Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Most Holy Trinity II

We have been branded in the name of the Trinity, and we acclaim the Father, Son and Spirit again and again. 

Every time we make the sign of the cross, we relive our baptism and mark ourselves on behalf of the one God in three persons. We do it at the start of many prayers – and at the start of the greatest prayer, the Mass.

And there is this to remember: we have help. Christ’s concluding statement in the today's Gospel – “I am with you always” – echoes what the angels proclaimed at the time of his birth.

“He will be called Emmanuel. God is with us.”

This Trinity Sunday, we affirm that, and celebrate that.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Most Holy Trinity

The Most Holy Trinity

It is this blessed truth: God does not forsake us. He is with us, “until the end of the age.” He is not detached from us. The God who created us is the same God who suffered with us and redeemed us—and he is the same God who dwells with us now in the Spirit of wisdom and wonder and hope.
Through it all, across the ages, God is with us.

The Trinity is a mystery, yes. But what isn’t a mystery is the reality of God’s love. It is constant. And it goes on—just as the gospel goes on.

That is what Jesus wanted his followers to know.

Friday, May 29, 2015

I want to see

Yesterday's Gospel from Saint Mark has a sightless man who sees Jesus clearly. 

Only blind Bartimaeus correctly identifies Jesus as the long-awaited Son of David. The crowd is annoyed by his shouting, and they sternly order him to be quiet. It’s possible that they’re bothered by his brashness, feeling that blind beggars ought to be seen and not heard — from their perspective, he’s like a homeless person blocking the sidewalk, shaking a cup and asking for spare change. Or maybe they’re nervous because of what he’s saying, fearing that the long arm of the Roman military will bring the hammer down on anyone associated with a Jewish king.

In any case, Bartimaeus will not be silenced. He cries out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” His faith in Jesus will not be crushed by the criticism of the crowd, or by the fear of what Rome might do to someone speaking in such a politically incorrect way. He shows a level of courage in his convictions that is so rare in first-century, not to mention 21st century. He doesn’t care that the people around him are telling him to shut up. And he’s not concerned about the punishment he might receive for speaking openly about his faith. He just does it.

And the result? Jesus stops in his tracks and says, “Call him here.”

You get the feeling that the crowd goes silent at this point, surprised that a celebrity like Jesus would respond to the shrieks of a blind man sitting in the dirt. It’s as though a million-megawatt movie star is actually taking the time to talk to some nobody on the other side of the velvet rope. But the crowd passes the word to the blind man, and he responds by throwing off his cloak and springing up to meet Jesus.

Blind Bartimaeus knows that Jesus is the real deal. The true Son of David. A person with authentic mercy and awe-inspiring might — not some feel-good advertising icon. He’s so excited that he springs up and comes to Jesus, which is an act of real faithfulness for a man who can’t see where he is going.

“What do you want me to do for you?” asks Jesus when they are standing face to face.

That’s an intriguing question, don’t you think? Bartimaeus is a beggar, so he could’ve asked for a bag of gold. He’s got no status in the community, so he could’ve asked for the respect of others. He’s unemployed, so he could’ve asked for a job. He’s made his mistakes in life, so he could’ve asked for forgiveness.

“What do you want me to do for you?” is the question that Jesus puts before him. It’s open-ended. Non-directive. A blank check, just waiting to be filled in.

How would you respond, if you were blind Bartimaeus?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bear a likeness to Jesus

2015-05-26 L’Osservatore Romano

A Christian’s wage is that she bears a “likeness to Jesus”: there is no reward in cash or in power for one who truly follows the Lord, because the path is only that of service and giving freely. If we seek instead “good deal” in worldly terms of “wealth, vanity and pride”, our “head swells” and we bear “counter-testimony” in the Church. This is the temptation that Pope Francis cautioned against on Tuesday, 26 May, during Mass at Santa Marta.

The Pontiff’s meditation was inspired by the day’s Reading, taken from the Gospel according to Mark (10:28-31). It recounts the “dialogue between Peter and Jesus”, which the Pope explained, takes place just after the encounter with “that young man who wanted to follow Jesus: he was good, Jesus loved him”. However, the Lord “told him that he lacked one thing: that he should sell all he had” in order to give it “to the poor: ‘you will have treasure in heaven’”. But hearing those words, “that young man’s countenance fell and he went away sorrowful”.

Thus, the Pope continued, “Jesus resumes the discourse and says to his disciples: ‘How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God”. And “the disciples were amazed at his words”. But “Jesus resumes and says to them: ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.

Here we arrive at the passage from Tuesday’s liturgy, with Peter assuring Jesus: “Lo, we have left everything and followed you’”. It is as if to say: “What about us? What will our wage be? We have left everything”. In other words, “the rich who have left nothing — that young man who did not want to leave his possessions — will not enter the kingdom of God”, but what about us? “What will our wage be?”.

The issue, Francis pointed out, is that “the disciples half-understood Jesus, because knowing Jesus fully happened when the Holy Spirit came”. In fact, Jesus responds to them: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time”, but these along “with persecutions”. In other words, “Jesus responds by pointing in another direction” and not promising “the same riches that that young man had”. Precisely in “having many brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, possessions is inheriting the kingdom, but with persecution, with the cross. And this changes”.

Here is why, the Pope explained, “when a Christian is attached to possessions, he gives the bad impression of a Christian who wants to have two things: heaven and earth”. And “the touchstone is exactly what Jesus says: the cross, persecutions, imply self-denial, enduring the cross every day”.

For their part, “the disciples had this temptation: to follow Jesus, but then how will this good deal turn out?”. And, Francis added, “let’s think about James and John’s mother, when she asked Jesus for a position for her sons: ‘Ah, make this one prime minister for me, that one the minister of finance’”. There was “worldly interest in following Jesus”: but then “the heart of these disciples was purified, purified, purified until Pentecost, when they understood everything”.

