Tuesday, July 31, 2018
+ St Ignatius was born to Spanish nobility at Loyola, Spain in 1491, the youngest of twelve children. He received a military education, becoming a soldier and entering the army in 1517. He served in several campaigns. He was wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna in 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life. During his recuperation the only books he had access to were The Golden Legend, a collection of biographies of the saints, and the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him.
On his recovery he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned pilgrim’s robes. He then lived in a cave for a year, contemplating the way to live a Christian life. In 1528 he began to study theology in Barcelona in Spain, and Paris, France, receiving his degree in 1534. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus on August 15, 1534; it received papal approval in 1541. With six other friends, including St. Francis Xavier, the group formed the core of the new Society of Jesus. Although he never used the term Jesuit (it was only used as an insult by opponents), today it is used with pride by his followers.
Ignatius travelled Europe and the Holy Lands, and then settled in Rome to direct the Jesuits. His health suffered in later years, and he was nearly blind at death on this date, July 31, in the year 1551. The Jesuits today have over 500 universities and colleges, 30,000 members, and teach over 200,000 students each year.
St. Ignatius took to heart the first reading today from the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: whatever you eat, drink or do, do everything for the glory of God. The motto of the Jesuits: AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM reflects this imperative: everything “for the greater glory of God.”
The gospel passage today reflects the Jesuit way of calculating, measuring, studying and drawing conclusions: but if it all does not add up to what this passage is all about: the eternal benefit of renouncing all our possessions both external and internal – to make a space for Jesus, and the truth and the life – then it is all in vain. Jesuit know-how must lead to complete negation of self so to be filled with God’s presence – or it is useless: ad majorem Dei gloriam!
To put it another way: Jesuit spirituality is all about: seeing Jesus more clearly, in order to love him more dearly, so that they can follow him for nearly as he leads the way directly into eternal life! – and this we are invited to do day by day!
Monday, July 30, 2018
+ Today we celebrate the feast of the “Doctor of Homilies” – St. Peter Chrysologus: (born 380, d. 450). He was archbishop of Ravenna in Italy, the capital of the Western Empire. “Chrysologus” in his name refers to the fact that he was “Golden-worded.” This title no doubt was given him, in addition to the fact that he deserved it, because the Western Church needed a suitable counterpart to the Eastern Church’s St. John Chrysostom (“Golden-tongued”), although Peter was not as eloquent as Augustine or Chrysostom himself.
His first sermon as bishop was preached before the empress, who became a generous patroness. A large number of his sermons survive. Their chief characteristic was that they were brief and to the point. They are suggestive of careful preparation, warmth and zeal; and they give us a good picture of what life was like in Ravenna at the time.
Most are homilies on the Gospels and other parts of the Bible or exhortation to conversion and penance; he gave beautiful explanations of the Incarnation, the Creed, the place of Mary and John the Baptist in the great plan of salvation. Unlike many of his contemporary bishops, his message was positive, trying to build up the faithful in love rather than to frighten them into submission. He died in 450 at Imola, Italy and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1729 by Pope Benedict XIII.
The readings that are included in his mass celebration are particularly appropriate for our day in age. We are living in classically dark times, and “the light of the Word of God” is the only thing that can fully and forcefully pierce that blackness, with all its inherent misdeeds, hatred, and anger.
Your words and mine, filled with the “spirit of Christ” can be a beacon that can calms fears, reorients the disoriented, and drains the cesspool of lies, high crimes and misdemeanors.
St. Paul tells the Ephesians that his preaching and teaching was a grace from God, and nothing of his own and that everything is on track in the manifestation of the very mysteries of God, but that it needed his, and now our conscious wording, speaking and acting, to make that which we know of as “salvation history” proceed to its grand conclusion. This reading wonderfully intimates that the “very principalities and authorities in the heavens” are waiting for us to so act and speak to bring the Kingdom of God to life in the here and now! WOW! what you and I think, say and do, in association with the Church of God really does matter.
The gospel passage is a clear as day: Jesus says quite simply but with razor sharp precision: a tree is known by its fruit. A good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit. The two-tree metaphor then includes: Truth / Lies; Calm / Chaos; Trustworthiness / Deception; Carefulness / Recklessness; Hope / Despair, Fear, Hopelessness.
If the “good tree” equivalents point to Christ and his gospel, the “bad tree” equivalent points to the bullish, vitriolic, and frightening persona of the prince of darkness and lies, and deceptions: and that would be satan, and as he is not-so-subtly commandeering our own President of the United States and his cohorts in crime.
But, over and above all this, the wonderful “plan of salvation” is still and even more so in effect, on target and intended for all people everywhere, and we pray that at least “many” of them will respond and join “fully and forcefully in the “crusade for all that can “right the ship of fools” and honor, respect and thank the “bark of Peter” the Church for being here – and for being the infinite and eternal SIGN OF HOPE that we all need today!
Sunday, July 29, 2018
+ The image of God feeding his people is a familiar and comforting one. We believe that it is not just a trite concept, nor a symbolic gesture: but we believe that he truly and in fact does provide for the sustenance of his creatures, all of them, but more especially humans who are created in his very image and likeness.
And the food that he has for us, his people, would therefore need to be a “specialty food” – a “gourmet-food” (if you will) – a signature, one of a kind, food that he himself prepares and distributes.
