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...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


In these days of economic and financial troubles, the long-set cycle of readings brings us today, in today’s first reading (Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23) to the loud and bitter lamentations of a rich and successful man who is now destitute and ill.

Job eventually finds comfort in the Lord.

May you and I do the same.

He was a young man from the boondocks

lured by the attraction of the greatest city in the world, but when he got there, what ultimately seized his imagination were not the great monuments of power and commerce, but rather the churches and the faithful people.

He received baptism and devoted himself to studying ever more deeply the faith he had embraced.

During his life, he would find himself in many places, but his favorite place was in the Holy Land: in Bethlehem, where he would live and work for many years, often in near isolation.

He wrote books, sermons, and commentaries full of wisdom and insight, but his greatest work was commissioned by an old bishop friend of his: a high-quality translation of the entire Scriptures into the language of the day that could be given to the people for their use.

So great was the quality of his work, his translation of the Holy Scriptures is still used even today: nearly one thousand and six hundred years after he completed it!

St. Jerome – priest, hermit, and ancient Father of the Church – died in Bethlehem on this very day in the year 420, about fifteen years after completing what would be known as the Vulgate or Biblia Vulgata: a Bible for the people (who in Jerome’s time used Latin).

(from a previous post)

Monday, September 29, 2008

The weapons of warfare

One of the passages of Scripture available for today’s first reading (Revelation 12:7-12ab) gives us a glimpse of a cosmic battle between good and evil.

War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.

One might speculate about the details of how such warfare takes place, but the very next verses describe the means by which the battle was won.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.
For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.
They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
love for life did not deter them from death.
Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them.”

These verses obviously do not describe just how angels and archangels gain victory over evil, but also how we human beings may conquer: by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Blood gains us the victory, give us the grace to be powerfully faithful to him in our own deeds and words.

Saint Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel
defend us in battle;
be our protection
against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.


Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli
esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum
pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

Today the Church celebrates the Archangels
Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

(from a previous post)

I am Gabriel

that stand in the presence of God

and am sent to speak unto thee
Luke 1:19

Today the Church celebrates the Archangels
Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

(from a previous post)

I am Raphael

Raphael's Departure - by Giovanni Belivarteone of the seven holy angels,
which present the prayers of the saints,
and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.
Tobit 12:15

Today the Church celebrates the Archangels
Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

(from a previous post)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Say and do

When it comes to matters of faith, some of us can “talk a good game” but fall short in what we say and do.

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

May we take to heart our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel (Matthew 21:28-32), repent, and live as God wants us to live in all things.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In good times and in bad

The lovely verses of today’s first reading (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8) resonates strongly in these days overshadowed by fear of economic ruin and environmental devastation.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them;
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
all things are vanity!

In good times and in bad, may you and I always draw closer to God.

Kidnapped by Muslim Outlaws

Vincent was a young priest, still continuing his studies and traveling, when he was kidnapped by violent men from the Middle East and forced into slave labor.

Within two years, however, he converted one of his captors to Christianity and together they made their escape.

Back home, Vincent soon found himself ministering to the rich and powerful, but his heart went out to the poor and the rejected. He established groups to care for the poor and for prisoners. He also wanted to establish an order of priests to serve the rural poor, but he soon realized that there was a desperate need for more and better seminaries. Vincent’s priests would eventually run a third of the seminaries in the country, in addition to their missionary work to the rural poor in many places.

St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Congregation of the Mission and of the Daughters of Charity, died on this very day in 1660. He was canonized in 1737. A hundred years after that, a group of laymen drew upon St. Vincent as the inspiration for the service of the poor and founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

(from an earlier post)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do you know what time it is?

Our mastery of our own lives is not complete.

The famous words of today’s first reading (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11) remind us that there is a rhythm and a schedule to life that exists often beyond our control.

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

May you and I always be attentive to the times and the purposes of God.

Physicians tortured

They were twin brothers who refused to be paid for treating patients and who were zealous in their Christian faith.

