in faith, to empty ourselves of all that is not Christ so that we can be ready to receive Him who died and rose again for us, to give us eternal life. This season is not one of self-directed improvement, but of allowing the Lord to grasp us, grace us, and guide us to Himself. May these days of Lent be days of intense preparation for us!

Monday, September 15, 2014

End of Life Decisions

Some have recently asked about living wills. health care directives, and moral issues around end of life. The Minnesota Catholic Conference has assembled resources to aid in the process, including a sample Health Care Directive Form. Filling this out prior to need helps family to make wise decisions in consultation with doctors and medical staff regarding care.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Who Is Jesus Christ?

In the Gospels, Jesus asks a seemingly easy question: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15, Mk. 8:29, Lk. 8:20). It is not that Jesus is having either a moment of amnesia or an existential crisis. His reason to ask seems to be more of a PR question – do people understand who He is? St. Peter answers that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. His answer is correct, but Peter’s understanding of the answer is flawed, as he later reprimands Jesus on His prediction of His death and resurrection.
The question remains for us to answer, too. Who do we say that He is? If the claims of the Gospel are correct, we are commanded to answer. Jesus makes some bold statements! He claims to be the only way to God, that He is the Bread of Life that gives life to the entire world, that He and the Father are one. How can we understand Jesus’ proclamations? CS Lewis gives a wager, of sorts, that we can use to help answer both questions of who we say Him to be and who He is. If what He taught is not true, but Jesus believes it to be, Jesus is crazy, proclaiming false truths. If, on the other hand, Jesus knowingly is teaching what He knows not to be true, He is telling lies. But, if Jesus is telling the truth, He really is who He says he is. In short, Jesus is either a lunatic, a liar, or truly the Lord. He cannot be just a wise man, or a good teacher, or a sort of guru… He is either Lord or nothing at all.
So my answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” He is Lord. He is the Savior of the world, and He is the Father’s loving offer of eternity. He is the one who offers Himself to the Father for us and is ever present to us. He is the Son of God made flesh. When we encounter Him, we encounter God, and Jesus reveals the Holy Trinity (the eternal union of the three Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit – in the one God). If this is true, how can we go about our lives unchanged, failing to see everything through the eyes of faith.
As CS Lewis also wrote, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” It is a bold claim! We must allow Him to be God, and allow Him and that faith inform our decisions and activity.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost

For our prayer, I am posting the Pentecost Sunday Sequence. It is a beautiful prayer of the Church.

Come, O Holy Spirit, come!
From Your bright and blissful Home
Rays of healing light impart.

Come, Father of the poor,
Source of gifts that will endure
Light of ev'ry human heart.

You of all consolers best,
Of the soul most kindly Guest,
Quick'ning courage do bestow.

In hard labor You are rest,
In the heat You refresh best,
And solace give in our woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Let Your radiance in us shine,
And our inmost being fill.

Nothing good by man is thought,
Nothing right by him is wrought,
When he spurns Your gracious Will.

Cleanse our souls from sinful stain,
Lave our dryness with Your rain,
Heal our wounds and mend our way.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful who in You,
Trust with childlike piety,
Deign Your sevenfold gift to send.

Give them virtue's rich increase,
Saving grace to die in peace,
Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ninth Day of Novena to the Holy Spirit

We join in the final day of our novena.

NINTH DAY (Saturday, Vigil of Pentecost)

Thou, on those who evermore Thee confess and Thee Adore, in Thy sevenfold gift, Descend; Give Them Comfort when they die; Give them Life with Thee on high; Give them joys which never end. Amen

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Prayer

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE. Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

To be recited daily during the Novena

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

(To be recited daily during the Novena)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Eighth Day of Novena to the Holy Spirit

We join in the eighth day of our novena.

EIGHTH DAY (Friday, 7th Week of Easter)

Bend the stubborn heart and will, melt the frozen warm the chill. Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom

Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written "all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands." It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Saviour: "Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE. Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

To be recited daily during the Novena

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

(To be recited daily during the Novena)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Seventh Day of Novena to the Holy Spirit

We join in the seventh day of our novena.

SEVENTH DAY (Thursday, 7th Week of Easter)

Heal our wounds--our strength renews; On our dryness pour Thy dew, Wash the stains of guilt away.

The Gift of Counsel

The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. "Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth."

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE. Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.

ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY SPIRIT On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body to You, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. In You I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve You by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against You. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Your light, and listen to Your voice, and follow Your gracious inspirations. I cling to You and give myself to You and ask You, by Your compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds, and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore You, Adorable Spirit, Helper of my infirmity, to keep me in Your grace that I may never sin against You. Give me grace, O Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Father and the Son to say to You always and everywhere, "Speak Lord for Your servant heareth." Amen.

To be recited daily during the Novena

PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

(To be recited daily during the Novena)

All are called by God to love Him.

All are called to serve Him.

Some are called to special lives of service,

to give witness to God's love through being a priest, religious brother, or sister.

Is He calling you?