Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One and the Covenant

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Tuesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 5:21-33

Brothers and sisters:Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.For the husband is head of his wifejust as Christ is head of the Church,he himself the savior of the Body.As the Church is subordinate to Christ,so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.Husbands, love your wives,even as Christ loved the Churchand handed himself over for her to sanctify her,cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,that he might present to himself the Church in splendor,without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,that she might be holy and without blemish.So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.He who loves his wife loves himself.For no one hates his own fleshbut rather nourishes and cherishes it,even as Christ does the Church,because we are members of his Body.For this reason a man shall leave his father and his motherand be joined to his wife,and the two shall become one flesh.This is a great mystery,but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself,and the wife should respect her husband.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Gospel Lk 13:18-21


The reading from Paul today is one that has been much maligned over the past half century. It is pointed at, especially by feminists, as demonstrating how chauvinistic Christianity can be. There is not doubt that many of the conservative groups of Christians, both Protestant and Catholic have taken this passage as the defining passage for roles of man and woman in marriage. They generally miss an important message in their rush to establish a hierarchy of authority.

Where there is generally trouble is that many men who have taken this passage to mean that they have dominance in a married relationship miss the analogy in favor of the words. The analogy is: “For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the Church”. And how does Christ lead his Church? It is not by making all of the decisions for her and it is not by defining restrictive boundaries for her. Rather, Christ provided the leadership through his own example and his intense love for her, his bride the Church, led him to make the ultimate sacrifice for all those who would one day have the choice to follow and be bride or reject and find loneliness. Ultimately the analogy promotes the covenant relationship which is a mutual bond each sharing with the other all they have.

Rather than focusing on the analogy, which by the way is also the foundation of the Sacrament of Marriage, let us focus on what Paul is saying about mutual respect and the great commandment of Jesus, to love one another. In the middle of all the rhetoric about husbands and wives we find this interesting passage:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Here we find Paul making reference first to Christ’s crucifixion by which he won our freedom from sin making us a holy people (…to sanctify her,). He follows this with a reference to our adoption in Baptism (…cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,) and then concluding that, in our adoption in that baptismal bath we become new, a new creation clothed in himself. We become one in Christ and this is his point both about Christ and the Church and husband and wife, the two become one and one may not divide itself.

And were today is the practical application of this huge thought? For those of us who are married, let us remember our partner is not just another person in our life but joined to us as Christ is joined to and part of the Church. In doing so we must not take for granted that holy bond. For those who are single, look at your brothers and sisters joined to you in the one adoption of baptism – they are your extended family and one should always love one’s family. Of course that goes for us married folks as well, we just have more on our plate.


Monday, October 30, 2006

I Am The Law

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Monday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 4:32–5:8

Brothers and sisters:Be kind to one another, compassionate,forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,as Christ loved us and handed himself over for usas a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you,as is fitting among holy ones,no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place,but instead, thanksgiving.Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person,that is, an idolater,has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.Let no one deceive you with empty arguments,for because of these thingsthe wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.So do not be associated with them.For you were once darkness,but now you are light in the Lord.Live as children of light.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. Behave like God as his very dear children.

Gospel Lk 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.And a woman was there who for eighteen yearshad been crippled by a spirit;she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”He laid his hands on her,and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.But the leader of the synagogue,indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,said to the crowd in reply,“There are six days when work should be done.Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!Does not each one of you on the sabbathuntie his ox or his ass from the mangerand lead it out for watering?This daughter of Abraham,whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath dayfrom this bondage?”When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.


Although Paul does not say it in this passage from Ephesians, we can almost hear the words; “Be imitators of me, as I imitate Christ.” He calls to us in the place of the Ephesians, since we too are being challenged by deceivers with empty arguments. Today his stern injunction is to avoid those things that contaminate us through sin.

Why is it that we are asked to do such difficult things in the name of our Lord? Why could it not be simpler? One would think that as we get older and wiser in the ways of the Lord that following his commands would become easier. Take if from on of the “old ones”, it does not.

The lord asks us to love on another. That is his chief commandment to us. He has given us his own example in the Gospel of Luke today as a written proof. He confounds the leaders of the Temple who are challenging him because he cured a possessed woman on the Sabbath, thereby violating the Law by doing work. He silenced them and in doing so, once more, gave us an understanding that the Law God gives us is first and foremost one of love.

And when the Lord passed from his life as a man and returned to the Father, he left us with further examples; first the Apostles strengthened by the Holy Spirit, who spread his word, then the early Fathers of the Church who sacrificed their lives so the faith could be codified. They in turn were followed by more great Saints who spread the word even further, asking the difficult questions; questions we ask even today. They left us the answers given to them through discernment and the same Holy Spirit left by Christ for us all, in the teaching Magesterium of the Church.

Through the ages that followed, the law of love the Lord of Love has been instilled in the hearts of great and humble members of the faithful, the Communion of Saints. Their example continues to keep the image of the world of love alive and vibrant. Through two thousand years that torch has been passed, most recently to Mother Theresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul the Great, and now they have handed that torch to us.

It does not get any easier does it. How can we lift that burden, flawed as we all are? How can people see in us the image of the Lord’s love? It is in our daily lives that this happens and through our ordinary acts of kindness, consideration, and forgiveness. That message is never easy, but we are called and it’s what we do.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Training Day

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Friday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 4:1-6

Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Gospel Lk 12:54-59


St. Paul slips one in on us the morning. Did you notice the second line of the selection from his letter to the Ephesians? “…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,”. Wow, if that is not a challenge for us, I don’t know what is. He goes on to explain what he means.

“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

The density of thought contained in St. Paul’s letters continues to amaze me. We can almost take it apart phrase by phrase and focus a whole reflection upon each one. That of course is what we have commentaries for so let’s take a look at the scripture passage as a whole.

Paul is speaking to a community of faith. The passage would have relevance for a family; however, an individual would have a difficult time applying this message just to his or her own life. “It takes at least two to tango”, as they say.

Paul places this unifying plea in the context of his theology of the Church as the risen body of Christ. We know from reading his work that he views the body of the faithful as the organic force that is to accomplish Christ’s mission on earth and that, while each individual is precious, the whole body is necessary to affect the change our Lord hoped for.

