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...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The “Generation Gap” is a lie

Many years ago, someone once said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years." (This statement is commonly attributed to Mark Twain, but he actually was 11 when his own father died.)

Sadly, this same mistake and this same lesson are too often repeated by too many people in their lives.

Horribly, this mistaken idea – the superiority of the young generation (not just technologically but as human beings) – is commonly pushed by the opinion-makers of this world, with special style and effect among the “baby-boom” generation.

And yet again and again, the young generations make the same mistake and even the narcissistic boomers would come to recognize the greatness of the generation they once disparaged (and even to excess: naming them the “greatest” generation – in ignorance or disregard of the generations and generations of heroism and greatness that went before).

The classic words of Ecclesiastes (1:4) come to mind:

One generation passeth away,
and another generation cometh:
but the earth abideth for ever.

But while Ecclesiastes looks at the generations of humankind with jaded erudition, in today’s Gospel (Luke 1:39-56), the Blessed Virgin Mary looks at the generations of humankind with the joyful eyes of God’s grace:

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

May we neither disparage nor idolize any generation, neither the generation of today nor the generations before.

Rather, in every generation – the young, the old, the middle aged, the generations long past, and the generations that may yet be to come – may we look for the signs of the mercy of God and nurture the grace that he extends to all.

Ut veniat mater Domini mei ad me

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
(Luke 1:41-43)

Et factum est,
ut audivit salutationem Mariae Elisabeth,
exsultavit infans in utero eius,
et repleta est Spiritu Sancto Elisabeth
et exclamavit voce magna et dixit:
"Benedicta tu inter mulieres,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui.
Et unde hoc mihi,
ut veniat mater Domini mei ad me?"

Today the Church celebrates
the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Friday, May 30, 2008

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

What love is

Popular songs pretend to tell us about love.

Movies pretend to tell us about love (or try to substitute coitus in the metropolis or something like that).

Worst of all, so-called experts – some educated and some not so much, even some within the Church – pretend to tell us what love is.

What all of these say about love is invariably shallow and often terribly wrong.

Today’s second reading (1 John 4:7-16) tells us what love really is: love that was ultimately and perfectly revealed on the cross by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves
is begotten by God
and knows God.

Whoever is without love
does not know God,
for God is love.

In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.

In this is love:
not that we have loved God,
but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I implore

that I may ever love Thee more and more

Today the Church celebrates
the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Aliens with good behavior

Today’s first reading (1 Peter 2:2-5, 9-12) gives a different light on the idea that we are to be “in the world, but not of the world.”

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners
to keep away from worldly desires
that wage war against the soul.

Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles,
so that if they speak of you as evildoers,
they may observe your good works
and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Our life needs to be centered on God, for it is God who gives us eternal life.

The “life” that is offered by the world may look attractive and even (for a time) “feel good” but at best it pulls our focus from the eternal life and truth of God and too often requires us to do things that are wrong.

We are not of this world nor are we to act in worldly ways. We are aliens, but we are also ambassadors: called to give witness to the people of this world by our deeds and words.

We cannot let ourselves be affected by the evil and selfishness of this world, but neither can we retreat into bunkers. Rather, by God's grace, we must live our lives in ways that shine to the world with goodness, charity, and truth.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Escape from futility

At different times in our lives we may feel frustrated that there is so little to show for all we have done.

Sometimes, especially if we should happen to lose our jobs or our homes, we feel that all of our labors and all of our dreams have vanished into smoke and debris.

In today’s first reading (1 Peter 1:18-25), Saint Peter reminds us of the transitory quality of earthly reality and also of the unshakeable and eternal reality that God wishes to share with us in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

...(Realize) that you were ransomed

from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars.

The what of my what?

In Biblical times, men and women wore loose-fitting clothing, but when the time came for combat or for hard physical labor, it was necessary to comport oneself differently, including the adjustment of clothing close to the body.

It is in this sense that Saint Peter in today’s first reading (1 Peter 1:10-16) tells us to “gird up the loins of your mind.” The days in which we are living are not a time for ease and relaxation, spiritually and morally, but for faithful work.

Gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly,
and set your hopes completely
on the grace to be brought to you
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Like obedient children,
do not act

in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance
but, as he who called you is holy,
be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct,
for it is written,
Be holy because I am holy.

He did what the Pope could not

Gregory was not a missionary, he was the Pope, but there was a missionary endeavor that called to his heart.

Augustine was not a missionary, he was a monk, but when the Pope chose him to lead this missionary endeavor in his place, he could not refuse.

In the end, after many adventures and challenges, the missionary effort was successful and this monk became the first bishop of what would become a one of the world’s most famous archbishoprics.

St. Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great to be Apostle of England, died 1403 years ago yesterday and his memory is celebrated on this day.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Words of hope to begin the week

Even though today is a holiday for many in the United States, still it is also the beginning of another week, which may be full of good things and perhaps bad things.

Today's first reading (1 Peter 1:3-9) gives us words of courage and hope in Christ that can, with the help of his grace, sustain us through all things: no matter what.

Now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable
even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Although you have not seen him
you love him;
even though you do not see him
now yet you believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of faith,
the salvation of your souls.

Memorial Day

This is a U.S. holiday, but a good opportunity to remember all who have died in war.

Abraham Lincoln gave perhaps the greatest of Memorial Day speeches not given on Memorial Day (at a cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863).

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But in a larger sense we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

"The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.

"It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on.

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

(from an earlier post)

The teenager came to the city with no cash

Philip had left behind his family, his job, and a promising future.

He got a position as a tutor that included room and board. When he was not tutoring, he spent his time praying, reading, and sharing his faith with people on the street.

Many of those he met on the street would also dedicate themselves to the service of God. Some stayed with him, others entered religious orders. Philip sometimes thought about becoming a missionary or a hermit, but he was convinced that the city itself would be for him both mission territory and a hermitage.

In time, he became a priest and gathered a religious community around him that focused on prayer, preaching, and music. His community was known as the Congregation of the Oratory and would be associated with a form of musical presentation known as the "oratorio."

St. Philip Neri died in Rome 411 years ago tomorrow and his memory is celebrated on this day. Congregations of the Oratory can be found in many places, from Pittsburgh to South Africa and most famously the Oratory that Cardinal John Henry Newman founded at Birmingham, England.