In the Book of Kings today we see Elisha the prophet distributing twenty loaves for a hundred people to eat. They ate and there was some left over. Jesus, in the gospel passage feeds 5000 from five loaves and two fish, thus manifesting himself as the Great Prophet who had come into the world; who had come into the world to not just feed men physically, but also spiritually – to give them what they craved for in their minds, their intellects, their hearts, their passions and their desires: things that he knew could only be satisfied when they ate the “food of God”: which would be summarized and encapsulated in the Eucharistic Bread and Wine that he would provide for all people, from the time of the Last Supper onwards.
We must revel in the fact that we too live in the “Day of the Great Prophet”: that Jesus is really here, now too! and that he feeds us all we want of the good things that really matter, and that there is always enough left over for another day!
And this for all of us: all who form his one Mystical Body, subsisting in one faith, one baptism and believing in one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all! This unity bleeds over from the supernatural to the natural – from supernatural law to natural law – from corporate law to individual law, personal law. We are living in an age in Western civilization where matters of faith by people living in the world, must be relegated to the position of a “hobby” for those weak and childish ones who like to cling to that sort of thing. This can be a fatal-fly-flaw in the ointment: the ONE PERSON, me, you, cannot live such a compartmentalized life in the first place – and addressing our spiritual needs, goes hand in hand with meeting our intellectual and physical needs in order to stay alive as a balanced human being.
We must therefore adopt the radically backwards and upside down reality that “unless we eat and drink the spiritual food of the Eucharist, the very real Body and Blood of Christ, in faith, we will never understand what is going on in ourselves, let alone in the world that is always poised to engulf us in fear, prejudice, and hatred.
Thanks be to God, because the hand of the Lord feeds us;
he is near to all who call upon him,
he answers all our needs.
Friday, July 27, 2018
+ Our readings today are about “shepherding” and “being shepherded.” So often we understand the need for good shepherds, especially as when the term is used to describes the bishops and priests of the church. But, good shepherds need to have “good sheep” willing to listen to them, and follow them, to help them navigate through the twists and turns and surprises of any given day.
We are assured in the first reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that God always has been, and always will be the Chief Shepherd who will sooner or later assign whoever he wants to shepherd his sheep – the people he loves so much – giving them “shepherds after his own heart.”
And so, this put two obligations squarely in play: the obligation for the chosen shepherd to keep himself as pure and selfless as can be so that God can indeed work and shepherd through him, and the obligation of the sheep to discern the validity and authenticity of the shepherd and then to follow the voice of the good shepherd.
This has a lot to do with the second reading for today: the gospel passage about the sowing of the seed, which changes the metaphor but not the message. The seed sown is the teaching and preaching of the shepherds. The goal of a good ecclesiastical shepherd is to “scatter as much seed as he can” – as much information about the personal relationship with God that is now accessible and readily available through Jesus Christ – his Love and his Truth made into a human being like us in all things but sin.
But again, it is up to the sheep, or in this case the ground, to receive the seed and by actively cooperating in the lessons taught in the teaching and preaching – put into action what is heard – thus producing fruit a thirty, sixty or a hundredfold, in the most ideal conditions.
Our world today – peppered as it is day in and day out by the overt works of Satan – is very much “challenged ground” for receiving the message of salvation, freedom and peace – goodness, truth and right living. And so, it means that we as Christians need to delve more and more deeply into the teaching and lessons of the Church as promulgated by the bishops and priests, especially in their writings and even internet presences to shore up our bombarded and weary spirits.
The time is now to seek an oasis, to seek a place of quiet, a time of quiet, so that the supernatural processes can work as they were meant: to make us ambassadors for Christ in a post-Christian world – and I am talking about places like our very own monastic retreat that exists in the heart of bustling and very busy Glen Allen, VA.
Let us “step up to the plate” today, to use a third metaphor – and, keeping our eye on the ball pitched to us – God’s word and message – and “hit one out of the ballpark” – by being used perhaps in a totally surprising way for the good of another today, wherever the day takes us! We are here to make each other’s day – and to march ever more steadily and happily to the new heavens and the new earth that awaits – and which could be right around the corner.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
+ Sts Joachim and Anne were the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus. They were probably well off. Tradition says that Anne was quite elderly when Mary was born, and that she was their only child. Both Joachim and Anne agreed that Mary would be given to the service of the temple when she was three years old – an ancient and honored tradition of the Jewish religion. Devotion especially to Anne has been popular in the East from the very early days of the Church; widespread devotion in the West began in the 16th century. There are many shrines devoted to St. Anne throughout the world.
The name Anne means “grace.” This corresponds well with the intensity of the devotion that many have for her – she is a quintessential maternal figure – and a grandmotherly one too. She is a great intercessor to her grandson, Jesus, who could hardly refuse anything she might request on our behalf.
St. Joachim thought himself to be punished by God for being childless with his wife Anne, until God granted him this great and awesome privilege late in his life to be the father of the Mother of the Creator! It was his prayers too that proved him to be an outstanding intercessor on behalf of any who need something very special and worthwhile.
St. Anne, St. Joachim, pray for us to be true to the image of Christ your grandson who is being formed within us each day by all the experiences of our lives, joyful and sorrowful as they might be!
