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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lazarus and the Rich Man

In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, Lazarus represents the millions of people waiting for crumbs from the table of the rich. The rich man in the parable represents all who never share their wealth, those who ignore the needs of others, those who are selfish and those who hoard their riches.
The parable is a call to all of us to help those who are suffering. We need to realize that we have more than we need and others suffer from a lack of basic necessities.
The parable also warns us to do good and share with others now while we can. When I die, it is too late! What will I share this day, this week, with those who are in need?
I am the rich one, dressed in good clothes with plenty to eat. At my door are those living in poverty. How will I choose to help them? This is what the work of justice is about in our world where the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Feast of the Archangels

Today is now the feast not only of St. Michael the Archangel, but also of Gabriel and Raphael. These three archangels are known by name and venerated in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Michael is the "warrior" who defends us; Gabriel is the one who announces good news; Raphael is the one who helped Tobias, protecting him on his journey.

The first reading from the book of Revelation tells of Michael and his angels at war with Satan and his angels and how Satan and his followers are all thrown out of heaven.
The responsorial psalm says: "In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord."
In the Gospel Jesus tells Natanael, Amen, amen, I say to you, you wil see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

Angels exist! They are still sent by God to defend us, announce good news, and protect us on our journey. Let is thank God today for the creation of angels!
More about them on October 2 when we celebrate all the angels!

Saint Wenceslaus

I had never heard of St. Wenceslaus until I met a priest in Chile named Wencelaus. He was a wonderful theologian, priest, friend, and moderator of a group learning new ways to reach the Juniors and Seniors in our school by giving seminars in Religion rather than the regular schedule of classes. He made me want to know more about St. Wencelaus!

St. Wencelaus was raised a Christian by his grandmother, St. Ludmila. His mother opposed Christianity so when his father died, being urged by the people, Wenceslaus took the reins of government and placed his duchy under the protection of Germany. He introduced German priests and favored the Latin rite over the old Slavic one. He had taken a vow of virginity and was known for his virtues. He was murdered by his brother at the instigation of his mother! His body was hacked to pieces. His brother later repented and had the body taken to the Church of St. Vitus in Prague. He was acclaimed a martyr immediately after his death.

The Gospel has the question that Jesus still asks each one of us:
But who do you say that I am?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

St. Vincent de Paul

Today we celebrate St. Vincent de Paul's feast. He was ordained in 1600 and appointed to the Queen's household in France. He came under the influence of Berulle and the French School; he then began to help all the poor: orphans, prostitutes, the sick, the disabled, the homeless, anyone in need. He organized groups to provide food and clothing; he also founded the Congregation of the Missions to preach and train clergy. We know them as the Vincentians. He co-founded, for women, the Daughters of Charity. His work continues today all over the world.
My own nephew directs the St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, Arizona. Among other things, he oversees the distribution of clean clothes and food for the poor; they have a place for showers; a huge cafeteria serves the poor and they pack hot food to be distributed in other centers. St. Vincent died in 1660 and was canonized in 1737.

I am in St. Louis this week seeing friends and celebrating with college classmates. Both Maryville University and St. Louis University are having alumni festivities this week end. It is good to see friends I have known since grade school! If I miss a day posting my blog, you will understand. I am trying to write everyday, but may not have easy access always to post while away this week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sts. Cosmas and Damien

Cosmos and Damien were twin brothers and doctors. They treated patients without charge. As they lived in the second century, we have many stories and legends about them. What is definitely true is that both suffered martyrdom; then a series of miraculous cures began. Even the Emperor Justinian I claimed to have been cured through their intercession. Along with St.Luke,the Evangelist, they are the patron saints of physicians.

The Gospel today has Jesus giving to his Apostles the power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And they went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus did give power to heal. People today who have enough faith are often able to heal others or to be healed. We need to strengthen our faith in the power of God to heal us.

Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!

I will be away for a week, but will try to post my blog whenever I can.

God's Love for us in Unconditional!