If we use the “One Body” analogy, what Paul is asking for today is that for the body to accomplish the mission of Christ, it must first learn to work in harmony among its various parts. “…preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” How often do we see the body working against itself?

When an athlete trains to compete with others, the principle focus of that training is to teach the body to respond without thought to the situations encountered in that competition. That process actually has a name; it’s called “muscle memory”. The muscles actually respond without needing a command from the brain, the act reflexively in the right way. If you play a sport, baseball (it is World Series time and the Tigers are in big trouble), golf, tennis, or archery, the goal of all that practice is to get your body to do the necessary things exactly the same why, the correct way, each time.

It needs to be the same way with us, with our community of faith. We need to train the body of the risen Christ, which, according to Paul is the Church, to react the way Jesus would want it to act. That takes training, training of the individuals and training of the whole body. The individuals need to act in accord with the body and the body must act with the mind of Christ.

Some of us try to train both, others just our selves. What is first and foremost is we must continue to understand the mind of Christ, through the Word, through Prayer, and through the teaching Mageserium of the Church. It is only with intense practice that we can achieve the goal the Lord has in mind for us. The down side, of course, is mentioned in Luke’s Gospel today. We do not, at the end of our time, want to be called in front of the judge and be found lazy and untrained – payment terms are way steep.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Holy Smoke

Thursday of the Twenty ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 3:14-21

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-1
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel Lk 12:49-53


It is somewhat ironic today that Paul’s first reading contains a family prayer and the Gospel of St. Luke has Jesus saying that his message will divide families. Of course, what the Lord said was correct – he did come to set the whole world on fire.

At the point in time he said this, he and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem for that fateful final time. Jesus is aware of what is coming his way. (“There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!”) Being fully human, his impending passion and death must frighten him.

He asks his disciples if they think he has come to bring peace to the earth. On the face of it, that question sounds like an easy one. Can’t you see St. Peter looking at the other disciples and then, after a brief pause, looking back at the Lord and saying; “Well, yes.”

We can feel the expectation of the disciples. They have been following Jesus now for some time and have heard, over and over again, his commandment to love one another. This sounds like a commandment that would bring peace to the world.

But Jesus tells them that the message he brings will do just the opposite. He says; “No, I tell you, but rather division.” He knows that while his message will catch some and light them on fire with the Holy Spirit, others will reject the message of peace, the message of consolation, the message of love. It is a hard message and one that flies in the face of self interest and hedonism.

Yes the Gospel today sounds somewhat contentious. On the surface we may feel that the message Jesus delivered all those years ago was intended only for his time and place in history. But all we need to do is look around us. While the Lord loves all peoples in the world, even today his message divides families and nations. And the fire he spoke of when he said; “I have come to set the earth on fire…” That fire still burns in our brothers and sister who take the word where it is not welcome.

And what of us? Do we live in a place and time where the word of Christ and his message of love for one another is readily accepted and lived? No, if we are taking and living the word, we certainly find the divisions. We find them in the classroom were the word is now forbidden; we find it in the work place were, not the Christmas season approaches, but the Holiday season, for fear of pointing out how Jesus forever changed the world.

Are we fearless in the face of the resistance, blatant of subtle we face? Are we courageous in the name of Jesus? Are we fire on the face of the earth? We hope so.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hearing Aids

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Wednesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 3:2-12

Responsorial Psalm Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Gospel Lk 12:39-48


How did you do on yesterday’s challenge? I know I did not do very well. Today, in the Gospel from St. Luke, the message is made more urgent, more emphatic, as we hear yet another parable about the servant who thinks his master will not return right away. It is not a pretty picture, in fact it gets even more difficult. Those last lines of scripture are super harsh;

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Like Paul, “… the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given” to us as well. We have been given the code of life that Christ has inscribed on our hearts during our baptism and sealed there in Confirmation. Of course, that does not necessarily mean that we understand what our Lord wants from us. Therein lies the crux of the problem. Listen as Luke tells us:

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?”

What does that mean for us? We have been given tasks to perform on this earth and we should not be caught ignoring those duties entrusted to us when the Lord returns (or when we return to the Lord which is more likely). How are we supposed to figure out what God wants us to do? How do we guess what is on his mind? (Great philosophers would ask that question in a different way asking; what is the meaning and purpose of life?) How are we supposed to answer a question hotly debated by brilliant people for millennia?

Actually, that was the point of Christ’s great sacrifice. He came, not only to bring us salvation, and not only to demonstrate the Father’s intense love for us, but also to give us an example of what God wants us to be. His life is the perfect answer to the question; what is the purpose of live?

Ok, so now we have the ten thousand foot answer to the first question; what does God want us to do? Now we need to find a practical answer that works on a daily basis so we can be prepared. There are several ways to discover the mind of Christ. First is one we are already doing if we are reflecting on these very words – it is in Scripture – the Logos (Word) that Christ is found, preserved for us to examine in the tiniest detail. The second is closely linked and that is prayer. Not the words we speak, but the will we hear in our listening silence.

There is also a third and most important way – we find God’s will in our worship as Church. God called his whole people and his word cannot be understood clearly when only an individual hears. It is when the faithful are gathered that the word becomes flesh and the flesh feeds us and the will of the Father is made known. It is in the joyous note of the choir and the profound silence of prayer that we hear that voice most clearly – if we listen.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Experiment Proposed

Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time &
Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop

Biographical Information about St. Anthony Mary Claret
Readings for Tuesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 2:12-22

Responsorial Psalm Ps 85:9ab-10, 11-12, 13-14
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Gospel Lk 12:35-38


"A great soul born to unite contrasting elements, he was humble in origin, yet illustrious in the eyes of the world. Small in stature, but a giant in spirit. Modest in appearance, but very capable of instilling respect, also in the great ones of the earth. Strong in character, but with the gentleness of someone who knows the restraint of austerity and penance. Always in the presence of God, even in the midst of prodigious activity. Slandered and admired, celebrated and persecuted, and among such great marvels, a gentle light that illumines all, his devotion to the Mother of God."

I wonder, if you had not known that today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Anthony Claret, would you have known that this quote from Pope Pius XII was referring to him, or would you have thought that he was referring to St. Paul. With the possible exception to the very last statement, all that was said about St. Anthony was true of St. Paul as well.

