Friday, July 11, 2014

People Aren't Dirt: They're Soil!

     In the course of a lifetime, most of us will have had the experience of hearing someone completely strip another person of their human dignity and worthiness.  Perhaps you have done this yourself.
     For instance, you pronounce judgment upon someone you feel is a disgrace or lazy or incompetent.
     You tell them, “You are the lowest form of life.”  "You’re worthless." "You’re a waste of skin." "You’re nothing." “You’re dirt.”
     There’s an interesting reality about those we consider “dirt.”  It comes from Our Lord Jesus Christ.  To Him, people weren’t worthless “dirt.” Rather, people were like different types of soil.

(Image source unknown.)
 THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO  SAINT MATTHEW  
[13:1-23]   On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.  Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."
 The disciples approached him and said, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"
He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because  they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
“’You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them.’
 "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.   Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.  
"Hear then the parable of the sower.   The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground  is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."

     As Catholics, you and I have the obligation of sewing “seeds” -- planting “seeds” in the soil of  people’s lives.  “Seeds” of kindness, hope,  faith,  forgiveness,  patience, compassion.

      Our Lord Jesus teaches us something critically important in His Parable of  The Sower And The Seeds. 
(Image source unknown.)
The Sower -- Our Lord  Jesus -- casts the seeds in every direction, into every kind of soil:  The soil of the footpath, the rocky soil, the soil with thorns growing, and the good soil. And while he is casting the seed, the Sower doesn't know which soil will produce a harvest and how much of a harvest will result.  It all depends upon the soil!  And regardless of whether the future results may be fruitful or not, the Sower sews the seeds into every kind of soil.
     That is what you and I must do. Give people -- who are considered the lowest form of life, worthless, a waste of skin, nothing, dirt -- the benefit of  doubt:  To believe something good about those persons,  rather than something bad, when you have the possibility of believing either.

(Image source unknown.)
     Once upon a time, a retired priest sat in the rectory garden enjoying the afternoon sun.  He looked up suddenly to see the newly ordained bishop of the diocese walking toward him.  
     The elderly priest, delighted, struggled to get up and welcome his visitor.
    “Father, may I sit with you a while?”  The elderly priest and his young bishop began to chat and to trade various stories of life as priests.
     The bishop said, "I must tell you a story: 
“Several years ago, a group of college students had spent an afternoon drinking.  They were walking past a little church.  An elderly priest was inside hearing Confessions.  One of them had an idea: Let's list the worst sins we can think of and flip a coin to see who goes in and confesses them!  It'll be a riot to see how the old priest reacts!  But one of them said, 'Well, seeing how it's your idea, put up or shut up.  I bet you $20.00 you haven't got the guts to do it!’  The first guy took up the challenge.  A list of sins was drawn up and he went inside.
     “He came out of the church a few minutes later brandishing a piece of paper.  ‘Pay me, he said. Here's proof that I went to confession.’ He showed them the paper. His friends asked what the paper was.  “It's my penance,’ he said.  'Didn't the priest say anything?' They asked. 'Nothing -- he just handed me the paper.'  ‘Well   have you done the penance?’  'Don't be silly -- I'm not going to do any penance!'  'Uh-huh, yes you are,' his buddies said, 'We won't pay until you do the penance!'
     "So, he went back into the church and read the paper. 'Kneel before the crucifix at the altar and repeat ten times: All this you did for me and I don't give a damn.'   'No problem,'  he thought, and he knelt before the crucifix. 
     “But, he couldn't do it.  He sawed the nailed hands and feet, and the infinite in the eyes of the Crucified Christ.  'A half-hour later, his buddies wondered what had happened to him and went inside.  They found him crying like a baby at the altar rail.
     "Well, Father," the bishop said, "That's the story -- except for two things:  I was that young college student.  You were the priest!"


Like the Sower and the soil, and the elderly priest and the bishop, you and I may never know what good will be realized from planting the smallest seeds of kindness, of hope, of faith we plant in others.

If we don't allow ourselves to become impatient, or discouraged or intimidated away from what is good and right because others might misinterpret, misunderstand or ridicule it,  you and I can bring forth a rich harvest in very unexpected soil -- in people whom we might not expect to accept and live the Gospel!
“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One Nation Under god: Which god?