The Heart of Jesus is the manifestation of God's unconditional love for us. The realization of this love of God can change our life. Over and over again, I have seen that the decisive moment in each life comes when we understand that what is important is not our love for God, but that God loves each of us unconditionally.
The above quote is from C. Camacho, in a letter of June 5, 1981, when she was Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Albert Nolan says in his book, Jesus Today that Jesus' basic conviction was not only that God is close to us, but also that God loves us. "God's unconditional love was the foundation of Jesus' spirituality."

I experienced from my early years the unconditional love of God; it has always been the reason for my joy. My mother loved me unconditionally; indeed, I think she loved all without conditions. I still experience the tremendous love of God no matter what; I am also called to love others as I am loved--without conditions!
Lord, grant that today I may love others as you love me!

Monday, September 24, 2007

"The Lord is with you."

It is true. The Lord is with me! The Lord is with us! "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of time."(Mt 28:20) We rejoice because the Lord is with us! He is always present. He never leaves us. Yet, we are so seldom aware of his constant, loving presence.
In the book of Revelation, he tells us: "Behold, I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and sup with you, and you with me." In the picture, we see that the door cannot be opened from the outside. Only I can open the door of my heart to let Jesus come in; he never forces but waits to be invited. He is always with me, but desires to enter into deeper intimacy with each of us, if we open ourselves to him. He is the center of my life.

"The greatest reality is that of the Presence of God who looks upon us with love and desires an intimate relationship with each one of us." This quote is from Sister Elizabeth Hillmann,RC (Unpublished notes, September 19, 2007). I believe this, yet live so forgetful of the Presence of God. We need to take the means to cultivate an awareness of God's presence in our lives. There are many ways to do this: the Ignatian Examen, Centering Prayer, a walking/driving prayer, the habit of turning to God with a short prayer every time someone comes to speak with us, or the phone rings, etc.
Lord, the door of my heart is fully open for you to come in and stay with me. I, too, desire an intimate relationship with You. I ask the grace to never refuse you anything you ask of me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"To dig I am not able..."

The parable of the unjust steward is another one of the parables that is difficult to understand. That is why it is a parable. We need to struggle with the meaning. Jesus seems to praise the unjust and dishonest steward because of his ingenuity. He really took stock of his situation and decided he had to provide for himself because, as he tells us, to dig I am not able and to beg I am ashamed. How am I using my own ingenuity to make sure that I will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God?
The shorter form of the Gospel has Jesus telling his disciples: The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.
He goes on to say that no one can serve two masters. Yet, we keep trying to do so in various ways.
Lord, come to my assistance. Make haste to help me.
Pray for the grace to be found trustworthy in the small things today!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"Come with joy into the presence of the Lord"

Today's Liturgy has Psalm 100, the one I prayed with so much in my retreat this year:
Sing joyfully to the Lord all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord is God;
he made us, we are his people, the flock he tends.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
For he is good: the Lord,
whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.

So let us all, Come with joy into the presence of the Lord!

The Gospel is the parable of the sower who went out to sow his seed. Some fell on the path; some on rocky ground; some among thorns; and some on good soil. Jesus explains the parable to his disciples and says that the seed that fell on rich soil are the ones who when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.
I heard a holy priest once say that the good soil was those who recognized themselves in all the seed that fell on the path, the rocky ground, and among thorns.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wise Women

Today the computer is acting up and strange colors appear. I was going to write on Matthew as today is his feast and I love his immediate response to Jesus. Jesus says, "Follow me" and Matthew gets up and follows him! Then, as Luke tells us, he gives a banquet - was this a farewell party? He invites Jesus and his disciples, but also he has his own co-workers, that tax collectors and sinners. That really bothers the Pharisees who ask the disciples why Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus heard them and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

