A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Today’s readings may sound difficult to our ears. In the first reading, the day after we celebrated the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Lord says, “I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities.” Ouch!

In the Gospel, Jesus frees men who were possessed by demons and makes the roads safe, and what do the local people do? They beg Jesus to leave!

What the readings have in common are people who prefer the status quo instead of walking closer with God. Solemnities and feasts and sacrificial offerings are good things, but the people had settled into a status quo that limited their faith to these things alone, forgetting that their relationship with God also requires justice and mercy.

As for the people in today’s Gospel, they had settled into a status quo, a modus vivendi with savage demons. Jesus drove out the demons and disrupted the status quo. It’s not just that a herd of swine was destroyed in the process, the people know that Jesus brings a power that will change their lives and they do not want changes. It is like an alcoholic’s family that has grown accustomed to the alcoholic and reacts badly when the alcoholic reforms. So, we too may go to Church and say our prayers, but also follow along with the selfish ways of the world.

We are not to forsake the Church, our prayers, or our celebrations; but we cannot be satisfied with the status quo. We must continually seek to purify ourselves more and more, to let the Lord continue to change us from within, to be more faithful to the truth, to be more concerned with justice, to be better instruments of mercy, and to walk more closely with Jesus our Lord.

If God is for us

who can be against us?
If he spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,
how shall he not -- with him -- also freely give us all things?

Who shall charge anything against God's elect?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?
It is Christ that died, indeed rather, who is risen again,
who is even at the right hand of God,
who also makes intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who has loved us.

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31b-39

Reclaiming the good name of Martyrdom

Suicide is a hideous sin. The great monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all agree on this. Someone who considers intentionally destroying the gift of one’s own life should rightfully and greatly fear what will come in the afterlife. May God have mercy on us all.

Yet evil men now make a virtue of suicide that is also homicidal and call it “martyrdom.” It is a perversion of their own faith and of the reason God gave them. It is a defilement of name and concept of martyrdom. The punishment for such evil will be never-ending. May God have mercy on us all.

True martyrs do not seek the death of others. As a rule, they do not even seek the death of those who slay them. True martyrs pray for their persecutors. True martyrs are focused not on death but on standing firm for the faith. True martyrs love.

Faith of our Fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife:
And preach thee too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life:
Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith,
We will be true to thee till death.


At first, they were not really noticed, but soon there were more and more of them. At first, they all looked like the other immigrants from the Middle East, but soon normal-looking people were found to have converted to this religion and were setting themselves apart from the mainstream of society. They became the subject of rumors, ridicule, and investigations. Then, disaster struck, killing thousands. The focus quickly fell upon the Christians: they and their leaders were rounded up, tortured, and killed. These first martyrs of the Church of Rome remained true to their faith, rejoicing to share in the salvific sufferings of Christ, and helped stoke the fires of a spiritual awakening that would flourish when the empire that had sought to crush them was itself dust.

How strongly do we stand up for our faith?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Atheism on his sleeve

At his father's funeral, Ronald Reagan's youngest son effectively denounced any person in public life who would wear "his religion on his sleeve."

As part of his media blitz after the funeral, he has openly admitted that he himself is an atheist.

On the contrary, at the same funeral service, Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan's eldest son spoke of the time his father had told him...

"...about his love of God, his love of Christ as his Savior. I didn't know then what it all meant. But I certainly, certainly know now. I can't think of a better gift for a father to give a son."

There is still time for all of us to learn, to recognize, and to receive the gift God is wanting to give us.

Jailhouse Killer to be executed

"Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

"If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, (Legitimate public) authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

"Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2267

Kyrie eleison

Rescue me

Today’s readings tell us of miraculous rescues: in his epistle, Paul alludes to times when he was rescued from enemies of the Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter walks out of a heavily guarded prison with the angel of the Lord at his side.
The Freeing of St. Peter (detail) - by Raphael

We like these kinds of stories and we want them to end with “and they all lived happily ever after.” But we know that’s not the way it turned out. Even Paul feels the end coming: “I am already being poured out like a libation and the time of my departure is at hand.”

Paul knows that he has been rescued not for his own sake, but for the sake of the Gospel. Finally, in God’s own time, the proclamation of the Gospel required Paul to give witness by his death. Even then, he was fearless, for he knew that “God will rescue me from every evil threat and bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.”

Peter and Paul knew their place: they knew that they were just instruments in the hands of God. They gave themselves over completely for the work of God and God kept them safe: rescuing them when the proclamation of the Gospel needed it; and when the proclamation of the Gospel required their death, bringing them swiftly and gloriously to himself.

Do we know our place? Or do we just worry about ourselves?

The Lord Jesus is calling.

Sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum

The ancient Latin phrase resonates in magnificence, with a feeling of awe and power like the majestic columns of a mighty cathedral: Sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum - the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

Their origins were humble and they were slaughtered by the ruling regime almost as an afterthought, their deaths scarcely noted by the chroniclers of the day, but their work, their words, their blood, and their lives -- by the power of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shining through them -- became the foundation of Christendom itself. Now the city that had crushed them is dominated by their monuments.

O Roma felix! Duorum Principum es consecrata sanguine!

God would raise up other great saints, and He continues to do so, but even the greatest but stand on the shoulders of these giants. There would have been no Gregory the Great without Peter the Rock. There would have been no Thomas Aquinas without Saul of Tarsus.

They were human beings like us and not without flaws, but none could be mightier. They held nothing back: once they were sent forth, they laid everything on the line for Christ, every day of their lives – all their hearts, all their strength, all their talents, their freedom, and even their life's blood – everything went for Christ. They were exalted, yes, but only because they served humbly, lovingly, and forcefully.

If we’re looking for role models in our lives as we seek to make a difference in this world, we could not do better that the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

Monday, June 28, 2004

That's not just tissue, that's a baby

As reported by the BBC, hi-tech ultrasound shows "that the unborn baby engages in complex behaviour from an early stage of its development."

"Foetuses as young as 11 weeks have been seen with their thumbs in their mouths."

Additional pictures

Interested in the Religious Life?

www.visionguide.info is a great-looking website by the National Religious Vocation Conference with links to many religious congregations.

Another resource is ReligiousMinistries.com, which also has contact information for many religious congregations (including the Missionaries of Charity, which -- no surprise -- does not have anything so worldly as an official web site).

Cardinal Cheerleads for Vocations

Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to a Serra International convention:

"If you have a bishop who is no-nonsense ... a bishop who is transparently joyful in the priesthood, there will be seminarians....

"Young women do not want to join a group of old women who seem to be confused [about their mission]. Young men do not want to join a diocese where the priests seem to be angry."

"The gospel is a challenge for every culture. ... There is no part of the world where the gospel is sweet and easy."

It doesn't just happen

A verse from Ecclesiastes says,

I returned, and saw under the sun,
that the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise,
nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favour to men of skill;
but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

We often see that in our own world, and like Ecclesiastes, we chalk it up to luck -- stuff happens.

The prophet Amos in today’s first reading sees a very similar world – “The swift of foot shall not escape... and the most stouthearted warrior shall flee naked that day,” but he doesn’t write it off as luck: the root causes of these disasters are injustice, sacrilege, and decadence.

“Remember this, you who never think of God” (as today’s Psalm tells us): if we use our gifts and talents for our own selfish ends, instead of for helping others and for the worship of the true God, then neither strength nor talent nor even luck will save us from ultimate disaster.

Now is the time to put our talents to use for the good of others and for the glory of God.

Religious Leader of Turkish Immigrants in France

The famous city of Lyons (in what is now France) experienced a great influx of immigrants from what is now Turkey. They brought their religion with them and caused a great deal of suspicion and friction. The authorities cracked down and many were martyred, including the bishop. Irenaeus, a member of the immigrant community, was named the new bishop and served for a quarter century. He not only rebuilt the local church community but also worked hard to help build up the Church throughout the world, writing powerfully against the recycled pagan mysticism known as Gnosticism that was enjoying popularity inside and outside the Church. His greatest work Adversus Haereses is still widely read. He also played a critical role in Scripture scholarship. St. Irenaeus died in 202.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Excuse me?