The One, True God: The Blessed Trinity
On this weekend in which we celebrate Independence as a nation, I find myself reminded of the Jewish people, the Israelites, who were waiting for a Savior to free them. 

The Book Of The Prophet Zechariah [9:9-10] communicates the LORD’S promise to His People, the Israelites:
 “Thus says the LORD: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.  He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior's bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.  His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”



The Israelites fought for their political and national independence for over 3,000 years.  They were slaves to the Egyptians, exiled to Babylon, subjected to Greek military takeover and then Roman military takeover.  They have been persecuted in our own times by the Nazis, the Soviet Communists, and Muslim Extremists.  The Jews’ national life has been precarious and difficult.







Our life as a nation has been easier.  We've been blessed in many ways.  

We are wealthy in natural resources.  
Until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011, our soil had been free of war
   since 1865.  

We have the highest standards of living in the world.  
We are leaders in world affairs, technology, and the exploration of outer space.  
We are an in-dependent  nation.  However...

Five questions haunt me during our celebration of Independence Day.  

First:   Are we losing sight of the truth that God has created human beings to be
inter-dependent  --  are we losing sight of depending on God and each other
           for our personal and national growth and happiness?

Second: Are we, as individuals and as a nation, becoming independent of GOD, setting
              up our own gods? 


Third: Who -- or what -- are our national gods, our false idols in the United States?  
Is it the almighty dollar, celebrities, the gross national product, our movies
              and TV and entertainments, our possessions?  Psychics and Mediums?

              The Internet? Drugs? Sex? Pornography? Leisure time? Football? Shopping?


The god Moloch, to whom babies and
children were burned as sacrifices.

Fourth: Can we proudly say that our nation is still 
                built upon the unchallengeable,
inalienable liberties that protect the 

                rights of all,  as we allow more than a
                million abortions of pre-born children per 

                year? As with the ancient Canaanites and
                later, the Israelites, who betrayed God and
                their Covenant with Him, we as a nation
                are now offering human sacrifices to the
                demonic god, Moloch (see image on left).

Fifth: Does our national moral code reflect 
               Gospel values like justice, modesty,
               compassion, humility, prayerfulness,
               moderation, fidelity, altruism, and
               charity?



As human beings living in the democratic republic known as the United States of America,  our spiritual lives are directly influenced by the cultural, political, and social prerogatives of our day.   


In the embrace of our nation's Independence Day celebration,  perhaps we might reflect upon whether we, personally as individuals, are IN-dependent of God and one another, or dependent on God and blessed by our INTER-dependence on one another.

The words of Christ in Saint Matthew’s Gospel [11:25-30] show us how to live a life of true freedom:  A life built upon trusting God and helping one another carry our personal burdens. 
At that time Jesus exclaimed:  "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these  things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.  Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."

What God the Father has hidden from the sophisticated, the proud, and the clever,  He has graciously revealed to those who depend upon Him like the smallest children -- while they serve others, and suffer for justice,  make peace, and hunger for holiness.

During this Independence Day weekend, may we offer the Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, praise for the blessings of our free and bountiful nation:  by recommitting ourselves to dependence upon God and Christ-like inter-dependence upon one another. 

So as the Prophet Zechariah told the Israelites, and tells us, "rejoice heartily!  Shout for joy" on this weekend of celebrating our nation's Independence Day!  

And may God continue to bless these United States of America, and make us one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all -- born and unborn!



Friday, June 20, 2014

Psychics, Mediums, And Their Clients Flout God's First Commandment



God prescribed Ten Commandments for us human beings, to protect us from sin and evil.
God's First Commandment reads:
I am the Lord your God: you shall not have
 strange gods before me. You shall not make for
 yourself a graven image.

According to my Dictionary, the verb, flout means:
To defy, refuse to obey, disobey, break, violate, fail to comply with, fail to observe, contravene, infringe, breach, commit a breach of, transgress against; ignore, disregard.


I'm concerned about our societal fascination with "ghosts" and trying to contact the dead.
In a lot of ways, this fascination with the Occult is increasing as our society distances itself further and further from God and true religion.  Ouija Boards. Séances. Psychics. Mediums. Tarot Cards. Astrology. Numerology.