They were arrested, tortured, and executed...

...just over 1,700 years ago.

They are included among the saints named in the first Eucharistic Prayer.

Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saints Cosmas and Damian.

(from an earlier post)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


People forget. That is at the root of many problems today.

People forget history, people forget eternal truths, and they fall into error and trouble.

The current financial crisis in the United States and other countries is, in part, an example of this: some people forgot the cyclical nature of real estate and other economics; some forgot the eternal truths of right and wrong.

The classic words that begin the book of Ecclesiastes (1:2-11) in today’s first reading remind of this and other things.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south,
then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say,
“See, this is new!”
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.

May we remember history and also, most importantly, may we always remember the eternal truths of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Catholic Carnivals

This week's Catholic Carnival - a collection of posts from various Catholic blogs - is online at This That and the Other Thing.

Last week's Catholic Carnival was at Deo Omnis Gloria. (My apologies for missing it.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Focus on the mission

There are many distractions going on around us in these days.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 9:1-6), our Lord reminds us to be able to set all distractions aside and focus on the mission he sets before each of us.

Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack,
nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter,
stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet..

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The Responsorial Psalm is sometimes overlooked as a source of reflection. The overwhelming majority of homilies and reflections are based primarily on one of the other readings.

Today's Responsorial Psalm, however, (Psalm 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44) offers us not only an opportunity for reflection, but a tool that we could use every morning to reach out for God's grace, attune ourselves to his will, and respond to his love.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

And I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever.

Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

His mother and brothers

Today’s Gospel (Luke 8:19-21) and its parallels usually strike cradle Catholics as strange. We have been raised to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, but today’s Gospel speaks of Jesus’ brothers and seems to depict Jesus as speaking almost dismissively of his mother and family.

The part about the “brothers” is relatively easy to deal with: in the usage of that time and place, that term included close relatives who were not necessarily children of the same parents.

More difficult to deal with perhaps is our Lord's cool reaction to hearing that his mother and brothers are outside. Instead of going out to see them, he simply says, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." In the parallels, our Lord's reaction seems outright dismissive.

"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."

This may not only disturb our long-nurtured Marian devotion, it may even make Jesus look like a rude child (“I don’t need my parents, I’ve got my friends”), and seem to clash with the wonderful depiction of Mary elsewhere in the Gospel of Luke.

But it is precisely in the Gospel of Luke that we find the key to understanding what our Lord is saying, most specifically in one of the things Elizabeth says upon her Visitation by Mary.

“Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And in what Mary says at the Annunciation.

“Be it done to me according to your word.”

Christ’s message in this Gospel passage is that a relationship with Him must be based on living faith in God. As we know and as Luke emphasizes, Mary is first and foremost a woman of faith, who accepts and lives out the will of God – in a way more profound than our imagination can bear.

If we accept our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, receive his grace and live according to God’s will, we are His brothers and sisters, and because of her faith, the greatest of our sisters is Mary (whom our Lord on the cross also presented to us as our Mother).

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our Sister in Faith.

(from an earlier post)

He had been a priest for just 8 months

The older priest had been ordained a decade before the young priest had even been born.

The young priest had heard many things about the older priest, who was known as a humble and very holy man.

For his part, the older priest was happy to speak with the young man, to hear his confession, and to share some of what he knew about God and the love of Jesus Christ.

Then the older priest told his new young friend something very strange.

The young priest would someday become Pope.

The young priest would later tell that story among his friends and laugh.

He venerated the old priest, but it was ludicrous that he would ever become the Bishop of Rome.

It would take more than a few miracles.

Fifty-five years and a number of miracles later, the once-young priest was already in the 23rd year of his pontificate as the great Pope John Paul II.

And now the once-young priest now Pontiff had the honor of canonizing the humble priest who had heard his confession and who had told him such amazing things.

Today, just over 5 years later, on the 38th anniversary of the old priest’s death, the Church celebrates the memory of St. Pio of Pietrelcina – known in his lifetime worldwide as Padre Pio.