Strange things are said in today’s Gospel. Jesus seems to tell people to leave their dead parents unburied and to desert their families without so much as a good-bye.

What Jesus says sounds extreme, perhaps even cruel to our ears, but that is because He is going beyond what is said and heard on the surface and reaching into the hearts of the people around Him. Most of the people around Him are saying reasonable things, but Jesus knows their hearts and He knows that they are really just making excuses.

Jesus is not telling people to forsake their truly God-given responsibilities, but He is telling them that they must break with their old ways of thinking and living in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

St. Paul is telling us very much the same thing in the second reading: not to submit to the yoke of slavery a second time, but to rise above the jealousies and desires of the flesh and to live according to the Spirit in real freedom.

Are we making excuses? Are we telling ourselves virtuous-sounding lies so that we can continue living according to the way of the world instead of the way of Christ?

If so, we must stop what we’re doing, follow the way of Christ, keep our eyes fixed on Him, and never look back.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I have gone astray like a lost sheep

Let my cry come before you, O LORD:
give me understanding according to your word.

Let my pleading come before you:
deliver me according to your word.

My lips shall utter praise,
when you have taught me your statutes.

My tongue shall speak of your word:
for all your commandments are righteous.

Let your hand help me;
for I have chosen your precepts.

I have longed for your salvation, O LORD;
and your law is my delight.

Let my soul live, and it shall praise you;
and let your judgments help me.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant;
for I do not forget your commandments.

Psalm 119:169-176

Ethical alternatives to embryonic exploitation

"....Laura Dominguez was a quadriplegic at 16 after a car accident severely damaged her spinal cord, but after treatment using her own olfactory sinus stem cells she can now walk with the aid of braces.

"A car accident also left Susan Fajt paralyzed, but she, too, can walk with braces today because of experimental new adult stem cell treatment....

"'These and other inspiring breakthroughs in the area of adult stem cell research show the power of ethical research -- and its beauty,' said (Cathy Cleaver Ruse, a spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities).

"'There is an ugliness to embryonic stem cell research that even its proponents cannot hide,' Ruse added. 'When we decide to subjugate one vulnerable class of human beings for service of another, we are all diminished.'"

High-Profile Unrepented Obscenity

It is a sad time for the world when those in high office and those who aspire to such offices will utter obscenities and not be repentant.

God save the people.

Sure sounds gloomy

As we have heard in today’s first reading, the book of Lamentations lives up to its name.

Why did these terrible things happen? The reading points to one thing that contributed to this disaster:

Your prophets have seen for you
false and specious visions;
they have not exposed your guilt
to turn away your fate,
but have seen for you
false and misleading oracles.

Nobody wants to feel bad, so the temptation is always there to listen to the friendly voices. Foolish executives surround themselves with “yes men” and misguided religious folk hang on the words of “feel good” preachers, but sooner or later they meet with disaster.

The truth is not always pleasant, the way of Christ can many times be hard, but only the truth is good for us and only Christ can bring us perfect, wonderful salvation.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Conservative Values in Liberal Catholic Paper

John L. Allen, Jr., does it again this week in the National Catholic Reporter.

The European Union's adoption of a constitution without references to Christianity or God "will probably push a few more European bishops to open their doors to new ecclesial realities such as Opus Dei, the Neocatechumenate, and the Legionaries of Christ. In a culture that often seems not just indifferent, but positively hostile, to organized religion, it may be that only disciplined, highly motivated groups operating outside traditional ecclesiastical structures will have the capacity to evangelize and catechize."

"If what contemporary seekers want is a mix of ancient wisdom with a lively sense of the angelic and the preternatural, places like (Spain's very popular Marian shrines at) Montserrat, Torreciudad and Pilar have it in droves. Perhaps rather than trying to reason its way out of the challenge posed by New Age movements, the church would do better to promote its alternatives."

Total Disaster

In today’s first reading, disaster befalls God’s chosen people. Jerusalem is destroyed and the people exiled. Everything they had and everything that they felt good about was violently taken away.

One could say they brought it upon themselves: by sinning against God and by acting imprudently amidst powerful empires. One may say this with some accuracy, but also to comfort oneself: they made mistakes, but that will never happen to me.

Alas, we are not guaranteed to be safe from disaster in this world. “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” isn't just a book title: it's a frequent lesson of Scripture.

We don’t like that. We prefer today’s Gospel, where Jesus gives someone what they want right away, but there's more to the Gospel.

With his very first words, the leper acknowledges his dependence on the Lord’s will for his salvation, and with the very first words of His reply, Our Lord affirms that His will is indeed for salvation.

The leper may have then expected Jesus to tell him to bathe in the river, as Old Testament prophets did, but He did the unexpected: He touched the unclean leper, healed him instantly, and ordered him to tell no one.

Unexpected also was the wonderful salvation that followed from the awful disaster of the Babylonian exile.

We ourselves may be blessed with good things and we may meet with disaster, but no matter what, we must acknowledge that -- while we must always do what is right -- we are totally dependent on the Lord for what is good, that he wants what is good for us, and that he will do good for us, beyond what we could ever plan or expect: in times and in ways of His choosing and for our greatest happiness.

A Poet and A Child of God

Mattie Stepanek, "almost 14" years of age and who was known worldwide as "a poet, peacemaker and philosopher who played", passed away Tuesday, June 22, 2004.

Friends and visitors will be received at St. Catherine Labouré Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland on Sunday, June 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at St. Catherine Labouré the next day at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Silver Spring, Maryland. The funeral home has an online guestbook for people to sign at www.pumphreyfuneralhome.com.

In paradísum dedúcant te Ángeli
in túo advéntu suscípiant te Mártyres,
et perdúcant te in civitátem sánctam Jerúsalem.

May the Angels lead you into Paradise.
At your coming, may the Martyrs receive you
and lead you through into the Holy City Jerusalem.

Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

What's in a name?

According to Shakespeare, not much. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

But in today's Gospel, Elizabeth goes through a bit of trouble to make sure that her son is given the name John. What is the significance of the name? What does it mean? It is hard to guess if Elizabeth understood a hidden meaning to the name. What is clear is that the chief significance of the name to her and the reason she fought for it was because that was what God wanted.

There may be many things we don't fully understand about our life or our faith, but in the midst of troubles and opposition, we can take refuge in God's will for us. We may not fully understand the what, when and how, but we can be comforted by the why: God loves us and wants us to be happy with Him forever.

In the meantime, we must keep faithful to the Lord, seeking His will and holding fast to it in the name of Jesus, at which every knee will bow.

Do not be afraid of them

For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.

Then the LORD stretched out His hand
and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me,
"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.

"See, I have appointed you this day
over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant."

"Now, gird up your loins and arise,
and speak to them all which I command you.
Do not be dismayed before them,
or I will dismay you before them.

"Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city
and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze
against the whole land,
to the kings of Judah, to its princes,
to its priests and to the people of the land.

"They will fight against you,
but they will not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 1:8-19

Sermon for the Day by St. Augustine

The Church observes the birth of John as in some way sacred; and you will not find any other of the great men of old whose birth we celebrate officially. We celebrate John’s, as we celebrate Christ’s....

John is born of an old woman who is barren; Christ is born of a young woman who is a virgin. That John will be born is not believed, and his father is struck dumb; that Christ will be born is believed, and he is conceived by faith....

John, it seems, has been inserted as a kind of boundary between the two Testaments, the Old and the New.... Because he represents the old, he is born of an elderly couple; because he represents the new, he is revealed as a prophet in his mother’s womb.

You will remember that, before he was born, at Mary’s arrival he leapt in his mother’s womb. Already he had been marked out there, designated before he was born; it was already shown whose forerunner he would be, even before he saw him....

John is the voice, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John is a voice for a time, but Christ is the eternal Word from the beginning.

The youngest witness to Christ

The Birth of John the Baptist is a grand celebration in the Catholic Church: a Solemnity. This is only fitting, because our Lord Himself said that “no man born of woman is greater than John the Baptist (yet the least born into the Kingdom of God is greater than he).”

