Posts tagged: love

Sunday of the Resurrection…Do We Believe?

By , April 19, 2014 4:50 am

Everyone loves Easter! Spring has arrived, the flowers are blooming, the grass is green, the heat of summer has not fallen upon us yet, people put on their best clothes and greet each other with exuberance – “Happy Easter, happy Easter, happy Easter.” There is nothing wrong with any of that. In fact, it is all very delightful but it is not the reality of what Easter, the Feast of the Resurrection, is all about.

Spiritually, each one of us needs to transport ourselves back to that hillside outside Jerusalem, stand silently before that open tomb, a tomb now empty, and ask ourselves if we really do believe in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead!

This is the heart of the Christian message. This is the ultimate test as to whether or not we are really followers of Jesus. In the following 2,000, countless numbers have died because they answered “yes” to that question. They believed in the Resurrection, were committed to Jesus and they would allow nothing to turn them away from that faith and commitment. Happily, most of us are not asked to die for our faith but it would be perfectly valid to ask ourselves would we be willing to do so?

Let us thank God for his infinite love for us. Let us walk into the future with confidence knowing that we are a redeemed people. Let us continue to celebrate the great feast of the Resurrection.

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Let the Lord Do It!

By , March 2, 2014 4:09 am

March 2nd, Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel is drawn from that of the 6th chapter of Matthew and it presents us with a beautiful scene affecting God’s love for all of His creation. In the midst of that lovely scene, we are also challenged to have faith, to be detached and have boundless hope because of God’s love for us. But that is so cheerful and I think we have to start thinking about Lent, so I would like to flip to the second reading which presents us with a couple of tough lines from St. Paul’s occasionally blistering first letter to the Corinthians.

Paul challenges the Corinthians and tells them how he should be treated. “Men should regard us (St. Paul) as servants of Christ and administrators of the mysteries of God!” I believe that this is certainly true. That was Paul’s role at that time and in that place. However, I think such a strong stark statement is a reflection of the fact that there was real conflict within the Christian community in Corinth. That, of course, is the principal reason why Paul wrote the letter. He had started the community there and continued to provide oversight, but he really wanted to be treated with respect and have them treat each other in the same way.

He then repeats to his distant parishioners that he is the administrator of Christ’s work and that requires that he be trustworthy. He reminds them that they are not to judge him; that it is the Lord who will do the judging. Naturally, from that would flow the principle that they are not to be judging each other. Evidently, rash judgment was a frequent failure in the early Church and because we are still very human, that regrettable human weakness continues to pervade our lives and our communities.

Let’s try hard to remember that it is the Lord who will be doing the judging. He is certainly better at that than we are.

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What A Gift – What a Goal

By , February 15, 2014 5:02 am

February 16th, Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

My readers may be getting tired of my many references to the fact that the Sunday readings are a catechetical process. Think of it. All the Catholics of the world who are attending Mass on Sunday are sitting in the same Scripture class and the teacher is no one other than the Holy Spirit.

Each Sunday, the three readings or excerpts from the sacred texts form a collage with a special message. Sometimes the message is very clear. Sometimes you really have to reach for it. Today, the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, is very clear but I must admit that you do have to reach for it.

The class carries us back to Sirach, two centuries before the birth of Jesus, and Sirach tells us that we need to live our lives according to God’s wisdom. In other words, we must make judgments that will keep us on life’s right path and protect ourselves from disaster.

St. Paul picks up the same theme while writing to the Church in Corinth and he talks in a very interesting way that God’s wisdom is “mysterious, a hidden wisdom.” However, if we live by God’s wisdom, we will have a marvelous reward because Paul reminds us that “eye has not seen nor ear heard….what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Sit and think that over quietly. Wow! How wonderful!

Matthew’s Gospel ties in as usual with the first reading and is all about good judgment – how we ought to live with each other fairly, generously and in keeping with the Commandments.

The message of today’s liturgy all ties together that we must use the two great gifts that God has given us – our intellect giving us the power to use our will, our decision making capability. All sin is is the deliberate misuse of those two awesome gifts. We must direct our mind towards God and with our will choose those things which draw us to God.

Onward towards the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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Table Talk

By , November 27, 2013 5:44 am

I’m sorry you didn’t hear her. Actually, I didn’t either…I love my sister-in-law very much, but the in-laws are all so loud, and my hearing is certainly weakening.

I love the joy of Thanksgiving, but I must confront the fact that virtually every large family gathering across the country provides the potential of disappointment, hurt feelings and even conflict. Perhaps it’s true that your brother-in-law has not paid you back that $200, and it’s certainly true that “Maureen” talks too loudly, but this is THANKSGIVING! All those small, petty irritations that nevertheless cause discomfort at the table, can be certainly be handled next week. Or, if you are really in a good mood, think about bringing it up again on January 2nd. We don’t want to mess up Christmas either!

Let’s enjoy Thanksgiving in a spirit of love and grace, and remember to extend those warm feelings to our families.

