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...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why do you let us wander, O LORD?

It is a time to take a good, fresh look at our lives.

It is time because our lives may not be going well right now, as an economic tsunami continues to circle the globe.

It is time because it is the first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the Church’s liturgical calendar.

It is time because it is the season when we await the celebration of Christ’s coming at Christmas and the season we especially look ahead for Christ’s coming at the end of the world (as He Himself warns us in today’s GospelMark 13:33-37):

Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.

It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’

It is at a time such this the present that many of us share the lament of the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading (Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7):

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.

No ear has ever heard,
no eye ever seen,
any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.

Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!

Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.

There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.

Yet there is also hope, for we are in the hand of an all-powerful yet loving God.

Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

It is at this time and forever that we need to let ourselves be God’s clay.

It is at this time and forever that we need to let ourselves be guided along God’s true path.

It is at this time and forever that we need to let ourselves be restored and filled by the grace of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by which grace...

He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Happy Advent

It is the beginning of the season
in which we prepare for the coming of Christ
and the celebration of Christmas.

It is the beginning of another year of worship.

"Come, God-with-us!
Free your captive people
That mourns in exile,
Deprived of God's Son.

"Rejoice! Rejoice!
shall be born for you,
O People of God!

"Come, O Wisdom!
Who sets in place all things thus;
Come, so you may teach the path
of prudence and of glory.

"Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall be born for you,
O People of God!

"Come! Come, Israel's Lord,
Who from atop Sinai
Gave people the law
In glorious majesty.

"Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall be born for you,
O People of God!

Veni veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

Veni, veni, Adonai,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

(from an earlier post)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ordinary Time

Some people say they wish that every day was Christmas.

However, as I have mentioned at this time previously, because of our earthly human psychology, if every day was Christmas, then Christmas would no longer be special: Christmas would be mundane and we would lose heart.

Ordinary Time is the basic fabric of our lives: it is the simple background against which our special celebrations and seasons of remembrance shine more brightly and resonate more deeply.

This afternoon, Ordinary Time ends.

This evening, something wonderful will begin.

A better banquet

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is often a day of gluttony and tense relationships (sometimes to a murderous degree – such as the woman in Florida who allegedly chased her brother’s guest with a machete).

The day after Thanksgiving in the United States is a day when many people focus on material things (sometimes to a murderous degree – such as the crowd in New York who allegedly trampled to death a Wal-Mart employee when the store opened).

On this very next day, the readings at Mass present us with a warning and a promise.

In the Gospel (Luke 21:34-36), our Lord warns us about having an earthly focus: from excessive partying to excessive worries.

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life...

In the first reading (Revelation 22:1-7), we are presented with a promise of a better banquet, a better reality, being prepared in heaven for God’s faithful ones.

An angel showed me
the river of life-giving water,
sparkling like crystal,
flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb down the middle of the street.

On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year,
once each month;
the leaves of the trees
serve as medicine for the nations.

Nothing accursed will be found anymore.

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.

They will look upon his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads.

Night will be no more,
nor will they need light from lamp or sun,
for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.

And he said to me,
“These words are trustworthy and true,
and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits,
sent his angel to show his servants
what must happen soon.”

“Behold, I am coming soon.”

Blessed is the one
who keeps the prophetic message of this book.

Friday, November 28, 2008

When you see these things happening...

In today’s Gospel (Luke 21:29-33), our Lord winds down his discussion of the end times with these words of advice:

When you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.

In the nearly two thousand years since our Lord spoke those words, there has probably never been a time when people could not see at least some signs of the end time happening.

What this means is that the end could come at any time: the end of THE world or the end of OUR world (when we die).

We need to remember this and live always as if Christ could call us to judgment at any time.

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

And looking up to heaven,
to You, His Almighty Father,
He gave You thanks...

Et elevatis oculis in caelum
ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem,
tibi gratias agens...

(from an earlier post)

Special words for readers of this blog

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship
with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

from one of the optional readings for Thanksgiving Day
(1 Corinthians 1:3-9).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

By your perseverance...

In these days there is a growing darkness more frightening that the economic crisis: the growing darkness of immortality, growing in size and power.

The media is becoming more and more unrestrained in promoting immorality and in denigrating those who stand up for morality. Courts seem more and more bold in endorsing immorality, heedless even of the law itself. Politicians, taking advantage of an electorate’s weariness, are preparing laws and regulations that not only open doors wider to immorality but force believers to violate their own consciences.

In these days, our Lord’s warnings in today’s Gospel (Luke 21:12-19) resonate with even greater power and comfort.

They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.

It will lead to your giving testimony.


you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries

will be powerless to resist or refute.

You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.

By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Such things must happen first

The news has been very bad lately: as the world shudders into what appears to be an historic economic downturn.

The Good News today may not seem very comforting either: both of today’s readings being full of apocalyptic prophecies of terror.

But in the midst of today’s Gospel (Luke 21:5-11), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says this:

Do not be terrified;
for such things must happen first.

Bad things happen and bad things will happen, but God is the Lord and his omnipotent will is directed toward the salvation of his faithful ones – no matter what.