(from an earlier post)

Monday, September 22, 2008


None of us are perfect, but sometimes we pretend to be.

(I myself am very imperfect. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, be merciful to me – a sinner.)

Our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel (Luke 8:16-18) should be heeded carefully.

For there is nothing hidden
that will not become visible,
and nothing secret
that will not be known and come to light.

May the Lord Jesus, who sees every secret of our heart, give us the grace of fuller conversion, repentance, and forgiveness.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Justice and faith


Fairness in compensation

Anger against management

These are issues that are prominent in these days of economic turmoil.

These are also issues that appear prominently in today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:1-16a).

The most fundamental point of the parable is that the same salvation is given to all by the grace of God: to the long-serving and the lately converted alike.

That is not to say that there is an advantage in purposefully deferring conversion until the end of a lifetime of debauchery. That would be presumption: one of the unforgivable sins.

Rather, we must remember that the gift of salvation is so infinite and so undeservable, that none of us will have any cause to complain in the light of the Father’s gaze.

Indeed, so wonderful is God’s salvation that the poorest man who is brought into heaven will be infinitely better off than the billionaire who goes to hell.

May God have mercy on us all.

Thus, in one sense, the inequities of this life are of little consequence.

Yet by God’s grace, our faithfulness on earth is related to our eternal destiny beyond this world.

Thus, matter of justice and charity on earth dare not be neglected by any faithful Christian who hopes for heaven.

May the Lord Jesus Christ enable us always to see aright and to follow in faith the steps we need to take on this earth and to live his life of grace forever.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not everything is what you think

Experience is a good teacher, but only to a point.

The experience of a single human being is limited. Indeed, there is a limit even to the combined experience of all the human beings who ever lived.

In today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49), Saint Paul argues against people whose concept of the resurrection is limited, trying to use analogies from human experience but ultimately indicating that it is a reality that is totally different from human experience.

May the Lord Jesus give us the grace of wisdom that extends beyond earthly knowledge and experience and that touches the heavenly mysteries of eternal truth.

He knew it would not be easy

but Andrew wanted to be a priest.

One of the obstacles was that there were no seminaries near where he lived. The nearest seminary that would take him was over a thousand miles away.

He also knew his decision would not be popular, so he kept his studies secret.

Finally, he knew that it would be dangerous, but it was something he had to do, it was what he was called to do.

Andrew's wish would be fulfilled. He was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ.

Andrew's fear would be realized quickly. The year after his return home, in 1846, Andrew Kim Taegon and his father were executed by the Korean government, together with Paul Chong Hasang, a lay apostle, and many others.

More martyrdoms would follow, but Church in Korea would survive and eventually thrive. In less than a century and a half, in 1984, the great Pope John Paul II would visit Seoul and there canonize Andrew and 102 other Korean martyrs for Christ.

Their memory is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The resurrection is real

The resurrection is denied by nonbelievers. Its reality is also sometimes diminished in the thoughts of some theologians who have more pretentious subtlety than actual wisdom.

The resurrection is a matter of faith, but it is real and it is the unshakeable foundation of Christian hope, as Saint Paul reminds us so well in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 15:12-20):

If there is no resurrection of the dead,
then neither has Christ been raised.

And if Christ has not been raised,
then empty too is our preaching;
empty, too, your faith.

Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God
that he raised Christ,
whom he did not raise
if in fact the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised,
neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised,
your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ
have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

The Bishop's Blood

Winston Churchill once said that he had "nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

This bishop is remembered only for his blood

Little is remembered of the details of his life or of his death: he was just one of many hundreds who were being slaughtered for their faith in Christ.

But on this day, in the city of Naples and throughout the world, a little more than 1700 years after his death, the blood and the faith of this bishop, Januarius, is remembered.

(from an earlier post)

Want great love?

In today’s Gospel (Luke 7:36-50), a penitent woman bathes our Lord’s feet with her tears.