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Bullying Once Again

By , October 21, 2013 5:05 am

I am now in my 4th year of putting my thoughts onto this blog virtually every day and for the most part I try to never repeat the subject. However, from time to time it is necessary. This is the third time that I have touched on this subject and I also put a chapter on bullying in my recent book.

In watching the morning news today, I saw a terribly cruel case of bullying on a school bus and that is the second or third time I have seen that in the last year. How many countless cases have occurred that were not caught by a camera?

Bullying is cruel and destructive. Bullying ruins lives and sometimes costs lives. In addition to the bus incident, we just saw a case where the county sheriff arrested and incarcerated two minors whose cruel bullying led to the suicide of a young girl who was constantly abused. In the TV interview, the sheriff stated that he was looking into the possibility of bringing charges against the parents as well because they knew that the bullying was going on and did nothing to prevent it.

Whether or not that is the right way to go I don’t know, but certainly a great deal of the blame for destructive bullying in our society can be charged to both parents and teachers. Parents and teachers should have zero tolerance for bullying. If they had an abhorrence of it, if they sensed its destructiveness, they would recognize their responsibilities and not express some stupid and flippant remark like, “kids will be kids.” Kids will be what they are in responding to loving teaching and constant good example.

Bullies are cowards and teachers should see that bullies are humiliated when they manifest this type of behavior. Parents ought to understand that whether or not their children grow up kind and sensitive or cruel and stupid is to a great extent dependent on their parents’ love and example.

Bullying is a terrible problem but it is correctable!!!!

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The Joy of Saying I’m Sorry!

By , October 7, 2013 5:35 am

Photo: Grimes

Recently, I have been touching on the seven gifts given to the Church by our Divine Lord. We collectively call them the sacraments. They are specific points where the power of Jesus reaches us and draw us to himself and thus into intimate union with our Heavenly Father.

I have already talked about baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist and Holy Orders. I would like to say a few brief words about a truly wonderful gift that in post-Vatican II terminology is referred as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We also call it the Sacrament of Penance and folks on the street just call it “confession.”

Reconciliation, however, is a much better term because it actually tells us what is accomplished through this spiritual act of humility. In baptism, we were made the brothers and sisters of Jesus of Nazareth. With confirmation, we make a commitment to walk faithfully in our Lord’s footsteps. With the Eucharist, we draw the necessary spiritual sustenance day by day as we walk with our divine guide. That is really wonderful.

BUT – we occasionally make mistakes.

When I say “mistakes” I am, of course, referring to the failure that we term as a sin. We instinctively know right from wrong. For most of us our conscience is a very good barometer of how to evaluate right from wrong. God has given us free will and we are all capable of misusing it. When we misuse free will and deliberately do things that are offensive to God’s directions, we are guilty of sin and, depending on the gravity of the sin to a certain extent we separate ourselves for our Lord’s presence and love.
But not to worry. Our Lord told the apostles on the night of the Resurrection, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiveness. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” Thus was launched this great Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Let me approach it from a very human perspective that we have all experienced. Have you ever had a really bitter fight in the family? Have you ever been very hurt and struck back with anger and vengeance? We sometimes attack the people around us very hard but we are usually conscious of the fact that most of the pain is on our side and in our hearts. We have damaged our friendship. Then, for one reason or another, either because we have a better insight or these people are so generous that they approach us, we look up, see that we have done wrong, reach out, embrace our friend and say with absolute sincerity, “I’m sorry. I am very sorry.”

You have experienced that and wasn’t it a wonderful feeling? Separation and anger inflicts suffering. Humility and forgiveness bring joy. What a wonderful thing it is to know that no matter what we do that is wrong, no matter what sin or failure of which we are guilty, our Lord INSTANTLY forgives us when we say we are sorry!
Let’s approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with greater appreciation.

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Holy Orders

By , October 7, 2013 5:08 am

On October 6th, the 27th Sunday, we saw that interesting excerpt from Paul’s letter to Timothy in which he described ordaining Timothy as his assistant and as his replacement as Paul moved forward across modern Turkey setting up new churches. This gives us an opportunity to think for a moment about this extraordinary spiritual force inside the Church which we call Holy Orders. Orders is not drawn from the word for keeping things in line or stacked up neatly. Here Orders refers to a whole group of people within the Church who are unified by specific responsibilities.

Marriage draws the vast majority of the Church’s members together in family life. The diaconate accents the need for internal service and assistance to every member of the Church, especially those in need. In addition to the deacons, of course, there is the Order of Shepherds or Bishops but today I just want to mention the Holy Order which joins together men who have been commissioned for everyday work in the life of the Church. Two thousand years later, most but not all priests work especially in established parishes, teaching assignments or missionaries.

Priests become representatives of Christ to the Church as witnesses of holiness and love, preachers of the Gospel, shepherd of the faithful, conveners of divine worship and builders of the Church. Wow! What a job description.