Anyway, since I did not write my blog before going to my water exercise this morning, I want to share with you the wisdom of the women I meet in the pool. While we spend an hour doing water exercises together, we solve the problems of the world. I am amazed at the collective wisdom found in the swimming pool. Today, as tomorrow is the Day of Atonement for the Jewish women, we talked about the fasting tomorrow and how good it is that so many practices of their religion center around the family; we talked about the importance of keeping one day a week for the Lord and not rushing around to shop and work on that day and how we have lost the quiet time now that the stores are open on Sundays; we moved on to speak about the need for peace and how it begins with each of us. In between, there is always practical advice about cooking, insurance, medical advice, and travel tips. Collectively there is a wealth of information and I wonder why we do not have more women in politics to make the world a better place.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Prayer from Thomas Merton

We use this prayer sometimes at our Reflection group and I thought I would share it today with you. It is from his "Thoughts in Solitude":
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

I find much to reflect upon in this prayer and each time I use it a different thought leaps out to grab me. Today it is I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

God is Mystery

God is mystery! Albert Nolan says in Jesus Today that what matters is not how much I know about God or whether I can know anything at all about God. "What matters is whether God is real to me or not."

Experienced as mystery, God can be more real and more present to me than anything I can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.

In God we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) I, too, am included in the mystery that we call God.

What is our response to mystery? Wonder -"a form of consciousness that is without words or images or understanding. When we recognize God as mystery, our spontaneous response is wonder and awe." (See Nolan, pp. 141-142)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Someone sent me a larger picture of footprints on the beach with this prayer:
Father, walk with me today; grant that I may hear your footsteps and gladly follow where they lead ...

We do not walk alone. Jesus told his chosen friends, "I am with you always."
We do not know where we are being led but trust the One who is leading us. It takes courage and confidence to walk the road of life but we go hand-in-hand with Jesus who loves us and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The alternate opening prayer in today's liturgy was my reflection this morning:
Lord our God, all truth is from you, and you alone bring oneness of heart.
Give your people the joy of hearing your word in every sound and of longing for your presence more than for life itself. May all the attractions of a changing world serve only to bring us the peace of your kingdom which this world does not give. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Gospel for today, we see the compassion that Jesus had for the widow who had just lost her only son. He tells her not to weep; he stops the funeral procession and tells the dead son, Young man, I tell you, arise! The son sat up and Jesus gave him to his mother. Never doubt the power of the compassionate Jesus. He calls us to arise and live. "I have come that they may have life..." Jesus is
the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine

Robert was born in Tuscany, Italy in 1542. He became a Jesuit priest known for his theological teaching and writings at the Roman College which he directed. He acted as the Pope's theologian, prepared two catechisms, supervised the Vatican library and helped revise the Latin Bible. He was appointed Cardinal at the age of fifty-seven and then was also Archbishop of Capua in 1602. He is a doctor of the Church and was known for his holiness and much loved as a pastor to his flock.

Today's Gospel (Luke 7:1-10) has the centurion concerned about his slave who is dying. Having heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to ask him to come and save the life of his slave. Jesus went with them. At this point, the centurion sent friends to say, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.: Jesus praises the faith of the centurion and the slave was in good health by the time the messengers returned.

We remember the faith and the humility of the centurion before Communion when we say, Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
At my parish, the words are sung so we really have time to think about the act of faith we are making.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Rejoice with me..."

Today's Liturgy celebrates God's love and mercy in all the readings. The Gospel (Lk 15) tells us that Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees and scribes begin to complain about this; Jesus tells them three stories or parables. In each, what was lost is found and there is great rejoicing.
The ninety-nine sheep are left behind to seek the lost one; the lost is found and then carried home with great joy. All the friends are called to Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.
The parable of the woman who loses one of her ten coins is next. She goes searching for it until she finds it. Then, she calls her friends and says to them, Rejoice with me ...
In both parables, Jesus says that there will be even more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.
The story of the Prodigal Son is really about the Father who goes out each day to watch for his son; when the son returns, the father rejoices and celebrates a feast because he was lost and has been found.

As Paul tells us, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners". Let us rejoice because we are sinners being sought by Christ and carried lovingly in his arms as he rejoices over our return.

Let us also rejoice because God continues to seek us, to find us, and to say to us, Rejoice with me...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Our Lady of Sorrows

This feast was first known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. These were: Simeon's prophecy, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the boy Jesus in Jerusalem, the road to Calvary, the crucifixion, the removal from the cross, and the burial of Jesus.

