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, July 3, 2012

John 20:24-29 Don’t Let The Word Go By

John 20:24-29  Don’t Let The Word Go By
(Click here for readings)
Thomas, one of the Twelve, said to the other disciples, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 
She looked like she was sixty.  She walked very slowly and with a cane.  She spoke with a raspy voice.  The poor thing slept outside all night long.  She was looking for help.  She was looking for a meal and a place to stay.  I asked her how long it had been since she went to Church.  That’s when she finally looked up at me and said, “I stopped going to Church when a priest told me that if I didn’t change my ways, I would go to Hell.” 
I told her, “He was right, wasn’t he.” 
She was just forty-two years old.  I couldn’t believe it.  But after years of drug and alcohol use, this poor lady was living life in hell.  Her pain was unceasing.  At times she felt like her body was on fire.   Instead of quitting the Church, she should have quit her sins. 
The priest had told her the truth, and so she took it out on the Church.  Though we can be the subjects of our liberty, we will always be captives of the truth.  No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to free ourselves from the truth; that is, free ourselves from God!  Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote:  “Our strength is this world is, to be the subjects of the reason, and our liberty, to be captives of the truth” (Loss and Gain)
Seeing is believing. Life can be very long and miserable, especially when it is lived in sin.  Is this so hard to believe?  Is it so hard to believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to live life? I don’t need anyone to convince me of what will lead me to heaven or to hell.  I don’t need any convincing, especially when I can see it for myself! 
So how do we go so wrong?  How do we get ourselves into a horrible mess?  My guess is that we are easily fooled by the tiniest portion of the whole truth; that is, we are fooled by “the moment”.  “The moment” is the part of truth we can see and easily believe.  It is also the part that gets us into trouble.
When we grasp “the moment”, we tend to throw ourselves at it not realizing that it can actually sink us for good.  For example, we see the glamour of evil and believe it, and are mastered by it, and only later terrorized by it. 
When children see the glamour of the stage, the fans and the young artist, rock musician, actress or model on it, they are easily mesmerized by it.   What they don’t realize is what we have all seen before; that is how the final production; the last call; the final farewell is given and received.
Believing is truly seeing…Why just limit life (or sight) to “the moment”.  Why not believe in what we cannot immediately see?  We believe a lot of things we can’t see.  Why not believe in God’s Commandments?  Why not take them to heart?  Is it so hard to believe in the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?  Is it so hard to take what we have seen in the past and project it into the future?  Haven’t we seen enough to help us believe? 
I have often heard parents tell me, “They’re just kids.  I know that!  Don’t tell me the obvious.  But why trust in just "the moment".  Kids grow up and either they become a parent’s joy or a very serious pain in the neck.  Don’t let them mess around with sex, pornography, drugs or alcohol.  Do you need to see in order to believe?  Can you believe before you see? 
One week later…Thomas missed “the moment”.  But in reality, he “missed the point”.  While the world went by and revolved around the sun, the Word went by and the Apostles revolved around the Son.  Thomas was in hell…at least for one week.  He neither believed in what his friends had seen or in what the Lord had said.  His past experiences with the Lord meant nothing.  His past errors in judgment meant nothing.  A priest should have told Thomas, “If you don’t change your ways, you will go to Hell”.  Thomas was living in hell!  He was a doubter and his doubts had finally caught up to him.  He always had a hard time putting together the whole truth (the past, the moment and the future).  Doubts are like missing pieces of a puzzle or like time gone missing.  By now, he should have been able to fill in the blanks.  Instead, he wasted a week in his doubts.  The Lord helped him.  The Lord appeared to him. 
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”.  Why?  Because they have seen the whole truth and nothing but the truth:  Jesus Christ. 


