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!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mk 7:1-23 Neat and Freakish!

Mk 7:1-23  Neat and Freakish!
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands… Jesus responded, “You disregard God’s commandments but cling to human tradition…From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Does this sound familiar?  Is this not happening today?
Every year, I taught a bunch of high school boys a very long course on etiquette.  It was mandatory, just like religion, but it never replaced religion.  God forbid that etiquette would ever replace God’s commandments!
Soon, however, I began to realize that I needed to teach them at an earlier age.  Bad habits, once fully grown, are hard to break.  And these kids were fully immersed in all sorts of bad habits.  They had either been told that it didn’t really matter or the silence had taught them that it really didn’t matter.  What mattered was always something “greater” or something “else” or something “obvious”. 
So, I decided to teach the same course to my middle school students.  They were shocked to hear when and how you should take a drink of water and how you should walk across a row (to get to your seat) in a movie theatre.  But what really shocked them was how you should speak to a woman and greet a woman. 
But why is any of this important?  Answer:  In order to be a saint, you must first be a human being.  There is an old saying in seminary:  “First the man, then the saint.” 
Most people would be shocked at how much “human formation” is taught in a seminary; that is, instruction on how to cut your finger and toe nails; how to polish your shoes; how to sew; how to iron; how to wash and fold your clothes; how to shave and groom yourself; how to make your bed; how often you should shower and change your clothes; how to comb your hair; shake someone’s hand; etc…
It’s obvious why these things need to be taught.  Just look around!
Recently, I met a woman who was shocked that on her first date with her boyfriend he was flossing his teeth right in front of her, at the dinner table, in the restaurant!  How neat and freakish!
Over the years, all forms of etiquette have deteriorated, except the one’s that keep us “physically” healthy.  Americans use more hand sanitizer than any other nation in the world.  Yet, we continue to be a nation that uses more medication than any other nation in the world.  We strive to be the premier advocate for women’s rights around the world, yet we continue to lead the world in the production of hardcore and violent pornography.  We are a peace loving nation, giving billions of dollars in aid, but we continue to fight more wars than any other nation in the world.
We are not neat-freaks.  We are very neat and very freakish.  It is not unheard of to hear of a very polite and courteous teen who is sexting.  Or of a young gentleman who insists on using a condom with his girlfriend while insisting on his right to not let her know that he has HIV.  How neat and freakish!
Over the past 40 years, the social engineers (the real freaks of society) have worked hard to dismantle every single “barrier” with regards to female and male relationships; student and teacher relationships; adult and child relationships; etc.  But what they have really been highly successful in doing is removing any form of respect among females and males; students and teachers, adults and children.
And while they have worked hard in dismantling all barriers (respect) among people, they have kept building a higher wall with regards to God and man; the body and the soul; faith and culture; morals and civility.
We thought we had outgrown the need our ancestors had in drawing lines.  Now and again, we are reminded of why they were so wise!  We know why.  We just hate giving any sort of credit to the dead.  We hate admitting that a blurry or erased line leads to all sorts of harm, confusion, neglect, abuse, criminal behavior, liability and lawsuits.  Or, as the Lord would so succinctly say:  sin and death.
In order to point out something, sometimes you need to let it stand out.  The Lord was not telling his disciples that they should not bathe or cleanse before meals, or that these types of human traditions are not important.  He was teaching his opponents that they should not replace God’s Commandments with human traditions.  Exterior beauty should not replace interior beauty.  Exterior cleanliness should not replace interior cleanliness.  Looking good should not replace being good.  It's not that the exterior is not important; it's that the exterior should mirror the interior.  We should be just as good as we appear to be.
Out of respect for others, it is important, when taking your seat in a movie theater, to walk across the row with the front of your body facing the people; it is a sign of respect for your neighbor as well as for yourself.  It is important to wash your hands before meals.  But it is just as important to pray before meals.  In this way, not only will the meal be more beneficial, it will also be less superficial. 
And this is the point:  We can either continue to live life solely in a highly superficial way or we can decide to live it in a highly interior and radical way as well.  Anyone can say, “Who cares about all this formality?” when they haven’t learned any of this formality.  But if they were humble, they would say, “Will you teach me?”  Then, not only will they know that someone cared, they will also know some wisdom as well. 
If we always find an easy excuse for our kids by saying, “They are only kids!”, then why do we find it so hard to come up with an easy excuse when they grow up and ask, “Why didn’t you help me?”
Eating a meal with unclean hands is bad; just as bad as using your clean hands with an unclean heart.  As a society today, we suffer just as much from the former, as we do from the later.  The later, however, makes most of the news.  The solution is not to ignore one or the other, but to work on both and join them together.  First the man, then the saint.    Let's put the same time, effort and dedication in being good as we do in looking good.
The Lord loves us just the way we are, but He would love to raise us higher than where we are.  He would love to lift up our body, blood, soul and divinity, to where He is.  That’s when we will no longer be neat and freakish, but both neat and holy.