The wrath of God

And the angel
thrust in his sickle into the earth
and gathered the vine of the earth,
and cast it
into the great winepress
of the wrath of God.

(The word of the Lord. T-t-thanks b-be... [gulp] ...t-to God.)

Today's first reading (Revelation 14:14-19) ends with a powerfully frightening image. But if you think that's bad, consider the verse that follows after:

The wine press was trodden outside the city
and blood poured out of the winepress
to the height of a horse's bridle
for two hundred miles.

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

How does one reconcile such terrifying descriptions of "the wrath of God" with the idea that God is love?

The truth is that God is indeed love. That which is depicted in this passage as "the wrath of God" is simply the accumulated result of the evil committed by mankind over the millennia. The words of Lincoln's second Inaugural Address come to mind:

"Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

God in his love has given us freedom, so that we may freely love him, and although he enables us by his grace to choose love, he does not take back that gift of freedom, even when we choose not to love him and it is this choice - the choice to not love God - that is the essence of all evil.

For a time, God shields us from the full effects of the evil that we and all of mankind have committed. As St. Peter says,

The Lord does not delay his promise,
as some regard "delay,"
but he is patient with you,
not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9)

Yet there will come a time when the choice will be behind us, when we will have passed the last fork in the road.

If, by the grace of God, we have chosen to love God and to be faithful to that choice, then we will be purified by that grace and experience the fullness of the grace we have lived in the eternal beatific vision of God in heaven.

If, however, (God forbid) we have chosen to not love God or have made a mockery of loving God, then we will experience the fullness of the evil we ourselves have wrought and have only temporarily eluded.

(May God have mercy upon me and make me walk down the center of the path that leads to Him.)

The images are frightening, but the reality is deadly serious - indeed, it is eternally serious.

God gives us the eternal gift of choice. God wants us to choose to love him. We should not delay. We dare not delay. You and I as individuals must choose God and purge ourselves of evil, embracing his truth and his love in its fullness before it is too late.

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

(adapted from an earlier post)

Cracking down in Egypt

A young woman in Egypt named Catherine accepted Christ as her savior, entered the Church, and spoke to people about Jesus.

The government frowned on that, so she was arrested and eventually executed.

That was over 1500 years ago.

The memory of St. Catherine of Alexandria is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Special ones

The book of Revelation, from which today’s first reading comes (14:1-3, 4b-5), is famously loaded with layers of vivid and complex symbolism that can be easily misunderstood.

Today’s reading, for example, shows 144,000 people in heaven. That is not an occupancy limit and the number has symbolic elements: indicating the completeness of the People of God. Indeed, elsewhere in this book a countless multitude is shown to be in heaven.

Moreover, these 144,000 are described as having special qualities which not all of us share. For one thing, it cannot be said of all of us literally that “On their lips no deceit has been found”. The 144,000 are also described as virgins (in a verse fragment that the Lectionary unfortunately omits). Some commentators say this is really means idolatry-free, but while this argument may not be wholly without foundation, it may inappropriately diminish the great spiritual value of virginity.

All of us are special in God’s eyes, each in different ways. This chapter from the book of Revelation celebrates some very special people in heaven: people with whom we too may rejoice in the eternity of heaven by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ .

Vietnam veterans

Andrew Dung Lac An Tran, 54, priest

Anthony Quynh Nam, 72, doctor

Dominic Henares, 83, bishop

Francis Trung Von Tran, 33, soldier

John Charles Cornay, 26, priest

Joseph Uen, 52, priest

Paul Le Bao Tinh, priest

Peter Thi Van Truong Pham, 76, priest

There were many more: well over a hundred
- missionaries and natives,
priests, bishops, catechists,
farmers, doctors, soldiers,
husbands and fathers -
martyred for the Christian faith in Vietnam
in various ways and in various locations over the centuries,
canonized in 1988 as the Martyrs of Vietnam
and memorialized on this day.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The LORD is my shepherd

I shall not want

(From today's Responsorial Psalm and a post on my other blog "Toward Contemplation")

Servants of the King

Today’s readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King give us three different dimensions of Christ’s kingship.

The first reading (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17) and the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 23) provide us with the dimension of Christ as loving, caring shepherd.

The second reading (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28) gives us the powerful image of Christ as universal conqueror :

Then comes the end,
when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.

The Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46) ties all of these together – Christ as loving shepherd and Christ as universal ruler - showing Christ as the ruler and judge of all humanity – judging us by the love and care we show to each other.

Are you and I good servants of Christ the King?

(Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me - a sinner)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

They may gloat now, but...

The Church has stood strong against the world and has spoken powerfully against its sinful ways.

Many of the people of this world have resented the Church’s words.

These people now gloat and celebrate whenever the Church and its doctrine seem to suffer a defeat in this world.

So it is also in today’s first reading (Revelation 11:4-12) as the people of the world gloat and celebrate over the lifeless corpses of God’s prophets.

But no matter how things may seem now and no matter how bad things may get, the Church and the truth of God will be vindicated in power and glory.

The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them
and be glad and exchange gifts
because these two prophets
tormented the inhabitants of the earth.

