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!

Friday, June 15, 2012

John 19:31-37 Sacred and Scary

John 19:31-37  Sacred and Scary
One soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.
Last year I thought Katy Perry was the greatest.  Her hit single, “Firework”, inspired me so much that I used her lyrics in one of my sermons (for teens) and went out to buy her CD.  But then my world (that revolved around her) began to crumble.  I saw her video and thought it was so unoriginal; you know, politically correct.  In fact, I was thinking of making a spoof out of it.  The final blow came when I heard the rest of her songs.  That’s when I decided to throw the CD in a dumpster.  I was devastated (not really). 
A few nights ago I saw a preview for Katy Perry’s documentary, “Katy Perry:  A Part of Me.”  In the short preview, she made a comment that I’ve heard a ton of times and is commonly used in today’s pop culture.  She said, “I’ve made mistakes in my life but I don’t regret any of them.”  Now I know that Katy Perry is a musician, not a philosopher or theologian, but every word she speaks is as if she were a guru, a monk, a rabbi or a sage for millions of teens.  Yes, every word, from her insured lips, will be repeated a thousand times from the young lips that look up to her and would gladly follow her.  So what exactly did she mean by what she said?  What mistakes did she make but not regret?  Is it even possible (logically speaking) to call something a ‘mistake’ if you don’t regret it?  I don’t think so.  I asked myself what it would sound like if I listed my mistakes and did not regret them.   Let’s see”, I thought to myself, “I’ve used people in my life, but I don’t regret it???  I’ve lied to people in my life but I don’t regret any of it???  I’ve broken people’s hearts but I don’t regret any of it???   Remember…she said “I’ve made mistakes” (errors in judgment) not “choices” or “options”. 
Who knows…maybe in her documentary she will clarify what it all means.  But I think we can assume for now what it means because we’ve heard this before.  We’ve all heard this before; it’s been repeated for centuries by many world leaders in various languages.  We can translate it.  It means, “I’ve made mistakes in my life, but what really matters is I’ve become what I wanted to be.”  Yes, a lesson for all our youth:  Do whatever it takes to get what you want.”    This is what it’s all about.  Look at me…I’m a hit!  I’m a celebrity!  My opinion matters!  The lights shine on me!  The fans wave at me!  The music plays for me!  Yes, I’ve made mistakes in my life but I don’t regret any of them.”  I realized my dream (at the expense of the truth, of others, of my innocence) and that’s all that matters.
They all go down the same:  they all go down.  When she is dead, she will be remembered.  If death happens suddenly, she may very well take with her a few of her fans.  If it takes years, then just like any other 95 year-old performer: she will be remembered mostly by her bed-ridden fans. 
What I love about Jesus Christ is He is so different.  When He went down, He actually rose.  He rose from the grave, in popularity, in significance, in meaning, in every single possible sense of the word.  He died and the world gradually fell in love with Him.  Why?  What’s the difference?  What makes Christ so much different from all the rest? It's obvious:  His life.
The Lord did not realize his life-long dream; He realized his life-long nightmare. 
Most of us would run at the first hint of our nightmare coming true.  Instead, the Lord stood his ground.  Cost whatever it cost, He would not betray His Father, His dignity, His mission, His humanity, His divinity.  What led the Lord to his death were not his feet or his brains.  It was his heart.   It was and still is His Unconditional Love for us.  Only this kind of love goes a long way, passes the test of time and reaches all people. 
The Lord did not live to realize his dream; the Lord lived so that we could realize our dreams!  He did not come into the world to be loved; He came into the world to love.  If you are going to love, then make it Unconditional and realize your worst nightmare!
Unconditional love is shocking and scary.  It translates as "be another Christ".  This means I will love as the Lord loves me; that is, “It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you’ve made in your life.  As long as you repent (regret) and ask for forgiveness, then you will make it big!"         
This is the sacred heart of Jesus.  It's sacred and scary. 