But as we celebrate this feast of John the Baptist’s birth, we should remember that by the time he was born, he had already started his life’s work: giving witness to the coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And it came to pass,
that, when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the child leaped in her womb;
and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit:
And she spoke in a loud voice, and said,
“Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For, behold,
as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears,
the child leaped in my womb for joy.”
Luke 1:41-44

Before he was even born, this tiny human being John was doing the work of God, giving witness to Jesus Christ

The Birth of John the Baptist

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham;
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine
on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Et Zacharias pater eius impletus est Spiritu Sancto
et prophetavit dicens:

“Benedictus Dominus, Deus Israel,
quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebi suae
et erexit cornu salutis nobis
in domo David pueri sui,
sicut locutus est per os sanctorum,
qui a saeculo sunt, prophetarum eius,
salutem ex inimicis nostris
et de manu omnium, qui oderunt nos;
ad faciendam misericordiam cum patribus nostris
et memorari testamenti sui sancti,
iusiurandum, quod iuravit ad Abraham patrem nostrum,
daturum se nobis,
ut sine timore, de manu inimicorum liberati,
serviamus illi
in sanctitate et iustitia coram ipso
omnibus diebus nostris.

Et tu, puer, propheta Altissimi vocaberis:
praeibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias eius,
ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi eius
in remissionem peccatorum eorum,
per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri,
in quibus visitabit nos oriens ex alto,
illuminare his, qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent,
ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis .”

Lucam 1:67-79

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Catholic politicians advocating Catholic teaching

"We want to come together as Catholics and faithful and patriotic Americans to build a stronger country. We want our voices heard in the civic life of this country."
Former Boston mayor Raymond L. Flynn

By their fruits, you shall know them.

This is a familiar guideline, but what does it mean?

Does it mean we should judge people like produce? Obviously not. Does it mean people are okay if what they say and do feels good? Not entirely.

Does it mean if someone doesn’t always act correctly, what they say is no good? Not exactly: we are all imperfect. True, if someone is substantially out of compliance with the Gospel, we should be a little careful in accepting what he or she says as being godly, but we are not being called here to judge the person’s status in the eyes of God, but rather the words they put before us.

By their fruits, you shall know them.

First of all, if what they say, their fruit, unmistakably contradicts the faith we have received from Christ, it is certainly bad.

Beyond that, we would do well to use the Fruits of the Holy Spirit as guides. When we hear these people speak and we see the effect their words have on the lives of others, do we perceive these fruits?

Charity… joy… peace… patience… kindness… goodness… generosity… gentleness… faithfulness… modesty… self-control… chastity…

We should look for these fruits in the words we hear and in the people we are with and we should always seek to cultivate these fruits in our own hearts and our own lives.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

You gotta have faith

A New York Times columnist writes that politicians need to express their faith in public to succeed nationally.

Of course, false religiosity would not be a successful long-term strategy... especially in the ultimate long term.

Do not give what is holy to dogs

or throw your pearls before pigs,
or they will trample them under their feet,
then turn and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 7:6

We must tell the Truth, we must spread the Gospel, but we must be careful.

Sometimes we may open our hearts to people, sharing our faith and what it means to us, and they will make fun of us and use what we say against us and against the Gospel.

Sometimes we may want to challenge people with the truth of our faith and they will tear us to pieces because they are more skillful debaters.

The example of St. Thomas More is instructive. A man of faith with tremendous intellect and powerful political skills, he knew his limits and was very prudent. He did not leap into the lion’s den: he left it to God to bring him there. Sure enough, God brought him to a time and place where that which is holy was trampled and St. Thomas himself was rent asunder. Through it all, St. Thomas gave glory to God and he was rewarded beyond his dreams.

So too we must be careful and faithful: not throwing ourselves or our faith around rashly, but being true to our Lord Jesus Christ and to His Church and letting Him lead us in the witness we must bear for Him.

Do unto others

as you would them have do unto you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

Omnia quaecumque vultis ut faciant vobis homines
et vos facite eis
Haec est enim lex et prophetae


"Forget whatever God has said. Just give up and go along with everyone else. If you don’t, things will turn out very badly for you."

That essentially is the message Hezekiah receives in today’s first reading, as an incredibly large army surrounds him. Hezekiah then pleads with God, the Lord answers through the prophet Isaiah, and 185,000 enemy soldiers drop dead while the mighty despot who had mocked Hezekiah’s faith runs for his life.

We like this kind of story: people ask for help, the awesome power of the Lord God does glorious things, and the people live happily every after.

But Isaiah’s prophecy also speaks of “a remnant” and “survivors” coming from Jerusalem. Indeed, not long after the time of Hezekiah, disaster came, Jerusalem fell and the remnant of the people of God were carried off into exile. This is not the kind of story we like.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus also speaks in terms of a remnant, specifically that few find the gate and the road to life.

We may be discouraged by such a message. We may also be discouraged by what we see and hear in the world around us. We might be very discouraged by where we are in life. Our window of opportunity for happiness might seem very narrow indeed, and sometimes we may feel that it has closed.

But Jesus says, “I am the Gate” and “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.”

If we stay faithful to Christ and let Him keep us close to Himself, then we can survive and flourish and rejoice, for He is with us and no matter what may happen to us or around us – glorious or disastrous – His steadfast love will fill us and surround us forever.

The other guys

Paulinus was born in Bordeaux to a rich and powerful family and had a successful political career, culminating in the governorship of a province in Nola, Italy. He married a woman who shared with him her ideal of living a strictly evangelical life. After the death of his son, they gave away all their property and began to live a monastic life (a hundred years before St. Benedict). At the insistence of the people where he was in Spain, he was ordained a priest. He moved back to Nola, where he now lived the monastic life and set up a hospice for the sick. Again at the request of the people, he was called to a new role and became bishop and served for more than twenty years until his death in 431.

John Fisher was a great academic -- Chancellor of the University of Cambridge -- and pastor -- becoming bishop of Rochester. He was the only bishop to stand against the King's takeover of the English Church, yet never condemning those who acquiesced. He was named a Cardinal and the next month was executed, on the same day as Thomas More: June 22, 1535.

Saint Thomas More

Of the saints whose optional memorials fall on this day, none stands as tall – especially in the English-speaking world – as St. Thomas More.

He was the finest example of the Renaissance Man in every sense of the term: one of the great intellects and writers of the Renaissance and also a man who excelled in multiple fields of endeavor – literally, a man for all seasons. He wrote many important works and coined the oft-misunderstood word “utopia.” He was a statesman who helped guide England during a most tumultuous period. He was a devoted husband and father.

He was also a firm believer in Christ and in the Catholic Church and ultimately was martyred for that faith. He did not seek death: he was prudent and careful, but neither would he relinquish that in which he believed.

Oddly enough, although he died in the 16th century, it was in the 20th century that his prominence came to shine brightly again. It was then that he was finally canonized and that a great play about his life was written: “A Man for All Seasons” by Robert Bolt, a masterpiece with more quotable lines and scenes than perhaps any play in the English language since Shakespeare’s day.

St. Thomas More himself continued writing to the very end: if only with charcoal on scraps of paper, because everything else had been taken away. The last thing he wrote, the day before his execution, was a letter of loving farewell to his daughter, in which he said,

“to-morrow long I to go to God.”

Convenience, not principles

A high-profile politician recently said, “I will let science guide us, not ideology.”

It is naïve and dangerous to think that empirical science by itself will only pursue ends and means that are consistent with the ethical norms of society or that empirical science by itself is not an ideology on its own.

The dignity of human life is not a scientifically derived concept. All of us should feel less safe when our leaders can so easily set aside principles in favor of convenience and utilitarianism.

"For first, men will disclaim their hearts,
and presently they will have no hearts.
God help the people whose Statesmen walk your road."
Robert Bolt
(line given to
St. Thomas More
in the play "A Man for All Seasons)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Turn from your evil ways

and keep my commandments and my statutes,
according to all the law that I commanded your fathers
and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets."