This confusion would be especially true if, before the quote was read, one read the selection from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians for today. St. Paul really hammers the fact that Christ came as the great unifier. As he had with the Galatians, Paul points out that we are one in Christ, Jew and Gentile no longer but one in Christ.

The Gospel from Luke today gives us the Lord’s instruction on always being prepared. Remember Jesus is on his journey to Jerusalem and the events that will unfold there must be weighing on his mind. His disciples need to be ready. We need to be ready.

It makes good sense to link Jesus, St. Paul, and St. Anthony together today. Jesus who brings us God’s love; Paul who first took that word to the rest of the known world; and St. Anthony who, 1500 years later, continued the mission as he followed Christ’s command to be always prepared and Paul’s example of unification in Christ.

If we, each of us, were to go through our day today with the simple thought of getting spiritually ready, as if today were our last day, what would people who meet us think? First we would be constantly thinking about the Lord and that would give us a sense of peace as we realized that our salvation was assured. That peace would overcome any turbulence in our lives, people would not upset us, and the actions of inconsiderate people would roll off us. People who met us would be amazed at our unruffled demeanor.

Next, people would notice our actions which would reflect the compassion and love of Jesus in all that we did, with all we met. That would be a dead ringer – we belong to Christ and are at peace with what he has for us.

It would be very interesting to see how long we could maintain that excellent mindset today. What do you think? Should we give it a try?


Monday, October 23, 2006

Shades of Gray

Monday of the Twenty ninth Week in Ordinary Time &
Saint John of Capistrano, Priest

Biographical Information about St. John of Capistrano

Readings for Monday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Eph 2:1-10

Responsorial Psalm Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4ab, 4c-5
R. The Lord made us, we belong to him.

Gospel Lk 12:13-21

The internet is an amazing tool for anyone who wishes to expand their knowledge on a given subject, even the Saints. If you have some time in the next couple days, just search for information about one of your favorites and see what you find, but be careful, check the base theology of the site you find – it may surprise you to learn that many people spend a lot of time putting false or misleading information on line. I use Butler’s Lives of Saints as an off line source and it is packed with historical information which puts many of the Saints into historical context.

Today is the Memorial of Saint John of Capistrano and he is another of those saints that can be called “defenders of the faith”. Speaking of on lines sources, I did find a really good break down or categorization of the saints in the Communion of Saints at a site called Tradition In Action. The name scared me a little only because I try to stay main-stream and there is so much out there from the ultra-conservative to the ultra-liberal (I saw a story a short time back about a group of “supposedly” religious sisters who got themselves ordained as Priests out in the middle of Lake Ontario, as if being on a boat, somehow conferred validation to the event.) The article on St John was written by a Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and while I did not check his credentials I did like what he had to say about saints in general;

One could try to make a classification of the saints. Some were founders of nations, others were organizers of nations, still others were founders of religious orders. Then, there is a category of saints who were the defensive walls of the House of God. They constitute a kind of saint whose principal goal is to fight, to destroy the enemies of God. They have the capacity to put fire in souls to stimulate them to the defense of God, to lead them to combat. And in the combat they know how to sustain the courage of the good as well as how to attack the enemies. Doing this, they defend the walls of the House of God. Such is the mission of this category of saints. St. John of Capistrano was one of these saints.

As I said about St. John could be classified as a “defender of the faith” and there is always a trap laid at those of us who try vehemently to defend tradition. The trap is perhaps exemplified by a situation from my own parish community some years ago. It was before young ladies were allowed to be acolytes (alter servers) and our parish priest at the time, having recently returned from Rome, had seen young ladies serving at some of the cathedrals there. He decided to invite girls to participate at our parish. This infuriated a small minority of our congregation who considered themselves traditionalists. They probably first challenged our Pastor privately, I don’t know, but when that had no effect, they went after the girls who did volunteer very publicly. The harassed before and after Mass, telling them, in front of parishioners, that they were committing mortal sins and that they were going to hell for their behavior.

Since I am running long today, I will leave you with this question to be prayerfully considered; Is it better to defend what you think of as our “great tradition” by violating the spirit of love, central to Christ’s teachings, or is it better to support those traditions some other way – and how far do we go before we proclaim; “Crusade” as St. John did?


Friday, October 20, 2006


Friday of the Twenty eighth Week in Ordinary Time &
St. Paul of the Cross

Biographical Information about St. Paul of the Cross

Readings for Friday of the Twenty eighth Week in Ordinary

Reading 1 Eph 1:11-14

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 12-136
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Gospel Lk 12:1-7


In Christ we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

Rather than take a big picture look at scripture, let’s look at just this one sentence from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Let’s break it down and see what the great evangelist is saying to us as we hear him all these years later.

“In Christ we were also chosen”: we were chosen in Christ and by Christ. We were elected in Baptism to carry His banner to the world. We were given the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and with that armor – guided by those who went before us in faith – we are sent to take his message to the world.

“…destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,” We are called in “accord with the purpose” of Christ – it is His will and purpose we serve and by his will we continue to carry the love he shared with the world forward.

“…so that we might exist for the praise of his glory”: We who were called by him and directed according to the purpose of him who sent us do all things for the greater glory of Christ in God the Father. We cannot accomplish anything on our own and what good we do accomplish, again according to his will, must be done for his glory, not our own.

“…we who first hoped in Christ.” Indeed, Christ is our hope, our salvation. Without him there is no hope. Without the Lord of Light, all is darkness.

As is often the case in scripture, these huge words and concepts of our faith are densely packed when presented in the context of authors like St. Paul. I have not done justice to the thought he gathered in that one sentence. The emotion of our adoption is missing in my brief commentary, as is the intense ach of Paul’s passion for the Lord.

The action demanded is clear. Christ asks us to follow him, to do his will and to do it for his greater glory. We are all going to grasp onto that call differently. This is exemplified today as we remember St. Paul of the Cross. He grasped the passion of the Lord and committed his life and the lives of the other members of the Passionist Order (Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion) (FYI – Discalced means; Shoeless or Sandaled) to the great sacrifice of the Lord. Once again in this week of memories, the Lord called another saint to show us that, while our path is to Him and the Father, there are many ways to walk it.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Canada before Beer

Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and
Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs

Biographical Information about St. John Brébeuf
Biographical Information about St. Isaac Jogues

Readings for Thursday

Reading 1 Eph 1:1-10

Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.

