Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

"8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

Merry Christmas to you and your families!
May the Baby Jesus be present in your homes and your hearts, and may we all be good shepherds this coming year.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mary Christmas

I've been thinking a lot about Mary lately.  

Given the recent Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the ongoing Nativity story during Advent, it is hard not to.

Mostly I have been trying to "feel" what it must have been like for her the day the Angel Gabriel came to visit her.  

I'm trying to remove the numbness that hearing the same passage over and over brings with it.  

Trying to get past the words I have heard hundreds of times.  

Trying to forget that I know the answer in the back of the book.  

Mary was given a choice.  Say yes, or no, to a request that is almost beyond human comprehension.  

In her early teens.  

And by the way, saying "yes" to God's Will would bring with it the overwhelming threat of public humiliation and, likely, punishment by death.  (Side note ... was Mary the first person that every risked her life for Jesus?  Interesting.)

In any case, we have the luxury of knowing how the story ends.  Mary, at least to our knowledge, did not.  

She had to say yes to an idea that probably went against everything she had expected.  The Savior they had been waiting for was going to be born to a virgin?  In the poor area of Nazareth?  To her???

It was her faith against all that.  And her faith won.

May God grant all of us just a small portion of our Blessed Mother's faith ...

I hope you are all having a Blessed Advent.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What to do post-election?

Well, we have finally reached the end of a troubling election cycle here in the U.S.  

Some people are happy, some are angry.

Most are confused and now waiting to see what this all means.

But there is one piece of advice we should follow no matter what platform we believe in - PRAY.  

PRAY for our country and for all countries.  And PRAY for the Salvation of the World.

Prayer for the Salvation of the World

Father, hear our prayers for the salvation of the world. 
Grant Mercy to all souls that turned away from You. 
Open their hearts and minds with Your light.
Gather Your children from the east and the west, from the north and the south.
Have mercy O God on those who do not know You. 
Bring them out of darkness into Your light. 
You are our saving God Who leads us in our salvation. Protect us from evil.
Bless and praise You O Lord, hear our prayers and answer us. You, our Savior, are the hope of all the ends of the Earth and the distant seas. 
May Your way be known upon Earth; among all nations Your salvation.
We put the world in Your hands; fill us with Your love. Grant us peace through Christ, our Lord.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Comprehending Marriage

In today's Gospel, some Sadducees give Jesus a hypothetical scenario where a woman marries seven brothers, one by one.  

They ask Him which of the seven will be the woman's husband at the time of the Resurrection.  

Jesus' answer, in essence, is that marriage is an earthly thing.  It is not "needed" in a Heaven without death - one where our relationship with God is paramount.  

This is hard to comprehend, especially for married folks.  But it is fair to say that we are just not capable of fully understanding these kinds of things yet.  

I equate it to when we were young children, and the thought of marrying someone was "gross".  We just didn't have the capacity at that time to appreciate how wonderful marriage could be, just like we do not now - at this point in our journey - have the capacity to fully appreciate what happiness in the Eternal Paradise is like. 

Hopefully some day we will, and it will be more beautiful and amazing than we ever thought possible.  

For now, we have Faith.

God Bless you.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Inspiration from St Paul and St JP2

It is easy to get discouraged these days.  

Between the poverty, suffering and endless bickering in society, it is not always easy to stay positive.

But the "stars" of this weekend give us hope.

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. John Paul II (Oct 22) and some of his more famous quotes include:

Do not abandon yourself to despair.  We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our Song!
There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us.
From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God.

And in today's second reading, St. Paul tells us:

But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.

These positive and uplifting reminders are certainly welcome at times like these.  With them in mind, hopefully we can - like St. Paul - compete well, keep the faith and finish the race.

God Bless you. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Quick Bytes: Where are the other nine(ty)?

I couldn't help but feel like today's Gospel was being re-enacted right in front of me today.  

From my Church's half-filled parking lot, to the empty pews during Mass, I could feel Jesus looking around, asking "what happened to the other nine(ty)?"  

The Lord gives so many gifts to us ... please pray that more people act like the Samaritan in today's Gospel and come back to praise Him.

God Bless you.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Twist on Poor Man / Rich Man

I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron's podcast on this weekend's Gospel, and he certainly gave me a lot to think about.  

This Gospel is one we all know well - about Lazarus, a poor man, and an unnamed rich man.  

First things first, I have always considered all of us the "rich man" in this reading.  After all, if you can read this blog, and type a response, you are richer than most of the world.  

