Saturday, August 30, 2008

not able to blog

Enjoying the Baptism of my new cousin Lilly Stephanie in Portland, Oregon. Be back blogging after the weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Your Wrong

The Gospel today is rich with lessons we could learn. Perhaps the hardest one is about being told that we are wrong. That is what John the Baptist told Herod and Herodias in the Gospel today. Herod listened to John then did whatever he wanted anyway. He imprisoned John just so he could pretend he never existed. Herodias on the other hand harbored a hateful grudge and wanted to kill him. In the end her hatred was satisfied with St. John's head on a platter. Again we have much in common with these two sinners in the Gospel today. Think about how hard it is for us to hear that we are wrong. Even in the tiniest of matters we will argue and fight and allow these to escalate until real damage is often done. Why? Because "I CAN'T BE WRONG" . Why not? When we are told that we are wrong in truth it is an act of mercy. We so often do not see it that way. We feel like someone is dominating us or judging us. We feel like we have less worth or we are stupid. Sometimes we feel embarrassed and although we want to hide we lash out and fight. Varied are the reactions but their source is the same. Of course we could say pride was the source. Many accuse themselves daily of this sin, and suffer the consequences believing it is inevitable. How Hopeless this attitude is. If we look deeper and if we believe that being corrected is an act of mercy then we can see that our adverse reaction to being told we are wrong is born of our wounds. Pride too easily takes the blame. This is clearly seen in Herod. "Yeah what I'm doing is wrong but I am not changing" "I will bury it." How did he bury it? Eating, Drinking, Lust, Shopping, Power, if he were alive today we could add gambling, golfing, working out or just working, and the list goes on and on. Any diversion to keep him from listening to the words that he longs to hear. The Gospel says he liked to listen to John the Baptist. Many modern men and woman are caught up in the same struggle. The other reaction is that of Herodias. Anger, bitterness and hatred. This reaction does violence to a person and others like her own daughter and of course St. John but also to her husband and his brother Herod who she was sleeping with. Lies, gossip, detraction, manipulations, back stabbing and a lust filled desire to always get what one wants are born of this reaction even though the perpetrator is often passive aggressive. How many suffer today with this cycle of sin. Why? Because we cannot admit our faults when we are told we are wrong. We judge ourselves so harshly and are so wounded by it that we cannot stand to be corrected. But our Lord is Merciful and he wants to heal all our wounds. Being corrected even in the tiniest of things is His Mercy being showered down upon us. Today it would be good to pray for the grace to see this and accept his Loving Mercy.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

St. Augustine and a Longing for God

Many in the Church today will be speaking about St. Augustine and his great conversion. It is perhaps the most famous conversion in the history of the Church. Although that was the major turning point in his life, today we do not only have to remember our own conversions or those who we hope will be converted. There is much more to Augustine. In particular I believe he can be a comfort to us on our spiritual journey. Especially in our desire for holiness. Take these words from his Confessions "You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I long for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace." These few lines teach us that it is normal to have a longing in our hearts and souls for closer union with God. It is normal in a certain way to have some level of dissatisfaction in our lives. For that is what draws us closer to our Lord. Our hearts are thus set on fire by his Most Sacred Heart and we burn for his Peace. Just like this great Saint Augustine. The fire and the longing, the panting, hunger and thirst of our souls are not born of our past or present sins, nor of our weaknesses or failings. Instead it comes from Jesus' Revelation of his Loving Mercy. From the Holy Spirit drawing us into an encounter with His Merciful Love that touches us in the very depths of our souls. Lighting a flame that burns deeply and passionately that will only be fulfilled in complete union with Him in Heaven. This is how Blessed Mother lived when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived Jesus in her virginal womb. Thus in humility she did the Father's will. Mary is our model and example. If like Augustine we follow her we will live with the great longing in our hearts and souls, and we too will find Peace.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

