Tuesday, January 23, 2018
+ Today we celebrate the feast of St Marianne Cope, whose life was called “a wonderful work of divine grace” by Cardinal Jose Martins at her beatification in Rome in 2005. And a life filled with God’s grace it was.
Born on January 23, 1838 in Germany, the girl was named Barbara after her mother. The Cope family emigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York. Young Barbara began working in a factory, until she went to join the Sisters of the Third Order of St France is Syracuse, New York. After profession she was assigned teaching posts throughout the region. She was later elected provincial of the Order twice.
In 1883 the Hawaiian government was searching for someone to work with those suspected of having leprosy. 50 orders throughout the country responded to the call, and 35 sisters from Syracuse volunteered immediately. When they arrived, they opened a hospital and a school for girls.
She and her sisters later went to work with Fr. Damien de Veuster in his leper colony for men and boys. Never once in all their years working there did any of the sisters ever contract the disease. The sisters of her order still work on Molokai.
Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918, was beatified in 2005 and canonized in 2012. She will be remembered most for her willingness to sacrifice everything for those she was caring for, with unflinching courage, “smiling sweetly through it all.”
The readings today tell us of the fuel of her fire to love souls, and sick bodies for love of God – it was her life as a religious, whose entire focus was on Christ, always. She was a bride of Christ, serving her Bridegroom in his weakest members – and now she reigns with Christ to intercede for us and our needs.
St. Marianne Cope, pray for us.
ps. I have particular devotion to St. Marianne because the Franciscan Sisters who staffed my home parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Endicott, New York – when I was a child – were of her order. They established the largest CCD program in the diocese of Syracuse right in my parish.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
+ What classic readings we have for mass today! In the first reading, David learns that both Saul and Jonathan have been killed in battle! His grief is enormous for he had very different but intimate relationship with both of them.
He was Saul’s protégé and was given latitude and great responsibilities because Saul knew he would be a significant figure in the future of the people of Israel.
With Jonathan he had a deep and iconic relationship of true friendship, whose boundaries were allowed to appear to go father than similar relationships between other men. There was no reported sexual relationship but there was quite obviously a “homosocial bond” that was simply iron-clad and irrevocable!
The magnificent poetic arial/lament in this reading is about the most powerful in all of Scripture – because it is so human and divine at the same time.
Alas, the glory of Israel has been slain on your heights!
How did the heroes fall?
Saul and Jonathan, loved and lovely,
neither in life, nor in death, were divided.
Swifter than eagles were they,
stronger were they than lions.
O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul
who clothed you in scarlet and fine linen,
who set brooches of gold
on your garments.
How did the heroes fall
in the thick of the battle?
O Jonathan, in your death I am stricken,
I am desolate for you, Jonathan my brother.
Very dear to me you were,
your love to me more wonderful
than the love of a woman.
How did the heroes fall
and the battle armour fail?
WOW! And in the gospel, passage we have a strategically placed idea that oftentimes Jesus was considered “out of his mind” – because he went about talking about unconditional love, reconciliation, peace, joy, the revelation of real and credible values and morals, and he cured people to awaken faith – and for some odd reason people kept following him around and sought him out so that he barely had any space or time for himself.
So, when you go about doing inspired deeds, and spouting off genuine and authentic and “piercing to the heart’ words of wisdom and hope – you might be called “crazy” too – but if so you are in very good company – and are most certainly staying on the path to sanctity that God is calling you to.
Open our hearts, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son!
Friday, January 19, 2018
+ Today we have interesting readings. In the first reading, it seems that Saul and David had a rather rocky relationship. Saul was king and commander of the people of Israel. David got a position of trust in Saul’s court because he was known to be an astute and wise person. But, court politics being what they were, with false witnesses abounding – much like we have in our own modern-day politics – and David was accused of being traitorous to Saul – and in fact Saul, was even in fact jealous of David because of his ease of thought process and governing ability. He felt threatened by Saul. And so he took troops and went to eradicate David.