(from an earlier post)

Bishop-elect Albert to Prince Albert

The Holy Father has accepted the retirement of the Most Reverend Blaise-Ernest Morand as Bishop of the Diocese of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and has named as the new Bishop of Prince Albert Father Albert Thévenot, M. Afr., Canadian Provincial of the “White Fathers” (Missionaries of Africa).

Bishop-elect Thévenot was born in 1945 in Treherne, Manitoba and made his perpetual profession in the Congregation of the Missionaries of Africa in 1975. After completing his theological studies in Totteridge, England, he was ordained a priest August 2, 1980. He was then sent on mission in Tanzania where he served his first assignment as Parochial Vicar in Bushangaro for two years and then for another three years as assistant spiritual director for youth at the Student Centre in Tabora. He returned to work in Western Canada from 1985 to 1992 before going back to work in Tabora, first as Parochial Vicar and then as Pastor until 1996. From 1996 to 1998 he was Assistant Provincial for his congregation in Tanzania, Kenya, and Sudan. During the six following years, from 1998 to 2004, he was in Rome, as a member of his congregation’s General Council, with responsibilities for finances and for elderly religious. Returning to Canada again, he was named in 2005 National Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Society. In May 2006 he was elected the Canadian Provincial of the “White Fathers.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Taking communion for granted

Sadly, many among us take communion for granted.

Some of us take for granted our communion with the rest of the Body of Christ: we say we are Catholic, we even show up for Church regularly, and that is pretty much about it.

Some of us even take for granted the Holy Communion we receive.

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, celebrated in many places today (and in many places last Thursday) reminds us of the beauty and the power of the Communion we take for granted.

In today’s second reading (1 Corinthians 10:16-17), Saint Paul gives us a simple and eloquent reminder: words that we would do well to remember as we come to Church and as we go forth from it.

The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?

The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

And as we kneel before God, we do well to remember our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel (John 6:51-58):

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.

On this day, may we recommit ourselves to Communion and to sharing more fully in the truth and life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ministry to apostates

Some verses of the New Testament seem to indicate that there is no hope for apostates: that a person who embraces the true faith and then turns away from it can never return.

Other verses, such as in today’s first reading (James 5:13-20), seem to indicate not only that there is hope, but that restoring apostates to the faith is a commendable ministry.

My brothers,
if anyone among you should stray from the truth
and someone bring him back,
he should know that whoever brings back a sinner
from the error of his way will save his soul from death
and will cover a multitude of sins.

This would be the subject of no little controversy in the early centuries of the Church, but it would eventually be understood that the Church needed to pursue a ministry of reconciliation for the truly contrite.

To be sure, the danger of unforgivable apostasy is real, especially if coupled with the sins of presumption or despair.

Ministry to apostates can also be risky: like a drowning swimmer who pulls down a would-be rescuer, the apostate can sometimes get a hold of the weaknesses and temptations of the would-be reconciler, to the ruin of both.

Yet we must never give up on our fallen away brothers and sisters. We must always pray for them, at the very least, that they may return to the fullness of the faith and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Be careful of the vent

Cyberspace makes it easy to “vent” – to express in blog posts and comments what we would never do in person.

Today’s first reading (James 5:9-12) offers us an important reminder:

Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Challenges and rewards

Today’s readings offer us many challenges: strong denunciation of rich oppressors in the first reading (James 5:1-6) and our Lord’s strong warning in today’s Gospel (Mark 9:41-50) for us to make the changes we need to make in our lives: using amputation as an analogy.

But, lest we get discouraged, our Lord also tells us that there will be rewards even for the small good things people do.

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

May we be ever more faithful to Christ’s truth and love in all things, great and small.

A battered wife

Rita got married very young and she had two sons, but it was a far from happy marriage.

Rita's husband was an angry, abusive man and she suffered with him for 18 years.

He was also involved in a situation that was a cross between a long-running political feud and gang warfare, which eventually led to his being murdered.

Death followed soon after for Rita's sons as well.

Rita then entered the religious life, at the age of 36.

She would live a life of penance, prayer, charity and peacemaking for another 40 years.

St. Rita of Cascia died at the Augustinian convent at Cascia, Italy, on this very day 551 years ago.

(from an earlier post)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Business as usual

For most of us, today is just another day: a day in which we will busy ourselves with the usual things of our lives and work on a variety of plans.

Today’s first reading (James 3:13-17) reminds us of the fragility of human life and human plans.

Come now, you who say,
“Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town,
spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”–
you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.

You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly
and then disappears.

Instead you should say,
“If the Lord wills it,
we shall live to do this or that.”

But now you are boasting in your arrogance.
All such boasting is evil.

So for one who knows the right thing to do
and does not do it,
it is a sin.

May we keep our focus always on the will of God and resolve to follow God’s will in every aspect of our lives.

He was a good priest

He said Mass, heard confessions, and taught seminarians.

For that, he was arrested by the Federal government 81 years ago today and thrown in front of a firing squad four days later.

21 other priests and three laymen were executed as part of that same "crackdown" by the Mexican government.

Father Christopher Magallanes and companions were canonized by the great Pope John Paul II in the year 2000 and their memory is celebrated on this day.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at just another day of Catholic pondering.

Stop the war!

Let us address the root causes!

What war? What root causes? Saint James tells us in today’s first reading (James 4:1-10):

Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?

Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?

You covet but do not possess.

You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.

You do not possess because you do not ask.

You ask but do not receive,
ecause you ask wrongly,
to spend it on your passions.

Do you not know
that to be a lover of the world
means enmity with God?

What is the answer?

How do we stop the war within our hearts?

Submit yourselves to God.

Resist the Devil,
and he will flee from you.

Draw near to God,
and he will draw near to you.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners,
and purify your hearts, you of two minds.

Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep.

Let your laughter be turned into mourning
and your joy into dejection.

Humble yourselves before the Lord
and he will exalt you.

From Jamaica to Jamaica

The Holy Father has named as the new Bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, Father Neil Tiedemann, C.P., an American Passionist. (The previous bishops of this young Diocese have been American religious.)

