Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

John 17:1-11 Father, Glorify Us

John 17:1-11  Father, Glorify Us
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come.  Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you.” 
There comes a time in your life when you have to fight the good fight.  You don’t ask to fight any fight.  But sometimes you are forced to fight for your life.  The moment has arrived.  The hour has come.  Everything inside of us is telling us, “Enough is enough”.  It is time to give glory to God. 
On Sunday, someone came up to me and told me that they didn’t like my blog.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was about to say, “Then why do you read it?”  Then I thought to myself, “Are they telling me this so that I stop writing or that I change my ideas and opinions?  Oh my goodness!  How wrong could they be?” 
I don’t write what I write because I want to be popular.  Heavens!  I would be more popular if I wrote the opposite of what I write.  I write what I write because it is right.  I take pride in what I read, how I think and what I write.  I take pride in defending my faith like so many take pride in attacking it.  
All over the world, you can be thrown in jail if you give testimony that is only half-truths or partial truths.  When one testifies, they swear to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  There is a very good reason for it.  Half truths are not the truth at all.
Why do people tell only half-truths?  Because they can get away with it! 
The headline in this morning’s Dallas Morning News (DaMN) states:  Health Insurance.  Birth Control Lawsuits Expand.
Why don’t they tell the American people the truth?  If they wanted to share the truth with their readers, then the headline should have read Lawsuits Against Federal Mandate Expand. Why do they prefer to tell half-truths?  I am sure that most people who read this morning’s news did not even realize the flaw.  Although the DaMN can get away from the truth in its headline, it obviously cannot get away with it in its article.  “Roman Catholic dioceses…sued the Obama administration Monday…over a federal mandate…”
What is the issue? A federal mandate that violates the free exercise of religion.  Contraceptives are not the issue!  Contraceptives are the trigger.  The mandate is the bullet.  HHS is the gun.  Kathleen Sibelius is the hit man.  The Administration is the owner.
Fact:  For the first time in the history of America, the federal government is attempting to curtail the free exercise of religion in America.  Fact:  For the first time in the history of America, the government is attempting to define what “Catholic” is and what it is not.  To them, Catholic means a house of worship but Catholic schools, hospitals, and other important works of charity do not.  Fact: For the first time in the history of America, the government is not allowing the Catholic Church to practice what it preaches!
The hour has come.  The hour has come to dispel and destroy the half-truths of the supporters of this unconstitutional mandate.  This newspaper insists on carrying forth arguments in favor of the mandate for reasons that have nothing to do with the lawsuits.  They inform us, that “an advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government, recommended including birth control on the list of covered services, partly because it promotes maternal and child health by allowing women to space their pregnancies.” 
Did you notice the word, “partly”?  It says it all.  Let’s make something very clear.  You don’t make something right by doing something wrong.  People in this country can take contraceptives for whatever reason they want:  good and bad.  To ignore this simple fact is a disgrace.  To ignore this simple truth is a lie.  To ignore the fact that the Catholic Church must pay for any reason whatsoever is simply being biased.
With tremendous joy, I read last night that forty-three Catholic institutions filed federal lawsuits against the federal government.  I know the number will continue to rise.  With pleasure I heard that the law firm Jones Day will be handling the lawsuits pro bono nationally. Not a single penny will have to be taken away from the work our charities do. 
I was surprised to hear that the University of Notre Dame was one of the institutions that filed a suit.  I was not surprised that Georgetown University didn't.  Its President recently defended Kathleen Sibelius by stating that her office is providing insurance for over 35 million uninsured Americans.  Wow!  Are we supposed to be impressed by that?  Would you be impressed if I told you that Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin provided a job for nearly every citizen their country?  Would you be amazed that they cut down unemployment and inflation to nearly zero?  Would you be impressed if I only told you the good news and withheld the bad? 
Georgetown and BC (Boston College or “Barely Catholic” as some students call it) are shortsighted.   “What is it worth to gain the whole world and lose your soul?” 
Do you really think that free contraceptive coverage could not be given to all without offending the Catholic Church and other churches?  Do you really think that this is the only way to solve this issue?  This unprecedented attack on religious liberty is an affront to our intelligence and liberties.   