Our Lord’s explanation is simple:

Her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.

If you and I want to feel great love, we need to seek forgiveness from God.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hear and live these words anew

Today’s reading (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13) is familiar, especially for those who have attended weddings, but they are words that we need to hear again and again and, most importantly, live ever more fully.

One way to hear it anew is to recognize that the word translated as love is not romantic love, but the self-giving love that comes from God: charity.

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have charity,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have charity, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have charity, I gain nothing.

Charity is patient,
charity is kind.
It is not jealous,
charity is not pompous,
it is not inflated,
it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Charity never fails.

If there are prophecies,
they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes,
the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.

At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

So faith, hope, charity remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity.

The ways of politics

His father wanted Robert to be a politician.

But Robert decided to become a priest instead, devoting himself to prayer, study, and teaching as a Jesuit.

His reputation as a teacher became widespread and he was eventually asked to teach in Rome. He wrote important works that defended the Christian faith against the heretics of the time. So great was his reputation for wisdom and faithfulness, that this academician who had rejected politics as a profession, ended up serving at various Vatican offices and advising a number of Popes.

At conclaves, many spoke of him favorably as a papabile (to his own horror), but politics spared him, because some Cardinals were prejudiced against Jesuits.

Often in frail health, Robert died at the age of 58 on this very day in 1621.

After centuries of politically-inspired delays, St. Robert Bellarmine was canonized in 1930.

(from an earlier post)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


A good amount of conflict in the Church, from the earliest times to our present day, comes from bad attitudes about the different roles within it: from those who covet positions they cannot have and resent those who hold them (or denounce the existence of these roles) to others who hold positions by God’s grace but let it go to their heads.

Saint Paul’s words in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a) give us a better perspective. The verses left out of the middle of this passage (15-26) speak especially forcefully against those who confuse the honor of certain roles with their own honor and against those who resent the differentiation of roles in the Church.

If a foot should say,
"Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,"
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.

Or if an ear should say,
"Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,"
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.

If the whole body were an eye,
where would the hearing be?
If the whole body were hearing,
where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God placed the parts,
each one of them, in the body as he intended.

If they were all one part,
where would the body be?

But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you,"
nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you."

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts
are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.

But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts

may have the same concern for one another.

If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Being a Christian used to be no big deal

Christians were accepted members of society. Church leaders lived comfortable lives (sadly, some were even scandalous).

But things changed. Society turned against Christians. Government agents targeted the Church. There were many stories of violence and even death.

Many Christians succumbed to the pressure and turned publicly away from the faith. Of these, many would eventually repent of their apostasy and return to the Church.

Some of those who had remained loyal to the faith were angry with those who had deserted, even to the point of treating these penitents with extreme cruelty. Some extremists said that baptized Christians who had formally embraced another religion could not be forgiven.

Caught between government pressure on one side and extremists on the other, the Pope himself was driven out of public view and died. One of his chief allies, a bishop from Africa, was captured by government agents and murdered this very week in the year 258.

The memory of Pope St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian, bishop of the North African city of Carthage, is celebrated on this day: two men who fought to be faithful to Christ’s truth and Christ’s mercy.

(from an earlier post)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Don’t leave out self-examination

Today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33) focuses on the necessity of unity, charity, and patience in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. All of these are very good things.

But there is another focus in this chapter (verses 27-32) related to the Eucharist, but not included in this selection: the deadly serious necessity of self-examination prior to coming to the Eucharist.

Whoever eats the bread
or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily
will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.

A person should examine himself,
and so eat the bread and drink the cup.

For anyone who eats and drinks

without discerning the body,
eats and drinks judgment on himself.

That is why many among you are ill and infirm,
and a considerable number are dying.

If we discerned ourselves,
we would not be under judgment;
but since we are judged by (the) Lord,
we are being disciplined
so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

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

The sorrowful mother stood

By the cross weeping
Where her Son was hanging.

Through her weeping soul,
Compassionate and grieving,
A sword passed.

