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!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lk 9:1-6 Comfortable Christianity

Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

By Benedict Augustine

Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”

Joel Osteen and his wife upset some Christians when they blithely declared that worship was not for God's sake, but for the people's sake. Some Christians rightly declared that this flew in the face of Christianity in which believers offer themselves as living sacrifices to God. Jesus Christ gave up His life for God and His fellow men; His disciples did the same; the saints afterward did the same; Christians now strive to do the same. However, the Osteens, who speak for a large number of people who profess to be Christian, finally broke the facade and admitted that worship served their interests. Jesus bore the cross for them so that they do not have to; God intervenes for their material and emotional well-being because He likes winner and hates losers; and the Holy Spirit is really another way of saying “positive energy.” Somehow, the selfless loving doctrine of Christ completely reversed itself into a selfish cynical doctrine of the ego.

These days, many Christians, including many Catholics, never really use the word, “penitential,” in regards to their daily life. Penitential describes the sinner who has remorse over his sins, desires to rectify his sinful state through penance, and come away a stronger and more spiritual person. We take on challenges, unpleasant tasks, and other people's problems because it is penitential. Mass is penitential: we confess our sins, ponder God's word, give ourselves as Jesus gives Himself in Holy Communion, and give thanks to God for loving us in spite of our sinfulness. We feel joy at Mass, not for our sakes, but for God's sake. All this helps us to become holier, saintlier people.

Unfortunately, people have jettisoned “penitential” for “uplifting.” People want better music, better homilies, shorter services, more social activities, and a nice nonthreatening blank cross, not a somber bloody crucifix. They want validation for their apparent moral uprightness, not a reminder of their actual sinfulness. They want God to send them good vibes, not send them His Son. As children of today's world, they relegate those penitential Christians to the proverbial wilderness while they work to make the Church more open, popular, and seductively comfortable.

In other words, most modern Christians, and their frequently non-Christian children, do not welcome Christ's apostles. These men have nothing to offer, whereas Joel Osteen and Oprah offer some great motivational advice and all sorts of warm fuzzies to delight their audiences. Jesus tells his apostles to “take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money” or even another set of clothes. All they have, and all they need, is Jesus and His gospel. No one could mistake their strategy. They would not cajole, or bribe, or guilt any villager; they would simply “proclaim the Kingdom of God” and “heal the sick.

The healing could have intrigued some of the physically ill, but the healing would also have to reach their souls as well to truly work. Even Jesus struggled healing those who had no faith. Faith and healing obviously depend on one another. One could only heal when one accepted the Kingdom of God, not because this was the condition for healing, but because this was the cause for healing. If people denied the source of the cure, then they denied cure as well.

Instead the Word must suffice. Christ does not promise guaranteed spiritual salvation nor does he promise material prosperity. He promises to heal sinners and give them Heaven—if they can accept it. We accept this gift by allowing His apostles into our dwellings, knowing well that they only have Christ's blessing with them. If we send them away by keeping away from Mass, keeping away from the penitential kooks praying their rosaries and confessing their sins, and instead adopt the materialist self-centered gospel of the world, Christ and his apostles will gently let us be. And as we pay our entertainers to “lift our spirits,” the true lifters of spirit will “shake the dust from [their] feet in testimony against [us],” who chose to momentarily forget our sickness instead of finally having our sickness permanently cured.  


  1. Their name is Osteen. I am saddened by your blog. I too sometimes become very worried about all my Protestant brothers and sisters under the spell of the mega churches, but then I decide God brings many people to Him through different avenues. I also have watched Joel Osteen for 20 years and believe he and Victoria's intentions are for the good of God. All of his messages have been about faith, Hope, love, and forgiveness. Her statement is taken out of context and now she is taking on a lot of criticism. Also, as Catholics we could say that we actually do go to church every Sunday for ourselves and not for God, because if we don't we might burn in hell for a mortal sin. I am a convert. As a catholic it took me decades to understand the beauty of our mass. Thank God we finally have some priests in our Diocese that can preach better than Joel Osteen.