God loved Mary, yet Mary suffered and suffered more than from the seven sorrows listed. She was a mother. Today's Mass has the Stabat Mater as an optional Sequence. Since I never can find the words to this hymn when I want them, I shall copy them here for those who wish to pray it today:

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart,
his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
'Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother's pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally. Amen.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

This feast commemorates the finding of the true Cross by Constantine's mother, Saint Helen, in the fourth century. Paul says in Galatians: "We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free."

The first reading from Paul's letter to the Philippians (2:6-11) reminds us that
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself ...becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him...
The death of Jesus on the cross was to save us from our sins. As the Gospel today (John 3) tells us: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him...might have eternal life.

The cross is a mystery that I cannot really understand. I can only repeat:
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

St. John Chrysostom

Today we celebrate this fourth century bishop and doctor of the Church. He was born in Antioch, trained as an orator, joined a community of monks, but the austere life damaged his health so he left and was ordained. He became famous for his eloquent sermons and was called "the golden mouth". He was named Archbishop of Constanstinople. He preached reform and made enemies. While celebrating an Easter service, he was abducted and exiled to Armenia. When the people demanded his return, the Emperor ordered that he travel on foot through the autumn rains to a distant fortress. As expected, he died on the journey. Here is a short prayer from his "Sermons on Matthew":
God grant that we may live our lives here without trouble, and in security, and attain the joys of eternal life; by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and his love for us, to whom be glory and might, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Let us pray to him to be eloquent in preaching the word of God.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary

Why do I have this head of Jesus when it is a feast of the Holy Name of Mary? It is because I am still praying over yesterday's Gospel when Jesus, after spending the whole night in prayer to God, called his disciples and chose twelve of them, "whom he also named apostles". Then come the twelve names.
I guess I connected this naming of the apostles with the holy name of Mary. I have an old dictionary that I keep partly because my sister gave it to me years ago, but mostly for the section at the end on names. It gives 2,000 names and their meanings. Mary, because of Miriam, was a popular name with Hebrews and so some scholars think that it may be related to the Egyptian word for beloved. I like that. Mary was beloved by God. My dictionary gives "bitterness" but associated with healing. I like Beloved better.

To return to my morning prayer, I am always impressed by the fact that Jesus spent the night in prayer before naming the twelve apostles. He prepared with care and prayer to make this important decision. How do I make decisions? Do I take the time to really talk to God about my choices?

One more thought for the day: I need to pray out of the very roots of my life and my being! This conviction comes from reading a quote from Thomas Merton who said that when he was still only sixteen and in Rome, he prayed "not with my lips and with my intellect and imagination, but praying out of the very roots of my life and of my being, and praying to the God I had never known."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today is September 11 and a sad day. I am going to share with you a poem by the German poet, Herman Hesse, that has been haunting me all week. Hesse lived from 1877 to 1962.

Stages of Life

As every flower fades and as all youth departs,
So life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age,
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send us
Speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

-Herman Hesse
Quoted in Peter van Breemen’s “Summoned at Every Age” pp. 14-15

Sunday, September 9, 2007

"My soul longs for you, my God..."

Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for the living God. (Psalm 41:2-3)

This was the Communion antiphon for the Sunday liturgy that I returned to in prayer this morning. We do thirst for God; it is a thirst that continues and increases. This thirst for God is prayer. We long for God because God longs for us. It is God who gives us this thirst, this desire for him. The more I long for God, the more capacity I have to receive him.

Jesus still says to us today, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and let anyone who believes in me drink."(Jn 7:37-38)
St. Augustine describes this thirst as You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
Jesus is the source of living water. Only he can quench the heart's thirst for God.
May every drop of water today remind me of my thirst for God!