Gospel Lk 11:47-54


Today we should start with Jesus in the Gospel and go backward with scripture but forward in time. We begin with Jesus really laying into the Scribes and Pharisees because they refuse to see the spirit of God and cling only to their traditions and the trappings of the Law. It would be as if one who professed Christianity were to drive past a person injured or persecuted at the side of the road because they were late for Mass.

We follow the Lord’s attempt to move these misguided temple leaders with Paul’s opening profession to the Ephesians. This wonderful prayer is one of Paul’s gems.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

Here is the message that Jesus was trying to get the Scribes and Pharisees to listen to. Here the love God has for us is realized and the groundwork for our salvation laid bare. The gifts the Lord brings us are enumerated – the spiritual blessings, our adoption by Christ, the grace and peace he offers us.

It is this intense love for us, recognized by the Communion of Saints throughout our history that gives us encouragement and hope. Today we remember two of the holy ones who have gone before us in faith; St. John de Brébeuf and St. Isaac Jogues. These two French Jesuit missionaries to the Canadian wilds took that message of love were it had never been. In the end they gave their lives for that message and in doing so, forged one more rung in our ladder that leads us to the Father. That is what the saints do for us, the live the message the Lord left for us as examples for us to follow.

Of course the difficult part is that we to are expected to take that message and do our best to put it into practice so those who follow us will see our example and follow. Indeed our prayer today should be the one Paul wrote to the Ephesians and in our hearts let us feel the hope and peace that prayer brings.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Luke, Theresa, and Me

Feast of Saint Luke

Biographical Information about St. Luke

Readings for Wednesday

Reading 1 2 Tm 4:10-17b

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Gospel Lk 10:1-9


We have to tell you, this morning as I reviewed the readings; the story of Paul, sounding so human, complaining that his friends had deserted him (except Luke) and asking for things to be sent to him, my heart sank. You see I have for the past two days felt spiritually dry.

Yesterday I banked out in the middle or writhing my post on St. Ignatius of Antioch. I actually started that post, got distracted because the EWTN source I was using as the link for biographical information had the wrong (1962) feast date, and thought I would finish it at my office. Wouldn’t you know, I sent myself the wrong file (I sent my completed post on St. Ignatius of Loyola). Scripture was not speaking to my heart.

Today, as I read the reading from 2nd Timothy I did not feel that spark. I moved on to Luke’s story of the 72 which we heard just two weeks ago on Thursday. Having just recently reflected on this story, I wondered, what could I say that I had not already said? It happens sometimes. When you hear a homily at Mass that does not seem to have much fire or substance, it happens. We are all vessels that the Lord uses in different ways but we have one thing in common, if we are going to pour out the Lord on others as St. Luke did, the seventy two did, as we are called to do, we need to be filled up ourselves.

I got up and went to the “Library” and there was a booklet in there, probably something my wife picked up, titled “Do I Really Want God” by Peter Herbeck. If it had been a bigger book or had a smaller font, I probably would have looked at it and thought, “More apologetic stuff”. (My wife is always looking for things she can use on her friends who have fallen away from Church or to help herself who as a cradle Catholic was never taught the faith in an adult way.) But the book was thin and the type big enough to read without straining so I started to read it.

Herbeck started talking about the Sisters of Charity, St. Theresa’s order, and how over each of their chapels they had a two word scripture quote; “I Thirst.” He started to explain that simple quote and I stated a mental debate with him, as some academically oriented folks are likely to do, over possible meanings; What did Jesus thirst for? What did the sisters and brothers thirst for?

Then Peter got to the story about a conference he attended in Germany on faith in the family and how the forty speakers, himself included, for a number of days went on with complex presentations and dry papers about various aspects of family issues.

He talked about how, on the final day, Theresa of Calcutta came to speak to them and how her mere presence caused them to emote, so powerful was her presence. He told about how simple her words were yet how they cut through all pretext and got right to the simple truth about the Lord and his mission for us.

I didn’t finish that short booklet. Instead I realized that there was indeed something to give today. It is a question, a question that I will struggle to answer and one that I give to you who may read this post today. How do I measure my efforts on the part of the Lord against the likes of St. Luke, who with Paul took the message to the know world? How do I measure myself against the simple gift of St. Theresa of Calcutta? Take heart, we still have time.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Free To Worship Without Fear

Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time &
Saint Hedwig and Margaret Mary Alacoque

Biographical Information about St. Hedwig and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque[1]

Readings for Monday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1

Responsorial Psalm Ps 113:1b-2, 3-4, 5a and 6-7
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.

Gospel Lk 11:29-32


If Paul had been living today and made the statement: “One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar.” There would be riots in Palestine, Pakistan, and Iran. People would die because Paul dared to say anything against Hagar; the mother of Ishmael who we all know was in the line of their revered prophet.

Paul’s use of this allegory today is directed once more at some of the Christian converts from Judaism continued dedication to the Law of Abraham. His point was that God gave us the law, not to enslave us, but to set us free. This same kind of argument would become necessary again in the late 1500s as the Calvinists asserted not so much that we were slaves to the law but that we were predestined to either be saved or forever damned. Ironically the biggest scriptural sign-post for the Calvinists was Jesus teaching his disciples to pray; “…Thy will be done”.

This sentiment leaked into the Church during that same period in history as Jansenism reared it’s head in France and which said fundamentally;” …emphasize predestination, deny free will, and maintain that human nature is incapable of good.[2]” Like all attacks on doctrine, this one served to build up the Church’s understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. Ironically many of the Jansenists were vehemently opposed to the devotion of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque also French but devoted to the intersession of the Holy Spirit and the merit of works in support of salvation.

We must ask what practical impact the word for today has for us. First, it is always good to be reminded that what ever we do each day is a free choice made by us. It is also important that we remember that these actions have consequences not only in this life but the next. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to those who reject him on his fateful trip to Jerusalem. He reminds them that if they ignore the warning he gives them to turn away from rejection and accept that the kingdom of God is at hand because they want proof from him, they will suffer the fate promised those warned by Jonah.

Although the scriptures today are somewhat dark, our response today must be one of light. It is up to us to accept the mantle of disciple and carry that word to the world today (or at least our part of it).


