Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Prayers for a Spritual Lent

Given that this is the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, I thought it would be appropriate to start Lent with a quote from him.

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" - 1 Corinthians 15

Praying that all of you have a very spiritual and reflective Lenten season!

God Bless.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Singing Without a Voice

I was visiting another Church this weekend and witnessed something I thought was simply wonderful.

First of all, the Church itself was huge. It had a Byzantine-like architecture on the outside, and large, marble columns throughout the inside. The altar was equally impressive, with a few areas just off it for lecterns, singers, etc.

During the homily, I realized that there was a woman in one of these areas who was translating what the priest was saying into sign language. She was facing a a group of pews to the far left, and I figured this Church had a large group of deaf parishioners.

It wasn't until the next musical intercession that I realized there was just one deaf parishioner ... and he was proudly singing in sign language.

It was an emotional sight to behold. Here was a gentleman who had a physical disability, and it didn't stop him from proclaiming his love for God and the Mass. With each refrain, he proudly thrust his arms up and around. He was singing louder and with more emotion with his hands than most of us were with our voice.

I will certainly not forget it next time I sing a hymn at Mass.

God bless.

P.S. I also thought it was great that the Church provided this service. A perfect example of a shepherd leaving no sheep behind ....

Monday, February 16, 2009

So Who is this St. Valentine Anyway?

I have to admit something.

Ready for this one?

As of this weekend I had no idea who St. Valentine was.

No clue.

Sure I probably learned it eons ago in CCD or grade school. But if I did, it certainly didn't stick in my head. I guess it just turned into one of those things I accepted at face value without understanding the underlying principles.

Don't get me wrong, I've heard (and participated in) plenty of discussions about what the holiday means. Some say its a Hallmark inspired ritual. Others that it is the ultimate day of love. And a few women I know insist it was invented so that they were assured at least one day of attention from their husbands.

But I've never heard anyone discuss who this St. Valentine really was.

So, I did some research and found out, ironically, that no one is entirely sure.

Apparently there were many martyred saints of ancient Rome named Valentine. It is believed that the one who we honor on February 14 was a Roman priest who was killed for helping Christians - specifically members of the Roman army - get married. But we do not know much else about him. (That is one reason why the Church does not have an official commemoration for him on its calendar.)

At first I found the lack of information very sad. Here we have this beautiful holiday that is celebrated in many countries, and we barely know anything about Saint Valentine. How many wondrous things did he do for God that we'll never know about? What else could we have learned from him?

But, the more I reflected on everything, the happier I got. True, we may not know much about him, but St. Valentine has inspired a day that forces us to focus on God's greatest command. Love one another. And better yet - this day is celebrated by Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other faiths.

I can't think of anything that would make Jesus happier, can you?

God Bless.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Gospel Reflection - Mark 1:29-39

I've always wished that the Gospel writers wrote as historians rather than storytellers. I certainly understand the reasons for their writing style and what life was like then. (Not to mention the fact that they were inspired by God so who am I to argue?) But every time I read the Bible I am left yearning for more detail.

This Sunday's Gospel
(Mark 1:29-39) is a perfect example. We read about Jesus teaching, curing Simon's mother, driving out demons and wandering to nearby villages ... all in three short paragraphs. I know Mark has captured the important ideas - but did you ever wonder about the details?

For example, what did Simon's mother say or do after Jesus cured her of her fever? Did she hop right out of bed and serve them? Did she thank him profusely? Perhaps she gave him a motherly hug?

And what about the throngs of people lining up outside the house? Was it chaos? Or more curious wonder? Did they all really believe in Him or just take a chance? Did they fight to get into the house, or shout "Jesus, Jesus, please help us"? How quickly did the word spread that Jesus was healing people - were people running around the village screaming at the top of their lungs?

How about the demons? Were the ones He expelled visible for all to see? Or was there just an obvious change in the saved person?

Where was the deserted place Jesus went to to pray? What did it look like? How happy was He to finally be in silence so he could pray to his Father?

If only they had video cameras and the internet back then!

For now, my imagination will suffice. But I often wonder why God did not leave more details for us so that I didn't have to spend so much time thinking.

Of course, now that I think about it, that's probably exactly the way he wants it.

God Bless.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sad News

Some sad news in the blog world this week. Michael Dubruiel passed away on Tuesday. (read here at OSV)

I have to admit I did not know Michael, nor did I read any of his books (but I will now). However, I just read the last article he wrote (posted by his wife at Charlotte was Both) It was very moving - please do yourself a favor and read it.

OSV has posted how you can help the family if you are interested.

And please pray for his soul and for his family.

God Bless.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pop Quiz

I came across an interesting fact the other day. I never really thought about it before reading it so I thought it would make a good pop quiz for everyone.

The Catholic Church officially celebrates three birthdays.

Do you know whose they are?

God Bless.