O how sad and afflicted
Was that blessed
Mother of the Only-begotten!

Who mourned and grieved,
The pious Mother, looking at
The torment of her glorious Child.

Who is the human who would not weep
Seeing the Mother of Christ
In such agony?

Who would not be able to feel compassion
On beholding Christ's Mother
Suffering with her Son?

For the sins of his people
She saw Jesus in torment
And subjected to the scourge.

She saw her sweet offspring
Dying, forsaken,
While He gave up His spirit.

O Mother, fountain of love,
Make me feel the power of sorrow,
That I may grieve with you.

Grant that my heart may burn
In the love of Christ my God,
That I may greatly please Him.

Holy Mother, grant that
The wounds of the Crucified
Drive deep into my heart.

That of your wounded Son,
Who so deigned to suffer for me,
I may share the pain.

Let me, pious one, weep with you,
Bemoan the Crucified,
For as long as I live.

To stand beside the cross with you,
And to join you
In your weeping, this I desire.

Chosen Virgin of virgins,
Be not bitter with me,
Let me weep with thee.

Grant that I may bear the death of Christ,
Share his Passion,
And commemorate His wounds.

Let me be wounded with His wounds,
Let me be inebriated by the cross
And your Son's blood.

Lest I burn, set afire by flames,
Virgin, may I be defended by you,
On the day of judgment.

Christ, when it is time to pass away,
Grant that through Your Mother I may come
To the palm of victory.

When my body dies,
Grant that to my soul is given
The glory of Paradise.

Stabat Mater dolorosa
iuxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae maerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Iuxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria.

Today, the day after the Feast of the Holy Cross,
the Church remembers Mary, the mother of Jesus,
as Our Lady of Sorrows

(adapted from an earlier post)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Look to the cross

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

For 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.

Thus says our Lord in today’s Gospel (John 3:13-17).

The people were in mortal terror and literally dying, but when Moses lifted up the image as God said, they were healed.

Even more so, in a world of disaster and dread, we can always look to God’s greatest gift, the gift of his love and his salvation, through the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Whenever we fear, whenever we despair, whenever we are tempted, we should look to the cross.

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

"We are celebrating the feast of the cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light. As we keep this feast, we are lifted up with the crucified Christ, leaving behind us earth and sin so that we may gain the things above. So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure. Rightly could I call this treasure the fairest of all fair things and the costliest, in fact as well as in name, for on it and through it and for its sake the riches of salvation that had been lost were restored to us.

"Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross,life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, There would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be cancelled, we should not have attained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.

"Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honourable. It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation - very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory. The cross is honourable because it is both the sign of God’s suffering and the trophy of his victory. It stands for his suffering because on it he freely suffered unto death. But it is also his trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered; the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world."
From a discourse by St. Andrew of Crete
(from today's Office of Readings)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Can't have it both ways

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ extends to each of us the gifts of faith and of eternal happiness.

Today’s readings remind us, however, that we cannot possess these gifts while disregarding his will or while wallowing in the evil of this world.

Many call themselves Christians and Catholics but disregard the will and truth of Christ in their words and actions.

Our Lord speaks bluntly in today’s Gospel (Luke 6:43-49) with words that have special power in these days of hurricanes:

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like
who comes to me,
listens to my words,
and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.

But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground
without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once
and was completely destroyed.”

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

In today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 10:14-22) Saint Paul warns us against trying to be in communion with Christ and his Church while keeping ourselves tied to the evil ways of this world.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord
and also the cup of demons.
You cannot partake of the table of the Lord
and of the table of demons.
Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger?
Are we stronger than him?

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

May God give us the grace to forsake the evil to which we have attached ourselves and to embrace fully the love, truth, and life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Golden boy

At the age of twenty, she was a single mother with two kids: a boy and a girl. She had many challenges, but she was successful in many ways, to such an extent that her son, John, was attended the best schools in the city. John was an excellent student and was doing very well.