  1. Well-said, on several levels. Thank you!

  2. Very good meditation, Father. :)

    Maybe "the moment" of conversion for this poor woman might of been if her priest didn't tell her she'd "go to Hell" but actually counseled with her and provided her with resources to help overcome her addictions. I don't know all of the facts. Maybe this woman is very stubborn and would not listen to reason . However, telling someone they are "going to Hell" even if it's "the truth" doesn't seem right. I know priests are not psychologists or counselors. Not even sure if a course in Psychology is a requirement for the seminary. (I hope so.) I think just one person (a priest or lay person) presenting this woman with "the truth" in just the right way may have turned her life around. (It saddens me to hear stories of people leaving the church because of what a priest says to them.) What if the priest told this poor woman the following:

    "If you do not stop the drinking and using drugs, you will live a hard, tough life. Can you imagine living on the streets and begging for food? Can you imagine a life with no husband and no children because you couldn't put down the bottle? God loves you. The Church cares for you. There are tons of people here who can give you the help you need. You can overcome your sins. I'm here to help you every step of the way. Please do not let your life waste away. Heaven is what you want to look forward to."

    Tonight I'm praying a rosary for the intention of those suffering from addictions. May God embrace them in his tender loving care and provide them with the strength to get clean and sober.



  3. Jennifer, you are very tactful.
    I’m sorry Father but I couldn’t disagree with you more! Do you really believe that Thomas WANTED to doubt? Do you really believe that this “poor lady” WANTED to become addicted? Do you not see that Paul WANTED to do good, but sometimes did what “he did not want to do”? This” poor lady” needed you to love her, not to tell her “He was right”! Oh, and by the way, since you are still addicted, you are going to hell!! Take that. Now maybe we can keep this “poor lady” out of our church so she doesn’t smell up the place and the real saints can have a place to sit. Isn’t this the very people that Christ came into our world for? And wasn’t it the prideful “Pharisees” that kept the strict law who Christ reprimanded? Can't you 'see' how the atheist/secularist view Christians who speak this way? “The priest told her the truth and she took it out on the Church.” REALLY??? Father, do you not see the obvious? She didn’t take it out on the Church, she just didn’t go where she was not wanted! I would have done the same thing if someone representing the Church told me that I am going to hell b/c of something that I am doing but I don’t know how to stop the pain any other way. Maybe, just maybe, if a priest put his arms around me, told me that I am a child of God and He loves me very much – He wouldn’t have made me if I weren’t here for reason…. something like that, it would have started a dialogue to see where she is coming from first before you judge her. I think there is a program called AA.....We are either "being" or "becoming". It seems like this "poor lady" was "becoming" and God intentionally placed her w/the one person who could help her.
    Wow. I am happy for you that you see and believe but I am sad for you that that is enough for you. I see Christianity different from you. I pray to God for the opportunity to die for my neighbor. I want to go out of my way, make a couple (or a hundred) phone calls to help my neighbor in need. If they are hungry, am I going to tell them about Christ without giving them something to eat? Now, I do indeed fail hundreds of times in trying to live this way, but the mentality is totally different; at least I am trying to Love.
    I love the story of Thomas. I need to see / feel God's presence. I experience the presence of God where two or three are gathered in my name…. When I am alone w/my own thoughts, there is so much room for doubt. But when I am w/my Christian friends who are trying to live the gospel in a radical way, I know that Jesus is among us. He is the One to show me how to live in “the moment”.

    1. I have to apologize for my inability to write clearly. I thought what I wrote was clear. I was wrong. I wasn't saying, "Don't come to the Church when you are down and out." Rather, "Come to the Church before you are done and out" otherwise, "you will be going to hell".
      Does the reader above think that hell is what you live after she die? Maybe that's where the confusion begins and I had hoped that I had made that clear in my meditation.
      What I know (myself and at least the homeless individual) is that hell can begin on earth.
      As always, some believe that the whole truth is not a fortunate thing. The Church is not a fortune cookie or a comfortable place to be. The Church is not comfortable, it is Catholic. And to be Catholic is not a comfortable thing. It keeps you on edge! Which means, we are obliged to tell the whole truth: the good and the bad; the convenient and the not so inconvenient truth; give positive reinforcement (mercy) and negative reinforcement (judgment), share the good news (heaven) and the bad news (hell), the pardon of sins and the existence of sins. That's the whole truth: Jesus Christ.
      Does the reader really believe she was not wanted by the Church? I hope not. She was wanted. It was her sins that were not welcomed. But you're right when it comes to not being wanted; that is, by her family or friends or even the local chapter of AA or even the homeless shelters (we found out that she had been thrown out of every single one). But while she stunk up the place (which we didn't mind), we did call her family (who refused to pick her up), we did give her a meal (which she gladly ate up), and we got her a home (for at least two days).
      When it came time for help, the one who had left the Church was welcomed in to the Church. She didn't go anywhere else. She couldn't.
      Let's not forget: "positive" love is a half truth. A spanking can be just as loving as a caress. Forgiveness without 'sinness' is an empty virtue.
      Today, it is all about positive reinforcement. Today, more than ever, we have people living in hell.