St. Monica and Simplicity in our Spiritual Lives

Today is the feast of St. Monica. She had a very difficult life. Her husband loved her but was a hard man to be married to for he was an angry man and often unfaithful. Her son we know as St. Augustine who as a young man was wild and passionate in his embrace of a sinful life. Worse still he was brilliant. How she suffered with these two men she loved more than anything else in the world. How many tears she shed for the salvation of their souls. Before she died she saw them both converted and Baptized. How did she do it? Two men, two simple principles. First of all she knew God to be a God of Mercy and she trusted in Him. Secondly she knew God was the Comfort of the Sorrowful and she took comfort in Him. She suffered and she cried but she trusted in God's Mercy and allowed Him to comfort her in all her trials. Many years of suffering for Monica were comforted in God's Mercy. If we could embrace this as well, our tears and sorrow would be comforted today in God's Mercy and eventually will be turned to Joy. After Augustine's conversion Monica felt her joy was complete and she could die peacefully which she did. If we follow her simple way our joy will be complete and we will know God's Peace in our lives. Not all the mysteries of our faith are that complicated. The witness of this simple wife and mother who persevered in love teaches the Church a profound lesson about God's Loving Mercy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cleaning the Inside of the Cup and Dish

So very often in the spiritual life people strive to behave better. They think that they can simply will themselves into avoiding the sins with which they struggle. They think that since they know better they should be able to act better. This is simply not true. In fact it is a great detriment to growth in the spiritual life. This attitude belongs to the self help spiritual tradition that has more to do with feeling good about oneself than actually being and knowing your good. The Scribes and Pharisees felt great about themselves but are called hypocrites by Christ. They felt great because they were doing all the things that they believed were right in order to be holy. But they were wrong. And so are we when we enter into the self help spiritual tradition that infects our age. When we think we are right with God and growing in our spiritual lives because we have performed so many duties, got so much done, and said so many prayers that we feel good about ourselves. The spiritual life that we as Catholics are called to live is not about feeling good about yourself. It is about being loved by God, knowing that love, and living in that knowledge unafraid. Yes we must have discipline in our spiritual life and yes it does feel good to be a Christian. But neither of these come simply by our willing them. Instead they are a gift from our Father in Heaven. They are given in his Son Jesus, and they take root in our live according to the will of the Holy Spirit. The inside is only cleansed through the in pouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Thus cleansed our hearts can be united with the Sacred Heart of Jesus especially in the Sacraments the source of our strength. Thus cleansed and strengthened we can do the Will of the Father in imitation of Jesus, and not our own will. So rather than embrace self help spirituality, we should embrace the way of Mary our Mother who is full of grace. Who is filled with the Holy Spirit. Whose Immaculate Heart is united for all eternity with the Sacred Heart of her Son. And who said "Let it be done unto me according to your word" doing the Father's Will. And what is her way? Quiet, humble service. Living in the knowledge of God's love, and going about her daily labors unafraid. Quiet confidence is Mary's way. It is her way that prepares us to encounter the Holy Spirit and allow him to flood and cleanse our hearts. It is her way that prepares us to enter into union with her Son in the Sacraments. It is her way that calls us to unite our will with that of the Father. Quiet confidence in the Merciful Love of the Most Holy Trinity is Mary's way. Our Mother wants us to follow her example and not be afraid despite the struggles of life. She tells us "He remembers his promise of mercy " wait for him. Mary shows us that we do not have to measure ourselves by how we feel but instead we ought to recognize our dignity in the midst of our daily lives and be confident in God's love. He will look with favor on us as he has our Beautiful Mother.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Measuring Up As Followers of Christ