Bishop-elect Tiedemann was born in Brooklyn in 1948. He joined the Passionists in 1970 and took perpetual vows in 1974. He was ordained a priest May 16, 1975. Since ordination he has served in the following positions: 1975-1982 - Associate Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Jamaica, New York; 1977-1978 - Catholic Charities, Jamaica, New York; 1982-1984 - Co-Pastor, St. Joseph’s Parish, Union City, New Jersey; 1984-1987 - Associate Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Springfield, Massachusetts; 1987-1994 – Pastoral ministry in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; 1995-1997 – pastoral ministry back at St. Joseph’s Parish in Union City; 1997-1998 - Immaculate Conception Monastery, Jamaica, New York; 1998 - Administrator-Pastor of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish (Hispanic ministry), Brooklyn; 2005-2006 – pastoral ministry back in Honduras; in 2006 he was elected a Provincial Consultor for the Passionists and has been serving in that position up to now.

Tens of thousands gathered to hear him

As many as 30,000 once gathered to listen to him.

Without a microphone.

He traveled all around the country to preach.

On foot.

Bernadine of Siena, the most powerful preacher of the century, literally wore himself out in the service of God: dropping to the ground and dying on this very day in 1444 (the vigil of the Ascension that year). He was canonized six years later.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good words to begin the week

Today’s first reading (James 3:13-18) gives us excellent words to keep in mind as we begin our day and begin our week.

Who among you is wise and understanding?

Let him show his works by a good life
in the humility that comes from wisdom.

But if you have bitter jealousy
and selfish ambition in your hearts,
do not boast and be false to the truth.
Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.

But the wisdom from above
is first of all pure,
then peaceable,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A mysterious doctrine and wonderful gift

The end of today’s second reading, the end of Saint Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (13:11-13), provides us with one of the earliest written mentions of the Most Holy Trinity.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

These words are very familiar to us, since they are the basis of one of the greetings that may be used by the celebrant at the beginning of Mass.

It is very important, of course, to remember that all of God’s actions directed beyond Himself (ad extra) are actions of all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity in perfect union. God’s grace comes to us not just from our Lord Jesus Christ, but from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity in perfect union. God’s love comes to us not just from God the Father, but from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity in perfect union. Divine communion or fellowship comes to us not just from the Holy Spirit, but from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity in perfect union.

That being said, there is truth and value in ascribing in our own minds particular aspects of divine action to particular Persons of the Blessed Trinity, such as Saint Paul appears to do in this verse (“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”) and our Lord Himself appears to do in the famous words of today’s Gospel (John 3:16-18):

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.

The value of ascribing these different aspects to different persons (while maintaining the perfect unity of the Trinity’s actions ad extra) is that these aspects may be used to tell us something of the internal actions or relations of the Persons within the Blessed Trinity (ad intra): e.g., the Father begets, the Son is begotten, the Father loves, the Son in loved, the Holy Spirit is the love, and so forth.

Ascribing these different aspects to different persons is also helpful for our finite minds and poor human imaginations, which naturally are incapable of fully grasping the mystery of the inner life of God, as long as we do not fall into the various errors which divide God.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a wonderful gift, partly because it is a unique and freely given gift of God– beyond the reach of human reason – a glimpse into the inner life of God Himself.

The doctrine of the Trinity is also a wonderful gift because it is such a mystery: a reminder that we cannot put God fully into the boxes of our human brains. He reveals himself to us, in Creation and in Revelation, yet he is also infinitely transcendent.

It is good for us to remember the wonder and the beauty of this gift: on today’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, in the words of Scripture such as those that are used by the priest at Mass, and as we begin and end every prayer in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The tongues of the Internet

Today’s first reading (James 3:1-10) focuses on the human tongue, i.e., the power of speech – a power so often abused.

It does not take much imagination to see how these concerns can apply very easy to the Internet and the words that people post online in the blogosphere.

For every kind of beast and bird,
of reptile and sea creature,
can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species,
but no man can tame the tongue.

It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With it we bless the Lord and Father,
and with it we curse men
who are made in the likeness of God.

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.

My brothers, this need not be so.

Indeed, we should resolve to use our tongues and our blogs and our comments to give glory to God and to help build up others in faith and truth.

But today’s first reading begins with another warning that needs to be heeded.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers,
for you realize that we will be judged more strictly,
for we all fall short in many respects.

I myself am keenly and painfully aware of how I fall short in so very many respects. I am penitent. I am no saint. I am a sinner. I am very imperfect.

We are indeed sinners and yet as people of faith we must nonetheless speak out the truth of Christ: in our lives, in the public square, and on the Internet.

We must speak the truth of Christ because Christ commands us and we must speak the truth of Christ because the world needs it.

To be sure, we need to heed the warning of today’s first reading.

We do this first by seeking God’s grace to be every more virtuous and free from sin: for our own good and the good of all who see and hear us.

We do this also with proper prudence and humility.

If personal perfection were a prerequisite for proclaiming the truth, then only error and lies would be spoken in this world.

On the other hand, if there is a substantial “disconnect” between the godly truth one espouses and the life one lives, it would be prudent not to put oneself too far forward as a teacher or messenger of godly things. (Again, the proper and prudent thing to do would be to repent, seek God’s grace, and embrace the virtuous life.)

For those of us who are faithfully struggling in various states of moderate imperfection, our watchwords in proclaiming the truth of Christ should be humility, penitence, and fidelity.

We need to be honest about the truth.

We need to be honest that the truth does not originate from us, but from Christ.

We need to be honest about our personally falling short of that truth.

And we need to be honest about our reliance on God’s grace.

As the first and last verses of Psalm 115 remind us:

Not to us, O Lord, not to us;
but to thy name give glory.
For thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.

But we that live
bless the Lord:
from this time now
and for ever.

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

sed nos qui vivimus
benedicimus Domino
ex hoc nunc
et usque in saeculum

Friday, May 16, 2008

Political correctness versus Christ

In today’s Orwellian world, lip service is given to freedom of speech and freedom of religion while the increasingly heavy chains of political correctness strangle both the free exercise and expression of faith.

Thus says the Lord in today’s Gospel (Mark 8:34-9:1):

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.

No matter what political correctness or any "authority" on this earth may say, may you and I be faithful to the truth and faithful to Christ.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How we look at things

We are only human, but we are called to a higher level in how we think, how we speak, and how we act.

As today’s readings remind us, this extends to how we view other people.

We are attracted to those who look good and we are uncomfortable around those who dress shabbily.

We are attracted to those with money and power and sometimes ignore those who are needy.

Today’s first reading (James 2:1-9) calls us to a higher level.