Nevertheless they would not hear but hardened their necks like the necks of their fathers who did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies that he testified against them;
and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen around about them, whom the LORD had told them not to imitate....
Therefore the LORD was very angry...
and removed them out of his sight...

2 Kings 17:13b-15,18a

I’ve got something in my eye

Call it a log or a wooden beam or whatever: I am not perfect, I am a sinner, and I am struggling to free myself of this with God’s grace.

Today’s Gospel is a familiar one and we need to take it to heart. We need to ask ourselves continually: am I fair to others? am I generous? am I overlooking my own faults, my own biases, and my own sins?

Also familiar is the way this Gospel is sometimes misused: to silence any who would dare say what is morally right and what is morally wrong.

On the contrary, we cannot be silent. We dare not be silent. We have a solemn and deadly obligation to speak out. Both the Old and the New Testaments are very clear about this, perhaps nowhere as powerfully as in the book of the prophet Ezekiel:

"Son of man,
I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel;
whenever you hear a word from my mouth,
you shall give them warning from me.
If I say to the wicked, `You shall surely die,'
and you give him no warning,
nor speak
to dissuade him from his wicked way and save his life,
that wicked man shall die for his sin;
but I will hold you responsible for his death."

Ezekiel 3:17-18

None of us here on this earth are perfect, but we are all called to be perfect, and we as Christians most especially are called not just to focus on ourselves but, mindful of our own unworthiness and relying on God’s grace, do what we can to help all God’s children on the road to the perfection to which we all strive.

Judge not

that you may not be judged.
For with the judgment you pronounce
you will be judged:
and with the measure you measure,
shall it be measured to you.

And why do you take note of the splinter in your brother's eye,
but do not notice the log in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your brother,
Let me pull out the splinter out of your eye;
when a log is in your own eye?
You hypocrite!
First cast out the log from your own eye;
and then you shall see clearly
to cast out the splinter out of your brother's eye.
Matthew :7:1-5

Aristocrat's Son Makes Good

Aloysius Gonzaga was the eldest son of an aristocrat who wanted him to be a soldier. The boy, on the other hand, embraced a life of severe austerity and penance and became a Jesuit novice at the age of 16.

Five years later, a local plague epidemic broke out in Rome and though still a novice, Aloysius worked hard caring for the sick in the hospital until he himself caught the plague. His determination to die for the faith having been fulfilled, he died at midnight June 20, 1591 with the name of Jesus on his lips.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Power and Greatness

The world is very confused about power and greatness.

People position themselves and sometimes do terrible things to have power, whether in a family or in the wider world. People even do this in Church. But power is not greatness. The first and greatest Christians were Jews, members of an enslaved race. The greatest Christian of all time was a woman, a woman once in danger of the death penalty. The greatest Christian in recent times was arguably a woman who lived and worked in the most wretched conditions imaginable. And some of the most disreputable Christians in history were in positions of the greatest power.

People also confuse greatness with fame – like the song says, “Fame! I’m going to live forever.”

No, no matter how much fame or earthly power you have, you are going to die, you are going to be dust, and sooner or later almost no one will remember you (and probably no one on this planet will).

The way to true greatness is marked out by Christ in today's Gospel:

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

If we seek life, greatness, and power as the world defines them, sooner or later we will end up with nothing. But if we live in this world seeking only the greatness of God and the power of His love and truth, sooner or later we will end up with everything.

O God, you are my God

early will I seek you:
my soul thirsts for you,
my flesh longs for you
in a dry and thirsty land where no water is;
To see your power and your glory,
so as I have seen you in the sanctuary.
Because your loving kindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise you.
Thus will I bless you while I live:
I will lift up my hands in your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with a banquet;
and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips:
When I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night.
Because you have been my help,
therefore in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.
My soul follows hard after you:
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:1-8

Saturday, June 19, 2004

In the Temple

Today’s readings tell of two events that happened in the Temple. The Gospel tells the familiar story of the Finding in the Temple. In the first reading, a priest’s son is murdered in the court of the Temple for voicing prophecies against the prevailing culture and government. Yet his prophecy continues to ring clear and true, “Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.”

Today’s readings remind us that even though we may be in the Temple, we can still lose our connection with the Lord.

We must go to Church, belong to the Church, and support the Church, but even when we do all this, we dare not be complacent about our relationship with the Lord. Belonging to God’s Holy Church, we cannot coast, but we must be ever more intent on strengthening and deepening our loving relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the heart

God is love. We experience that love in the Sacraments, in prayer, and in His work of salvation. Our most tangible experience of that love, however, is very often in the hearts of those who love Him.

For most of us, our first experience of this love was in the love we received from our parents, most especially from our mothers. We also experience it in people who are truly kind and holy. We learn about it in the lives of the saints and we try to unite with that love as we join with the saints in prayer.

This experience of love comes in varying levels of intensity and of perfection. Today’s memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary calls to mind the most intense and perfect example of this love, by God's grace second only to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The love in Mary’s heart is a mother’s love at its most intense. The love in Mary’s heart is the love of a true Christian at its most pure.

It is God’s love: based not on human desires but on truth, not selfish but selfless, not a mere show of piety but a concrete love that goes up to God and extends to all His children.

As God loves, as Mary loves, so must we love.

Glory be to God the Father;
glory be to God the Son;
glory be to God the Spirit;
glory to the Three in One.

From the heart of blessèd Mary,
from all saints the song ascends,
and the Church the strain reechoes
unto earth's remotest ends.

"Sing of Mary"

Friday, June 18, 2004

More bad news in the family

Ironically, on the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, more news came out about priests who sinned against children and religious leaders who moved those priests without taking appropriate action to protect children.

Then again, perhaps it is appropriate for that news to start coming out on that day: reminding us (painfully well) of the need to pray for all priests.

Most of this weekend's stories focused on Religious Orders, many of which had not yet made dramatic policy changes as had the U.S. Diocesan bishops.

Those Orders with incorrect policies or knowledge of children at risk should take appropriate action immediately. Also, Dioceses should double-check their procedures for verifying the backgrounds of priests from other countries (the Bishops' conference can coordinate the resources necessary to overcome logistical and other challenges).

Why did these Orders do what they did? Many of the reasons will probably be familiar: misunderstandings (in the Church and in society) about serial pedophilia in particular and the limitations of rehabilitation in general, a natural focus on sin and forgiveness rather than crime and incarceration, etc.

But there's more to it than that.

Some people's moral sensibilities get confused when it comes to family members. I remember hearing a national talk show host denounce a man who had turned in his brother (the Unabomber) to the F.B.I. You don't rat on your family, was the idea.

That reprehensible perspective may have been shared by some religious superiors, for Religious Orders are very much like families, with solemn obligations to care for every member. People in many fields of human life also tend to "look out for their own:" some police cover for police, some journalists overlook the sins of fellow journalists, etc.

People can care for "their own" but not at the expense of truth or of the innocent. Due process must be followed, children protected, and (ultimately) the Church strengthened, by our efforts and God's grace.

Oremus pro invicem.

U.S. Bishops RE: Holy Communion and Politicians

"The Eucharist is the source and summit of Catholic life. Therefore, like every Catholic generation before us, we must be guided by the words of St. Paul, 'Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord' (1 Cor 11:27). This means that all must examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. This examination includes fidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life.

"The question has been raised as to whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand. Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action. Nevertheless, we all share an unequivocal commitment to protect human life and dignity and to preach the Gospel in difficult times.

"The polarizing tendencies of election-year politics can lead to circumstances in which Catholic teaching and sacramental practice can be misused for political ends.

"Respect for the Holy Eucharist, in particular, demands that it be received worthily and that it be seen as the source for our common mission in the world."

Statement: "Catholics in Political Life" (conclusion)
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
June 18, 2004

Due Process Conquering the Dark Ages

Thanks in part to professionally staffed and structured tribunals:
in stark contrast to the witch hunts before and since.

Research reported in the National Review and elsewhere thus debunks the popular myth of the Inquisition.