David was hiding in a cave, being tipped off by Saul’s son, Jonathan, who was very fond of David, and who entered into an inspired man-to-man relationship of fondness and admiration that is a classic for all times,
Now, Saul just happened upon the cave where David was hiding. David’s small cohort of men spied this and said to David: “Wow, God had delivered your enemy right into your hands – he’s right here in this cave. So David snuck up on Saul and cut off the border of his cloak: in another historic and classical gesture: demonstrating to Saul how close – literally – he was to him, and chose this option rather than ramming him through with a sword!
Saul got the message and changed his tune about David: he praised him for his mercy, compassion and uncommon act of maturity and insight – and he restored him to his place in his court and felt differently about him from then on.
Sometimes we are faced with a similar situation where our enemies are dropped right in front of us: a person focused on God, his will, his ways, his thoughts and his justice – arrived at through constant prayer, study and action of self-sacrificial service to people – would react as David did – ultimately letting God be the judge – realizing that men sometimes do stupid and irrational things – and that we ourselves often do them ourselves – so we cannot, and ought not really “cast the first stone” – as found in another gospel passage.
In the gospel passage today: Jesus chooses a rag-tag group of fishermen to be his intimate crowd – with whom he would become open, transparent, vulnerable, intimate and quite literally at one point – on Crucifixion Day – naked! They would be the one’s to transmit the naked truth of Truth, Justice, Beauty, Goodness, Forgiveness and Reconciliation with God to the ends of the earth.
This unadulterated message is available to us this very day: are we mature enough, spiritually grown up enough to grasp it with the hands of faith – and integrate it into our marvelously constructed spiritual and even physical and mental selves.
Or do we think we are smarter than God?
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
+ The life of St Antony of Egypt (215-256) reminds us a great deal of that of St Francis of Assisi. Both saintly men were moved by the Gospel imperative “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.” This Antony did with his large inheritance. While St Francis stayed in the world working among the poor, St Antony found the snares of evil in the world too much for him and, so he was moved to a solitary life of mortification and prayer – life in the desert – life we might say in the nakedness of nature, the nakedness of purity and absolute trust in God for everything - but great numbers went out to him for spiritual guidance and healing.
And so, when he was 54 he set up a series of cells nearby where his devotees could live this first “monastic” kind of lifestyle – thus making him the true and authentic founder of monasticism.
He was also active in fighting the ills that were a part of church life: especially the Arian heresy.
Antony died in solitude at age 105.
Our first reading today reminds us that if we put on the armor of God – faith in him and trust in his providential care – we can do great things for him. And of course, the gospel is the classic one which inspired a great many saints and not only Antony and Francis: “Go, and sell what you have, and give to the poor – you will then have treasure in heaven – then, come follow me.” It is in this vain that St. Francis resembled his predecessor, by telling them to go and to follow naked, the naked Christ. We are saints if we are trending towards this attitude and lifestyle this very day. We are saints of God in the making! St Antony of Egypt, pray for us!
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
+ Today we consider the true meaning of “Sabbath.” Saturday, for the Jewish nation, is a symbol of a love Alliance between God and mankind. Creation, and all its manifest glory, is conceived as a space, an arena, for the Alliance, as a meeting place between God and man, as a place to worship.
And so our gospel today is about true worship.
True worship, the true offering to God cannot be the destruction of something (to sacrifice an animal for example), but it is rather the union of man and creation with God.
Belonging to God has nothing to do with destruction or “non-being”, but rather a way of being (“to be with God”).
Sabbath means to return to the origins, to clean up the pollution that our works have produced, but when man refuses the “leisure of God” – worshipping – then he becomes “a business slave”.
Sabbath more importantly has to do with God’s way of seeing it, rather than us. He sees it as the Table of the Last Supper ultimately – and so should we.
Lord, may nothing come before being fed by you, and service to you.