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please,”
while you say to the poor one,
“Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith
and heirs of the Kingdom that he promised
to those who love him?
But you dishonored the poor.
Are not the rich oppressing you?
And do they themselves not haul you off to court?
Is it not they who blaspheme
the noble name that was invoked over you?
However, if you fulfill the royal law

according to the Scripture,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself,
you are doing well.
But if you show partiality,
you commit sin,
and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

We naturally want life to be easy and happy and want to avoid difficulties.

In today’s Gospel (Mark 8:27-33), Peters expresses this common attitude and he is sharply denounced by our Lord himself.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said,
“Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does,
but as human beings do.”

May you and I look at everyone and everything with the eyes of God.

Suspicions about a farm worker

The other farm workers told their boss that Isidro was always late. When confronted, Isidro gave the excuse that he was going to Mass every morning on his way in and insisted that his work was being done.

The boss remained suspicious, so he put him under surveillance.

Sure enough, he saw Isidro going to Mass.

And later, when he looked into the field assigned to Isidro, he saw him working diligently.

But that was not all: the boss saw a second team plowing in Isidro’s field and they glowed with a heavenly light.

Both Isidro and his wife Maria would become well known for their sanctity and charity.

Isidro died on this very day in 1130 and would be canonized nearly 500 years later. His wife died a few years after him and is also venerated as a saint.

The memory of Saint Isidore the farmer (also known as Isidore the laborer and Isidore of Madrid) is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at Organ-ic Chemist.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Choice is a good thing.

But whose choice? And what is chosen?

These are critical questions.

In today’s Gospel (John 15:9-17), our Lord says this:

It was not you who chose me,
but I who chose you.

God is the one who chooses us for salvation. May we never reject that choice.

God is the one who chooses our vocations. May we never reject that choice.

God is the one who chooses to give life. May we never reject that choice.

Tragically, there are people who say they are “pro-choice” when they are actually promoting the destruction of innocent human beings (and the rejection of God’s choice to give life).

Tragically, there are people who talk a lot about “choices” but cut them off from any objective moral reality and from the choices of the Creator.

May we reject the false “choices” of this world and embrace the loving choices of God.

He was not one of the important people

He was not in the inner circle, and that was fine with him: he was thrilled to be involved in any way he could.

Then came the most frightening, confusing, and exhilarating three days of his life.

It wasn’t until weeks later that they realized they needed to fill an opening in the inner circle.

And he was chosen.

Matthias, who had been one of the lesser disciples of Jesus, was selected to replace Judas as one of the Twelve Apostles.

His feast is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Church aid gets through to Burma survivors

Local Catholic Church partners of Caritas Internationalis have begun delivering aid to the people of Myanmar (also know as Burma) following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nagris.

Donations are being accepted through Catholic Relief Services.

Good multiplication

Our Lord’s cryptic statements in today’s Gospel (Mark 8:14-21) puzzled his disciples.

He warns them against “the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” and reminds them of his multiplication of the loaves.

Leaven, of course, makes bread rise: a little leaven makes larger-looking loaves.

It is something very small that has a disproportionately large effect.

If it is good leaven, that is good.

If the leaven is corrupted, the corruption will spread massively.

It is a warning for us to be careful of the contamination of the world.

It is also a warning for us to be very careful of the immoral short-cuts that the world may offer.

Our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel also remind us of how his power can multiply our efforts to goodness and joy beyond imagination and beyond anything the world can offer.

What they both knew

Before he had been elected Pope, most of the world had not heard of him.

When she was a little girl, she was known and respected around the world.

Then one day, when thousands of hands were waving and reaching out to the Pope, one man reached out to him with death and the Pope fell.

But the Pope didn't die that day and he knew why.

On that very day, many years before, the little girl had been outside the village with her sister and brother and there they had met a beautiful woman who spoke to them about her son, about love, and about prayer.

She was Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

By the time the Pope was attacked, the little girl was a very old and venerable nun, but after he recovered, he went to meet with her.

And so, the great Pope John Paul and the famous Sister Lucy sat together and spoke of what they knew of God's providence in Christ and about Christ's mother Mary, whom Sister Lucy had met at a place called Fatima.

The first appearance of our Lady of Fatima took place 91 years ago today and this day is celebrated by the Church around the world.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Monday, May 12, 2008

No sign for you!

Our Lord’s response in today’s Gospel (Mark 8:11-13) may seem a bit abrupt and negative to some, as if he were reacting merely from frustration and exasperation.

He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you,

no sign will be given to this generation.”

But it is not mere frustration: it is grief – grief at the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts.

They say they seek a sign but their hearts and minds are solidly opposed to Christ.

The truth is that although signs can be helpful, they are can almost always be “explained away” or their meaning twisted by people who choose to do so.

Rather than look for signs, we do well to follow the advice of today’s first reading (James 1:1-11):

If any of you lacks wisdom,
he should ask God
who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly,
and he will be given it.

But he should ask in faith,
not doubting,
for the one who doubts
is like a wave of the sea
that is driven and tossed about by the wind.

For that person must not suppose
that he will receive anything from the Lord,
since he is a man of two minds,
unstable in all his ways.

Let our prayer to the Lord be that of the Responsorial Psalm (119:67,68,71,72,75,76)

You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.

Change in the Northwest

On May 10, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI accepted the retirement of the Most Reverend Denis Croteau O.M.I. as Bishop of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, Canada. He is succeeded by the Most Reverend Murray Chatlain, Coadjutor of the Diocese.

Many were killed in that place

There were two men. They had been soldiers – and not just any soldiers: they had been among the elite, standing guard in the highest corridors of power, close by the most powerful man in the world.

But then they heard about Jesus and they walked away from the man of power to follow the Son of God.

For that, they were killed.

There was also a boy, 14 years old, who was an orphan. He had just come to the city and had embraced Christ.

They killed him too.

Yet they would all be remembered by the Christians of that place, the city of Rome, and their victory through Christ celebrated.

The memory of Saints Nereus, Achilleus, and Pancras is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Meaningful conversation

A particularly narrow variety of Christianity was in the news recently: a theology and style of Christianity that sees everything, from Scripture to politics, through the lens of a specific ethnicity and ideology. A prominent preacher and proponent of that theology once shouted down an attempt to ask him about that theology unless the questioner had read books by the preacher’s favorite theologians.

An explanation was later given that a meaningful conversation could not be had about that theology unless a common language and frame of reference had first been established.

That explanation sounds reasonable, but it is specious.

It is also contrary to what the Apostles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did in today’s first reading (Acts 2:1-11).