Dominus pascit me

et nihil mihi deerit:
in pascuis virentibus me collocavit,
super aquas quietis eduxit me,
animam meam refecit.
Deduxit me super semitas iustitiae
propter nomen suum.
Nam et si ambulavero in valle umbrae mortis,
non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es.
Virga tua et baculus tuus,
ipsa me consolata sunt.
Parasti in conspectu meo mensam
adversus eos, qui tribulant me;
impinguasti in oleo caput meum,
et calix meus redundat.
Etenim benignitas et misericordia subsequentur me
omnibus diebus vitae meae,
et inhabitabo in domo Domini
in longitudinem dierum.

The Lord pastures me,
and nothing to me will be lacking:
in pastures green he has placed me,
along quiet waters he has led me,
my soul he has refreshed.
He has led me along the paths of justice
for the sake of His Name.
For indeed if I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
I would not fear evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff,
they have consoled me.
You have spread before me a table
against those who trouble me;
You have annointed my head with oil
and my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life
and I will live in the house of the Lord
for length of days.

Sheep herding

On today’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, a feast that celebrates the wonderful gift of God’s love that comes to us in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the first reading and the Gospel both give us the image of the Lord as the shepherd who seeks after his stray sheep.

"I will seek out my sheep and rescue them from every place where they have been scattered in the dark and cloudy day."

Those stray sheep may include ourselves. We may have followed “our own lights” or “the way things are done nowadays” and have found ourselves very, very far from the Lord on a very dark and cloudy day.

On the other hand, we may be the ones who are called to help the shepherd, to help find those desperately lost sheep and to help bring them home. (We probably know where a few of them are already.)

All of us need to listen to the voice of the Lord, the Good Shepherd, the Sacred Heart, calling us to walk ever more closely with Him and to help bring others to experience more fully the greenest pasture, the most peaceful water, the deepest love.

Another murder

Paul Johnson was murdered today by hate-filled men.

Requiescat in pace.

May God take care of him and his family.
May He turn the hearts of his murderers to repentance and conversion.
May He strengthen the resolve of people everywhere to overcome evil and to do good.

God's love

has been poured into our hearts
by the Holy Spirit that has been given us.
For when we were still weak,
in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:5b-6

Myths, Stem Cells, and the NCR

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) has a reputation for being irreparably wedded to liberal views within the Church and within the world.

NCR’s Vatican Correspondent, John L. Allen, Jr., however, seems to be a generally fair-minded journalist whose weekly column is a frequent source of good information and insight.

His June 18 column reports on what sounds like a great presentation on Ten Myths in the Stem Cell Debate by Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk (Priest of the Diocese of Fall River, PhD in neuroscience from Yale, postdoctoral work at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, degrees in theology and bioethics from Rome's Gregorian and Lateran Universities).

A Penitent Blogger says:
Embryonic stem cell research consists of experimentation on and exploitation of the most defenseless of human lives.
May God take care of these souls and may He bring true healing to those whose suffering might tempt such exploitation.

Pray for your priests

Today, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
is the World Day of Prayer for the Santification of Priests

"My brothers and sisters, pray for your priests.
Ask the Lord to bless them with the fullness of His love,
to help them be faithful ministers of Christ the High Priest,
so that they will be able to lead you to Him,
the fountain of your salvation."

Text from the Mass of Chrism

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we implore that we may ever love Thee more and more!

May Your Heart dwell always in our hearts!
May Your Blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!

O Sun of our hearts,
You give life to all things by the rays of Your goodness!
I will not go until Your Heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!
May the Heart of Jesus be the King of my heart!
Blessed be God.

Saint Francis De Sales

Turning her back on Mom

A celebrity whose career has been in decline has just changed her name.

She had been named after her mother, who had died young, but now she wants to associate herself with a different “energy.”

She has also forsaken Christianity for another religion. It is easy to suspect that the name change is religiously motivated, at least in part, because her birth name is an explicitly Catholic one, given in honor of Our Lady, the Blessed Mother of Jesus.

It is thus easy to characterize this person’s actions not only as turning her back on Christ, but also turning her back on her birth mother, on our heavenly Mother Mary, and on our mother on earth, the Church.

The New Testament speaks very dramatically against those who forsake Christ and little more needs to be said right now about how those condemnations may apply to this person.

What does need to be said right now is that this situation reminds us of our obligation to evangelize – to spread the Gospel, to let people know of the great love and grace God offers us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – and this is also an obligation to re-evangelize.

Just because people are raised “in the faith” does not mean that they are firmly rooted in the faith – they too need to be told and retold the Good News of Christ and shown God's wonderful gifts of love and grace that cannot fully be experienced anywhere else.

Even if people turn away, they still need to hear the truth: God loves them, Christ died for them, and Mother would love for them to come back.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

“A Voice Speeding to Hell”

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (known as the 9/11 Commission) has released audiotape of the lead hijacker flying toward the World Trade Center.

It is the voice of a man coldly and deliberately intending to kill himself in a matter of minutes – and not just himself, but also thousands of men, women, and children.

The thought occurs to the listener that it is the voice of a man speeding himself to Hell.

Another thought soon follows... God forgive us: we are forbidden to say definitively that any particular person is in Hell. God alone is the Eternal Judge of all. We may make particular evaluations and take certain actions – to protect ourselves and others, to make clear what is right and wrong, and to call ourselves and others to turn away from evil – but we dare not put ourselves in the place of God as ultimate Judge. Not even the Power of the Keys, handed over by Christ himself, is used to do that.

But, our human reason screams, if not this person, who? How could someone who rejects Christ as Savior and who hatefully destroys his life and the lives of thousands escape eternal damnation?!

In such hard cases, we have trouble reconciling our concepts of God’s mercy and justice. That is only natural, for we are not God. Our anger and horror at these unspeakably evil actions is very well justified. We must deal with this anger and do whatever we can do morally to protect against such evil actions and to bring true healing.

We know that those who have died committing these evils are beyond our reach – they are in the hands of God, whose justice is infinite and eternal. He will sort it out and those who commit evil will be very, very, very sorry.

As people of faith, we know that when we ourselves see God face to face, we will then see His mercy and justice displayed in its fullness. At that moment we will understand who is in paradise, who is in Hell, and why; and in that moment we will rejoice in God’s righteousness.

In the meantime, as people of faith, we have work to do: in our own hearts and in our world. Our focus should be on that work and we should put everything else into the hands of God.

O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

Pater noster

qui es in caelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie.
Et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem:
sed libera nos a malo.

Our Father
Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.

Every prayer you make

In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us not to be like the pagans who multiply words and prayers in order to be heard. There are some who accuse Catholics of doing this very thing: praying multiple Our Fathers, rosaries, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Those who make this accusation misunderstand what Catholics do in prayer – indeed, they misunderstand what any Christian’s prayer is all about. Prayer is directed to God, but it cannot change God.

In speaking of the Lord’s Prayer, St. Cyprian says, “After this we say ‘Hallowed be thy name.’ This is not because we want God to be made holy by our prayers: what we are asking God is that his name should be hallowed within us.”

Thus we Christians pray constantly and even repeatedly, not to make God hear us or to make God do anything, but by His grace to open ourselves to His grace – again and again, more and more – to change us, to make us more like what God wants us to be.

We need to keep this in mind whenever we pray, that our intention should be to let God change us and make us ever more perfect with every word we pray.

His Will be done.

Holy Communion?

Canon 915: Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.

* * * * *

"Any interpretation of can. 915 that would set itself against the canon's substantial content, as declared uninterruptedly by the Magisterium and by the discipline of the Church throughout the centuries, is clearly misleading. One cannot confuse respect for the wording of the law (cfr. can. 17) with the improper use of the very same wording as an instrument for relativizing the precepts or emptying them of their substance.

"The phrase 'and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin' is clear and must be understood in a manner that does not distort its sense so as to render the norm inapplicable....

"Naturally, pastoral prudence would strongly suggest the avoidance of instances of public denial of Holy Communion. Pastors must strive to explain to the concerned faithful the true ecclesial sense of the norm, in such a way that they would be able to understand it or at least respect it.

"In those situations, however, in which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, the minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy.