Monday, January 15, 2018
+ In our first reading series, we see today from the Book of Samuel, that newly installed King Saul has already fallen out of favor with God; he defeated the Amalekites, but then his men stole the spoil of sheep and oxen, the best of what had been banned, with the excuse of wanting to offer them in sacrifice to the Lord in Gilgal. God, through Samuel, told this errant people that he desires obedience rather than sacrifice; obedience to his will in all things, even the small details.
In the gospel passage we see another example of obedience to a law: this time the law of fasting. It seems that John the Baptist’s and the Pharisees’ disciples did the accustomed ritual fasting, while Jesus’ disciples did not do this on a regular basis. Jesus intervenes in this case however, being the law, and does in fact excuse his disciples from the ordinary discipline because they are in the presence of greatness, the bounty of the Lord – and they need to be able to take in as much of him as they can, in newer and deeper ways daily, so that one day his example of self-sacrifice would make better sense to them, and be an example to them afterwards, that to really be in touch with him from then on, periods of fasting would definitely then be expected.
May we today receive newer and deeper understandings of God’s will and ways – obediently -- the ways of self-giving and sacrifice – so that we may be pleasing to the Lord when the gates of the great heavenly hall are opened, and the wedding feast of the Lamb begins, and all fasting and preliminary disciplining shall have ended.
To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 18, 2018
I –Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
R –Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
II – Your bodies are members of Christ.
A – We have found the Messiah: Jesus Christ, who brings us truth and grace.
G –They saw where he was staying and they stayed with him.
+ Today we begin the 34 weeks “Ordinary Time” series of Sunday celebrations – which will only be interrupted beginning in mid-February for a 15-week Lent/Easter Season highlight. As we set the stage for these 34 “counting [ordinal] weeks” or “teaching weeks,” we find a three-part theme today: the calling of qualified “teachers,” the willingness of would-be students, the authenticity of the Master-Teacher.
· The first part regarding the calling of qualified “teachers,” we see in the first reading how Samuel is called personally by God to be his spokesman, to be a Prophet beyond reproach, to work with God’s people during a particularly difficult time in their growth and development. Samuel did not doubt the Lord’s selection of him as “teacher” “intercessor” “friend” of his people; and he is therefore set up for us as a model for “listening” to the call of God when it comes, however it may come, so to do what he wants us to do in helping others.
· The second part has to do with the audience, the students, the disciples who will benefit from what a teacher has to say: it is often said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear; in this case the people of God who seemed to be always finding themselves in all kinds of compromising situations having to do with their salvation; God, being very fond of this people, therefore, sends them always the personnel they need when they need it: at this time in their history they needed Prophets who would speak loudly to them his wishes, desires, exhortations and warnings; and the people for the most part were quite ready to listen, to specially chosen ministers such as Samuel.
· Lastly, the third part of the teaching theme has to do with the Truth, the Rock, the Authenticity of the chief Message and Messenger – who are one and the same Person: Jesus Christ. All of the Prophets pointed to Jesus; the truths they were delivering from God, pointed to God’s own delivering to his people of his own Word, the Truth, the Message-made-flesh – so that we could be absolutely certain that where we stand now is exactly where we need to be, and that the fulfillment of all of our dreams for health and wholeness, justice and peace would be beyond our wildest imaginings – in a Kingdom yet to be fully revealed!
And so as we begin our trek through this liturgical landscape of sights and sounds and smells of the ancient world, this new liturgical year, which will be different than any other year, because this new year has never been here before, and we are not the same person, in many ways that we were last year at this new beginning - may we be assured that our Guide, our Master, our Teacher, our Friend: Jesus, will point out everything we need to know for our spiritual welfare day by day; and that at the end of this year’s journey, we may be much more deeply in love with him, and his Father, and his Mother Mary, and all the saints who live and have lived his message, his teachings, to the maximum, throughout the ages, thus encouraging us with hope and giving us the same to share with others.