[1] The feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque is celebrated on October 17. I am not sure why but her name came up in the Ordo a day early. I place it here for the sake of consistency.
[2] Source is the on-line Free Dictionary.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Mind Was Not On The Game?

Saturday of the Twenty seventh Week in Ordinary Time &
St. Callistus, Pope and martyr

Biographical Information about St. Callistus

Readings for Saturday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 3:22-29

Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Gospel Lk 11:27-28


Paul continues to reconcile those who follow Hebraic Law with Christ’s gift in the Galatians reading today. He finally takes his argument that we are one in Christ. In fact he goes much further – he tells the Galatians that they are; “…There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There are many teaching elements that Paul brings us in his letters. In my humble opinion, this one is perhaps his greatest contributions. If we think about where this infant Church was when Paul was spreading the word through the known world, it was like a tiny flicker and could easily have been divided and extinguished. Yet Paul took on Peter and the other Apostles and reminded them, even though he had not walked with the Lord in person, of his tremendous love for all peoples.

When we hear Paul today, we are forced to ask ourselves, are we following this part of the Lord’s Great Commandment? Do we look at others of our own faith and think, we are better than they are because they are poor and we are rich (there is neither slave nor free person); or do we think we know better than they because he is a man or she is a woman (there is not male and female)?

We are one in Christ and that single statement galvanizes us into a force for God that cannot be withstood if only we acted as if it were absolutely true. Alas, like so many other precepts of the Church, we have difficulty acting on this one. Our human nature overcomes the spirit trying desperately to guide us on right paths. We can make the excuse that we are reacting to others who are behaving much worse but more realistically, at least for myself, I am reminded of a scene from a movie I watched the other night, Maverick. Mel Gibson, the now famous anti-Semitic actor, was playing poker at the very beginning of the movie and had just won a large hand. A young man seated across the table said; “I don’t think that hand should count.”

Maverick asked, with a laughing grin on his face; “Why not?”

To which the young man responded (Here it is folks, our best excuse.) “Because, my mind was not on the game.”

How many times have we fallen into that trap? How many times have we failed to do what we knew was the right thing because, “our mind was not on the game?” We were caught up in the moment and we were not thinking as one who is one in Christ. We let our baser instincts take over – notice the words “We let…”

Today (and every day) let us keep our guard up so that when finally we stand before the judgment seat of the Lord, our excuse will not be; My mind was not on the game.


Friday, October 13, 2006


Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Friday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 3:7-14

Responsorial Psalm Ps 111:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Gospel Lk 11:15-26


The unity theme continues and strengthens today. We look at it on two different levels, at least in the Gospel. We look at the Lord saying; “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” In real time he is trying to bring the people he is helping to understand that he could not cast out evil spirits as an agent of Satan because doing so would destroy what he (Satan) was trying to do. This was necessary because there were those in the crowd who were clearly trying to undermine him and create hostility for him.

When this message passes through the ages to us, however, it contains two distinct messages. First, at the macro level, the Christian Community as a whole must keep fast to the teachings of Jesus. Those that do not are separated, divided, and will not stand for long. There is too much resistance in the world. We can bring that down to our local faith community and the same rule holds true. We must avoid the divisive influences often caused by self interest and taking our eyes off of what is truly important, one people in Christ.

Finally we bring the message down to our own individual character. It is difficult enough to balance our work or school and our family lives. When we add in our call to serve others, It is a balancing act that often requires feats of skill a circus juggler would envy. Picture, if you will, a tripod with yourself standing on top. The legs of the tripod are set in a foundation that is our faith. While the foundation remains strong, the legs of our tripod are stable and we can do all the things we need to in life.

There is one thing missing from this picture, isn’t there. Picture now little creatures (I think of them like tiny devils) pulling and tugging at the legs of the tripod. They don’t give up and sometimes go into frenzies of activity. Sometimes they are able to loosen one of the legs and standing up there at the top we begin to loose our balance. So sneaky are these little devils that sometimes we don’t even feel our loss of balance until we are actually falling (failing).

In the image we painted above, one leg of the tripod represents our work (or school). We must not take our eye off the ball there. That leg feeds us and allows us to do the other things in our life that are so necessary. But there is a devil pulling on that leg. The devil is sometimes a distraction to some leisure activity, it could be the internet, it could be one of the other legs of the tripod. What we must do is see that that leg remains healthy and receives all the attention it needs to stay so.

The second leg of our tripod represents family (If one does not have an immediate family it can be social relationships – one should also consider a religious vocation.) Time and energy must be spent to keep that leg strong as well. After all the work leg is only there out of necessity – the family leg is there out of love. The devils pulling on this leg can be the other two legs, work and ministry (or individual interests or activities if ministry to others is not something you do on a regular basis (work on that)). Time away from family is necessary but too much time and things will start to slip and when the family is out of balance, life is really not fun. The obvious other devils include the temptation to form other relationships; engage in other non-family activities; or even solitude in the presence of family. (There is a current movie out there called “Click” that is instructive. While I am not a huge Adam Sandler fan, there is a real message in the film.)

The final leg of the tripod is ministry or, as I said above, individual interests. This leg is important too. It is the leg were we can individually express our faith through works. If we have a vibrant ministry it can really detract from family and work, weakening those to all important legs. The unique relationship of this leg with the others is that it also feeds and strengthens the foundation into which all are set. It cannot be long ignored or the whole tripod, us included end up in a heap.

We are running long today so let us today examine our own life balance and pledge to make the adjustments to insure that all legs of the tripod are balanced.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's the Question?

Thursday of the Twenty seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Thursday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 3:1-5

Responsorial Psalm Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.

Gospel Lk 11:5-13


Just in case you are wondering after having read the passage from Galatians, other translations use the words foolish and senseless in the place of “stupid”. Paul continues to fight the Hebrew members of the Galatian community who are continuing to hold up the Law of Moses as supreme over the new covenant the Lord has brought.

In a very real sense, things have not changed, where faith is concerned, to this day. Look at the reaction of many members of our faith community when even minor changes are introduced to our worship. Now imagine a people who now must face a radical change. Even though they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were trying to revert to their old ways of thought. Is it any wonder Paul goes on a bit of a tear? Sometimes it’s even hard for us, all these years later, to remember that Jesus changed everything.