"They are to do this with extreme charity, and are to look for the opportune moment to explain the reasons that required the refusal. They must, however, do this with firmness, conscious of the value that such signs of strength have for the good of the Church and of souls."

Declaration by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts
July 6, 2000 (excerpts)

Lord, I am not worthy to receive You,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Politics, Truth, and Human Dignity

"Scientific progress has resulted in advances that are unsettling for the consciences of men and women and call for solutions that respect ethical principles in a coherent and fundamental way. At the same time, legislative proposals are put forward which, heedless of the consequences for the existence and future of human beings with regard to the formation of culture and social behaviour, attack the very inviolability of human life....

"(R)egarding the situation in which it is not possible to overturn or completely repeal a law allowing abortion which is already in force or coming up for a vote, 'an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality'

"In this context, it must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals....

"While a plurality of methodologies reflective of different sensibilities and cultures can be legitimate in approaching such questions, no Catholic can appeal to the principle of pluralism or to the autonomy of lay involvement in political life to support policies affecting the common good which compromise or undermine fundamental ethical requirements. This is not a question of 'confessional values' per se, because such ethical precepts are rooted in human nature itself and belong to the natural moral law."

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding
The Participation of Catholics in Political Life (2002)

The Lord of the Rings

"is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out practically all references to anything like 'religion,' to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and symbolism.

"However that is very clumsily put, and sounds more self-important than I feel. For as a matter of fact, I have consciously planned very little; and should chiefly be grateful for having been brought up (since I was eight) in a Faith that has nourished me and taught me all the little that I know; and that I owe to my mother, who clung to her conversion and died young, largely through the hardships of poverty resulting from it."
J.R.R. Tolkien to Fr. Robert Murray, S.J., 2 December 1953

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I confess

to Almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do;
And I ask Blessed Mary ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Confiteor Deo omnipotens
et vobis, fratres,
quia peccavi nimis
cogitatione, verbo,
opere et omissione:
mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem,
omnes Angelos et Sanctos,
et vos, fratres,
orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

Hi, Mom!

Bill Cosby once joked about the frustration of fathers who work tirelessly to develop their sons into star athletes only to see them at their moment of glory turn to the cameras and say, “Hi, Mom!”

Actually, no slight to the father is necessarily intended. A good father rejoices in a son’s accomplishments and words are not needed for a father and son to know each is appreciated by the other.

How families express love can vary, but while the love between a father and a son can so often be strong but unspoken, the strong love between a son and his mother often flows much more naturally into words and other outward expression. So at his moment of glory, the son fittingly says, “Hi, Mom!” as if to say, “See what I’ve done! Rejoice with me!”

One of the most moving sequences in Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ is when His mother Mary comes to Him on the Via Dolorosa. It is a powerful cinematic moment, as we see expressed on film a mother’s love for her child and her heart-piercing sorrow as she shares in his agony.

And when Mary reaches Jesus and touches his pain-wracked body, Jesus looks at her and hoarsely whispers, “See, mother, I make all things new!”

The words are from the book of Revelation, but they are well suited to a moment that expresses what Jesus and Mary share, a love and an understanding that encompasses and surpasses all the pain of the world.

Are believers outsiders in America?

"We are a Christian people,
according to one another the equal right of religious freedom,
and acknowledging with reverence
the duty of obedience to the will of God."
Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. v. MACINTOSH, 283 U.S. 605 (1931)

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis,
sed nomini tuo da gloriam
super misericordia tua et veritate tua.
(Psalmus 115:1)

Not to us, but to Your Name

In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us not to act like hypocrites who do religious things to get human recognition. That is not true religion: that is bragging. Any religious things we do should be true manifestations of our faith and devotion, directed to God – for His glory, not for ours.

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis,
sed nomini tuo da gloriam
super misericordia tua et veritate tua.

Psalmus 115:1

On the other hand, there are people who use this Gospel as justification for hiding their faith – for keeping it private, even though our faith calls us to be witnesses of Christ and to proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Sometimes, false humility is used as a cloak for cowardice.

There can be a fine line between witnessing and bragging and between humility and cowardice.

We must neither exalt ourselves nor our hide our faith. We must act and speak as our faith requires us, never to make ourselves look or feel good, but always to give glory to God -- because of His mercy and His Truth.

Condemn unjust discrimination but defend marriage

"To promote, preserve, and protect marriage today requires, among other things, that we advocate for legislative and public policy initiatives that define and support marriage as a unique, essential relationship and institution. At a time when family life is under significant stress, the principled defense of marriage is an urgent necessity to ensure the flourishing of persons, the wellbeing of children, and the common good of society.

"Our defense of marriage must focus primarily on the importance of marriage, not on homosexuality or other matters.

"The Church’s teaching about the dignity of homosexual persons is clear. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Our respect for them means we condemn all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse.

"Equally clear is the Church’s teaching about the meaning of sexual relations and their place only within married life.

"What are called 'homosexual unions,' because they do not express full human complementarity and because they are inherently non-procreative, cannot be given the status of marriage."

Statement of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - September 9, 2003

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Do better

"You have heard that it has been said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

"But I say to you,
Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you;
That you may be children of your Father in heaven:
for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

"For if you love those who love you,
what reward do you have?
do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brethren only,
what more are you doing than others?
do not even the pagans do that?

"Be therefore perfect,
even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Matthew 5:43-48

“The evil men do lives after them…”

In today’s first reading, the king is confronted with the hideous consequences of his terrible sin.

He repents, however, and the Lord says that these consequences will fall not on him but on those after him.

This seems unfair – why must the son suffer while the king gets away free?

Part of the answer is that evil actions have two kinds of consequences: they can have evil effects in the physical world and they can affect our relationship with God. The king repents and God heals the relationship, but the evil effects remain. If the king is faithful, his relationship with God will help protect him, but not his son, not unless the son is faithful to the Lord.

We see this all too often. We do bad things: sometimes we are not fully culpable; all the time (hopefully) we repent, yet evil effects may remain.

People make choices in “good conscience,” but if they are objectively wrong, evil of some sort will be a result – no matter how they feel about themselves.

That is one reason why we should be continually diligent in forming our consciences ever more perfectly and in learning ever more precisely from God what is right and wrong.

The king in today’s reading turned out not to be diligent.

By the grace of Christ, we can and must be diligent, in seeking and following the truth ever more closely, in purifying our consciences and our relationship with God, in accepting any suffering we endure as part of his plan for salvation, and in doing what we can to undo the evil that we humans do.

Hate is not a Family Value

but Truth is.

To love is to will the good of another.

It is not love to wish someone to have
something that is not truly good.

It is not love to lie or to deny the truth.

Little children,
let us not love in word or speech
but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:18

Precious Blood Blog

Father Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S., a Missionary of the Precious Blood and newly appointed Pastor of St. Edward's parish near Oakland (California), has a gentle blog devoted to the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to Father Jeff's pastoral ministry, and to the spirituality of CPPS founder St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

Pray for the Bishops

"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather in a special assembly June 14-19, 2004, in Englewood, Colorado.

"Every five years, instead of a spring business meeting, the U.S. Catholic bishops hold a special assembly that allows them an extended period of time for prayer and reflection.

"Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the USCCB, requests the prayers of all Catholics of the United States for the bishops during this time of retreat."

From a USCCB Press Release

Striving for holiness, we are still sinful

"It is appropriate that... the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel and, instead of offering to the world the witness of a life inspired by the values of faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting which were truly forms of counter-witness and scandal.

"Although she is holy because of her incorporation into Christ, the Church does not tire of doing penance: before God and man she always acknowledges as her own her sinful sons and daughters. As Lumen Gentium affirms: 'The Church, embracing sinners to her bosom, is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, and incessantly pursues the path of penance and renewal.'

".... (The Church) cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without encouraging her children to purify themselves, through repentance, of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency, and slowness to act. Acknowledging the weaknesses of the past is an act of honesty and courage which helps us to strengthen our faith, which alerts us to face today's temptations and challenges and prepares us to meet them."

