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!
Monday, April 30, 2012
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
We don't often think of religious vows as being something practical. But they are. Think about it. What stops someone from speaking their mind or standing up for someone or something they strongly believe in? What stops them from being totally honest with another? Unfortunately, it is the fact that we all have to make a living. We all need a job, and we fear losing it if we speak out. We all need money. We all have needs.
I could be wrong in my assessment, but far too often I ask people, “Well, why don’t you say something about this?” or “Why don’t you do something about it?” And the answer keeps coming back, “Father, I need my job” or “I need money to feed my family” or “I need a good grade in this class.” This problem causes the 'thief' (the bad guy) in today's parable to come at night, jump over the gate and steal, slaughter and destroy.
The more and more I run into this issue, the more and more I begin to understand the profound wisdom of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They are not at all easy, but Christ demanded this from his Apostles and for very good reasons.
Religious sisters and priests (and those influenced by Christian principles) have always been at the forefront of controversial yet peaceful movements. They have always been there because they had nothing to lose, except their lives. And of course it was always their lives that they risked losing because there was no other way for their enemies to stop them. Who can stop the excitement and depth that Christian principles, Christian ideals, Christian figures bring to the world? Nothing! When Christians speak, they speak to the human heart and overwhelm it with beauty. So how can they be stopped? Would death threats against their children do it? No. Oh, the wisdom of chastity! Would the loss of a promotion do it? What is there to look forward to when you take a vow of obedience? Would it be the loss of a job? There is tremendous job security in the priesthood. No wonder why they are feared. John Paul II led the freedom call in Poland. He took on the entire Communist establishment. His enemies knew perfectly well what it would take to stop him. His murder. They failed. And mankind won.
Those that do not live the Christian life will always have a hard time speaking up or standing out from the crowd. Why? Because in order to live, you need to make a living. But for a Christian, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).
Today, so many movements are filled with young people who are short sighted and short tempered. The G8 protest movements, the environmental movements, the Occupy Wall Street movements are fueled by half truths, demands, class warfare, terror, revenge and/or anger. Why? Because they are short of ideas, and when you are short of ideas you take short cuts. Threats are a shortcut to speeches. Vandalism is justified as a shortcut to peace. Demands are a shortcut to dialogue. Revenge is a short cut to conflict resolution. Destruction is a short cut to construction. “If we can scare you long enough, then maybe we can get what we want.” They think that the knife speaks louder than words. But the protestor’s mask reveals his/her lack of commitment. Show your face, like real believers do! Reveal your true identity and live and die for your beliefs. Stop trying to jump the fence and steal, slaughter and destroy.
The Lord came. He came into our lives. The only thing He destroyed was sin and death. He emptied both of their meaning. How did he do it? He revealed himself. He went through the front gate. He called out to us. We killed him. Christ revealed his true identity in the Resurrection. We revealed our true identity in His crucifixion. This is a good start. At least we know where we stand for better or for worse.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Recently, I went on a three day vacation with another priest. I took a cut-rate airline to keep my vacation cheap. Little did I know that it would end up being the most expensive trip of my life. They told me that my flight would be delayed until the next day; that I wouldn't make it back to Dallas until the next evening. I couldn't believe what I was hearing! They told me that there was nothing they could do; that I was stuck here. Hard to believe! When I protested they left me high and dry. Hard to believe, yet true. I will never fly with SPIRIT airline again! Stuck, I went to American Airlines and bought a brand new ticket. They were more than helpful...for five hundred dollars. I had to pay it. I had no choice. I needed to get back before Saturday. I had two weddings and three Masses to celebrate. Hard to believe. When we finally began to taxi away, I thought all my worries were gone. But then when we taxied back to the gate, because of a mechanical problem, I couldn't believe it. I wanted to cry. When they told us that we needed to get off the plane I wanted to curse and yell. Hard to believe, yet true. When I finally made it home late Friday night I wanted to kiss the ground. Hard to believe.
Everything is hard to accept if the heart is hard and the brain is dead. When husbands complain about what their wives do, aren't they really complaining about their wives? When Judas complains about what Christ teaches and commands, isn't he really complaining about God?
Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” He knew who he was talking about. The Lord knew that one disciple was already lost, yet still remained. Judas betrayed the Lord because He was annoyed at the Lord. He didn’t like what he heard because he didn’t hear what he wanted to hear. He couldn’t stand the Lord because He couldn’t stand for what Judas stood for. The Eucharist is the climax of our faith, but it is also the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. Judas had a problem: Jesus Christ. And He is our problem too.
The Psalmist asks, How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? Peter, the Pope, responds, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
Thursday, April 26, 2012
(Click here for readings)
Jesus said to the crowds: “It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God’…I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Since we have only one life to live and only one chance to live it, I want to make the most out of it, and I have come to realize that the only place I can find the love, the wisdom and the food I seek is if I lose my life in His life, and the only Church that provides all that the Lord gives is the Catholic Church.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
I have received some complaints about my comments regarding the novel and movie, “The Hunger Games”. Some people did not agree with me at all. They said that author Suzanne Collins never once mentions God in her novels. I noticed that too. But I immediately assumed that this Roman Catholic author wanted to illustrate what a futuristic world without God would look like. And what exactly does it look like? Bleak. Ms. Collins does a fantastic job in illustrating this point. No one in the movie or novel ever appears happy, truly happy, not even the bubbly Effie Trinket. No one in the movie ever feels very secure, not even President Snow. There is no real peace or justice or compassion, that’s obvious. There is no end to poverty, sickness and disease, famines and killings. The last war that was fought was not over religion; it was over power, again. And it was brutally suppressed with toxic bombs.
What does a real world look like where there is no God? Take a look at a nation like Russia, the former communist (atheist) Soviet Union, where suicide and abortion rates are among the highest in the world; where child pornography is mass produced; where alcoholism, depression and pessimism is decimating the male population. Did you know that the average life expectancy of a Russian male is around fifty-five?
When the crowd asked Jesus, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you”, I truly think they were asking this without ever really expecting an answer. What the Lord gave them was better than an answer. What he gave them was His Life. And then he gave them a sign. Actually, he gave them a mirror. Look at yourselves. What do you see?
The answer is obvious: we see ourselves. And what exactly do we see but the only alternative to God: ourselves. That the world is not in favor of Jesus can clearly be seen by the absence of Christianity on all major media productions. Not because they want to show a world without God, but because they want a world without God. They want to show themselves. They want a show! Give the people a show! Sound familiar?
There is no sign of Jesus on TV because those in power do not want to promote him, embrace him, encourage him or live with him. They want to ignore Him. And if they can’t ignore Him, then they create shows that mock Him, like “Good Christian Bitches”. This is where Hollywood ends its embargo on Christianity and opens a door for us only to slam the door back in our face.
What do you see without me? Well, on our quest for an alternative to God, we run into a lot of interesting alternatives. What has the age of Enlightenment and reason and logic given to us? Entertainment! But not the brain stimulating and thought provoking entertainment you would expect from a first world. Not the type you would expect from a modern society but rather the type you would expect from a more decadent society (or futuristic society without God).
Our cameras turn to ourselves on the big screen not because we search for the golden calf but because we seek the cash cow: the money maker. And the god of money speaks louder and clearer than any other; regardless of how people suffer. Just like in The Hungar Games where we make entertainment out of people who are in misery, today, we bring you “My Strange Addiction”, where you can follow a young girl who drinks her own urine or another young lady that daily sips some gasoline. I don't expect to ever find homosexuals on this program, but I do predict that the urine drinkers and gasoline sippers will be off it some day. After all, all the “brave” and “courageous” that come out of the closet are eventually accepted for being who they are. There are many other programs similiar to this one: the Hoarders, the overweight, etc… But it is always the same “gospel”, just different producers.
Jesus asked the crowd, “Look at me; what do you see?” The answer is obvious. The answer is powerful. The answer is thought provoking and heart wrenching. The answer is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The answer is: someone not like us.
(Click here for reading)
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
To be a parent today is a thankless job. In most teen movies parents appear as imbeciles, while their children are busy saving the world from terrorists, dictators or even aliens. Children are cast as superheroes that stop wars, stop discrimination and stop misunderstandings. But the brutal truth casts children in a very different light. They are best known around the world as world class bullies of their peers and parents, and thereby encouraging world classroom and homegrown massacres.