We come now to St. Luke’s Gospel. We actually are given the Gospel twice today. The first time it is in the form of the Responsorial Psalm where we hear the front part of the Canticle of Zachariah as he prophesies about the coming of Jesus and the great gift that is for all of us.

In the continuing story of Jesus return to Jerusalem we hear the familiar phrase; “…ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened”. The Lord frames that offer and assures us with a brief analogy; asking if a child asked for fish, would his loving father give him a snake or if he asked for an egg would he give him a scorpion?

On the surface it sounds like if we ask God for anything, he will just give it to us. And, if we quit reading the scripture right there, we could set our selves up for a real disappointment later. God does not just swoop down and grant wishes like some gene in a bottle. Just because we want something, even something good, does not mean that we automatically get it. God has his own purpose and time.

If we look at the very end of the scripture passage we see; “…how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Even in the parallel passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matthew 7:11) he qualifies the answers to prayers with “…give good things to those who ask him.”

God did not give us life to live it for us. He did not create us as slaves, he gave us free will. He did not create the earth and all that is in it to constantly reshape it for our safety. However, we are given the Holy Spirit free for the asking. That spirit supports us in times of difficulty and gives us strength in the face adversity. All we need to do is ask from our hearts and it is ours. Come Holy Spirit.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The One

Wednesday of the Twenty seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Wednesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 2:1-2, 7-14

Responsorial Psalm Ps 117:1bc, 2
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.

Gospel Lk 11:1-4


Paul continues his rather “newsy” letter to the Galatians. This time he profiles the difficulty of reconciling Jewish dietary laws with the gentiles. It is interesting and important to note that it was the Hebrew law that was set aside and the gentiles were not forced to conform. The same held true for circumcision. It would have been inconsistent for Christianity to spread far if this bone of contention had not been settled the way it was. I cannot imagine the faith succeeding if it suppressed cultural norms in each region where it was introduced.

From perspective of unity, what St. Paul wrote was very important to the early Church. It said that people of all nations could participate in Christ’s salvation without needing to be circumcised and without having to eat only kosher food. Paul, always the unifier, even went after Peter and Barnabas about separating themselves from the gentile Christians because of the dietary differences calling them hypocrites (this must have really stung given that they were with Jesus when he used that same word repeatedly on the Pharisees).

As important as Paul’s unifying attempts are in Galatians, the Gospel from Luke unifies the Church even more as Jesus gives the disciples the Lords Prayer. In Luke we see differences from the same passage in the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matthew 6:9-15) where he delivers a longer form in his Sermon on the Mount. Still, this concise prayer unites us as family. It is one prayer that is shared by every Christian denomination throughout the world.

The first strophes emphasize that we all pray to the one God and Father and revere his name and his Kingdom. If we all pray it, there may only be one Kingdom of God.

The second strophes ask for sustenance from God both substantial (real bread) and spiritual (Eucharist). This article recognizes that it is only through God that we find all that is good.

Next we ask for forgiveness from our sins, again universally recognizing that there is only one who is without sin and that is Jesus himself. It is only through him that we can find forgiveness and it his command that we forgive others.

Finally we are to ask that we not be subjected to the trial – the trial he knows he must go through. How could he not have us ask for that? He is compassion itself and having been tempted in the desert following his baptism and tempted further in the garden and finally tempted on the Cross, how could he not have us ask for release from that temptation?

Today our theme once more is unity of faith. It is proposed by Paul and punctuated by Jesus when he gives the disciples the family prayer of the Church. How can we not pray for one faith today?


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Tuesday of the Twenty seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Tuesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 1:13-24

Responsorial Psalm Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Gospel Lk 10:38-42


We have two interesting stories today. First, Paul is telling the Galatians about his own conversion experience. He goes into some detail about his initial call to Judaism and then his conversion following that with his travels having first gone to Damascus. He was on his own for three years before ever going to Peter (Cephas) and linking up with the newly developing Church.

Paul understood that, even though he had been called in a miraculous way to serve the Lord, he needed to be part of the one faith that Jesus started with his Apostles. Paul understood, and later went into great detail about the need for the Church to be unified. Today we hear of the beginning of that philosophy.

In the Gospel, we hear the story of Martha and Mary. It is the classic beginning of the relationship with that family. Once more we hear Martha, who is doing the traditional work of hospitality while her sister sits at the Lord’s feet, listening to Jesus.

Since Jesus is the main guest, Martha goes to him and asks him to have her sister help her to serve the other guests, to prepare the food and clean up after them. I am sure she was rather put out when Jesus told her; “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Let’s take a close look at that statement. He starts with … you are anxious and worried about many things. He is of course referring to taking care of the guests, right? Or is he? Could he be referring to her entire state of mind? What does that do to the remainder of what he says?

Next Jesus says; “There is need of only one thing.” It seems clear that he is referring to the Good News, the word he is spreading. He makes it clear that what he is doing must be a person’s single most important priority.

He closes with; “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Jesus tell Martha that Mary has made the right choice and the Lord will not try to dilute his message by taking that from her.

In this short passage we are taken from the practical to the spiritual. When first we hear Martha’s complaint, it is so human. It is something that we who have had multiple children have heard ourselves. One complains that the other is not doing enough or their share. In this story, Jesus tells Martha that, even though traditional wisdom from a parent might operate differently, he will not tell Mary to change her choice. She has made the choice that we are asked to make, and frequently we make the Martha choice.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Walk Humbly

Friday of the Twenty sixth Week in Ordinary Time &
Saint Bruno, priest and Blessed Marie Rose Durocher,

Biographical Information about St. Bruno
Biographical Information about Blessed Marie Rose

Readings for Friday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5

Responsorial Psalm Ps 139:1-3, 7-8, 9-10, 13-14ab
R. Guide me, Lord, along the everlasting way.

Gospel Lk 10:13-16


Today we remember two very interesting predecessors in the faith; St. Bruno, a 11th century priest who founded a religious order, the Carthusian Order, and Blessed Marie Rose, beatified by Pope John Paul the Great, who also founded the Canadian order of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Both give us examples of selfless devotion to the Lord and in different ways, examples of responding to God’s call.