We have found the Messiah; Jesus Christ, who brings us truth and grace.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
+ Today we have a marvelously funny fist reading, in one regard: and that would be “language used”! A man named Kish, wait, that’s not the funny part, had a son named Saul, (and no this is not the guy who later became known as Paul), who apparently was a “handsome-giant-of-a-guy” – who towered above other people in the land. Now comes the funny part, Saul’s father’s asses had wandered off – and so Kish told his servants to go out and hunt for the asses! Ah, getting funnier!
And so, they went looking for asses – and lo, and behold, Samuel caught sight of Saul: and the Lord then whispers to Samuel: “This is the man of whom I told you; he is to govern my people.” Then, right then and there, Samuel grasps the flask he had with him, full of oil, [imagine that], and he poured it on Saul’s head: this is where it stops being funny, and begins to be amazingly prophetic and awesome: while pouring, Samuel says to Saul: The Lord anoints you commander over his heritage. You are to govern the Lord’s people Israel, and to save them from the grasp of their enemy’s roundabout!
Now, the comedy is over, and the blessed assurance that God the Father is deeply involved in the lives of his people whom he is trying to establish as the immediate family into which his own Divine Son would be born someday!
In the gospel passage, this Divine Son – the Word Made Flesh – Jesus, Messiah and Lord – demonstrates that he has come to save the family of Israel first, then everyone else from sure eternal death, due to the sin that need no longer affect them because of his self-sacrificial death that would prove the utter depths of God’s love for all humanity!
We are among those descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Saul, Samuel, Solomon and David. We are the new family of God – he loves us so, he is just as intimately involved in our lives daily, as he was for a thousand generations of believing people. And so, we pray today, Lord, increase of faith, our belief and our actions that prove we believe that you love us beyond all telling, you want to be involved in health and healings of all kinds, great and small, and that you are with us until the end of time!
The Lord sent Jesus, and he send us to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives – to the very people he will place in our lives this day – even to the asses that we might find there.
God bless you!
Friday, January 12, 2018
+ The “splendor of our strength” is the Lord who is our King and our God – it is not “what we can make of ourselves in the sight of the other nations.” It is not up to us – as God’s people – to reinvent anything at all about ourselves – but rather to take the reality of our lives, rejoice, thank God, and live them according to his dictates, not telling him what he ought to be doing in our regard.
Now Israel demanded that Samuel appoint for them a king – so they would be “like the other nations” – thus, in essence, taking away God’s authority over them. This, of course, just begs for God to bring “his kind of justice” later on, with yet another lesson in humility and the need for reconciliation.
The scribes of Jesus’ day are self-appointed “fashioners of God’s designs” – and they fail to win the respect of others, least of all Jesus who has genuine authority – not only to heal the ills of nature, but also those of super-nature – to forgive sins.
Yes, “the splendor of our strength” is walking in the light of the Lord’s countenance – the light of the Lord of the universe – the Light of Christ himself.
All we have to do in a practical way is to show up where the Spirit leads us – and just “beam out” the Light of Christ – by “doing nothing” and “letting God do everything for us! – which is in effect “doing something” – to get out of the way so that God can get to people using us, completely!
A great prophet [a great light] has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people! Hurray! Hurray!
Thursday, January 11, 2018
+ Today in our first reading we see how Israel was beaten by the Philistines: even with the ark of the Lord present, the Philistines were victorious: they did not become the slaves of the Israelites. Israel then cries out: “Woe to us! This has never happened before! Who can now deliver us from the power of the gods of these heathens? Why has the Lord permitted us to be defeated?”
The leper in the Gospel passage probably asked himself the same question. “Woe to me! I am captive to the gods of sickness and disease! Why do the gods, even this God of Jesus, permit me to be defeated by this wretched condition?” A very good question as well.
But if he had not been “defeated” by leprosy, he never would have attracted the attention and pity of Jesus. “Our woe and oppression” disposes us to God’s mercy and healing.”
It is vital for us to remember this overarching spiritual principle: Jesus did not come to save “well people” – but sick ones - those on whom he can show his greatest attribute of all – his MERCY.