Glorify your son.   What a scary request.  But I know this is what I should be asking the Father as well:  “Father, glorify me.”  And we know what the answer will be:  “You got it son!”  “You got it my daughter!” 
We know why the request is scary.  We know that before you can bask in glory you have to be baked in mud; before you can receive a standing ovation, you have to be kicked to the ground.  That is the proper order in a fallen and twisted world.  The good get kicked, the bad get a kick at the good being kicked. 
Father, glorify your Church!  Let’s start preparing ourselves for glory.

25 comments:

  1. Dear Fr. Alfonse-

    Well, I like your blog. You tell the unpopular, unvarnished truth.

    Those who don't like it can watch daytime (gag!) TV for the pap and swill they crave.

    So, there!

    Jan Nathan

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  2. Brenda D BoldingMay 22, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Father Alfonse I love your blog and will continue to put it in the Library at Saint Joseph in Richardson I had a couple of negative comments from people who came into the library, saw and read some of it, but I told them that it was a catholic Library and that i refused to put the liberal stuff that they preferred and would continue to put books in there that taught true Catholic Faith. As a result I have had to eliminate some of the donations we get.Thank you for writing this blog and getting truth out there. I could go on and on but I must go eat lunch so I can stick myself with an insulin needle

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  3. Nice to see a link to your Sunday homilies, Father. Many people reading this blog will be able to hear you now. Of course, it's not the same as "live" in person.

    A little constructive criticism here. I don't aim to start a commenters war. I'm sure you realize not everybody is going to love your blog, and many people will tell it to you face. I can see why people may not find your blog appealing. Sometimes your tone comes across as angry, bitter, frustrated, unloving, and arrogant. This is who you are and what you are all about. But is everything you say necessarily "right"? Is exhibiting the occasional ostensible pride, superiority and impatience with unbelievers, the ignorant, or poorly catechized a positive evangelization tool? You once commented that you will not write "high theology" but maybe a lot of readers would like to read this perspective every once in a while. I've been following your blog since its inception. For the most part I enjoy it. Sometimes what you write upsets me. At other times I've laughed out loud with your humor. (Where did the humor go, Father? It seems to be lacking these last few months.) I know the world is !@#$ right now. I know the Media is having a field day slamming the Church, especially with the HHS shenanigans. I know it's your job to spread the Truth of the gospel. I commend you for your outreach. But, examine your conscience here… You say you don't want to be popular, but aren't you kidding yourself? Just look at the attention you attract when you talk about Media trash or post pictures of popular celebrities from Google images. (You have page views and stats at the top of your weblog. Isn’t that a little too much? I don’t see Bishop with stats on his blog.) This blog makes you popular. There's no question. You are a role model for quite a lot of readers and Mass goers. You present facts and opinions that support the Magisterium’s teachings but maybe not always in a friendly or nurturing style all readers find appealing.

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    1. Your thought-provoking comments on the "friendly & nurturing style" sum up much - I think - of your observations. However, somewhat akin to the approach by Dr. Donohue, layman leader of the Catholic League, Fr. Alfonse's tone & treatment of significant topics & issues in the spiritual realm need to be free of sugar-coating [read "friendly & nurturing"]. What I sense is righteous anger, not uncontrolled rage. Fr. Alfonse is offering a wake-up call and humor has its place, but the blog {or sermon} does not always (or consistently) need to incorporate a measure of light-heartedness. Honey may attract more flies than vinegar, but my sense is that Fr. Alfonse is aiming to challenge his readers and listeners at a time in our culture when the "right to be wrong" - to use Kevin Hasson's terminology - is being challenged very directly by officialdom, the State. The Obama Administration has clearly crossed a line in its interpretation of the First Amendment. Their actions and words deserve a serious response. Fr. Alfonse, could not care less about his popularity. He is trying to engage his readers to regard the truth, to face our brief time in this culture with a Christic orientation. Bravo, Father! May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire you.