St. Bruno, in addition to his commentaries combined the attributes of solitary spirituality (eremitical) and community (cenobitic) forming communities dedicated to contemplation in silence, the Divine Office, manual labor, and study.

While the Carthusians are introspective, the order founded by the Blessed Marie Rose is focused on the education of children. In 19th century Canada, when it was just one diocese, the European religious did not send many from their orders to support the Church the rustic wilds of our northern neighbor. The bishop put out a call for help in organizing indigenous communities and Marie Rose, even though she was in frail health, answered that call.

Two very different people with different gifts, yet they both built up the Church. It ties in nicely to the rather ominous Gospel passage from St. Luke. We pick up the story of Jesus sending out the seventy (two) where we left off yesterday as he was instructing them. He told them if they were not welcome in a place to shake the dust from their feet saying; ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’

Today he names names, as it were, of communities that have heard and rejected the good news of coming of the Kingdom of God. He also gives his disciples something very important. He gives them an identity as adopted by God. He tells them; “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Through out the two thousand years that have passed since those first disciples were sent out into the world, hundreds of thousands of faithful followers have heard this same call to take the Good News to the often times hostile world. The Communion of Saints stands there as a web of faith to show us what we are called to do and to be. When ever we think with pride that we have accomplished something wonderful in the Lord’s name, let us remember the Saints that have gone before us in faith and be humble in their memory.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Seventy (Two)

Thursday of the Twenty sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Thursday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jb 19:21-27

Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Gospel Lk 10:1-12


Today we hear the account of Jesus sending out the seventy two disciples. Whenever I hear this story I am reminded of a passage of a document from one of the early Church Fathers Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265-c. 340). Eusebius wrote a history of the Church from Christ to Constantine and among the pages of his first volume I discovered the passage I have quoted below. I know it is a bit lengthy for a quote, but is gave me a shot of faith when once I needed it. So, rather than reflect further on the readings of today, I give you the story of Thaddeus, one of the seventy two.

Copy of an epistle written by Abgarus the ruler to Jesus, tend sent to him at Jerusalem by Ananias the swift courier.

6 "Abgarus, ruler Of Edessa, to Jesus the excellent Savior who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting. I have heard the reports of thee and of thy cures as performed by thee without medicines or herbs. For it is said that thou makest the blind to see and the lame to walk, that thou cleansest lepers and castest out impure spirits and demons, and that thou healest those afflicted with lingering disease, and raisest the dead.

7 And having heard all these things concerning thee, I have concluded that one of two things must be true: either thou art God, and having come down from heaven thou doest these things, or else thou, who doest these things, art the Son of God.

8 I have therefore written to thee to ask thee that thou wouldest take the trouble to come to me and heal the disease which I have. For I have heard that the Jews are murmuring against thee and are plotting to injure thee. But I have a very small yet noble city which is great enough for us both."

The answer of Jesus to the ruler Abgarus by the courier Ananias.

9 "Blessed art thou who hast believed in me without having seen me. For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, and that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved. But in regard to what thou hast written me, that I should come to thee, it is necessary for me to fulfill all things here for which I have been sent, and after I have fulfilled them thus to be taken up again to him that sent me. But after I have been taken up I will send to thee one of my disciples, that he may heal thy disease and give life to thee and thine."

10 To these epistles there was added the following account in the Syriac language. "After the ascension of Jesus, Judas, who was also called Thomas, sent to him Thaddeus, an apostle, one of the Seventy. When he was come he lodged with Tobias, the son of Tobias. When the report of him got abroad, it was told Abgarus that an apostle of Jesus was come, as he had written him.

11 Thaddeus began then in the power of God to heal every disease and infirmity, insomuch that all wondered. And when Abgarus heard of the great and wonderful things which he did and of the cures which he performed, he began to suspect that he was the one of whom Jesus had written him, saying, `After I have been taken up I will send to thee one of my disciples who will heal thee.' [1]

Let us follow in the steps of those seventy two and bring Christ to places he has not been before.

[1] Translated by the Rev. Arthur Cushman McGiffert Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 1 Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace American Edition, 1890 Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Who's for the Birds?

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi, religious

Information about St. Francis of Assisi
Readings for Wednesday

Reading 1 Jb 9:1-12, 14-16

Responsorial Psalm Ps 88:10bc-11, 12-13, 14-15
R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

Gospel Lk 9:57-62


We celebrate today the feast of one of the truly great saints of the post-congregational Church. St. Francis came at a time when the hierarchy of the Church was almost ineffectual in growing and spreading the faith. Scandal after scandal had been taking place in the Vatican and, thanks to the speed with which news spread, the major impact on the faithful was negligible. There were, however, some individuals selected by God to be imbued with gifts from the Holy Spirit that would take over the great work of making Christ present to the world. St. Francis was one of these.

Although the readings we are given today were not especially selected for St. Francis, we can see some of his Christ-like attributes reflected in them. In the first reading from the Book of Job, we find Job responding to one of his friends who was telling him in the previous chapter that God would not forget him (Job) because he was a righteous man. Job in his response asks how such an insignificant person could merit God’s reward. His humility here is almost to the point of being self effacing.

St. Francis too was known for his humility. It is said he even rejected ordination to the priesthood feeling that, in spite of the fact that he had started one of the most important monastic orders in the history of the Church, he was not worthy of that rank.

In the Gospel we hear more sayings from Jesus as he continues his final journey to Jerusalem. Is it me or do we hear a tone that almost seems like he is urgently, desperately trying to get the disciples to understand the importance of placing God first?

St. Francis clearly understood this message. In fact, he took the Lord’s orders to the disciples at least as literally as did the Twelve. His order was vowed to live in poverty. His rule forbade the accumulation of wealth that had become such a temptation for Clergy in the Church at large. With great power and wealth came the temptation to misuse it and loose sight of the true mission of the Church. St. Francis saw this and took steps to insure it would not become an issue with his followers.

It is at about this point we always try to look for a practical application of the scripture to our lives. Today that is very easy given the lived example of St. Francis of Assisi. Let’s remember what Christ calls us to be today with the Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are
born to eternal life. Amen

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Walk on By

Tuesday of the Twenty sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Readings for Tuesday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23

Responsorial Psalm Ps 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8R. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

Gospel Lk 9:51-56


In our Gospel today, Jesus begins his final and fateful journey to Jerusalem. This trip will be one which prepares his disciples for the trials that are ahead of them. As his trip to Galilee began with rejection by the people of his home town, this one begins with rejection by the Samaritans.