A son recently accused his father of being a “perfectionist”. He asked him what he meant by that. He said, “Well, you want me to do everything perfectly. If I make a mistake you tell me to repeat it over and over again until I get it right.” I thought the father’s response was genial. He said to his son, “You’re right. I ask too much from you and from myself. After all, everything I do for you, I try to do perfectly. So from now on I will not ask so much from myself. When I drive you to school, I will drop you off one mile away. I won’t go all the way for you. I won’t go the extra mile. When it’s time to get a new car, I won’t pay all of it for you."
What must I do to get to Heaven? This is the billion dollar question. I must look for Christ, the one the Father sent, and believe in Him. Is this all? Yes. That's what happens when someone is perfect. That's what happens when God loves us. Does He not answer all of life’s questions? Does he not explain everything; that is, why we exist, why we think, why we love and why we live? The Lord has gone all the way for me. The Lord has paid the price for me. All I need to do is believe in Him and I will be made perfect, as my Father in Heaven is perfect.
A few years ago I spent an evening with a wonderful family at their lake house. As we ate an evening dinner outside in the cool breeze, I thought to myself, “Could anyone ever get sick and tired of this?” Before I could say anything, the gentleman of the house, who had worked for years to build it, said, “Father, do you like this place?” I said, “I love it.” He said, “Even after a while, you can get sick and tired of this place.” I was amazed, but not surprised. He was right. Eventually, after a while, you could get sick and tired of anything in this place (earth). Anything! But what brought him joy in this place was the fact that he could give it to his children and they could give it to their children.
What brings us to Him is that we were made like Him. By doing what he did, we bring people closer to us. By believing in the one the Father sent for you, for me, for all generations to come, we get closer to Home. Amen.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
(Click here for readings)
One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”
Five loaves of bread. Bread comes from wheat. We take wheat, add water to it and a bit of yeast and violà…bread! The Lord takes bread and “adds” himself to it and violà…The Eucharist. What we do with wheat is almost as surprising as what He does with bread. Both bread and Eucharist give life, though differently. Both nourish. Both are taken and eaten. Both are taken for granted. Both are pretty much understandable (and nonetheless surprising). The only difference between our Bread and His Eucharist is that the first is made by human hands; the other by heavenly hands.
How can we ignore the obvious? Why do we ignore the miraculous? Why do we turn our heads and ignore the obvious and miraculous fact that the Lord wishes to add himself to us? Is he not constantly taking who we are and adding himself to it? He is. He is constantly taking what we do (or have) and multiplying it. He seeks and wishes to reveal His Divine presence in so many ways. Here are just a few examples that I have come up with thus far. Does the Lord not add himself to our instinct to survive? Does He not take this raw product and refine it? You know, similar to what we do with the coco bean and the soy bean. Do we not take our “mammal-ity” and turn it into humanity? Does the Lord not take our humanity and turn it into Christianity? Does he not make us more valuable, useful and exciting in giving than in receiving; in dying for one’s friend rather than surviving at any cost? Does he not take our instinct-to-survive and turn it into an instinct-to-forgive?
Information comes from what we see, taste, smell, hear and feel. Our brains enable us to gather intelligence, collect information, and finally make right judgments. But where do ideas come from? Where did the idea of God come from? If God cannot be seen, touched or felt (although He was in the person of Jesus Christ), then how on earth did “God” come to be? Where did this idea, found in all cultures and at all times, come from? An atheist once told me, “In the beginning man created God.” How? How in the world could Jews create a loving, forgiving, caring and peaceful God from their unloving, unforgiving, uncaring and violent surroundings? Maybe it was more like, “In the beginning man acknowledged God.” Violà! How did he do it? Maybe the same way all ideas come from. Maybe the same way the idea of a car or radio came to be. Take for example a horse. We can all see a horse. But only Henry Ford saw horsepower. And he was right. We can all talk. But only Guglielmo Marconi saw the radio. And he was right. We can all see Jesus. But only Christians saw the Lord. And they were right! Maybe God saw man…and he was good.
From His revelation and our reflection we find God and our true selves: who we are and who we were meant to be. We can get the right ideas of who He is when we make ourselves more like Him.