“Gratuitousness in following Jesus is the response to the gratuitous love and the salvation that Jesus gives us”, the Pontiff continued. “When one wants to follow both Jesus and the world, both poverty and wealth”, the outcome is “halfway Christianity, which seeks material gain: it is the spirit of worldliness”. And “that Christian, the Prophet Elijah said, ‘limps on two legs’ because “he doesn’t know what he wants”.

Thus, Pope Francis indicated, “the key to understanding this discourse of Jesus — yes, a hundredfold more, but with the cross — is the last phrase: ‘many that are first will be last, and the last first’”. In other words, “the one that speaks of of service: ‘One who believes himself to be, or who is the greatest among you, makes himself the servant: the smallest’”. By no coincidence, the Pope recalled, speaking these words Jesus “picked up that child and showed him”.

“Following Jesus from a human point of view is not a good deal: it means service”, the Pontiff continued. After all, that is exactly what “He did: and if the Lord gives you the chance to be first, you must behave as the last, that is, by serving. And if the Lord gives you the chance to have possessions, you must place them in service, that is, for others”.

“There are three things, three steps that separate us from Jesus: wealth, vanity and pride”, the Pope stated. This is why, he explained, “possessions are so dangerous: they lead you immediately to vanity, and you believe you are important”; but “when you believe you are important, your head swells and you become lost”. This is the reason that Jesus reminds us of the path: “many that are first will be last, and he who is first among you will make himself the servant of all”. It is “a path of divesting”, the same path that “He took”.

“For Jesus, this work of catecheses to the disciples cost a really great deal of time, because they didn’t understand well”. Thus today, Francis recommended, “we too must ask Him: teach us this path, this science of service, this science of humility, this science of being last in order to serve the brothers and sisters of the Church”.

The Pontiff described it as “unseemly to see a Christian — whether lay, consecrated, priest or bishop — who wants both things: to follow Jesus and possessions, to follow Jesus and worldliness”. It is “counter-testimony” which “separates people from Jesus”. Before continuing with the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope suggested more reflection on Peter’s question: “We have left everything: how are You going to pay us?”. Francis also reminded us remember Jesus’ response, because the pay “He will give us is the likeness to Him: this will be our ‘wage’”. And “likeness to Jesus”, he concluded, is a “great wage”.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Modern Saint

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world.

Born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, his time on earth was short-only 24 years-but he filled it passionately with holy living. Pier Giorgio was a model of virtue, a "man of the beatitudes," as Saint John Paul II called him at his beatification ceremony in Rome on May 20, 1990. He was described by friends as "an explosion of joy." As Pier Giorgio's sister, Luciana, says of her brother in her biography of him, "He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful."

To our modern world, Pier Giorgio's life offers a life rich in meaning, purpose, and peace derived from faith in God. From the earliest age, and despite two unreligious parents who misunderstood and disapproved of his piety and intense interest in Catholicism, Pier Giorgio placed Christ first in all that he did. These parental misunderstandings, which were very painful to him, persisted until the day of his sudden death of polio. However, he bore this treatment patiently, silently, and with great love.

Pier Giorgio prayed a daily rosary on his knees by his bedside. Often his agnostic father would find him asleep in this position. "He gave his whole self, both in prayer and in action, in service to Christ," Luciana Frassati writes. After Pier Giorgio began to attend Jesuit school as a boy, he received a rare permission in those days to take communion daily. "Sometimes he passed whole nights in Eucharistic adoration." For Pier Giorgio, Christ was the answer. Therefore, all of his action was oriented toward Christ and began first in contemplation of Him. With this interest in the balance of contemplation and action, it is no wonder why Pier Giorgio was drawn at the age of 21 to the Fraternities of St. Dominic. In becoming a tertiary, Pier Giorgio chose the name "Girolamo" (Jerome) after his personal hero, Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery Dominican preacher and reformer during the Renaissance in Florence. Pier Giorgio once wrote to a friend, "I am a fervent admirer of this friar (Savonarola), who died as a saint at the stake."

Pier Giorgio was handsome, vibrant, and natural. These attractive characteristics drew people to him. He had many good friends and he shared his faith with them with ease and openness. He engaged himself in many different apostolates. Pier Giorgio also loved sports. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hiking, riding horses, skiing, and mountain climbing. He was never one to pass on playing a practical joke, either. He relished laughter and good humor.

As Luciana points out, "Catholic social teaching could never remain simply a theory with Pier Giorgio." He set his faith concretely into action through spirited political activism during the Fascist period in World War I Italy. He lived his faith, too, through discipline with his school work, which was a tremendous cross for him as he was a poor student. Most notably, however, Pier Giorgio (like the Dominican St. Martin de Porres) lived his faith through his constant, humble, mostly hidden service to the poorest of Turin. Although Pier Giorgio grew up in a privileged environment, he never lorded over anyone the wealth and prestige of his family. Instead, he lived simply and gave away food, money, or anything that anyone asked of him. It is suspected that he contracted from the very people to whom he was ministering in the slums the polio that would kill him.

Even as Pier Giorgio lay dying, his final week of rapid physical deterioration was an exercise in heroic virtue. His attention was turned outward toward the needs of others and he never drew attention to his anguish, especially since his own grandmother was dying at the same time he was. Pier Giorgio's heart was surrendered completely to God's will for him. His last concern was for the poor. On the eve of his death, with a paralyzed hand, he scribbled a message to a friend, reminding the friend not to forget the injections for Converso, a poor man Pier Giorgio had been assisting.

When news of Pier Giorgio's death on July 4, 1925 reached the neighborhood and city, the Frassati parents, who had no idea about the generous self-donation of their young son, were astonished by the sight of thousands of people crowded outside their mansion on the day of their son's funeral Mass and burial. The poor, the lonely, and those who had been touched by Pier Giorgio's love and faithful example had come to pay homage to this luminous model of Christian living.