Bishop Barron comments that being "wealthy" (remember, it is a relative term, and not just material) is not a bad thing.  Perhaps, he states, God has given us this wealth so that it gets to the people that need it most.    

What an inspirational comment!  Rather than feeling guilty that we have three meals a day (plus dessert!), can read and write, can afford a roof over our heads and a computer to blog ... we can act as stewards of God's treasures and be his "distribution arm" on earth.  

However, just when I had absorbed that thought, Bishop Barron turned that idea on its head.  He reflected that, perhaps, the rich are not just here to help the poor ... what if God also put the poor here to help the rich get to heaven?  What if all those beggars in the street, letters asking for donations, and volunteer emails are opportunities for us to take a step towards our Eternal Home?  

Either way, the guidance is clear.  Love one another, share your gifts, and care for those in need.  

God Bless you!

Monday, September 5, 2016

I reflected this weekend on the Gospel (where Jesus reminds us that the Father comes before anything else) and the Sainthood of Mother Teresa.  

I started thinking about St. Teresa, and all she did to help the poor and needy.  Of all the people she came in contact with - all the people God sent her way  - I wondered what percentage of them she helped.  Because she gave up so many worldly things so early, she probably helped a good percentage of them.  

I contrasted that with what my percentage would be.  I wondered how many opportunities I missed because I was preoccupied with other things.  I imagine I have missed as many as St. Teresa helped.  

As I began to despair over that fact, I came across this quote from her :

"Never worry about the numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."

What an inspiring quote from our newest Saint.  

God Bless you.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Overheard at Mass: Humility

This week's Gospel was all about humility.  In the passage from Luke, Jesus talks about sitting at the lowest place at the table instead of the seat of honor.  

At Mass, we were reminded of an excellent quote by C.S. Lewis:

True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.

In that quote, lies an important distinction for us Catholics.  

God created us in His image - and gave us the gifts and tools we need to carry out His mission for us.  Therefore it is probably not a great idea to think less of what God created!  Besides that, sometimes this version of "humility" is forced and not genuine.  

Rather, true humility is spending more time thinking about God, and others, than ourselves. This will lead us to more appropriate actions, like generosity of talent and means, as well as servitude.     

God Bless you.

Monday, August 1, 2016

There's an "I" in "Rich Man"

In yesterday's Gospel, we heard about the Parable of the Rich Fool.  As I listened to it, I realized how many times the word "I" was repeated.

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
Likely not a coincidence, of course.  Jesus is telling us that when we focus too much on ourselves, and not enough on others, we run the risk of being spiritually foolish.  

But, He is also telling us that this man thought and acted alone.  He did not seem to consult others (which was common back in those days).  He did not pray for guidance, or ask the religious leaders.  Any of those could have reminded him to share some of his wealth.

But this man, in his richness, has seemingly isolated himself.  

True, there is no "I" in team ... but there is one in "Rich Man".

God Bless you. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Are we Really The Good Samaritan?

I was quite moved this week after hearing the first reading about Abraham's servitude again.

I know times were different back then, but could you imagine someone jumping to such generosity today?  I mean, Abraham did not even have a conversation with the three men standing near his tent before requesting that they stay and let him serve them.  

Today, sadly, most of us would probably keep our heads down or continue about our business, hoping we were not interrupted by someone we did not know.  

Abraham's actions also rekindled a thought that was burning inside me since last week's Gospel.  I've heard the famous Good Samaritan reading many times in my life, but as I read it last week, I realized  that I generally see myself - and most Christians - as the Good Samaritan.  

I reflected on that a lot this week.  

I kept asking myself ... in that story, am I really most like the Good Samaritan?  I came to the conclusion that most of the time, I am not.  Instead, on average, I am more like the man on the side of the road.  

Jesus is the Good Samaritan, and I need Him to come carry me.

He is, after all, the one that has paid our tab for eternity!

God Bless you.     

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Weighed Down

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the 72 to go out to the surrounding towns - but to carry nothing.  

No money bag, no sandals, no sack, no food.  

I've heard two explanations for why Jesus might have done this.

The first, and more obvious, is that these possessions might weigh down the disciples.  Literally and figuratively.  Yes, they would be quicker afoot if they weren't carrying lots of stuff.  But their minds would also be lighter without having to worry about it as well.

(Mental note: how weighed-down are we with all the possessions and worries we have?)

The second, and less obvious, is that perhaps Jesus knew that if the disciples had to ask for everything, it would force interactions with people.  Instead of camping out and eating amongst themselves, they would be forced to dine with people from the town.  