  1. I've made many many mistakes and continue to do so. I regret most of them.

    It is amazing how God can take those mistakes and turn them into something good, a lesson or a blessing for me or for someone else.

    God is Good!

  2. Father, I understand your point of view but maybe she was saying she doesn't regret her mistakes because they have helped teach her what not to do. You say you regret your mistakes, which everyone does, but in a way, don't you think we should embrace mistakes because they help lead us in the right direction. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is our duty to learn from them so that no matter how bad the mistake is, it can change us for the better. Now I have no clue what Katy perry was actually thinking, and I admit even though my friends and I like her music she's no great role model at all, but I do think this other positive side to mistakes should be considered. What do you think?

  3. Yes. Absolutely. And it would have been great to hear, "I made mistakes in my life but I can at least say I learned a lot from them." Wow! Simple. It's even easier to say, "I learned from my mistakes." But Katy Perry didn't say that. Instead, she said what I wrote. And I really believe it could only have one meaning, the one I mentioned above. I could be wrong of course maybe she was cut off and never had the chance to finish her sentence..."I've made mistakes in my life but I don't regret them [because I learned a lot from them]." Awkward as a sentence but much better in terms of meaning! But again, she didn't say that.

    My point is that I'm hearing more and more of "no regrets". Someone wrote, "Who cares"?? I can answer that. I do! Why? Because culture doesn't change over night. It changes by the hour; by the minute. Trends occur in seconds not years. What we say is a reflection of how we think. And we have gotten to the point where we talk a lot and reflect a little.
    A reader today wrote back to me and said, "My granddaughters enjoy Katy Perry...five minutes a day is not so bad." Of course my concern is not Perry. It's her message to our youth. And the message is getting louder and clearer: "nothing is wrong (or bad or even a mistake) if you can learn from it or get something out of it." Hmmm....

    We should always regret our mistakes and make that clear to others. We should help others avoid our mistakes, especially those that hurt others (and ourselves). We should regret them and stay clear of them as much as possible.

    1. I was so hoping nobody would comment on this blog post. I suspected it would cause a stir. I'll be blunt: In my opinion, this is not one of your more exceptional meditations, Father Alfonse.

      Thank-you Anonymous #3 for bringing up a valid statement and question. I assume you must be a teen or young adult. I was thinking along the same lines as you.

      Father, maybe you're making a "mountain out of a molehill" out of this Katy Perry example? Seriously I wonder how many people are now going to Google search her bio, listen to her tracks on iTunes, or even go see her movie because you brought attention to her? Not a great example to use on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I'm sorry to be disagreeable, but I'm somewhat shocked at the beginning of the blog when you wrote as if "crushing" on Katy and her lyrics inspiring you in a sermon. However, you threw away her CD the minute you found out her how secular she is and how much she goes along with those who do not regret their mistakes. (A little judgment going on?) Just think about her maturity level. Does she really have a clue what she's saying or thinks how her words affect her fans? Maybe she's been fed words by her producer? I agree with the person who wrote: "Who cares?" Who cares what young celebrities say or do? Maybe our youth need to learn to ignore celebrity stupidity? Anybody with any common sense would not idol worship these celebrities. First you trashed Madonna. Then you put the the actor from "Growing Pains" on a pedestal. Now you are trashing Katy Perry. This is the kind of meditation I do not like to read and it frustrates me when you do post something like this. I'm not at all afraid to tell you what I think even though I know there will be hail storm coming from your dear fans. (I'm hiding in the storm shelter right now!)

    2. I don't think I trashed anybody. In fact, I never give up on anyone. But what did I say? Did I trash them or their ideas and what they promote? When has it ever been wrong to refute or to attack an idea or a philosophy or an ad or a gimmick, a slogan or immaturity? don't need to hide in any storm shelter, especially when it's just fog.

    3. P.S. I hope the kids google her, see her movie (I will), and listen to her music (I have). And I would recommend that you do the same thing. It makes for great discussions in classrooms. And the next time the kids here someone say, "I made mistakes but don't regret it". They will remember our discussion and my response. It will be something that will stick with them. Oh my goodness!!! This is the best thing that could ever happen. Don't you see?