The Apostles did not let differences in ethnicity or language or background stand as obstacles to their preaching the Gospel of Christ: they boldly spoke “as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” and in turn the Holy Spirit enabled people to understand, no matter their background or language.

And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews

from every nation under heaven
staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them

speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them

in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

Yes, there are many differences among people in this world – differences in ideology, ethnicity, history, culture, language, and so many more things.

Yes, we should be charitable and respectful of every child of God - even when what they say and do is wrong and must be opposed.

Yes, we should prudently learn about the differences among us - while holding fast to the one Truth that comes from the one and only Creator of all things.

But we cannot – we dare not – evade the mission given us nor avoid speaking the Truth nor stifle the Holy Spirit of God out of political correctness, hypersensitivity, or fear.

Like the Apostles, we must pray always for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Like the Apostles, we must speak the truth boldly as the Spirit enables us to proclaim it.

Like the Apostles, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to use our words to speak directly to the hearts of those who hear us.

Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit speaking directly to the hearts of men, women, and children that is the most meaningful conversation of all.

Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created
And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Happy Mothers' Day

'Madonna with the Christ Child' by Sassoferrato - d. 1685, Roma

(from an earlier post)


Veni, Sancte Spiritus
reple tuorum corda fidelium,
et tui amoris in eis accende.

V. Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.


qui corda fidelium
Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti.
Da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere,
et de eius semper consolatione gaudere.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of Thy faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray:
Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful
by the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise,
and ever rejoice in His consolation.
Through Christ our Lord.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The End

228 years ago (on May 19), a strange darkness befell part of the United States and Canada in the middle of the day.

Many thought it was the end of the world.

The Connecticut Legislature was in session and some suggested an adjournment, so that everyone could go to their families and their churches. One of the elder statesmen, Abraham Davenport, a minister’s son, stood and spoke

“I am against an adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause of an adjournment: if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.”

Candles were brought in, the legislators continued at their duties, and the world did not end.

The end would come for Abraham Davenport several years later, they say, as he died in his mid-seventies while fulfilling his duties presiding at a trial.

Today’s first reading is the end of the book of the Acts of the Apostles (28:16-20, 30-31), but it scarcely feels like an end, for although Saint Paul could be dragged off to his death at any time (and it would indeed not be long before this would happen), Saint Paul remains focused on his duty, as the very last verse of the book tells us:

He received all who came to him,
and with complete assurance
and without hindrance
he proclaimed the Kingdom of God
and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ourselves can be very distracted in our lives and sometimes can be distracted by fear of death or of the end of the world.

We should follow the example of Saint Paul and remain focused always on our duty, especially our duties as followers of Christ, at every moment, no matter what, for we do not know when the end may come.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.

Ministry for THAT disease

As a rule, priests do not mind ministering to the sick - it is a key part of their vocation.

But many priests were afraid of that disease and some priests actually refused to minister to people who had it.

People might talk.

And what if the priests turned out to have the same disease?

A young priest from overseas volunteered to minister to a group of people with that disease. In fact, he made it his fulltime ministry.

For more than ten years, he served those whom other people – even other priests – shunned.

And then he got the disease.

Within five years he was dead.

He died during Holy Week, still among the people he had come to serve at the leper colony on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, 108 years ago last month.

Father Damien de Veuster would be declared one of the Blessed by the great Pope John Paul II in 1995 and his memory is celebrated on this day – the anniversary of his arrival on Molokai.

(Last month, it was announced that the Theological Consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints decided that a second miracle could be attributed to the intercession of Blessed Damien, which opens the door to his being declared a Saint.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Peter's answer

Peter never forgot that question: the question we hear in today's Gospel (John 21:15-19).

In his heart, Peter would hear our Lord asking him this question again and again... and for the rest of his life Peter would never stop answering.

Yes, Lord, he thought on the day of Pentecost, you know that I love you.

And then Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, stood in front of thousands of people and brought them to accept Christ.

Do you love me?

Yes, Lord, Peter thought, you know that I love you.

And then Peter left his homeland forever, so that he might preach Christ to other lands.

Do you love me?

Yes, Lord, Peter smiled, you know that I love you.

And then Peter stretched out his arms and was hung upside down on a cross.

(adapted from an earlier post)

The question

In today’s Gospel (John 21:15-19), our Lord asks Saint Peter “Do you love me?” three times in a row.

Our Lord’s thrice-repeated question obviously parallels Saint Peter’s thrice-repeated denial.

Three times Saint Peter had denied Christ.

Three times Christ invites Saint Peter to show his love for him.

You and I have sinned, effectively denying Christ as our Lord and Savior – choosing instead the insidious dominion and the false salvation of pleasure, convenience and whim.

We feel the grief of our sins, we repent, and we seek forgiveness.

We need also to listen for the voice of the Lord inviting us to show our love for him.

It is quite unlikely that our Lord will ask us in the way he did in today’s Gospel.

More likely, the Lord will asks us in the opportunities he gives us as we live our lives: when we are presented with the choice to be faithful to him, to his love, and to his truth.

It will be in these unexpected moments that our Lord will be looking at us and asking:

Do you love me?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ad hoc allies

In today’s first reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11), Saint Paul is in a tight spot and makes use of a belief he shares with people who have been working against him.

It is a reminder of the wisdom of ad hoc allies: people with whom we may not agree on everything, but with whom we can work to achieve a common good (or at least avoid a shared danger).

Of course, there is also a danger from ad hoc allies.

We must therefore at all times and in all things exercise prudence and ask our Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of discernment, so that we may effectively navigate through the dangers of this world and remain faithful to the truth and the mission he has entrusted to us.

As our Lord says to the Father in today's Gospel (John 17:20-26):

I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me
through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me.

And I have given them
the glory you gave me,
so that they may be one,
as we are one,
I in them and you in me,
that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know
that you sent me,
and that you loved them
even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me.
I wish that where I am
they also may be with me,
that they may see my glory that you gave me,
because you loved me
before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father,
the world also does not know you,
but I know you,
and they know that you sent me.

I made known to them your name
and I will make it known,
that the love with which you loved me
may be in them and I in them.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at Building the Ark.

Leaving with accomplishment

It is hard to say good-bye, but it is good to leave with the certainty of good work done.

So it is in both of today’s readings.

In the first reading (Acts 20:17-27), Saint Paul bids farewell to the Church of Ephesus with a clear conscience.