(Mental note:  how many new people do we interact with every day, that might be open to the words of Christ?)

I hope you all have a blessed week!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reflection on the Times

I visited a local parish for mass last weekend, and the priest was reflecting on the fact that at Easter, they had to have two simultaneous masses because of the crowds - one in the church, and one in the auditorium next door.  

He wondered, however - as he looked at a half full church last week - where all the crowds went.

Just when I thought that was the low point for his homily, he told us that they surveyed the people at that Easter Mass.  And only 36% of them could correctly identify what we were celebrating at Easter.  

This troubled me greatly. 

Ironically, I read bible readings and reflections each day through the Laudate app, and a recent reflection read:

In our times, some Christians claim they are the "moral majority," yet a few people have been able to defeat millions of Christians in legalizing abortion, promoting euthanasia, removing prayer from public schools, promoting homosexual acts, etc. Masses of Christians are being defeated by a few non-Christians because we have lost our first love (Rv 2:4). We "are caught up and overcome in" the pollution of the world once more (2 Pt 2:20). Possibly a parent, pastor, or Christian friend has helped us fix our eyes on Jesus. Now that is no longer the case. So we have fallen away, backslid, and have been defeated by even the weakest enemies.

Again, this was very troubling to me.  However, I took some solace in a second reflection from that same app:

The queen mother, Athaliah, killed off the whole royal family, with the exception of one infant, Joash (2 Kgs 11:1-2). Seven years later, Joash and the priest, Jehoiada, were the central figures in overturning the wicked, idolatrous reign of Athaliah.
This pattern is often repeated throughout God's plan of salvation. An evil system dominates society and destroys so many people that only a few believers survive. Eventually, though, this remnant, by God's power, overturns the forces of evil.
Right now, new Athaliahs are killing off God's royal family. In the USA, one out of three babies in the womb are slaughtered before birth. Many who escape the womb are emotionally and spiritually destroyed by abuse and neglect. Many more become "spiritually brain-dead" after carelessly exposing themselves to the brainwashing from our secular society. They lose their minds, hearts, freedom, and objectivity. Nonetheless, a few Joashes make it through the mine-field of abortion, abuse, neglect, secularization, and brainwashing. The Lord will raise up these people to bring down the strongholds of the evil one (see 2 Cor 10:4) and lead the world to Christ.

I don't know God's plan, of course.  And I likely wouldn't fully comprehend it if I did.  But I trust in Him.  And pray that more people come back to His loving grace.

God Bless you. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Gospel

Today is Memorial Day in the United States - a day where we reflect and remember those who died serving this country.  

Ironically, today's Gospel reading also focuses on death and serving, albeit in a slightly different way.  In today's reading, Jesus tells the parable of a man who built a wine tower and then leased it out to tenant farmers.  He sends servant after servant to collect the produce from them, but each servant is either beaten or killed.  

Finally the man sends his beloved son.  He thinks "surely they will respect my son".  

But of course, the tenants kill him as well.

This parable, of course, speaks to the fact that God also sent many servants (prophets) to speak to the world, but many were beaten and killed.

God then decided to send his only Son.  

However, unlike the man in the parable, God knew that His Son would be tortured and killed.

What a sacrifice the Lord gave for us!  And how hard it must have been to not only send His Son, but to watch what we did to Him.  

So today, on this national holiday, I not only thank all those who served our country, but also their parents who endured such trying times.  But most of all, I thank Jesus for his sacrifice and His Father for an equally unfathomable one.

God Bless you.

Monday, May 16, 2016

How do we describe the Holy Spirit?

This weekend we celebrated the beautiful Feast of the Pentecost.  

I, like most people, have a harder time talking about (or imagining) the Holy Spirit versus the other two persons of the Holy Trinity.  

Jesus walked the Earth as one of us, so He is the easiest to imagine.  

The Bible tells us that God created us in His likeness, so again, we have some direction there as well. 

But it dawned on me this weekend how different the Holy Spirit is.  In various Bible passages, The Spirit is mentioned as "like a Dove" or "as Tongues of Fire" or as a "wind".  I realized that these varied references probably add to my difficulty in describing the Spirit as easily as the Son.  

But upon hearing the readings at mass, I realized that the easiest way to envision - and describe - the Holy Ghost is how the Spirit works through people.   Think about the Apostles and their drastic change once they were strengthened with the Spirit.  The most powerful description of the Holy Spirit in that story, in my opinion, isn't fire ... it is the change we saw in the followers of Jesus!  They were more confident, had more skills, and went on to change the world!