Those ideals are placed before us when we are ordained and regretfully many of us fail in their pursuit and some of us fail completely. There has been a great deal of discouragement in the ranks of Catholic priests across the world for the last 20 or 30 years because they have seen with sadness and disappointment the determined effort to roll back the hopes and dreams of the Second Vatican Council.

Not anymore! With the arrival of Pope Francis, his openness and commitment to the Council has spread across the world in only a few weeks. Zeal and enthusiasm go hand in hand and I am very confident that in a matter of just a few months we will see an exciting reawakening in the lives of the clergy as they recommit themselves to that which they were ordained. May God bless Pope Francis and may God continue to bless his priests across the world.

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Reconciliation – We All Need It

By , September 27, 2013 5:33 am

All of the sacraments are about life. They are about our own individual spiritual life and the life of Christ himself. It is through the instrumentality of the sacraments that we are joined to Jesus – first in Baptism where we become his brothers and sisters, and then in the Eucharist where his life becomes one with ours. This is an awesome and beautiful reality and we must always endeavor to keep the reality of it clearly in our mind. But we are frail and weak human beings and we are also free!

In moments of powerful temptation or evil decisions we can willfully separate ourselves from sharing in the life of Jesus. I am referring to the destructiveness of sin. That fact would be extraordinarily sad but for the exhilarating reality that our conscience recognizes our failures and motivates us to repair the damage and destructiveness of sin. It is for that purpose that the Church was given the gift of Reconciliation. The proper name through the centuries was the Sacrament of Penance and the popular title was usually simply “confession.”

Following the Second Vatican Council we all began to use the word Reconciliation as the best name or title for this sacrament because it tells the reality that is present here. If we find ourselves separated from our Lord because of deliberate, grave evil, we are not to be discouraged or slide into depression. Our Lord loves us; he loves us even in our sinfulness and invites us to be reconciled with him. The great truth is that we are forgiven for our sins the instant that we are truly sorry for them. God’s love is unconditional. But no grave sin is completely an individual act. Sin offends not only our Divine Lord but the Christian community itself, and so from the first years of the Church those who failed in the practice of the faith came to the community and “confessed” their failures recognizing that the faith community was weakened because of their failures. The Church would then impose a penance, sort of a spiritual fine, on the penitent and they would be absolved in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Home again, home with the Lord, home with my brothers and sisters in faith. Home as together we journey to our eternal home.

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The Real Presence

By , September 19, 2013 5:47 am

Last week, I touched briefly on the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. I mentioned that each of these sacraments are received but once in our lifetime and because of that their importance can easily recede into our memories and not hold our attention as firmly as they should. We ought to mark the date of our baptism in our working calendar and remind ourselves of it frequently, but especially on the day of our baptism. With Confirmation, an exact date is nice to know, but the important thing is for us to realize that we have committed ourselves to be strong followers of Jesus of Nazareth and that carries with it challenging responsibilities.

We need to celebrate our faith, to be conscious of it, to look for calm situations where we can discuss it with others and to pray frequently that we respond generously when we have the opportunity to move forward God’s great message, which came to us through Jesus, that each and every one of us are loved – loved infinitely.

Let me just make a brief mention here of the Eucharist, the central sacrament which allows Christ to live within us and we can say, as did St. Paul, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.”

The central reality of the sacrament of the Eucharist is that Jesus is not remote, not an important figure from history, not someone who lives in another world, but that he is with us day by day. Knowing and receiving the Eucharist frequently brings about many wonderful results. I will discuss them tomorrow.

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Don’t Ask ‘Em!

By , August 21, 2013 4:46 am

It is totally natural and almost universal for parents to love their children. They want the best for their children and they make sacrifices in order to accomplish that.

When their permanent teeth begin coming out and one that is spotted as needing attention sacrifices are made to put braces on so that our kids would have that perfect, happy smile. Our kids being normal, often begin to raise their sights on what they want in order to “be happy.” Responding to your children’s desires is all too natural but parents do need to be careful. Parents should not overextend the range of pleasurabilities that they might offer their children. Everything depends on their age and the other needs of the family.

As a parish priest, I have obviously not raised any children but I have been involved with countless numbers while watching them grow up. Thankfully, most are doing well but many are tempted to be selfish and demanding. In my opinion, one reason is that children are too frequently asked the question, “What do you want? What would you like?” There is nothing innately wrong with that question but should a mother be a short order cook for her children? Shouldn’t breakfast just be breakfast depending on what is available or should it be a range of choices from pancakes or bacon and eggs or plain toast?

One of the greatest gifts that parents could give their children is the ability to adjust to reality and if in their formative years they find out that “I want” easily translates into “I have,” a dangerous trend is being set and parents should be watchful. If you get everything “you want” for the first 18 years of life and suddenly come straight up against the hard real world, many children would have a very difficult time handling it.
You are never too young to learn that generosity pays off, that kindness will be rewarded, that sharing with others is the secret to a happy life.

Don’t give them what they want but give them what they need and can handle.

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