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The alternate opening prayer for this Sunday has four sentences and is packed with theology and, for me, consolation; it is worth reflecting on today:
Lord our God, in you justice and mercy meet.
With unparalleled love you have saved us from death
and drawn us into the circle of your life.
Open our eyes to the wonders this life sets before us,
that we may serve you free from fear and address you as God our Father.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

This prayer helps me to accept the words in today's Gospel (Lk 14):
"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
and "anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."

I want to be able to both carry my cross and follow Jesus and renounce all possessions and do both with joy. I need to remember that in God justice and mercy meet; that with unparalleled love we have been saved and drawn into the circle of God's own life! We all have a cross to carry but without fear for God is our loving Father and never asks of us anything without giving us the grace for it. So, let us open our eyes to the wonders life sets before us today!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Birthday of Mary

Today we celebrate the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We really do not know the date or the place of her birth, but from the early centuries we have celebrated it. She is the Mother of Jesus and it is fitting that we celebrate her birthday. She is also the mother of each of us. What gift can I give Mary for her birthday?

Just a year before my mother's death, I had a surprise brunch for her. My sister picked her up and brought her; all the rest of the family were in the living room in my community house. I talked her into coming in just for a minute. She thought we were going to brunch as it was the Sunday before her birthday. She was really surprised and touched and told me later that in all the years that she had been entertaining the family for every holiday, no one had ever given her a birthday party! she had always given us birthday parties but had not had any as a child.

I wonder how Jesus celebrated his mother's birthday? And what kind of celebration must be going on in Heaven today?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Come with joy into the presence of the Lord...

The Communion Antiphon in today's liturgy is taken from Psalm 110:4-5:
"The Lord keeps in our minds the wonderful things he has done. He is compassion and love; he always provides for his faithful."
So, the Lord himself reminds us of all the wonderful things he has done and is doing for us. He is compassion and love. We can trust him; we know that he will take care of us, like a good shepherd. Is this not reason for joy?

Psalm 100 is the one in today's liturgy with the refrain reminding us that we are to come with joy into the presence of the Lord. We are to serve the Lord with gladness.
Know that the Lord is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.

We are called to thank God for he is good. His kindness endures forever!
How can I live this day in gratitude and joy?:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Put out into the deep..."

Today's Gospel is from Luke 5:1-11 and gives us several vivid scenes for reflection.
The first is on the shore of the great Lake of Gennesaret where Jesus is preaching the word of God. The crowd keeps pressing him and so Jesus sees that the two fishing boats nearby are empty and the fishermen are washing their nets. He gets into Simon's boat and ask him to put out a short distance. Then he is able to sit there and teach the crowds from the boat. The wind from the lake carries his voice.

After Jesus finishes speaking to the crowds, he says to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Now they have worked all night and caught nothing, but Simon says "at your command I will lower the nets."
The Gospel does not tell us if Simon then called the others to get into the boat and bring the nets, but this must have happened for they rowed out into the deep and lowered the nets. Suddenly there were too many fish so their nets were breaking! They had to signal the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats with so many fish that they were in danger of sinking! When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the feet of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

Simon Peter realizes that Jesus is holy; he knows that he is not worthy to even be in the presence of Jesus for he knows himself to be "a sinful man."

It was years before I understood why Peter would say, "Depart from me" as I would have said, "Stay with me, Lord!" When making a thirty-day retreat in the very place where St. Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises, I had the same experience that Peter had. Jesus said to me, as he said to Peter, "Do not be afraid."

The third scene is, of course, when they brought their boats to shore. The Gospel just tells us that they left everything and followed Jesus. I guess my imagination has them walking off with Jesus leaving Zebedee with all the fish. Now the crowd presses around Zebedee buying fish as fast as he can give them out.
Jesus continues to call us to spread the Good News? HOw can I do this today?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"For this purpose I have been sent"

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. He went to pray alone. I am praying each morning before dawn. Daybreak comes too late with our daylight saving time. It is pitch dark as I sit in prayer with Jesus. I know the sun will rise. Clouds may block the light of the sun, but it is there. In this pre-dawn darkness I am alone with Jesus.
He says to me as he said to the crowds that went looking for him and tried to prevent him from leaving them: "To the other towns also I must procalim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent."