Then, around the time he was 20, John met the local bishop, a gentle and simple man, and John's life changed completely. He began to study the Scriptures and to listen to sermons. He was baptized and entered the service of the Church. At first, John focused on writing and on purifying himself through intense prayer and fasting. He even lived in a cave for two years. His fervor, however, pushed him to such an extreme that he damaged his health. He returned to the city to recover his strength and rededicate himself to serving the people of God. His mentor, the bishop, ordained him a deacon not long before he died. The new bishop would ordain John a priest.

John was now 40 years old. The bishop recognized that John had a way of speaking that was phenomenal, so he made preaching John's fulltime job. He brought many people to Christ and even calmed large civic disturbances.

Many thought that John would eventually succeed the local bishop, but his reputation had become so widespread that when the bishop of the capital city died, a deputation came and took John away to be consecrated bishop there.

John was suddenly one of the most high-profile bishops in the world, yet he remained monastic in his lifestyle. He worked for the unity of the Church as well as for the reform of the clergy and the religious. He challenged the rich, cared for the poor and built hospitals. He also had successes with diplomacy.

He proved much less successful with backroom politics, however. Rivals conspired with the rich and the powerful in an attempt to have John removed. Rather than risk bloodshed, John agreed to leave the capital. A popular uprising soon brought him back, but the hatred of the rich and powerful could not be stopped. During the celebration of the Easter Vigil, soldiers broke in and dragged John away.

During the next few years, John continued to write to the Pope and other bishops who were friendly to him. They did all they could, even to the point of provoking a schism, but to no avail. Moreover, exile and captivity was not enough in the minds of his enemies and even though John was now around 60, death by natural causes was not coming soon enough.

The soldiers subjected John to weeks of long forced marches through the summer’s heat, through the rain, and even at night. He succumbed on September 14.

Yet, John's enemies could not prevail for long. He was widely recognized as a saint and thirty years after his death, John's body was returned to his diocese with great celebration

His theological brilliance and his magnificent eloquence was preserved and passed on through his homilies and his writings. His reputation continued to grow after his death. He came to be known as the "Golden Mouth" - so much so that the Greek form of that title became a virtual last name.

Today, nearly 16 centuries after his death, St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople and Doctor of the Church, is venerated both for his writings and his holiness, by East and West alike.

(from an earlier post)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pray for Galveston & the northwest Gulf coast

all the elements of nature
obey your command.

Calm the storms
and hurricanes that threaten us
and turn our fear of your power
into praise of your goodness.

Grant this
through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Prayer in times of storms

Keep yourself up

It is easy to take one’s health for granted: to skip exercising and healthy food.

So also in the spiritual realm, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27).

Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.

They do it to win a perishable crown,
but we an imperishable one.

Thus I do not run aimlessly;
I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it,
for fear that, after having preached to others,
I myself should be disqualified.

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

Everybody knows your name

And Mary said,
My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
for, behold, from henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed.

Luke 1:46-48

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of
the Holy Name of Mary, woman of faith and
mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Catholic Carnivals

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

Last week's Catholic Carnival was hosted by just another day of Catholic pondering. I apologize for my failing to post about it earlier.

Moral distinctions and scandal

In a complex world of difficult moral choices, clarity regarding proper moral distinctions can be very helpful, if not absolutely necessary.

Yet one must be careful, not only of the danger of rationalization, but also the danger of giving scandal to those who may not understand, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 8:1b-7, 11-13):

Thus, through your knowledge,
the weak person is brought to destruction,
the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are,
you are sinning against Christ.

May we always seek from Christ the grace of true discernment.

September 11

"O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us,
people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

"We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here-
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers,
and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

"We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those who,
because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.

"Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.

"We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon
and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces
their pain and suffering.

"God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

"God of understanding,
by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all."

(Pope Benedict's prayer earlier this year
in the pit where the World Trade Center once stood)

Today we remember the victims of September 11, 2001, who died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Requiescant in pace

(adapted from an earlier post)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Everything in this world is temporary.