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  4. I wouldn't know how to handle my day if I didn't have your great thoughts to ponder each day Father! My husband and I look forward ever single day to see which topic you will wrestle with, and for your wonderful insight into each one. Thank you for all you do.
    Peace and Blessings always to you! And a Big Hug to boot! Please know you are loved by so many.

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  5. I do examine my conscience. But I guess I didn't come up with the same conclusions.
    I just want to be right, not popular. ;_)
    I do have to admit that when I right something like this morning's meditation, I get a lot more responses than the nice and gentle ones. Hmmm...I wonder what that means.
    Look, humor is a wonderful thing but there is a time and place for that as well. What I do find hillarious is when someone can look me in the eyes and say, "I don't agree with what you said." Really, what they are saying is, "I don't agree in what the Pope or the Magisterium or what the Bishops of America have said." I find it funny that some people actually think my ideas are my ideas. No! My ideas are not my ideas. What I have learned to do is to share the Church's ideas with my words.
    These meditations were not necessarily intended for everyone. They are intended for those who would like to have a better understanding of why we believe what we believe.
    Why the change in tone? Because of recent events. Time to fight the good fight.
    Why did I start my blog? I started it because I was worried that I would not be faithful to a discipline I learned to count on twenty years ago, namely to do a morning meditation. Knowing myself (and how lazy I could get), I looked for a means to be held accountable. This blogsite has helped me to remain accountable.
    With regards to "comments". I am not interested in people blindly applauding or criticizing me. I prefer that they explain why they agree and disagree with me, and, of course back it up with some strong factual evidence. In other words, I would prefer a negative comment over a positive comment if the negative comment was factual, spiritual and thoughtful rather than some baked up opinion.
    For example, "You say you don't want to be popular, but aren't you kidding yourself?" Well, I guess I am, right??? Or maybe, just maybe, I'm not. So where do we go from there??? At least I know that when I ask someone a question, I'm not going to provide my personal answer for them as well...and disguise it behind a question mark.
    Something to think about.

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  6. Typo correction: "...when I right something like this morning's meditation..." It should be "write" instead of "right." See, you're not always right! ;-)

    Father, I was taken aback by your lengthy reply. Thank-you for your honesty and personal touch. I admit the question you quoted from me was very poorly written. That "baked up opinion" was dreadful. I should've deleted the question out of the paragraph....

    I like to throw out a little dissent to keep your blog interesting and thought-provoking. (Obviously I've made you think as reflected in your reply.) "Blindly applauding or criticizing" your meditations is often boring. What can be learned, earned, or gained? I like to hear that popularity isn't on your priestly priority list. I don't want pride and an ego to shape the "Church's ideas" through your words. I do find it interesting your meditations which express righteous anger over controversial issues sparks more responses. Personally, this is when I'm drawn to post a comment.

    It's best I keep my identity unknown because you have typed up some very good candid responses. I like seeing your wheels turn behind the "confessional screen".....Keep up the meditations and don't grow lazy one nanosecond. Christ and his Church needs you to keep the Voice alive even if the Truth isn't always so gentle and nice.

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  7. I thought you were a relative of mine!!! :-) I loved your comment, the first and the second. It makes me think. It makes me write. We are about to celebrate Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit!

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  8. It’s interesting. I was thinking about anonymous’ comment all afternoon. As I was reading it I realized that I agreed almost 100% but would not have had the courage to put it in writing.
    I guess you could have said that your comment was your perspective rather than making a blanket assumption. I applaud your courage even though you are anonymous. Father is pretty smart though, so he may know who you are anyway.