Pier Giorgio's mortal remains were found incorrupt in 1981 and were transferred from the family tomb in the cemetery of Pollone to the Cathedral of Turin.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


WE are at the end of seven weeks (49 days) of the Easter season. And we find ourselves on Pentecost (from the Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], "the Fiftieth [day]").

Our greater feasts (solemnities) have vigil celebrations and Pentecost is one of them.

Pentecost celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples as they waited in prayer, at the Lord's instruction (Acts 1:4-5), after he ascended into heaven. Pentecost is also sometimes called "the birthday of the Church."

This feast is an occasion for us to reflect on the presence, power and gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the life of each one of us - and on the Spirit's desire that we all be one in the Body of Christ.

I encourage you to prepare for celebrating Pentecost by reading and reflecting on the scriptures for this feast.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Sunday Word - Pentecost

If you were a Buddhist, your big day would be Buddha’s birthday which falls on April 8th this year — but there are no Buddha birthday cards at the store and, even if there were, they’d probably be ignored in favor of more enlightenment. 

Mormons celebrate “Pioneer Day” on July 24 — the date in 1847 when Brigham Young and his followers pushed their handcarts over the mountains to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. There,Young proclaimed, “This is the place.” The whole state shuts down that day with parades and celebrations. For the Latter Day Saints, it’s a bigger occasion for parades, fireworks, and jell-o based casseroles than Christmas and the Fourth of July combined. And yet, no card.

Up the hill in Park City, Utah, celebrities engage in the annual January festival of camera lights called Sundance, while in Native-American culture, the Sun Dance is the time of thanksgiving for the harvest. Lots of dancing in both places — but no cards.

Hindus do Diwali, Sikhs get down on Guru Nanak’s Day, and pagans celebrate Samhain on October 31 by leaving out food for the dead. Interesting stuff, but still not card-worthy.

The Judeo-Christian tradition has similar holy days that aren’t considered to be Hallmark holidays. While Hanukkah and Yom Kippur are great Jewish holidays, the Feast of Weeks, doesn’t make the card cut. And while Christmas is the ultimate card-sending event and Easter a feast of chocolate bunnies, Christians and card writers tend to look past Pentecost.

Now, you’d think a greeting card giant like Hallmark would be all over this holiday. After all, what’s not to like? You got your fire, your wind, your speaking in other languages, your birth of one of the great religious movements in history, your built-in holiday Spirit — all the stuff that makes for a memorable event. It even lends itself to great slogans like “Hope you get fired up this Pentecost” or “More (Holy Spirit) power to ya!”

But the shelves of your local greeting card merchant are empty of Pentecost cards.

Pentecost was the catalyst for the explosive growth of the church as the Spirit moved among them. That same Spirit would move many of those same people into dangerous and deadly situations where they were forced to rely fully on the Spirit indwelling Christ — the only “Advocate” they would have in front of mobs and murderous monarchs. While we may not be called to give up our lives in the same way as they did, if we take the Spirit seriously as the guide for our lives we may find ourselves living quite uncomfortably. Jesus promised the Spirit, but he didn’t promise that life would be easy.

Given the work laid before those first disciples and their mission, which we continue as their spiritual descendants, we might look at Pentecost as being a true “holy day.”  The coming of the Spirit is present, active reality — one that motivates us to work, to act, to represent Jesus to the world. You just can’t confine that to one day a year. Sure, we need to gather on Pentecost Sunday and be reminded. But, then again, every day should be a new Pentecost: a fresh wind of the Spirit and a firing up of our desire to serve God with our whole hearts.

Don’t need a card for that!

Friday, May 22, 2015

EASTER - Speak to me as you did to Mary

Sometimes, Lord,
my heart aches for a message,
looks for an angel, 
strains and listens for
a much-needed word from you...

My heart waits to hear what you speak
to my life and my worries,
my fears and confusion,
my decisions and choices... 

My heart waits 
for tidings of encouragement 
and for a word of wisdom and counsel
to strengthen and empower me,
to guide my way and guard me...

My heart waits to hear you say,
Don't be afraid... I'm with you...
I'm always with you... I'll never leave you...
I'm beside you, before you and behind you,
above you, below you, within you...

My soul strains to hear you say:
You've found favor with me...
I care for you... I care about you...
I watch out for you...
I keep a place in my heart for you,
a place to hold you...

Send me an angel, Lord:
come speak in my heart
the word I need to hear...

Speak to me as you did to Mary:
when I'm not expecting you...
when I'm confused and don't understand...
when I'm not sure what you want of me...
when I'm afraid of what tomorrow may bring...

Fill my heart with your grace, Lord,
to help me welcome every messenger
who comes to speak your word to me,
the word you know I need to hear...


- A Concord Pastor Comments

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

EASTER - Our Newest Saints

During his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the Book of Acts’ account of the election of Matthias to replace Judas as one of the Twelve Apostles in being “a witness to Jesus’ resurrection.”

The Pope observed that many people believed in the Resurrection through the testimony of these witnesses, and Christian communities were born.

The pontiff said that the faith in the risen Lord which exists today is based upon the Apostles’ witness passed down through the Church’s mission.

“Our faith is firmly linked to their testimony, as to an unbroken chain which spans the centuries, made up not only by the successors of the Apostles, but also by succeeding generations of Christians,” he said.

Pope Francis added that all those who follow Christ are called to be witnesses to the Resurrection, “above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident.”

“If this is to happen, we need to remain in the risen Christ and in his love,” the pontiff explained.

The Pope reflected on how each of the newly canonized women bore witness to Christ’s Resurrection by abiding in his love and promoting unity among Christians.

Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve (1811-1854), was the French foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres.

In his homily, the Holy Father observed how she “consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love.”

Sister Maria Cristina Brando (1856-1906) was an Italian religious who founded the Congregation of the Sisters, Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning of the 20th century.

“She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord,” the Pope said. “From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love.”