Although we are not the religious authority of our day, we do have something in common with the pharisees in the Gospel today. Jesus reprimands them for shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven to others who want to enter. He also tells them that they themselves were not going to enter either even though that was what they wanted. These are pretty serious words from our Lord. It would be good if we were attentive to them. So how do we commit the same sin in our daily lives? By being so judgemental of our fellow man? No! By being so judgemental of our fellow Christians. More specifically of our fellow Catholics. We can easily point out why they do not measure up. They don't believe they way we do. They are not as committed as we think they should be. They are not reverent enough. They are doing things only for show. They want to be popular or visible in the parish. They read books that we would never read. They drink or smoke or listen to the wrong music. They are too open to other Christians. They are too strict or conservative. They send their kids to public school. They home school. They have too many children. They dress improperly. They dress too modestly. They expressed an opinion once long ago that I did not like or agree with. They talk to much. They never say anything they must be judging me. They do not like the Holy Father. They went to see the wrong speaker. They did not genuflect. They knelt to receive. They are in the wrong prayer group. They don't pray the rosary. These are just a few of the many judgements that the wide variety of Catholics make against each other. Do we want these people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven or are we trying to shut them out? Do we want to enter? Not all of our judgements are sinful. What motivates are judgments is important though. The pharisees in the Gospel judged everyone believing that they saw things just as God did. After all they used as a measure the Law given by God. Which they wanted to live out perfectly. Jesus reveals to them their hypocrisy even in following the law they have gone astray. They had exalted man's opinion and forgotten the truth of God's Revelation. We do the same in our many judgements of our brothers and sisters. Jesus also tells the pharisees that they not only do this but are teaching others to do so as well. We do the same. Often by committing other sins like gossip, or detraction. Our only hope is found in the one seated upon the throne that Jesus mentions at the end of the Gospel. He is our only hope. Our Crucified Lord is our only hope. The cross is his throne. His gaze from the cross was one of mercy and love. If only we could see each other with his eyes, we would not be so quick to judge ourselves or others. Then we could correct one another in love and mutual affection. For then we could see the wounds each one bears and our own as well. And we would know that only in the blood and water that flows from our Savior's side do we find healing and peace. If His Love motivated our decisions and judgments we would truly be striving for the Kingdom. Often like the pharisees we say we love him and then are busy pointing out how unworthy others are of his love or how they need to change in order to be worthy. The most disgraceful thing about this is that we often judge most harshly the people close to us. We must place all our Trust in the Lord, in His Love and Mercy. Then we can stop judging and live in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Glory of the Lord Fills the Temple

Ezekiel has a vision today of the temple. He sees the glory of the Lord fill the Temple and he sees the footstool of God's Throne. While most of us have not received nor expect to receive mystical visions, this should not hold us back from entering into the truth of this passage from Ezekiel. Christ speaks today of humility telling us that this virtue will be exalted. Therefore it is through the lens of humility that we must reflect. The Dominican Sisters in Buffalo New York have adoration all day every day and it is open to the public. The monstrance in the sanctuary is tilted at an angle so that the cloistered nuns and the faithful can adore the Lord at the same time. The monstrance is not placed upon the altar but further back in the sanctuary upon a large pillar flanked by candles and the appropriate adornment. It is beautiful and reverent in its simplicity. This past year I had the honor of celebrating mass there a few times. After, I was required to expose the Blessed Sacrament. Sister told me to bring the lunet to the Throne and place it in the monstrance there and tilt it at an angle. The sisters call the pillar our Lord's Throne. The glory of the Lord fills his Temple humbly present in the Blessed Sacrament. You see how you can live the Word of God right now today in the midst of the modern world. Simply enter your Church and you will find your Eucharistic Lord seated upon his throne. His glory fills his temple. If you humbly go and visit him you will feel his presence. Do not worry about how long you should stay, or about what prayers you should say. Humbly visit him and he will exalt you.
In her canticle Blessed Mother proclaims that the Almighty has looked with favor on his lowly servant. The glory of the Lord fills his temple. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived the Son of God in her virginal womb. Mary is full of grace. She is the Lord's Temple. Jesus' throne is her Immaculate Heart. In order to enter into this truth we must imitate our Blessed Mother in her humility. Then the Almighty will look with favor upon us as well. The Father will pour out the Holy Spirit to remind us and teach us all that the Son has revealed to us. Then Jesus will take his rightful place in our lives. He will be enthroned upon our hearts. This is the truth of our life. This is the Father's will. It is the will of the Son, and that of the Holy Spirit. It is not just some mystical vision of an Old Testament prophet. But instead the cause of joy, hope and comfort in our lives. Mary our Mother is our teacher and example in her humility. We can and ought to follow her humble example then and pray to the Most Holy Trinity, "Behold the servant of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your Word."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Queenship of Mary