  2. My apologies for the misspelling. I should have checked.

    As for the Olsteens' good intentions, I have to look at the results of their intentions: a complacent Christianity, based on material prosperity and false optimism, not a penitential Christianity, based on humility. I may be mistaken, but for Olsteen and other megachurch leaders, Christ seems serves their purposes, not the other way around. This blogger wrote a great post on this whole topic:

    Also, as for Catholics attending Mass to avoid mortal sin, I'd argue two things: (1) Catholics should not attend Mass because they have to, but because they want to; and (2) even if one does attend out of fear for his soul (mortal sin), he at least attends Mass out of humility, not pride. I sometimes wonder if megachurch Christians even believe in sin. I know I've been accused of harboring Catholic guilt because I like to confess my sins to a priest for absolution. Shouldn't all Christians feel guilty for their sins?

    I didn't mean to sadden with my post, but to challenge. I think we could always do more, but too often feel happy with doing the bare minimum.


  3. I am embarrassed for you and for Fr. Alfonse posting the accusations and judgments you have made on Joel Osteen. I just pray you do not include Rick Warren in your all or nothing thinking on the mega churches. And as for Matt, he left out one very important sentence that Victoria said. And as for Matt's comment on this
    "The sick get sicker, the persecuted are seized, arrested, and beaten, the tired find no rest, the poor lose even what little they had, the dying die, the suffering suffer. This is the reality for most of the people on this Earth, and the Osteen Doctrine sounds like nonsense in the face of it."
    Well my friend, every doctrine sounds like nonsense in the face of it. Peace be with you.

  4. Judgment is a pretty strong word that gets thrown around far too often. There is a difference between judgment and discernment. The post wasn't even a rant against Osteen. The writer mentioned Osteen only three times, and simply analyzed Victoria Osteen's heretical statement, which rightly deserved to be discredited (along with the whole prosperity gospel movement). Rather, the writer talks mostly of penance, the kind of life that Christ wants us to lead, and warns us of the dangers of holding a humanist philosophy. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone glossed over the main point of the post.

    Anyway, let's take a moment to DISCERN (not JUDGE) Joel Osteen's ministry and public life, and the recent comments made by his wife.

    It is recognized that Osteen largely preaches a prosperity gospel. God is here for YOU, he wants YOU to be happy, comfortable, healthy, and wealthy. Instead of being a Christ-centered gospel, it instead focuses on the self and what God can do for you. When I hear quotes from Osteen like, "It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life,” it's hard not to think that those who are impoverished or ill have fallen out of favor with God, including devout Christians. I feel that Osteen's absurd notion that faith equals financial prosperity, comfort, and health mocks those martyrs who gave their lives for Christ, those saints who denounced their material wealth, and those saints who lived in poverty so that they may do Christ's work. Moreover, what of Jesus Himself Who entered the world in poverty to teach a lesson of detachment from earthly things? It seems as though it is not possible to reconcile the gospel of Osteen with the gospel of Jesus.

    In regards to Osteen's wife's comments, Victoria probably just misspoke and was caught up in the positive energy of the community. However, her husband stood behind her and nodded approvingly as she spoke, but he should have taken the opportunity to gently correct his wife's preaching. As a professional speaker, I'm sure that he could have done this in a subtle way without embarrassing his wife. But Joel Osteen seems to have a track record of not speaking up when he should, especially on important issues. I'm thinking in particular of his interview with Larry King where he refused to state the Christian position on such issues as salvation, gay marriage and abortion, and instead danced around the topics. To his credit, he did issue an apology later for his poor representation of the tenets of Christianity. I'm also thinking of his interview with Piers Morgan six years later, where Osteen again awkwardly avoided stating the Christian position on these topics, and kept replying incoherently with, "You know, I don't know, we don't know for sure, and you know, I don't know." Osteen's refusal to be definitive on these matters makes it difficult for me to respect the man.

    Maybe the dude makes his fortunes off of selling motivational calendars, books, t-shirts, and bobbleheads and donates 95% of it to the poor. I guess that'd be cool. But if one were asked to think of someone who seems to live a life of apostolic simplicity, Joel Osteen probably isn't going to be the first person to come to mind.

    Anyway, all of this is just to say this. Osteen's message may be comforting, and he may speak of faith, hope, love, forgiveness, etc., but the above commenters would do well to listen with a discerning ear.

  5. Okay, one more time: Osteen! I misspelled his name twice. This is seriously not intentional. Also, I thank you RR for such a thoughtful comment. We should all really go deeper with our faith. This was a good discussion.

    Go in peace.


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