Pope Francis spoke also of the two Palestinian women canonized during Sunday’s Mass.

Sister Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878), a mystic and stigmatic also known as Mary Jesus Crucified, was the Palestine-born foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem. She and her family were members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. As a vowed religious, she spent time in France and India before helping to found the Carmelite congregation in Bethlehem in 1875.

“Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant conversation with the Holy Spirit,” the pontiff said. “Her docility to the Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world.”

The fourth newly canonized saint, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), was a Turco-British Palestinian and co-foundress of the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters. Born in Palestine, she spent much of her life in Bethlehem and its area, assisting the poor and establishing schools and orphanages.

As the pontiff explained, she understood “clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another.”

Pope Francis stressed the importance of unity in witness to the resurrected Jesus, reflecting on the day’s gospel reading in which Jesus prays “that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17: 11).

“An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father,” the Pope said.

He concluded his homily by inviting the faithful to imitate the four new saints, praying that we may “take with us the joy of this encounter with the risen Lord,” cultivating “in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love.”

At the end of Mass around noon, Pope Francis delivered a short pre-Regina Caeli address. He greeted all the pilgrims and delegates from Palestine, France, Italy, Israel, and Jordan present for the canonizations.

“Through their intercession, the Lord will grant a new missionary impulse to their respective countries of origin,” he said.

“Inspired by their example of mercy, of charity, and of reconciliation, Christians from these lands look with hope to the future, continuing on the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence.”

The four newest saints showed how “to abide in God and in his love, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the Resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all,” the pontiff said in his May 17 homily

The Pope’s words came during the canonization Mass of Saint Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve, Saint Maria Cristina Brando, Saint Mariam Baouardy, and Saint Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas in Saint Peter’s Square.

These women–two Palestinians, a Frenchwoman, and an Italian–offered a “luminous example” challenging the lives of Christians, he said.

“How do I bear witness to the risen Christ? How do I abide in him? How do I remain in his love? Am I capable of ‘sowing’ in my family, in my workplace and in my community, the seed of that unity which he has bestowed on us by giving us a share in the life of the Trinity?” Pope Francis asked.

Tens of thousands of people took part in the Sunday morning Mass, as tapestries bearing the images of the new saints hung from the facade of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

EASTER - Tuesday Tunes

Rivers and stones and the trees of the field, they sing in the night
And a thousand tongues lay deep in your lungs to raise to the sky 

Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God. 
Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God. 

Deep in your heart you feather and tar your folly and fear:
Expose them all for the fools they are, and the world becomes clear. 

Don't lie to yourself, O my soul, just love your God. 
Don't lie to yourself, O my soul, just love your God. 

Love your God. Your worries will never love you 
They'll leave you all alone But your God will not forsake you O my soul, my soul. 

Don't lie to yourself, O my soul - love your God. 
Don't lie to yourself, O my soul, just love your God. Love your God.

Monday, May 18, 2015

EASTER - Marianist Monday

Marianist spirituality celebrates the relationship between Jesus and his mother, Mary. Mary’s acceptance of God’s call to become the Mother of God is the foundational moment of Christianity. Through Mary’s “yes,” the Word became human and dwells among us. Mary’s “yes” made this possible!

Mary stands with Jesus through his life and ministry. She is mother; woman of courageous faith; disciple of the Lord; prophetess of radical freedom.

This woman of radical obedience and freedom calls Marianists to be a people of hospitality who gratefully share their faith and their community. It is through our participation in her mission that we educate youth, serve the poor, and promote peace, social justice, and the integrity of creation in our communities and institutions. All members of the Marianist Family listen with their hearts to Mary’s words at Cana: Do whatever He tells you.

Blessed Chaminade believed Christian communities needed to bring the story of Jesus and the Good News to life through their daily activities and ministries. Mary, the Mother of God, was the model for his renewed faith formation. In Mary, he saw Christian discipleship, simplicity and hospitality. Father Chaminade thought an “alliance with Mary” would transform the Church.

Marianists strive to be like Mary—and those Marianists who are professed religious take the vow of stability, which grounds their special devotion to Mary and their desire to make her mission, to bring Christ to the world, ever more known.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word II

"God is love." How many times have we said that without really considering what "love" actually is, what love really entails? This sermon examines some of the ways the church is called to embody love, and the binding and loosing power of love.

Today's readings finger love as the most characteristic manifestation of God we can ourselves imitate. Unfortunately "love" has also become one of the most maudlin and meaningless words in our vocabulary. The American Heritage Dictionary defines love as: an "intense affection and warm feeling for another person; strong sexual desire for another person) a strong fondness or enthusiasm; or a zero score in tennis."

The sacrificial, incarnational nature of Christ-like love has been lost amid our claims that we "love" our favorite soft drink, baseball team, or partner-of-the-moment. Love has become such a nebulous, fuzzy, catch-all term that we resist thinking about what must be present for true love to exist and to flourish - for love to be able to "bear fruit."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word

It is an amazing world we live in. For some it appears chaotic, futile, gutless. 
But for Christians the view is completely different. Members of the Body of Christ have already found the guts and toes for their lives: "As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me."

But the quality of oneness that Jesus prays for in Sunday's Gospel doesn't necessarily tie Christians down to a singleness of time, of place or even thought. Remaining a truly Christ-centered, Gospel- witnessing, spirit-directed church doesn't mean we must shut out of our lives the world and all its divisive noise. Unity of faithfulness doesn't come at the cost of our connectedness to the world. Jesus rejects this easy way out for his disciples. As he addresses God, Jesus first admits, "I am not asking you to take them out of the world,"  but then immediately acknowledges that his disciples "do not belong to the world."  Obviously the path lies somewhere in between. We are called, it seems, to be in the world. Not of it. But not out of it either.

We need to hear that again. The church as the Body of Christ is called to be in the world, not of it, but not out of it either. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

EASTER - Our mission is to hear God's voice

The feast of the Ascension is a strange celebration.