But after the three and a half days,
a breath of life from God entered them.

When they stood on their feet,
great fear fell on those who saw them.

Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them,
“Come up here.”

So they went up to heaven in a cloud
as their enemies looked on.

Be stouthearted and wait on the Lord.

She was a heartbreaker

She was a little girl whose beauty would shake the confidence of any little boy, but her own heart was always given to Christ.

She was known for her devotion to the Lord and for the things she did for the Church and for Christians.

That is why she was killed.

People continued to talk about her afterwards, remembering the grace with which she lived her life and with which she endured her death.

Churches were built in her memory. Many stories of her life were told and grew in the telling. Musicians in particular have been drawn to her memory and consider her their patron.

For more than 1500 years, the memory of this young girl, St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, whose heart forever belongs to Christ, has been celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Friday, November 21, 2008


In today’s first reading (Revelation 10:8-11), John is commanded to eat a scroll that “will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”

So it is for many of us: when we first hear the Gospel message, it is sweet and wonderful, but as time goes on, things may not only seem less wonderful, but our lives may actually turn sour.

The sweetness, of course, is God’s love and the power of His salvation, while the sourness ultimately arises from the bitter reality of sin.

As we endure the sourness of life, may we always remember the sweetness of the Lord and remain faithful to Him as we go through this life, so that He may bring us to the undiluted sweetness and joy of heaven.

A nice Jewish girl

Today's memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple, like all Marian celebrations, is ultimately about Christ her Son, the Savior of all. It reminds us that our Lord’s coming was a culmination of a long history of God’s relationship with his chosen people, that our Lord was born into that unique tradition and covenant with God, and that He was born into the very best of that tradition: of a woman specially devoted and dedicated to the Lord from the very beginning.

May we give thanks for the long history of God’s salvation among us and may we ourselves become ever more devoted and dedicated to the Lord through the power of His grace.

(from an earlier post)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jesus is the One

In both of today’s readings, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is recognized as the key person in human and cosmic history.

The Gospel (Luke 19:41-44) presents us with a prophecy that Jerusalem would be destroyed because it failed to recognize the time of its visitation by Christ (and so it would be).

The first reading (Revelation 5:1-10) presents us with a prophecy in which Christ, the Lamb that was slain, is hailed as only one to execute God’s cosmic plan (and so he is).

Is Christ the key person in our lives?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nonstop and eternal

Today’s first reading (Revelation 4:1-11) presents us with a classic vision of the afterlife as nonstop and eternal worship:

Day and night they do not stop exclaiming:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and who is, and who is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures
give glory and honor and thanks
to the one who sits on the throne,
who lives forever and ever,
the twenty-four elders fall down
before the one who sits on the throne
and worship him, who lives forever and ever.

They throw down their crowns before the throne,
“Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power…

This may strike some people as a rather boring way to spend eternity, but the opposite is true.

It may strike some people as boring because nothing in this world is worth nonstop and eternal anything.

The nonstop and eternal worship in heaven will not be a simple repetition imposed by discipline or obligation.

The nonstop and eternal worship in heaven will be an effortless, joyous, natural, and automatic response to our unfiltered vision of God himself, who is infinite and eternally new.

Every moment, every second of eternity enjoying the beatific vision will give us a newer and more wonderful “wow” experience and make us burst with exultant exclamation along with the elders and all the hosts of heaven:

Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In medio stat virtus?

In nearly all things of this world, the classic dictum applies: In medio stat virtus –virtue lies in the middle.

But not in all things and most certainly not in how we adhere to and live out our faith in Christ, as we hear quite vividly in today’s first reading (Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22):

The Amen, the faithful and true witness,
the source of God’s creation, says this:

I know your works;
I know that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.

May we be properly prudent, but never halfhearted or tepid in living out our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In 1818, she took a little trip...

...a little-known Frenchwoman, up the mighty Mississippi river.

She had nearly died from disease during the long ocean crossing. Now this petite 49-year-old would barely survive this hazardous river voyage.

But she would recover, settle in the Missouri territory, and would start teaching school out of a log cabin.

It was not exactly a complete success: her teaching style was foreign and her English was terrible.

In the end, however, most people recognized that the children were getting a good education and that the Frenchwoman's heart was in the right place.

She would establish convents and schools up and down the Mississippi. She also worked to help Native Americans. After 34 years of serving God on the American frontier, she would die at the age of 83 on this very day in 1852 in St. Charles, Missouri.

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne was canonized by the great Pope John Paul II on the 3rd of July 1988.

(from an earlier post)

Basilicas and Apostles

Today’s optional memorial of the Dedication of the Basilicas of the Apostles Peter and Paul is first and foremost yet another opportunity to celebrate the great faith of these two men and their special roles in Christ as foundation stones of the Church.

It is also an opportunity to appreciate the Basilicas themselves.

One of my favorite parts of St. Peter’s Basilica is the Altar of the Chair, dominated by Bernini’s magnificent sculpture group towering above it: the Cathedra Petri – the “Chair of Peter.”