What concerns me are the ways that people are seeking out these phenomena with no regard for the inherent spiritual and emotional dangers in these events.  These people's spiritual recklessness brings several metaphors to my mind:  
"Curiosity killed the cat"   
"If you play with fire, you are going to get burned."
"What you don't know CAN hurt you!"
Or as Steven Wright  once said: "Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. 
I got a full house and four people died.
(Sorry! Just a little humor!) 
But you catch my drift.  

Catholic theology defines the "Occult" and the “Occult arts” 
as the performing of actions beyond the power of human beings with the help of powers other than God’s Divine Power. Any attempt to use the Occult is a grievous sin against 
the virtue of religion. Moreover, prolonged participation in Occult practices can lead to demonic oppression or even possession.

In the ancient times, when God led His people, Israel, into the Promised land, the pagan peoples who inhabited that region were involved in some seriously evil Occult practices which they structured into "religions." They consulted psychics and mediums as an everyday activity.  They worshipped "gods" who were, in reality, demons.  The perfect example of this is the god Moloch.  

Moloch required his worshippers to sacrifice babies and young children -- sometimes teenagers -- by ritually murdering (stabbing) them and then "immolating" (burning) the children on a sacrificial altar of fire. Doing this "guaranteed" the worshipper a good crop at harvest, or success in some business dealings or in romance.

The LORD Our God could not have made it any clearer that His people must keep away from those "gods" and from the evil promoted by the Psychics and Mediums of that time. And now, in our time, God's prohibition still stands. To consult Psychics and Mediums is to willingly commit the sin of Idolatry,  violating God's First Commandment.  Read all about it:

Exodus 20:3-4  -  God's First Commandment
"I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before Me. You shall not have strange gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth."

Leviticus 19:31 

"Do not go to mediums or consult fortune tellers, for you will be defiled by them. I, the Lord, am your God."

Leviticus 20:6 
"Should anyone turn to mediums and fortune-tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people. Sanctify yourselves, then, and be holy: For I, the LORD, your God, am holy."

Deuteronomy 18: 9-14 
(Moses addressed God's People just before they crossed the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land, to drive out the pagan nations founded on demon "god" worship:) 
"When you come into the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abominations of the peoples there.  Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, or practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead.  Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, and because of such abominations the LORD, your God, is dispossessing them before you.  You must be altogether sincere with the LORD, your God. Although these nations whom you are about to dispossess listen to their soothsayers and diviners, the LORD, your God, will not permit you to do so."

2 Kings 17:17-23
With fire, they burned as sacrifices their sons and daughters, practiced fortune-telling and divination, and sold themselves into evil-doing in the Lord’s sight, provoking him till, in his great anger against Israel, the Lord put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left. However, even the people of Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord, their God, but followed the rites practiced by Israel. 
So the Lord rejected the whole race of Israel. He afflicted them and delivered them over to plunderers, finally casting them out from before him.  
Finally, the Lord put Israel away out of his sight as he had foretold through all his servants, the prophets; and Israel went into exile from their native soil to Assyria... .

So, my dear Academicians, take my advice:  
Attend to our God’s simple instructions!  

If God communicates His warning and He prohibits certain activities or forms of knowledge, then we human beings should be compliant and confident that He knows better than we do, and that His prohibitions are for our own safety and happiness.

To think and to do otherwise is reckless, excessive pride and immature defiance of God.  
Such sinful, exaggerated self-confidence almost always ends in self-destruction.

Theresa Caputo
So, this is why the Roman Catholic Church is against consulting Psychics, Mediums, Astrologers, Numerologists, and
 Tarot Card Readers: because God forbids it!  

If you are engaging in the Occult activities of acting as a Psychic, Medium, etc., you are flouting -- denying, disobeying, violating -- God's First Commandment.  

This is a serious Mortal Sin.

It could lead to your damnation to Hell.

John Edward



James Van Praagh

Sylvia Brown







F.Y.I.: A serious, grave or Mortal Sin is the knowing and willful violation of God's law in a serious matter, for example, idolatry, adultery, murder, slander. 
These are all things gravely contrary to the love we owe God. Mortal sin is called mortal because it is the "spiritual" death of the soul (separation from God).




There's Nothing Like A Soul-Killing Séance!
 If you are consulting and referring to Psychics, Mediums, etc., you are likewise flouting -- defying, ignoring, transgressing against -- God's First Commandment.
Oh, Boy!
Let's Have Some Demonic Family Fun!

Evil Portal That Only Leads To Trouble

This is a serious Mortal Sin. 

