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, May 30, 2010

Beyond imagination

Human beings were created by God to aspire to the Infinite, which is to say Himself.

Sadly, in our fallen and sinful state, this aspiration and all the abilities that have been given to us are often twisted into arrogance.

We inflict this arrogance on ourselves and the world around us all too often.

We see this especially in the overreaches of science, technology, public policy, and even personal choice.

We think we know the way things are, we think we know what we are doing, but then reality reasserts itself and suffering follows.

We are even arrogant when it comes to God.

Believer or unbeliever, we arrogantly think we can understand Infinity Himself.

We arrogantly think we can question His wisdom (“How can God let these bad things happen”) or even His existence (in the case of the unbeliever).

God is beyond our arrogance and beyond our imagination.

The doctrine of the Trinity, which we celebrate today, is a glimpse into the Infinite Mystery Who is God: a reminder that while God makes Himself known through Revelation, He is ultimately beyond the arrogant intellect of human beings.

On the one hand, this reminds us that we should be careful in our trying to speculate or imagine what the doctrine of the Trinity means.

It is good to stay close to the descriptions defined by the Church through the grace of God (such as the Creed), the classic descriptions of the great saint theologians such as Saint Thomas Aquinas (such as the doxology to his hymn Pange Lingua down below) and to passages of Scripture such as today’s Gospel (John 16:12-15).

I have much more to tell you,
but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you

the things that are coming.

He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine

and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you

that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.

On the other hand, the Infinite Mystery that is the inner life of God reminds us of the infinitely glorious adventure that awaits us in heaven, for there we shall see Him and understand Him and love Him more and more with every moment of eternity.

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

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


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Conflicting babble

On Pentecost Sunday, many congregations have been employing the interesting gimmick of using multiple readers for today’s first reading (Acts 2:1-11) – each simultaneously reading in a different language.

Although generally well-intentioned, the result is confusing noise and is often unpleasant.

But that confusion is not the confusion described by the witnesses to the original Pentecost event.

“They were confused
because each one heard them
speaking in his own language.”

Moreover, the people heard the Apostles and the others clearly speaking “of the mighty acts of God.”

That great outpouring of the Holy Spirit may indeed have been marked by the “Gift of Tongues” – as members of the early Church spoke in the tongues of men and of angels – but what made the strongest impression on the people who witnessed that great event was the Gift of Interpretation of Tongues – as the Holy Spirit touched the hearts of those bystanders and enabled them to hear the good news of Jesus Christ each in the language closest to their hearts.

Today, the world is full of noise and confusing, conflicting babble.

Sad to say, confusing and conflicting voices can be heard even within the Church.

Today and every day, we need to pray that we may always clearly hear the Holy Spirit speaking to us, as our Lord Himself says in one of the options for today’s Gospel (John 14:15-16, 23b-26), teaching us everything and reminding us of all that He told us.


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

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


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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"You follow Me"

Many things are going on right now.

There are also many debates, discussions, and interesting things to see and read – especially online.

In today’s Gospel (John 21:20-25), Saint Peter is wondering about one of the other Apostles.

This passage also reflects some speculation and discussions that were popular in the early Church.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sets things straight.

What concern is it of yours?

You follow me.

May we keep our focus on following Christ.

No matter what.

A battered wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint Rita of Cascia died at the Augustinian convent at Cascia, Italy, on this very day 553 years ago.

(from an earlier post)

Sunday, May 16, 2010


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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sharing faith

It is necessary for us to share our faith in Christ.

It is necessary for all the people of the world because salvation and eternal life comes through Christ alone.

It is necessary for us because a living faith in Christ must be shared, by words and by deeds.

Today’s first reading (Acts 18:23-28) gives us examples of sharing faith publically and also sharing faith privately.

Sharing faith does not always require public debates or shouting on street corners.

Sharing faith happens also through deeds of charity and simple words of faithfulness – although explicit references to Christ and the substantive details of our faith can never be totally absent.

We must be prudent, we must be loving, and we must be faithful.

Suspicions about a farm worker

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

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

Sure enough, he saw Isidro going to Mass.

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

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

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

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

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

(from an earlier post)

Friday, May 14, 2010

A great way to begin the day

Reflecting on the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel (John 15:9-17) is wonderful, powerful way to begin the day.

In Christ, our lives have purpose: infinite and eternal.

It was not you who chose me,
but I who chose you
and appointed you to go
and bear fruit that will remain...