In particular, in our day, we pray that through the intercession of Sts Joachim and Anne – that elected legislators – whether they speak from the natural law written in their hearts, or from the supernatural law, which encompasses the natural law – speak out against the absolutely disjointed and disconnected executive branch of the US Government – it is both a natural and supernatural imperative to do so – not only for the good of our own country, but also for the good of the world, of which our country – being the strongest, has a moral obligation to help protect weaker and smaller nations.
I should also like to add a brief disclaimer here – perhaps the reason why the early precedent setting church is not speak out against the Roman Empire, was because the Empire was already trying to stamp it out completely by wave after wave of persecutions – but this only made the Church itself stronger – and perhaps they did speak out in their private home church services that the best way to be an activist would be not to resist martyrdom. But there are many instances in later church history when the church did in fact speak out wherever injustices were being played out in the political realm. Daniel and all of the prophets, and then John the Baptist and Jesus spoke against political abuses in their times – thus setting a precedent for the Church to do so even now.
Therefore, it is puzzling why the official Church leaders of the day are basically silent in the news media about the potentially cataclysmic abuse of power that is playing out on our televisions, and internet media. It is quite frankly imperative that it does so, or it will be held responsible for not doing so.
And so, Sts. Joachim and Anne, today, on your feast day – intercede for us to your grandson, JESUS, the Messiah, Savior of the World, and THE TRUE KING OF THE UNIVERSE and let him embolden the hierarchic leaders of his own Church, his own Mystical Body, to become martyrs, if necessary, to ensure that the world moves to its rightful invitation to recreation, renewal, and regeneration into a new earth for the common enjoyment of everyone, with God as our Father!
They yearned for the comforting of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested upon them.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
+ Among the twelve Apostles, three were chosen as the familiar companions of Jesus, and of these James was one. He alone, with Peter and John (the Evangelist, his brother), was admitted to the house of Jarius when the dead maiden was raised to life. They alone were taken up to the high mountain apart and saw the face of Jesus shining as the sun, and His garments white as snow; and these three alone witnessed the fearful agony in Gethsemane.
What was it that won James a place among the favorite three? It was faith: burning, impetuous, and outspoken, but which needed purifying before the "Son of Thunder" could proclaim the gospel of peace. It was James who demanded fire from heaven to consume the inhospitable Samaritans, and who sought the place of honor by Christ in His Kingdom. Yet Our Lord, in rebuking his presumption, prophesied his faithfulness to death.
When St. James was brought before King Herod Agrippa, his fearless confession of Jesus crucified so moved the public prosecutor that he declared himself a Christian on the spot. And so, accused and accuser were hurried off together to execution, and on the road the latter begged pardon of the Saint. The apostle had long since forgiven him but hesitated for a moment whether publicly to accept as a brother one still unbaptized. God quickly recalled to him the Church's belief that the blood of martyrdom supplies for every sacrament, and he embraced him with the words, "Peace be with you!" Together then they knelt for the sword, and together received the crown.
Remembering that we carry the work of Christ and his Church in us as very human, earthly and fragile vessels of our broken selves – we rely with St. James, and all the Apostles and countless numbers of Christians since the very beginning that God will supply our lack and our want and work through us – and that in the end we will receive the exact reward that befits our humble, loyal and loving service to the King of heaven and earth!
The readings for today, as well as situated for the saint, can also be a beacon of light for us who are living under the each day more ferocious and dark clouds that are gathering in Washington, DC. St. Paul in the first reading not only tells us that we are all broken earthly vessels – but this is so, so that God’s power for good, truth, justice can shine through us to keep civilization alive and on track until the appointed time; so this means that for us who call ourselves “believers” to actually then play out the belief card to its ultimate conclusion: believers must speak out – plain and simple when lies are proclaimed for the whole world to hear, by the leader of the free world, which reflect the pride that we either do or don’t have in our democratic system of government.
In the gospel passage Jesus loves James and his brother John’s impetuousness and enthusiasm – because it was rightly channeled – but he tells them that this will go far when they will go all the way, speak out and act out their core-based belief and trust in their Lord, Messiah and Best Friend, Jesus. And it was James who was the first of the 12 to die a martyr’s death in imitation of Jesus.
We are called to likewise go all the way, by word and deed for Jesus today, now – for time may be surely running out! And we must be engaged in an active Christian life if we want to merit our reserved place in the Kingdom to come.
I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
+ Today’s gospel passage must be understood in the depths of its meaning or all our seeming efforts at discipleship are in vain. God must come before everything and everyone, and that doing his will is not only the most important thing, but that it binds us together into one unified and coherent family, with God as our Father.
“Who are my mother and brothers and sisters?” Jesus asks – those who do the will of my Father, are mother, father, brother and sister to me.
This is astounding, this turns everything upside down – because if you ask 99% of the people on the planet, who in their heart of hearts is most important, they would say: FAMILY! FAMILY IS NUMBER ONE! I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR MY FAMILY – so, Jesus tells them, tells us, that if this is your real stance: IT IS WRONG!! it’s wrong! WRONG! WRONG!!!
Jesus came to turn everything upside down! GOD MUST BE FIRST – even when a crying baby wakes you in the morning – you must get up and tend to its needs BECAUSE OF GOD – NOT because of the baby. To recognize the baby as a newly born member of God’s overarching family, and even to respectfully treat it as a “little brother or sister” in the enormous and wonderful reality know as God’s Kingdom and Family-Forever – is seeing things rightly! And if this notion is assimilated and learned by the baby from the beginning – then he will most assuredly know who he is, and how important and loved he is by God first – and by earthly family second.