It could lead to your damnation to Hell.



I kid you not.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pope Francis Tells Pastors Which Actions Must Accompany Proclamation of The Gospel



Vatican City, 20 May 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis inaugurated the 66th assembly of Italian bishops, in which they will discuss proposals to amend the Statute and Regulation of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), as well as the “Guide to proclamation and catechesis in Italy”. They will also consider the theme “Christian education and missionary work in the light of the Apostolic exhortation 'Evangelii gaudium'. It is the first time that a pontiff has presided at an assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Francis structured his discourse in three points, directing these to bishops in their roles as pastors of the Church:
1. You are pastors of the Church which is the community of the Resurrected, 
2. You are pastors of the Church which is the Body of the Lord, and 
3. You are pastors of the Church which anticipates and promises the Kingdom. 


1.You are pastors of the Church which is the community of the Resurrected.  Pope Francis began by telling the bishops: “The people look to us. They look to us for help in grasping the singularity of their daily lives in God's providential plan”; and emphasised that “faith is the living memory of an encounter nurtured by the fire of the Word that shapes the ministry and anoints the people. … Without constant prayer, the Pastor is exposed to the danger of being ashamed of the Gospel, and ends up defusing the scandal of the Cross in worldly 'wisdom'”.
“The temptations, which aim to obscure the primacy of God and His Christ, are legion in the life of the Pastor: they range from lukewarmness, which leads to mediocrity … which dodges renunciation and sacrifice; then there is the temptation to haste in pastoral ministry, along with that sloth that leads to intolerance, almost as if everything were a burden. … There is a temptation to grow accustomed to sadness, cancelling out every expectation and creativity, leaving us unsatisfied and therefore incapable of entering into the lives of our people and understanding them in the light of Easter morning”.
To combat these temptations, the Pope urges the Italian bishops never to cease to seek the Lord, because “He is the principle and foundation that envelops our weaknesses with mercy, transforming and renewing everything; we are called to offer He Who is most precious to our people, so as not to leave them at the mercy of a society of indifference, indeed desperation. … If we want to follow him, there is no other path. Following it with Him, we discover that we are a people, to the point of recognising with wonder and gratitude that all is grace, even the difficulties and contradictions of human life, if these are lived with a heart open to the Lord”.


2. You are pastors of the Church which is the Body of the Lord.  Pope Francis remarked that the Church is the “other grace for which we must feel profoundly indebted. … Unity is a gift and responsibility, and its sacrament shapes our mission. … The lack of communion is the greatest scandal”, and “as Pastors, we must seek refuge from temptations that otherwise disfigure us; … the hardness of he who judges without being involved, and the laxity of those who acquiesce without taking responsibility for the other. … the ambition that generates 'currents', sectarianism … and then, the tendency to seek the lost security of the past, and the claims of those who wish to defend unity by denying diversity, thus humiliating the gifts with which God continues to keep His Church young and beautiful”.
“In relation to these temptations, ecclesial experience is the most effective antidote. It emanates from the sole Eucharist, whose cohesive strength generates fraternity, the ability to accept, forgive and walk together”. The Holy Father urged the bishops "to love people and communities with generous and total dedication” and to trust that “the holy people of God has the pulse to find the right roads. Accompany with breadth the growth of lay co-responsibility. ... With their insight and help, you will be able to avoid remaining attached to a pastoral of conversation – indeed, generic, dispersed, fragmented and of limited influence – and will instead adopt a form of pastoral care that focuses on the essential.”


3. You are pastors of the Church which anticipates and promises the Kingdom.  Francis commented that “serving the Kingdom means living a life de-centred from oneself, striving for the encounter that is the path for truly rediscovering what we are: proclaimers of the truth of Christ and His mercy. ... With this clarity, brothers, may your proclamation be cadenced by the eloquence of gestures. ... And, among the 'places' in which your presence seems to me to be most necessary and meaningful ... there is, first and foremost, the family. Nowadays, the domestic community is strongly penalized by a culture that privileges individual rights and transmits a logic of the temporary. Promote the life of the unborn child as well as that of the elderly. ... And do not forget to tend, with the compassion of the Samaritan, to those who are emotionally wounded and whose plans for life are compromised.”
Another space that the bishops must not desert is the “waiting room crowded with the unemployed ... where the drama of those who do not know how to bring bread home to the table encounters that of those who are not able to keep their businesses afloat. It is an historic emergency, that appeals to the social responsibility of all: as Church, let us not give in to catastrophism and resignation, instead supporting with every form of creative solidarity the efforts of those who, without work, feel deprived even of their dignity. ... Finally, there is the welcoming embrace to migrants: they flee intolerance, persecution, a bleak future. May no-one turn their gaze away! ... And, more generally, in the difficult situations that so many of our contemporaries, may they find you attentive and participatory, ready to re-examine the current model of development that exploits creation, sacrifices people at the altar of profit and creates new forms of marginalisation and exclusion.”