John Paul II
Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 33 (1994)

Monday, June 14, 2004

Torture and the Slippery Slope

Desperation (e.g., fear of terrorism) can tempt people onto deadly paths.

Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you -- where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? ...d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

Materialism vs. Holiness

Today’s readings show us two extremes when it comes to materialism. In the first reading, a king wallows in depression and a man goes to his death all because of a relatively small plot of land. At the other extreme, Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel not just to let people take things from us, but to give them more.

Do not resist the evildoer:
but if anyone should strike you on the right cheek,
turn to that person the other cheek also.
And if anyone would sue you for your coat,
let that person have your cloak as well.
And should anyone compel you to go one mile,
go with that person two.
Give to the one who asks of you
and do not turn away the one who would borrow from you.

Matthew 5:39-42

Given that there are two extremes offered, one could offer as an alternative the classic Latin dictum in medio stat virtus (“There is virtue in the middle way”), except that, in this case, it would be wrong. These are not the extremes of left and right, but of materialism and holiness.

To paraphrase an old politician: moderation in the pursuit of true holiness is no virtue.

While not forsaking our responsibilities to those who are helpless, the closer we come to the standard Jesus sets for us, the holier, the happier, the closer to Him we will be.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I received from the Lord

what I delivered to you,
That on the night He was betrayed
the Lord Jesus took bread:
And when He had given thanks,
He broke it and said,
Take, eat:
this is My Body,
which is for you:

do this in remembrance of Me.

1 Corinthians 11:23-24

Eat this bread

"'For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes' (1 Corinthians 11:26).

"St. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that the 'Lord's supper' is not only a convivial gathering, but also -- and above all -- the memorial of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Whoever takes part -- the Apostle explains -- unites himself to the mystery of the death of the Lord, in fact, becomes his 'herald.'

"There is, therefore, a very close relation between 'celebrating the Eucharist' and proclaiming Christ. To enter into communion with him in the Pasch memorial means, at the same time, to become missionaries of the event that the ritual realizes. In a certain sense, it means to render it contemporary at all times, until the Lord returns."

John Paul II
Homily on Feast of Corpus Christi 2004

Pange, lingua, gloriosi

Corporis mysterium
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium,
Fructus ventris generosi,
Rex effudit gentium.

Nobis datus, nobis natus,
Ex intacta Virgine,
Et in mundo conversatus,
Sparso verbi semine
Sui moras incolatus
Miro clausit ordine.

In supremae nocte coenae
Recumbens cum fratribus,
Observata lege plene
Cibis in legalibus,
Cibum turbae duodenae
Se dat suis manibus

Verbum caro panem verum
Verbo carnem efficit;
Fit sanguis Christi merum.
Et si sensus deficit,
Ad firmandum cor sincerum
Sola fides sufficit.

Tantum ergo sacramentum
Venereumur cernui.
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui.
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio.
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.


S. Thomas Aquinas

Acclaim, O tongue, the mystery
Of the glorious Body
And of the precious Blood
That in ransom for the world,
Fruit of a generous womb,
The King of nations shed.

To us given, for us born
From a Virgin pure,
And, brought into the world
To spread the seed of the Word,
He ended His stay
In a wondrous way.

On the night of the Last Supper,
Reclining with his brothers,
Observing the Law fully,
The food prescribed by Law,
This food to the Twelve
He gave with His own hands.

The Word Made Flesh made true bread
Become flesh at His word,
Made wine the Blood of Christ.
And if our senses fail
To strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone will suffice.

So great a sacrament, therefore,
Let us venerate on our knees
And the old ritual
To the new Rite yield.
May faith supply
What our senses lack.

To the Father and to the Begotten
Praise and jubilation,
Salvation, honor and power
And blessing be;
And to the One who proceeds from Both
Equally be praise.


Saturday, June 12, 2004

Break, break

The call of the prophet Elisha in today’s first reading is rich with symbolic actions and images, but a key theme is the sharp break that takes place in Elisha’s life: he leaves his family, he irrevocably gives up his means of livelihood, and he walks away from a good living to become a servant.

While we dare not forsake our truly God-given responsibilities, as followers of Christ we must do as Elisha did.

When we follow Christ, we make a clean break: putting aside anyone and anything that keeps us from serving God and His people.

It isn’t easy and it isn’t something to be done only once. As our Lord says (Luke 9:23),
"If anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me."

Friday, June 11, 2004

Dare not speak His Name?

"May I speak in the name of one god, who created us, who redeemed us, who comforts us. Amen."

Rev. (Senator) John Danforth's homily for President Reagan's funeral was very nice, but I had the nagging thought that there was one thing missing: a name.

It's okay -- God understands and will work everything out...

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

Hast thou not known?

Hast thou not heard?
that the everlasting God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth,
fainteth not,
neither is weary.
There is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint;
and to them that have no might
he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine

Et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Requiescat in pace.

Anima eius
et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum
per misericordiam Dei
requiescant in pace.

Helping someone else to greatness

Today is the Feast of St. Barnabas, Apostle and Martyr. He was one of the earliest Christians. Acts 4 tells of his selling his land to help the Church. He taught and preached the Gospel in many places and ultimately died for the faith.

Barnabas’ most significant contribution to the Church, however, was his role in the life of St. Paul. It was Barnabas who introduced Paul to the Apostles, when many were still suspicious of him. It was Barnabas who, when the Church was beginning its ministry to the Gentiles, went to Paul’s home town to fetch him for the ministry at Antioch (as we hear in today's first reading). Barnabas stood by Paul’s side at the Council of Jerusalem and accompanied Paul on his early journeys.

St. Paul went on to be known as one of the greatest Apostles, but it was very much through Barnabas that the Lord made this happen. Barnabas’ greatest work, aside from giving his life for Christ, was to help bring another man to greatness.

What are we doing to help any of our sisters and brothers in the Lord to greatness?

Unsatisfied with Buddhism

The pastor of a parish in the suburbs of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, talks with a reporter about young Cambodians, raised in an overwhelmingly Buddhist culture, embracing Christianity and entering the Catholic Church.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Do you not see the hand of the Lord?

Sometimes we have trouble seeing the hand of the Lord in the things that are happening to us or around us: life may seem too difficult, too confusing, or too uncertain.

In today’s first reading, Elijah prophesies and then tells a young person to look physically for its fulfillment. When the person sees nothing, Elijah says to look and look again. Seven times Elijah says to look: a symbolic number that indicates the young person should be looking continually.

For his part, Elijah doesn’t look at all – he doesn’t need to. He knows the hand of the Lord is upon him and when the time comes, wondrous things happen.

As for us, there are times when we very much would like to see the hand of the Lord in our lives. Elijah’s message to us is “Go! Look again!”

We may not see it right away, we may not see it for a very long time, but we will.

And when we, like Elijah, see the hand of the Lord at work in our lives, then even more wondrous things can and will happen

You have heard that it was said of old,

'"You shall not kill;
and whoever kills
shall be liable to judgment:”

'But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
shall be liable to judgment....'

Matthew 5:21-22

The Holy Father and President Reagan

From the National Catholic Register:

"It was an unexpected gesture. And like so much of what Pope John Paul II does, it looks prophetic in hindsight.

"'I send my regards to President Reagan and to Mrs. Reagan, who is so attentive to him in his illness,' the Pope said to President Bush on June 4 — the day before President Ronald Reagan died."

Stem Cells Unlikely to Help Alzheimer's

The Washington Post quotes stem cell researchers as saying,
"I think the chance of doing repairs to Alzheimer's brains by putting in stem cells is small"
"To start with, people need a fairy tale."

A Penitent Blogger says:
A "fairy tale" to promote experimentation on and exploitation of the most defenseless of human lives.
May God take care of these souls and may He bring true healing to those whose suffering might tempt such exploitation.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The decision about the number of children

and the sacrifices to be made for them
must not be taken
only with a view to adding comfort
and preserving a peaceful existence.

"Reflecting upon this matter before God,
with the graces drawn from the Sacrament,
and guided by the teaching of the Church,
parents will remind themselves
that it is certainly less serious
to deny their children certain comforts
or material advantages
than to deprive them
of the presence of brothers and sisters
who could help them to grow in humanity
and to realize the beauty of life
at all ages and in all its variety.

