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, June 29, 2013

Luke 9:51-62 Thanks For The Memories

Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem…On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him…When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”  Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
We've come a long way since then, right?  WRONG!
The Church really doesn't face new challenges.  Instead, she faces old challenges with new faces!
We think of our modern society as being so much more tolerant, compassionate, understanding and forgiving then that of the Romans and Pharisees.  Well, the Paula Deen incident brings us back to reality, to earth, to the olden days, when people were stoned to death for committing grave sins!
Of course Ms. Deen isn’t physically getting stoned to death, like in the olden days.  No, we’ve come a long way since then.  We don’t guillotine people anymore; we electrocute them!  And in keeping with the times, we don't throw stones anymore; we electronically throw them with our anonymous tweets and comments. 
Yes, we can be very bruising to those we disagree with.  And these bruises sticks forever! 
The horrors of the Internet are really the horrors of our very own weaknesses; and more than ever before, more people can become well acquainted with these horrors.
Yesterday, I wrote on my twitter:  “The dumping of Paula Deen by so many companies highlights the fact that they are as unforgiving as the Pharisees and Scribes of yore.  God forbid that any of us show how human we are!”  BEWARE OF THY HUMANITY!
Now here is a twist for you:  The very institution that is often cited for being the most intolerant and unforgiving of all, is actually the only institution on the face of the earth that is truly the most tolerant and forgiving of all!  And that institution is the Roman Catholic Church.
Like so many of us, Paula Deen made some serious mistakes in her past.  As a result, many institutions, that once promoted her, have cut their ties with her.  Did anyone from the Confessional ever tell you to stop coming to Church?  No. 
Just recently she apologized for her mistakes.  Guess what?  Her apology was not accepted.  So not only is our “culture” and “society” hostile and condemning to those who err, but it is also extremely comfortable - confident - in judging someone’s apology as insincere. 
I don’t know about you, but I have never questioned in the Confessional someone’s apology.  Why?  Because I’m not qualified to do so.  I’m only human!  Of course we have to make judgment calls all the time, but to judge someone’s apology?  Well, that is truly judging someone the WRONG WAY!  Who am I to judge someone’s apology?  Who am I to be able to enter into someone’s heart and mind?  I am just a “somebody;” or better yet, a “nobody.”
I love you, but…  Lord, I will follow you, but let me say farewell to my family at home.  The reason why we have such a hard time forgiving is because we do a very bad job at reflecting - re-living - our past.  No regrets, just happiness!

Isn't this the latest quirky saying?  Ah yes, “no regrets, only happiness!”  

But remembering the past allows us to respond better to the challenges of the present!  To say “no regrets” is to close our life to cross-examination and self-examination.  It’s a defense mechanism that's based on fear.  If we do not occasionally reflect on the past, then we will most likely repeat the errors of the past; we will continue to devour and bite one another (cf. Gal 5:13-18). 
Then and Now.  At a certain moment during the Oscar awards ceremony, “Hollywood” paid tribute to the song writer Marvin Hamlisch, who passed away last year.  Soon after that, Barbara Streisand came out on stage.  I couldn’t believe it!  I can’t stand watching her or listening to her.  As she began to sing the song “Memories”, it was as if I had been transported to another time and another place:  my home.
I remember playing this song on the piano with all my cousins around me singing along.  It was a very welcomed memory, full of youthfulness and funniness.   
Memories are a gift from God to man.  They keep us going.  They keep our marriage going.  They keep romance in motion.  They remind us of what we should remember.  They give us a reason (actually, no apparent reason) to laugh, to cry and to smile.  What are you smiling at?  Oh, nothing…
I find it interesting how certain illnesses do not allow us to remember the “now” in our lives but only the past.  I don’t know, maybe this means something.  Maybe it means that we can live without the now, but we could never live without a past. 
The Jews were constantly reflecting on their past, and learning a great deal from it.  Many times, their toughest questions were answered based on past experiences. 
Our past is a great resource.  It is subject to constant re-interpretation.  To reflect on the past is not an escape from reality; to live in it is!  Hey teenagers:  The worst name you could ever give your band is “New Kids On The Block!” 
Animals do not have memories.  They simply recall certain things and sounds.  We have memories.  We can actually relive certain moments, even tough moments, in our lives. 
The least memories I have of all the years of my life are the years that I worked at Kodak.  They are like lost years.  I don’t even remember the names of the people I worked with.  I only remember a young Jewish lady that worked there and that refused to date me because I wasn’t Jewish!
Many times I find myself going back to my seminary days in order to strengthen my resolve for the day.  All of us need to do that, especially for our marriage and for our children.  Remember my dear couples when you used to hold your future spouse's hand, even while you were driving, and driving a standard car???  Remember when you always sat next to them at parties and dances?  Remember when you used to go on a date?  Remember, moms and dads, when your teen was only five-years-old.  Believe me, it's much easier  to love your teen when you remember them being five! 

