Sunday, January 31, 2016

Everything I forgot about St Thomas Aquinas

This week marked the feast day of St Thomas Aquinas.

As I reflected on that, I realized how little I remembered about this great Saint.  Yes, I quickly noted that he was a great philosopher of the Church, and yes, I remembered he authored the Summa theologiae.  But there were many other facts I just could not recall.  

So I spent some time re-learning about him, and wanted to share some of the info with any of you that happen to be as forgetful as I am!

  • St Thomas grew up not far from Rome in a wealthy family
  • While studying in Naples, he decided he wanted to join the newly formed Dominican Order
  • When he told his parents of this decision, they found it unacceptable, for they wanted him to stay at the Monte Cassino Abbey
  • As Thomas headed off to join the Dominicans, his brothers kidnapped him and locked him up in their castle
  • His family even sent a prostitute to his cell seduce him?!  He drove her out with a burning torch.
  • When he finally got out, he continued his studies in Paris and Cologne, where he was known as the "dumb ox" to his classmates because of his size and quiet nature
  • He wrote many papers and books, the most famous being the aforementioned Summa theologiae
  • St Thomas was known as a masterful preacher who argued against his opponents with both respect and brilliance
  • At one point his brethren witnessed him in ecstasy, and heard the Lord tell him "You have written well of me Thomas.  What reward would you have for your labor?"  Thomas replied, "Nothing but you, Lord."
  • He stopped writing shortly thereafter, and when urged to continue, he simply said "I can do no more.  Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value."  
  • He died on March 7, 1274, and because that day usually falls in Lent, the church moved his Feast Day to January 28th.

I also re-read St Thomas' five arguments for the existence of God, which are certainly worth remembering for all those times we encounter those who just do not believe.

But I must admit, I spend a great deal of time wondering what God showed this passionate writer that caused him to stop writing.   How beautiful that vision must have been for this wise man feel he could not come close to describing it!

I hope you all have a spiritual week, and God Bless you.

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Yet for our sake, You did not rescue Him"

Those of you that read this blog regularly, know that I really enjoy analogies or stories that help us to truly understand God's love for us.

For example, a long time ago, I posted an excerpt from Rediscovering Catholicism where Matthew Kelly puts God's sacrifice into a modern day example.  To this day, that story is one of the most powerful I have ever read. 

This weekend, I was surprised to find an example in the mainstream media.  It was an opinion article on FoxNews titled The Sound of Jesus' voice in my daughter's scream.   In it the author shares his experience in realizing how hard it must have been for God to watch His Son suffer.

I hope you enjoy.

God Bless you.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I Had Never Heard this about Cana Before

The Wedding Feast at Cana is one of the most important, beautiful passages in the Gospels.  

But there have always been parts that have stumped me over the years.

The first one, like most people, is the way Jesus talks to His Mother .... he refers to her as "woman".  I quickly learned, however, that this phrase was a term of respect back in Jesus's time.  It was not the cold statement that it feels like in today's language.

Another item that stumped me at one point, was why it took so long for the Son of God to start His mission.  Again, I was reminded early on that God has a time frame for everything.  And that time frame may or may not make sense for us.  (I was also reminded how long it took me to get my act together and become a better Catholic ... but that is neither here nor there!)

But the one item that that has always puzzled my very-human mind, was why Jesus initially said His time had not yet come, yet, changed His tune once Mary told the servant to do whatever Our Savior asked.

This weekend I heard a possible reason I had never heard before.  

Most scholars safely assume that Joseph, Mary's husband, had passed away long before the Wedding at Cana.  If that were the case, then Jesus would have been responsible for Mary and the household.  Being human, as well as Divine, it was possible that Jesus did not want to start His mission until He was sure Mary would be ok.  (He was, after all, the greatest Son ever!)  Perhaps that exchange at the wedding feast was Mary telling Jesus she would be fine ... that it was time for Him to go.  

Of course, we have no idea if this scenario is true or not, nor do we know all the context behind the few words that are written in the Gospel.  However, I had never heard this explanation before, and wanted to share with all of you.

What do you think?

God Bless all of you!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where Did the Gifts Go?

I often wonder what happened to those gifts the Magi brought the child Jesus.  

Did the Holy Family keep them?  Barter with them?  Give them away?  

As I contemplated this at Mass last week, I felt God asking me a similar question in return.

He was asking what I did with all the gifts He gave me!

(Maybe I need to do less wondering and more works for Him!)

God Bless you.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

In the spirit of starting 2016 in a Holy way, I wanted to add a few New Year's Resolutions with God in mind.  

Here are a few that I have come up with thus far:
  1. Read one proverb at the beginning of each day
  2. Choose a Saint to pray with this year.  (If you don't want to choose yourself, you can use the Saint's Name Generator.) 
  3. Do more acts of charity during this Jubilee Year of Mercy
If you have any of your own, please feel free to share them here!

A very Blessed, Healthy and Happy 2016 to all of you.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Just Like One of Us

Overheard:

"I just love Pope Francis.  He is just like one of us!"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, he is the Pope ... the most important Catholic on Earth ... and yet, he acts like he is one of us 'common folk'.  He speaks in a way that we can understand, he takes public transportation, he eats with homeless and criminals alike, etc.  It's almost like he stoops down to our 'level'.  I like that."

"I see what you mean.  A lot of people probably feel like you do.  (pause)  So if people are so impressed by Pope Francis acting like one of us ... imagine how impressed they'd be if they stopped to think how much further God had to 'stoop' to come down and be just like one of us."

A very Blessed Christmas week to you and your families!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Conversation with Jesus on the Mountain

A vision popped into my mind at Mass this weekend. 

I imagined sitting on a mountain with Jesus, looking down at the town and busyness below.  

We were talking, mostly about how hard it is to keep God a priority in this day in age, and especially at Christmastime.  We read all the right passages in the Gospels, and hear all the right perspectives from our priests and religious men and women.  

But for the other 90% of the time, I told Him, it gets really hard to not get caught up in society.  From jobs to politics to buying presents, we are focused on many, many other things.  

I asked Him for a thought ... a reminder ... anything that could help me feel the right perspective.  

He motioned to the crucifix I wear around my neck, and looked at me with eyes that said "What else could you possibly need?"  

I nodded bashfully in acknowledgement.  

Then He said, "Ok, how about this ... if I were to tell you I could take you to Heaven right now, to be with me forever ... what else down there (motioning back to society) would you worry about?  What else would you care about?"

I soaked that in. 

The answer, of course, was nothing.  In fact, other than my family and friends, every other thing in my life shrunk smaller than a spec of sand.  And I actually felt it in that moment*.  I did not have another care in the world.

Just then, the gift basket at Mass arrived at my lap, and I returned to reality.  But I did not forget the example Jesus gave me, and will definitely remind myself of it often.

God Bless you.


*  I must admit, after re-reading this post, much of the feeling is lost in putting the words on paper screen.  In order to recreate the feeling, I find I need to not read it, but imagine the scenario again, and try to feel what it would be like to be in that situation.  Just reading the words is a poor substitute.  (Probably because there is a poor writer behind them!)