John Paul II, homily during Mass in the Mall
Washington, D.C., USA -- October 7, 1979

(A tip of the hat to Joshua LeBlanc)

The Great Republican

He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!'
(Julius Caesar: Act 5, Scene 5)

Requiescat in pace.

I am the only surviving prophet of the LORD

and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.

Such is the situation of the prophet Elijah in today's first reading. Such is the situation in which we often find ourselves -- we who believe in God, in His Word, in His Church, and who feel surrounded by voices that say “If it feels good, do it;” “Who does it hurt?” and “Truth equals hate.”

Our situation may not be as dramatic as Elijah’s nor may God choose to intervene in as dramatic a way as He did for Elijah and yet God is with us, comforting us and helping us to say what needs to be said through the working of His Holy Spirit.

Dramatic or subtle, immediate or not so immediate, God is at work in us and working through us who strive to be faithful and faith-spreading in a too often faithless world.

Are the Commandments old-fashioned?

"Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets:
I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For truly I say to you,
until heaven and earth pass away,
not one iota or dot of the law will pass away
until all is fulfilled.

Therefore, whoever breaks one of these least commandments
and teaches people to do so
shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven:

but whoever does them and teaches them
shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:17-19

Lord, shed upon our darkened souls

the brilliant light of your wisdom
so that we may be enlightened
and serve you with renewed purity.

Saint Ephrem of Syria, Deacon and Doctor of the Church

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

There is nothing left.

There are no alternatives.
There is no hope.
“When we will have eaten this, we will die.”
That is the situation of the widow in today’s first reading.

God forbid that any of us should come to that extreme, but even in our culture of superabundance, some of us still may come to feel like that widow: there is nothing left, there are no alternatives, there is no hope… just one thing more and it’s all over, I’m dead.

It is most especially at times like those that we need to open our ears to hear the word of the Lord and raise our eyes to Him, because it is He who gave us everything we have ever had, it is He who created the world and all that is in it, and it is He who has the power to give us what we truly need: power beyond what we can imagine, gifts better than what we could hope, in ways that we might never expect.

No matter how dark our situation:
there is much more good to come;
there is hope;
there is God,
if only we live in this world for Him

You are the salt of the earth

but if the salt has lost his flavor,
with what shall it be salted?
It is then good for nothing
except to be cast out
and trodden underfoot.

You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a candle
and put it under a basket,
but on a candlestick
and it gives light to all in the house.

So let your light shine before all
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

Many times, we are afraid to stand out.
We want to fit in; we want to “get along.”
But as Christians, we cannot always do that.
Indeed, very often, we must not!

Should all the earth lose its taste for the beauty of truth,
would it not be
because we have not acted as the salt of the earth?

And should the world fall utterly into darkness,
would it not be
because we have not acted as the light of the world?

(A tip of the hat to Father Cornelius O’Brien)

Telegram from the Holy Father

To Mrs. Nancy Reagan:

"Having learned with sadness of the death of President Reagan, I offer you and your family my heartfelt condolences and the assurance of my prayers for his eternal rest. I recall with deep gratitude the late president's unwavering commitment to the service of the nation and to the cause of freedom as well as his abiding faith in the human and spiritual values which ensure a future of solidarity, justice and peace in our world. Together with your family and the American people I commend his noble soul to the merciful love of God our Heavenly Father and cordially invoke upon all who mourn his
passing the divine blessings of consolation, strength and peace."


Monday, June 07, 2004

Just be strong

and stand firm,
and be careful to keep all the law,
which Moses my servant commanded you.
Do not turn from it,
neither to the right nor to the left,
that you may prosper wherever you go.

1 Joshua 1:7

Blessed are...

Blessed are the poor in spirit:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness:
for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful:
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you,
when men revile you and persecute you
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad:
for great is your reward in heaven:
this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

The World Turned Upside Down

God often seems to turn our world upside down. In the Beatitudes, our Lord says, "Blessed (Happy) are you who mourn." In today's first reading, a man in the desert has all the food and water he needs while the king and his people suffer from famine.

Why? Because, as Elijah says, "there shall be no dew or rain except at my word," that is, the word of the Lord.

Elijah gets what he needs in the desert because he knows that everything comes from God and he lives accordingly. Those who mourn, but trust in God, receive that infinite comfort the world cannot give.

The king and the people, on the other hand, do not look to God. They try to fulfill their needs, desires, cravings, and whims by throwing themselves in every direction except God's, but they never get what they truly need, quite the contrary.

As a matter of fact, by excluding God from their view of reality, it is they -- it is we -- who have turned the world upside down. Even so, God still works to turn our worldview right side up again.

Many times we feel need or needs in our lives. We should be like the prophet and always follow the Lord as best we can, clear our minds of those things which would distract us, and ask the Lord for what we truly need.

...that they are endowed by their Creator...

'Ambiguous moral positions, the distortion of reason by particular interest groups, and the absolutization of the subjective, are just some examples of a perspective of life which fails to seek truth itself and abandons the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of human existence (cf. Fides et Ratio, 47). Against the darkness of this confusion, the light of the truth which you openly proclaim (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2) will shine forth as a diakonia of hope, guiding men and women to understand the mystery of their own life in a coherent manner (cf. ibid., 15).

'....Over the last 40 or so years, while political attention to human subjectivity has focused on individual rights, in the public domain there has been a growing reluctance to acknowledge that all men and women receive their essential and common dignity from God and with it the capacity to move towards truth and goodness (cf. Centesimus Annus, 38). Detached from this vision of the fundamental unity and purpose of the whole human family, rights are at times reduced to self-centered demands....

'False secularistic forms of "humanism" which exalt the individual in such a manner that they become a veritable idolatry (cf. Christifideles Laici, 5) can be countered only by the rediscovery of the genuine inviolable dignity of every person. This sublime dignity is manifested in all its radiance when the person's origin and destiny are considered -- created by God and redeemed by Christ, we are all called to be "children in the Son" (cf. ibid., 37).

'So, again I say to the people of the United Sates, it is the Paschal Mystery of Christ that is the only sure point of reference for all of humanity on its pilgrimage in search of authentic unity and true peace! (cf. Ecclesia in America, 70).'

Pope John Paul II
speaking to the Bishops of the Rocky Mountains region
June 4, 2004

"Deserter" at D-Day celebration

"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger represented Pope John Paul II in Normandy at the weekend, marking the 60th anniversary of the D-Day offensive...."

"In 1943, he was drafted along with other students of his age into a military training program, and received some instruction in anti-aircraft tactics.

"Only his status as a future priest enabled him to avoid service in the notorious SS; instead he was sent to an infantry barracks in Traunstein. By now fiercely opposed to the Nazi regime, he deserted from the army, and returned to his family home near Traunstein in April 1945."

(There seem to be no reports of His Eminence's military service record being denounced by Michael Moore.)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

We're having a party. Join us!

One of the most beautiful ways the Blessed Trinity has been described is that the Father is the one who loves, the Son is the one who is beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the bond of love between them. This description falls infinitely short of the reality, but it gives us a more profound idea of the Trinity: that the inner life of the Trinity is an infinite, eternal, unchanging dynamic of love. As St. John says, "God is love."

Today's Feast of Trinity Sunday is more than just a reaffirmation of the Trinity as a dogma: three persons, one God. Trinity Sunday is a reminder that this Triune God calls us to share in that infinite love, that divine life. We are brought into that life and love as we are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Every experience and every gift we have from God comes from those three Persons and brings us closer and deeper into the life and love these three Persons share.

"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," "eternally begotten of the Father..." through whom "all things were made" and who was "playing before Him all the while, playing on the surface of His earth...." And not only this but "the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

The Blessed Trinity -- Father, Son, Holy Spirit -- is a community of Persons, a community of perfect love and life. The Trinity calls us and draws us to share through grace that love and life, to join the party and to rejoice forever in that love, that life, that truth.