Four great Fathers of the Church – St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Athanasius, and St. John Chrysostom – each extend a single finger to hold a majestic chair aloft; on the back of the chair is an image of Christ entrusting the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter; inside the chair are the venerated remnants of an ancient chair said to have been used by St. Peter himself; atop the chair two cherubs hold a papal tiara; and above it all is the glory of the Holy Spirit.

In this recent picture, the Successor of Peter sits beneath the “Chair of Peter.”

One of the most interesting features of the Basilica of St. Paul’s "Outside the Walls" is the atrium: a common feature of ancient basilicas (an opportunity to “decompress” after walking in off the street and to prepare for entering a very special building).

Here, the gentle garden and covered walkways are centered on a statue of St. Paul wielding the sword of God’s word.

Places of worship can be lesson books in themselves: witnessing both to the details and to the power of faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(from an earlier post)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lost the love

Today, as the liturgical year begins to wind down to its end, we begin reading from the book of Revelation: the last book of the Bible, well-known for its vivid depictions of the end of all earthly things.

The selection with which we begin, however, (Revelation 1:1-4; 2:1-5) is a love letter: written to people who loved Jesus nearly two thousand years ago and to us today as well.

I heard the Lord saying to me:
“To the angel of the Church in Ephesus, write this....

...you have lost the love you had at first.

Realize how far you have fallen.

Repent, and do the works you did at first.”

Sold into a loving marriage

When she was four years old, Elizabeth was essentially sold to a rich family.

When one of the family's sons reached manhood, Elizabeth was given to him for his wife, even though she was only 14.

As it turned out, the young man truly loved Elizabeth and she loved him. They became partners in life, prayer, and even work. When work called her husband away, Elizabeth would run the family business - thus great power and riches were placed in the hands of a still young girl.

Tragically, on one of those trips, Elizabeth’s husband would die, making her a widow at the young age of 20.

Powerful people quickly plotted against her. Elizabeth fled and devoted herself to the care of the sick. In a few years, Elizabeth would herself be overcome by sickness and weariness in the service of the Lord, dying on this very day at the age of 24.

Very soon, sick people would visit her grave and be healed. News quickly spread throughout the Church. Within four years, in 1235, Elizabeth of Hungary – wife, mother, princess, and servant of the wretched – was declared a saint.

(from an earlier post)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Charm is deceptive

Two of today’s readings seem to resonate especially strongly with the days in which we are now living, but not always with comfort (and the third does not seem very comforting either).

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:14-30) is apparently a parable about investments (resonating with the crises in today's investment and credit markets): a parable that ends with what sounds like a devastatingly brutal restatement of the common complaint “The richer get richer and the poor get poorer”.

For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Not the most comforting words, it might seem.

The second reading (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6) may resonate strongly with those who have been devastated by the bursting of economic bubbles:

When people are saying, "Peace and security, "
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.

Again, perhaps not the most comforting words.

The first reading (Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31), in contrast, seems to conflict strongly with today’s experiences: to the point where it may sound offensive to many – singing the praises of “a worthy wife” whose worth apparently lies in working like a dog.

Again, perhaps not the most comforting words.

The key of this passage, as is often the case, may be found in its last section, which begins with these words:

Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting...

One does not have to be the most brilliant of Scripture scholars to recognize that the substance of what is said here about “a worthy wife” can and should be said about anyone: male or female, married or unmarried.

Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the (ones who fear the LORD are) to be praised.
Give (them) a reward for (their) labors,
and let (their) works praise (them) at the city gates.

What is truly important, what is truly valuable, is a true faith in God that manifests itself in deeds.

Eloquent words, charming demeanor, physical beauty, pleasurable objects, financial riches... all these things will fall short, fail, and turn to dust and decay.

The chilling words at the end of today’s Gospel apply to those who fail to develop and use faith in their lives: they grow rich in eternal wealth, while those who have focused solely on this world’s wealth – meaningless as it ultimately is - will lose even that.

For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Again, as Saint Paul says in the second reading:

When people are saying, "Peace and security, "
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.

For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.

We are not of the night or of darkness.

Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A gift used well, then taken

His father was well off, so Albert could go to the best schools - which he did.

While he was in college, however, he happened to hear a powerful preacher who was in town.

It changed Albert's life...

...at least partly: Albert would stay in school, but he would soon be begging in the streets as well: renouncing his inheritance in imitation of Christ’s poverty.

Albert's mind was powerful and wide-ranging. He not only became an authoritative theologian and philosopher, but eventually one of the most famous scientists in the world. He also mentored a young man who would become one of the most famous theologians and philosophers of all time. Albert would also be the bishop of a diocese.

Then, toward the end of his life, having given up everything to follow Christ, Albert lost his most treasured possession: that amazing gift God had given him.

Although a clinical diagnosis would not be possible, Alzheimer's disease (or something very much like it) took away Albert's incredible intellect.

Yet nothing could take away what this friar had accomplished, and history would remember him well, even after he could remember nothing, as "Albert the Great."

St. Albert the Great - Dominican friar, bishop of Cologne, doctor of the Church, and mentor of St. Thomas Aquinas - died on this very day in 1280.

(from an earlier post)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beyond it?