But now I know that none of you
to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels
will ever see my face again.

And so I solemnly declare to you this day
that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you,
for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you
the entire plan of God.

In the Gospel (John 17:1-11), our Lord’s Farewell Discourse becomes a prayer to the Father: a prayer for his followers:

I revealed your name
to those whom you gave me out of the world.

They belonged to you,
and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.

Now they know that everything you gave me
is from you,
because the words you gave to me
I have given to them,
and they accepted them
and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.

I pray for them.

I do not pray for the world
but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours,
and everything of mine is yours
and everything of yours is mine,
and I have been glorified in them.

And now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world,
while I am coming to you.

With our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ watching over us, we should ask ourselves this question:

When our time comes, will you and I be able to speak with satisfaction and clear consciences about what we have done to bring other people to God?

If not, why not start doing more now?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Courage at week’s start

It is the beginning of another week, with many challenges – some normal, some perhaps especially daunting.

But at the end of today’s Gospel (John 16:29-33), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives us a simple message that says it all:

In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage,
I have conquered the world.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cooler than clouds

Often, when we think of the Ascension (celebrated in many places last Thursday in accordance with tradition and celebrated in other places today), we think simply of our Lord Jesus Christ rising through the clouds into heaven.

To be sure, that is what happened.

It is a spectacular image and a glorious reality.

But if that is our only focus, we may miss the point.

The disciples themselves in today's first reading (Acts 1:1-11) appear to have been missing the point also, standing on a hilltop and gawking at the clouds instead of returning to Jerusalem and waiting for the Holy Spirit, which is what our Lord had told them to do.

(You know you’re REALLY spaced out when it takes a couple of angels to bring your head back down to earth.)

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?”

People of faith are often accused of walking around with their heads in the clouds.

The Ascension is about much more than just what happened in the clouds.

The Ascension is about the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

That is what we celebrate today and that is what today’s readings repeat with mighty eloquence.

Saint Paul associates great majesty and power with the Ascension (even though he does not use the word) as he writes in today’s second reading (Ephesians 1:17-33) of what the Father has done in Christ:

...raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority,
power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church,
which is his body,
the fullness of the one
who fills all things in every way.

We see this same reality in today’s Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20), as our Lord speaks from power and sends forth his disciples in power.

Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold,
I am with you always,
until the end of the age.”

And in the explicit description of the Ascension in today’s first reading, our Lord’s last words confirm this bestowal of power and mission upon the disciples in spectacular fashion.

“You will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

Our celebration of the Ascension must be more than just thinking of how cool it would be to zip up through the clouds.

Our celebration of the Ascension should remind us how cool it is that the Lord of glory - the One who sits at the right hand of the Father, the One who has been given all power in heaven and earth – has given us a mission and the power to carry it out.

Go, therefore,
and make disciples of all nations...
And behold,
I am with you always,
until the end of the age.


The Ascension of our Lord is celebrated in many places on this day.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

In whose name do we ask?

When he walked upon this earth, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ performed great miracles.

In today’s Gospel (John 14:6-14), our Lord promises us much more than that, prefacing his promise with his most solemn assurance:

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me
will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.

Christ, ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father, empowers us.

Indeed, just in case we didn’t get that message: he repeats it with even greater clarity in the very next verse:

And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

But wait, there’s more! In the very next verse after THAT, he repeats it yet again!

If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

Of course, many of us still do not get what our Lord is saying.

One problem is that many of us – believers and unbelievers – are like children, looking at things in the world and at things that are beyond this world as if they were magic.

Among many unbelievers, the magic answer to all things is science and/or technology; for others, the magic is positive attitude.

Some of these once believed that the magic answer was faith and interpreted our Lord’s words as if they were magic.

Even some who are currently fervent believers in Christ may look on our Lord’s promise in today’s Gospel (and elsewhere) that way: use the magic name and – presto – your wishes will be granted.

The truth is that there is no magic.

Science is neither magic nor infallible.

Technology is neither magic nor 100% beneficial.

A positive attitude does not guarantee a positive result.

And even the most sacred of names is not magic.

Often when a prayer appears to fail, a magic-based analysis persists, usually concluding that not enough of the right ingredients had been used: e.g., “you need a pinch more faith”, “you have to use the Aramaic form of the Name”, “you have to pronounce the Name out loud”.

The truth is that when we use the name of our Lord as if it were magic, we are in a very real sense not actually praying in the name of the Lord. Rather, we are often praying in the name of convenience or comfort or greed or fear or something worse.

Even when we pray for a good thing (e.g., for the physical healing of someone who is innocent or virtuous), we are on some level and to some extent separating ourselves from God and his will.

That is not to say that we should not be honest with God in our prayer about our hopes and desires.

Our Lord himself gives us the pattern to follow (Matthew 26:39):

And going a little farther
he fell on his face and prayed,
"My Father,
if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;
nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Our prayer is perfectly effective when we are fully in Christ and when we pray fully from Christ and in Christ.

The name of Jesus is omnipotent, but our use of the name of Jesus is not magic.

Should we still pray in the name of Jesus, imperfect as we may be? Of course.

Should we pray for the things we want or need? By all means.

Will miracles take place even when we are not spiritually at the level of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul? Yes, thank God.

But our focus must always be on and in Christ: believing and living fully in the name of Jesus.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me
will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name,
I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name,
I will do it

Philip had to tell somebody

He had been picked.

Out of a crowd of people, he had been chosen, and he had to tell somebody.

So Philip tracked down his buddy and told him.

His buddy was not impressed: in fact, he was downright skeptical, but he could not shut Philip up.

And that's how Philip brought his friend Nathaniel to Jesus.

The Feast of the Apostles Philip and James is celebrated today.

(from an earlier post)

Family was very important to James

both his immediate family and his extended family, even when there was disagreement among them.

One member of the family in particular was not well thought of by everyone in the clan. They said he was out of his mind, but James stuck by him, that is, until he was arrested and executed and James went into hiding.

Then, something happened: something big.

James came out of hiding and began to talk publicly about his famous relative who had been despised and executed.

James became well known not only as a family member and former associate, but a disciple and a leader.

So they killed him too.

The Feast of Saint James the Apostle is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Friday, May 02, 2008


Life is not always easy and sometimes when we stand up for our faith it can t even worse.

But today’s readings have words to give us courage.