These few sentences in this obscure and brief gospel passage is quite explosive – as it should be! The gospel ought not make us feel cozy and warm – it is meant to show us the reality is for us what is backwards and upside down!
Today, think about this very apt analogy put forth by St. Francis of Assisi in so many words – “we must strive to walk with our feet firmly planted on the ceiling” – which means being absolutely trusting, and dependent on God which will be for us as easy as pie [my yoke is easy my burden is light] – for the real spiritual gravitational pull in the universe is FAITH! coupled with ABSOLUTE TRUST AND DEPENDENCE ON GOD!
I will speak often of this great and powerful analogy!
Have yourself, now, a perfectly glorious upside down day!
Monday, July 23, 2018
+ The days are coming when a great deal of Americans will not only begin to “come to their political senses” but also their “spiritual senses,” and they will demand some action, of themselves and of others: and they will undoubtedly seek a sign that they are in the favor of God, and that what they demand is good for them.
This is where Jesus separates “the tire from the road:” he says that the fact that he, himself, will suffer a brutal death, so that they can come to their senses, and then be buried, but rise again – this is the only sign that will or can be given!
The prophet Micah in the first reading tells us that you have already been given the sign of the mind of God, what is required of you: “only do the right and love goodness and walk humbly with God.” Doing these things will generate the sign that you desire.
A static sign is no sign at all, because nothing is static: everything is moving towards it’s completion and fulness. Therefore, engaging in the life/death/resurrection dynamic that is not only played out by Jesus, but, prescribed and empowered for any who wish to be his disciples: a confident and joyful itinerary for any day can be set out upon.
So many people this day, in our ordinary engagement with them, no matter what our job or occupations are counting on us to prayerfully prepare ourselves in the morning, then to “discover by doing” that Jesus was right: the sign is deep within us and can be activated and turned into a neon sign for them, by our cooperation in the Providential activity of God.
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts! Amen.
Sunday, July 22, 2018
+ Our readings today are about the work of shepherding, being shepherded and vacation, yes, vacation! So, I suppose it’s the themes of vocation and vacation [at this vacation time of the year]! It was the mission of the Apostles to be “peace-brokers” in the world. They were to bring not just any kind of peace, though; they were to bring God’s own restorative, regenerative, life-giving peace paid for and enabled by the self-sacrificial life and death of God’s own Son, Jesus our Lord.
And so Jesus, while training his Apostles, teaches them a lesson today about doing the works of God among the people, but then the necessity of “going on vacation” – “going away by themselves to a deserted place and resting a while.” This he emphasizes and demonstrates often by his own example. And while resting in a quiet place, one can get a better sense of perspective on relationship to God the Father – whose will must ultimately be done; and the sooner one gets in touch with it, the better! But, even, “while on vacation” one often sees the “sheep without a shepherd” – people just somehow seem to instinctively know where to find God’s welcome, God’s grace and God’s peace! And so, even on vacation, we must all remember our vocation as ambassadors of Christ, and dispensers of his mysteries!
In the first reading, the Lord speaks through the Prophet Jeremiah and warns a different kind of shepherd – a bad shepherd – who has specious motives and self-serving interests – woe to you, he says, I will take care to punish your evil deeds. And then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock and bring them back to their meadow after they have been scattered out fear of the illegitimate shepherds.
And so, we leave it up to God to take care of the bad shepherds, and pray for an increase of the number of new good shepherds that are needed so very much in our own day – the flock needs these shepherds; and they need shepherds with the good sense to “go on a spiritual vacation” often – to spend time with “the Chief Shepherd” – the Good and Best of All Shepherds – Jesus the Christ – so they will have the latest and most timely information and experiences to share with their people!
Let us remember that it is really God who shepherds the entire flock – with whomever he chooses to image and re-present him; let there always be a faithful flock to follow dedicated, devoted and holy shepherds!
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me!
Saturday, July 21, 2018
+ What timely readings we have today, as so often happens. The first reading from the Prophet Micah could easily be published in the New York Times today or the Washington Post: “woe to those who plot evil, who lie in be planning mischief! No sooner is it dawn then they do it – their hands have the strength for it: the all devious, the all cunning “tweet.”
But the Lord says to this: Now it is I who plot such mischief against this breed as your necks will not escape; nor will you be able to walk proudly, so evil will the time be.
This is an evil age in which we live, but it is nothing new – it all emanates from what happened in the Garden of Eden eons ago! Evil is here – but remember the deal – evil will be allowed to roam the earth, but the Good, the Just, the Truthful will always TRUMP IT – and I intend the pun quite forcefully! Trump will be Trumped if good men and women and children rise up morally and ethically and say: “Enough is enough! Cease and desist in the Name of the Son of God! Jesus Christ!”
Will you be a true disciple of Christ, a disciple of discipline and order and right living and peace and joy! The world is an illusion that we have absolute control over – when we align ourselves with God and his already Triumphant Lord and King.
Are you following the banner of Christ, then, today, or will you follow that side of manifest evil and decay?