Our memories can help strengthen our most meaningful relationships. 
 Thank you St. Monica for the memories.


  1. Thank you St. Monica for the memories.- OH! Father Alfonse Thank you for being part of each of our lives and our community .

    We love you and God Bless you my Dear Father Alfonse

  2. I am pleased to see that you will be just up the road at All Saints. I will go up there to see you at least once, more than once, if they have remediated the mold problem. . . . .

  3. Thank you for this sermon and this blog. I often try to live in the past and we all get swept away in the memories. I sometimes even forget to live today. If we only live in the past, if we never grow, we remain planted flowers that never blossom. You are amazing! - Julie Adams

  4. Thank you for this sermon and this blog. I often try to live in the past and we all get swept away in the memories. I sometimes even forget to live today. If we only live in the past, if we never grow, we remain planted flowers that never blossom. You are amazing! - Julie Adams

  5. Kim & Jerome ElenezJuly 1, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    You will be dearly missed, Father. Thank you for being you and teaching us so much.

    To the All Saints community - you hit the jackpot. And prepare for some visitors!

    Here's to making more memories!

  6. What kind of cognitave dissonance does it take to claim that animals can remember things but don't have memories?

  7. To remember means to recall. Memory is more profound. It means to relive. I would suggest that you read the meditation and put things in context. And if you still have difficulty resolving the difference between remembering something or someone and having memories of something or someone then I will further assist you. Hint: think like a poet, not like a psychologist.

    1. I'm still not getting it fr A. And how will thinking like a poet help? I could come up with some prose about the memories of dogs and cats and nobody would be any closer to knowing whether or not they really do remember or have memories.

      SOmewhere else you also posted that animals cannot think. Is this some other definition of thinking that you are using, like using recall vs memory here? I don't think you are suggestiong they are mindless robots, but yes they definitely have the capacity to think, same as you and me, especially the higher primates. If you have time fr, I recommend reading "The Atheist and the Bonobo" (Don't worry, not much about atheism but more about bonobo societies). Very interesting, fairly easy read. Puts out a pretty good argument that animals really do think and have memories.

    2. Scientists have long believed that animals do not possess episodic memories, the kind that humans have that allows them to recall events. There is much research on this topic, but given the fact that we cannot communicate easily with animals, there is room for disagreement.

      In the context of my meditations, I said that humans have memories. Animals do not. Why? Because our memories allow us to re-interpret events in our lives; to go beyond the event and therefore, what we once considered to be a curse, we may today remember as a blessing.

      Not only that, but it is also true that in order to think, one must use a language of some sort. Animals do not think in the way that humans think because animals do not communicate with a proper language.

      A language is different from signals. Where signals never change their meanings. For example, if a dolphin sees or senses danger, like an Orca, it immediately sends out a signal. But I have never heard of a dolphin manipulate the danger signal and instead communicate a joke to the others. "Ahh... I scared you...I was only kidding!!!"

      Animals don't joke. Neither do they improve upon their designs. Two classic examples of thinking.

      Now one of the greatest mysteries in science is which came first: language or thinking? It's like you need one before you have the other. There is much research on this subject and, again, much debate

      Thanks for the reading tip. I prefer Harvard lectures instead.

    3. it is also true that in order to think, one must use a language of some sort

      It is?

      Animals don't joke. Neither do they improve upon their designs. Two classic examples of thinking.

      But there are many examples of primate tool use out there. Doesn't that imply thinkng?

    4. "Primate tool use out there."

      My argument wasn't "tools" or even the existence of "tools". My argument was that there are two examples of thought: the ability to communicate (manipulate language to create new meanings) and to design (the ability to learn and improve upon the past).

      For example: Bees have not changed the design of their bee hives. Birds have not changed the blueprints of their nests.

      Instinct is not the same as memory.

      As to the rest of your comment, I think I answered your questions previously.

  8. Father, what if you had the gift of reading hearts. What if you were like St. Padre Pio, and if you looked into a soul while hearing their confession and if they weren't sorry then what? Or what if you could tell that they didn't have a firm purpose of amedment? How would you handle it? I can't see you yelling "basta!" And then slamming the door in their face as Padre Pio often did. But just curious regardless.


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