We celebrate the loss of Jesus from the Earth – the end of his earthly bodily ministry.

BUT – if we read the Gospel again we don’t actually get the feeling that the disciples were particularly glum! In fact the reading we had from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24 ends with these verses 

“While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple blessing God.”

That sounds really good, actually.

Light years away from a family returning home to deal with a newly empty place at the table.

They returned to Jerusalem WITH GREAT JOY.

So, what had happened?

It seems that, as they obeyed the angels and turned their gaze back from the clouds to engage with the world once more, something shifted inside them.

They were now people of purpose.

They had been disciples, - students learning from the Master.

Now they were apostles – people sent by him, people who knew their calling, their God given task in the world and trusted that God would indeed equip them to fulfil it.

Before being taken to be with God (however that was accomplished) Jesus charged the Apostles to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.

And because they were in no way up to the task, Jesus made them another promise

- the promise of ‘power from on high’ – the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, the comforter, the advocate, the helper. The Spirit was to be poured out in a new way, to give authority and power to their message and equip them for all they were to do.

That is why they weren’t torn by this parting – Jesus was leaving, but he was staying.

The Spirit would bring that sense of Christ into every moment – just as he had said it would.

The last thing that Jesus did before he ascended was to bless that little group huddled on the hillside.

He blessed them, not to remain there but to go and do his work in the world

That was their mission.

That is our mission.

In the meantime, we have to trust, to rely on faith, to be willing to do what God would have us do.

It means, sometimes, waiting on God, as the Apostles waited for the coming of the Spirit.

It means being open to hear God’s voice.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Ascension

This picture combines two of Dali’s abiding interests of the 1950's: his obsession with a mystic form of Catholicism and his fascination with nuclear physics. 

The painting is dated 1958 and belongs to a series of images of Christ that came to Dalí in a dream in 1950. Inspired by the nucleus of an atom, the artist imagined Christ’s ascent unifying heaven and earth. The sunflower-like corona of the atom overlaps the divine sphere of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the dove with outstretched wings. Though Christ’s body is recumbent, his hands rise tensely on either side. 

As was Dalí’s custom, he has positioned the figure of Christ so as to obscure his features. These are mirrored, however, by the portrait of Gala—the artist’s wife and muse—that hovers above the composition.

Salvador Dalí. The Ascension of Christ, 1958. Oil on canvas. Pérez Simón Collection.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

EASTER - Mary in Our Life

Mary in Our Life 

By the gift of faith, 
the Virgin Mary totally opened herself 
to the mission the Father 
gave her in his plan of salvation. 

Jesus was formed in her by the Holy Spirit. 

He willed her to be the promised Woman, 
sharing in all his mysteries. 
When his hour had come, 
he proclaimed her our Mother.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

EASTER - A Mother's Day Psalm

A Prayer While Doing Laundry: A Mother’s Day Psalm

I find you so close to me right here, dear Lord.

Surrounded by the dirt and scattered clothing of my family, I find this an ideal spot to pray with you. No one comes near here so it is quiet, and it gives me a chance to reflect on the many blessings of my life.

As I pick up their clothing and sort it, I ask you to give each of them what is needed most in their lives.

I fill the washer with my husband’s shirts and socks, and ask that you bless him as he wears them to work each day. Give him the grace to see that his work is holy and open his eyes to see the sacredness of each moment of life.

As I sort the tiny socks or the overalls of the children, I smile and remember how blessed I am to have them in my life.

I sort the larger teenage clothing and wonder at how fast these clothes have become larger sizes – and how quickly children grow up. I ask your help as I guide them through each new phase of their lives.

Give me a love that is endless, a heart that forgives them and the humility to ask for their forgiveness when that is right. Help me keep them from danger, and help me to let go and trust you when it is time to do that.

I try so hard to be perfect but lead me to remember that it is here in the smudged, disorganized and disheveled part of life that I find you the nearest.

Thank you, dearest Lord, for so much grace in my life!


– Source: Creighton University.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word

No one has greater love than this…

Within a few days we will have read all of chapter 15 in John’s gospel – but not verse by verse. Throughout the chapter, back and forth, in and out, John calls our attention to the fundamental theme of all the gospels - LOVE. Maybe with this or that verse, I will hear Jesus’s repeated invitation to fall into Love, to live in Love.

To know, taste and feel the strength of Love – all in the midst of my humanity, my life.

Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J. once wrote about being covered with fingerprints- God’s fingerprints. Fingerprints are unique. Using proper equipment the owner of the fingerprint can be identified. Whose fingerprints are these? Who was here? Who disturbed or intruded? Who ventured in to clean up the mess, to set things right? Who went through my personal possessions? Who rifled my heart? Whose fingerprints cover me? How would anyone know?

Recently 3 of our youngest grandchildren came for a visit. Twin 15 month old boys and their 4 yr old sister. Holy, sacred, blessed chaos reigned from the moment they entered through the front door until the moment they left through the back door. Laughter and tears, peaceful sleep and restless sleeplessness, exuberance and exhaustion - life was especially lifey, rich and abundant in our home that week. A garden of earthy delights!

They left and our home was eerily silent and still, yet vibrating, smeared and sticky with their presence. Children and grandchildren, left prints – theirs and God’s -everywhere! Colored chalk on the driveway, mud where James finger-painted the side of the house. Thomas’ footprints on budding plants. Chocolate where Penelope dripped icing onto the linen cloth. Fingerprinted hand-blown Easter eggs drowned in dye – keepsakes now. The cat’s nose smudges on the breakfast room’s window. She lived in a constant state of vulnerability as she watched their every move. Little and big fingerprints on glass doors and windows, on walls and furniture – everywhere. The intentional ink mark on the hall closet door indicating each one’s growth. How they grown! There is even a print of a morning dove that flew into and bounced off a kitchen window. No permanent damage to the bird or the window and we had our own Holy Advocate!