God calls us to live for the eternal, even as we live in this world, by the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 7:25-31):

For the world in its present form is passing away.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do not be deceived

We like to make excuses for ourselves.

We like to think and say that our bad habits, practices, and behaviors do not really affect our salvation.

We cannot help ourselves, we say.

God calls us to do better, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 6:1-11):

Do you not know
that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God?

Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers
will inherit the Kingdom of God.

May God give us the grace to rise above our temptations and sins and to embrace fully the truth and love he extends to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The people were trapped in squalor

Armed soldiers kept them penned in.

The sufferings inside that cesspool were unimaginable. Caregivers shrank at the very thought of entering.

But Father Peter would smile, because he knew that there were people in there who desperately needed the comfort and peace of Christ.

He could not release them physically – the structures in place could not yet be overcome – but he would do everything he could for them.

He ended up bringing more than 300,000 people to Christ.

He thus helped them find freedom from sin, even though he could not free them from the slave trade that had brought them to the New World in chains.

Father Peter continued this ministry for 40 years, until he died in 1654.

Today the Church celebrates the memory of St. Peter Claver, S.J.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Embarrassment and God’s will

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:1-16,18-23), Saint Joseph accepts God’s will, even though it will mean tremendous embarrassment.

Some people will think he was cheated on. Some people will think he is lying about sex.

Saint Joseph knows God’s will and follows it, no matter what the embarrassment.

What about us?

Her parents called her their "miracle" baby

Little did they know what the real miracle would be.

As she grew up, everyone thought she was a perfect little girl.

Little did they know how perfect.

Before long, she herself would become a mother.

Only then would people begin to understand.

Today the Church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(adapted from an earlier post)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Give warning

The words of today’s first reading (Ezekiel 33:7-9) are stark and challenging:

You, son of man,
I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything,
you shall warn them for me.

If I tell the wicked,
“O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out
to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.

But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

From politicians who support evil while making a show of morality and fidelity to friends and neighbors stumbling down paths of deadly sin, we are surrounded by opportunities to give the warnings God commands us to give.

Many of us miss the mark: sometimes our warnings are so clumsy as to be useless or even counterproductive; sometimes we fail to say anything at all.

We need to be humble because of our own sinfulness, but we need to be earnest, prudent, thoughtful, compassionate, and faithful in giving warnings that we and others need to hear.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


In today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 4:6b-15), Saint Paul addresses people who think themselves greater than they are, while Saint Paul – one of the greatest of Apostles, who was personally and miraculously commissioned by Christ himself – is very realistic about the challenges against which he stands.

For as I see it,
God has exhibited us Apostles as the last of all,
like people sentenced to death,
since we have become a spectacle to the world,
to angels and men alike.

We are fools on Christ’s account,
but you are wise in Christ;
we are weak, but you are strong;
you are held in honor, but we in disrepute.

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty,
we are poorly clad and roughly treated,
we wander about homeless and we toil,
working with our own hands.
When ridiculed, we bless;
when persecuted, we endure;
when slandered, we respond gently.
We have become like the world’s rubbish,
the scum of all, to this very moment.

I am writing you this not to shame you,
but to admonish you as my beloved children.

May the Lord always give us the grace to be realistic about ourselves and to stand strong in Christ no matter what.

Friday, September 05, 2008


In today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 4:1-5), Saint Paul warns against judging.

Only God can judge. We cannot even judge ourselves, for we can (and often do) fool ourselves.

God is not fooled.

We must and should discern and make prudent decisions. Those who hold pastoral office must make pastoral decisions. But only God can judge,

I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.

Therefore, do not make any judgment
before the appointed time, until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts…

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

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The wrong side of history

Some people denounce Church moral teaching as being “on the wrong side of history”, but history itself shows that the conventional wisdom of each age as well as popular trends of morality and immorality overturn themselves frequently, while the teaching of the Church remains true from age to age.