  1. what you stated on your blog :
    toe nails; how to polish your shoes; how to sow; how to iron;ect...........

    Was this a typo or I just do not understand the big words you use in your blogs LOL!!!!!!!!!!!;)

    How to sow VS How to shower ?? right;)

    Have a blessed Saturday Father Alfonse

  2. Or was it How to Sew VS how to sow;

    Or am I writing the word incorrectly :(


  3. Excellent, Father! I'm taking a Theological Reflections course right now. This meditation stimulates much thought....

    "It's not that the exterior is not important; it's that the exterior should mirror the interior." ----- I read this and thought of a few phony-baloney people I've met over the years. Those hypocrites who portray themselves as holier-than-thou on the exterior but inside they are addicts, adulterers, gamblers, liers, cheaters, etc. These folks look clean-cut and pristinely handsome. They show off to others that they really are "something" when in reality they are fakes. They may even say they are Christian but in reality they are closer to the Atheist. I often wonder why, why, why these people take the attention away from good, honest, caring "clean cut" folks. It's almost like the nastier, dirtier, more controversial a person is the more they are admired by society. Freakish indeed...Neat on the outside but filthy on the inside.

    I relate to the lack of ettiquette in our society today. The lack of respect for women is appalling! It's like chilvary is completely dead! I have to admit very few men open the door for me anymore. Seems like I open the door for them more often. I can recall a few occasions receiving "sexts" from male friends soliciting me as if I'm some lonely woman desperate for their "manly" companionship. (Gag me!!!) I'm way too old for that kind off of crapola. I hope every teenage girl out there will learn to say "No!" to that kind of humiliation. Will our American society ever turn away from the freakish? Will our young people understand the importance of good ettiquette, upright morals, and respect of others? Will our neat and orderly "godless" secular world ever become a neat and orderly Christ-centered world?

    Out of curosity I began reading "Intellectuals" by Paul Johnson that you wrote about recently. Talk about freakish - My goodness, I was shocked at how these philosophers and writers I learned about in school were sooo messed up. Their personal lives were atrocious and quite sad. (Rousseau is downright foul!) Once I had great admiration for these intellectuals. Now I can see how so much of their warp sense of life has continued into our modern day culture. (BTW, an excellent read and very thought provoking. For adult viewing eyes only.)

    "First the man, then the saint" - Of course, we must also remember in all fairness "First the woman, then the saint"! ;)

    Blessings & Peace,


  4. Another great meditation.
    However it's on tomorrow's readings, not today's (SAturday's).


    "But what really shocked them was how you should speak to a woman and treat a woman.
    But why is any of this important? Answer: In order to be a saint, you must first be a human being. There is an old saying in seminary: “First the man, then the saint.”"

    You who said "she must have pushed his button?". You who said "Maybe he had a bad day coming home from out town?"

    You advised someone that it was ok that a man can disrespect, physically threaten to hit a woman because she pushed his button? I guess your preaching does not coincide with your advise between a man and woman. Or better yet do you really believe that a man, a chauvinist man should respect a woman any woman, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, wife or step-daughter? Or in this case, you are a chauvinist man that advises.

    What's the saying, Maybe you ought to practice what you preach? Because you advised a woman that it was ok for a man to threaten a woman an older woman. And in turn you advised the man that he had that right, because SHE PUSHED HIS BUTTON!

    1. She did not write this (I did),she thinks highly of you and see you as her Mentor and has very strong respect for you. Also,she looks up to very Godly and always talk about your homilies.;)But she was very hurt from the advice you gave her (like you were on his side.) And still after her decision to not be together with him.He still abuses her Mentally
      After reading your recent Blog for Today.I wanted to tell I'm sorry for calling you a name.

  6. Anonymous 11:47, what meditation are you referring to here? Your post is incredibly confusing.

  7. I don't know what meditation the above person is referencing? I work very hard to teach my sons' to speak complete words (not huh or yeah). I always tell them yeah is longer than YES so what is the point? I was told by my brother in law once that I was too concerned with manners....that I was uptight and old fashioned. Well, this from a man who, when his parents had concerns about him marrying a young lady ten years his minor (his second marriage) who was very rough around the edges and not religious, he commented "we have sex in common and that is all that matters". Shocking that a son would say this to his mother! I do think that we need to return to a culture of teaching manners and that social customs from our grandparents era (or now our great-grandparents era) matter. I can't say that I am polished and neat all the time, but I do see what my mother meant all those years ago when she said "always look nice when you leave the house". We are a whole package...inside and out. Let's do another Gentleman class at St. Monica!!!!!


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