In reality, in God’s eyes, we are all sick, we are all dis-eased, we all have conditions and proclivities that make us less than what he would have us be – we are all in need of his mercy! So why deny it?
It is up to us therefore to ASK, simply ask, humbly and sincerely, for his mercy and compassion – and it will be instantaneously given – though its effects may take some time to play out in our history.
“If you wish, you can make me clean, Lord Christ! Moved with pity, Jesus stretches out his hand to us and says “I do will it! Be made clean! Be healed!”
And after our healing for a particular misery, in our case, Jesus wants us to proclaim the healing quite freely – so that everyone can experience the overwhelming generosity and love of God’s healing touch!
Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
+ Today we continue the important reading about Samuel, the son of Hannah’s old age – in it we see set up the grand paradigm of right relation to God as his instrument, as his ambassador. The right relation in question is the attitude and active intent of “listening to the voice of God speaking, listening as his servant” – him who is the Master Artist, Designer and Architect of, well, everything, and everyone. Wouldn’t you rather respond to the promptings of one who has implanted in you a “listening device,” much like TV anchor persons has the ear piece connecting them to their control room producers and directors, advising them of what’s next on the agenda of the show.
The device is really there, it is called “conscience” – it is called the “seat of wisdom” – it is called right reasoning – it is called humility – knowing that we do not know where we are going, really, and so we need someone in the control room providing boundaries and encouragements so that we go the way he intends, so that all works out well for all involved in the day he has planned for you and the others involved in your life in some way.
And so we have Samuel asleep who hears the voice of God calling him: “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel does not know what is going on, so he goes and asks his mentor: the first two times Eli them mentor, just tells him to go back to sleep – but the third time – there is always a third, confirming, time, he tells Samuel to say to classic words: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening!” And the rest, as they say is history. Samuel is launched into the best and greatest adventure of his life, by giving up the driver’s seat of the vehicle of his life; and God now has a truly will collaborator, friend and servant to do his bidding so that a great many people can be put on the right track to heaven.
Needless to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening!” is a great way to launch yourself into your day, as soon as you become conscious in your bed – a great way indeed. What an adventure you will be a part of in the next 18 hours.
The gospel passage is related to all this in some way: Jesus is seen moving and not lingering, from one town to another – “speaking loudly to people of God’s compassionate and forgiving love and care.” He speaks both using words, and the actions of miracles. To those who “LISTEN and RESPOND” great things begin happening in their lives, to those who don’t, can’t or won’t – well, it will take a bit longer to get their attention. But we pray, that one day all will be stung by the words, works, of Jesus – and begin freely to take in what he says, and does, and allow it to make a critical, real and awesome difference in their lives, and the lives of those who touch theirs.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord. I know them, and they follow me.
Monday, January 8, 2018
The Baptism of the Lord – January 8, 2018
I Behold my servant with whom I am well pleased.
R –The Lord will bless his people with peace.
II – God anointed him with the Holy Spirit.
A – The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered: This is my beloved Son, listen to him.
G –You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.
+ The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, tells us two astounding facts: that Jesus is the Beloved Son of the Father – and that we had better listen to him; and that after we listen, we are invited to respond to what we have heard by becoming incorporated into his very life, by our own baptism, into the Church that he set up for that very purpose, which makes us astoundingly enough, not only members of his very own Body, but also adopted children of the same Father, with Jesus as our elder brother, and each other as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are God’s children – for real and for sure! There is enough there to meditate on for the rest of our lives!
Our readings today tell us how Jesus’ baptism was not for the repentance of his sin because Jesus never had any sin; Jesus was baptized for us, demonstrating himself the way in which we are to be incorporated into himself. But God the Father used the occasion for a great show light and power when he thundered: THIS IS MY BELOVED SON! LISTEN TO HIM! This is my beloved Son, listen to him! Listen to him and respond to what you hear and you will have everything you need for life here and hereafter: you will be able to have your sins forgiven – when you ask for them to be; and you will be welcomed into eternal life in the Father’s house and the end of your days on earth! All this: for listening and responding: listening to the Scriptures, listening to the homilies, listening to the teachings of the Church which are there for our guidance and our growth and then responding in love!