Sometimes on major or very special feast days I find it hard to preach or now write a reflection. The beauty of the day speaks for itself. I am feeling this way today. How beautiful it is to know that the Queen Mother is my mother. How wonderful it is to serve her, to belong to her. What inexpressible joy it is to live in this truth. And how magnificent it is to know that this is not just the truth of my life but that of each of our lives. This morning I visited two elderly women who spoke to me only in Spanish. One was half blind the other was slipping with dementia. I anointed both women. Both were named Maria. Both were overjoyed at my unexpected visit. One was even crying. The Queen's daughters received the Sacrament on her feast day. After lunch I buried (funeral mass included) a woman who although never married raised two boys not her own but who mourned her today as their mother. Her name was Maria. The Queen's daughter is brought home to the palace to receive the reward of her labor on the feast of her Queen Mother. What joy! How beautiful is our Queen as she showers down such graces upon the children she has been given. The opening prayer at mass really sums up the gift of this feast. Father you have given us the Mother of your Son to be our Queen and Mother. With the support of her prayers may we come to share the glory of your children in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pope St. PiusX

In today's Gospel we hear about the wedding banquet that we are invited to attend. We hear that all are invited not according to their merits but because of the King's pleasure. However once in attendance, guests are expected to be properly prepared for the celebration. One of the great gifts that Pope St. Pius X gave to the Church was the call for the faithful to receive Holy Communion frequently. In fact he was responsible for lowering the age at which children could receive to seven. That is the age of reason. In essence then Pope St. Pius X is one of the servants in the Gospel today who goes out to invite people to the King's banquet. That is the Eucharist. In accepting the invitation we must be properly prepared. Now where did the guests receive their wedding garments but at the hall before coming in. The King not only invited them but knowing their various conditions coming from all over he provided his guests a garment to wear. The silent man accepted the invitation but refused the gift thinking he knew better than the King. The same is true today with millions of Catholics. How fortunate, how blessed we are that our King mercifully suffers for our arrogance rather than throwing us out into the dark. We accept the invitation to the Banquet of the Eucharist but many refuse the gift of the garment. What is the garment that I speak of? That of mercy. Mercy found in the confessional. Found in every Catholic Church (banquet hall) in the world. Preparation to celebrate the Eucharist is found in the Sacrament of Confession. It is disgraceful that so many follow the bad example of the silent man in today's Gospel. Refusing the gift thinking that they know better than the King. What can you say when Jesus asks you why you have not gone to Confession? Silence born of embarrassment precedes the darkness. How many faithful Catholics come to Church but refuse the garment of Mercy that prepares you for Holy Communion. You are not okay, and God is not okay with your arrogance, your reasons, or your sins. The King came to destroy sin and death, and to bring healing and mercy. He continues to do this even now through the Sacraments which he himself instituted. Was he wrong in giving us Confession as a Sacrament? Why? Because your embarrassed by your sins. Then why cling to them and not go to receive healing and mercy. This refusal by many Catholics to confess their sins is a plague that is particularly virulent in the United States and our Priests suffer as well. 30 minutes a week is often all that is offered to the people for this great Sacrament of healing and mercy. Today it would be good to pray the King raise up another Pope St. Pius X to call the faithful to frequent Confession in preparation for the Banquet of the Eucharist. We are required to confess our sins a minimum of once a year and more often as our life dictates. However it is said that Mother Teresa went every week and John Paul II went every day. I have no proof of either, but if what is said of them is true, then we do not have an excuse to not follow their example and begin going to Confession regularly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Contrast In Jealousies