My favorite prints are the translucent ones on the glass backdoor. As the sun shines through, each fingerprint glistens and each little line vivid and vibrant. I see not only the print, but my heart warms to presence – theirs and God’s. In being who they are meant to be they leave a print – on the window, in our home and in my heart. Each print is meaningful. I feel James’ off-hand swipe, delight in Thomas’ pudgy little hand reaching to hold mine, and Penelope’s offering the stem-less flower bud. Their death-grip good-by hugs bring tears of joy. The love letter Maggie wrote to her deceased Great- Granny fills me with deep gratitude. All freely given and joyfully received. Whose fingerprints are these? The children’s of course, but God’s most definitely. They have Love smeared and stuck all over them.

I like to think, and I pray God’s fingerprints are on me and the prints I leave behind are just as noticeably God’s prints. These children make leaving behind a trail of God’s loving fingerprints seem so easy. For me, leaving behind a trail of God’s fingerprints is not easy, but God’s prints are readily identifiable. It is God who intrudes and rifles my heart. It is God who sets things right. God dwells among us. God dwells in me. God’s fingerprints are everywhere.

The Good-News: God’s love-ly fingerprints are smeared and permanently stuck to me. I just have to stand where the light can shine through.
No one has greater love than this…

Happy Mother’s Day

by Joan Blandin Howard
Christian Spirituality Program

Friday, May 8, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.

For Jesus, “laying down” his life meant a painful physical sacrifice. We may never be called to do that for another, but there are lots of ways of laying down our lives that don’t involve death or organ donation. We may need to amputate our personal ambitions in order to do what’s best for our families. We might be called to give sacrificially of our hard-earned money in order to care for someone who is experiencing a crushing need. We may experience a call to give up a lucrative career in order to pursue a ministry that serves people the rest of the world has forgotten. 

There are a thousand ways we can lay down our lives on behalf of Jesus, but we’ll only be able to do it if we are willing to receive his love for us. We can’t earn it, only receive it and allow it to transform us. It’s only then that we, as friends of Jesus, will be able to “bear fruit” that will last.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

EASTER - Mary, Mother of Mercy

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us O holy Mother of God,

that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

For centuries, Christians all over the world have cried out to the Blessed Virgin Mary with these words, placing themselves under her tender care as "Mother of Mercy." 

We hear a clear echo of this cry in the life of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, especially in that beautiful and tender passage in her diary where Mary encourages us all to approach her as a merciful mother:
Once, the confessor told me to pray for his intention, and I began a novena to the Mother of God. This novena consisted in the prayer "Hail, Holy Queen" recited nine times. Toward the end of the novena I saw the Mother of God with the Infant Jesus in her arms. ... I could not stop wondering at His beauty. ... I heard a few of the words that the Mother of God spoke. ... The words were: "I am not only the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of Mercy, and your Mother" (Diary of St. Faustina, 330).
Mary is truly our Mother of tender compassion, our "Mother of Mercy." 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

EASTER - Missionaries of Mercy

The full text of the papal bull announcing the Jubilee of Mercy was published several days ago, and is now available on the Jubilee of Mercy website. There are a number of specific, concrete details worth noting:

The initiative of “24 Hours for the Lord,” to be celebrated on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth Week of Lent, should be implemented in every diocese. So many people, including the youth, are returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; through this experience they are rediscovering a path back to the Lord, living a moment of intense prayer and finding meaning in their lives. Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands. For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace.

I will never tire of insisting that confessors be authentic signs of the Father’s mercy. We do not become good confessors automatically. We become good confessors when, above all, we allow ourselves to be penitents in search of his mercy. Let us never forget that to be confessors means to participate in the very mission of Jesus to be a concrete sign of the constancy of divine love that pardons and saves. We priests have received the gift of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, and we are responsible for this. None of us wields power over this Sacrament; rather, we are faithful servants of God’s mercy through it. Every confessor must accept the faithful as the father in the parable of the prodigal son: a father who runs out to meet his son despite the fact that he has squandered away his inheritance. Confessors are called to embrace the repentant son who comes back home and to express the joy of having him back again. Let us never tire of also going out to the other son who stands outside, incapable of rejoicing, in order to explain to him that his judgment is severe and unjust and meaningless in light of the father’s boundless mercy. May confessors not ask useless questions, but like the father in the parable, interrupt the speech prepared ahead of time by the prodigal son, so that confessors will learn to accept the plea for help and mercy gushing from the heart of every penitent. In short, confessors are called to be a sign of the primacy of mercy always, everywhere, and in every situation, no matter what.

During Lent of this Holy Year, I intend to send out Missionaries of Mercy. They will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer. They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon. They will be missionaries of mercy because they will be facilitators of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again. They will be led in their mission by the words of the Apostle: “For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom 11:32). Everyone, in fact, without exception, is called to embrace the call to mercy. May these Missionaries live this call with the assurance that they can fix their eyes on Jesus, “the merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Heb2:17).

I ask my brother Bishops to invite and welcome these Missionaries so that they can be, above all, persuasive preachers of mercy. May individual dioceses organize “missions to the people” in such a way that these Missionaries may be heralds of joy and forgiveness. Bishops are asked to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with their people so that the time of grace offered by the Jubilee Year will make it possible for many of God’s sons and daughters to take up once again the journey to the Father’s house. May pastors, especially during the liturgical season of Lent, be diligent in calling back the faithful “to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace” (Heb 4:16).

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

EASTER - Tuesday Tunes

God's love is constant and unyielding.

In the cross God showed a reckless disregard for appearances, for propriety, for appropriately restrained behavior. The cross demonstrates the enveloping totality of God's love for us - a love that extended above and beyond all the traditional norms of the human capacity to love.

Paul returns again and again to the cross - its ugliness and its power - in direct opposition to the sensibilities of the Corinthian church members. These early Christians were already embroiled in the age-old game of church politics. They were bickering among themselves, pitting this faction against that, and each was trying to win support (like Paul's) to their own "side."