  4. I agree with Father. When we start compromising on morality there is only one way for it to go....South!

    When I hear about people's justification for allowing just a little evil or immorality, I think of the story about the man who's kids wanted to go to a Rated R movie and their justification was it only had a little 'bad' stuff in it.

    It's like making brownies with the finest ingredients, all organic that come out of the oven perfect. There's just one little hitch. One of the organic ingredients is dog poop. There's just a little in it.

    Would you want to eat them? It's just a little dog poop and it's organic. What can just a little hurt? It can't be that bad, it's diluted with all the other ingredients and it's so subtle that you probably won't even taste it.

    I have no clue who Katy Perry is, but I have a hard time believing anyone would listen to only 5 minutes a day. And if it is only 5 minutes a day. We all know 5 minutes turns into 10 minutes turns into 15 turns into 30.......

    We can get something good out of anything, that's because God makes good out of everything. But that doesn't mean we should choose bad things because something good will come out of it or because we can see something good in the mix with the bad. That is just opening the door for more evil and immorality. And when we open the door to evil and immorality we are inviting the devil in and when we invite him in, he has a right to remain and invite his friends to join him. Once the door is open, it's open!

  5. "We should always regret our mistakes and make that clear to others. We should help others avoid our mistakes, especially those that hurt others (and ourselves). We should regret them and stay clear of them as much as possible."

    Risks and mistakes. I love the parable about the 3 guys who had different amounts of $$ and God expects them all to invest their “$$” to make more. The guy who buried his $ was afraid of such a demanding God and knew that God expected a lot from him. He didn’t want to make any mistakes; he didn’t have the courage to take a risk. He wanted to at least give something to God and not arrive empty-handed. But he only gave back to God what God had given him in the first place!! He didn’t invest anything in this life to bring forth to God. Can I too live my life like this? This is the one God reprimanded. I use to be this way, hardly making any mistakes; hardly taking any chances, hardly growing in my spiritual life. I was always coloring within the lines.
    Sins are one thing. Mistakes are a totally different animal. My sins I regret, my mistakes I don’t. For me, taking a risk and maybe making a mistake takes much more courage compared to doing nothing at all. Not making mistakes is safe. Again, I’m not talking about sinning. Not making mistakes to me means that I am in control and I am not going to let life throw me for a loop. I am going to stay within these parameters and only allow in what I want in, what I am sure of that is not going to change me. How else am I to take risks / develop courage if I don’t have the same opportunity to make mistakes / to fail and start again? Isn’t this the whole point about risks? What is the meaning behind this parable if not this?
    Sins are one thing. Mistakes are another. To me, this makes all the difference in the world concerning this thread.
    btw - great post!

    1. Yes...absolutely correct...IF we are not talking about sin and the justification of it.

  6. Anonymous #4
    It's too bad you are hiding. It is obvious that you are unaware of the influence these people have.

    "Father, maybe you're making a "mountain out of a molehill" out of this Katy Perry example?"

    Apparently you missed the point. People that share your opinion are a HUGE,HUGE,HUGE part of the problem in our society, the people who are naive and perpetuate immorality with their naiveté.

    "I wonder how many people are now going to Google search her bio, listen to her tracks on iTunes, or even go see her movie because you brought attention to her?"

    Yes I'm sure that Father's blog is going to flood the internet with inquiries about Katy Perry. Father's vast readership will not make a dent in the Katy Perry 'craze'. In fact I imagine that anyone who doesn't know who she is is an adult who will not be running out to buy her products. Anyone who would most likely be 'turned on' by her already knows who she is.

    If you look at the number of hits this blog gets it's not that colossal. 23,000 page views goes down to 766 readers if you assume each person views this blog once a day. I know there are MANY who visit it multiple times a day to check the comments. So I don't think we have to worry about his blog leading others to follow her.