Jealousy is a sin that many people struggle with each day. It is also a sin that many people feel justified in committing each day. Today's readings offer a contrast in jealousies. The first reading offers us the jealousy of God. This is a loving jealousy defined as being vigilant in guarding something. Even against the shepherds of his people whom he himself had chosen, our Lord jealously guards his people. He is so vigilant that he chooses to shepherd us himself rather than see his flock abandoned, mistreated, or hurt. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who jealously guards his flock. What comfort we should take in this if we could only abandon our petty jealousies clearly on display in the Gospel. Resentful and bitter in rivalry born of envy the workers complain that all received the same daily wage even though some worked longer than others. This is not only their sin but the sin that we commit as well. We look at others and envy them when we are trying so hard to get along ourselves and they seem to have it easy. We resent them no matter how close they are to us. In fact parents, siblings, relations and good friends are very often those that we resent most. If not kept in check by a good examination of conscience and the Sacrament of Confession resentment easily ferments into bitterness. Bitterness poisons relationships and strikes a serious blow to love. How then can we abandon not only this corrupting sin but also the vile attitude that leads us to justifying our behavior. Quite simply by being mindful of the first jealousy. That of the Good Shepherd. Jesus says to the men in the Gospel, have I not taken good care of you. I am being generous with these workers, will I not be generous to you as well in the future. Jesus wont abandon us. Jesus will comfort us when we are mistreated. Jesus will heal us when we are hurt. He is the Good Shepherd who jealously tends his flock. Take comfort, take strength in his loving mercy that causes him to tend to our broken and wounded hearts so tenderly. He knows your labor and your burden. He knows how hard you try. Forget looking around comparing yourself to others. Stop judging yourself so harshly. See the Good Shepherd is calling your name. He will not let anyone else take care of you. You belong only to him. The Good Shepherd. The Lover of your soul.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You Are My All In All

"We have left everything and followed you." How many of us can echo the words of St. Peter? Today is the memorial of St. John Eudes. He certainly could and did throughout his life. The most striking thing about St. John was that he saw himself as being totally connected to Jesus. Even to the point of sharing the same breath. Breathing and acting in union with him. Christ being the head and St. John as part of the body. In the unity of the Holy Spirit he saw no separation and in the gift of the Eucharist he saw the perfection of that unity. It would be easy to accuse ourselves of having not given enough to Jesus. We really have not left EVERYTHING. What poor disciples we are. This my dear children is too easy. It is not the eye of the needle. Self incrimination leads to self pity, self-centeredness, self indulgence and self hatred. Into this void we often hurl ourselves and allow our sins to cover us heaping sin upon sin and accusation upon accusation until we feel we are no longer worthy of kindness or praise in any way let alone love and mercy. We are left believing we are worthless. This is an insidious temptation often used by the evil one, but it is a lie. A lie that is cloaked in our own pitiful judgement of our selves as we strive to grow in holiness. Yes St. Peter and many of the saints left everything to follow Jesus. He is stating a fact not an opinion in the Gospel today. One that is affirmed by Jesus' response. Our self accusations are never affirmed by Jesus because they betray the truth that we are part of his body and that he is our head. If they were true we could never share his same breath his life giving Spirit. Like St. John Eudes we must stand and live in the truth of our lives. We are uniquely part of Jesus' Body. He will never abandon us no mater our weaknesses or our sins. No one amputates a part of their body that can be healed and in Christ there is nothing that cannot be healed. So where is the eye of the needle? Where are we called to give everything? In the Eucharist of course where St. John Eudes saw our perfection. This occurs in two ways. In receiving Holy Communion we bring all we are to the altar. All our fears, worries, anxieties, sins, addictions, temptations, sufferings and joys for in receiving Jesus he becomes our all in all. In praying before the Blessed Sacrament we speak to the Lord who is our all in all and thus we bring all to him. He in turn breathes in union with us as we pour out our misery he breathes it in and exhales the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of peace that perfects us in his loving mercy and his merciful love.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Peace vs Sadness