To proclaim the good news is also my purpose in life. I am to proclaim God's love. It is my vocation. That God loves us is good news!
Today, with bad news being proclaimed by every newspaper and TV station, it is good to recall our purpose in life: we are to proclaim the good news! We are loved by God!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Silence and Solitude

Albert Nolan in his latest book, Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom, is the source of most of my reflection this morning. Jesus seems to have experienced a profound need for silence and solitude...
Nolan says that there is "no way that you and I today can enter into the spirit of Jesus' Way without creating some space in our lives for silence and solitude." Regular periods of solitude and silence are indespensable. We need silence.
"We need to find a way of sometimes disconnecting from the relentless flow of words, sounds, and images that bombard us day and night."

None of this is new, but in reading Nolan's Chapter In Silence and Solitude, I was struck by the obsession we have with work and busyness. We need to slow down and rest in interior stillness that is essential to spiritual growth. Each of us must find her or his own way to do this.
Nolan speaks of both Centering Prayer and John Main's form of meditation using a mantra or repetitive word. He quotes Thomas Merton saying, Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence.
Let us be still and listen. Be still and know that I am God!

Monday, September 3, 2007

St. Gregory the Great

Gregory lived from 540-604 and became one of the great Latin Fathers of the Church as well as an outstanding pope. His father was a Roman senator and Gregory had an excellent education and many natural gifts for administration. He became Prefect of Rome and presided over the senate when only 30. After his father's death he became a monk and devoted his time to prayer and the study of the Scriptures and Fathers of the Church. Called by Pope Pelagius II to leave his monastery and become the papal representative at the court in Constantinople, he was first ordained deacon before being sent. He returned in 585, became Abbot of his monastery and the pope's personal counselor. Then, he was elected Pope; he had to struggle interiorly to accept this, but he used his many gifts to strengthen the Church in Europe. His firmness coupled with gentleness overcame many obstacles; he was able to save Rome from the Lombards by establishing a separate peace with them. He is the first pope to call himself servant of the servants of God. He was a prolific writer and his works are still read today. His Dialogues are the source of the life of St. Benedict and other saints. Gregory was a mystic, a great pope, and one of the four great Latin Fathers along with Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine. He was responsible for the conversion of England, too. I love the title given him: Doctor of the Desire for God.
Prayer of St.Gregory the Great:(Rather amazing that, although written in the 6th Century, its content resembles many prayers today.)

Lo, fainter now lie spread the shades of night,
and upward spread the trembling gleans of morn;
suppliant we bend before the Lord of light,
and pray at early dawn,
that this sweet charity may all our sin forgive,
and make our miseries to cease;
may grant us health, grant us the gift divine
of everlasting peace.
Father supreme, this grace on us confer;
and thou, O Son, by an eternal birth!
With thee, coequal Spirit, comforter!
whose glory fills the earth.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus tells us a parable about how some invited guests to a wedding choose the places of honor. You may need to go lower so Jesus says, "Take the lowest place." Then, you may be asked to move up to a higher place. "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Humility is accepting the truth about yourself. We are having our community planning meeting this week end and I think the virtue of humility is one that makes living together a joy as we are all trying to help one another. This quote from Anthony de Mello, SJ may help you as it has helped me. It is from his The Song of the Bird.
I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was, "Lord, give me the energy to change the world." As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to "Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied." Now that I am old and my days are numbered, my one prayer is, "God, give me the grace to change myself." If I had prayed this right from the start I should not have wasted my life.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Labor Day Week End

As we begin our Labor Day long week end, let us drive carefully and love one another. Paul, urges us in today's first reading (1 Thessalonians 4:9-11) to "Progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands..." They are to progress in love but Paul has told them that God has taught them to love one another.
We, too, have been taught to love one another, but there is always room for progress! If we live a tranquil life and mind our own affairs and do our work, we will have peace and spread peace, but only if we love one another!
The Gospel shows us how we are expected to use the gifts God gives us. What are my gifts and how am I using them? What gift am I neglecting?