And it is not to his own people alone that Jesus offers such salvation; but to the whole world – all the nations, everywhere. This is very good news!
May we recall also that the baptized one, whom we recall today, is also the Suffering Servant, the kind, gentle, loving, shepherd of the sheep: who would change everything forever – but at the cost of his own life! Is that even possible for God to die?
Thank you God, for being an amazing elder brother – come to save us; may we be true, authentic, genuine and real adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and brothers and sisters of you to whom we look for help, mercy and forgiveness but most of all: lasting and permanent friendship and peace in your Kingdom!
The Lord will bless his people with peace!
Sunday, January 7, 2018
The Epiphany of the Lord – January 7, 2018
I –The glory of the Lord shine upon you.
R –Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
II – Now it has been revealed that the Gentiles are coheirs of the promise.
A – We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.
G –We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.
+ Today we celebrate the arrival of the Magi, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This presentation of gifts to the Christ Child is an obvious reference to the gift-giving nature of this Season of the year. Just as the gifts we give, these gifts were not arbitrary, something they picked up on their way out the door; they were carefully chosen and prophetic in origin and nature: gold for Christ the King, who came from obvious royal lineage; frankincense, for Christ the Priest, who would offer his life on the altar of the Cross; and myrrh, (an embalming ointment) that signified the death of Christ the Savior of the World.
These three Kings, these three Wise Men, these three Magi followed the Star of Bethlehem to find him resting in the arms of his adoring mother, Mary; and guarded by his foster-father, Joseph. And what they found was that the Light that was the Child shone brighter than any star, and they message they got was that this Child would illumine the entire world from that moment on: not just the insular surroundings of Bethlehem, but the entire world: this Child is indeed the Desire of the Nations: all of them: he is Light of all Nations, and the glory of His people Israel: he has come to change nothing, he has come to change everything.
What a magnificent feast this is, both in its revelation of Christ as the one true, awaited Messiah; but as Savior for any in the whole world who would simply believe in Him, and commit themselves to living their whole lives long like they did believe in Him, following his words and ways, as members of his Body, as members of his Church.
The task henceforth for his own people would be to accept him, and believe; for everyone else: the entire Gentile (non-Jewish) world, it would be in gradual stages to get to know about him, by first hearing about him, listening to preaching about him, and then by allowing themselves to be drawn into the life of his Body, the life of his Church, where he and his Father, eventually wants all to be. This would be a long process because the darkness of the human mind is not only very dark, but deceptively so: it tells so many that there is no other way, and that “false lights” are the best hope, as a poor substitute for what hearts deeply long for.
This, of course, is not true; there is another way, a way of Light and Blessed Assurance; a way of truth, and a way of peace. It just takes an initial “leap of faith” – which itself is God’s gift: we really don’t have to do anything at all, except use our precious gift of free-will to acknowledge its Creator, its Sustainer and its Redeemer.
Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; let our nation soon be among the first to make significant inroads in realizing this prophecy; let the people of our land be among the first to truly love and serve God as he would be loved and served, if only by following the guiding star of the perfect natural law that is within every human heart!
Saturday, January 6, 2018
+ Today the Church on the North American continent rejoices in the feast day celebration of Brother Andre Bessette – the Miracle Man of Montreal – a saint! Canonized on October 17, 2010, St. Andre Bessette is an outstanding example of a poor, humble, servant of the Church as doorkeeper of Notre Dame College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross- for forty years. Not even expected to live at birth, always sickly in life, only 4’2” tall – this giant of a compassionate soul touched millions of lives, without even himself trying.