Saint Paul gives us a good reminder in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 3:18-23):

Let no one deceive himself.
If anyone among you
considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool,
so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world
is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:

God catches the wise in their own ruses,

and again:

The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

that they are vain.

May you and I pray always for the wisdom of God.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Solid food

Tragically (and ironically), too many people stop their religious education when they receive Confirmation, leaving them to face the moral and other challenges of the world with little more than a child’s understanding of the faith.

The words of Saint Paul in today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 3:1-9) resonate:

I fed you milk, not solid food,
because you were unable to take it.
Indeed, you are still not able, even now,
for you are still of the flesh.
While there is jealousy and rivalry among you,
are you not of the flesh, and walking
according to the manner of man?

May the Lord give us the grace to learn and embrace the true faith more fully and to live it more perfectly.

Flooding overwhelmed the city

Buildings were destroyed, food supplies wiped out, commerce annihilated, and death was everywhere.

The government at every level seemed to be helpless. Only one man stood out in the minds of the beleaguered people as someone who could get them out of this crisis...

The abbot of the local monastery.

He was subsequently chosen to be the new bishop of the city, over his strong objections.

Gregory, the Abbot of St. Andrew’s monastery, was literally dragged out of his monastery and consecrated Bishop of the flood and disease ravaged city of Rome on this very day in the year 590.

He went on to restore the city, reform and build up the Church, and write a treasure house of spiritual wisdom for the ages.

Today we celebrate the memory of Pope St. Gregory the Great.

(from an earlier post)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The gap

Sometimes when we try to share our faith with others, we can be frustrated by the experience of a huge “disconnect” – they just don’t seem to “get it”.

In today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 1:10b-16), Saint Paul gives us a reason for this disconnect: faith is a gift, given directly by the Spirit.

We have not received the spirit of the world
but the Spirit who is from God,
so that we may understand

the things freely given us by God.
And we speak about them

not with words taught by human wisdom,
but with words taught by the Spirit,
describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.

Now the natural man
does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God,
for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it,
because it is judged spiritually.
The one who is spiritual, however, can judge everything
but is not subject to judgment by anyone.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord,
so as to counsel him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.

As we seek to share our faith with others, may we always pray that the Spirit may give them the gift of faith.

Monday, September 01, 2008


The corner office.

The penthouse.

A podium surrounded by pillars.

These are the places that symbolize power.

In today’s first reading (1 Corinthians 2:1-5), Saint Paul shows a way of greater power for you and I to follow:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

I came to you in weakness
and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest
not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

"Through work... "

"man must earn his daily bread
and contribute to the continual advance
of science and technology
and, above all, to elevating unceasingly
the cultural and moral level
of the society within which he lives
in community with those who belong to the same family.

"And work means any activity by man,
whether manual or intellectual,
whatever its nature or circumstances;

"it means any human activity
that can and must be recognized as work,
in the midst of all the many activities
of which man is capable
and to which he is predisposed
by his very nature, by virtue of humanity itself.

"Man is made to be in the visible universe
an image and likeness of God himself,
and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth.

"From the beginning therefore he is called to work.

"Work is one of the characteristics
that distinguish man from the rest of creatures,
whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work.

"Only man is capable of work, and only man works,
at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth.

"Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity,
the mark of a person operating within a community of persons.

"And this mark decides its interior characteristics;
in a sense it constitutes its very nature."

The beginning of the great Pope John Paul II's encyclical Laborem Exercens

Happy Labor Day!

(from an earlier post)

What shall we pray for this month?

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for September is for Refugees:

That Christians may defend and protect refugees.

His missionary intention is for Christian Families.

That every Christian family may be a small evangelizing community which is responsive to the needs of others.

Prayer in times of storms

all the elements of nature
obey your command.

Calm the storms
and hurricanes that threaten us
and turn our fear of your power
into praise of your goodness.

Grant this
through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Prayer in times of storms