Some people consider traditional Christian believers to be backward, unintelligent, and unenlightened while they consider themselves more advanced: intellectually and/or spiritually.

Saint John’s words at the end of today’s first reading (2 John 4-9) are clear:

Anyone who is so “progressive”
as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ
does not have God;
whoever remains in the teaching
has the Father and the Son.

It is necessary, of course, for all of us to progress continually in our knowledge and living out of the teaching of Christ and it is valuable to progress in our knowledge of many other things, but we must always remain rooted in reality and faithful to Christ or else we will “progress” into oblivion.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Changing hearts

We can change the world... sometimes.

At other times, we as Christians must focus on changing hearts through the truth and love of Christ.

This is what Saint Paul seeks in today’s first reading (Philemon 7-20).

The abolition of slavery would take more than a millennium to accomplish. What Saint Paul does instead is seek to change the heart of a slave owner: to make him accept this man who has been his slave as a brother in Christ.

Likewise, when we encounter obstacles and setbacks in changing the world for good, may you and I seek to change hearts and, by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, may we succeed.

Many children

Frances' parents had thirteen children in all, but education was very important to them, so they had Frances go to school at a convent.

When she came of age, she wanted to become a nun herself, but she was rejected for health issues.

A priest suggested that she try teaching at an orphanage.

She proved to be wildly successful, caring for many children. In fact, when the orphanage closed several years later, the local bishop asked Frances to found a new religious order to care for poor children.

Her reputation continued to spread so much that the Pope himself soon asked her and her order to serve as missionaries.

That is how Frances found herself, around fifty years old, with six other nuns in a very strange land, working among the poor and displaced. The girl who had been rejected as a nun and went on to start her own order established as many as 67 school, hospitals, and orphanages on three continents.

Still working in her mid-sixties, Frances contracted malaria and then died in that strange land to which the Holy Father had personally sent her: dying in Chicago on December 22, 1917 and being buried in New York City.

Just over twenty years later, on this very day, Frances was beatified. When she was canonized in 1946, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American citizen to be formally declared a saint.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Get out of the bunker

As Christians and as members of the Church, we are not like everyone else and we strive to live truths that many others do not recognize and that some aggressively oppose.

Some of us take this several steps too far: developing a “bunker mentality”.

But in today’s first reading (Titus 3:1-7), Saint Paul encourages Christians to obey those who exercise authority even in a pagan and oppressive government, continuing the theme of good civil behavior while living transformative lives.

And in today’s Gospel (Luke 17:11-19), our Lord points to the good example given by a foreigner (whose religion is not exactly orthodox).

We need to live respectful and respectable lives and to see the good wherever it exists, even as we seek always to understand and live more perfectly the truth and love that comes from God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Dad was a businessman turned politician

John followed in his father's footsteps into the business world, but then decided to take another path.

He would not be a businessman and a politician like his father.

At the age of 24, John decided to become a monk.

Even as a student monk, John’s talent and piety made a tremendous impact, as he provided spiritual counsel to leading citizens.

Not long after he was ordained a priest, John was put in charge of several monasteries.

He became an archbishop before he was 40.

John’s ministry was very successful: promoting reform, spiritual renewal, and Church unity. His work for unity, however, had many enemies.

On the sixth anniversary of his becoming a bishop, a mob broke into his house. John Josaphat Kuncevyc was beaten, axed, and thrown into the river on this very day in 1623. His body was found 5 years later – miraculously incorrupt. St. Josaphat, Archbishop of Polotsk (Lithuania) in the Byzantine Ruthenian rite of the Roman Catholic Church was canonized in 1876.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good behavior and cosmic transformation

In today’s first reading (Titus 2:1-8, 11-14), Saint Paul gives advice to different kinds of people.

Some of this advice, especially his advice for women (and his advice to slaves, not included in the Lectionary’s excerpt), may strike modern ears wrongly, especially since he does not balance this advice with advice to husbands (and slave masters) as he does elsewhere.

His point in the first part of this passage, however, is the importance of good behavior in the Christian’s witness to the world.

To be sure, this external witness through civil decorum must be accompanied by interior transformation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: a transformation of self that will lead to a transformation of the world and liberation from the world’s slaveries.

For the grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of the great God
and of our savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us
to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

Thanks to those who serve

Today, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, commemorates the end of the First World War. It is a day of remembrance of and appreciation for the sacrifices of all veterans who fought for peace and freedom.

We remember in prayer those who have died in military service.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

May they rest in peace.

I would like to extend my personal appreciation to all those who have served and most especially to all those who now serve.

May God watch over you
with his unconquerable mercy.
May the Lord bring true peace and freedom
to the places where you serve
and to the people you protect.
(adapted from an earlier post)

Army brat makes good

Martin was what is affectionately known as a "military brat."

His dad was an army officer and the family moved around a lot, depending upon where his father was assigned.

It was no surprise that when he was old enough, Martin joined the army too.

Martin's unit was eventually deployed far from his family. During that deployment, Martin became interested in the Church.

One day, he found a half-naked beggar shivering beside the road. Martin tore his weather gear in half and gave it to the man.