In the gospel passage Jesus gives us a direct plan on how to do it, a plan that he demonstrates for us first: “he will not contend or cry out, now will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. In his name the Gentiles will hope!” And so there is always hope, but Jesus tells us the best way to do this is first in the inner recesses of our own hearts where he resides due to our baptisms, and then once we have fought the fight within and adopted his entire Upside-down vision of reality – then we can with the slightest, calm and most peaceful way rebut all that is going on around us: by means of with our own fingers contacting our elected governing officials and tell them to right-the-ship of the Patriots before it is too late!
And then in whatever methods and means the Spirit moves us – stand up to Evil, stand up to Lies, stand up to anything and any one who threatens the dismantle freedom of choice in our land!
Friday, July 20, 2018
+ Today we have a very important gospel passage at mass. In it Jesus in effect places himself “above the law” – once and for all times. He in this way reverses the understanding of what pleases God on his day and what does not.
Now, does Jesus really place himself “above the law” – or is he not clarifying what is lawful and what is not – replacing what was a temporary stop-gap measure, with what will be lasting and unchangeable from now on. Mosaic Law was given so that the newly formed People of God – could know they were pleasing him – because the definitive Law was not yet born, another manifestation of law that was much more personal, much more real, much more pleasing both to God and to men – and that would be Jesus himself.
Jesus – being God’s Son, and Man’s Son as well – had every qualification and authority to redefine and reset a proper understanding of the Law of God – for he was law-made-flesh! What pleases God, Jesus is trying to get across here, that mercy – treating other people as you would want to be treated – treating them with compassion, empathy and overflowing generosity – pleases God much more than any lesser show breads or burnt offerings or long boring services. What God is pleased with is using common sense and worshipping in spirit and in truth – the one unbloody representation of the bloody reconciliatory act of his Son on our behalf.
So, yes, Jesus declares himself Lord of the Sabbath – and encourages right worship and common-sense treatment of not only our fellow men and women and children, but also the animals, birds, fishes of the sea and all the rest of creation. For Jesus is Lord, King and Savior of the entire universe – and all the universes beyond this one!
Thursday, July 19, 2018
+ The very brief gospel passage for today is astounding: in it Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light! What is he talking about: his life has been nothing but a sign of and reality of contradiction from the time he was born to the moment of his physical death. He was often plotted against, conspired against, finally handed over by one of his own inner circle, then mercilessly executed, murdered, in a most grotesque and hideous way: why? because he was Goodness, he was Truth, he was Beauty, he was Gentleness, he was Love made flesh – and therefore incompatible first of all with the Roman Empire, then all the empires of the world even unto our own day! – and now – the festering, growing, unchecked “Empire of Trump!”
For him to say this lot was easy was quite the statement: it itself was a contradiction, an amazing statement, but it was anything but a “lie” for if we look it it closely it reveals amazing secrets. Secret #1 – he is inviting others to help him carry his cross, his burden, his task, thus telling us that our burdens are never meant to be shouldered alone, never.
Secret #2 – he is telling us that our burdens can be made light, airy, even joyful in this cooperative venture, and vice versa: his carrying of his cross after a night of unspeakable humiliation and torture is made light by our voluntary shouldering the cross with him: yes, this may be a startling fact: you and I by giving him our burdens and carrying a shared cross can actually make his cross bearable, so he can finish the work he was sent to do: yes, we today, here, now, and any time of the day that we can think of it with unutterable humility, tenderness and love, can help Jesus transport his instrument of death to the place of execution – even though it took place 2000 years ago.
Secret #3 – His death is actually not his death at all, but rather ours, he gave up his human spirit FOR US, not only on our behalf, but literally for us, so that when we do give up our human spirits at the appointed time for us: the transition to a more fully eternal dimension will be seamless, effortless and “easy” “light” – while we await the fulfillment of resurrection of our bodies, again like his, in fact, exactly like his, to a glorified, effervescent, shimmering, joyful reality – to live forever in the new and glorious shimmering City of Jasper – City of Diamond – City of GOD!
And so, apparently what we see, and how we see things is meant to be upside down – in fact, find a picture of a map of the earth and turn it upside down – then ponder it, think about it, meditate about it, contemplate it – and then: hold on to your hat (no pun intended) and you will see everything that has happened for us and for our salvation clearly for once in your life!
See you on the upswing!
The Lord looked down from heaven to the earth – and what did he see!
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
+ What an extraordinary gospel passage this is: the very mysteries of God, of his reality, of his essence, of his internal life, of his knowledge incomprehensible, his love incalculable is revealed NOT to the “wise and the learned of this world” – but rather to “mere children – whose angels minister and play at the very throne of God the Father.” This is because before we can even know and love others, we are known and loved by God and possess a very real link and connection with him because he first knows and loves us: and this knowledge and love are generative of a real and everlasting relationship with him.
This is precisely why God insists that the those who “grow up” to be “wise and learned” in the ways of the world, must become once again “childlike” and regrasp their initial stance with God – they will not be aligned properly to enter the gates of heaven.
Now I am not saying here that developing our gifts of intellect and free will are not extremely important – as navigation tools through the treacherous sea of life – where squalls and storms can spring up at any moment – but unless the underpinning of such intellect and will is a pure connection with God – we will be bashed and battered at sea for sure.
Perhaps it might be worth our while to observe children today – especially the younger ones – see how they – in their obliviousness to “adult problems and cares” – are having the time of their lives with God, his angels, and other children of all ages. And then, let us in a similar way fashion our lives – because God and his angels are still with us, they never leave us, it is we who are tempted to leave them.