Let’s take what we have and multiply it. Let’s take who we are and add Him to it. Let’s take our hormones and add His morals to them. Let’s take our hormones and add His love to them. Let’s take our strange addictions and, instead of publicizing them (or supporting them), have Him remove them. Let’s take our mistakes and add His blessing upon blessing to them. Let’s take earth and add Our Father to it. Let’s take our touches and add His touch to them. Let’s take our hands, designed to grasp and handle, and offer His beautiful sacrifice through them. Let’s take our simple meal and turn it into His banquet for five thousand! Let’s take our five loaves and two fish and let the Lord take it from there.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
You would think that if you were an atheist, you would know much about atheism. You would think that if you are a Christian, you would know much about Christianity. In a recent debate, the formidable self- described atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins, stated that most Christians do not know the New Testament. In fact, when self-described British Christians were asked to name the first book in the New Testament, only 35% could identify Matthew as the correct answer. Dawkins thus concluded that these individuals were “not really Christian at all.” He might have a point.
But when Dawkins was asked in a recent debate to give the full title of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin he was confident he could. His Christian opponent then said, “Go on then.” Richard Dawkins then said, “On the Origin of Species…Uh. With, Oh God, On The Origin of Species. There is a subtitle to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.”
To the amazement of the audience, this formidable debater and high pope of Darwinism could not answer the question. His opponent then said, “If you asked people who believed in evolution that question and you came back and said 2% got it right, it would be terribly easy for me to go “they don’t believe it after all.”
Well done! But the truth is: Prof. Richard Dawkins has always had the tendency to make himself big by making others feel small. And this time, it backfired! Which may actually help him in the long run.
To believe in God means to open oneself to God. If science were the sole avenue to the Creator, then Jesus Christ would have appeared at Oxford, and as a scientist. But he didn’t. If philosophy were the sole means to God, then the Lord would have appeared in Athens; as a philosopher, the likes of Plato or Aristotle. But he didn’t. If music were the venue to God, then the Song of Songs would have started Graceland. But he didn’t. He chose to write no music and chose to play no instrument. He and his Apostles were no Paul Lennon or Beatles in the middle of the desert.
I think the Lord chose none of the above because he knew we would do them better. Instead, what he chose to do was something that had never been seen before, done before or thought of before. He chose to do something remarkable, the likes of which we still marvel at every single time we witness it, hear about it and think about it. He chose to be small.
All our lives we look to be big. We want to grow up. We want to have a bigger home, a bigger role, a bigger impact. There is something inside of us that drives us to be BIGGER AND BETTER. And guess what? That’s good. But how? That’s the question. Christ answers the question: be small. Be humble and you will be great! Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground it cannot bear any fruit. The Kingdom of God may be likened to a mustard seed that grew and became a tree.
There is nothing wrong with being big, that is the goal. But if you want to be really big, then make yourself really small.
Too many of the great modern philosophers are great among themselves, but not among us. They tend to spend all their time arguing among themselves which doesn't really leave much room for us. They seem to care more about their theories then care about us.
The great scientists are great because they discover things for us. But they never invented a single thing they ever discovered. They write books that include detailed explanations, diagrams and drawings of Heavens and humans as if they were plans of things to come! They take awards for plagiarism! They never give credit to God who did it all and without any known drawings.
Art no longer impresses us because (contemporary) art doesn’t seem to reflect us. It is no longer the image or reflection of the inner soul. Instead, it is the image of a lost and dark soul.
The great schools have failed us. In their ignorance and/or arrogance they either encouraged or failed to stop the terror of European Enlightenment, Fascism, Communism and Nazism. But the Church, in its meekness sent forth the terror of Communists and Fascists: Bl. John Paul II. Schools can take no credit for the Mother to fallen human nature: Mother Theresa. No great school ever educated the heart of St. Francis of Assisi. And not a single school was willing to accept Montreal’s architect of miracles: St. Andre Bessette. This is to name just a few.
From our vantage point, everything on earth looks big. From our vantage point, everything in the Heavens looks small. That’s a good hint that we have a bad point of view!
God is very big and made himself very small. Those who wish to be big must think big (eternally) but not act big (as if they were God). To know the Lord requires an exterior as well as an interior microscope and telescope. To serve the Lord requires tenacity as well as humility. To love the Lord requires a heart as well as a brain.
The one who comes from above is above all, including me. That makes a lot of sense, given the fact that The who comes from above came down to me.