    "Not a great example to use on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus"

    Actually it's a great example for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I'm sure His heart is Breaking over what has become of His people and how many, in this country, are leading more and more of them away from His Truth. Many may be naive or have liberal agendas that continue to feed the ignorance which they use as an excuse to close their eyes to what is truly going on. Evil always disguises itself as something appealing or innocent. How could one pretty little piece of fruit in the Garden of Eden be responsible for the fall of all humanity??? Maybe we're making a mountain out of a molehill there.

    .."you threw away her CD the minute you found out her how secular she is and how much she goes along with those who do not regret their mistakes. (A little judgment going on?)"

    I guess you missed the blog that explained what Jesus meant by judging people. He was talking about the state of their soul, not their behavior. We have to judge the behaviors of people to make any decisions in this world. Apparently you judged her behavior as acceptable. So who's judging now?

    She's the one who said she didn't regret any of her mistakes. That is an action that is completely and morally irresponsible.

    "Just think about her maturity level. Does she really have a clue what she's saying or thinks how her words affect her fans? Maybe she's been fed words by her producer?"

    She probably is immature and she may only be interested in her own popularity and 'success'. But that doesn't mean she is not culpable for the immorality her actions and words promote. Immaturity is no excuse for leading people away from what is good and right. If her producer has morals, he/she would be helping her make choices knowing the impact she will have on the young. She has latched on to someone that is making a lot of money off everything she does. We know what money can do to even a moral person.

  7. Who cares?" Who cares what young celebrities say or do?
    That comment may be the most revealing one you've made. Who cares???? The young and immature and naive, her target audience care what she does and want to imitate her.

    "Maybe our youth need to learn to ignore celebrity stupidity? Anybody with any common sense would not idol worship these celebrities."

    Yes our youth need to learn to ignore celebrity stupidity. But they don't. Hello, that is the problem. Who wants to conform to society and what is popular more than our youth? Yes they do need to ignore it but they don't. Common sense seems to be lacking in our society as well. Are you suggesting that we should ignore teaching those without common sense and not teach them right from wrong. Our society is full of people who have ill-informed consciences. Do you suggest we use that as an excuse to allow them to make wrong choices and influence others?

    "you trashed Madonna"

    Madonna trashed herself.

    "This is the kind of meditation I do not like to read and it frustrates me when you do post something like this"

    That is understandable. Many people don't like to read or hear things with opposing views. They judge opposing views and people with them as judgmental, intolerant, racist....

    "I'm not at all afraid to tell you what I think even though I know there will be hail storm coming from your dear fans. (I'm hiding in the storm shelter right now!)"

    It's easy to be courageous from a dark corner with your face cloaked.

    You must be some kind of fan or you wouldn't be reading this blog.

    And for the record, if you meant something like 'adoring' fans with the use of the word, 'dear'. You would be wrong in my case. I appreciate Father's fearless spreading of the gospel in a society that he is obviously going against. But I am far from one of his adoring, dear, or any other kind of blind, uninformed, unable to see when he is wrong, goo goo eyed fans that follow him. In fact I would have to say I am not a fan of his at all. I am a fan of the moral, righteous and holy actions that he tries to promote, especially to our young who are the most vulnerable to the ignorance of adults and those in authority who tell them "just a little immorality is okay", "just ignore what is bad", "those intolerant and judgmental people need to get with the times".

    I am glad to be part of the storm that supports what is right and points out what is wrong. We need more 'stormers' who will open their eyes wide and stand up and speak up for what is right. I does seem that in our society the ones that stand up and speak up as you have are the norm, however the minority in actuality. There is still a moral majority in this country, they just sit and allow the immoral minority to run the country because they have their head in the sand and don't want to make waves and are afraid of being called judgmental, intolerant, racist......

    The young are the most vulnerable. How do you think they learn to live? BY EXAMPLE!!!!

    Benedicamus Deus!