No Other Life is the title of a book I read a good many years ago about a poor boy who grows up to be a priest and then leaves the priesthood to become president of his country. It is a fictional account of what actually did happen in Haiti in modern history. The book never did impress me but the title has remained in my heart. Especially when I find my life difficult or challenging or even more so when I am asked to sacrifice. The man in the Gospel today left Jesus and went away sad. He had a life that he made for himself and it included God. He had followed the commandments and he had been blessed, he was wealthy. Yet he was not satisfied deep down in the depths of his heart. Thus he comes to Jesus, but he will not embrace the life Jesus calls him to follow. He has a life. He does not want a new one. He just wants to tweak this one a little so that he can find peace. Instead he finds only sadness. How often we struggle in our spiritual lives with the same issue. We have a life and just want Jesus to tweak things in it in order that we may find peace. This attitude only produces sadness in our lives, even though we make God apart of our life. Jesus wants us to see that we have no other life apart from him. He wants us to see that he is apart of our daily lives. He is with us. This is a radical truth that we are called to embrace. It is as radical as his call to the man in the Gospel today. In essence we are called to abandon our daily lives to his loving mercy, to live in his grace. Not to ask him to tweak things so we can feel like we are okay and are doing a good job. This brings us sadness. Jesus is not tinkering with our hearts. He is molding them. Jesus gentle and humble of heart is making our hearts like his. This is what brings us peace even in the midst of struggle and sacrifice. We have no other life. Jesus is our life. We must place all our trust in him and not be afraid. We must listen to our Blessed Mothers instructions "Do whatever he tells you" in this we will find our peace.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Is Being Called a Dog an Insult?

Did Jesus insult this woman by saying "it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs"? Upon hearing the Gospel today many people hear only an insult. Even after hearing about Jesus healing her, many wonder about his words. They seem so insulting, but are they? They are not. In fact his words rather than insulting her actually reveal her dignity. This dignity is found in her humility. Jesus' words are meant to highlight this humility to exalt it so to speak as he rewards it in the healing of this woman's daughter. Her humility is clearly upon display for all to see. In fact her humility is what Jesus desires to demonstrate to his disciples. She calls out to him but he makes no reply. Only when his disciples request that he act does the dialogue begin. Thus we see that the dialogue is not for the woman's benefit but for his disciples and those who are listening. Look again at the humility of this woman. As a Canaanite she would be looked down upon by Jews, including the followers of Jesus. She is from a different tribe and religion, a pagan. Yet in humility she comes to believe in the Messiah of the Jews. In humility she draws near him, to see him and listen to him. In humility she even is so bold as to make a request of him for her suffering daughter. In humility she perseveres even when she gets no response. In humility she comes and kneels at his feet. Only after this display of profound humility does Jesus say "it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs". And what does his response produce in the woman but even greater humility. She does not protest the label given to her but accepts it and professes her faith that even as a dog Jesus is still her Master and in belonging to him she is deserving of his blessing. "Even dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master's table. Then Jesus confirms her dignity and blesses her with the healing of her daughter, the honoring of her humble request. There is no insult in today's Gospel. Instead we see a lesson in humility for the disciples and for us. This dialogue could never have taken place if the Canaanite woman had not first been in dialogue with the Holy Spirit deep in her heart. He brought her to Jesus. He taught her humility. We must do the same. In essence the woman today has imitated our Mother Mary who prayed, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exalts in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. The Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is His Name." Blessed Mother was raised up in her lowliness, in her profound humility after the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and brought her Jesus. This Canaanite woman is her daughter and we are her children. Thus we too will be raised up if we can listen to the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit calling us to imitate her humility so we can draw near to Jesus and know His Mercy and Love.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Trouble With Presuming to Know What Jesus is Thinking