Monday, May 4, 2015

EASTER - Marianist Monday

May, 2015

My dear friends in college . . . and beyond,

Walt Disney and those who build on his legacy have much to teach us!

A few weeks ago, I returned from Chaminade’s Senior Class Trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It’s the fourth such trip that I have been privileged to chaperone.

Over those four years, I have learned a great deal about the Walt Disney Company, which is arguably the largest, most well-known entertainment empire the world has ever seen. In fact, three years ago, Fr. Garret and I were one of the fortunate few to take a “Keys to the Kingdom” six-hour backstage tour of the Magic Kingdom. That tour certainly ranks among the highlights of my Disney experiences.

I’d like to share with you three simple ideas that, it seems to me, permeate everything that bears the name “Disney.” All three have proven themselves highly effective marketing strategies for the Disney Company. On an entirely different level, however, I believe that all three ideas have much to teach us about life with Christ.

When Fr. Garrett and I took that “Keys to the Kingdom” Tour back in the spring of 2013, our tour guide, Bea, reminded us over and over again of Walt Disney’s personal motto: “Everything speaks.” “Everything speaks” soon became the motto for Disney theme parks all over the globe, and every Disney employee – or “cast member,” as Disney’s employees call themselves – has been thoroughly indoctrinated in all the corollaries and consequences of these simple two words.

“Everything speaks.” Apparently, Walt Disney was a fanatic about details. (I knew that there was something about this guy I liked!) He understood that every detail of this theme parks – no matter how small – contributed to the overall positive (or negative) experience that guests would have when they visited, first, Disneyland, and later, Disney World and the other Disney parks throughout the world. The courtesy of the cast members, the cleanliness of the parks, the freshness of the paint job, the beauty of the landscaping – everything – every last little detail – mattered. Among the many fascinating stories we heard, Bea regaled us with one particularly telling tale about Disneyland’s opening day on July 17, 1955. On that day, Walt Disney and several of his staff members stood at the entrance to Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A. and distributed a piece of hard candy to each of the guests who passed through the gates. Shortly afterwards, Walt himself grabbed a tape measure and noted the distance from the park entrance to the first cellophane candy wrapper he found on the pavement – thirty feet. To this day, that’s the distance between trash cans in all five Disney resorts around the world.

“Everything speaks.” Everything matters. Because we believe in an incarnational God, we Christians know the profound truth of these two words. Nothing – no matter how ordinary, no matter how humble, no matter how “lowly” – lies beyond the reach of our loving God. He was born in a stable. His disciples were common fishermen. He seemed to have a special predilection for children, for outcasts, and for sinners. He changed ordinary bread and wine into His precious Body and Blood. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mathew 25: 40)

“This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what He gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.” (John 6:39)

Everything and everyone mattered to Jesus. They still do.

“Everything speaks.” As we heed the call of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis to embark on the “New Evangelization,” we would do well to remember that “everything speaks.” The kindness of our words, the thoughtfulness of our deeds, the inner truth of our actions, and even something as simple as the smile we wear all have an enormous power to draw our fellow men and women to Christ and the joy of the Gospel. As Blessed William Joseph Chaminade counseled, we are called to impart “a Christian lesson by every word, by every gesture, by every look.” (Constitutions of the Society of Mary, 1839)

It’s so easy to compartmentalize our lives and to exclude Christ from some of the yet unevangelized corners of our own hearts. But Christ wants to saturate our lives, to penetrate every last fiber of our being. And He won’t stop trying, no matter how many times we fail or fall short. He is always willing to forgive us, always willing to embrace us in mercy and in love. To Christ, everything matters, and so it must to us.

Disney’s entertainment empire stands as a testimony to the power of the imagination. From talking tiki birds to swashbuckling animatrons to dancing fountains and fireworks, Disney’s “imagineers” have mined the depths of their creativity to create a world in which the impossible becomes – well – possible.

Christ calls us to tap into our imagination and see the world though His eyes. It’s a world in which a woman known for her infidelity stands as one of the faithful few at the foot of the Cross. Imagine that kind of world – a world in which a man who denies Jesus three times in craven fear becomes the solid rock upon which Christ builds His Church. Picture a Church whose fiercest persecutor becomes its foremost evangelizer. Imagine five loaves and fish feeding five-thousand of the Lord’s followers. Imagine a God who loves us – who loves me – so much that He died on a Cross to redeem me from the power of sin and death. Imagine a God who rose from the dead, as a promise that we too would rise from the dead and enjoy eternal life.

Sometimes, I think, we lack religious imagination. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, however, empower us to dream big. And dream big we indeed must, because those dreams have a sure foundation on the promises of Jesus Christ.

I began this letter by recalling some fond memories of the “Keys of the Kingdom” Tour. Indeed, Walt Disney and his collaborators have built a vast kingdom – a Magic Kingdom – founded on the power of the imagination and their steadfast determination to create “the happiest place on earth.” With all due respect to the Disney Company, however, I would argue that we who follow Christ know of an even happier kingdom. It is Christ’s Kingdom – already perfect in Heaven, and reflected here on earth – however imperfectly – among all the inhabitants of the world, in our Church, and in our hearts. It is a kingdom in which everything speaks of Christ’s almost unimaginable mercy and love. The glorious mystery of it all is that the unimaginable has become not merely imaginable, but real. It is the sure and firm promise of life in Christ in this world and in the next.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Let us build the Kingdom of God right here on earth, right in our midst!

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, peace and prayers,

Bro. Steve

P.S. As we work to build God’s Kingdom on earth, we pray for the grace to be strong and courageous. “Be Strong and Courageous” – that’s the theme of our upcoming college-age retreat. I’m very much looking forward to building on the energy, enthusiasm, and candor of our college-age retreat this past January. Our next retreat will be at Founder’s Hollow. We’ll leave from Chaminade on Tuesday, May 19, at 4:00 p.m., and we’ll return to Chaminade on Thursday, May 21 by 3:00 p.m. I hope that you will join us!!!!!!