  8. If you would like the opinion of a teenage girl...
    I have been going to catholic school all my life and church every Sunday. If you asked me to name songs on the radio that have a good message, I would have some trouble. I recognize songs and singers who don't have a good influence, but it's not as easy as it sounds to avoid them. Even if I don't replay these songs over and over on my iPod, I hear them, whether it's tv, radio, or through friends. I have my faith to let me know that I shouldn't act like them, but yes, I do worry that maybe these songs could change me if I'm not careful. I wish the popular songs had better messages, but until then I find it very difficult to avoid them. You're a priest and even you hear the lyrics. And I sometimes find Katy perry stuck on my head whether I like it or not. Yes, some of our youth actually act like these bad role models, but there are still teens who know the songs are bad and try ( as best as we can) to not soak in the lyrics we at exposed to every day. This is just kind of rambling, but I thought I'd express my opinion. Your thoughts, Father?

  9. I cherish the opinion of a teenager!!! I listen to everything...Christian, Classical, Rock, etc...I have all the stations in my car radio. Like I said, I even bought her CD. I'm not one for censorship. What I am for is thinking, reflecting and meditating. I'm not afraid of what they have to say. I really believe our message is much more radical, scarier and better. After all, "give it all up and run away with me [the Lord]", is a radical, scary and great idea!
    I listen to this music because my students listen to it. I go and see the Hunger Games because my kids go and see it. We shouldn't run away from it. We shouldn't blindly absorb it either. We should think about it and challenge it and I am sure you will come up with the same answer that I have always come up to: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; yesterday, today and forever.

  10. P.S. If Katy Perry did what she sings (drink every friday night and does it all again...), I doubt highly she would be making any albums. I don't need much time to reflect on that.

  11. Okay thanks! So it's ok to listen to that kind of stuff as log as we examine it and challenge it? I understand what you mean when you sai that this will help us grow in faith and realize that Jesus is the only one who sets examples we should follow. And yes Katy perry might not do that, but I'm sure some teens do. And also, I love that you stay up to date on hip things...Jesus' parables helped people of that time understand his message and for me, modern references that I'm familiar with really help me grasp the points you make and make it easy for me look at in the context of todays world.

  12. It's good to know that there are some really good kids out there.

    But surely you realize that the kids that read this blog are not your average teenagers.

  13. Anonymous teenager, I don't know about continuing to listen to something AFTER it's been challenged and you determine that it's corrupt or offensive--that might not be so wise. For example, the lyrics to Last Friday Night describe the singer being so drunk that she blacked out, was involved in a vulgar depravity, and then pictures were posted on the Internet. Then the lyrics say something like "oh well...we'll do it all again the next Friday night." What a messed-up message.

    If you have a CD with a song like that on it, and your friends know you're an orthodox Catholic, it seems the least you could do is fast forward over a song like that, and maybe make a comment like, "That one's crap." And definitely do not play any song like that around younger siblings/cousins/children.

  14. The fog has lifted and now I see the fruit of this meditation. Thanks to everyone for an enlightening discussion. The Holy Spirit is clearly working through the opinions expressed.

    I agree with Father. I cherish the opinion of a teenager, too, especially when it comes to contemporary culture trends (music, movies, etc.). They are the ones on the fore front exposed to this every day. I love the idea that many teenagers, probably more than we realize, are questioning pop culture and making a conscience effort to filter through it. The good teens with solid moral values and love for the Church can become excellent witnesses to their friends and family. I try to remember that not all teenagers are bad. In fact so many are amazing! They make us older generations really think about issues affecting them that may not seem so relevant to us.

    I saw the movie trailer for Katy Perry's new film not too long ago. I'm not as familiar with her but now I'm curious and will probably see the movie. I'll check out some of her songs on iTunes, too. I know as I begin my journey as a catechist I need to become a more "hip" in the current pop culture. Things have definitely changed since my teenage days!


    -Jennifer :)

  15. P.S. Father, instead of throwing out the CD you should've sold it to Half Priced Books! Use the money for breakfast at the Pancake House! ;-)


  16. Have you seen the Katy Perry movie yet Father?


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