“Reach out towards whoever asks to reason for the hope that is in you; welcome their culture, offer them respectfully the memory of faith and the company of the Church, the signs of brotherhood, gratitude and solidarity, that anticipate in man's days the reflections of a Sunday without end.”

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be with you!



The force of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that is!

The  Catholic Church - bringing the light of the truth to a dark world for over 2,000 years

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I See Dead People. Don't You?


video
The Sixth Sense (1999) Spyglass Entertainment
Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

From The Holy Gospel According To John
[11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45]
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that [Lazarus] was ill, Jesus remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Remember that movie, The Sixth Sense?  In that movie, there’s a little boy who says, “I see dead people.”  Well, you know what?   I see dead people, too.  I see them all the time. As a matter of fact, you may be one of those dead people.

     Nowadays, many people have become the "living dead" -- they have allowed something to die inside.  Irma Bombeck, that humorous news columnist, once said, "If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead."

I think she’s on to something!  Let’s follow that line of reasoning:

  • Let’s consider people who have a good job and a comfortable life, but will not take a Saturday morning off to see their son pitch in Little League? 
  • Or people who will not take an evening off from work to see their daughter perform in a dance recital? 
Shouldn’t these people be certified as dead?  For all practical purposes, aren't these people dead to their children?
  • How about people who never take a few hours to visit their aging parents?
  • People who make no effort to comfort sick or lonely friends or neighbors? 

Aren't they dead to those people needing comfort and support?


  •  Or people who are too busy / too tired / have more important things to do / blah-blah-blah, and so they simply “cannot” go to worship God at Sunday Mass?
  •  Or people who even will not make time to pray?

 Aren’t these people behaving as if God is dead?


     When you think it over, you can really see -- these people all have something in common with Lazarus.  Like Lazarus, they have been buried.  

     However, the big difference between Lazarus and them, is that Lazarus was medically dead and was buried by others: the people in our time have buried themselves... alive!   They have chosen to become dead: Dead to God, dead to their spouses, their children, their families, friends and neighbors.  They are dead because no one can share life with them. 

     Like I said earlier: I see dead people. I  see dead people all the time. And so do you! Nowadays, many people have become the "living dead"!   They have allowed something to die inside.   Spiritually, they have become entombed, buried alive –  by hopelessness, by selfishness, by their own plans and schedules.

     You and I can become obsessed with our own blind pursuits of money, ambition, security, popularity, power, pleasure, or sex.  We can obsessively chase after relaxation, entertainment, diversions, escapism.   We can crave these things so much, that we allow them to bury us.  And, then, we become absent, missing, "dead" to the people and to life existing around us. 

     In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Our Lord commanded Lazarus to return to life. And Lazarus emerged from the tomb, still tied-up in the burial wrappings. Then Our Lord Jesus called out for the bystanders to untie Lazarus from the wrappings of the dead.   To be freed.  To resume his life once again. 
     We are called by Christ to be exhumed, disinterred from the decisions and things that we allow to make us dead inside -- from the attitudes that we allow to overwhelm our souls, and which keep us from loving God and others, and from being loved by God and by others.
            Christ wasn’t calling only to Lazarus.  He is calling to all of us!  Listen!  Jesus Christ is calling us – to free us from what is dead and lifeless – to return to living and loving God and one another. 
     Listen: He’s calling you personally,  telling you, “Dig yourself out of your tomb!  Come out!  Come back to life!”


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One Year Since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Announced His Resignation





I cannot believe it has been one whole year since Pope Benedict XVI, one of the most humble pontiffs in history, announced his resignation from the papacy.  Though his resignation brought great sadness, it is so fulfilling to see the amazing work accomplished this past year by his humility through the graces of Pope Francis.  We continue to pray for Pope Francis and for our Pope Emeritus, who has been such a great inspiration in my life and the lives of many others.  