I am probably correct when I say that some of the most memorable adults you have ever met, were child-like in their simplicity, self-confidence and trust in the power of God who is simply there in their every thought / word / deed. And let us be that child-like adult today! And the world will be a happier place, a more peaceful place, a more joyful place!
Friday, July 13, 2018
+ “Whoever endures to the end will be saved!.” There always has been, is now, and until all is said and done, will be periods of chaos, destruction and malevolence. Satan is still very much alive and “roaring as a lion” – but at the same time there are and will be until the same end, those who are protected from the ravages of the beast, and those are they who follow the Lion of Judah, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, King of Everything and Everyone.
Like the spectacle that took place on Capitol Hill yesterday, those living in the spirit will be given what to say on the side of truth, integrity and justice, at the proper time – while the opposing team will unleash a vitriolic, caustic, scathing display of personal degradation and assassination. And these are members of Congress grilling an FBI agent who withstood his ground because he spoke truth to power.
And with what is going on in Europe with the President – who is a quite frankly a raving maniac – hellbent on destroying not only our country but everyone else’s – if we don’t stand up – pray for inspiration of the Spirit – and say and do something constructive – then we are participants in the suicide of our own great nation and most of the world as we know it.
The devil is uproariously laughing at us as a country, and so is Russia’s Putin – we could not make his playbook any easier to execute. Shame on us – who are citizens both of this country, and the ‘patria aeternum” – eternal native land – if we do not rightly form our consciences and then ACT ON THEM!
O Lord, open our lips, that our mouths shall proclaim your truth and your praise!
Thursday, July 12, 2018
+ The underlying concept in today’s readings is that when God appears to be loving, his people are fearful of him, mistrusting of him, afraid of him. This is quite an absolute mystery. Why would anyone turn away from love, why does anyone turn away from love?
The most obvious response might be: the loved doesn’t feel worthy to be loved, the loved has very low self-esteem, the loved has been loved and left behind before, the loved can’t see beyond his own subjective viewpoint, the love has no real understanding of who the lover is.
In this case the lover is GOD THE ALMIGHTY, the all TENDER, the all COMPASSIONATE and FORGIVING Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and Persons with everything that goes into being a humanly conscious and aware creature who responds primarily to love, in order to love.
In the first reading from the Prophet Hosea, we see the Lord loving his infant family, Israel and Ephraim. He is trying to see that they have what they need, and yet they keep turning away from him, but he never turns away from them, and that he always has led them with the strings of kindness and love. He fed them with what they needed!
In the gospel passage Jesus instructs his disciples to offer this same kind of love, when they announce the needed “heavenly food” of the arrival of God’s Kingdom in their midst – and he is referring here to himself – Jesus is the Living Bread from Heaven, here to offer sustenance, forgiveness and life eternal. Saying out loud: PEACE TO THIS PLACE would be the test to see if the people in each town or house were even capable of the slightest understanding of what this greeting means: if the response is something like: “hey you can take your “peace” and shove it” – then its off to neighboring towns and villages.
The world today is full of nervous people who are desperately seeking after deep peace, deep trust, deep love, and yes, eternal life. The government of our country is in a very bad way and is providing the world-stage with the exact opposite: turmoil, chaos, lies, hatred, bigotry, and looming present death to society and civilization as we have known it.
And, so it is up to us, as disciples of Christ this day, to announce the fact that the Kingdom of God, and of his Christ and of their Spirit who is ultimately in charge of everything – is growing very impatient with lack of response to the potentially catastrophic results that could play out – if Christians and all others of good-faith and conscience do not stand up and protest and demand change for the ultimate good of everyone on planet earth.
If not us, then who will do it???
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
+ St. Benedict was born at Nursia, in central Italy in 480. He studied in Rome, but was soon disgusted with the rampant immorality that he saw there, and so he “headed for the hills:” he went up Mount Subiaco and lived in a cave there as a hermit for a year. Others found him, however, and asked to join him in his monastic observance: and so he set up 12 deaneries with 10 monks each. Soon though he left the region and went to Monte Cassino, near Naples, where he finished his Rule borrowing inspiration from Sts. Basil, John Cassian, and Augustine and other “monastic writers” of the times.
His Rule emphasized authority and obedience (modeled after the Incarnation and Crucifixion of Jesus), and stability and community life (the only way to progress in spiritual life is the given tension of life-together that is lasting, not just temporary and fleeting). The duties of the monk are to pray the Office and read complementary readings and texts; and manual labor. The flexibility of the Rule allowed it to be instrumental in shaping centers of scholarship, agriculture, medicine and hospitality.
Benedict stayed at Monte Cassino for the rest of his life. Though never becoming a priest and not intending to even found a religious order, St. Benedict soon became known as the Father of Western Monasticism: sometimes your destiny has your name written all over it. St. Benedict is one of the most widely known saints in Church history, along with his sister St. Scholastica, who founded an order of nuns who followed his Rule. His patronage is of monks, of course, but also against the forces of evil and Pope Paul VI named him a patron saint of all of Europe. He died in 550 and was buried near his sister! In the year 2000 there were 8,000 Benedictine monks, and 7,000 Benedictine nuns and 10,000 active Benedictine Sisters.