In today's Gospel the disciples presume to know what Jesus is thinking. They don't think that he would want to be bothered by the children. They could not have been further off the mark. He desires the children come to him, and tells his followers that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the childlike. Then he demonstrates very clearly his desire by laying his hands upon the children then proceeded on his way. What is this laying on of hands? It is a blessing for each child. He does not raise his hand in blessing over all the children but places his hand upon each. He personally blesses each and every child then goes on his way. In our spiritual lives so often we presume to know what Jesus is thinking. We think that he does not want to be bothered by us or our concerns. We think that there must be more important things in the world for him to deal with and our wounds and sufferings are petty in comparison. We are certain in our belief that he does not want to be bothered by us because our prayers have not been answered the way we desire. We could not be further off the mark. Jesus wants us to come to him just like the children in today's Gospel. Prayers being answered has nothing to do with this desire. He answers all our prayers but his desire in the Gospel is that we come to him. We are not bothering him. He wants to bless us each individually as he laid his hands upon the children today. This includes hearing all our troubles even the smallest of wounds and bruises to our hearts. Have you never had a child show you where they hurt themselves with a cut or bruise and there is no sign of either. But that was where they were hurt and they wanted to show it to you even though in reality it has already healed. This is a childlike love that is touching in its simplicity. Draw near to Jesus in this way. Bring him every care, concern, and wound. He desires to comfort you in all these things. You are no bother. You are not insignificant nor are your sufferings. Do not worry about how your prayers are being or will be answered. Instead come to Jesus know that he wants to touch you, to lay his healing hand upon you and bless you. Today he leaves the children with his blessing and goes on his way. The comfort of his blessing sustains the children as they live their lives and say their prayers and have joy and sorrow and all the normal ups and downs of daily life and prayer. They know his blessing and that they will be received by him any time they come to be comforted. The Gospel calls us to live in the same knowledge and confidence. To draw near to him in all things and at all times,never presuming to know what he is thinking, is the childlike way he has told us he wants us to come to him that he may comfort and bless us. This is the love that sustains us. we would do well to listen to his words rather than what we think he thinks. Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Solemnity of the Assumption

Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. That is we celebrate that the Virgin Mary at the end of her earthly life was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven. It seems only fitting that this great event and article of faith should be celebrated because of the Blessed Mothers privileged place in the order of creation. Her dignity and beauty as the Mother of God is brought to fulfillment as she enters the place prepared for her from the foundation of the world. Certainly a worthy event to celebrate in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However mothers never really get a day off and so neither does the Blessed Mother. Why? Because she is our Mother and on each of her feast days and on those of her Son she desires to give gifts to her children as she receives their prayers and acclamations.

What particular gift then does our Blessed Mother desire to give her children on this Feast of Her Assumption? Hope! In truth this day is a great celebration of Hope. Hope for eternal life. Hope for forgiveness. Hope for healing. Hope for comfort. Hope for blessings. Hope for mercy. Hope for faith. Hope for love. Mary truly is the hope of the hopeless for she has been given all these gifts by her Divine Spouse the Holy Spirit in the gift of The Son, according to the Will of the Father. Thus we see in the Gospel that her soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and her spirit exults in God her Savior. In her Assumption then we see the fulfillment of all her hope and she assures us that all our hope will be fulfilled as well.

As Christians we live in the world but we are not of the world. We are of the Kingdom of God which has begun in Christ but has yet come to fulfillment. While we wait we live in the world with all it's struggles and sufferings. But as we pray at mass each day we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. In Mary's Assumption we see the fulfillment of all our hope. The feast then is meant to sustain us as we wait in joyful hope. As our Mother Mary sustains us along with her Most Beloved Spouse the Holy Spirit in this vale of tears that is our daily life in all our struggles and sufferings.