The first reading (Acts 18:9-18) begins with the Lord’s words to Saint Paul:

Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking,
and do not be silent,
for I am with you.

And in today’s Gospel (John 16:20-23), our Lord gives us words of comfort to boost our courage, even if things should seem to go wrong for a little while.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve,
but your grief will become joy.

When a woman is in labor,
she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain
because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.

So you also are now in anguish.

But I will see you again,
and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.

On that day
you will not question me about anything.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name
he will give you.

Whether life is good at this moment or whether life is a struggle, may God give us the graces of faithfulness, perseverance, and comfort in the name of Jesus.

It was tough to be the bishop there

It was more than a big city: it encompassed one of the greatest centers of intellectual activity in the world.

And most of the intellectuals ridiculed the faith.

Even one of the priests in the diocese gathered worldwide fame and innumerable followers by denying that Jesus was really God.

The rebel priest’s ideas became very popular and the bishop himself was run out of town more than once.

Yet the true faith eventually prevailed, thanks in no small measure to the perseverance and brilliance of the local bishop.

St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, champion of the Council of Nicaea, opponent of Arianism, and Father of Orthodoxy, died peacefully in his own bed on this very day in the year 323.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Episcopal Announcements

The Holy Father has accepted the retirement of the Most Reverend Harry Flynn as Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He is succeeded by his Coadjutor, the Most Reverend John C. Neinstedt.

The Pope has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Michael Wiwchar, C.SS.R as Bishop of the Eparchy of Saskatoon of the Ukrainians (Saskatchewan, Canada). The Holy Father has named as the new Bishop Father Bryan Bayda, C.SS.R., currently Pastor of Saint Mary’s Church and Superior of the Redemptorist community in Yorkton.

Bishop-elect Bayda was born in Saskatoon in 1961. He attended grade school in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, and then attended Saint Vladimir’s College in Roblin, Manitoba, which was serving as the Minor Seminary of the Canadian Ukrainian Redemptorist Fathers. He entered the Congregation of Redemptorist Fathers and did his Novitiate in Oconomovoc, Wisconsin (USA). He took temporary vows in 1983 and perpetual vows in 1986.

He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy at St. Michael’s College in Toronto in 1982 and a Masters in Theology at the same institution in 1986. (In 1998 he would complete a Bachelors degree in Oriental Studies at the Sheptysky Institute in Ottawa.)

He was ordained a priest on May 30, 1987.

He served in various Redemptorist parishes in Canada. From 1987 to 1990 he was spiritual father and professor at Saint Vladimir’s College while continuing his University studies. In 1993 he named Director of the College. From 1994 to 1997 he was Superior and Director of Toronto’s Redeemer House. From 1997 to 1999 he served at the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Saskatoon. In 1999 he was Superior at “Welcome Home” in Winnipeg. From 2000 to 2002 he worked at Saint Mary’s in Yorkton where he is currently Pastor and Superior of the monastery of Redemptorist Fathers.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Pope remembers his trip

at yesterday's General Audience in St. Peter's Square:

"Even if a few days have already passed since my return, I would like to dedicate the catechesis of today, as I normally do, to the apostolic trip that I made to the United Nations and the United States of America this past April 15 to 21.

"Before all, I renew my most cordial appreciation to the U.S. episcopal conference, as well as President Bush, for having invited me and for the warm welcome they have given me. And I would like to extend my thanks to all those in Washington and New York who came to greet me and manifest their love for the Pope, or who have accompanied and supported me with prayer and with the offering of their sacrifices.

"As we know, the occasion of my trip was the bicentennial of the elevation of the country’s first diocese, Baltimore, to a metropolitan see, and the foundation of the sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville.

"On this characteristically ecclesial anniversary, I have had the joy of personally visiting, for the first time as the Successor of Peter, the dear people of the United States of America, to confirm the Catholics in their faith, to renew and increase fraternity with all Christians, and to announce to everyone the message of 'Christ Our Hope,' as the theme of the trip said.

"In the meeting with the president, in his residence, I was able to pay homage to this great country, which from the beginning has been constructed based on a pleasing joining together of religious, ethical and political principles, and continues to be a valid example of healthy secularism, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but valued as the 'soul' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of the rights and duties of the human being.

"In this context, the Church can carry out its mission of evangelization and human promotion with freedom and commitment and, at the same time, can be a stimulus for a country such as the United States, to which everyone looks as one of the principal agents on the international scene, so that it is oriented toward global solidarity, ever more necessary and urgent, and toward the patient exercise of dialogue in international relations.

"Naturally, the mission and the role of the ecclesial community were at the center of the meeting with the bishops that took place in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington.

"In the liturgical context of vespers, we praised the Lord for the path traveled by the people of God in the United States, for the zeal of its pastors, and for the fervor and the generosity of its faithful, which is manifested with a high esteem and openness to the faith, and in innumerable charitable and humanitarian initiatives within the country and outside it.

"At the same time, I was able to support my brothers in the episcopate in their difficult task of sowing the Gospel in a society marked by many contradictions, which threaten the coherence of the faithful and of the clergy themselves.

"I encouraged them to raise their voices on current moral and social questions and to form the lay faithful so that they be good 'leaven' in the civil community, starting from the fundamental cell that is the family.

"In this sense, I exhorted them to re-propose the sacrament of matrimony as a gift and indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural environment for the welcoming and education of children.

"The Church and the family, together with schools, especially those of Christian inspiration, should cooperate to offer youth a solid moral education, but in this task the agents of communication and entertainment also have a great responsibility.

"Thinking of the sorrowful situation of the sexual abuse of minors committed by ordained ministers, I wanted to express to the bishops my closeness, encouraging them in the commitment to heal the wounds and to reinforce their relationships with their priests.

"Responding to some questions asked by the bishops, I highlighted a few important aspects: the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and 'natural law'; the healthy concept of freedom, which is understood and fulfilled in love; the ecclesial dimension of the Christian experience; the demand to announce in new ways, especially to youth, “salvation” as the plenitude of life, and to educate them in prayer, from which sprouts the generous response to the call of the Lord.

"In the great and festive Eucharistic celebration in Nationals Park stadium in Washington, we invoked the Holy Spirit upon the Church in the United States of America, so that firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by its fathers, profoundly united and renewed, it will face present and future challenges with courage and hope — that hope that 'does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us' (Romans 5:5).