    2. Thanks for clarifying. I thought you were talking about hell on earth, but to agree w/the first priest reinforced hell in the afterlife to her also. I should have known you helped her.
      I know that priests and the laity are trying to bring more people into the fold. It’s just that the words we choose to use can do just the opposite. I am trying to get into the head of this lady. I think the priest really wanted her in the Church but what he said drove her away. Why would she stop going to church? Maybe she was not strong in her faith. Maybe booze meant more to her than God….apparently. What can we do to be the catalyst to get her to church? Tell her the whole truth when she is not ready to take it? This is my point. We are obliged to tell the whole truth, but if we don’t know them as a person, where their thoughts lie, what do they believe, etc, where do we start? Tell them the whole truth regardless if they can take it or not? I realize that the homeless are a separate issue.
      For example, I did spank my children – up until about the age of 3 or 4. They didn’t have the reason required to know what could help or hurt them. But after 4 or 5, they did understand – their conscience was formed to the extent it needed in whatever situation they were in. If I spanked them after this age, I would have reduced the opportunity to help form their conscience. I had to take the time to listen to why they did what they did, to get into their head. Then we talked about what other ways we could have found a solution. It required much more patience and time from me. We do not live in an age anymore where “children are seen and not heard”; otherwise I could take the short cut and continued to spank them until they were bigger than I am! What I am trying to say is that many people today do not have their consciences formed correctly. This is a reason for the poor choices. If they are being preached to about right and wrong, they have to bounce it off their ill-formed conscience and think about the energy it takes to change. Take for instance nutrition. People are constantly on diets (a $33+ billion industry). Do I really need to tell someone to not eat the french fries and eat more fruits and veggies? Oh, and also exercise even if you are not overweight. I can reiterate all the research studies showing how we can avoid most diseases by our lifestyle and literally change our “disease genes” (epigenetics). But most people will only change their lifestyle habits only when it hurts, only when a disease appears.
      I have not had much success in trying to just talk to people about the whole Truth. It’s my words against theirs. What is at the root of them taking our words to heart is their conscience. I have seen people change when I begin to love them, when I am the first to initiate the love regardless if they deserve it or not. While we were still sinners…..

  4. It's amazing to me how often we are ready to assume the worst.

    Above we have a record of about 25 words exchanged with the woman, which are likely a small portion of the total words exchanged. We have no record of the other words, which could be because of personal details divulged, or private or confidential information exchanged (often the case when speaking with clergy, thank God). I wouldn't be surprised if the sacrament of reconciliation was offered, considering the impromptu long lines for reconciliation that I have seen form when Fr. A begins to offer reconciliation unexpectedly before young adult Masses, etc. Perhaps only those 25 words were the most suitable for today's meditation.

    In the meditation, the woman is referred to as "poor thing," "poor lady," and the comment about the previous priest could have been said with a compassionate tone. (The truth can be spoken in love, with a compassionate tone, or not.) Yes, absolutely this woman deserves help. And probably whatever ways of helping were offered--parishes do this all the time. I've worked in churches and social service orgs before, and they have their lists of agencies, St. Vincent de Paul contacts, etc. But the thing is the person has to actively seek help and cooperate. When I was active in SVDP, sometimes people only accepted the help that immediately alleviated their situation. The "longer-term" types of help/"teach a man to fish" help were not always accepted.

  5. Honestly, I think if you have a strong Faith, you don't leave the church because of what a priest says or does (even if you are really hurt) You can have many "reasons" but to leave the Church for that is an excuse. I priest should always tell the TRUTH, but with a lot of LOVE!!!!

  6. People leave the church for many reasons including ignorance but the leading reason behind them all is sin. That is why we should fear it so. Venial sin will eventually lead to mortal sin if left untreated. That is why confession is so important.


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