Let us go forth and live this day fully in Christ.

He was not one of the important people

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

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

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

And he was chosen.

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

His feast is celebrated on this day.

(from an earlier post)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Areopagite Idol

Saint Paul the Apostle's voice rose in power and intensity.

"God has overlooked the times of ignorance,
but now he demands
that all people everywhere repent
because he has established
a day on which he will 'judge the world with justice'
through a man he has appointed,
and he has provided confirmation for all
by raising him from the dead."

A man sitting in the front spoke up.

"I dunno, dawg, it was kinda pitchy for me."

A woman seated next to him moved goofily and sang shakily, "Don't know much 'bout philosophy."

A woman next to her said something that everyone instantly forgot.

A sour-looking man on the other side of the women then spoke to Paul brusquely.

"It was ghastly."

A man with a bright smile then walked to Paul and said, "We should like to hear you on this some other time."


St. Paul's preaching to the pagan intellectuals at the Areopagus of Athens, as recounted in today's first reading (Acts 17:15,22-18:1), is sometimes interpreted as less than a complete success, and yet it bore fruit: one of those converted that day, Dionysius, went on to become the bishop of this prestigious city.

It was a daunting task, standing up to an entrenched intelligentsia on their own hallowed ground, but Paul had the courage, the insight, and the grace to do it.

It encourages us not to be afraid to stand up for the faith against the intelligentsia and de facto pagans of our own day (taking care to seek the insight and the grace needed for such opportunities).

An important point to remember is what underlies St. Paul's words to the Athenians: that even the most highly educated and intellectually gifted people may be, on some deep level, essentially ignorant of the true content of faith.

We need to be careful, to develop all the insight we can, to seek the grace from God we need, and to be unafraid in speaking the truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(updated from an earlier post)

Many were killed in that place

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

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

For that, they were killed.

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

They killed him too.

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

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

(from an earlier post)

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Paranoia is a dangerous thing: it makes us see enemies that are not there and cuts us off from potential friends and allies who are close at hand.

In this world where Christian belief, religious practices, and leaders are so often under attack, it is easy to slip toward paranoia or at least a bunker mentality.

It can also be easy to despair.

In today’s Gospel (John 15:18-21), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives comfort and encouragement to those facing a worst-case scenario of persecution.

If the world hates you,
realize that it hated me first.

If you belonged to the world,
the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.

Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’

If they persecuted me,
they will also persecute you.

The world is a dangerous place, although it is rarely as bad as our worst fears, but no matter how dangerous the world could possibly be, our hope, comfort, and ultimate safety in Christ in unassailable.

No matter what we may have to endure or suffer, Christ loves and will save His faithful ones.

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

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

How to get something out of life

The Lord Jesus tells us,

Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you

unless you remain in me.

I am the vine,

you are the branches.

Whoever remains in me and I in him

will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.

If you remain in me

and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want

and it will be done for you.

By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit

and become my disciples.

(from today's Gospel - John 15:1-8)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

"Peace.... Not as the world gives"

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

Not as the world gives do I give it to you."

(from today's Gospel - John 14:27-31a)

Monday, May 03, 2010

What other people should see

For many people in today’s world, it’s all about THEM.

For Christ, it is all about the Father.

In today’s Gospel (John 14:6-14), our Lord says,

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?

The words that I speak to you
I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me
is doing his works.

We, of course, must imitate Christ.

In the way we live our lives, in the way we speak, and in what we say and do, our goal must be for people to see not us, but GOD dwelling in us and doing His works.

Family was very important to James

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

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

Then, something happened: something big.

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

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

So they killed him too.

The Feast of Saint James, Apostle and relative of Jesus Christ, is celebrated on this day.

(adapted from an earlier post)

Philip had to tell somebody

He had been picked.

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

So Philip tracked down his buddy and told him.

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

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

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

(from an earlier post)

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Life is not always easy for us as individuals.

Life is not always easy for us as a Church.

As individuals and as a Church, we have great words of encouragement from today’s readings – beginning with the first (Acts 14:21-27).

They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”

The second reading (Revelation 21:1-5a) gives us hope of the comfort that awaits us once we have faithfully completed our course in this life by the grace of God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning,
wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”

But in the meantime we do not merely suffer through life stoically, but we must follow the command of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel (John 13:31-33a, 34-35).

I give you a new commandment:
love one another.

As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know
that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

May we be faithful and may we love.