    “From my perspective”, Father’s response did seem a little defensive and I could sense, a little steam, rising like incense from the keyboard as he wrote his response. I imagine he did a little editing from his first draft before he posted it. But I too could be wrong=)

    OK, saying that as delicately and non-accusatory as possible. From my perspective and from my experience, I think that he has a very passionate personality and it comes across most often in his writing. I don’t know about Father, but my meditations come from where I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually at the time of my meditation. Isn’t that at least part of what Lectio Divina is? Finding out what God is saying to ‘me’ at that point in time through the scriptures. And ‘my’ feelings are part of the package. I do realize Father has to appeal to a wider audience than I do, (what is it up to now….??)but the jist is that it’s personal.
    I think anyone who’s followed his blog since its inception has gotten to know him as well. It’s like reading the Gospels help us get to know Jesus. Ok not exactly but if you read someone’s daily writing for 700 days in a row, you get to know something about them even if you sometimes have to read between the lines.
    I do appreciate his righteous anger. I hope it motivates some to do more than nod and agree while sitting at the computer for hours on Facebook.

    And for the record, those kissy face sugar dripping comments are a little much. I like to read comments that add to the topic of the blog, that add other reflections and perspectives, personal experiences and even things that can help others who may be reading them. NOT LIKE THIS ONE. LOL!!!

    Finally, I could definitely sense that the temperature of the keyboard had cooled by his next response.

    You are appreciated Father, but I know you know that. I’m pretty sure you get 1000 times more positive comments than critical ones.
    I can relate,though,it’s the negative ones that poke at WHO WE ARE that are difficult not to take personally.

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  9. I did edit it!!! How did you know?? The problem with commenting is not writing them but editing them. You basically have to delete your comment if you want to correct it. Unless someone knows how to edit it without deleting it.

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  10. When I read your meditations it keeps me on my toes :)

    I hope you have a wonderful summer Father Alfonse!

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  11. I thought you wrote your blog in Word and cut and paste it into the little rectangle. Just do the same with comments.

    I knew because I've known you quite a bit longer than 700 days.

    ..and you are not the only one the Holy Spirit talks to. LOL!!

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  12. I don't like the suggestion that there is "occasional ostensible pride, superiority and impatience with unbelievers, the ignorant, or poorly catechized." That is interpretation. Superiority? Generally we the readers are approaching the postings as learners; we haven't gone through the same training and study, and we don't have the the Holy Spirit's gift of preaching conferred at ordination. It's not peer-to-peer communication. Impatience? Certain behaviors may be impatient, but I have no idea how impatience can be demonstrated in text.

    I don't perceive superiority; I perceive a teacher who has dedicated years of study imparting the fruits of that study to a wider audience. I don't perceive impatience; I see an invitation for students to rise above current levels of understanding. Good teachers challenge their students.

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  13. What I'm trying to say is that it would be nice if these comments could be free from negative interpretations and remarks about someone's character. I think it's problematic at the least to assume that someone is being superior or impatient, for example, based on written comments alone, especially when two people have never met, or when their interactions have been extremely limited.

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  14. Father Alfonse,
    No one has ever challenged me in my faith as much as you have. Reading your meditaions have brought me closer to our Lord and to his church. They challenge me to speak up on issues that pertain to the church and what it stands for, when before I would stay quiet. I am truly proud to be Catholic. Thank you Father. You are truly a man after God's own heart. Keep up God's work. You are always in my prayers.

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  15. Record responses, Father Alfonse. See what my comments (and yours) stirred up? I love the thinking going on here. Cyber watching the fingers typing away. Excellent! ;)

    Hmmm...Does Father really know who I am? I think my writing style is a giveaway, but I can't assume much. Let's put it this way: I've always been quite vocal.

    To DM - I appreciate your viewpoint. However, I see things differently. Father and I have met in person and don't have "extremely limited" interaction. In fact, we cross paths quite regularly. I find him to be very motivating, inspiring, and engaging.

    I can't wait to read more of your reflections, Father Alfonse. Keep blogging away.....

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  16. DM
    Are you suggesting we do away with freedom of speech?
    I'm pretty sure that is something we are fighting against:)

    FYI: Father can choose not to post any comment.

    I think it gives him character to post the ones that may not put him in the best light, one that is an honest opinion of someone.

    What anonymous said may not have been a glowing *** kissing remark like so many, but it was not mean or disrespectful. It was honest and straight forward. And maybe there was something of value in it.