When I first read of the disciples asking the Lord if they could rain down fire on the town, I thought this to be a reference to Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. After doing a little digging I discovered that scripture scholars believe this is rather an allusion to the Prophet Elijah from the Second Book of Kings (2 Kings 1:10 ff) and that by rejecting this option Jesus was really distinguishing himself from Elijah.

If the Lord had intended this to be a lesson for his disciples, what do we, his modern day disciples, learn from the story? First we must recognize that like the twelve, we are on a journey that will ultimately end with our passing from this life to the next.

In the first reading, Job, who as we saw yesterday had everything taken from him, lands, property, and family, by Satan, now wished he had never been born. This wish was made only because the road had become so difficult. (Of course, Job never did what Satan wanted him to do; curse and blaspheme against God.) Perhaps Job’s story was placed against the backdrop of today’s Gospel so we can be reminded just how difficult that journey may become for us.

The second point we must take away from our story today is what Jesus teaches in his response to the brothers, James and John. He rejected a violent resolution to the resistance that blocked their way. Even though he could have forced the issue with the Samaritans, he chose rather to go to another village were they would be welcome. Oh, and the subtext of the rejection of Jesus and his disciples was due to religious intolerance. The Samaritans do not like or associate with the Jews in Jesus time and, for the most part, the feeling is mutual. It is not surprising therefore that James and John want to take the extreme measure of toasting the town.

For us, that means that when we encounter resistance, whether it is out of simple ignorance or if it is out of hatred bread by racial or religious bias, our response must be to walk away. It does not matter if we recognize that the situation is unjust. Violence for us is not an option. We can take pity on them in the knowledge that the very emotions that feed them, hatred and bigotry, are destroying them more surely than they are harming us. Our hope is in the Lord.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Not in the Outfiled - Here

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

Information on the Church and Guardian Angels

Readings for Monday

Reading 1 Jb 1:6-22

Responsorial Psalm Ps 17:1bcd, 2-3, 6-7
R. Incline your ear to me and hear my word.

Gospel Mt 18:1-5, 10


Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.

Today as the Church celebrates the Memorial of Guardian Angels we hear this simple children’s prayer with which we teach our children not to fear, that God is with them always in the person of the guardian angels. We hear Jesus in the Gospel today tell his disciples that the Lord so protects them as he says;

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that
their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

In the history of the Church, our belief in these spirits (as St. Jerome called them) has evolved. St. Thomas Aquinas published a whole section in his great work, the Summa Theologica. While the belief and study of angels has waned in recent years as we have become more rational and less mystic (one might call that trend a loss of innocence) the current teaching document of the Catholic Church still teaches our belief (although not as an article of faith):

335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy
God. She invokes their assistance (in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum
deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]).
Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the
memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St.
Raphael, and the guardian angels).[1]

Where do we take ourselves with this celebration today? We are forcefully reminded that there is also an evil spirit, Satan, who comes; “From roaming the earth and patrolling it.” If we believe that there is an evil mystical presence can we not have hope that the Lord has maintained his vigilance with his angels. Perhaps today we should remember an adult prayer and let it be our own today;

Dear Angel, in his goodness God gave you to me to guide, protect and enlighten
me, and to being me back to the right way when I go astray. Encourage me when I am disheartened, and instruct me when I err in my judgment. Help me to become more Christlike, and so some day to be accepted into the company of Angels and
Saints in heaven. Amen.


[1] Copyright permission for posting of the english translation of the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH on the Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church web site was granted by Amministrazione Del Patrimonio Della Sede Apostolica, case number 130389

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Twenty sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Num 11:25-29

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Reading II Jas 5:1-6

Gospel Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48


As we listen to the scripture in our hearts today we hear a faint voice that tries to explain why the world is like it is today. By this we are referring to the terrible bloodshed and constant violence in the Middle East. We are at a loss to understand how this distaff set of brothers and sisters can have cultivated such hatred.

As we hear the voice of the young man say to Moses; "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, " and we hear Moses reply; "Are you jealous for my sake?" we can begin to understand. We hear the parallel passage from the Gospel of Mark as the disciples are upset, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus said the same thing Moses had said couched in different terms.

When a people feel that the will of others is being imposed upon them and a sense of helplessness comes over them, they turn to God and ask for help. Just as those servants of Moses and Jesus came to them for guidance. This was certainly the case in Palestine when the land that had been part of another country was appropriated by the world powers who had just won World War II. We understand the guilt and sympathy that drove the decision. We also understand the Judeo-Christian history that selected that part of the world to establish the Jewish Homeland. Why then can we not understand that helpless and hopeless people grasp at the hand of violence that is out-stretched from an Old Testament tradition we share (see Gen 21;9ff)?

Many of them, especially the young, must feel that the situation is unjust and if no one will listen, they will use the only weapon they have, their lives. The wound has been festering since 1947 when the state of Israel was officially recognized (few now remember the fierce fighting that took place as the Arab inhabitants tried to fight off that decision). Few of us in the United States remember the establishment of the Palestinian refugee camps as the huge influx of Hebrew refugees from all over the world were poured into the region, in many cases, displacing the people who had owned the land for generations. Is it any wonder there is hatred and violence?

What we have identified above does not mean we somehow approve of Islamic extremists. There are other less noble reasons for people to take up arms in the region and we will not go into the economics here. What we do need to do is understand the plight of the region so we can attempt to do what Christ asks us to; love one another. There is no time that is more difficult than when dealing with a people driven by hatred and ready to kill indiscriminately for an ideal that has been twisted.

Christ knew there would be attacks; he knew that there would always be resistance to the message of peace and love he preached. He told his disciples; "For whoever is not against us is for us." He also told us that we were not to sink to the level of those who corrupt the young. He pretty forcefully pointed out that what we needed to do was follow his commandments and not react to others; a very difficult task in the world today. We must try because that is what we are called to do. And we must use our democratic system to try to put leaders in place who will echo those sentiments. If we do not participate in the process then we have not right to point at others who did and complain about the elected leadership.