To Brother Andre it was all the work of St. Joseph to whom he had a fierce devotion and loyalty. He found early on that St. Joseph was curing people of all kinds of ailments and diseases simply by his encouraging them to pray to him and rubbing oil from the St. Joseph Altar lamp in the college chapel, or a medal of St. Joseph. When the thousands of “miracles” were attributed to Brother Andre he was very quick to disclaim any credit: it is all St. Joseph: it is not me at all: I am only his little “puppy dog!”
It was Andre’s dream to build a worthy shrine to St. Joseph nearby – but with the interference first of his own community, and then World War I, the completion of what is now known as St. Joseph’s Oratory on Mount Royal was a long time in coming, and the result of many temporary stages of development.
At the age of 92, Andre died on January 6, 1937 before seeing the completion of his dream. But he knew it would be completed and he continued to give St. Joseph all the credit to his very last breath! Over a million people came to the oratory to pay their last respects. It almost seems like there is now a fourth member of the Holy Family, for it is almost impossible to even say the words St. Joseph, without now thinking immediately of St. Andre Bessette – his devoted friend in life and his dear companion in death!
And it seems equally impossible to say: St. Andre Bessette without also calling to mind St. Joseph! With such a duo praying on our behalf – we cannot go wrong! St. Andre / St. Joseph – pray for us – intercede for us in our infirmities, our diseases, our conditions and our illnesses!
Merci, Frere Andre Bessette! Merci, Saint Joseph! Merci, mon chers amis!
Thursday, January 4, 2018
+ Elizabeth Ann Seton was born into an influential Episcopalian family, the daughter of Dr. Richard Bayley. She was raised in New York high society of the late 18th century. Her mother died when Elizabeth was three years old, her baby sister a year later. In 1794 at the age of 19 she married the wealthy businessman William Magee Seton, and became the mother of five.
About ten years into the marriage, William’s business failed, and soon after he died of tuberculosis, leaving Elizabeth an impoverished widow with five small children. For years Elizabeth had felt drawn to Catholicism, believing in the Real Presence of the Eucharist and in the lineage of the Church going back to Christ and the Apostles. She converted to Catholicism, entering the Church on March 14, 1805, alienating many of her strict Episcopalian family in the process.
To support her family, and insure the proper education of her children, she opened a school in Boston. Though a private and secular institution, from the beginning she ran it along the lines of a religious community. At the invitation of the archbishop, she established a Catholic girl’s school in Baltimore, Maryland (in conjunction with St. John Neumann) which initiated the parochial school system in America.
To run the system, she founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809, the first native American religious community for women, whose Rule was based on that of St. Vincent de Paul, of France. She and eighteen sisters comprised the first community based in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Mother Seton died in Emmitsburg on January 4, 1821.
By her death, her communities were twenty in number and spread throughout the United States, the rest of North America and South America, and Italy. She was beatified in 1963 by Pope John XXIII, and canonized on September 14, 1975 by Pope Paul VI.
Our readings today, though of the Christmas Season, fit in with a celebration honoring St Elizabeth Seton: St. John continues to speak about “children of God:” Mother Seton’s primary goal in life was to teach everyone, especially the young, that they can be – by participation in the life of the Church – real, true and authentic children of God. She also taught that the alternative is being a child of the devil who creates nothing but chaos and confusion, and is therefore easily recognizable.
The gospel passage shows Andrew bringing his brother Simon to Jesus (who names him Rock (on which he would one day build the church)); Elizabeth Seton led so very many people, in so very many lands to Jesus for him to touch, and love and transform and lead to heaven – beginning at “her rock” on what is now the campus of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg.
All you saints of God, praise the Lord!