The purpose and goal of the monastic life is to seek and find God, using the tools of poverty, humility and obedience – and then to do his holy will. The Benedictine way is a sure-fired way to do that – not only in a formal way by joining the Order proper, but there are thousands who belong in the Professed Oblate Program – and there are many other organizations and groupings that adhere to the chief tenets of the grand and glorious, tried, tested and true Rule of St. Benedict! [We are such an association – and we are thankful to Benedict, and for his Rule.]
Just as Jesus assures Peter (in the gospel passage) that he will receive a great deal for his sacrifice, the Lord assures us the same; and Peter received his reward because he did all for love of Jesus; may we do the same – armed by the mighty and ancient Holy Rule of the Saintly Patriarch of Nursia!
The key to advancement along the Benedictine way is to begin in silent listening, any day, any project, any undertaking: thus many statues of St. Benedict have him placing a finger on his lips to encourage stillness and quiet as a starting point: BE STILL AND KNOW GOD; BE STILL AND BE INSPIRED; BE STILL SO THAT YOU WILL HAVE MUCH TO SAY AND DO, AND MUCH ENERGY TO SAY IT AND DO IT!
The unprecedented roar of diabolic activity in the world today is astounding – the absolute blurring of boundaries in political institutions beginning sadly and astonishingly with our own hard-won democratic system, and then emanating into the whole world in which we must play a vital part to keep a sense of global balance and well-being – ought to be cause for great alarm to all citizens of our country, who are simultaneously citizens of eternity, citizens, of heaven, citizens in the Kingdom to come in is fullness.
On this day, due to circumstances, we, the Joyful Servants of the Cross celebrate our 13th anniversary of our founding, in Boston MA in 2005. We soon adopted a modified Rule of St. Benedict, of just 24 chapters. And along with this Rule what has always been vital to our operation is belief in the miraculous and efficacious powers of the Medal of St. Benedict, especially as it is attached to a Crucifix – the Sign of Signs, the Symbol of Symbols, the Saving Act of Saving Acts.
And on this very special anniversary, we celebrate a new configuration of leadership responsibilities in the group, for on February 5th of this year, the Feast of St. Agatha, Patron of Nurses, co-founder Br. Paul Andre Steinberg, JSC, RN, experienced the separation of his worn and spent body from his always effervescent and joyful soul, temporarily, until in the resurrection of the dead, his body will rise glorious with its of spiritual glow and effervescence that is reserved for Christ, his Mother, the Saints with a big S, and all the saints who ever lived, all those who sought to do God’s Holy Will with all their minds, hearts, bodies and purpose of intent.
Far from being the end of our group, this reconfiguration on makes our reality and our mission stronger – and our motto most real: through the Red Cross of Suffering to the Gold Cross of Victory! Br. Paul Andre is now the Gold Cross, and he encourages, helps and defends all who call upon his name to keep seeking the Face of God, keep studying the Word of Life, and keep Loving, Loving, Loving everyone, everywhere, with all you got!
St. Richard of Richmond, JSC, RN Pray for us!
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
+ In the gospel passage today, Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God by words, and by deeds that back up the words: miracles of all sorts and kinds. And his words were meant to be revolutionary, and his deeds truly awesome – and they were for those who had the eyes and ears of faith to observe him and the happenings.
There is so much work to be done in the world to convince it that God’s reign is the only real one, and that his laws prevails, that his personnel are the ones that will lead to life eternal, in the way that he prescribed, through the narrow gate and way of his Mystical Body – the Church.
Dear friends, the bottom line here is that there is only one “church,” only one “religion” only one regulated and prescribed central highway to heaven – while there are billions of little paths that people are on – seeking their own “truths” with a small “t” – it only makes sense that all these little tributaries are meant to merge and form one great Interstate to the Kingdom – that giant golden paved interstate is the Church that Jesus founded – plain and simple – which subsists in its entirety in the system of ordering right religion known as the Church of Rome – the Church that is Headed by Francis, the duly elected Pope and Successor of St. Peter in Juridical rightness.
The harvest is great, and the laborers are few – the laborers who work in direct association with the Apostolic Line of Succession and the Magisterial Teaching Authority and the distribution of the Salvific Grace that flows from the Pierced Side of the Crucified Christ.
Mankind can never save itself – it’s only Hope is the Crucified and Risen Christ. Apparently, much of the world these days, beginning with our own country is seeking for wholeness in all the wrong places – may we shine the light of Christ, the light Hope, the light of Truth, the light of Peace – to help counter this fatal attraction. Amen.
Monday, July 9, 2018
+ Today we see Jesus, in the gospel passage, curing two females, one very young and one very old. It is interesting to note that both were considered dead – the little girl, dead to life in the body, the older woman, dead to society – for having the hemorrhage for twelve years made her unclean and unable to participate at all in community life, thus, for all intents and purpose rendering her dead to the world.
And, so while on his way to accomplish the first restoration, the woman in a sense, makes an enormous act of faith, and bravery, for if it went wrong, just touching Jesus as she did could have rendered him unclean and a social pariah as well. However, her act of touching him not only did not make him an outcast, but by it he cast out all future reference to the arcane rules regarding cleanness and uncleanness. She was cured, and he proceeded on his way to restore a little girl to life, which he did because he – as creator of the universe – has power over everything, period.