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  17. Yes! Record responses...(I think). This is what you get when you write a meditation called "Kick me!" ;) Hahahaha. Good family discussions!!! I think I have written more comments on this meditation than any previous one.

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  18. Anonymous 2, no, of course I'm not suggesting that we do away with freedom of speech. I should clarify that the reason I made those comments is because I was inspired after reading the following from an article which encouraged Catholic bloggers and commenters to a higher standard when interacting virtually:

    "...(I)t’s nice to let people have their say. The First Amendment protects their right to say it. But the very same First Amendment also protects your right not to give them a platform on the blog that bears your name and your identity as a Catholic. A grass roots development is taking shape among some of the better Catholic blogs. Their hosts are being a lot more discerning about the tone of comments they will permit on the sites that bear their names and reputations. It is not discrimination. It’s a sign that Catholic bloggers are taking the 'Catholic' part of their blogging responsibility seriously. It is not to control information. It’s to invite a higher standard for expressing it."

    http://www.thesestonewalls.com/gordon-macrae/holy-hostility-batman-when-the-gloves-come-off-on-catholic-blogs/

    Anonymous 1, okay; thanks for the reply. I've met Father numerous times, too, and was always edified by the interactions. The suggestions above puzzled me because they are incongruent with what my friends and I experienced.

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  19. We must be careful with what we ask for.
    We might get it!

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  20. DM

    "Their HOSTS are being a lot more discerning about the tone of comments they will permit on the sites that bear their names and reputations"

    I think that if hosts were not controlling what they allowed to be posted, THEY are the ones at fault. Every blog server gives the author the choice of how to allow comments or not allow any, as Father did in the past.

    I don't recall reading anything in the Catechism about blogging responsibility.

    This rule is very subjective. How is one to know what is offensive to another? And if we are expected to tip toe around not to hurt someone's feelings, we cannot be authentic.

    And what is a high standard for expressing one's self? We don't need more regulations, we are getting enough from our government. At some point we have to allow people to police themselves. When their comment doesn't get posted they'll know that it wasn't appropriate and when several get denied, they'll be able to figure out what they are doing wrong.

    Bottom line bloggers need to have control of their own blog content.

    BTW:I've met Obama. I don't know why all these people have such nasty things to say about him. He was so friendly and he told me exactly what I wanted to hear.

    No I'm not in any way comparing Father with Obama, but we all have imperfections and we all have our own experiences with various people.

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    1. Amen, Question Mark Anonymous. Well said. I admit I've had a few comments not posted. That's when I figured out rather quickly my message was not very respectful or nice. Sometimes heated emotions can get away from all of us and not help anybody grow spiritually. I see Father wanting to protect not only his reputation but the reputation of his readers. I appreciate when comment trails are policed properly, and opinions can be equally expressed without tippy toeing around an issue. It's apparent to me that Father appreciates all comments rather positive or negative as long as they are written with respect, honesty, and some degree of integrity. We should all be good representatives of Christ's message. We do fail occasionally in our written tone and approach. Father Alfonse, as well as other bloggers who monitor their sites, realize this. For one, if I felt stifled and unable to provide my honest opinion on a blog I probably wouldn't like it as much. I'm thankful Father "Surprise" decided to re-enable comments. I remember back in the beginning comments did get ugly. I think most people understand the consequences of flaming.. Father can shut down the comment link at any time.

      Blessings,

      -Jennifer

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  21. Your blog is anything but boring. Personally, it is full of information, spiritual formation, and education.... and fun of course when they can be. I read them because they help me grow in my spiritual life and be closer to God in order to be a better person, or at least to try. If not, why even bother reading them??????
    Father, do not despair and continue writing always the way you do, always with the TRUTH.
    Good job!

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  22. Yes, I am sure president Obama is a very nice person. I am thankful that someone want that job. He is crystal clear what he stand for. I personal cannot look at the Cross and vote for him. I prayed for my brothers and sisters that did may that Lord have mercy.

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  23. Dear Fr. Alphonse, Thank you for taking the time to blog for our benefit and for His greater honor and glory.

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