I can truly say that I am a faithful Catholic, because of the role Pope Benedict has had in my life.  He inspired me through his Petrine ministry and continues to inspire in his many writings.  He is a man full of undying love for God and for Holy Mother Church. 

Below is an article about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from an interview with Archbishop Ganswein:

A year after the resignation of Pope Benedict- no regrets

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sacrament Of Penance, The “Sultan Of Swat”, And Our Lord Jesus Christ



+ From The Holy Gospel According To Saint Matthew [Mt. 4:12-23]
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles,the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by deathlight has arisen.From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

I came across this true story, recounted by Father Mark Link, SJ, who wrote a homiletic reflection about it in 1990. Thought I'd share it with you, our esteemed Academicians!

Ever hear of a guy named George Herman Ruth, Jr.? 
He was also known as "Babe" Ruth
-- The Bambino, The Sultan Of Swat, The Caliph of Clout, The Behemoth of Bust --
One of the most colorful and famous names in the history of Major League Baseball.

The words of Our Lord Jesus -- "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" -- took on a special meaning for Babe Ruth one cold December night in 1946. He explained why in an article in The Guideposts Magazine in August 1948. This is what he wrote:
"While I drifted away from the church, I did have my own "altar," a big window of my New York apartment overlooking the city lights. Often I would kneel before that window and say my prayers. I would feel quite humble then. I'd ask God to help me not make such a big fool of myself and pray that I'd measure up to what He expected of me."
On that cold December night in 1946, however, the Babe was lying in bed in a New York hospital, seriously ill. The Babe realized that the Kingdom of God was, perhaps, at hand for him. He knew he had to take seriously Jesus' words: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Paul Carey, one of the Babe's oldest and closest friends was at his side. After a while, as Babe Ruth tells it, 
In December, 1946 I was in French Hospital, New York, facing a serious operation. Paul Carey, one of my oldest and closest friends, was by my bed one night."They're going to operate in the morning, Babe," Paul said. "Don't you think you ought to put your house in order?"I didn't dodge the long, challenging look in his eyes. I knew what he meant. For the first time I realized that death might strike me out. I nodded, and Paul got up, called in a Chaplain, and I made a full confession."I'll return in the morning and give you Holy Communion," the chaplain said," But you don't have to fast." [It was the practice in the 1940s to fast from midnight when receiving Communion the next day.]    "I'll fast," I said. I didn't have even a drop of water.  As I lay in bed that evening I thought to myself what a comforting feeling to be free from fear and worries. I now could simply turn them over to God.
Babe Ruth's experience of profound peace after receiving the Sacrament of Penance is a common experience among Catholics. It's a peace that must be experienced to be appreciated. It's a peace that comes only from the Sacrament of Penance. 
A peace that Our Lord Jesus gave to that Sacrament when He instituted it on Easter Sunday night, saying to His Apostles: Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.[John 20:21-23]

However, the peace of the Sacrament of Penance comes at a price. And the price is a humble admission that we are, indeed, sinners -- who want to reform our lives.

I think the explanation as to why so many people experience deep peace in the Sacrament of Penance is because they experience the Sacrament for what it really is: An encounter with the merciful Jesus.

  • It's an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so gently with the paralyzed man, saying, "Your sins are forgiven." [Luke 5:20]
  • It's an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so tenderly with the woman caught in the act of adultery, saying, "Neither do I condemn you." [John 8:11]
  • It's an encounter with the merciful Jesus who dealt so compassionately from the cross with His enemies, saying, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." [Luke 23:34]
Right now, Our Lord Jesus is saying to us, "Reform your lives! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This is our invitation to encounter the merciful Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance, and to experience for ourselves the peace that filled the heart of Babe Ruth on that cold December night in 1946.

May the prophet Isaiah's words [Is. 8:23—9:3] be fulfilled for us: 
Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing ... .

Recalling Our Lord’s Parable of The Prodigal Son [Luke 15:11-32], let us return to the Father of mercy and say,

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your child.
Purify my heart,
And help me walk as a child of light.



Babe Ruth [1895-1948]
Buried in Gate Of Heaven Cemetery, Mount Pleasant, New York

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