And so, for us this means that young or old, dead or alive in any way – we can confidently approach Jesus, who by the action of the Spirit within him, can restore us to health of body, right relationship in the community, or any kind of restoration that is needed – so that we can continue our lives as his disciples, and torch-bearers in a world that grows exponentially darker by the hour.
There will be many broken and dead relationships, bodies, families, government institutions and international alliances that will rely on us, who have insight, moral backbone, and a voice to speak out – to save a world that is on the brink as well of becoming renewed and restored itself when Jesus comes again as King, and Judge 0 if it changes is pagan tune.
Let us courageously and boldly play our God-given roles in salvation history – we have all the power of God with us – it should be a breeze, then, the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit leading us moment by moment to glory – both personally and collectively!
The Lord is gracious and merciful!
Sunday, July 8, 2018
+ This gospel passage seems timely; sometimes a preacher wonders what it might be like to return to his native place, his hometown, the place where he grew up, the church that he attended. This time he would not have the relatively minor role to play as it was in his youth, but rather this time, a central one, as presider and preacher and worker in various helping ministries. Would he receive the same reception that Jesus got? Would they shake their heads and say, “where did he get all this stuff?” he is just one of the neighborhood kids, made big, a “big-shot” - and is now home trying to show off! Or have things changed? Would it be different now? I wonder!
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house!” These are Jesus’ own words; and he could not perform any mighty deeds there, in his hometown, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith! Not just lack of faith in him, but apparently in anything at all. But maybe, the few sick that are greatly improved or cured are worth the effort of the one who returns – and makes it all worthwhile for them! And depending on the size of his family, he might have a lot of little, out of the lime-light kinds of deeds, that can be done that would bolster and help build the faith of the whole family at its roots.
Perhaps a preacher, priest or teacher ought to consider these things when making a home visit! The Lord usually works in small ways, behind the big scenes! If the Lord has sent any minister to bring glad tidings to the poor and sick: then perhaps it ought to be left up to the Lord to situate and place the minister where he wants him or them to be – realizing that for the most part, priest, ministers, teachers will not have the world-stage – but he could make an enormous difference in the small group that he interacts with daily in his local venue.
The second reading today speaks of the trust that the minister – wherever he may be – must have; trust in the Lord God to be his strength; and the trust involved in claiming and proclaiming his weakness and total need for the Lord’s help: for this is the only way that God’s power comes in force. God’s ministry must be done by God! Therefore, we, the ministers must get our-selves out of the way! We can then say and do things that we never thought possible of us on our own! God tells St. Paul that “in his weakness, his grace is sufficient for him, for power is made perfect in weakness!” This seems quite contrary, but it is a true and valid spiritual principle – St. Paul proved it over and over again!
And finally, the whole impetus behind Paul going forth, and ministers of the Gospel for generations after him, is because the rebelliousness of the human race is still rampant as we read in the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel. And these people must know that a great Prophet will rise among them – and the opportunity will rise for each and every one of them to turn away from their stubbornnesses and sinfulness as a result of preaching and teaching of the ones sent to do it; and the lost will be encouraged to come home, the burdened to become unburdened, and the prisoners to become free!
Needless to say, the political cowardice that is rampant in our country today, and the imbecility of the person “in charge” and the ramifications that are already world-wide in the most negative of ways – rests in part on our shoulders – for we are all bound together whether we like it or not – we – who are citizens of heaven by our baptisms, must speak out in the civil arena, because our role in the public square is to lead the world to its own transformation into the glorious kingdom of God – when there will be a new heavens and a new earth.
And so, impelled by those who have come before us, and remain with us, may we fix our eyes intently on the Lord – and his Cross – pleading for his mercy! – and all will be well, for all actually is well!
Friday, July 6, 2018
+ Today we celebrate the feast of a well-known Italian girl, Maria Goretti. Maria was a beautiful, pious farm girl, one of six children. Soon after her father died of malaria the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive. In 1902 at age twelve, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farmhand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape her, but she fought and yelled to him that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her fourteen times. She survived in the hospital for two days, where she forgave her attacker, asked God’s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and a medal of Our Lady. She is counted as a martyr.
While in prison for his crime, Alessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame; Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro’s conversion and he later testified at her cause for beatification.
Maria was beatified in 1947 by Pope Pius XII, and then canonized by him in 1950. The ceremony was attended by 250,000 including her mother (the only time a parent has witnessed her child’s canonization) and by her attacker Alessandro Serenelli, who knelt in St Peter’s Square as her name was announced among the saints in heaven.
Young people today are so much in need of a role model, especially in the area of sexual behavior and relationships in general. Maria Goretti will always stand out as such a model. Her priorities were in order – she must have had a great family environment to learn such Christian values from an early age, and at only age 12 she was willing to lay it all on the line for God, for Jesus, her friend, her role-model and her Lord.
Bless the children today Lord, and somehow convince them that the proper, God-ordered use of all of their instinctual powers and abilities will save them a lifetime of heartache, trouble and even death!
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord – for our bodies are members of Christ – temples of the Holy Spirit – and instruments in the glorification of God!
All praise and glory to God, both now and forever! Amen!
+ Our readings today are about unity and community, or a more contemporary way of saying it would be: participation . Jesus makes it ...
+ We celebrate the Feast today of the Cure of Ars. John Mary Vianney was born to a farm family in Lyons, France in 1786. In his youth he tau...
+ 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...