How does this happen? You see Mary's Assumption is the culmination of her life lived in the Holy Spirit as daughter, as wife, and as mother, but most importantly in all these she was a disciple following the promptings of the Holy Spirit which eventually brought to her her Son. The Savior of the world, the Son of God the fruit of her womb, Jesus the Word made Flesh who she followed even on the way of the cross. The truth of Mary's discipleship and her Assumption go hand in hand and this is how she is the cause of our Hope. Living in the fire of the Holy Spirits Love she did the will of the Father, she followed His Son, her Son living a life of Grace that culminates in her Assumption. We too have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and are called to live in the fire of His love that we too may do the Fathers will in the following of Jesus Christ our Savior in this life of grace. The Assumption of Mary teaches us to seek our own sanctification and that of others( which comes from the Holy Spirit) in the midst of our ordinary duties of life, while at the same time it encourages us to keep our eyes fixed upon Heaven and the place prepared for us from the foundation of the world.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Maximilian Kolbe and Patience in our Spiritual Lives

As a young seminarian I knew that St. Maxamilian Kolbe was a martyr who died in a concentration camp during WWII. I also knew that he did so by offering his life for that of a man who had a large family. And I knew that he had a great love for the Blessed Mother and spread her devotion far and wide. This knowledge alone caused me to have a devotion and love for him. Martyrdom, Mary, and the fact that he lived in modern time impressed me. What I did not know was that he suffered tremendously for his decision to offer his life for that man. I had always pictured in my mind a Nazi guard getting ready to shoot the man and St Maximilian stepping forward to take the bullet for him. That was not the case at all. In imitating Christ and offering his life for that of the man, St Maximilian enraged the Nazis. They accepted his offer of his life and began to starve him to death. Starvation is a long and brutal death. In fact It was taking so long for St. Maximilian to die that the guards could wait no longer (the pleasure in their victory was dissipating) so they killed him with a lethal injection. There are two lessons here for our spiritual life. While not many of us could suffer martyrdom, we all can learn from St. Maxamilian the need for patience in our spiritual life. This is the first lesson.Once he had offered his life I am sure he wanted to die. However his holy desire, inspired by the Spirit took time to be fulfilled. And it was not ordinary time. Although it was a time of grace for him, it was excruciating and terrifying and painful to say the least. You see even when we are following the impulse of the Holy Spirit and doing God's Will we must always be patient even in the midst of frightening situations and terrible suffering. Why not the bullet, the quick death? Surely in offering his life St Maximilian was doing God's Will and so was pleasing to Him. Why the starvation? I have no idea. My heart was moved with a love for this Priest before I ever knew of the true manner of his death. So too in our spiritual lives we may never know the reason for our suffering, or why it is lasting so long. All to often we want God to execute his plan within our time span. After all we are doing His Will so we think come on Lord its your will lets get it done.

To be brought to the starvation bunker must have frightened St. Maximilian just as suffering and its prospect frightens us. However his fear was certainly tempered by the presence of the Blessed Mother. Surely she was his consolation during his long suffering. So this is what we too must cling to. Mary is with us in our suffering and in our fear. No matter how long nor how deep it may be. She will console and strengthen us as she did St. Maximilian. In essence the Holy Spirit will teach us patience through Her intercession and care for our souls.

The second lesson for our spiritual life is that the guards reveled in the suffering of St. Maximilian, but their pleasure in his suffering could not outlast the sustaining love that pours forth from the side of Christ. That is the Holy Spirit who through Mary comforted him. The lesson then is that even as we suffer and struggle in this life Christ sustains us with the gift of the Holy Spirit and comforts us with the presence of his Mother. In this we live in imitation of Him as St. Maximilian did in his life and most importantly in his glorious death.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

1st post Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate

Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate. I have arrived at my new assignment, Our Lady of Refuge, in Eagle Pass Texas. Although I am thick as a brick when it comes to computers, I have begun this blog to share my reflections on the Gospel. God willing I will figure out how to post them in audio but for now they will be typed.