"One of these challenges is certainly that of education, and for this reason, in the Catholic University of America, I met with rectors of universities and Catholic educational centers, with the diocesan leaders responsible for teaching, and with representatives of professors and students.

"The educational task is an integral part of the mission of the Church, and the U.S. Church community has always been very committed in this field, offering at the same time a great social and cultural service to the entire country.

"It is important that this can continue.

"And it is in the same way important to take care of the quality of the Catholic centers of education so that in them, [students] are formed truly according to 'the extent of the full stature of Christ' (cf. Ephesians 4:13), joining together faith and reason, truth and liberty. With joy, therefore, I have confirmed the formators in their precious commitment to intellectual charity.

"In a country like the United States of America, with a multicultural vocation, the meetings with representatives of other religions have taken on special importance: in Washington, in the John Paul II Cultural Center, with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains; in New York, the visit to the synagogue.

"Moments, especially this latter one, which were very cordial, which have confirmed the common commitment to dialogue and the promotion of peace and spiritual and moral values.

"In [a country] that can consider itself the homeland of religious liberty, I wanted to recall that this should always be defended with a joint effort, so as to avoid any kind of discrimination or prejudice.

"And I stressed the great responsibility of the religious representatives, both in teaching respect and nonviolence, and in nourishing the deepest questions of human consciousness.

"The ecumenical celebration, in the parish church of St. Joseph, was also characterized by great cordiality.

"Together, we asked the Lord that he increase in Christians the capacity of giving reasons, also with an ever greater unity, for their unique hope (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) based in a common faith in Jesus Christ.

"The other principal objective of my trip was the visit to the central offices of the United Nations Organization: the fourth visit of a Pope, after that of Paul VI in 1965 and the two visits of John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995.

"In the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Providence permitted me to confirm, in the most great and authoritative supranational assembly, the value of this declaration, recalling its universal basis, that is, the dignity of the human person created by God in his image and likeness to cooperate in the world with his great design of life and peace.

"Respect for human rights is rooted, as well as in peace, in 'justice,' that is, in an ethical order valid in all times and for all peoples, which can be summarized in the famous maxim: 'Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you,' or, expressed positively in the words of Jesus, 'Do unto others what you would have them do unto you' (Matthew 7:12).

"Upon this base, which constitutes the characteristic contribution of the Holy See to the United Nations Organization, I renewed and I renew again today, the commitment of the Catholic Church in contributing to strengthen international relations, characterized by the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

"Other moments of my stay in New York have remained firmly etched in my spirit.

"In St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in the heart of Manhattan, truly a 'house of prayer for all peoples,' I celebrated holy Mass for the priests and consecrated persons who had come from all parts of the country.

"I will never forget the warmth with which they congratulated me for the third anniversary of my election to the See of Peter.

"It was a moving moment, in which I experienced in a tangible way all of the support of the Church for my ministry.

"I could say the same about my meeting with youth and seminarians, which was held precisely in the diocesan seminary, preceded by a very significant meeting with handicapped boys and girls and their families.

"I proposed to youth — who by their nature are thirsting for truth and love — some figures of men and women who have given an exemplary testimony of the Gospel in the lands of the United States, the Gospel of the truth that frees in love, in service, in life given for others.

"In seeing the darkness that today threatens their lives, youth can find in the saints the light that dissipates it: the light of Christ, hope for all men.

"This hope, stronger than sin and death, motivated the emotion-swelled moment that I spent in silence at the crater of ground zero where I lit a candle, praying for all the victims of that terrible tragedy.

"Finally, my visit culminated with the celebration of the Eucharist in Yankee Stadium in New York: I still carry in my heart that festival of faith and brotherhood, with which we celebrated the 200 years of the oldest dioceses of North America.

"The original little flock has progressed enormously, enriching itself with the faith and the traditions of successive waves of immigration.

"To this Church, which now faces the challenges of the present, I have had the joy of announcing anew 'Christ Our Hope' of yesterday, today and forever.

"Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to unite yourselves with me in thanksgiving for the encouraging results of this apostolic trip and in the supplication to God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that it produces abundant fruits for the Church in the United States and in all parts of the world."

"A little while"

In today’s Gospel (John 16:16-20), our Lord prepares his disciples for the future:

A little while
and you will no longer see me,
and again a little while later
and you will see me.

On one level, our Lord is speaking of his death the next day (“and you will no longer see me”) as well as of his resurrection on the third day after that (“and you will see me”).

On another level, we can also understand our Lord as speaking of his Ascension (“and you will no longer see me”) as well as of his return in glory (“and you will see me”).

Our Lord also says this:

Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve,
but your grief will become joy.

Again, evil and worldly people rejoiced at our Lord’s death while his disciples were grief-stricken, but their joy knew no bounds following his resurrection.

And in the nearly two thousand years since our Lord’s Ascension, evil and worldly people seem to have had one decadent party after another while Christ’s faithful have had no shortage of reasons to grieve, weep, and mourn, but when our Lord comes again in glory, by the grace of God, our joy will know no end.

It may seem strange that two thousand years might be considered “a little while”, but as Saint Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 3:8:

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.

Sometimes our lives can seem to be dragging a long and slow time in pain, frustration and hopelessness.

But our Lord reminds us that no matter how long our days and years may sometimes feel, they are in truth but “a little while.”

Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve,
but your grief will become joy.

May the Lord Jesus keep us faithful to Him, no matter what, so that in his own time and way, we may partake of His comfort and His joy.

A man of work

illustration by George Becker"The truth that by means of work man participates in the activity of God himself, his Creator, was given particular prominence by Jesus Christ - the Jesus at whom many of his first listeners in Nazareth 'were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?.. Is not this the carpenter?"'

"For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost fulfilled by his deeds the 'gospel,' the word of eternal Wisdom, that had been entrusted to him.

"Therefore this was also 'the gospel of work,' because he who proclaimed it was himself a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth."

from Laborem Exercens, 26 - by the great Pope John Paul II

Today, where the Solemnity of the Ascension has been transferred to next Sunday, the Church celebrates the memory of St. Joseph the Worker

(adapted from an earlier post)

Ascension Thursday

The Ascension of our Lord is celebrated in many places on this day.

What shall we pray for this month?

The Holy Father's general prayer intention for May is:

"That Christians may use literature, art, and mass media to create a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person."

His Missionary intention is:

"That the Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization and Queen of the Apostles, may still guide missionaries with maternal affection, just as she accompanied the Apostles in the early stages of the Church."