After Martin was honorably discharged, he embraced a life of prayerful solitude. He developed a reputation for holiness and a community of monks gathered around him.

When the bishop of a nearby city died, Martin was asked to replace him (they had to beg him to accept).

Martin proved to be a very effective shepherd: ministering to the needs of the people, aiding Churches in other areas, and yet retaining the ascetic lifestyle of a monk - living in a small cell just outside of town.

Martin died an old man after a long life of service to God and his people and was buried on this very day in the year 397.

His reputation continued to spread even after his death and St. Martin of Tours would be one of France’s most venerated men of God.

(from an earlier post)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Warnings and qualities

Given what we have heard in the news so much in recent years, the juxtaposition of today’s two readings – the first, in which Saint Paul describes the required qualities of a bishop (Titus 1:1-9) and the Gospel, in which our Lord gives a dire warning against those who cause scandal and “little ones to sin” (Luke 17:1-6) – may inevitably lead a person to think of the evils of sexual abuse by priests and the failures of certain bishops who could have stopped many of these crimes.

It can never be repeated enough that children must be protected from such evils and the people who are culpable in these matters must be held personally responsible.

Yet each of us must also remember what Saint Paul says about bishops in today’s first reading and each of us pray for our own bishop: that he may be

a lover of goodness,

and self-controlled,
holding fast to the true message as taught
so that he will be able

both to exhort with sound doctrine
and to refute opponents.

Indeed, you and I should exhibit these same qualities in our own lives, no matter who we are.

Attila confronts Leo and friends

This 17th century bas relief marble altarpiece by Alessandro Algardi in St. Peter's Basilica portrays Pope St. Leo the Great repelling Attila the Hun from his attack on Rome in 452. Attila raises his arm in fear as the Apostles Peter and Paul appear with swords in the sky.

(from an earlier post)

The "go to" guy

He wasn't from the big city, he was relatively young, and he was only a deacon, but Leo was the bishop's "go-to" guy.

Leo could do it all: helping with thorny theological problems, administering church matters, and even traveling to aid churches in strife-torn lands.

Leo was on one of those trips when the bishop died. It was no surprise that Leo was chosen to be the new bishop.

Leo faced a number of challenges, inside and outside the Church. Yet he always remembered his primary duty was pastor.

He improved the organization of the Church and continued to help churches in strife-torn lands.

At one point, strife seemed about to spread to Leo's own city.

At the center of the strife was an exceptionally violent man: the epitome of barbarism. The government went to Leo to help.

Leo went out and talked to the man face-to-face. The man who was terrorizing the civilized world turned away and spared Leo's city.

Leo's sermons were so magnificent, they became widely published.

When he was unable to attend an ecumenical council, he sent a letter that clearly set out the truth of the Christian faith. When the letter was read, the bishops at the council stood up and exclaimed, "Peter has spoken through Leo!"

Leo died on this very day in the year 461, having proved to be a very worthy successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Rome: a great teacher of Christian truth and pastor of souls, who successfully faced down heretics and even Attila the Hun.

Later centuries would refer to him as Pope St. Leo the Great.

(from an earlier post)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Be careful how you build

The news these days is full of stories about building and rebuilding: building a new administration in the United States as well as rebuilding personal and national economies.

Of course, life is always a process of building and rebuilding: as a world, as a nation, as a family, as individuals, and even as a Church.

The words of Saint Paul in today’s second reading (1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17) need to be considered seriously by each of us as we build and rebuild: as individuals, as members of families, as members of parishes and local congregations, as members of society, and as members of the Church.

You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.

But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation
other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.

A place of history and importance

Plautius was a conspirator against the infamous Emperor Nero. The conspiracy would fail. Plautius would be executed and all of his family’s property would be confiscated by the government.

The name of Plautius is remembered by few today, but the confiscation of his family’s property would keep the family name in the memory of hundreds of millions even to this day.

Less than three centuries after Plautius’ death, his family’s estate would be donated by the government to the newly legalized Christian church and its buildings converted into the cathedral church of the city of Rome.

The cathedral would be dedicated to the memory of St. John the Baptist, but the people of Rome also remembered the family of Plautius, the family that had made that place their home so many years before: the Laterani family.

Today the Church worldwide celebrates the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran - Head and Mother of all Churches.

Nearly a millenia later, the basilica would figure prominently in a dream by Innocent III shortly after he was first visited by Saint Francis of Assisi.
At the far end of the church, tucked in the very center of the very back, stands a stone chair... not as ornate as one might imagine.

This is the Cathedra - the Chair of the Bishop - in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

This is the Cathedra of the Pope.

For most of us, chairs are what we use to relieve our burdens, if only for a little while.

Not this chair.

This chair is itself a burden: the most fearful burden in the world, for the man who sits in it has the burden of acting and teaching and speaking as the Vicar of Christ.

At the end of all things, when Christ takes his Judgement Seat, no one will be judged more sternly than the man who sits in this chair.