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
+ January 3rd historically known as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. In the first reading, from the feast, we have St. Paul’s marvelous description of the condescension of Christ, to become one of his own creatures: though he was in the form of God… he didn’t grasp at that reality, but rather he bounded from that form, and pitched his tent on earth, first in the womb of the virgin, then, with bare feet planted firmly on the ground, as one of us, completely, save sin, and became obedient to the Father’s reconciliatory will – even with it meaning death on a cross, in all its stark nakedness:
because of this God highly exalted him, bestowing on him the name above every other name in heaven and on earth: JESUS, SAVIOR, LORD, KING, FRIEND, HEALER, RECONCILER! and, yes, every knee, everywhere, should and will bend when the name is sounded, and every tongue will one day confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory and honor of God, his Father and ours!
The gospel passage shows the beginnings of the humiliations (in a good sense) that Jesus underwent, during his circumcision (the first shedding of his royal and precious divine blood for us and for our salvation), his first act of self-sacrifice on our behalf, with the conferral of the Name Jesus, which was given by the angel before he was even conceived in Mary’s womb.
And in his own name (with his own power) he cured every disease and illness among the people – and people began to follow this Jesus, this Christ, who was unlike anyone else they had ever met! And to those who followed and follow him now all the way – they are led to the awesome display of a great shedding of his blood on a hill outside Jerusalem – and a death unparalleled in all of history: God actually dying a human death, for Fallen Creation.
May we today be among not only his followers, but also among those who still have the deepest respect and admiration for that adorable Name; and believe wholeheartedly in the power of his name and his ability, by means of it, to lead us out of every darkness in life, and heal us of everything we need healing of!
O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
+ This taken from the Office of Readings for the Feast of Sts. Basil and Gregory.
A sermon by St Gregory Nazianzen
Two bodies, but a single spirit
Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.
I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.
What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honour than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.
Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognised that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.
The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.
We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.
Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.
Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.
Monday, January 1, 2018
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God – January 1, 2018
I –They shall invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.
R –May God bless us in his mercy.
II – God sent his Son, born of a woman.
A – In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son.
G –They found Mary and Joseph and the infant. When the eight days were completed, he was name Jesus.
+ Today we celebrate both the august maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mother of God, and the naming of her Child, eight days after his birth: the name given by the Angel at his conception: Jesus, Savior. The time of blessing had arrived: God has now entered our world, as one of us, born of a woman, in order to save us from our disconnectedness from God that would have remained permanent and unchangeable, unless God himself did not choose to intervene on our behalf. The mediation of a human birth by means of a humble virgin of Nazareth was sublime in its originality, its simplicity and its faith.
And so we celebrate today Mary’s cooperation with the Divine Plan of Salvation, we celebrate the fact that she became the mother not only of one who had a human nature (like her own), but also a Divine Nature (wholly other, of God himself) combined without confusion in one Divine Person: Emmanuel, Christ the Lord. Mary truly was then, Mother of God (that is Mother of the God-Made-Man) who was wholly God, while being wholly man at the same time.
O wondrous mystery! The mystery of the exchange of divinity with humanity, and humanity with divinity! Man was now capable not only of having his sins forgiven, but of living in God forever – in his heart, where the Divine Person in his Divinity and later humanity always lives.
Mary often pondered on the events of which she was a part; the birth of her Son in a manger, the visitation by shepherds, the prophecies that were just beginning to be externally fulfilled in her infant Son. Yes, on the eighth day, as prescribed by Mosaic Law, Jesus was circumcised and named, as was prophesied, JESUS! And he immediately took on the role of SAVIOR and never let it move from the center of his focus until he breathed his last on the Cross, that he always knew lay before Him.
Thank you Jesus for all you have done and still do for our salvation; and thank you Mary for being not only the Mother of the Savior, the Mother of God; but also the Mother of all who belong to his Mystical Body, the Church: Mother of us. We love you and honor you this day, and ask that you always be our comfort and our joy as we try to live the best we can, the life modeled not only by your Son, but also you, who are our Queen and our Friend.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
+ Our readings today are about unity and community, or a more contemporary way of saying it would be: participation . Jesus makes it ...
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+ St. Clare of Assisi became a friend of St. Francis of the same town after hearing him preach. Her father was a count and her mother a coun...