I want to share a secret: the Church is filled with sinners. I admit that it is not a very good secret. At times, though, we can pretend that it is a secret or that we are not really sinners. We act like this statement in itself is scandalous, ignoring that is the sinful behavior that is cause of scandal, not that the members struggle with sin. From the first apostles until now, this has been the case. Call to mind the original 12 apostles. They were not perfect. Time and again, they bumbled their way through life. Consider St. Peter, patron of our fair city. He sometimes got things so right - making the bold profession that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and having courage to take the first step onto the water, only to display complete ignorance to God’s will or take his eyes off our Lord. Or think of Judas, the man who could follow Jesus for three years, but sold him out for thirty pieces of silver, then to commit suicide in despair. The other apostles who ran, hid, or were skeptical. No, the Church, as beautiful as she is as a whole, is filled with sinners in her members. But that is good - the Church is a hospital for the sick, not a shrine for the perfect. We as members are not perfect, but the Body of Christ, united to Christ as head, is. While the vile acts of some priests have certainly challenged us, the message of the Church remains - that Christ is our savior. But we still act in such a way that suggests we can keep this secret. First, we members and leadership attempt to be “Nice”, and to avoid anything that would not be seen as ‘nice’. We become too accommodating, allowing bad behavior because we are in the Church (a problem that also plagued the early Church as some rejoiced in the freedom to sin) . We do not want to offend anyone, so we allow sin to go unchallenged. We too often allow unprofessional behavior in the workplace lest we come off as mean. We are members of the Church, after all, and we are supposed to love and accept everyone, right? The opposite of this being nice is also prevalent - we can be done right mean. We disparage those who do not meet our ideas of perfection, and we become too demanding. Specifically, we might look at incidents of members condemning a unmarried woman who is pregnant, or groups protesting funerals as God’s punishment. Neither of these extremes (nice or mean) reveal Jesus. Jesus is merciful, certainly, but He is also just. He spent time with prostitutes and tax collectors, but did not confirm them in their sins but called them to conversion. We need to be kind and loving, but the most loving thing we can sometimes do is challenge someone to be better, to respond to grace. Too often the charge of hypocrisy is thrown around when we do so, however. It is not hypocrisy to be a sinner seeking conversion, but it is hypocrisy to pretend like we do not sin, or to hold others to standards we do not apply to ourselves, however imperfectly. Only when we get beyond the fear of being called hypocrites, only when we stop fearing that we are sinners to be discovered, will we find the grace to move forward in the Lord. The truth is that there are sinners in the Church, but we are sinners who know our savior is Jesus who loves us and calls us to repentance.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Despite the difficult weather patterns we have experienced, Spring is here. I love seeing the lawns green up, and even the yellow of the dandelions and daffodils provide a much-needed contrast to the white and gray hues of winter. The trees bud forth in glorious array, and the birds are chirpily building their nests and laying eggs. Even the children, not so long ago bundled-up to avoid the dread cold now are running free and un-encumbered.
What is not to love about Spring? Nothing, except my now distant memories of dreadful consigned service to household tasks called “Spring-cleaning”. As children, my brother and sisters and I were assigned our tasks to washing walls and floors, cleaning drawers and carpets, and in general to throw out all that was no longer useful or needed. It was so nice outside, but now we were trapped inside, not by necessity caused by the weather, but the results – dirt. Knowing now what I did not then, I might have asked why we were continuing a outdated tradition started when walls would get soot-covered by a winter’s worth of burning coal. I might have suggested to do the dreaded tasks on the inevitable rainy day. In obedience, I simply did it.
Looking back, now I see the wisdom in my mother’s tradition, all the same. Without spring-cleaning, we collect too much stuff, to the point that many have storage units that could fill-in for dumpsters. We hold on to things we do not need, all just because. Spring-cleaning helps sever those ties, and in the end frees us.
The same is true in the spiritual life. As we go through life, we collect pains and hurts, grievances, grudges, and gripes. They accumulate like the soot and clutter, little by little, until we just get accustomed to them. Regularly setting a time to address them is good for us, and how good it is when we truly do so. When we take the time to do so, even if it takes us out of the cheer of the outside world, we find that our interior world - our spirit and souls - experience a true peace and tranquility that comes only from God.
As Catholics, we have a great means of “spring-cleaning” in the sacrament of Reconciliation, but all Christians have access to the forgiveness of Christ. Invite Him in – ask the Holy Spirit to come and clean our heart and mind, and then to occupy it and not allow anything else to fill it (Mt. 12:43f). After all, Jesus Christ is raised from the dead to set us free. He gives us life, and life more abundantly, that we may live in the newness of life that this great season of Spring only begins to emulate. I am so thankful to my mother for teaching me the value of spring-cleaning.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
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!
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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!
Thursday, August 28, 2014
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.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Sunday, March 10, 2013
The question to us as the listener is not which son we are, but are we able to receive with joy the dignity that the Lord longs to give us, to know that He comes to us to redeem us!
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
We, too, are called by Christ and sent by Him. We do not travel alone, either. Rather, we follow our vocations with others, even if our particular vocation is individual. We work best when we work together.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
God is powerful, but he will not act in our lives with that power unless we invite Him to act. We, of our own free wills, either cooperate with Him, or stand against Him. But God continues to call us to conversion, inviting us to open our hearts to Him, and when we do, we can see more fully the good that God does and is.