Register by going to:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

EASTER - Fifth Sunday

The scriptures this week introduce us to someone we don’t hear about very much—but he is critically important to Christianity and, I think, to the times in which we live.

I’m speaking of St. Barnabas.

The reading from Acts describes how he, in effect, took Paul under his wing—in part to protect him from frightened Christians, but also to act as his mentor and guide.

I was curious to find out more about Barnabas and did some Googling.

A little background: Barnabas was born into a wealthy Jewish family. At some point, perhaps moved by hearing Christ preach, he sold his estate and gave up his wealth and became a disciple. Later, after Paul arrived on the scene, it was Barnabas who introduced him to Peter. Some scholars think Barnabas and Paul had known each other when they were younger and had studied together under the same rabbi.

For several years, Barnabas and Paul worked together as missionaries. He was a prolific evangelist, and some scholars believe it was Barnabas who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews—the only epistle not attributed to a particular author. Paul and Barnabas eventually had a falling out over Barnabas’s cousin Mark – the same Mark who wrote the gospel—because Paul had doubts about Mark’s dedication to the faith.

But by one account, when Barnabas was finally martyred, around the year 61, it was Paul who helped to bury him. Christian love bridged any differences they may have had.

Tellingly, Barnabas is not the name he was born with. His given name was Joseph. But just as Saul became Paul, Joseph received a new name when he became a Christian. Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” Encouragement is what he gave to the growing community of Christians – and it surely describes what he offered to Paul, as well.

So great was his influence, in fact, that one commentator has even remarked that there would not have been a Paul without Barnabas.

Today, he is the patron saint of Cyprus, where he grew up. But there is another role he fulfills: as a result of the way he introduced Paul to the Christians—and managed to foster mutual respect when there was a lot of suspicion and mistrust—Barnabas is also the patron saint of peacemakers.

Can anyone deny that we need his intercession now more than ever?

In the passage from John’s gospel we just heard, Christ exhorts us to remain in him, like branches of a vine, and to bear good fruit.

And today’s letter, also from John, makes the message even more explicit: “Love one another, just as he commanded us.”

But in too many places today, that command is forgotten, or abandoned, or even mocked.

Our world is scarred by cities that are now synonymous with bloodshed and hate.

Aleppo. Mosul. Kiev.

Or just look closer to home. Ferguson. Baltimore.

We live in a world hungry for peacekeepers—but they are far too few. Add to these the wars that are happening in other places too: in our families, in marriages, in politics. The landmines are everywhere—and so is the devastation .

We need “sons and daughters of encouragement.” We need to pray for more Barnabases to rise up and remind us what too many have forgotten:

The message is simple. Christ is the vine. We are his branches. We are fed by the fruits of his redeeming love—love that was poured out on Calvary and which we celebrate now, during this Easter season, because it is love that conquered death.

And it is love, after all, that is our call as Christians. In three simple words:

Love one another.

Love one another.

Let that be our hope and our prayer during these anxious days. And let this, also be our prayer:

- That St. Barnabas might intercede on our behalf, to bless the world with new peacemakers.

- That Barnabas—the one who built bridges between those who were persecuted, and the one who persecuted them—might help build bridges in our own world, in our own time, to foster acceptance and peace.

- That each of us might feel the encouragement of the Son of Encouragement, and be missionaries of Christian love to those around us.

To paraphrase a prayer attributed to another great saint of peace:

Where there is mistrust, let us bring trust.

Where there is hatred, let us bring healing.

Where there is rage, let us bring calm.

Where there is injustice, let us bring justice.

Where there is doubt, let us bring faith.

We need to be instruments of peace.

In a few moments, we will come forward to receive Christ in the Eucharist. We will receive the vine, and make him a part of us. This Sunday, let us be more conscious of that—let us ask him to remain in us, as we remain in him. And let us carry that fruitful hope with us as we leave this place and head into the world.

Let us work to bring Christ to others—in our lives, in our words.

Let us be missionaries to world that has forgotten what it means to love.

Let us—every one of us—strive to be Barnabas.

- from The Deacon's Bench

Saturday, May 2, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.
“No fear”. It’s on clothing, it’s in commercials. 

But having no fear is stupid. Little children with no fear of heights can get hurt badly. Having no fear of boiling water on a stove leads to burns. Having no fear of getting hurt leads to reckless driving. It may sound really brave to say “I have no fear”, but in many situations, fear is a very healthy thing to have!

In our spiritual life, fear is also a very healthy thing to have! In fact, having no fear of God has disastrous effects in our lives, and in the effectiveness of the Church.

The concept of the Fear of the LORD is found all throughout Scripture, with about 200 passages that teach those who are willing to listen how important this attitude is in our relationship with God.

Friday, May 1, 2015

EASTER - St. Joseph the Worker

The Church officially celebrates St. Joseph twice in the liturgical year. March 19th commemorates his vocation as the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and May 1st his vocation as a worker and provider.

Why this second feast day? Why is his role as a humble carpenter something to be celebrated over 2,000 years later?

St. Joseph’s most obvious mark in salvation history was his role as foster father to Jesus and husband to Mary. However, his humility and loving diligence as a hardworking yet poor provider serves as an example to all who work to fulfill a vocation or provide for a family.

He is also a model of trust in God. In spite of the fact that he could not completely understand God’s will, we know that he listened to God’s voice. In taking the pregnant Mary as his wife and later in abandoning his home to flee into Egypt, he shows us the importance of pure obedience to God’s call. (Imagine where we would be had he not listened!)

Pope Pius XII declared the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955 as a response to the increasingly communist climate of the time. It served as a reminder to the faithful of the dignity of work and the role of labor in glorifying God. Among other things, St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church and of social justice.