What are your thoughts?

I pray that you are strengthened in the same way by the Holy Spirit.  God Bless you.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Overturning Tables and Loving One Another

My church is celebrating First Holy Communions this month.  Since we have a relatively smaller church, each mass has about 10 children receive their first Eucharist.  This goes on for about 3 weeks or so.  

I must admit, these masses bring out the best in me, and, unfortunately, the worst in me. 

On the bright side, seeing these little children of God receiving Christ for the first time is such a beautiful, and promising, thing.

On the other hand, events like these fill the church with lots of visitors.  Visitors who park their cars in fire lanes or the middle of our exits so they can make a quick getaway as soon as Mass ends.  Visitors who talk so loudly before mass that the congregation cannot hear the greeter (who is using a microphone) welcome everyone.  Visitors who do not show any kind of respect for the Eucharist, other than getting close enough to it so they can take a photo.

This frustrates me.  

Part of me thanks God for bringing these people to Mass to begin with.  And I often pray that some of them return based on their experience.  

The other part wonders what Jesus would do in these situations.  

Would He "overturn the tables", as He did in Jerusalem, and tell them that His Father's House should be a House of Prayer?

Or would he softly remind me of what He said in today's Gospel, namely that we should love each other as He loves us?

What do you think?

God Bless you.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Detail about Peter's "Rehabilitation" That You Might Not Have Noticed

This week's Gospel from John is a favorite.   

The Risen Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times - a beautiful scene to counter the Apostle's denial just days earlier.  

We've heard this reading many, many times before.  But there is a small, yet significant, detail in John's writing that I just learned this weekend.

When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with a fish on it and bread.

John made it a point to note the kind of fire that Jesus had set up. 

Do you know the only other time in the entire Bible that a charcoal fire appears?

Peter's denial of Christ.

And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold and they warmed themselves.  And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.

What a beautiful detail.  Jesus has returned Peter to the sight - and even the smell - of the event that wounded him so badly.  

And thus, while Our Rock left the first charcoal fire in shame, he leaves the second one a healed Shepherd.  

God Bless you.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Desertion and Second Chances

Firstly, I hope you all had a very Blessed Easter, and enjoyed the great Hope that comes with the Resurrection.

When I looked back at this year's Holy week, one thought kept hounding me over and over again.  


I kept thinking about how beautiful the first Palm Sunday must have been - with crowds of people making this wonderful gesture with branches to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem.  Yes, Jesus must have had His death weighing on his mind as he rode into the city, but at that moment, there were so many willing to be near Him ... to be with Him.  It must have been so joyous.

That feeling, of course, departed rather quickly on Holy Thursday as I really contemplated what it must have felt like for Our Savior when all of his Apostles scattered during His arrest and torture.  It was clear that Jesus allowed Himself to feel our human emotions while He was with us, and having your friends leave you in your greatest time of need must have hurt on some level.  

Imagine for a minute, if you were being arrested for a crime you didn't commit.  If the police dragged you past your closest friends, asking if anyone could vouch for you, or even knew you.  Imagine watching as those friends ran away ... or worse ... told the police they had no idea who you were.  If we are being honest with ourselves, we'd be in utter shock. And it would hurt.  A lot.  It is almost impossible to imagine no one sticking up for us, right?

In fact, sometimes I wonder what was more painful for Christ, the physical torture or watching his friends leave Him, deny Him, and then ignore everything He told them.  

I've shared with you before that I enjoy watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ during Holy Week because it helps me appreciate the physical suffering that Jesus endured for us.  But this year, I couldn't help but focus on this other pain He persevered through.  

I must admit, it upset me to think about that.  

But not nearly as much as when I broke out another kind of torture device ... the mirror.  

Realizing that there have been times in my life where I did not stand by Jesus made my solemn thoughts even worse. 

Luckily, the Prince of Peace gives us all second, third, and millionth chances to make it right and follow Him!

God Bless you.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Lifeless Body of the Son She Bore

(Continuing to share the short Stations of the Cross reflections we had at my church...
The style of these reflections is that we imagine what Jesus might say at each station, and then reply with what we should say.  The following is the reflection that accompanied Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross:)

Jesus says:

The sacrifice is done.

Yes, my Mass is complete;
but not my mother's
and not yours, my other self.

My mother still must cradle in her arms
the lifeless body of the son she bore.

You, too, must part from those you love,
and grief will come to you.

In your bereavements think of this:
A multitude of souls were saved
by Mary's sharing in my Calvary.
Your grief can also be the price of souls.