May we always pray for Benedict XVI, the Bishop of Rome: that his ministry may be faithful and full of the grace, truth, and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so that at the end of all things our Lord may say to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

And may you and I, by the grace of Christ, carry well the burdens God has given us to bear, so that we too may hear our Lord speak to us words of joyful greeting on the Day of Judgment.

(adapted from earlier posts)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

For a rollercoaster world

The secular world has been very much like a rollercoaster in recent days.

The historic election of a new American President, a biracial man and the youngest since John Kennedy, has thrilled even those who disagree with him politically.

Meanwhile, the world faces the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In this rollercoaster world, we can find no wiser words than those of Saint Paul in today’s first reading (Philippians 4:10-19):

I have learned,
in whatever situation I find myself,
to be self-sufficient.

I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.

In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed
and of going hungry,
of living in abundance
and of being in need.

I have the strength for everything
through Him who empowers me.

In this rollercoaster world, the one who empowers us rightly, the only one in whom we can place our hopes, and the only one upon whom we can build our lives is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prudence for eternity

In today’s Gospel (Luke 16:1-8), our Lord tells a parable about a dishonest steward who mixes prudence with dishonesty to achieve earthly goals.

The dishonest steward achieves some success, but his ultimate destiny is problematic, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading (Philippians 3:17-4:1):

For many,
as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”

Their minds are occupied with earthly things.

But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ.

May we avoid the traps of those who seem successful but are heading for eternal destruction.

May you and I exercise prudence in this world in ways that lead us to eternal rewards by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Sometimes we stop and look at where we are in our lives and wonder how we got there and how we might ever find the peace and happiness we have been looking for.

We feel lost.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 15:1-10) and the parables of the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ reminds us that he seeks out the lost and rejoices in bringing sinners back.

May you and I stop wandering down the paths that lead us away from God.

May we always call out to the Lord and ask him to bring us back to the right path by the power of his grace.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Uneasy path, undefeatable hope

The world is not always the way you or I would want it - not now and not in the time of Saint Paul, who in today’s first reading (Philippians 2:12-18) gives these words of encouragement:

My beloved,
obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present
but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.

Do everything
without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst
of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.

In the same way
you also should rejoice

and share your joy with me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


This is the day when citizens of the United States go to the polls to elect a new President and many other officeholders as well as to vote on important referenda.

May we inform our consciences well, learn what we can regarding the candidates and the issues, and vote.

May God help us all.

Stop the excuses!

In today’s Gospel (Luke 14:15-24), our Lord tells a parable about people making excuses to avoid doing what they are called to do.

To be sure, you and I must balance the responsibilities we have that are true and godly, but the excuses we make are too often not based on what is true and godly.

By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, may you and I stop making excuses and do what God calls us to do in living our lives.

Not ready to lead?

Too young, Too inexperienced. Not ready to lead.

So most people thought.

In fact, he was twelve! Much too young to be abbot of a large monastery.

But young Charles belonged to a very rich and very powerful family that had an inordinate amount of influence in Church affairs.

Sad to say, this kind of thing was the cause of scandal more than once in the history of the Church.

But not in this case, for Charles was more than just a scion of money and power: he was also tremendously brilliant, extraordinarily capable, and deeply pious.

He used all of his gifts to bring about reform throughout the Church, beginning with the monastery "left" to him by one uncle and extending all the way to an ecumenical council that reformed the Church at every level (with the help of yet another uncle, Pope Pius IV).

And he did all this - and much, much more - before dying at the age of 46, on November 3, 1584.

The memory of St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan (among other jobs), who was known as the "Apostle to the Council of Trent," is celebrated on this day.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Begin the week in peace

Today’s first reading (Philippians 2:1-4) is a wonderful exhortation to Church unity:

Complete my joy
by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others

as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.

Today’s Gospel (Luke 14:12-14) calls us to true generosity:

When you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be
because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Both of these readings need to be remembered and to be lived, yet we should not fail to hold onto today’s Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 131:1b-3): words of God’s love and peace that are good to remember and repeat as we begin our day and begin our week.

LORD, my heart is not proud;
nor are my eyes haughty.

I do not busy myself with great matters,
with things too sublime for me.

Rather, I have stilled my soul,
hushed it like a weaned child.

Like a weaned child on its mother's lap,
so is my soul within me.

Israel, hope in the LORD,
now and forever

One parent was white, the other was black

His father was a rich white man

His mother was a poor unwed black girl.

Martin grew up in poverty.

When he was eleven, he started doing menial jobs for the Dominican fathers.

Later, they received Martin into the order.

He helped establish an orphanage, a hospital for the poor, and even an animal shelter. He also was devoted to constant prayer and penance.

St. Martin de Porres died on this very day in 1639 and was canonized by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Sunday, November 02, 2008


This is a frightening time for many in the world today, as economies flounder and the finances of families and companies unravel.

In this time of worry, we hear the comforting words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in one of the Gospels provided for today’s celebration of All Souls’ Day (John 6:37-40):

Everything that the Father gives me
will come to me,
and I will not reject
anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven
not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.

And this is the will
of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything
of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.

We must keep trying the best we can, using all of the prudence and resources God has given us, but we must also have faith and trust, that - no matter what - we will always remain in the tender and loving hands of God.

All Souls Day

"Indeed, on the day after the feast of All Saints, when the Church joyfully celebrates the communion of saints and human salvation, St Odilo (abbot of the monastery of Cluny) urged his monks to say special prayers for all the dead, thus mysteriously contributing to their entry into beatitude; the custom of solemnly interceding for the dead in a celebration which St Odilo called All Souls Day gradually spread from the Abbey of Cluny and is now the practice throughout the universal Church.

"In praying for the dead, the Church above all contemplates the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ, who obtains salvation and eternal life for us through his Cross."

The great John Paul II
Message for Millenium of All Souls Day, 1-2 (excerpt)
June 2, 1998

(adapted from a previous post on Toward Contemplation)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

In union with the whole Church we honor

One of the things that makes the first Eucharistic Prayer special is its listing of saints.

Often, however, we hear these names rattled off like reading a telephone directory or priests taking the option of not reading all of them.

And yet each name is deep with meaning, for each was chosen by the early Church in the city of Rome, whose memory of these holy people was especially dear and in some ways still very fresh.

As the Christians of Rome heard these names, these blessed memories came back and as they gathered before the table of the Lord on earth, they felt specially united with these brothers and sisters who were already gathered before the throne of God in heaven.

These names also brought them courage, for many of these saints were marytrs, who endured great suffering rather than turn away from Christ.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints today, it is good for us to take a little time to go beyond just the names from the first Eucharistic Prayer and to look more closely at each of these heroes of our faith, our brothers and sisters who already stand before the throne of God.

* * * * *

First and foremost of these believers in Christ was

...Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God....

And, after Christ, closest to her would be...

...Joseph, her husband...

And then...
the apostles and martyrs...

beginning with the princes of the Apostles...

...Peter and Paul...

(and then the rest of the Eleven)

(brother of Simon Peter, crucified on an X-shaped cross)

(brother of John)

(the beloved disciple, entrusted with Christ’s mother)



(first bishop of Jerusalem)


(the disciple of John the Baptist who brought Bartholomew to Christ)

(reportedly martyred by being skinned alive)

(the tax collector called to become an apostle and evangelist)

(reportedly martyred by being sawed alive)

...and Jude
(like his brother James, a relative of Christ, and who reportedly resembled the Lord)

(After the Apostles, the early Church in Rome remembered Peter’s immediate successors as their bishop: all of whom also followed him in martyrdom for Christ.)


(Peter’s immediate successor as Bishop of Rome – mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21)


(the 3rd Pope -- also known as Anacletus – converted by St. Peter himself)


(the 4th Pope - wrote an important post-Apostolic letter to the Corinthians)


(Pope less than a year in the 3rd century – affirmed that baptism does not depend on virtue of minister)


(the 21st Pope – who reconciled the “fallen away”)

(...and then other martyrs whose memory was especially beloved by the Christians of Rome)


(North African bishop and theologian who worked with Cornelius)


(deacon of the Church of Rome under Sixtus – martyred by burning)


(an early 4th century martyr and patron of an ancient church)

...John and Paul...

(brothers and imperial servants martyred by a 4th century apostate emperor, patrons of a Roman basilica)

...Cosmas and Damian...

(twins and physicians martyred in the 4th century)]

...and all the saints.

* * *

Then, later...

For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs...

with John the Baptist...


(the first Christian martyr)


(chosen to replace Judas as an Apostle)


(companion of St. Paul)


(bishop of Antioch, mauled by animals in the 2nd century)


(martyred with his brothers and mother in 2nd century)

...Marcellinus, Peter...

(a priest and an exorcist of the Church in Rome, martyed in the early 4th century)

...Felicity, Perpetua...

(maid and noblewoman in north Africa, mauled by beasts and then beheaded)


(virgin martyr - disfigured and tortured)


(virgin martyr - blinded then martyred - patron saint of eyes)


(virgin martyr - martyred around the age of 12)


(virgin martyr - patron of music)


(wife of a pagan - martyred in the early 4th century)

...and all the saints.

Happy All Saints Day!

(from an earlier post)

A crowd no one could count

We have seen many crowds of tremendous size in this election season.

Some in the crowd are just drawn by celebrity, but some in the crowd think that that person perfectly represents their hopes and beliefs.

They are wrong.

It does not matter whether this person is progressive or conservative, experienced or fresh: this person does not and cannot represent all of what we believe and hope for.

To be sure, we must make prudential judgments regarding the best people to elect, a judgment in which our hopes and beliefs must be involved, but only one man perfectly represents and will bring about all our hopes and beliefs (and indeed the hopes of all the world): our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is around Him that the crowd gathers in today’s first reading (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14):

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes

and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God,

who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory,

wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes,

and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones

who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Lamb of God,
who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

What shall we pray for this month?

Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for this month is for Love of God and Neighbor:

That the testimony of love offered by the saints may fortify Christians in their devotion to God and neighbor, imitating Christ who came to serve and not to be served.

His missionary prayer intention is for the Church in Asia:

That the Christian communities of Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may find the most suitable ways to announce Him, in full faithfulness to the Gospel.