I reply:

I beg you, Lord,
help me accept the partings that must come -
from friends who go away,
children leaving home,
and most of all, 
my dear ones
when you shall call them to yourself.

Then, give me grace to say:
"As it has pleased you, Lord,
to take them home,
I bow to your most holy will.
And if by just one word
I might restore their lives
against your will,
I would not speak."

Grant them eternal joy.

I hope you have a Blessed Triduum.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Is My Soul Worth This Much?

(Continuing to share the short Stations of the Cross reflections we had at my church...
The style of these reflections is that we imagine what Jesus might say at each station, and then reply with what we should say.  The following is the reflection that accompanied Jesus is Crucified:)

Jesus Says:

Can you imagine what a crucifixion is like?

My executioners stretch my arms;
they hold my hands and wrist against the wood
and press the nail until is stabs my flesh.
Then, with one heavy hammer smash,
they drive it through - and pain bursts like a bomb of fire in my brain.

They seize the other arm;
and agony again explodes.

Then, raising up my knees 
so that my feet are flat against the wood, 
they hammer them fast, too.

I reply:

My God,
I look at you and think:
Is my soul worth this much?

What can I give you in return?

I here and now accept for all my life
whatever sickness, torment, agony may come. 
To every cross I touch my lips.

O blessed cross that lets me be -
with you -
a co-redeemer of humanity.

I hope you are all having a Blessed Lent ...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

I, Too, Must Stand and Watch

(Continuing to share the short Stations of the Cross reflections we had at my church...
The style of these reflections is that we imagine what Jesus might say at each station, and then reply with what we should say.  The following is the reflection that accompanied Jesus Meets His Mother:)

Jesus says:

My mother sees me whipped.

She sees me kicked and driven like a beast.

She counts my every wound.

But though her soul cries out in agony,
no protest or complaint escapes her lips
or even enters her thoughts.

She shares my martyrdom - and I share hers.

We hide no pain, 
no sorrow,
from each other's eyes.

This is my Father's will.

I Reply

My Jesus, Lord,
I know what you are telling me.

To watch the pain of those we love
is harder than to bear our own.

To carry my cross after you,
I, too, must stand and watch
the sufferings of my dear ones - 
the heartaches, sicknesses and grief
of those I love.

And I must let them watch mine, too.

I do believe - 
for those who love you
all things work together unto good.

I hope you are all having a Blessed Lent.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Sliver of Cross

We had some beautiful, short reflections at the Stations of the Cross this week, and I will share some of them with you over the next few weeks as we near the Triduum.  

The style of these reflections is that we imagine what Jesus might say at each station, and then reply with what we should say.

Here is the reflection that accompanied Jesus Taking His Cross:

Jesus says:

This cross, this chunk of tree, is what my Father chose for me.

The crosses you must bear are largely products of your daily life.
And yet, my Father chose them, too, for you.

Receive them from His hands.

Take heart, my other self, I will not let your burdens grow one ounce too heavy for your strength.

I reply: 

My Jesus, Lord, I take my daily cross.

I welcome the monotony that often marks my day, discomforts of all kinds, the summer's heat, the winter's cold, my disappointments, tensions, setbacks, cares.

Remind me often that in carrying my cross, I carry yours with you.  

And though I bear only a sliver of your cross,
You carry all of mine, except a sliver, in return.  

I hope you are all having a blessed Lent.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Modern Day Apostle

"Go and proclaim the good news of the Gospel."

And with that, our priest made the sign of the cross in ashes on my forehead.

Meanwhile, in Detroit, the archbishop there asked his followers to "Unleash the Gospel".  He urged them to move from just maintaining the status quo to spreading God's word.  
They are lovely phrases, especially this time of year.  But what does all of that look like, exactly?  

I have one example from my own church.  

Last weekend I was chatting with an elderly man after mass.  He told me that during the week, he sat next to a young woman on a bench in town, and invited her to come to church with him.  

She accepted.

He was coming back to a mass later that day to meet her, and no doubt encourage her to do it again the following week.

When I asked him what made him take action, he turned and said "I just let the Lord work through me."

I then noticed he was holding three large jugs of water.

"Thirsty?", I questioned.

"No, this is holy water.  I am taking it with me to bless those I come across."

"How long will that last, 6 months?", I asked curiously.

"Maybe until next week," he smiled, "If I'm lucky."

He is truly a modern day apostle, and is a wonderful inspiration for me (and hopefully you!) this Holy season.

A Blessed Lent to you and your families.

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.